Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections on 2011

2011 has been a very challenging for us. We are excited for 2012.

I wanted to take a look back at 2011....


The challenging of 2011


Diagnosis of Epilepsy



Thyroid Removal


Medical bills that we continue to pay.





The Good of 2011

A new (used) Car to us!

 An unexpected trip to Disney World to celebrate our 1 year Anniversary...



 
 The unexpected arrival of Sarah ...



 The birth of Miles Walter






A visit from Aunt Jill


 A new baby cousin, Paris Love Lumley



 Meeting Emily Maynard.... So pretty...


Eating Healthier, dropping weight...






2011 has brought some big challenges, but I have learned that with a little faith, patience, determination and positive attitude, things can work together for good. Although 2011 has not been a favorite year of mine, I am thankful for all the positive things that God has brought into my life. My prayer for 2012 is to be healthy and determined to start running again.
God bless and Happy New Year..

Friday, December 30, 2011

Without a Ring


I don't know where to begin with this blog post, so I will start from the beginning. When Drew proposed to me, he picked out such a beautiful ring. It is perfect. It is a wide band, diamonds on the side and is a princess cut with 4 diamonds in the middle. Well, my current ring is #3. My first ring got a crack on the diamond, my second ring did not even look like my first ring and my third ring has been great EXCEPT for when I took it in TODAY for it's SIX month appointment.
A diamond is very LOOSE... With the setting, they have to send the ring back to the VENDOR, which means lots of $$$ out the door to get fixed.. They might not even be able to tighten it because of the setting... UGH.... I was very emotional. It's just a ring and I know that. .It is a thing, but one of the most special things I have, not because it has diamonds, but because it has commitment attached to it. Now, I will wait for two weeks before I hear if can be fixed and the damage. For now, my finger is bare. I pray that God will give me peace about this because currently I am very ANGRY about it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Scrapbooking

I love putting scrapbooks together. It makes me feel like my life is preserved in someway for the future. I have been working on my wedding scrapbook and it has been stressing me out. I am putting way to much pressure on the fact that I want it to be perfect. Instead, I probably should be concerned about getting it done, but the perfectionist in me wants it to look really classy and elegant. 




I need to get this done, especially over my Christmas Break... So far, I have gotten ZERO pages done... This is going to be a long weekend...

I was checking out my Facebook time line today and I had forgotten on the morning of our wedding, I ran 8 miles... That is something I cannot wait to journal about.. Something that makes my wedding morning unique. I will always forever be a runner whether I actually run another race or not, I will always be a runner..The heart is where it's all at... It is the wellspring of life..


I need some scrapbook motivation people! 


How do you preserve your family memories?

Running with Joy

As a runner, I truly enjoyed the account of Ryan Hall's 14 week preparation for the 2010 Boston Marathon in his book Running with Joy. Ryan is  an inspirational man who like any other runner deals with sickness, bad weather, set backs, disappointment, emotional roller coasters and injuries. In Running with Joy, Ryan takes the reader along side him through the good and bad as he prepares for 26.2 miles of JOY!





Ryan is a Christian which takes the reader on a spiritual journey through his running. I like the writing of this book. Each page is almost of journal/diary format where Ryan highlights his mileage, workouts, weather, body aches, and tips on how to become a better runner. It is almost very intimate, I don't know other runners who offer such details of their marathon journeys.  


He offers a different perspective on running that most runners cannot express. I love this book, especially since I am a runner and a Christian. He really inspired me to get back on my running journey, especially after my body has changed due to the Epilepsy. He has motivated me into wanting to start small and watch God do something big in me. I recommend this book to a marathon runner or the one wants to run a 5k either way, this book will inspire you.
To find out more about Ryan, go here.
You can download Chapter 1 here!


Big thanks to Harvest House Publishers for allowing me to review this awesome book! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Oreo Truffles

These are sinful and to die for.. 



Ingredients:

1 pkg cream cheese softened
1 pkg (16.6 oz) oreo cookies finely crushed (I bought Aldi brand) and  
crush them in a food processor
2 pkgs (8 squares each) Baker's Semi-Sweet chocolate melted
(I bought the 1# chocolate bark block at Meijer- I used 3 squares with  
some vegetable oil micro. for 1 minute or so)

Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until well blended (best to mix it  
with your hands)
Shape into small balls. Dip in melted chocolate (to easily coat them  
roll them around with 2 forks until covered)
Sprinkle with powered sugar if desired.

I store them in the freezer to keep firm and cold.
 
You will love these !! 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Walgreens Photo: 25 FREE 4×6 Prints

Walgreens Photo: 25 FREE 4×6 Prints: Yeah! You can score 25 FREE 4×6 prints from Walgreens Photo through December 31st! To get in on this deal, go here and start uploading your photos. After you’re finished, head to checkout and use coupon code PRINTNOW. You can then choose to have these prints shipped to your store for FREE! (Thanks, The Brainy [...]

101 in 1001 update

101 in 1001

101 Goals in 1001 Days
I have goals for my life and I will mark the progress of these goals over the next two years. I challenge you to join me in the journey.

Start Date: March 27, 2011
End Date: December 25, 2013 

1. Finish my Social Work Limited License (4000 hours) Close to completing 2000

2. Pass my Licensure Exam
3. Get a school Social Work Job

4. Develop and Design a workbook on Anger for Kids

5. Learn photo shop
6. Blog every day for a month
7. Host a giveaway on my blog

8. Inspire someone else to do 101 in 1001 day  Check out Brittany's blog

9. Purchase a new Desktop Mac Computer

10. Organize bathroom and find a new, efficient way to store towels.  May 8, 2011

11.  Hang 5 pictures on the wall (5/5) September 29,2011

12. Keep the kitchen floor clean for 1 week

13.  Learn how to use the grill

14. Try to cook 30 new recipes (3/30) Greek Yogurt Recipe, Taco Salad, Avocada Dip

15. Cook homemade meals for every weekend for a month.

16. Organize my computer files (August, 2011, did this while Drew was one a long conversation with comcast)

17. Get rid of unnecessary items filling clutter September 20,2011

18. Go to bed at 9pm for a week straight  (November 1-7 2011)

19. Fit comfortably in a size 6  (Currently, between an 8-10)

20. Lose 30lbs (15 down)

21. Run a Marathon

22. Drink only water for 2 weeks.

23.  Inspire someone else to lose weight.

24. Get a flatter stomach

25. Eat breakfast for a week straight. (Entire Month of December 2011, this is weird)

26. Be confident in a bikini.

27. Count Weight Watchers Points faithfully for 1month
28. Finish writing my children’s book.
29. Learn how to use my Digital SLR Camera
29. Make our wedding Scrapbook

30. Buy a sewing machine.
 31. Learn how to use a sewing machine.

32. Make up my own social skill activities for 8 lessons (8/8) Completed  June 1, 2011

33.  Send 30 cards to people expectantly (7/30)

34.Rent/ Watch 50 new movies (21/50
Despecable Me
The Back up Plan
Christmas in Wonderland
How do you know?
Christmas Cottage
Grown Ups
Denis the Menace Christmas
Christmas Dogs
It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown 
Mall Cop 
Old Dogs 
Life As We Know it 
Call Me Mrs. Miracle
Spooky Buddies
On Strike for Christmas
The Gift of the Magi
Just Go with It
Just Wright
Little Fockers
Morning Glory
New Years Eve







35.Go to the Library 1x a month for 6months (5/6 March 26, 2011, April 22, 2010, May 6, 2010, June 6, 2011, July 18, 2011, August 5, 2011)

36. Try 5 new restaurants

37. Go to a Hockey Game

38. Go on a date with Drew each weekend for a month (0/4) (December 2011)

39. Stay home for entire weekend without leaving

40. Read 100 new books (12/100)
1. Life without Limits
2. Love at Last Sight
3. Chocolate Diaries
4. Max on Life
5. Unleashed
6. Sister Chicks Sombreros
7. Departures, Sierra Jensen and Christy Miller
8) A Cowboys Touch
9. Leaving- Karen Kingsbury
10. Learning- Karen Kingsbury
11.  The Christmas List
12. The Accidental Bride

41. Read my Bible every day for a month

42. Read “1000 Gifts”
43. Pray together with my husband at least 2 nights a week for a month.

44. Go on a girl’s vacation with Rachel & Mom (Great Wolf Lodge July 2011)

45. Have professional pictures taken of Drew and I 1x every year (0/3)

46. Meet 5 new people

47.Play a board game Candy Land- Connor & Sidney September 2011

 48. Go on a family vacation with my parents

49.Go to a museum

50. Go snorkeling with fish

51. Go to 5 different states 1/5(Flordia 2011)

52. Go out of the country

53. Take a Cruise

54. Send Children’s Book to Publishers

55. Cook out of a cook book for a week

56. Pay off three more student loans (Would like to become completely debt free at somepoint)

57. Stick to a monthly budget for 6months

58. Buy Curtains for our living room Bought them and returned them. Decided it looked better with out curtains. May 18, 2011

59.Build a Snowman

60. Call in Sick to work (not to be sick, but just to take the day off)

61. Go to a Bingo hall and play Bingo

62. Buy and re-read a book from my childhood

63. Visit a Zoo

64. Organize my book shelf  (April 2010)

65. Buy a new car( new to me, can be used) Bought our 2009 Vibe

66.  Buy a lottery ticket for fun (December 2011)

67. Read 4 self helps books

68. Sleep a week straight without getting up in the middle of night (July 6-13, 2011)

69. Cut and Color my hair (August, 2011)

70. Organize my scrapbooking supplies  (April 18, 2011)

71. Stop biting my nails

72. Paint my fingernails 1x a month for 6months (March 18, 2011, April 22, 2011, May 8, 2011, June 6, 2011, July 5, 2011, August 1, 2011))

73. Buy new lipstick

74. Wear makeup for a week straight  (Oct 5-12,2011)

75. Clean up my language

76. Go Christmas Caroling

77. Stop being critical of myself

78. Get Life Insurance (Bought Drew Life Insurance,  I cannot buy life insurance due to my medical history.

79.  Give my blog a transformation ( April 9, 2011)

80. Get a diagnosis for my passing out episodes (June 2011, Seizures)

81. Go Ice skating

82. Keep my email inbox to 0 emails

83.  Complete my “Wreck this Journal”

84. Complete a coloring book

85.  Do a random act of kindness for 10 people (2/10, March 26, 2011- Huge Tip for Waitress at Fridays, Tip for Waitress at Applebees December 2011 )

86. Finish a 1000 jigsaw puzzle

87.  Fly a Kite

89.  Get my picture taken with Santa

90.  Get a new cell phone (June 2011)

91. Make Monkey Bread

92.  Paint on a Canvas (May 4, 2011)

93. Visit Disney World (July 2011)

94.  Make a family Tree

95. Go to a Casino

96.  Learn to French Braid

97. Donate $1 to Charity for each item I do not complete on this list

98.  Buy an expensive camera lens

99. Change my name

100.  Have a pampered chef party ( May 6, 2011)

101. Give up candy for a month ( as I am eating a bowl full of jelly beans at the moment)












Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

                                       We wish you and yours a Merry Christmas!
                                            Love, Drew & Sarah

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lottery Tickets

One of my bucket lists is to buy a lottery ticket. I am lottery ticket virgin. I don't believe in playing the lottery. I don't believe in luck or fate. I believe in God and his provision.
This year, I received a lottery ticket from one of my co-workers. 


I didn't win, which continues to re-affirm why I do not believe in buying lottery tickets or gambling. Anyways, I wanted to blog about this, it was a first. One I don't think I will buy, but a first.. Have you ever bought a lottery ticket? Were you a winner??

Friday, December 23, 2011

Everything Romance

If you are not the mushy gushy type, then STOP reading! If you love to be romantic or need a little boost of encouragement, this POST is for YOU!


Everything Romance is the perfect book to boost your love life. Want to create romantic memories? This book has several heartwarming stories, poems, creative date ideas, gift ideas and recipes. This book is fun, great for the dating, engaged or married couple! Would be a great Valentines or Christmas gift! 


This book is very easy to read, colorful and sure to help add a little spark of romance to your life. This isn't the kind of book you read cover to cover, but a book you keep on the shelf to refer from time to time. It is hardcover and will be sure to last a long time. 




I would like to thank Waterbrook Press for allowing me to review this unique book!



Spending some Holiday Cheer with the Simmons



 As tradition serves, we go up to Cadillac every year to celebrate Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa Simmons. We always have so much fun. Grandma has a tradition of making all kinds of Christmas cookies, which are located in various snowman cookie jars. Literally, her cookie jars take up an entire counter.. It is a bit insane if you ask me, but I love the cookies :)


The kids always get their picture together.. It is a tradition... Glad I'm not in it :)




I was very excited that Grandma searched and found me Doogie Howser.. It made my entire day.. Kelsey, remember Doogie??? I am so excited to watch Season 1 and Season 2...



Grandma and Grandpa also bought us a Garmin. We have been wanting one for years, but have never been able to purchase one. .This was the perfect gift. A lot of people give us CRAP for not having fancy phones with GPS systems, but we feel like these expensive phone plans are a waste of money... So excited to use this for a ROAD TRIP in the VIBE!





Grandpa made me this cute reindeer candy dish! I love it! It so cute! He cut and carved it out of wood and then painted it.. He is amazing! He loves to tinker in his wood shop! I will treasure this forever!

Grandpa and Grandpa Simmons opening our Christmas gift- A family picture from our Wedding!!! 


I love spending the holidays with family and friends near and far! I love the small traditions and I love going to Cadillac for a day of relaxation! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tying the Knot




Christmas is not about presents, but the birth of a King.  I however, love to give around the holidays. This afternoon, Drew and I made a special trip to Joanne Fabrics looking for the perfect fleece materials in order to make a blanket for my grandpa. We found this cute frog pattern with red santa hats and mittens.. The pattern is super cute and very fun. My grandpa has been sick for some time and I wanted to make something that would cheer him up..
 Initially, Drew did not think this was manly, but upon second glance, he thinks this is really cheery and will make my grandpa happy. Also, my mom gave her approval too...
 The blanket is six and half yards.. It is so fuzzy and cute.. Fleece tie blankets are so easy.. However, this was not a cheap gift. It cost me $30 and the fleece was on sale half off... So, if you are thinking about making a quick Christmas gift, make sure the fleece is on sale...
I cannot wait to give it to Grandpa on Christmas Eve!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sugar, Sprinkles and a dash of Storm

My favorite Christmas tradition is making Christmas sugar cookies. I love all the different kinds of sprinkles and shapes cookies can be. We made over 90 Christmas Sugar cookies today. My belly sure feels it too.. I think I ate to much! Either way, we  had such a blast and we even got some snow!
 It was a great time gathering with the Smith and Storm clan together! Drew even got a bit of frosting in his ear. We behaved this year or rather I, did.. It did not get out of control..


                                                (Look at these cute kids)

Cookie baking was a success! Now, I need to stop eating them.. My stomach really hurts!

A look at life from a Deer Stand

As far as I can remember, my dad has always been an avid hunter and fisher. I wonder how many years of his life that he has dedicated to preparing, hunting and fishing? I spent countless weekends and Thanksgivings in fishing boats or up north for a hunting trip. I had the opportunity to review a book called A Look at Life from a Deer Stand from Harvest House publishers and I was very excited to understand my dad's passion for the outdoors.

Author, Steve Chapman has a love and passion for hunting. This book is filled with his success and not so successful hunting trips. He has taken a subject that I haven't had much understanding or appreciation and has made be more knowledgeable about why men like to hunt. He also engages the reader in understanding God's beautiful creation. In chapter 7, Steve talks about how the sunrise is the earth actually bowing down to sun. The sun does not actually move, but the earth spins on its axis and bows to the sun.  Amazing! What a beautiful picture he paints! 


This book is sure to make you laugh and look at hunting with a different perspective, especially if you are a female. This would be a great gift for the hunter in your life!




You can find more about Steve Chapman and his Wife here.

Thank you Harvest House Publishers for allowing me to review this book.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Traditions

As Christmas is nearing, I am trying to decide what traditions are important, which ones I should participate in and what ones are meaningful.

I like traditions, but I am not sure I have many that are meaningful or I don't know.

One tradition I love, my parents always have a Christmas Eve party with my Cousins and Grandma.


A second tradition I enjoy, going to look at Christmas lights, but many people don't put them out on their houses..

I love reading about our Saviors birth the first night in December...

What are your Christmas traditions?

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Fourth Fisherman Coming to a Store near YOU

I was very excited to get an advance copy of the The Fourth Fisherman. This book will be available in March. To find out more about Joe Kissack you can go to his website found here.
The Fourth Fisherman is two stories woven fantastically into one, leaving the reader ready to turn the page. 

Author, Joe Kissack is a successful Hollywood Executive who has walked the red carpet, been a man of great wealth, success and created a reputable name for himself. However, the condition of his heart would reflect an insecure man who appears like he has it all together on the outside, but on the inside is dying, desperately searching for hope.
This books is also the story of 3 Mexican Fisherman who go out to sea in hopes of bringing in fish to end up lost at sea for over nine months drifting across the Pacific Oceans to Australia. These two stories are intertwined with grace, redemption, faith and hope.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, it is adventurous,  real life and full of mystery.


The full ending remains to be written and I  am interested to see how it ends. This story made me realize that are struggles are not wasted. They serve for a purpose bigger than us.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Writing to Soldiers

I learned a lot from my students today. For the month of December, I decided REI needs to give back to others, so...

We made cards for soldiers ...

The kids loved the idea, but I had to explain a lot to them.. First, they did not understand the concept of Deployment or what that means... We looked at the Calendar and discussed how the seasons change and then the students understood that an individual could be deployed for a year or longer...

I also read to them stories from children who have parents serving in the military. The students loved the idea of making cards and sending them over seas!

One of my students shared his father is serving in South Korea, which we did not know and wouldn't have known, if I hadn't did this lesson... My students continue to teach me things too..


We are sending cards to Kuwait.. How do you give back during the holiday season?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Rice Krispie Houses

I love the holidays, especially CHRISTMAS!

I wanted to do something fun for the first weekend in December. Usually, the weekends get jam packed with holiday parties and family gatherings, so I try to make the most of the small things.

Drew and I made Rice Krispie Houses




                                                         My house
                                                            Drew's House
 
 We had a blast!
All you need is marshmallows, Rice Krispies Cereal and butter. You melt the butter and Marshmallows over the stove on low, then add the Rice Krispie cereal and let it sit for 10-15 minutes  then form a house. You can use candy, frosting, sprinkles any other kind of sugar to decorate these houses! They were so fun! I would love to make a 3D house of of Rice Krispies.. YUM!

I tried to take a picture of us, but they all turned out terrible.. This is the best one I got...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Storm's 90 Day Challenge, DVD style

As you know, I have been trying to lose weight or actually, change my life with healthier alternatives and that is the biggest thing I have been learning about from Amy and Phil Parham.

Losing weight cannot just be a fad diet, but a lifestyle change and one that requires an individual to make healthy choices daily.  I have had the blessing to review the DVD set while reading the 90- Day challenge book, which I highly recommend!

The DVD set includes twelve 15 minute sessions, a leaders guide and compliments the 90 day Fitness Challenge Devotional/ Book. 
Each week, you are to watch a session, review, reflect and write in your journal. I have been carrying my 90-day Fitness Challenge book with me, it is in rough shape with all the highlighting, writing and creases in the cover, but it is working.. 



I have lost 4pds! 

Each DVD session contains a little chat from Phil and Amy. Sometimes they are together speaking, sometimes it's Phil talking or Amy, but both individuals offer advice on how to live a Godly Healthy Lifestyle. Some sessions you are learning about diet, other sessions about exercise, but above all, how to have a complete healthier life style. I love Amy and Phil's approach, it is very well rounded and I believe that is why they have been so successful at keeping the weight off. Each session is empowering, inspiring and realistic! 

To learn more about the 90 day Challenge, you can watch this clip!
Thank you Harvest House Publishers for allowing me to review the 90- Day fitness Challenge! I hope to achieve my weight loss goals in order to become a healthier individual.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Our "Egg"

Car shopping is incredibly stressful! I cannot even begin to describe the hours and days we spend on craigslist, autotrader, cars.com, yahoo and many other sites. I cannot begin to tell you the countless hours Drew and I sat to talk about cars.

The number of prayers I prayed about finding a car, were ridiculous! I kept praying God open the door and close the doors when things are wrong and he definitely closed many doors. Every time we would would get ready to pursue a car, figure out the math and the payments, terms of loans, interest rate and how quickly we could pay it off, the guy on the other end would say, sorry but it just SOLD!  This happened over four times...

Well, something a bit different happened this last weekend.. We (Drew) had found a 2009 Pontiac Vibe, 50700 miles, 2year Power Train Warranty... The dealership, a small one-owner Christian Dealership. Initially, Drew told me the price and I said "no."  It was $2000 over our price point...(Even though it was a good price for the car). Upon emailing the dealership, he told me he that he was actually lowering the price by $500 because he had been sitting on it.. Upon talking with him more through email, he lowered the car by another $200 for me... After sitting and talking with Drew, I said "no, I am not sure we should do this..... It is  too much and I wasn't sure I liked the color, I will keep searching for cars.".. I

All week, I spent countless hours online looking for cars that had around 50k miles and around our budget price, but I could not find anything. Actually, I found cars with 80k, 90k for $10,000!!! . OUTRAGEOUS! ( Don't get me started on Cash for Clunkers) Drew and I have been searching for a solid two months, with a few pieces of luck, but like I said, they had all "sold" by the time we were ready to buy.

 This entire week, I have been thinking about this car and emailed the dealer on a whim to see if he still had the car, sure enough he did.  He dropped the price a bit lower, so without really much thinking or hesitation I told him we would come test-drive it.It drove like heaven..

Drew and I had agreed on a certain price, so we were going to try and talk him down (DAVE RAMSEY STYLE), but after running all the number with him, he realized we needed a new plate, something I had not discussed with him.. He knew we could not go over a certain price point, so he included the plate also, which was another $120 off. I knew he would no go any lower, so we decided to go ahead with it!! Unfortunately, we could not get the price any lower, (did get the plate) but other models in the area were going for about $2.5k higher.

CRAZY!

 So, here is our new to us " used car" and it has only 50000 miles!!! YIPPIE!



Praise the Lord for answered prayers. Now, my banks accounts are having a sad day as we paid a chunk of change down. We even babysat this evening, so that is another $40 closer to paying of the "egg" that much quicker!
Praise Jesus from whom all blessing flow!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

GOOD NEWS!

PRAISE THE LORD!!!


Roger got a new job!! Starts Monday!
Totally God!!!


So estatic! 
Thank you Lord, for your provision!