Gluteous Maxamous

*Real picture post below this one!*


My butt hurts sooooo bad!  I’ve been doing this new exercise on my Core Secrets ball. 


You lay back on the ball with the small of your back up to the bottoms of your shoulder blades resting on it.


Then you push hard on the floor with your legs, tighten your butt muscles, suck your belly button to your spine, put your hands behind your head, and do crunches. 


Great exercise, you can really feel the burn, I swear I can already see a difference in the definition of my abs…


 but oh man,


MY BUTT HURTS!


Just thought I’d share.

Summer in Deutschland: Part I

Guten Morgan!


It’s about time for me to start sharing the adventures I had with my Great Aunt and Uncle. 


And so without further ado…


Betty and Mike arrived on a jet plane one Monday morning… 


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They arrived in the midst of some beautiful weather.  The first morning of their visit I took my customary morning run.  The difference was, that I took my camera!  (So, of course, there was much more walking than running!)  I wanted to catch my little corner of this country at dawn in summertime.  I’m very glad that I did!


The corn is coming in nicely…


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Though it’s already more than a foot taller than in these pictures!


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Just look at that sunrise!


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 I can’t believe my good fortune in seeing this each morning…


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 I must say that it makes jogging much more bearable!


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I’ve made friends with these beauties just down the lane. 


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My little patch of woods has filled in.  Only a few short months ago you could see clear through to the other side and now if you step in just a few paces it feels as if you’re standing on the verge of a great wood. 


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Stunning!


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Out past the woods the road levels out into the fields.


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 Everywhere you look there is something new…


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So many growing things…


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What a morning…


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 Aren’t they beautiful? 


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 It makes me long for a horse of my own so that I may go on morning rides instead of runs!  🙂


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 One thing I love about Germany are the thousands of little roads that go nowhere.  At any moment you could choose to turn off on one and have an adventure!


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 The rest of the first day was spent resting and shopping.   We had a lovely time catching up with each other and visiting!


Auf Wiedersehen!


Courtney

Random and Embarassing!

*EDIT AGAIN*


Okay just got word.  He’s out of surgery and everything went well.  It was bad but not too bad and they were able to get everything taken care of.  He’s in a room high as a kite on meds at the moment but may be released to go home as early as THIS afternoon.  Praise God!


Side note… I realized that in that last pic it kind of looks like I’m just wearing whitening strips and I’m hamming it up.  That is NOT the case.  Those are big huge blue plastic trays!  I could barely close my lips over them!  Crazy!


*END EDIT*


~~~~~~~~~~


*EDIT*


I just found out that my brother in law, Zach (my sister’s husband and Ryan’s brother) is in surgery.  Apparently he has acute appendicitis.  I’m waiting to hear how it went and I can’t get a hold of Ryan.


Could you just say a prayer?


*END EDIT*


 


Today is random post day…



Like… never walk over two miles in flip flops when they have a thatched bottoms. Let’s just say that blisters on the bottom of the second toe on both feet is ouch!


I think Harry Connick Jr.  is UGLY!




Hmmm… what else? Oh I know! The weather has been insane… Bright and sunny one day and then one day I looked out the window to see this…


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Suddenly huge peals of thunder started rolling and moments later this happened!


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40 minutes later there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, birds were singing, and my neighbor was mowing his lawn!


Or how about the fact that my hair has now decided to go Trekki… as in, it thinks I’m a member of the Klingon Empire or something… sheer madness!



Need proof? Okay but I want props for sharing this with you!


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Let me just say that I’m not trying to pull a sexy face or anything there… Just trying to keep my mouth closed.  Why?  Well….


Teeth whitening. I realized yesterday that my teeth were getting rather dingy due to my great love of Earl Grey tea. I haven’t whitened them since the beginning of last summer and I never finished that set. So it was time! The problem? They bring out the Steve Urkal in me! As in, “Did I do that!?”


If you don’t know what I’m talking about I think maybe I’m getting too old to be your friend or something. 


(I want double props for this one!  Because I may never live this picture down!  And I’m pretty sure this explains why I was trying to keep my mouth closed in the last picture.)


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Yeah…  I don’t really know how to follow that up… I CAN’T believe I’m actually posting that… Oh well…





Oh, yesterday was exactly five months since Ryan left.



Well, I suppose that’s it for me for today. I’m working on the picture posts so stay tuned they’ll be coming soon!



Have a great weekend…



Courtney

Facing Your Giants

Good morning.


I know I have, oh, a few hundred pictures to show you, and stories to tell you, but they’ll have to wait for another day. 


I’m going to let you in on, yet another, little secret of mine. 


I love to read.  No wait, don’t go yet, I know you know that about me but that’s not the secret!


The secret is that I almost never read anything but fiction.  Oh I try so hard to pick up a good self help book now and then but the problem is that I never finish them…  I’ll go a chapter or two, put it down to ponder what I’ve read, and never pick it back up!  I have dozens of books that I began and never finished.  Books that started to change my life, books that showed truths that I wanted to explore further and I just never did.  Books I have vowed to finish one day and have left them so long that I have to start over.  I’ve let it become a mountain that seems to hard to climb.  Oh how I want to though!!! 


BUT!  I’ve recently picked up a book that I think I have to finish.  A book that is rocking my world and that I have to make myself put down every night so I can soak in what I’ve read.  It’s touching my heart so much that I’ve ordered the study guide!  (Which you can find HERE)  Eeek GASP!!!


I almost never do this but I’m going to highly recommend this book to you.  In that vein, today I’m going to share the first chapter of this book with you.  (I copied it from the website that lets you read it for free so no law breaking here!  You can find it in it’s original format HERE)


If you have time to read this please do!  If it touches you please find a way to read this book…  You can buy it HERE or check your local library.


Okay here you go!  I promise I’ll be back soon with stories and pictures!


Courtney


~~~~~~~~~~


Facing Your Giants


Max Lucado


The slender, beardless boy kneels by the brook. Mud moistens his knees. Bubbling water cools his hand. Were he to notice, he could study his handsome features in the water. Hair the color of copper. Tanned, sanguine skin and eyes that steal the breath of Hebrew maidens. He searches not for his reflection, however, but for rocks. Stones. Smooth stones. The kind that stack neatly in a shepherd’s pouch, rest flush against a shepherd’s leather sling. Flat rocks that balance heavy on the palm and missile with comet-crashing force into the head of a lion, a bear, or, in this case, a giant.


Goliath stares down from the hillside. Only disbelief keeps him from laughing. He and his Philistine herd have rendered their half of the valley into a forest of spears; a growling, bloodthirsty gang of hoodlums boasting do-rags, BO, and barbed-wire tattoos. Goliath towers above them all: nine feet, nine inches tall in his stocking feet, wearing 125 pounds of armor, and snarling like the main contender at the World Wide Wrestling Federation championship night. He wears a size-20 collar, a 101/2 hat, and a 56-inch belt. His biceps burst, thigh muscles ripple, and boasts belch through the canyon. “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other” (1 Sam. 17:10 niv). Who will go mano a mano conmigo? Give me your best shot.


No Hebrew volunteers. Until today. Until David.


David just showed up this morning. He clocked out of sheep watching to deliver bread and cheese to his brothers on the battlefront. That’s where David hears Goliath defying God, and that’s when David makes his decision. Then he takes his staff in his hand, and he chooses for himself five smooth stones from the brook and puts them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch that he has, and his sling is in his hand. And he draws near to the Philistine (17:40).¹


Goliath scoffs at the kid, nicknames him Twiggy. “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” (17:43 nasb). Skinny, scrawny David. Bulky, brutish Goliath. The toothpick versus the tornado. The minibike attacking the eighteen-wheeler. The toy poodle taking on the rottweiler. What odds do you give David against his giant?


Better odds, perhaps, than you give yourself against yours.


Your Goliath doesn’t carry sword or shield; he brandishes blades of unemployment, abandonment, sexual abuse, or depression. Your giant doesn’t parade up and down the hills of Elah; he prances through your office, your bedroom, your classroom. He brings bills you can’t pay, grades you can’t make, people you can’t please, whiskey you can’t resist, pornography you can’t refuse, a career you can’t escape, a past you can’t shake, and a future you can’t face.


You know well the roar of Goliath.


David faced one who foghorned his challenges morning and night. “For forty days, twice a day, morning and evening, the Philistine giant strutted in front of the Israelite army” (17:16 nlt). Yours does the same. First thought of the morning, last worry of the night—your Goliath dominates your day and infiltrates your joy.


How long has he stalked you? Goliath’s family was an ancient foe of the Israelites. Joshua drove them out of the Promised Land three hundred years earlier. He destroyed everyone except the residents of three cities: Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. Gath bred giants like Yosemite grows sequoias. Guess where Goliath was raised. See the G on his letter jacket? Gath High School. His ancestors were to Hebrews what pirates were to Her Majesty’s navy.


Saul’s soldiers saw Goliath and mumbled, “Not again. My dad fought his dad. My granddad fought his granddad.”


You’ve groaned similar words. “I’m becoming a workaholic, just like my father.” “Divorce streaks through our family tree like oak wilt.” “My mom couldn’t keep a friend either. Is this ever going to stop?”


Goliath: the long-standing bully of the valley. Tougher than a two-dollar steak. More snarls than twin Dobermans. He awaits you in the morning, torments you at night. He stalked your ancestors and now looms over you. He blocks the sun and leaves you standing in the shadow of a doubt. “When Saul and his troops heard the Philistine’s challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope” (17:11 msg).


But what am I telling you? You know Goliath. You recognize his walk and wince at his talk. You’ve seen your Godzilla. The question is, is he all you see? You know his voice—but is it all you hear? David saw and heard more. Read the first words he spoke, not just in the battle, but in the Bible: “David asked the men standing near him, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’” (17:26 niv).


David shows up discussing God. The soldiers mentioned nothing about him, the brothers never spoke his name, but David takes one step onto the stage and raises the subject of the living God. He does the same with King Saul: no chitchat about the battle or questions about the odds. Just a God-birthed announcement: “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (17:37).


He continues the theme with Goliath. When the giant mocks David, the shepherd boy replies:


You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands. (17:45–47 niv)


No one else discusses God. David discusses no one else but God. A subplot appears in the story. More than “David versus Goliath,” this is “God-focus versus giant-focus.”


David sees what others don’t and refuses to see what others do. All eyes, except David’s, fall on the brutal, hate-breathing hulk. All compasses, sans David’s, are set on the polestar of the Philistine. All journals, but David’s, describe day after day in the land of the Neanderthal. The people know his taunts, demands, size, and strut. They have majored in Goliath.


David majors in God. He sees the giant, mind you; he just sees God more so. Look carefully at David’s battle cry: “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (17:45).


Note the plural noun—armies of Israel. Armies? The common observer sees only one army of Israel. Not David. He sees the Allies on D-day: platoons of angels and infantries of saints, the weapons of the wind and the forces of the earth. God could pellet the enemy with hail as he did for Moses, collapse walls as he did for Joshua, stir thunder as he did for Samuel.²


David sees the armies of God. And because he does, David hurries and runs toward the army to meet the Philistine (17:48).³


David’s brothers cover their eyes, both in fear and embarrassment. Saul sighs as the young Hebrew races to certain death. Goliath throws back his head in laughter, just enough to shift his helmet and expose a square inch of forehead flesh. David spots the target and seizes the moment. The sound of the swirling sling is the only sound in the valley. Ssshhhww. Ssshhhww. Ssshhhww. The stone torpedoes through the air and into the skull; Goliath’s eyes cross and legs buckle. He crumples to the ground and dies. David runs over and yanks Goliath’s sword from its sheath, shish-kebabs the Philistine, and cuts off his head.


You might say that David knew how to get a head of his giant.


When was the last time you did the same? How long since you ran toward your challenge? We tend to retreat, duck behind a desk of work or crawl into a nightclub of distraction or a bed of forbidden love. For a moment, a day, or a year, we feel safe, insulated, anesthetized, but then the work runs out, the liquor wears off, or the lover leaves, and we hear Goliath again. Booming. Bombastic.


Try a different tack. Rush your giant with a God-saturated soul.


Giant of divorce, you aren’t entering my home! Giant of depression? It may take a lifetime, but you won’t conquer me. Giant of alcohol, bigotry, child abuse, insecurity . . . you’re going down. How long since you loaded your sling and took a swing at your giant?


Too long, you say? Then David is your model. God called him “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22 niv). He gave the appellation to no one else. Not Abraham or Moses or Joseph. He called Paul an apostle, John his beloved, but neither was tagged a man after God’s own heart.


One might read David’s story and wonder what God saw in him.


The fellow fell as often as he stood, stumbled as often as he conquered. He stared down Goliath, yet ogled at Bathsheba; defied God-mockers in the valley, yet joined them in the wilderness. An Eagle Scout one day. Chumming with the Mafia the next. He could lead armies but couldn’t manage a family. Raging David. Weeping David. Bloodthirsty. God-hungry. Eight wives. One God.


A man after God’s own heart? That God saw him as such gives hope to us all. David’s life has little to offer the unstained saint. Straight-A souls find David’s story disappointing. The rest of us find it reassuring. We ride the same roller coaster. We alternate between swan dives and belly flops, soufflés and burnt toast.


In David’s good moments, no one was better. In his bad moments, could one be worse? The heart God loved was a checkered one. We need David’s story. Giants lurk in our neighborhoods. Rejection. Failure. Revenge. Remorse. Our struggles read like a prizefighter’s itinerary:




  • “In the main event, we have Joe the Decent Guy versus the fraternity from Animal House.”


  • “Weighing in at 110 pounds, Elizabeth the Checkout Girl will go toe to toe with Jerks who Take and Break Her Heart.”


  • “In this corner, the tenuous marriage of Jason and Patricia.


  • In the opposing corner, the challenger from the state of confusion, the home breaker named Distrust.”

Giants. We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus first, and most, on God. The times David did, giants fell. The days he didn’t, David did.


Test this theory with an open Bible. Read 1 Samuel 17 and list the observations David made regarding Goliath.


I find only two. One statement to Saul about Goliath (v. 36). And one to Goliath’s face: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (v. 26 niv).


That’s it. Two Goliath-related comments (and tacky ones at that) and no questions. No inquiries about Goliath’s skill, age, social standing, or IQ. David asks nothing about the weight of the spear, the size of the shield, or the meaning of the skull and crossbones tattooed on the giant’s bicep. David gives no thought to the diplodocus on the hill. Zilch.


But he gives much thought to God. Read David’s words again, this time underlining his references to his Lord.




  • “The armies of the living God” (v. 26).


  • “The armies of the living God” (v. 36).


  • “The Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (v. 45).


  • “The Lord will deliver you into my hand . . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (v. 46).


  • “The Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (v. 47).⁴


I count nine references. God-thoughts outnumber Goliath-thoughts nine to two. How does this ratio compare with yours? Do you ponder God’s grace four times as much as you ponder your guilt? Is your list of blessings four times as long as your list of complaints? Is your mental file of hope four times as thick as your mental file of dread? Are you four times as likely to describe the strength of God as you are the demands of your day?


No? Then David is your man.


Some note the absence of miracles in his story. No Red Sea openings, chariots flaming, or dead Lazaruses walking. No miracles. But there is one. David is one. A rough-edged walking wonder of God who neon-lights this truth:


Focus on giants—you stumble.


Focus on God—your giants tumble.


Lift your eyes, giant-slayer. The God who made a miracle out of David stands ready to make one out of you.

My Romance


Today Ryan and I celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary.


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This past five months of separation have given me time to think about our marriage and just what we mean to one another.


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In the past weeks several conversations and events have driven me to delve deep. They have caused me to dwell on just how very hard making a good marriage is and how rewarding it can be if you survive the making of it. Marriage is the struggle to overcome the way you’ve always been. It is the attempt to learn to think of someone else’s well being as equal to your own… the need to break out of habits and reactions you were trained up in as a child. It’s more than just learning to live with each other… It’s more than just dealing with the hardships the world throws at you…


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The Bible says that a man and a wife will join together and become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24) It is one of those verses that are, all too often, taken at face value. It is quoted but not often discussed. As a result of that I grew up never thinking about what becoming one flesh involved… what does that mean, what does that entail, is it something that happens immediately when the vows have passed your lips or does it take time?


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Over the years of our marriage I have come to believe that it is a process, that it takes work, that it is not automatic… I have come to believe that when it is said in the Bible that the two shall become one flesh it is not a statement of fact but a command that should be acted upon.


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The more I read and study on this subject the more the metaphor of grafting seems to apply. Even the modern definition of marriage, which is rooted in Latin, supports that metaphor. According to Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at Stanford University the word for marriage originally was “maritare,” a term used with mainly agricultural uses, referring to the grafting of vines and plants.


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I am convinced that there are two kinds of marriage. A marriage that is grafted and a marriage that is cross pollinated.


Think about the practice of grafting a tree.  Grafting is done for a variety of reasons… to produce more fruit, to weed out faults and disease in the root-stalk, to produce a stronger and more hearty plant. Isn’t that, in essence, what we want out of a marriage?


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However, in order to graft a plant, the two plants have to be mortally wounded. They are cut off and the extraneous parts of them are stripped away. Then they are carefully and deeply cut open and inserted into one another. Then a special tape is wound around them to hold them together while the graft takes… When enough time has passed the tape is removed to show one plant grown together, stronger as one than it ever was as two…


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Marriages that don’t go through this, the parting of oneself, the pain of ripping out the extraneous parts of yourself to make room for your mate so that you may grow together and be one, these are the marriages where the two live as cross pollinated plants. They exist as two plants that go well together in the same garden row… These plants exist side by side… they live together with their roots touching and bees pollinating between them to make beautiful flowers and fruit, but they never know the joy and the sacrifice of being one thing! They can, in time, grow apart and at different paces. They can survive without one another.


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The old saying that, “Nothing worth having in life comes easily”, applies to Ryan and me. We have worked hard to get to where we are. We have paid dearly in the journey. We have both had to let parts of ourselves die. We have had to forsake our own desires for the needs of each other. But our reward is this;


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I believe that through the pain and suffering Ryan and I have endured in our marriage we have become grafted. Over our years together we’ve grown so close that everything that affects me affects him and vice versa. We’ve weathered drought, wind, fires, storms, and a multitude of adversities… and because of them here we stand… united and stronger for the struggles.


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Who knows what trials and joys the years will bring… I do know that the two of us grafted together and stronger than we ever were as two can weather the storms so much better…


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We have learned to use our strengths to feed each others needs… Just as trees branches are responsible for gathering sunshine and its roots gather water we play to our strengths to garner what we need to continue growing together….


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We are each other’s best friends. We are each other’s support systems. We are each other’s everything.


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I have a quote at the top of my website that says it all for me…


“I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest, blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am; ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.”


~From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte~


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Today I dedicate the song, “My Romance” by Doris Day to my husband, Ryan. Thank you for 8 wonderful years, for the good times and the bad, for the monumental events and the simplest moments. Thank you for being the other half of who I am.


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All my NUBBS!


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Courtney


~ll~


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My Romance


My romance doesn’t have to have a moon in the sky
My romance doesn’t need a blue lagoon standing by
No month of May, no twinkling stars
No hide away, no soft guitars


My romance doesn’t need a castle rising in Spain
Nor a dance to a constantly surprising refrain
Wide awake I can make my most fantastic dreams come true


My romance doesn’t need a thing but you.


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Word to the wise…

*EDIT AT THE BOTTOM* 


When you have three days until company (that you actually want to impress) arrives, it’s not a good time to decide to do all of your spring cleaning… including a detailed catch up on your yard work.


Here in Germany we have cobblestone gutters and driveways…  Little weeds and tufts of grass grow in the cracks and we are responsible for keeping them debris free. 


I haven’t done it since Ryan left. 


In my defence most of that time it’s been so cold that nothing grew… but these last few weeks they’ve been coming up gradually and I just didn’t feel like it.  So I took this opportunity to get it ALL done. 


I spent 6 hours on my hands and knees with a special trowel like tool they use for this purpose, cleaning my gutters, sidewalks and driveway.  Today I can barely type or close my hands…  My legs are screaming… I had trouble sleeping last night because my back hurt so bad…


But that didn’t stop me.  Today I mowed the lawn, washed the dogs, did all the laundry, cleaned out my car, rearranged my kitchen and cleaned every window in my house… inside and out… all 18 of them…


I can barely sit here I’m so sore… and guess what?  Oh I bet all of you who know me and my OCD ways could guess…


I still have to clean the house.  The whole house.  And a few other things of course!


That includes:




  • Go on base and get gas (it’s up to $4.24 a gallon! YIKES!)


  • Buy bottled water for the car ride


  • Clean kitchen


  • Clean bathrooms


  • Scrub shower


  • Vacuum whole house (all three floors)


  • Mop


  • Put out towels and rugs


  • Fold laundry


  • Take out the trash


  • Thaw chicken and prep ingredients for dinner Monday night

All when I can barely move… 


Then I have to wake up early Monday morning and throw dinner together into the crock pot, take the boys out and take off for my 2 1/2 hour drive to the airport, pick up my Aunt and then turn around and drive another 2 1/2 hours back home.  


Never again! 


Always do the spring cleaning a few weeks before the visit then touch up for the visit!!!  Now I have to try and enjoy myself for two weeks! 


The good news is that when they are gone (June 23rd) I’ll have less than 6 weeks left until my husband will be home again!  After half a year!!!  I will NOT be saving all the yard work and cleaning until the last minute then!  (Oh who am I kidding?  You know I will… no matter how OCD I am I’m also a terrible procrastinator)


So I’m out!  For real this time… Take care everyone…  Oh and by the way, I have fuel for my eye phobia from yesterday.  I was weed eating and a rock kicked up and hit my face just about half and inch below my eye and actually cut me!  See?  Too delicate to feel safe!!!! 


Auf Wiedersehen!
Courtney


 


P.S.  And you know what?  Transformers is just about the coolest movie ever made!  It ROCKS!


 


*EDIT*


P.P.S.  I just broke out this bag of cookies that I bought on the economy…  (In a German grocery store)  As I was sitting here chowing down I started looking at the bag.  It has the ingredient info on it in about 15 different languages… in fact there isn’t room on the bag for much more than that.  One sentence is repeated over and over in every language.  How do I know?  Well it’s the only sentence on the bag in BOLD!  Would you like to know what this mysterious sentence is?  In every language?


“Can have a purgative effect in an excessive quantity is consumed”


I looked it up just to make sure I was reading it right…


pur·ga·tive –adjective







1. purging or cleansing, esp. by causing evacuation of the bowels.


Of course the serving size is written only in German so I’m not too sure what an “excessive quantity” entails. 


Don’t mince words do they?


If there was every anything that makes you not want to binge eat cookies… This is IT!


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