11.23.2012

Black Friday the "Wright" Way

I hope all of you are sitting down for this..........I'm not Black Friday shopping this year.

Shocker!

There are a few reasons why I'm not. The main one is the fact that we are buying a house in 3 weeks. Merry Christmas to us and as a result, no gifts for anyone else.

Selfish, huh?

Anyway. I'm really missing being at the mall with my mom and cousins. Black Friday is a serious event in which we buy all gifts for my grandmother to give as well as all gifts we give to others.  I've been participating in extreme Black Friday shopping since 2001. I missed 2002 because I was in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and I missed 2011 because we were in Gatlinburg (we still shopped the outlets at midnight, but keep reading and you'll see why that doesn't count).

Since we consider ourselves experts, I thought I would share our incredible knowledge gleaned from years of doing Black Friday the "Wright" way. See what I did there?

What Official Black Friday is not:
1.  It is not showing up at JCPenney when it opens to buy a few pillows and go home to get back in bed.
2.  It is not a day for shopping for yourself and seeing to it that you get the best deals on things for yourself.
3.  Although many malls and stores open while it is still Thursday, Black Friday actually begins on Friday people. It begins at 4 AM at the earliest. Anytime before this is still considered Black Thursday shopping. Thursday is Thanksgiving. Enjoy time with your family. Go home and sleep. Wake up early. Shop on Friday.
4.  It is not for those that consider shopping on Black Friday just a way to kill some time and browse the deals. Don't come if you treat this casually. You will only get in the way of those that have a game plan and shop strategically.
5. Contrary to popular belief, it is not camping outside of Best Buy or Walmart to be first in line for a great deal on a flat screen or some hot new toy for your kid.
6. It is not shopping anywhere but the Galleria (or another major indoor mall).

If you do any of these things, you are weak and untrained. And you'll be on my nerves if I run into you while shopping. And the look on my face and the things I say under my breath will make that obvious.

What Official Black Friday is: 
1.  It is an all day event. Beginning as early as 4 AM and ending at dinner time. The norm for us is 5 AM to 6 PM.
2. It is a day to shop for others. If you have a family like mine who still buys gifts for everyone (as opposed to drawing names and whatnot), Black Friday is an opportunity to tackle your entire gift list in one long day.
3.  It is for those that have previously considered the deals, consulted the sales papers, and have a game plan. There is no time for meaningless wandering or hanging out with your significant other. Or strolling your baby. Please do us all a favor and leave the kids at home.
4.  Because it is a day to tackle your gift buying for everyone on your Christmas list, there is no need to be part of the crazy crowd that waits outside for hours for the stores to open. That's just not worth the stress.
5. It is a day to eat coffee/breakfast at 5 AM at Starbucks, lunch at 9 or 10 AM at Chick fil A, and two snacks around 2 and 4 PM at Auntie Anne's and The Great American Cookie Company.
6. It is exclusive shopping at the Galleria (or another major indoor mall). If there is a gift that can only be bought at a store that is not inside the Galleria, you may still receive the gift but it will not be purchased on Black Friday. We don't leave the Galleria until it's time to go home. And at that point we don't want to go anywhere else but home.

If you are doing things this way, you will find great success in your shopping adventure and you won't find yourself in a fight with me at Auntie Anne's. I save my energy for arguments with those who aren't cut out for Black Friday.

How to Prepare for Black Friday: Once the kitchen is clean, then and only then may you pull out the sales papers. Everyone in the family that wants to receive gifts for Christmas must come to Thanksgiving prepared to provide a wish list. All wish lists are compiled and compared with the sales papers and a game plan is devised to ensure the most efficient and cost-effective way to purchase these gifts.

How to Debrief after Black Friday: Once the shopping is complete, head to your grandmother's house who has graciously pulled out all leftovers from Thanksgiving. Sit down. Eat. Breathe. Relax. Tell funny/frustrating stories from the day. Then unload the car. Sort gifts and explain to your grandmother what she bought for everyone. Go home and go to bed!

Of course, I say all of this with great sarcasm.

Or maybe I don't??? :)

Just consider yourself informed.






11.19.2012

My Immortal Camry

Christmas Day 2001, the day I got the Camry. This picture cracks me up. If only you could see what it looks like now...it's not recognizable compared to this picture. 

The ONLY good thing about selling the Camry is that I have something to blog about. That's it. Period.

My dream for the Camry would be to keep it until near death, then let Ben and TH take it to "Grindaddy's" to give it a redneck redo and treat it like they do their 4-wheelers and tractors. It's the only end that I think is fitting for my dear car that is practically a family member.

Really, I want to be by her side until her wheels can turn no more. I want to know how it ends.

Turns out, we need the money??? Whatever. I don't think you can put a price on such a devoted and loyal member of our family.

I thought I would recap the past 10 years, 10 months, and 20 days of my life with the most beloved car of all times. That's 3,977 days to be exact. I know you were wondering!

First, let me tell you the story of the day I got the car. 
I turned 16 in the spring and knew I wouldn't be getting a car immediately. I drove my mom's maroon Toyota Previa when I needed it. If you want a mental image, think of Juno Macguff driving in the movie Juno minus the baby. I drove it sparingly. In fact, the only time I remember driving my mom's van anywhere was for show choir practice. I showed up late and left when it was dark so no one saw what I was driving.

Brent and I started dating in August of 2001. My now FIL traveled a lot with his job and bought the Camry in '96 to drive for work. I distinctly remember my dad telling my FIL that he was interested in buying the Camry if he ever sold it.

Fast forward to sometime near Christmas in December 2001 and my dad went to meet my FIL one evening after dinner. That wasn't completely out of the ordinary since our families are friends, but for whatever reason that event stuck out to me. On Christmas Eve, I had a feeling I was getting the Camry for Christmas. Brent was driving me home that night and we passed a local business near my parent's house. And I STILL remember the incredible excitement when I saw a white Camry sitting alone in the parking lot. It was as if Santa and his reindeer had just left the ground. I swear it was covered in a dusting of gold sprinkles straight from the North Pole. Of course, I screamed loud enough to make Brent think he was about to drive off a cliff. Then, I started asking all kinds of questions...to which he knew no answers. All I knew was I was 99.9% sure that was MY Camry sitting in that parking lot.

Christmas day I was a nervous wreck. Our tradition is Santa stuff with my parents in the morning, then Christmas with my dad's side of the family that afternoon. So, really, the car could have been given to me at any moment.

Well, the morning came and went and Santa didn't bring me a car.

Then came gift time at my grandparent's house. Of course, I knew the car would be the last gift given to me. My dad walks off and comes back with this HUGE wrapped box. For half a second I was let down, but I was determined there was a key or some hint to the car wrapped inside. If I remember correctly, there was no key, but there was some sort of note about going to look outside. I began to walk outside, meanwhile in my head I was practicing my pretend surprise reaction, and what do you know? I was right! My Camry was sitting in the front yard.

I still remember the first CD I ever listened to--Jewel "This Way". My brother gave it to me that same Christmas. Now, there are 3 CDs stuck in the player because it quit working about 3 1/2 years ago.

The Camry took us many places, one of them being Captiva Island for our honeymoon. 


Timeline of Drivers of the Camry: 
Sometime before Nov '96: The brand new '97 Camry is parked on the corner of a dealership. A car on the street runs a red light, hits another car, which then hits the Camry and totals it. Poor thing was almost killed before anyone ever bought it. Camry is sold to a local business man that rebuilds and sells Toyotas.

Nov '96: My father in law buys the car from Billy Graham (the local business man, not the evangelist) with a rebuilt title and a mere 21 miles on it.

Feb 2000: Brent gets his license and drives the Camry until he gets his own car.

Dec. 25, 2001: The Camry is given to me with 128,000 miles on it.

May 26, 2007: Brent and I get married and not only does he get me as his wife, he gets my Camry. For the most part, I drive his Pathfinder. At this point, the Camry still looks decent, so I don't mind driving it every once in a while. We came SO close to buying a new Camry shortly after we got married, but obviously we decided not to.

September 2009: With Lily coming along and our lease almost up on Brent's car, we trade the Pathfinder in for a van. The Camry now only has 3 hubcaps and the paint job is getting worse by the second. The Camry is officially Brent's car.

March 2011: Brent starts a new job and desperately needs a nicer looking car because no one wants to buy insurance from a guy who drives a car with now only 2 hubcaps and a rusty paint job. My father in law becomes the driver of the Camry again so that Brent can drive his car.

March 2012: As much as we joked about it, the Camry really does live to see the day that Brent's brother Ryan turns 16. However, Ryan doesn't want the Camry (can't imagine why???), so Brent gets the Camry back.

November 5, 2012: Brent starts a new job and gets a company car. The poor Camry just sits in the driveway :(.

November 14, 2012: We put the Camry on Craigslist and within 2 hours it's sold with 260,500 (approx.) miles on it.

I got a hubcap for Christmas 2007. The first of three attempts to keep hubcaps on the wheels. 


Because the car was totaled and rebuilt, it has a few quirks:

One quirk is that the steering wheel sings to you. Seriously. Every turn of the steering wheel, even if it's oh so slight, the wheel sings.

Another quirk is the car alarm goes off at any moment for any length of time and there isn't a THING you can do about it. There have been times that either I or Brent (and probably others) have been locked in the car while the alarm was going off. All you can do is sit there and wait patiently and wish you had a sign for all the onlookers, "Sorry, but this car is special and I can't turn off the alarm."

Another is that you can take the key out without putting the car in park (thus, the reason I ALWAYS put the emergency break on in any car I park...habit, thanks to the Camry). One day while Brent was in middle school, his dad came to pick him up. The Camry was parked in the school's parking lot. It proceeded to roll down the hill and hit a tree. We are thankful the tree was there, otherwise it would have rolled onto a busy 4 lane street.

Speaking of the same quirk, one late night after we were married, the Camry rolled out of our flat driveway, turned a hard left in our flat cul de sac, and ran over the neighbor's mailbox. Completely knocked it out of the ground. The police and neighbors were baffled at how a car could do that by itself. They assumed Brent did it after he had been drinking.

The car kept me safe for nearly 11 years of my driving life. I never once had any type of accident in it. However, there was one summer I was keeping my cousins at their house. The Camry was parked in the street and the neighbor backed into the car. Which only means there is one part of the car that looks good and presentable--the back left panel. The paint job is so bad that there is a color difference between the old white and the new white.

Once while Brent's dad had the car for the second time, the car caught on fire on his way to work. We were all sure it was the end of the car's life. Nope. It was just the battery.

So, if you are keeping up (and if you are still reading this long post), the Camry has been in 4 wrecks. None of which were there any people in the car. How many cars can say that? That is an impressive statistic!

We sold the Camry to a man that runs a used car lot. He is going to paint it and give it a complete set of matching hubcaps! I told him to please send me pics when he is done! I'm so glad we sold it to someone that is going to improve it. The Camry is getting a new lease on life. It truly is immortal!

My last time to ever sit in the Camry

11.16.2012

Lily's Christmas List

Some things boys and girls don't have. Lily said in the bath tub tonight. I was folding clothes in the hallway.

I poked my head in the bathroom. What did you say?

Some things boys and girls don't have.

Like what?

Like couches and bathtubs. 

And what should we do about that? 

We should buy them because we have money. 

Would you like to do that for Christmas?

Yes. 

She's been looking at the Compassion Gift Catalog for a while. Well, until Brent squished a huge moth between the magazine and a wall. I had to throw away the moth juice splattered magazine. 

Compassion is a quality I faithfully pray she will have.  

I can't take credit for anything she said in the bathtub tonight. We serve a God that answers prayers. He's molding my child in to what He wants her to be: filled with compassion. 

Since Lily was born, Christmas traditions make me cringe. I enjoy them to the fullest, be sure of that! The tree, the pictures with Santa, the food, the crafts, Elvis (my fave Christmas album), the wonder and magic of this season. It's my favorite time of year because it really is wonderful.

I'm not against the traditions. 

I'm against letting my child believe Christmas is about those traditions. 

C.S. Lewis said, Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. 

I don't want the true meaning for Christmas to be moderately important in our family. I want it to be infinitely important, far above all earthly traditions. And I want Jesus to have highest importance in our hearts year round. I'm serious about my Jesus and the great sacrifice He made for me. He's far too good and faithful to me for me to treat Him like he's just something worth considering alongside all the other earthly things. 

I think too many of us let Jesus become moderately important. 

I don't think it's a mistake to take Him too serious. To take God's wrath too serious. And to take His love too serious. 

With Black Friday just around the corner, I'm bound to be asked by several people what is on Lily's Christmas list this year. I have such a hard time with this. One, I'm an anti-clutter freak and don't want toys to take over my house. Two, I don't want her to receive a ton of meaningless gifts that she doesn't need and will only create a short-lived happiness. I like for her gifts to have purpose and/or meet a need, whether that be spiritual, intellectual, physical, etc. But I'm not going to walk the aisles of Target and take note of all the gifts I'm sure she would enjoy.

I'm home alone tonight while Brent is at football game and Lily is with her grandparents. I began writing down a list of gifts for family to get Lily so that I will be prepared Thanksgiving night when we sit down as a family to create our plan of attack for Black Friday. One thing led to another and I found myself looking at Compassion's website at children who have been waiting over a year to be sponsored.

Over a year.

For 473 (and less) days over a thousand children have been waiting for one of us to sacrifice a mere $38 a month so that they can receive basic needs and receive the good news of Jesus.

Remind me again why Lily needs a Christmas list?

We sponsor sweet Richard in Togo. If I could meet him I think my heart would melt and I would fill a river with my joyful tears.

If you sponsor a child either through Compassion or another similar organization, thank you for sacrificing a portion of your budget to completely change the life of not just a child, but an entire family. Isn't it a blessing and don't you LOVE getting letters and pictures from your child?

If you aren't involved in something like this, what are you waiting on? Because there are faces of precious children  right here that have been waiting for over a year for someone (you) to change their world for just $38. If you have children, picture your child in one of those pictures and see if you can say no to sponsoring a child. I hope you can't help but say yes.

No, Compassion did not ask me to write this post. This is what's on my merry little heart.

May we carefully regard Jesus in our lives. To see that He is esteemed and respected above all earthly things. 

11.02.2012

Halloween 2012

Our Halloween events on Wednesday started with a party and parade at Lily's school. These are the best pics my mom could get of The Princess. She was probably too busy playing teacher and keeping all of her friends in line. 



The Princess and Batman in Mommy's room after the parade was over. 


That night we went to a huge trunk or treat at a local church. Lily had a blast and even saw a few friends!


Had to get a pic with the lady with purple hair. A favored color in the eyes of The Princess. 

We saw one of Lily's friends from dance class. This was a moment where both mommies were forcing their little girls to at least look like they enjoy each other's company. This is the best they would give us. 

Then we ran into long time friends Iron Man and Spiderman. Their sister Tinkerbell missed the photo op. 

The Princess and Alvin

By this point in the night The Princess was done and Lily came back. She found a calf!


And today, my mom gave Lily an early birthday present and gave us front row seats to Disney on Ice! 






Because this cup of shaved ice was $12, this the only cup she is allowed to drink out of the rest of her life! All she wanted was some water, but there was conveniently only ONE concession stand open but several Disney merchandise tables open. I was not about to stand in line for water and miss the entire second half of the show. So we settled for $12 worth of ICE!


Horrible pic, but I loved Under the Sea!

Mickey and Minnie

What a fun week we have had!!!



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