Top Ten Things I LOVE about Living in a Hotel

10. Confusing my friends with caller I.D.

9. No need to give directions to pizza delivery guy.

8. Living here fits very nicely into my "happy place" which includes denial of what my home currently looks like.

7. The look on people's faces when I tell them where I'm currently living:
(Did she leave her husband? Have they been evicted? Did they lose their home?)

6. Afternoon swims

5. Happy Hour!

4. Maid service!

3. Cleaning the kitchen means throwing away the pizza box and paper plates.

2. Hot breakfasts! (that I don't touch, cook, or clean)

And the Number One Thing I LOVE about living in a hotel:

1. INDOOR PLUMBING -- and no trough down the middle of the floor!


Happy Hour, Good Grammar, and Deadlines

I ripped this off of Beth Moore's blog -- all in the name of sisterly encouragement, of course. I'm sure Beth won't mind! I do love it.

Riley is back at school and feelin', well, not-quite-groovy, but much better.

A few funnies from today: I had to stop at Coach Brady's house to deal with some fund-raising stuff and was outside visiting. Ashley was getting antsy to leave and, at one point, yelled out, "Moooooommmmm, happy hour is almost over!" It took me a second to realize what she was talking about and I felt the need to turn to Brooke and Brady and explain: "She's talking about Happy Hour at Sonic (half-price slushes), not at the hotel." Later I realized that my need to explain was probably a little incriminating in itself!

Later, I had homework for her "s*x ed" class at school -- that is more like a self-esteem, value-yourself class thus far. I was supposed to list at least ten values that are important for me to pass along to my daughter. I confess I wanted to put, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself," and think that pretty well covers it, but I tried to come up with 10 things. When I got Troy to help me we came up with 10 that seemed VERY redundant to me (can YOU come up with 10 different values you want to pass along to your child?) Ashley was going over the list and laughed at my #10. I tried to explain, "Punctuality goes with respect for other people and their time" (yes, it's a value I would LIKE to pass along to my children, but probably won't since it is rarely modeled for them). She is enlightened now, "Oh! I thought you were talking about using periods, commas, and quotation marks." So then I had to explain the difference between punctuation and punctuality. AND I had an 11th value I wanted to put: Good grammar.

I've had several people ask me: How much longer? I honestly don't know what they are asking -- until we can move back to our house or until our house is put back together. No matter -- I know the answer to neither. I don't mind not knowing the answer and I figure I'm probably happier not knowing -- but I feel like a bit of an idiot admitting I have no idea. I think that somewhere in there someone has told me a when -- but the only one I know for sure I've been told has already come and gone and deadline not met. So I ignore. But in my attempt to make everyone happy -- or maybe just make me look like less of an idiot -- I have decided that my answer will be, "About another week." How long until they are finished? About another week. How long will you still be living at the hotel? About another week. How long will it take for your house to be finished? About another week. Until then, I'll be poolside enjoying happy hour! :-) Sonic's OR the hotel's!


Coffee Group On the Road

I meant to include this in the last post, but I was horribly distracted between talk of new kitchen tile and getting the dance-off results from the kids while they observed the dinner at the hotel. So my coffee group gals hit the road this weekend. I'm going to claim being the youngest and most agile since they crammed me in the back little seat -- but I went the whole way saying (honestly) that I didn't mind and actually liked my little cubby! But what a fun trip. Oh, I am so blessed.

I do love to speak at ladies' things. Mainly, I guess, I just love to talk and I REALLY love to talk about what the Lord teaches me. Then, when I get to sit and visit with my friends and travel with them -- I'm just so blessed.

We spoke at Crossroads Retreat Center in Caldwell, Texas, which is pretty 'fur acrosst' Texas from Abilene! Beautiful, beautiful country, though! And I got to see old family -- my sisters from my congregation in Temple. What beautiful, beautiful souls they are. I am so blessed.

So, we talked and we laughed and we ate and we laughed some more. And sweet Judy drove and drove and drove some more. And we continued to laugh. All in all, a grand time was had by all.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Life Goes On

The excavation of my home and foundation continues. However, I do have to confess that the bees left almost as soon as I posted about their presence. Troy says that's how they travel -- swarm, rest, swarm. Comforting, no?

The foundation of my home is laid bare and, in some cases, removed from my home. There is a hole in the hall bath about 4 feet deep. There are piles of dirt in Ashley's room that have dumped huge clods onto her carpet that is rolled to one side. Concrete dust covers every inch of my home. Obviously not in my happy place.

HOWEVER -- since last Thursday my home has been some hotel. Thursday was Best Western, then I left town, then we've been at the Elegante' Suites (formerly Embassy). My kids are eating better breakfasts than they have all year -- okay, my whole family is. Troy doesn't even have to eat lunch! Someone comes to make my beds and bring me fresh towels every day. I'm 2 for 2: days for naps. It is, indeed, all good in the 'hood!

Of course, the questions continue -- how long? how much? what is the problem? No idea. I know we won't be back in our home for at least another week. I know my home won't be much of a home when we do get back. It will be weeks of tripping over installers and displaced furniture. I know that parts of my foundation can't be closed up for weeks while we wait on soil sample testing. I don't know how it will all work. But I do know it will work. Again, it's inconvenient, but not a problem. I truly can't complain -- oh, I have, but I really have no room to. I know people that have actual problems. Living in a hotel having my dinner delivered to me -- not exactly a problem.

Judy says it's just like a vacation -- the first night here did appear just like some of MY vacations, but I doubt like many of Judy's. Wal-Mart at 11 p.m. Saturday so that Riley could have something other than athletic shorts to wear to church. Raucous softball teams celebrating until 3 a.m. Just like my vacations!

Having been through a flood and reconstruction 5 years ago, we are much better equipped to deal with this than we were the flood. I feel like we are making better decisions and I can think through our decorating options while we have this "opportunity" to re-model! Again, just like a vacation (even right this minute, the dinner in the atrium of the hotel is having some awesome live music -- you just don't get that at home! The kids just returned reporting on the dance-off).

And, since life goes on, bumps and scrapes come with it. Last night at baseball practice Riley took off after a long hit and tried to hurdle a rope that blocks off a portion of the track. With all the grace of his momma, he caught one leg on the rope and landed hip and elbow first. The kid is bunged up. When he still could hardly walk this morning, I took a sick day and took him into the doctor. Yep, he's beat up. Yep, he'll be fine. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Life Goes On.


Now We Have Honey to Sweeten Life's Lemonade..

So Ashley calls me outside. "See that black spot on the tree?" Well, it's a pretty scrawny tree and a fairly large spot, so, yes, I see it...
So, joining our happy little jackhammered home is a swarm of bees. I'm sure there is something I could and should be doing about that, but I don't know what. So, I'm keeping the children away until their father gets home!

Happy Place... Growing Dim ... So Far Away

Well, to Pete, I guess, this is progress. I don't know if you can see, but I put a little, tiny red arrow to indicate where I stood yesterday to take a picture of my kitchen. Now my happy trough goes from my kitchen to the edge of my living room. Tomorrow it should go through the hall bath, the Master shower, the hall, the hall closet, and finish it's tour of the Stirman home in Ashley's room. I do believe this is my favorite, though:
as if my living room were Pete's personal spelunking project.
He truly is a nice man and if I have to spend all day having my teeth rattled by a jack-hammering plumber, it may as well be Pete! He and Jason, our State Farm adjuster, are going to have to go on my Christmas card list!


Photographic Evidence

My kitchen sink area and floor Wednesday morning:
The kitchen sink is in my garage, and here is the floor area by Wednesday afternoon:
Lovely, no? (for reference, those are 18" tiles -- the picture shows 6 of them torn up, and I'm standing at the 7th one to take the pic)
Seeing these pictures makes me realize that I have no idea where my cabinet doors are. Just a minute, let me look around... no, they are not in my happy place, which is where I have to stay right now. There are no questions and no answers in my happy place -- how much more do they have to dig up? how long will this take? you're sure State Farm will cover all of this? None of those are in my happy place, so I can't help you. My refrigerator is in front of my french doors and there is plywood over the trough. That is what I know -- OH, and I know that I made a grand pioneer woman and hauled water so I could cook and clean for a week with no drainage, but now I have no water and no sink to hold my "wash basins". So, I'm done and we shall be eating out until I have a sink again. That information is in my happy place. I think also in my happy place I am going to take children to breakfast this morning since there is one of those big, state-wide exams and they need a decent breakfast -- and there isn't one at this house! Come join me in my happy place!

Nothing Noteworthy

First, y'all knew I had to check out the new Diet Coke Plus, right? I saw it on the news earlier this week. Troy, of course, rolled his eyes. But if I can drink that bubbly beverage that I love so very much AND get a few vitamins, I'm ALL about it. I wouldn't have thought it would have been in our tiny city yet, but Kendra sent me an email about it pretty fired up (you don't know Diet Coke love/ addiction until you've met Kendra) so I set out in search of it today. Okay, truthfully I just went to Wal-Mart since that's where Kendra told me she had found it. I wouldn't have made a special trip there, but I needed a few other things, you know the W-M drill... Anyway, I know you are dying for my review so here goes: Flavor? sweeter than regular Diet Coke (NOT a plus, in my book) yet with more of an aftertaste. All in all, it's tolerable, and if it had vitamins I thought I really needed I would make a point to drink one every day. Which brings me to the vitamin content: How's your magnesium level? Niacin? I'm sure the B-6 and B-12 proponents will argue with me, but I really think I'm okay on that front, as well. I know that I am chronically short of calcium and iron, but I also know that caffeine interferes with the absorption of both of those things, so we probably won't find them in a Diet Coke anytime soon. All in all, Diet Coke plus is a grand idea --- but I doubt it will stick around very long.

And on the homefront -- I can't wait until I can post my picture of my kitchen floor with the 5 foot trough down the middle of it. It used to smell like fresh dirt, which I just thought I didn't enjoy until they got closer to the problem area and now it smells like sewer gas. I have learned that when Pete the Plumber is jack-hammering your kitchen floor, there is no where in the house to get away from the sound or feel. If you go into the backyard, put your earplugs in so far that the sound of your breathing is magnified, then take a huge swig of Diet Coke, the sound of the fizzing of the bubbles in your mouth is a fun distraction from the jackhammering, but you can still hear it. If you go to Wal-Mart or the mall, you can't hear it at all. There is currently talk of a trough that slices the flooring, as well as some cabinetry and fixtures, all the way through my home to remedy the extent of the problem. I am doing what is very typical of me at such a time -- I am very far away in my happy place and not processing. In 2 weeks, when I still have a trough in my home, plumbers jackhammering my life, and State Farm telling me that my tile is no longer made and they can replace it with ugly tile 'A' --- at that point I will also do what is fairly typical of me and have a nervous breakdown when I notice that we are running low on Honey-Nut Cheerios or something to that effect. Just bear with me.

Friday I get to go on a road trip with my gals and tell more of God's story at a retreat. I am so thankful for my gals! I get to continue to find my happy place while poor Troy continues to sit through jackhammering and sewer gas smell. May God bless the daddies left behind on a ladies retreat!


The Days Are Evil

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15, 16

The days are truly evil. Besides the horror of yesterday, there are so many memories of evil this week:

April 19, 1993 – Branch Davidian leader, David Koresh, sets fire to the compound outside of Waco after federal agents released tear gas in the compound. Dozens of Branch Davidians were shot and killed before the fire ever started.

April 19, 1995 – Timothy McVeigh parks a truck full of explosives in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. It was the deadliest terrorist act on American soil at the time.

April 20, 1999 -- Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold go on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado. They kill 12 students and 1 teacher before ending their own lives.

This year, April 17, 2007 has been added to the list of days in April that are memories of terror. I have no answers. I have no reasons 'why'. I have no understanding about any of it. But I have hope. Sometimes hope is all you can go on.

Heather offers much in the way of perspective this week. A week ago Heather thought she had a horrible ear infection that was making her so dizzy. Today she had an appointment at the Mayo Clinic to discuss options for the brain tumor she has learned she has. Please read her words here. Keep up with her here. And pray for her always.


Like a Good Neighbor...

Yeah, I heard you... you, over there in Pennsylvania -- I heard you laugh when I said my husband was on the phone with State Farm. I heard you tell your friend what a moron I am for paying THAT much for homeowner's insurance. Well, let me give you some fuel for your laughter: State Farm has not only my homeowner's insurance, but my auto (both) and my husband's life (yes, I have life, and some of it is SF and some is someone else cheap -- b/c a death certificate is non-debateable: dead is dead. No exclusions of coverage) 'Cause here's the deal -- while I could have saved a few bucks over the years on my insurance, State Farm has paid me back and paid me back so many times over -- flood and car damage -- done! Now that my house has shifted, thus crushing a pipe under my kitchen, State Farm is once again saying, "You're covered!" Yeah, I could save a few bucks on insurance, but will they be there when I need them?

'Cause like a good neighbor... State Farm is there.

This is just to be written record/ reminder for the next time we have a "budget meeting" at the house and Troy wants to talk about saving $13/ month. He'll just have to pack his lunch a few more times if he wants to save $13/ month!


No, Seriously!

Have you ever gone about your day just fine until someone asks you, "Do you feel all right?" with a VERY concerned look on their face? Well, I thought I was all right. Yes, yes, I think I must be fine. But you wonder... do I look sick? Then if ANOTHER person asks you -- well, you just may as well go home and go to bed because you are definitely sick at that point, if only because your brain has convinced yourself that you are ill.

I thought I was fine and happy and wonderful today, but I keep getting these "this encouraging message made me think of you" emails. Which, don't get me wrong, I love to be encouraged, but they seemed to be aimed at the soul unable to tread another step without a little encouragement. Well, I thought I was fine and happy and wonderful...

Perhaps the brevity of my "plumbing issue" post caused folks to think that I was in my flannel jammies sobbing over pipes. I may have been in my flannel jammies, but I haven't sobbed and I really don't plan to. The brevity of the post comes from it being 16 hours after I had picked my head up off of the pillow, but anytime you can say, "We have to go out to eat" AND you're entitled to pay for it with your emergency fund because, truly, it could classify as an emergency-- it's not an entirely bad situation!

As my little friend Allie told me, "It's all good in the 'hood!" Now, I'm not sure my little slice of suburbia would be considered "the 'hood", but it's definitely good. Yes, there are plans to jackhammer parts of my home, but it's not my (or anyone else's) head, heart, or even big toe, for pity's sake. And, as my friend Donna Leavelle says, "If you've got problems that money can solve, then you don't really have problems." Every day of my life convinces me of that again and again. And, fabulously enough, the Lord has provided so many things in this part of our lives, shame on me if I miss all of the blessings before me for the few inconveniences.

So, um, thanks for all of the encouragement, I think. But, really, I think I'm fine -- unless you know something I don't!


A Day in the Life

Today, I didn't want to hear:

  • "Mom, the plumber is here." (okay, when a plumber is needed, it is always good for one to be there, but it was 7:48, I was trying to leave for work and Troy was still in the shower. So, of course, the plumber was 12 minutes EARLY).
  • From Hector at the Help Desk: "Yes, ma'am, I realize you've been entering that data for 30 minutes (almost my entire conference time! HELLO!) but there is no way to get the program "unfrozen" without losing that data."
  • Text message from Troy, at home with the plumbers: "Call when you can -- big problem."
  • I call: "Hang on, I'm on the other line with State Farm."
  • Email later: "State Farm is sending an adjuster, but they say it doesn't sound like something they will cover."

Today, I was thrilled to hear:

  • But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. Jeremiah 17:7
  • He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21
  • Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:28, 29


Batter Up!

originally on
March 30, 2005

I hate baseball.

There you have it. Just as my delay in seeing "The Passion of the Christ" calls my citizenship in heaven into question, I feel certain that my loathing of America’s past-time also calls my United States citizenship into question. But there it is – I hate baseball.

So God, having the fabulous sense of humor I feel any loving Creator should have, sent me a son. A son who, in his 7th year, wants to play baseball more than anything. Soccer? Nope. Basketball? Nothin’ doin’. Baseball? Sign him up! Sign him up we did.

Now we’ve invested in cleats, hats, socks, belts, and numerous other items that seem to be essential for playing a game of baseball. Now I spend my evenings sitting in the not-yet-warm West Texas wind watching small children learn to "throw a string, not a rainbow". I figure in a one hour Little League game (and I think I’m being optimistic to assume it will only last an hour) the ball in motion and all subsequent action will total approximately 12 minutes of that game. My son’s part in the action may total about 4 minutes. Again, I believe myself to be an optimist.

I admit that my disdain has had to give way to minor dislike as I watch the enthusiasm that my son has for the sport. Minutes waiting for practice to begin (PRACTICE, mind you – we haven’t even had a game yet!) are painstaking agony. Minutes at practice fly by all too quickly. The little leaguer gushes with knowledge and excitement after each practice. Finally, last night I admit my heart thawed totally toward the sport. I commented, in all honesty, "Well, I’m really glad that you seem to like it." His response was nothing less than incredulous: "Like it?!?! Are you kidding?!?! It’s the best thing that ever happened to me!!!"

Now, keep in mind that my son’s life is not necessarily fraught with hardship unless you count unloading the dishwasher and feeding the dog difficult manual labor. But if baseball is the best thing that ever happened to him, then buy me some peanuts and CrackerJacks, I don’t care if I never get back from the old ball game! I have laughed to myself at how little it took to change my view of the game – simply the fact that it is the delight of one of the loves of my life.

I believe that those of us blessed to be parents are given that task in order to get a tiny glimpse into God’s love for us. Lately I have been perplexed by the verse "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4) What if the desire of my heart involves 6-pack abs and single digit clothing sizes? I have no hard and fast answers (nor hard abs) but I do know that this spring West Texas day was one of the best things that ever happened to me. And I do believe that it tickled God to no end for me to tell Him so. I also believe that as I continue to pour out my heart to God and know Him as the loving parent He is, the desires of my heart will more closely match His.

Without a doubt, HE is the best thing that ever happened to me!

Batter up!

Blogger's note -- now, two years later, enthusiasm has not
waned and I look forward to countless more hours on impossibly hard metal
bleachers and dinners of Dixie Burgers or concession stand

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