Wednesday, December 31, 2008

OA (Overeaters Anonymous)

How can someone (me) be so full (seriously) ...

... yet still continue to eat?

I'm gonna blow up!

Let the holidays pass (you don't need to tell me ... I know they already have passed).

Let my self-control return!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Surprise!

Many of you know that I drove over from Seattle to Spokane to surprise Jay!

I was sitting on my parents couch on Christmas evening ... and it just HIT me.

I didn't want to be away from Jay anymore.

So, I packed up Cooper, and I packed up myself ... and I made the snowy drive (yes mom, slowly, safely, and cautiously) the morning after Christmas.

The drive was longer then usual due to snowy/icy conditions on the pass. And the entire 3-hour drive once over the pass was somewhere near 10 degrees (read: windshield-wiper fluid frozen while semi's (unsafely) blow past you ... spraying their sandy, muddy, slushy gunk onto your windshield - which you can't clean.).

Fun times!

I will have to say ... surprising Jay was awesome. His entire family knew about it.

Jay had NO idea.

He was totally shocked.

When I arrived at his parents house, Jay's brother Casey met me outside and let Cooper in. I entered the house but hid behind the coat-rack.

Cooper ran around the house frantically. Jay ran upstairs and stared at Cooper in utter disbelief. I wish I could have snapped a picture of his face. I considered recording it on my camera.

He looked at Cooper for a good 20 seconds and said, "That's Cooper!?!" Both a statement and a question.

And then he looked at his brothers and said, "How did he get here?"

Then he noticed me standing behind the coat rack and then I got mauled by his hugs & kisses.

Yep ... that's pretty much how it went.


Spokane has received record amounts of snowfall for December. There is between 3-4 FEET of snow on the ground.

And it's still snowing.

I love it.

I'd like to recap the last few days with a series of terrible-quality pictures, all taken with a cell phone camera (don't judge the quality and it's user) ...

I about passed out with glee when I looked outside and saw Jay's dad using a snow blower.

Living in Seattle my entire life, I've never had the grandious fortune of learning how to use one. I think I got dressed in my snow gear in about 7 seconds.

This is me ... snow blowing the Stookey's loooong driveway (I'm so happy - I love snow blowing):
Another snow blowing action shot (Jay's brother Pat is in the background shoveling snow). Apparently Jay thought it was hilarious how much fun I thought it was. Hey ... anything is fun when you first try it! The novelty of doing work while having fun hasn't worn off yet:

And now some "action shots" from the boys ....
This is Jay's dad 'reading':

Casey, 'watching TV':

And Jay ...
Pat is the only Stookey boy that I haven't snapped a picture of yet.
He better watch out.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

May we always be aware of others who are less fortunate than ourselves.

May we always be mindful of people who don't have peace in their lives.

May we relish in the blessing we have.

May we be grateful for our beautiful lives.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I have to be honest (and not sure if I'll be brave enough to post this) ...

... but when Christmas comes around ... I get a bit depressed.

This has happened ever since my divorce.

Let me say to all of you who are wondering why I'm complaining and writing a sob story
  • I KNOW I am blessed
  • I KNOW I have my health
  • I have a family who loves me
  • I'm surrounded by loved ones
  • I have friends who love me
  • I'm not 'really' by myself since Cooper lives here too
  • I KNOW there are people who have a very, vErY, VERY hard life
  • My life is CAKE compared to others
  • I've just returned from South Africa & seen/heard/witnessed/experienced A LOT of hardship, sadness, sickness, etc. ...
With all that said ... I'm still sad.



For the last three Christmases ... I wake up by myself.

To a quiet, still house.

And I know all these things are material ... but I hate waking up and coming down to a tree with no present underneath.

No stockings stuffed to the brim.

No one with me.

And I know those are memories from my childhood that I wish I still had.

But, really.

I hate waking up by myself.

Shouldn't Christmas morning be filled with family and laughter and up-too-early and excitement and paper-torn and ribbons-flying and squealing-with-excitement and glee?

I'm sure I sound totally spoiled or ungrateful.

But please be assured, I am NOT spoiled and NOT ungrateful.

I am more grateful than most people ... because of various personal experiences ... I am WAY grateful.

But I can't help feeling alone ...

And all this makes me THAT much more grateful for family and health and friends.

And I long for the day that I will have my own husband and children.

Perhaps THAT is what I'm grieving.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Role Models for Change

One of the things I've been struggling with
since returning from South Africa ...

.. is feeling like I am only one small person in this huge world.

What difference can I possibly make?

What can I do to make a difference?

But then I'm reminded of people ... like her.

And then I saw THIS on TV tonight and I feel myself renewed.
Thank you Jody and Megan.

For reminding me that one person can make a huge difference.

Snow Day // Baking Day

Still lots of snow today.

What's better then a day of baking when snow is covering the roads?

Wanted to tell you all that thanks to Grandma Stookey .... I own the cutest apron in the entire world. It's hard to see in this picture, but the bottom is black lace.

Oh la la ...

Typical Cooper. He has a very hard time when someone else is getting attention.
Happy Snow Day!


We had such a fun day today!

Instead of exchanging gifts this year, my family and I are adopting a family to sponsor for Christmas.

So, with the snow falling, latte's in hand, boots, hats & gloves on, and the gift lists in hand, we headed out to multiple stores.

Three hours, three stores and two cities later ... we were done.

We headed back to my house and wrapped all the presents. We had different stations for each person, with wrappers and ribbon people spread out throughout the room.

Afterwards we had a wonderful dinner together, where we prayed for the family we're sponsoring and the blessing that we are so fortunate to have.

One of those blessing is being able to help out a family this holiday season.

May your Christmas season be full of blessings ... whatever they may be!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Horses // Hores

My friend Jessie is a teacher, and one of her students wrote this.

We shouldn't think it's funny.

But it is.

So we do.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree

It's Saturday morning and I'm awake early.

I love this time of day.

Everything in the house is quiet. Warm coffee in hand. My world is blanketed with a covering of snow. My Christmas tree lights are on and the white lights on my garland on my mantle are twinkling.

Everything around me is so peaceful.

With so much beauty around me ... I feel so blessed.

This morning, my mind takes me back to a time when I was extremely broke ... and ridiculously happy.

I had just graduated from college and moved back to the Seattle area. My friend MaryBeth and I moved into an adorable apartment together in Kirkland. It was our first home, as graduated adults .... and it was the time of our lives.

We were broke, young and giddy with life & independence.

MB was in her first year of working at Microsoft. I was waiting tables and subbing in the Northshore School District.

MB and I prided ourselves on not spending very much money (much like the thrill I still get when I find a great bargain on anything) but still having a blast at everything we did.

We set out one chilly night in December to find the perfect Christmas tree for our cute apartment. We pulled up to a tree lot and started looking at their selection.

We nearly died of a heart attack when we saw the prices. Why so much for a tree that will die in a few weeks?

We couldn't believe it!

We went up to the guy running the lot and asked him for his least expensive tree. He led us to the very back of the lot ... to the very far corner.

There was a lone tree laying against the back fence ... all by itself.

And it was beautiful!

Why was this tree so cheap? We couldn't believe our luck! Perhaps he felt sorry for us and was going to give us a deal!

And then he lifted the tree off the fence.

The tree was totally bare on one side.

Totally bare.

No branches or needles or anything.



We took one look at each other and said, "We'll take it!"

We drove home with excitement ... discussing how much we loved our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. The tree no one wanted.

But we did!

And we loved it!

Once we got home, we brought the tree into our apartment and set it in the tree stand ... and it fell right over.

Hmmm ... we hadn't thought of the difficulty of putting a lop-sided tree into a tree stand.

With all it's weight on one side, there was NO WAY this tree would stand on its own.

But never fear ... because MB and I had freshly graduated from college and we had all kinds of tricks up our thrifty sleeves.

Ready for this?

I remembered an extra phone cord I had.

We wrapped the phone cord around the tree ... and NAILED both ends of the phone cord to the wall (much like the tree in this picture I unbelievably found on the internet).

Isn't that genius?

Never underestimate the resourcefulness of two newly graduated young ladies!

I'll never forget that tree or the fun times we had that Christmas.

I DO have pictures of that tree somewhere. If I can find them I'll post them.

Merry Christmas everyone!

May you have as much fun as putting up a lop-sided, totally-got-a-great-deal-on-it Christmas tree!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Zulu Bible

I love this picture.

The youth workers passed out bibles to all the kids.

The bibles were written in Zulu of course and the kids LOVED making us "read" to them.

We would attempt our best Zulu ... and they would laugh hysterically at us.


REAL funny.

December Freeze 2008

Seattlelites turn into crazy people when it snows.

News coverage is out of control. Regular television shows are postponed so local news stations can keep everyone up-to-date on the latest snowy, chaotic news.

My favorite part is that news stations 'name' each storm.

This particular storm is called December Freeze 2008.

Lovin' it.

However, scary things often happen too. Most people aren't used to driving in snowy, icy conditions and they remain over-confident in their driving and tend to take dangerous chances.

Here is what I-5 through downtown Seattle, over Denny St. looks like right now.

Stay safe everyone!

Children of South Africa

I'm hoping to begin processing some of my trip through our wonderful pictures.

Enjoy ...

This little boy confessed his love for me and proposed. It was all very sweet and innocent. On face-painting day, he wanted to give me a 'special' message ...

The girls were more guarded then the boys. They took a couple days to open up to us. This picture was taken about 1 hour into our weekend with the kids up at Paddington Camp, outside of Durban.

The kids we worked with were so amazing. I've never seen such unity and a sense of community amongst children so young. Due to the nature of their neighborhood, unity is kin to survival.

This picture was taken on the last day of camp. We had a really hard time saying goodbye to the kids, and many of the kids had a hard time saying goodbye to us. Many tears for all. This was a little boy who was standing outside of the camp chatting with us as we cleaned up.

Both of these boys were so sweet. They had wonderful personalities. It's heartbreaking to think about what a rough life they have in front of them ...

Last day of camp ... the kids had decorated the iThemba Lethu poster all week in their free time. We tried to get as many campers as possible in this picture. Natalie is holding the sign. Jodie and I are in the crowd on the upper right-hand side of the picture.

Final day of camp ... Jodie led us all in prayer.

This sweetie was 100% personality ... and Kinsey captured it perfectly in this picture. This picture was taken the 1st day of camp. We took the kids to the beach (Indian Ocean). It poured-down rain. POURED. The kids didn't care one bit. Fun, fUn, FUN!

This heart-breaker came to camp each day with his older (10 year-old) sister. With no one at home to watch him, she had to bring him with her in order to attend camp. He fell asleep on me each day during his nap. We all took turns taking care of him. He was a very quiet boy, even when awake.

Another younger sibling that had to come to camp due to no one at home to watch her. She was a doll. In this picture, I'm holding her and she's looking over my shoulder at Kinsey. Priceless picture.

I remain unbelievably grateful for organizations like iThemba Lethu who are educating the children of South Africa and spreading the word of God's love for them. Teaching the kids about their positive impact on their community, living a healthy life, and positively influencing others when they are young is imperative. Many of them have already seen, done, experienced and witnessed things we will never witness in our privileged lives in America.

I will forever be changed, honored and humbled to have spent 2 weeks serving with iThemba Lethu and it's amazing employees and youth workers.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Eye For Beauty

When I grow up (even though she's 10 years younger then me) ... I want to have the photography skills that Kinsey has. Her eye for seeing beauty in everything is awe-inspiring to me.

Kinsey was on our South Africa trip and took all the pictures for us.

Check out these pictures of animals and give Kinsey a call for your photography needs!

She's awesome!

Buffalo ...

Warthog ... isn't it HUGE!

I begged Kinsey to get a picture of an elephant but it was getting dark. She said, "this was the best I could do." I say, "I think it's perfect!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wide Awake // Pictures

It's 3:47am and I am wide awake.

Wide wIdE, WIDE awake.

Hmmm ... this jet lag thing is tricky and frustrating.

So ... more pictures!

This is the play area at the orphanage at iThemba Lethu. Fun stuff!

Team-building with the kids at Paddington Camp.

More team challenges ...

Kelly, myself & Kinsey waiting for the bus-ride back to Durban ...

The township of Cator Manor where all the kids live that we worked with ...
Missing South Africa and all the kids dearly ...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Zombie Day

I am fighting some serious jet-lag.

I can make it till about 1:00 in the afternoon and then I turn into a zombie.

I can barely function.

I have no idea how I'm going to make it all day at work tomorrow.

The upside of today is that I'm not crying constantly.

Since I can barely open my eyes, and consequently can't put a thought or sentence together ... how about some more pictures?

Kinsey and her crew of boys at Paddington Camp...

The infamous chair trick ... cool in any country apparently ...

The boys loved getting their pictures taken ...

They begged me to take their picture with their shirts off ... boys, boys, boys ...

Buddies at Paddington Camp ...