Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spring Prep

[Can I tell you how happy I am to write anything with "Spring" in the title in JANUARY and really meant it as no joke?!] Spring really is about to kick into gear here - there is pollen on my windshield and in a yellow ring around the water's edge in the pool. There is green grass growing in a number of fields - and not just winter wheat, real grass. The biggest sign? Every baseball field has a family or two out practicing on Saturdays & Sundays after church to prep for the start of the new season mid-Feb! Gorgeous warm sun & precious family time!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Arrival Anniversary

This was me one year ago today:

One year ago this afternoon, we stepped off the plane here for the very first time! I almost cried with joy at seeing the Spanish moss in the trees. :-) It's the exact same weather today. What an amazing blessing this last year has been!!! ♥ As my mom likes to say, I've obviously been thrown into the briar patch! :-D

How am I celebrating? By hanging some pics, which have sat in a corner for the last 11.5 months. ;-) (I think I was scared to jinx us by really settling in! :-P) Of course we could be transferred at any time, (we've never gotten more than 2-3 weeks notice for any of our 6 corporate moves in the last 11 years,) but I'm not wasting a second wondering "what if". I am reveling in our gorgeous weather, focusing on growing the Zumba ministry, and excited to gear up for another baseball season here! We got Will signed up last night to try out & be drafted on February 11th; practice starts the following week. I hope he makes a team with other spirited parents who really enjoy cheering the boys on! :-)

Food for Thought...

I don't eat perfectly healthy (mmmmm, sugar! French fries!) but this *is* how I view food, and I do make better & better decisions all the time. Praying for God to keep moving my heart & palate in the best direction...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Praise Abounding

I have so many things to be thankful for & that I'm happy about, I can barely stand it!

* Remember when I asked for prayer re: being able to stay with our pediatrician, even though JB's job changed insurance this Jan. 1st to one they do not accept? Our prayers were heard! The entire practice just announced that as of Jan. 1st, for the FIRST time they will be accepting our new insurance!!! What a huge load off!!!

* I was called out-of-the-blue this morning to fill in teaching the Zumba class I usually take at The Gym. Class this morning was good - getting used to someone else's mic system is always interesting, esp. when you have to jump around :-P but I'm teaching it again tonight at 5:30! :-) They're taking me on now as their #1 permanent sub - yay! (Maybe they'll get interested in getting me licensed for Zumba Toning? :-))

* The weather this week was AMAZING: perfect high 70's until a little cold front came through last night. (Lows 30's, highs 60's for the next week - chilly! :-D ;-)) I had all the windows open yesterday, even upstairs. I cannot express how *THIS* kind of winter has made me a completely renewed person! Lighter, joyous, & full of hope! Seasonal affective disorder = banished!!! It is totally shocking how different I feel. I knew how much I thought I hated northern winter & then on top of Annelise's cold urticaria - but I guess I had no idea how heavily it truly weighed me down from October-May (even as I tried to focus on enjoying everyday life) until now! I literally almost cried with thanksgiving, putting on my sandals the other day & sending Annelise to school in short sleeves w/ no coat. I am re-amazed & so grateful every day!!! Last year, anything over freezing was "great" - and THAT was part of the nasty weight on me. My body was just not made to properly handle it! This has been on my mind a lot - it was one year ago this weekend we came down to get this house! :-)

* I'm officially on the Downton Abbey bandwagon. I'm thankful for the new(-ish) [pre-owned] Wii the kids saved up for (yay for fiscal responsibility!) so that I can stream Netflix on the TV while still being able to otherwise use my laptop, and that Netflix had the first season so that I could catch up. It does, indeed, live up to the hype, and now I'm ready to start this new Season Two I've been DVRing!

* Everyone knows restaurants are my ultimate favorite, and we are about to get quite a few happy new additions around here! This area does not have a lot of the big chains that people take for granted elsewhere (not that I care much; I *hate* most chain restaurants) but THE one that we *do* actually love - Buffalo Wild Wings - is about to open here! It was a family tradition for us for a long while - watching football (ALL the Redskins games!), playing trivia, etc. No buying Sunday Ticket for us next NFL season! :-) Also, in the shopping center virtually right across the street from our house, two new places are opening: a family-friendly version of the yummy barbeque & steakhouse restaurant JB & I went to for our 9th anniversary last year, still my heart...a 2nd location of my super beloved CAFE 230!!! Which will ALSO be open for SUPPER, as well as lunch, since this area is more conducive to an evening family crowd than downtown. [It's a good thing I'm doing this extra Zumba now. :-P My calories count is going to need it! ;-)] Lastly, we finally tried the new frozen yogurt place beside our Publix called Swirl. I wondered what could be so special about it? How different from TCBY? Ohh.Emm.Gee! They have 12 different (often-changing) flavors & tons of toppings, but the KEY is: you only pay for as much as you want to take by the ounce. No standard sizes - the kids can have as much or as little as I give them. I mixed triple chocolate, cookies & cream, & red velvet cupcake frozen yogurts = HEAVENLY! I can't imagine ever going back to Brusters or Maggie Moos here ever again! I LOVE FOOD TREATS!!! :-D

* I admit, I am totally in love with Pinterest. I am so thankful for the fun sharing and for the motivation to try new *EASY & HEALTHY* recipes. Two big winners this week:

Simple healthier Mac & Cheese with the pasta cooked in the milk, which forms the base for the sauce. No water, no draining:
2 cups dried whole wheat pasta
2 cups skim milk (we drink Smart Balance)
1 cup loosely packed 2% cheese
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1 tsp mustard

-In a small saucepan, add pasta and milk. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, until pasta is soft, stirring frequently and ensuring milk does not boil.
-Turn heat off, add cheese & salt and stir to combine. Stir in the mustard a little at a time to taste. Cover and let stand for about 5 minutes, then stir again and serve. If not creamy enough, add milk a little at a time, and gently stir.
[If you would like to bake it at this point, place in a baking dish and top with a generous sprinkling of cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 10 minutes until cheese has melted.]
-As a side dish this makes enough for 4 people with no leftovers (can easily be doubled).
-Feel free to add broccoli, diced tomatoes or jalapeno to give the mac & cheese a little more zing and amped up flavor!

And Broccoli Cheese Bites
10 oz. package of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained of liquid
1 cup of grated 2% Mexican or cheddar cheese
2 eggs (or Eggbeaters)
2/3 cup of Panko breadcrumbs, seasoned to taste (I used Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning)

-Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
-With your hands, form small patties and lay on a parchment lined baking sheet.
-Bake at 375F for 25 minutes, turning the patties after the first 15 minutes.
-Makes 16-18 patties; easily doubled

Delicious! Fabulous! Praise-worthy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

100th Day Homemade George Washington

For his 100th Day of School tomorrow, Will has to dress up like someone over 100 years old. He chose George Washington. (He wouldn't just be a random old person. *Sigh*) But I made his vision come true & put this together from head to toe! #rockstarmom

I found this navy pair of pj's at Walmart for $8. I probably wouldn't have given them a second look had they not been misplaced on an endcap and had the top not been unbuttoned. I don't think I would have recognized how much it could resemble a Continental Army jacket, otherwise. (Yay, piping!) The long legs are tucked up into a pair of JB's knee socks, and I made the ascot out of paper doilies ($1.50 at the grocery) tied with floss. The wig is my pièce de résistance: I used polyfill batting (like for stuffing pillows - $1.75 at Hobby Lobby) for the "hair". I piled & formed it on top of one of Will's baseball caps turned backwards (backwards to have a base for the little ponytail and to keep it all off the back of his neck) and secured it all in place with a white hair net (69¢ at Sally Beauty). I even added the curl rolls above his ears with empty toilet paper rolls! I am pretty proud of this sucker!

Sis in her 100th Day celebration hat [her 100th day of Montessori Kindy was Monday] & George Washington Will - doing the image of the Father of our Country proud...

Football Photo Finds

A new person whom I totally don't know "liked" my Zumba FB page, so I clicked on her profile to see if we had any mutual friends. When I did, I saw *MY* Will's face. Whaaaat?

Turns out, her son played on one of Will's rival football teams this fall, and the two pics were great ones of her son where Will was coming after him! :-D [I wish I would've had these back in November when I digiscrapped the end of the season!!!]

I love Southern small town life! Everyone is connected, whether they know it, yet, or not!

Let's go, #2!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Zumba Photos

~25 ladies tonight (with lots of newcomers!) rocked it with awesome attitudes!!! They dove right into the choreography with laughter, light hearts, and lighter selves by the end of class! There aren't words for how fun & fulfilling this is...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Merry Christmas Redux

We were totally blessed this weekend to have [late] Christmas with JB's parents, as they stopped here on their way down to FL for the winter. I hate to call it "late", b/c actually it was PERFECT!!! Of course, Christmas in December is fabulous...but it can also be #1 overwhelming and #2 depressing when it's over. This Christmas-in-January business has happily rocked my world! No one on either side had to make ourselves crazy trying to cram in extra-long or double the holiday travel right around December 25th; we had a precious time with my NC fam, while JB's parents celebrated with their other son/JB's brother's fam, who only live about an hour away from them. Now this January, we had this whole weekend to not only have a super relaxed time together w/o anyone having to rush off to other obligations, but the children also appreciated their 2nd round of Christmas gifts so much more than when they get them all in the span of less than a week. Plus, we've all been looking forward to this for a month - it made December's Christmas being over not feel depressing! No January blahs here, b/c we had such a great occasion to look forward to! [OK, yeah - of course temps in the 60's & 70's on top of ZERO threat of snow totally helped in that department, too. ;-)]

We did the whole holiday redux right: Friday night was just like Christmas Eve - Grandma & Grandpa had "talked to Santa and told him this was the night to come back", so we had our stockings ready, the kids wrote letters, and we left carrots & apples for the reindeer & a sweet treat for Santa. [PS - this was the *VERY FIRST* Santa-visit we have EVER had in a house in which we have lived with the kids! We are always at a grandparent's house for Dec. 25th - which is really a lot of fun!!! - but for the kids to KNOW now that Santa knows where they *really* live? It was magical. :-) PPS - using our stockings & tree felt so productive! :-D :-P]

The kids woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday for Christmas Day. We did present-opening my FAVORITE way: going around in a circle, one person opening one gift at a time, so everyone can see what everyone else got and really appreciate them. (I *hate* "everyone tear 'em open ASAP!" It's so embarrassing to have to ask, "Um, did you see what I got you?" And even more so when the giftee says, "Um, what was that, again?" I don't want anyone who's bought me something to think I don't appreciate it! I want everyone's hard-earned money & sweet sentiments to get individual attention. That speaks love to me. :-) Plus, I love how long the present circle takes! Why would you want it over so fast?) We were all blessed beyond measure with bountiful boxes! I had made a couple etched glass gifts for JB's parents with my Silhouette, Will & Sis picked out several gifts for them on their own, and - of course - lots of photo presents. :-) Will was thrilled with a giant Hotwheels track and Lego fun. Annelise reveled in tons of Tangled stuff and can't get enough of her new bike. JB opened his #1 wish gift first and said the rest of the morning felt like gravy. :-D Y'all know how excited I get for things that I love, so of course I have to share a few of my highlights, too! ;-)

The dreamy Lollia "Relax" Eau de Parfum that I discovered at several Southern gift shops this last year! It smells like the beach to me...not that our beach smells like lavender & honey, but there is just some scent-memory connection there that's the ultimate in comforting:

This FABULOUSLY PERFECT "The South" definition sign that I've been crazy about since seeing it on Pinterest last summer:

Gelish "June Bride" polish - a light pink glitter with larger holographic circles! So excited for it - the most glitter-bomb Gelish I've seen:

Through the Year with Jimmy Carter: 366 Daily Meditations from the 39th President by Jimmy Carter - how perfect since we live so close to Plains, and a devo is the perfect style book for me!

And ZUMBAWEAR!!!!!!!!!! Winter Samba Cargo Pants and racerback tank!!! So beyond excited to wear these to teach!!! I can hardly wait to look 100% official!!!

Truly blessed!!!!!

JB & I made a proper holiday feast - Haricots Verts (thin French green beans - just steamed w/ garlic & salt), Yukon Gold mashed potatoes (with Smart Balance butter & milk), noodles cooked in turkey stock, rolls, broccoli salad, cranberry sauce (jelly in a can - mmmmm!), and a 10 lb. turkey, using Alton Brown's recipe. [We went back to it after other recipes this holiday season. You cannot beat how flavorful it is with NO basting every hour or any of that fuss. Plus, it cooks SO MUCH FASTER: 10 lbs totally cooked in 1 hour!!!]

The rest of the day found Will & Sis racing around our secluded neighborhood on their bikes and trying to calm down enough to lounge occasionally in their sleeping bags...but never being able to actually stop moving. :-P They rocked Wii Just Dance 3 & MarioKart (courtesy of Daddy! :-)), and Grandma helped Annelise sew an American Girl coin purse ("sew" perfect, as she has gotten really into the idea of sewing lately!) in between braiding Rapunzel's hair & dressing up. We couldn't stand being inside for such a beautiful day, but with our feast, we didn't need to go out to eat; so we went out for ice cream! :-D It was almost 80° with 70's forecast all this coming week - open windows, and we even had a big THUNDER storm last night at sundown, which sealed the deal on a dreamy day for me. (I am in total heaven living here...:-))

Merry Christmas, y'all!!! And *now* we can bring on Mardi Gras! :-D

[PS - Who wants to come take the ornaments off my tree now & pack them carefully for me? I'll pay you in baked goods! Or a Gelish application!]

Friday, January 20, 2012

Desire Fulfilled

THIS is a dream come true - my *OWN* actual Sbux pumpkin spice!!! Thank you so much, Susie - you are the best self ever & totally worth it! ;-) :-P
*HOW* did I manage to procure this, when it's the only flavoring Sbux won't sell in their stores, they say "b/c it's a sauce"? I think I just got lucky with it being the end of pumpkin spice season; I *just happened* to do a google search [I am SO OVER homemade versions! No matter how hard I try to convince myself, NONE that I've made are truly as good!] and found it on eBay! My 1st eBay purchase in YEARS! :-D

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Zumba Class = Taught!

I can't tell y'all how disappointed I am that I don't have a photo from yesterday to go with this post. So much so that it actually makes this harder to write! I. Need. Pics.

But I am happy to report that that was the SINGULAR disappointment of the evening! :-D

I had more peace than I've ever had starting a new dance class - so confident. Even the sound system came together flawlessly: I can control it from onstage w/o having to run over to a computer, CD player, or sound board to pause b/t songs. (Sounds simple, but anything that makes class run more smoothly is huge!)

Right around 20 (TWENTY!!!) ladies came!!! That is insane for a first class. [Quite a few more said they couldn't make this week, but are planning for next week! 49 people, so far, support my "Zumba with Susie" FB page!] Of course, it helps that it's a free ministry, :-P but that took the pressure off me a bit, too: no worrying if people would feel like they got their $'s worth. ;-) Everyone seemed fairly light-hearted & open, as they milled around & signed the "Release, Liability Waiver, & Covenant Not to Sue" forms I had to draft. (Covering all my legal bases!)

When we got going, I really tried to make sure I came across confidently, but as the "anti-drill sergeant". I didn't want anyone to feel intimidated or discouraged, b/c they didn't do the moves "just like me" - that's not what my class is about. I actually feel lucky, now, to have been "stuck with" my lower impact Zumba class I've been taking on Fridays: it's the only Zumba here while my kids are at school, & I was bummed that it's almost a Zumba Gold (senior adult) level class; but while I personally take all the steps up a level there, I have received a virtual year-long Zumba Gold training. I feel comfortable offering lower impact modifications to all my routines now, so that I can have my standard Zumba class be open to more people! I had ladies of ALL ages (teens to over 60) & at different levels of physical ability last night; but we ALL laughed, smiled, had fun, & NO ONE had to feel self-conscious or like "they didn't measure up" - my class is about *personal* best, not perfecting steps. My local BFF Laura came, and I asked her honestly how I came across - she said, "You came across confident, but so sweet! I loved how you told us a couple of times, "Don't slow down, keep it up!" but you were giggling and just having a blast up there! I bet no one would've guessed that this was your first class as an instructor. You did amazing!" #edifyingfriendship *insert waterworks*

When I checked FB last night, so many people said the class had blessed them: #1 goal = met. People kept thanking me that it was free, b/c they couldn't afford gyms, and this was an answer to prayer. *more waterworks* There have been times when we couldn't afford a gym, either - it makes me cry, b/c I *reallyreallyreally* do understand, and it's unexplainable how full it feels to meet a need for someone else that you've had yourself.

So excited for next week and for God to keep moving through this!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

MLK Mini Golf

Yesterday was a rare occasion: *both* kids had the same day off school! [Their schools are in different counties; they even have completely different spring break weeks. :'(] I had a long list of chores...but I also wanted them to have a special day, so we miraculously got a perfect compromise. I usually make us do work before play...and usually the work takes longer than planned & play gets sacrificed; but yesterday, I got over myself, and we played first!

They ALWAYS beg to go to the Fun Park (so close by & completely unavoidable driving around town, so it's frequently brought up ;-)) and we had a few free passes (they each earned a free pass at school & I had one from Halloween at the Riverquarium) so we took advantage of the blue sky & sunshine to play putt putt! Will gets frustrated (just like I used to :-P) when he doesn't get it in two shots, but he didn't pitch any fits; and even though Annelise had the worst score, she got TWO holes-in-one!!! I totally rock mini golf, and even *I* didn't get a hole-in-one yesterday! :-D

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Beware of Flying Pigs!

Beware of flying pigs, y'all!!! I joined Pinterest...

After ignoring over ten invitations since June, I finally succumbed, b/c #1 - it's after Christmas, so no added holiday craft pressure ;-) and #2 - since it's not actually a conversation-driven social network, I won't stress myself over getting "behind" if I don't get on for a while. :-)

It is right up my alley - I grew up making mood boards and magazine cut-out posters of stuff that spoke to me, so there's no doubt I will fall madly in love. [Knowing the obsession-potential, though, was a reason for delay. ;-)]

I've wanted to add this to my sidebar here for ages...

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Life's Randoms In JUST the Last 24 Hours...

I've had all kinds of little obstacles pop up trying to steal my joy, but I've refused to let any of them tear me down. [I won't blame Friday the 13th - I looove Friday the 13ths. :-)]

Last night was my once-a-month Junior League meeting...and, of course, another snag. (The only meeting I've made w/o a hitch was the 1st one in Sept.! Crazy, b/c it's not like we usually have much going on at night outside of sports seasons.) JB had a surprise business trip to NY this week, so I had to orchestrate childcare = my least favorite thing in the world, along with calling people on the phone. So blessed that God has provided us with good friends here & that it was so quick, easy, and not one bit out-of-the-way (that last part is so key!!!) to arrange this time!

I love JL meetings. Some people think they're boring as all get out; but since I don't have a corporate America job, I kind of enjoy formal board meetings complete with parliamentary procedure. (Esp. when they FEED you at said meetings! It's kind of ridiculous how delicious their chicken strips with honey mustard are...) Last night's was "one for the books", as it went longer and with more discussion & motions made than any other meeting in the last five years. [Seriously? The *one* night I was stressing about the time, b/c the kids were waiting up for me on a school night, instead of already being asleep in their own beds by the time it was halfway over. Can I say, again, how thankful I am to have found a friend close by willing to keep them? :-D]

Walking out of the meeting, the temp had plummeted. Bye-bye almost 70°F (until Monday.) This morning was literally freezing, but I wouldn't let it shake me. Thank you, God, that even though it was chilly today, we had gorgeous sunshine, blue skies, & NO SNOW like so many of my northern FB friends!

Speaking of today's temp & snow, it got up to 49°F - which is still a BIG DEAL of cold for Annelise's cold urticaria. She wanted to ride her scooter outside with Will this afternoon so much that she put on her snowsuit! I chuckled at first...but I'm glad she did, b/c when she came back inside after 15 minutes, her exposed face & hands *had* broken out. Sigh. It went away faster than ever back inside, which was good, but I am still praising God with all I have the He moved us South! I can't imagine what a nightmare living up north would be now, as this progresses. So thankful to be here...

More hassle: I went to pick up Annelise's refill at CVS, and our PITA insurance wants hers done by mail order now. That would be fine if #1 - we would have known they'd pull this so we could have set it up when we did Will's last year, (it's a different med & the ped doesn't do refills, just one script at a time - unlike Will's, which is a single script with year-long refills = easy to set up mail order for) and #2 - if she didn't only have five days left, (mail order takes almost a month to get going.) JB wasn't at his desk to tackle this easily through work, since he was still in NY, and I get mega-stressed dealing with this stuff over the phone (borderline panicky), so I drove over to our ped to tell them what our insurance was pulling in person. More thanks to God: they said they'd work it out for us. *relief* [Prayer request: we love this ped, but JB's company switched to an insurance this Jan that they don't really take. I'm going to talk to the ped before our next scheduled visits and see if he will authorize for us to stay there with his practice. Pray for favor for us that this works out!]

Even more hassle: I took a Lunchable [*BARF*] to school today for Annelise. It felt DISGUSTING... NOT that we *never* eat any processed junk, but I pack their lunches every day, so I KNOW it's a quality meal. She usually has lunch provided on Fridays, but APPARENTLY that doesn't start this 2nd semester now until Feb, so I had to run to Publix. I stood there for 20 stinkin' minutes trying to pick the "best of the worst". Lunchables just hit a nerve with me: grossly overpriced, processed crap that kids think are "THE COOLEST" b/c of the plastic package compartments. I totally get the kid-appeal, b/c I wanted them like crazy when I was younger, too. :-P Homemade bento-style will never be as cool to them, so I purposely take the Lunchables option off the table. I did NOT get the crackers or pizza ones - I got her the Ham + American Sub Sandwich with no drink (don't get me started on juice drinks! :-D) and a tiny crispy rice treat (that the school wouldn't let her eat & made her bring home! YAY!) I also got a fresh banana and sent that in, too, for my conscience. :-P I went to Publix over Subway with the intent of getting her a fresh Publix sub; the Publix by our house has kid-sized subs that come with a piece of fruit & yogurt like a "kid's meal", but Publix by her school didn't have those. :'( [Not shocked - just over a different county line. Different demographic. *sigh*] Annelise is in private Montessori this year, so they don't have a cafeteria; but Will's in public 2nd grade, and I absolutely REFUSE to let him buy lunch! I see that nasty lunch menu sent home every month and GAG. I ate school lunch growing up, but we had real vegetables, etc. This stuff is repulsive! We eat lots of treats in this house, so WHY would I EVER add to the sugar load at school with that junk? And since WHEN did the public school rules change? Growing up, I don't think our school ALLOWED anyone to bring candy/candy bars to lunch. [*stepping off soap box*]

The good part was, I didn't have to go far out of my way, I wasn't pressed for time, and she was thrilled. :-D Yay for earning Mother of the Year in her eyes. ;-)

Horror: this morning, someone had hit a dog on the highway right at the entrance to our sub. It. Tore. Me. Up. It had obviously just happened, but the pup was definitely gone. I hadn't seen gore like that close up on clearly-not-a-stray-or-wild animal before. Of course, I got stuck there at the intersection for three times longer than normal trying to pull out into traffic. I just didn't want Annelise to see!!! I was totally freaking on the inside. :'( I planned to call my local vet & JL friend, Haley, to see how to properly report & handle it, (if that had been Bonnie, I would have been gutted to have someone come & dump her w/o us ever knowing!!!) but I wanted to wait until after dropping off Annelise...and then the CVS "crisis" & lack-of-lunch problem all before Zumba threw me off track. When I got back, the body had been removed - I pray respectfully and with the family notified. I have been snuggling Bonnie Blue EXTRA hard this afternoon. Praying for the owners... I don't care if it sounds silly, pets ARE family members.

Zumba: It seems like a lot of people are REALLY EXCITED for my class to start next Tuesday! :-D I've been answering tons of great questions about the class online. My two faves...
How is an out-of-shape/60-something/couch potato/anti-gym member/[insert issue :-)] going to do in your class?
You will be fine! We start slow, and I'll show how you can take the intensity up or down to meet you where you are. :-) I've been involved with a Zumba Gold class (aimed at 60+ & even including some hospital rehab patients) for about 10 months and have learned a lot from that instructor on modifications, so NO WORRIES!!!! Come & you will ROCK IT!!!!!
Do you teach like a drill sergeant?
I am NOT one of those drill sergeant trainer types! I'm not about everybody perfecting every move "just like I do it". [PS - *I* don't do them all perfectly every time, either! :-D] I want everyone to do the best version for THEM. Of course, I want you to push yourselves a bit, but a senior adult with joint issues pushing their limits looks a lot different than a teenager who loves the gym does pushing it. In all honesty - I HATE gyms & "working out". I've fallen in love with this, b/c it's the first exercise thing that makes me laugh, smile, & have fun. :-D

Today I told the instructor of the Zumba class I take every Friday morning about my new class. I was nervous that she may think of it as competition, but another good thing about Zumba is that the instructors are very supportive of each other. She actually already knew about it, b/c she saw the class listing on and was so excited for me!

Closing with lust, so I can allow myself to close the follow browser tab. ;-) Y'all know how I am, so I can't seem to bring myself to buy this; but OHHHHH EEEEEM GEEEEE have I fallen hard for this Lilly Pulitzer dress - the Jia Dress.
(These thumbnails do ZERO justice! Click on the big link.) I can't decide which pattern I adore more, Bright Navy Coral Siesta or Turquoise Coral Cascade. Be still, my [size M ;-)] heart...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Zumba Ministry!

Y'all - it's ON! I start teaching Zumba® fitness on Tuesdays at Providence Church here!!! I can't tell you how much has gone into this. I spent literally MONTHS trying to get it started at Sherwood (the Courageous & Fireproof church) but that was just not where God wanted this to happen, b/c I pressed on and on and on, and nothing would ever get rolling. We made a few changes for our family (w/o this being a factor) before the holidays, I had one meeting (at Starbucks, YAY! :-D) with the pastor of Providence, and he immediately wanted to make this happen as much as I did!!! We finally have all the music performance licenses (you can get sued for playing the music w/o it! even the stuff directly from corporate Zumba®!) and Georgia "Release, Liability Waiver, & Covenant Not to Sue" forms for everyone to sign beforehand. Before this, I had no idea that you couldn't just start a little group class cold, you know? I thought the hard part would be memorizing all the choreography! HA! :-D

God really wrestled with me over this being a free ministry, but I know it's the right thing to do, and I'm just so excited to be able to REALLY GIVE my heart, in a way I haven't been able to do since my last MOPS group. My friend Whitney said, "It's so funny how our lives evolve and our ministry opps go right along with that! He's always got something for us! So blessed to just be a part!" EXACTLY!!!!! I would have NEVER, EVER dreamed I'd end up doing anything like this as a ministry; and I was so sad when MOPS was over for me... But He worked it out, as always, by growing ME for THIS! :-D ♥

Here's my whole official spiel:


Susie is a licensed member of the Zumba Instructor Network. "Zumba with Susie" at Providence Church is a FREE class offered Tuesdays from 5:30-6:15 PM as a community-wide outreach. You do not need to attend Providence to participate.

Independent Zumba® classes run b/t $3-$12 per class, (& they are SO WELL WORTH IT!) Gym memberships are several hundred dollars a year. Fitness & health are of the utmost importance, but they can be easy sacrifices in tough economic times. DON'T LET THAT DISCOURAGE YOU! Providence Church is providing this amazing fitness opportunity at NO COST TO YOU! Come, bring water, & be blessed!!!

Nervous about this whole Zumba business? ["I can't dance." "Jumping around in church is freaky." "WEIRD!"] Read this beautiful note from a Zumba participant at Highland Baptist Church in Waco, TX...and GET EXCITED for what God can do through *us*!


Confession: I hate working out. ZUMBA® is the ONLY form of "exercise" that has EVER held my interest longer than some 2 or 3 month fad. Why? Because it doesn't FEEL like exercise! It feels like dancing at a party with friends! :-) If you want to actually HAVE FUN while getting healthy, come join me! You don't have to know ANYTHING about dance - everything can be modified and tailored. Do it as "hang out time" with your friends, do it to get healthier, do it to stay sharp! Interested in weight loss? I lost 10 lbs in the first six months when I began taking Zumba® weekly as a student. Something that is THIS MUCH FUN *AND* could shape me up? It has become a passion! :-)

Outside of Zumba®, I studied dance (tap & jazz with ballet foundation) for 15 years and have taught dance (preballet, creative movement, tap, & jazz) outside Atlanta and Chicago. I am also a youth cheerleading coach.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tortured by Jim Williams

I *finally* just finished the book I've been trying to read since JULY: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Jim Williams (the author's central figure) will no longer torture me! :-D That's not to say I didn't enjoy it - I absolutely looooved this book! It just weighed heavily on me, though, as it took me two library check-outs and FOUR extra renewals to get it read. :-P [I readily admit, reading is low on my leisure priority totem pole. If I have *ANY* FB, blogging, DVR, or digiscrapping on my plate, the book will stay closed.] I purposed to read this back in July in preparation for my first trip to Savannah. How could I go there with my deep love of all things Southern having never read it? (Or seen the movie? But I wanted to read the book first.) I didn't want to waste our trip not appreciating what I was walking around in! [This book is NONFICTION = extra love!!! True is ALWAYS better, esp. the way I always put myself so deeply in the stories I read.] Summer is a difficult time for me to read, though - it sounds counterintuitive, against the "summer beach read" grain; we even have a pool to read beside, for Pete's sake! But summer = kids home 24/7 = no way I can ignore them long enough for my slow-reader-self to get into a book after catching up on FB, blogging, DVR, & digiscrapping. :-P With one check-out & two renewals, I *did* get through Part One before our trip, which was actually the ultimate set-up! Part One introduces the city, the history, the cast of fabulously-Southern-eccentric characters, and it set the scene perfectly for our visit.

I can understand why this book was on the bestseller list for over four years - the characters and scenery are riveting; they seem too fantastic to be real...but to me, that's the beauty of the South. Life here is colorful, vibrant, and everyone knows everyone's crazy "secrets". :-D

I thought I might have a chance to get through Part Two over Christmas, so I checked it out, again...and didn't crack it at my parents'; it sat under my laptop the whole trip. I renewed it once and then my final available time this week. After finally catching up on my digiscrapping, I vowed to power through! It turned out to be a neat division, (not that I'd necessarily recommend reading it this way; but it just happened to work out for me) b/c I've had almost five months to mull over the characters, to personally see where they live(d), to feel like I got to know them in more than just a day or two before getting to the explosive action of the story this weekend in Part Two.

It lived up to its billing as "a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city is a modern classic."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Four-Month Digiscrap Catch-Up

I surprised myself when I looked back to see that I hadn't posted any of my scrapbook pages in four whole months - back to JB's & my Savannah trip! On the flipside, it makes a nice little review now to start the new year! :-D [If you want to know HOW to digiscrap, (or at least how *I* do it) click here for all my details. (You can see these pages below a little bigger by clicking on each one or more so by going here and clicking on each, although they're listed in backwards order.)]

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Home & Daddy Tea

This has been the greatest week, so far, coming back from NC. JB is doing a lot of work from home, but *THAT* is the key: FROM HOME!

Yesterday was Will's last day of vacay before going back to school today, so we all four went to see We Bought a Zoo yesterday afternoon. Wonderful! There are three or four unnecessary bad words for kids, but it's still a fantastic film! I bawled my head off with shaking sobs at the end... ♥ [I love the catharsis of crying at movies!]

Annelise told Daddy for her last day of vacay today, she *reallyreallyreally* wanted us to take him to tea for lunch, (at her ultra fave spot, Veronica Luttrell's Tea House.) There aren't words for how much this meant to her or how special she felt:
Daddy picked the best tea of the day, Monk's Blend - black tea naturally flavored with vanilla and grenadine. (With cream & sugar, it was SO CLOSE to a bubble tea flavor!!! ) I stuck with my Caramel Rooibos - so healthy & caffeine-free, so Sis could share as much as she wanted. We were royally stuffed after two pots of tea, chicken salad croissants, and cups of creamy soup.

I can't tell you how blessed I feel - to have this time, to have a husband who is *this* good of a father, and to feel so great to start this new year! ♥

Finally, just a funny to end our day:
After reading an AR book on consideration referencing the late Princess of Wales, Will was quizzed: "Who was Princess Diana?"
Will's answer: "The whale queen"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hoppin' John Salad with Molasses Dressing and A Year of Grace & Perspective

I was a good Southern girl and ate my black-eyed peas, pork, & greens for luck yesterday on New Year's Day. My mom found a great new recipe for these ingredients, which are not necessarily my fave (cooked greens = ick; black-eyeds are low on my legume list; although I do ♥♥♥ pork!) that was delicious: Hoppin' John Salad with Molasses Dressing. We used bacon instead of andouille (b/c we already had it) and put the salad in a bowl of baby spinach for greens: mmmmmm - winter salad! [What are you crazy Southerners talking about re: pork, greens, & black-eyed peas for New Year's luck??? My friend, Brandie, put it well simply: black-eyed peas = good luck; greens = prosperity & money in the future; pork = looking forward to the future (pigs can't bend their necks to look backwards)]

Quotes touching my heart for this new year from Ann Voskamp...

Contentment isn’t a state of organization, a weight on the scale, a state of better: better kids, better marriage, better health, better house. Contentment is never a matter of circumstances; contentment is always a state of communion — a daily embracing of God. A thankfulness for all the gifts – and moments and life, just as He gives it. Trying harder may only bring harder trials and contentment, it won’t be be found in the resolutions, but in the revolutions – in the turning round to God.

“Joy is always a function of gratitude — and gratitude is always a function of perspective.
If we are going to change our lives, what we’re going to have to change is the way we see.”

“God isn’t asking us to earn His love.
He’s simply asking us to turn towards His love.”

“Holy joy lies in the habit of murmuring thanks to God for the smallest of graces.”

“Paying attention to our lives is a way to pay thanks to our Lord.”

“God doesn’t drive us to achieve.
He simply asks us to come receive.
All great things are an overflow of His grace.”

“No one receives the Grace of God without giving thanks to God.
Thankfulness is the deep, contented breath of peacefulness.”

“When grief and grace both kindle in the us the same flame of gratitude towards God —
it’s only then that our love for God ignites int a pure blaze of glory.”

“Praise, not Perfection.
What God seeks is not my perfection, but my praise.”

“If God really works in everything, why don’t we thank Him in everything?
Why be afraid of anything — when God is using everything?”

“To bring the sacrifice of thanksgiving is to sacrifice our understanding of what’s beneficial
and thank God for everything — because He is benevolent.
A sacrifice of thanks lays down our perspective and raises hands in praise anyways — always.”

“If gratitude is an antidote for anxiety, and giving thanks is a real cure for stress,
we don’t have to relegate thanksgiving to a holiday,
for giving thanks to God revolutionizes all of our days.”

“No one gets to joy by trying to make everything perfect.
One only arrives there by seeing in every imperfection all that is joy.”