Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye and So-long to 2008

It's New Years Eve. I worked this morning. Just a half day, thank you Hilton. They graciously gave us another half-day off - pending the needs of our department. In my case, it is almost ALWAYS a given that I am able to leave. I remember one time that I had to stay because Frank had someone in the office. He sent me out for Schlotsky's...but now I have digressed.

Tonight I will spend with Benjamin and Jonathan. Alyssa is planning to go to a friend's house (nothing firm yet as is usually the case) and Michael is in Orange, TX, on a church mission trip to help FUMC Orange with some rebuilding from the hurricane earlier this year. He will be coming home tomorrow. I am happy for him that he will be spending his time welcoming in 2009 with another youth group from another church and with his own church friends. It makes me happy. He's 17 and could be doing much more destructive things.

Benjamin bought a new XBox game, which he is playing right now and I feel certain will all night if only to stop do cheer in the new year. Jonathan and I, I think, will watch TV in my room, changing channels, or maybe watch "The Dark Knight" if he wants to and I can stand to sit through it again. Scratch that, I won't be sitting through any movies, I can't sit still that long. I think I will work on putting the Christmas decorations away and cleaning. I always have things to organize and work out. If you read my brother,Andy's, blog, you will see that he and I have very similar quirks, if you will. We come from parents who like to hord things. I believe it has made us not non-horders but more like organized horders. I have stuff, way too much stuff, but it is organized, but I definitely have too much stuff. I blame it on having four kids and wanting to keep every single thing that they made or touched for the last whatever years of their life.

This year has been very rewarding for me. I feel like I hit a stride in this whole single mom thing. It has been five years now. I feel much more sure of myself and much happier with the woman that I am. It makes me sad that, along the way I have offended people, stood up to some who needed it and they didn't like it, and lost a few good friends-or so I thought. I believe with all my heart that things happen for a reason and that you should never be someone's doormat. Excuses don't cut it. Forgiveness is best. If you can't get over it, go along your merry way and leave me out of your problems. Look around you. This life is what you have created. If you are happy with it, wonderful, if not, it's up to you to change it. No one will do it for you.

These are the things I try to teach my children, like it or not. As 2008 comes to a close, I pray that you are blessed over and again in 2009.

With love,
The Nobles Family
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Friday, December 26, 2008

The Gloves

I should have posted these pictures a long time ago, but with my schedule and the kids and camera issues I have been having, well, I just didn't do it. My brother, Andy, made fingerless gloves for my kids per my request back in the summer. I got to see them when I was in Amsterdam and then he had to remake three of the four pair. Below are some fun pictures we took of the kids and their gloves. I hope you enjoy them. Also, I got a scarf that he made out of wool and then one that he and Fred bought in Thailand for "the girls" (me, Patty and Venessa) that came to the wedding. I got brave and wore it a couple of times. Knowing how I am, I didn't want to mess it up so I put it away again.




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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 2008

Today is Christmas. I am alone right now, but the good news is the kids are coming home in a few hours instead of tomorrow. I spent the night at the Hilton Southlake thanks to my Director of Sales friend, Renee, where they upgraded me to a suite and had a nice cheese, cracker and fruit tray with a bottle of champagne sent to my room. I also had access to the concierge lounge which served a nice hot (FREE!!) breakfast and had all the Diet Coke an addict could ask for!

This year has been great for our family. We have all grown a little in size but a lot in our faith. The kids had been going to their own churches for quite a while...Michael and Ben to the Methodist church down the street and Alyssa to the Baptist church where I grew up. It was refreshing to me as their mother to see them making that choice on their own and not going because they were "forced" to like it was when I was growing up. In June, Michael went to youth camp - Newbreed - and came home a changed young man. He made a more firm commitment to Christ, which set me on a path I never thought would come. I went that next Sunday to see him perform the skit the youth performed at camp. Ben had been asking me for some time to come to church with them, but it wasn't until now that I felt God telling me this was where He wanted me and my family. Over the next four weeks, I had one experience after another that just confirmed that I was to join the church. It had been so many years since I had even been a member of a church that it felt odd to even be thinking about it.

The kids and I all joined the church on my 41st birthday. I had Alyssa come with us because I wanted us all there, but she is still going to the Baptist church, which is perfectly fine with me. It was such a joy to stand with all of my children in front of the church and feel so much love. Through everything, God has never left my side. He has always been and will always be there for us. I love my church and if you ever get the chance, you should come here Pastor Lynn speak. He is a wonderful teacher.

Now for the individual account of what each of us has been up to in 2008:

Michael is a Senior at LD Bell High School. He is taking the last of his classes and is in the Jazz Band. He also participated in the marching band "Quest" this year, for the last time. He has done very well in his classes since starting high school. Michael will graduate at the end of May, 2009. His college plans are to go to the local community college to get his basics out of the way and then look at getting in at UNT for studies in Music. Nothing is specific but it will all get worked out in time.

Alyssa started high school this year and participated with the LD Bell Marching Band. She has done very well taking several Advanced Placement class and has applied for the International Baccalaureate program next year. She is driving on a permit and will get her license in April (hopefully) when she turns 16. She has become quite the young woman and certainly takes after her mom!

Benjamin is in 9th grade at Bedford Jr. High. You may have already read much of the update from him in Band News as of Late, but he is coming right along in that area. He is looking forward to high school and marching band next year, but for now, he is in pre-Advanced Placement classes that are helping to prepare him for high school. He is currently living with his dad, but I believe that is short lived. I am ready to have him back home myself!

Jonathan is growing like a weed, getting taller every day. He is in the 4th grade at Bedford Heights Elementary and in the PEAK class there. He enjoys playing games on his XBox and that's about it! He is definitely the baby of the family. We can all see that he is growing up and we are encouraging that as much as possible. I love how much he loves me and still sees me as his mommy.

I am still working for Hilton Hotels Corporate office and love my job. We have undergone a buy out and so far I still have my job. We should know more by February, but I feel certain I will be kept on in one form or another. I am a valued and appreciated employee. The kids and I are still living next to mom. As she gets older it has become a very important thing that we are here for her. We have Baby, Tiny, Lucy and Charlotte (the Spiny Mouse). We are all very happy and have come along way in the last five years. We are truly blessed. We all wish for you an extrodinary 2009.

The Nobles Family
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

I want to take a minute to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful 2009. Take a moment to reflect on the past and make the future a more rewarding one. There are a lot of conflicts in the world, but don't forget that God has not forgotten anything or anyone. Whatever you want he hears you. All you have to do is ask. I wanted to post a picture of my beautiful christmas tree here, but I am without a camera for the time being...I will put on up this weekend.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Christmas Plans

It is the week of Christmas and I am working 2.5 days and will be off 2.5 days. The kids are with Steve and have been since Friday. They will come back to my house on the 26th and we will celebrate Christmas and have a wonderful time together. (On a side note, Chris and I are not together anymore. My decision. It wasn't easy. He's a great guy but he wasn't what I was looking for.) This means that I will be spending another Christmas without my kids. For the first time since my divorce I am ok with that. I had made plans for myself and I will follow through with those plans and I will have a great time! I have lots of friends and I have my kids who love and appreciate me. I really can't ask for more right now. I am in a good place and I am blessed.

Wednesday afternoon we are off work and I will be heading to Southlake to do some last minute Christmas shopping and pampering and then I will be staying the night at the Hilton Southlake (Thank you, Renee!). Suzanne may come out and have dinner with me since her husband is working that night. I may go to their house Christmas morning to have breakfast with them and then head home for the day and just watch TV and clean and get ready for the kids to come home. I am just looking forward to having this time to myself. Reflecting on the past and what I want for 2009 will be good for me. I have come a long way since my divorce. I have grown up a lot and become a very strong woman. God has blessed me tremendously and for that I am grateful.
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Band News of Late

I haven't felt much like writing this last week but I have had a few things I needed to put down in here. Forgive me if you think my blogs are one sided. Some of my chidren are more active in things than others.

On December 8th, Ben tried out for the high school All Region Round 1. Our district is the only district in Texas now that has 9th grade in junior high so they allow 9th graders to compete in high school competitions. That meant that Ben would be competing for a spot in All Region against high school kids who have been playing much longer than him. He placed in the competition to be able to compete in Round 2 that next Saturday. He was one of only 2 students with LD Bell that placed from junior high.

On December 13th, he competed for Round 2 but missed a spot by just a little. This enabled him to be able to compete in the 9th grade All Region Band where he was awarded 2nd chair. In November, he tried out for the HEB Honor Band and placed 8th chair. He admits he didn't try very hard and could have done much better. I am proud of him anyway!

Michael told me this weekend that he was told by Mr. Earnhart that his last Tri's schedule was not accomodating him being able to go to 1st Band. Hopefully they can work it out so he can get moved. Now, I don't know if that's a secret or not, but I am so proud of him. He just wants to be in first band, even if it's the last Trimester of his Senior year.

He and Ben played their horns in church on Sunday and will play again in the Christmas Eve service. It was so sweet to see the boys playing along with the morning worship. There were only four horns playing so I could pick them out. We have a small worship team but I truly love the church we are attending. Look for more blogs and pictures!
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Alyssa's Pictures

Is it me or is Alyssa talented with a camera? These are just a few pictures she took on a camping trip recently. Maybe I am just her mom but I think she has an eye for pictures and could definitely do something with this.

My only problem is I don't know where to start. I need to do some research and find a place to submit her photos, possibly have them printed and framed and find an amature place to show them. These are only five of several that she has done over the years. She will go to around the neighborhood and just take pictures of random things. It's beautiful!
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Extreme Makeover Home Edition

On Monday, December 15, I had the priviledge to help with the Extreme Makeover Home Edition that was being done in Keller, TX. Hilton sponsored part of the show, so we had an opportunity to help in the food service tent. It was a very rewarding experience even though I don't feel like I did much of anything. When we got there it was 11:30 and about time for lunch to be served to all of the workers. The weather here in Texas is always very unpredictable. Sunday it was beautiful and 75 degrees. Monday it was freezing with strong winds and I don't think it got up to 40 degrees the whole day. In fact, I'm pretty sure it got colder.

The people that were working on the finishing touches on the house would come in and be so cold that they couldn't get the plates apart. If all I did was help them get a plate and utensils they were happy. They had a nice warm meal and a hot drink to warm up. I didn't go inside the house, but from the outside it was beautiful. There were people standing outside from early in the morning until mid-afternoon when the family finally got home waiting in the spectators area. We got to come out of the tent and watch from the side. We were fortunate enough to be at the house when they brought the family home. Even though the show is a big production, the family really doesn't see the house until they move the bus. It was very moving to see the mom's reaction when she opened the front door and saw the inside for the first time. I can't wait to see it on TV. I think it's going to be on in late February.

The family was sent to Hawaii the Monday before so that they could rebuild the house. The story behind the family is on this link. They are a very deserving family and were so appreciative. The mom is a professional photographer and she takes pictures of premi babies in the NICU, some who will never go home they are so sick. She gives the pictures to the family free of charge. Last summer their house was flooded and the insurance company wouldn't rebuild it unless they moved the house a foot higher. They didn't have the money to do that and have been basically homeless ever since. The dad is a project leader for Habitat for Humanity and was building houses for others while he had no home of his own.

If you ever have the opportunity to do something like this, take it. I wish I had volunteered for more time. If I ever get to do this again, I will.

Enjoy the pictures!
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Monday, December 8, 2008

Cliff House Studio and Gallery

Saturday night, Chris and I had a date with Missy and Brad to go to Cliff House Studio and Gallery for their 26th Annual Holiday Cliff House Studio Open House Exhibition and Sale. I went three years ago with mom but hadn't had a chance to go back until this year. That year I purchased a small plate with the horse hair pottery design. Missy is very artsy and has gone back to the open house every year since. The studio/home is on a cliff on Eagle Mountain Drive and it is just majestic. The view is amazing and in the wintertime, it is a perfect place to spend an evening with Friends.

I first met Pam when Andy was in college at TWC. I am not exactly sure how she and Andy met, but I believe it was through the studio that she had near the college. I remember going there one time, probably around this time of the year, and watch her do a demonstration. I was probably 18-20 years old. We got to watch a demonstration of how she makes her Raku pottery. It was really the first time I was up close and personal during the demonstration and watched the whole thing from beginning to end. She did six pieces in three different kilns. They were all different shapes and sizes and colors. Pam is so animated and fun to watch - a great teacher! I would love to take one of her workshops some time.

After her demonstration, I made my way to her and re-introduced myself as I always do, waiting for the glee that always comes when I say "Andy Baker". It is so nice to see her reaction when I remind her who I am. She absolutely loves my brother, which is really not hard to do. He's a pretty great guy! I tell her all about him and Fred and tell her I will give her his contact information when she has a minute. She says she will be in the guest shop soon so to just meet her in there. Mom had been there earlier in the day and had picked out a piece that she wanted to get for Andy and Fred's wedding gift. Fred likes the vases with the small holes, so that is what we focused on. She wanted me to pick it out, so the pressure was on. I have been to their apartment, I knew (sort of) what they like but still wasn't completely sure about what color. He already had a white one so I wanted blue or the light greenish one. Blue was my first choice, but when we got back in the gift shop-after the demonstration-all the blue ones in the shape I wanted were gone.

Chris went outside and when he came back in he was carrying the blue vase that Pam had made during the demonstration that we watched. He does listen - I have to give him that! I was talking about it all during the show - how I wanted that blue one. Well, I am talking to Pam and then I am disappointed because we had already purchased the green one and now here was a blue one. Pam said, green, definitely green....this one's from me (as she is handing me the blue one). I am so excited to send them to him that I am waiting to post this until I think the package is at his door.

I took a few pictures on Suzanne's office because there was some sunlight and she has a small Japanese set up. Raku is a Japanese art form so it was appropriate. If you ever get the chance to go to her studio, do it. Go during the day or dusk. That is when the view is the best - just my opinion.
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

My First Methodist Christmas

(I googled First United Methodist Church Bedford, Texas, looking for a picture of my church. This came up in images as the first United Methodist Church in Texas. I don't know if it's true, but wouldn't that be cool??)

Last night was Wednesday - a typical church night. I don't usually go to church on Wednesday night but the kids go to youth. Last night the church was having a "decorating" fellowship type thing so I thought it would be a good time to go. I prefer casual and the more casual the better. I wore my nice sweat pants. That's how casual I like it.

The Methodist have a lot more traditions that I have really be exposed to. Sunday was Advent Sunday and it was the lighting of the first Advent candle in the wreath. This will happen every Sunday until Christmas Sunday (I think). I think the first Wedensday of December is something like "Hanging of the Greens" or something. Well, apparently it's usually a lot more formal than it was last night, but I think ours was probably much more fun.

It started at 6:30 and for me to get home from work, get Jonathan and get up there, even though it's just down the street, it's almost impossible to make it by 6:30. We weren't too late, though. There was a ton of food so I didn't put out the dip I brought and I was glad I didn't stress about making the cake I wanted to bring. Michael and Ben were already at the church (Alyssa goes to the Baptist church down the street) and Jonathan had food, so he was happy. It was a nice, relaxing atmosphere for sure. They had different people and groups up on the stage singing various Christmas solo's, duets, or whatever, some nice, some - well, they were trying. The older people in the church - the ones who have been there forever - were hanging up the garland all over the balcony and putting up the Christmas trees. I think there were four all together.

I sat with Carrie who was just about the first person I met at the church. She is 40, single and coordinates the singles group. There was a lady sitting behind me alone. I am not that social and I feel bad now because I should have turned around. She eventually asked me if there was going to be a formal service or was this it. I told her this was it, that we had stickers for the groups but that was all I knew. A little later, Carrie and I were talking and the lady asked me about the age groups of the church. I included Carrie this time (she wasn't sitting with me before) and this lead to a great discussion, which lead me to this blog.

This lady and her husband had just moved from a small town in Oklahoma about two months ago. She had visited the church twice. She is a true Methodist in that she has been visiting the Methodist churches in the area. They have three children, a daughter and two sons, and a grandson. The daughter is 26 and going through a divorce. Apparently, in Oklahoma, you can't get as fast of a divorce as you can in Texas. She said it will be another year to year and a half before she is done and will be able to move here to Texas to be closer to her parents. I just can't imagine being her age and having to go through something like that alone.

Anyway, the night turned out great. The kids seemed to have a good time and the church looks beautiful inside. I love this time of year. I love that it's cold outside. I just love it!
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Jury Duty

I spent my morning at the Tarrant County Courthouse for Jury Duty. It's the first time since I was pregnant with Michael that I have gone down there for this reason. That was the first time I had ever been called. I forget which child it was, Alyssa or Ben, probably Ben, but I was pregnant and got called again and used the reason of having children under the age of 10 without reasonable childcare to get out of serving. As I was sitting there today, that rule really surprised me. Does this mean that Jonathan should be able to be left alone all day if I was to have to serve? He is almost 10 but I can't imagine leaving him home alone all day for me to be on a jury. That just seems absurd. I thought there was an older age, say 12, when they are in junior high at least.

Anyway, it was very interesting. I drove to LaGrave Field where they have free parking if you are serving jury duty. As I drive into the parking lot, I see this woman running frantically towards the bus cover. Keep in mind, it is freezing and windy outside and we live in Texas. Most of us were not aware what was in store and completely unprepared for the weather this morning. We had to wait for at least 15 minutes for the bus to show up. In that time, "Peggy" (the running woman) has begun a conversation with anyone standing within earshot of her. Then she introduces herself (hence why I know her name) and then proceeds to ask everyone standing around her what their names is. As if it is a game, she then repeats everyones name very proud of herself that she has remembered us all. Everyone is very amused as it is making us laugh and forget about how friggin' cold we all are.

Soon, a bus pulls around the corner and we all go towards the spot where the bus will stop. Actually, Peggy suggests we all head that way and so - we all follow Peggy. Guess what. It wasn't our bus. So now, we are all standing outside, out from any cover whatsoever (not that where we were was any better) waiting and just hoping and praying for another bus to round the corner at any second. It takes another 5 minutes, at least, but it certainly felt much longer! As we all load on the bus, I choose the seat right behind Peggy. She meets Russ, who is sitting next to hear, and then begins to introduce everyone around them and again, proud of herself that she has remembered everyone's name.

Now, I was told that the bus would drop us off "right at the courthouse" a.k.a. two blocks away and you will have to walk. I am totally fine with walking. I just wish I had been prepared for the wind cutting through my sweater and shoes with no socks. I am so used to getting in my car in my garage, driving to work, and getting out of the car in a parking garage, never being out in the elements. I was just thankful it wasn't raining. Getting into the courthouse is another issue. The security is like at the airport, except there is very little space inside to wait so the line went outside quite a ways. Luckily, one of the ladies on the bus had been here several times and showed us where to go for a shorter line. Did I mention I had no socks on? Yeah, so I am dreading taking my shoes off and wait until the last possible second so I can run through the metal detector and get my shoes back on ASAP.

It's like a bunch of cattle following each other. No one really knows where they are going, but we all hope we end up in the right place. By this time, it is about 8:15. We were supposed to be there at 8:00 but, of course, there are so many people in there they don't really care - as long as you show up. We go in, get our card scanned and venture to find some place to sit. I end up sitting on the floor in the back room and wait for instructions. One odd side note: my brother, Eddie, was also summoned for jury duty today. He was there but I didn't see him until I was going to my jury pool.

The instructor had a great sense of humor. She has found a way to make her mundane, every day the same job fun. So we sit and wait for our name to be called. When it's called, we go get in a line and get told which court to appear in. I think the only other time I was there they didn't need that many jurys so I was told to wait a while and then let go. I know I never made it to the court room. Peggy is sitting over with a couple of the other ladies from the bus stop and once I am gone to the court, I never see Peggy again. I would LOVE to know if she got picked and how that all worked out.

So I was in a District Court on the 6th floor. I'm not sure if I can post here the name of the judge, but he was very funny and made his job and what we were enduring an enjoyable morning. The case was a personal injury case involving a car accident and unpaid medical bills. I have a feeling the plaintiff lost because the law is not really on her side, but I don't know. I was jury #26 and apparently they try to pick 12 out of the first 24 people. Jury #25 was the 12th juror picked. I barely escaped getting the afternoon off. However, I would love to be on a jury - if it was an interesting case, of course. I love that kind of thing.

It was very interesting to hear people give amazing excuses for wanting to be excused. They didn't fall under any of the expemptions of dismissals that are allowed, so they go to the court and give the judge a story as to why they think they aren't fit for the case. Juror #24 was REALLY trying hard. It worked. He got to go home. He dismissed three women for medical reasons right there on the spot. Honestly, he just didn't want you there if you didn't want to be there. He was giving everyone a chance to go home. If I needed someone on my side, I would want it to be that judge. At least it made for an interesting morning.
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