Monday, July 14, 2008

Fun Features for your Next New Home

Life never stands still in the Burdine household. After closing on our house July 1, we began thinking about building a new home. As part of the process of interviewing builders and touring spec homes, we began to get an idea of the kind of details homeowners are asking for these days.

For fun, check out some of these outrageous features:

Welcoming Entry

Quiet Upstairs Retreat

Unusual Architectural Detail

Proximity to Public Transportation

Trends in Home Security...

Non-Invasive Security Cameras

Security Lighting Close to House

Safety-Conscious Balcony

And some special features just for the kids...

Escalator Access to Kid Rooms

Teenager-Proof ATM

Including my favorite feature of all...

Dual-Urinal Kid Bath

Sunday, July 13, 2008

All The Jesus We Want

About two months ago, Jesse prayed his first solo bedtime prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for our food. Thank you for Jesus, thank you for all the Jesus we want. Amen.

All the Jesus we want. I was blown away by the profound nature of that thought, because it is so true. We are not just given Jesus: we are given all the Jesus, and all the benefits that come with him, that we ever need. I have repeated that thought over and over, as a mantra, during the last few stressful months of our transition.

Since Jesse's first prayer, the topics have grown to include family, trains, and more, but the sentence structure remains the same: Thank you for Grammy, thank you for all the Grammy we want. Thank you for trains, thank you for all the trains we want.

What a great place to be, where you stop and thank God not just for his gifts, but for the abundance of them! Justin and I have found ourselves incorporating this phrase into our own prayers, and find ourselves marveling at how much God really does give.

Jesus promises his followers in John 15 that he did not come just so we could have life, but so we could have life to the full. This reminds me that I am not meant to just exist. Rather, my life has an awesome purpose, that is meaningful now, in this earthly time. I often forget to look for it or to reach for it, but the truth remains that Jesus came so I could live an abundant life. And that is something for which I can never say thank you enough.

My desire is that I will never forget to say thanks to God for his blessings. I have nothing without God, but with him, I have everything I could ever possibly need. Thank you, God, from the bottom of my heart, for all the Jesus we want.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Road Trippin'

As I said the other day, I spent the month of June in Ohio visiting my family. To be specific, I packed the kids in the car and drove them the 1350 miles from College Station to North Canton. I braced myself for the worst, but guess what? It was really fun!

Between DVD's, special surprises, and picnic areas, we passed the time easily. The kids are champion travelers (after all, they do have road trip experience from last year). They enjoyed snuggling with their travel blankets and pillows on the early legs of the trip, and making use of the hotel swimming pools at the end of each day.

Picnic Areas were a great aspect of the trip

When I arrived at my destination on mid-afternoon on the third day, I was tired but not completely worn out. So yay for us, we discovered that there are other methods of travel besides flying!

While driving alone all that way, I had plenty of time to reflect on the scenery. Also to get frustrated with the number of other vehicles trying to share my road, but that's another story that is much less interesting! I had such a sense of seeing America.

We drove through rural Texas on country roads for the first four hours of our trip. Once on the Interstate, our drive included Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and a bit of Mississippi. We passed from the old south (the rural "dueling banjos" part, not the distinguished historic part) through the mid south of Memphis, Nashville, Louisville, and Cincinnati. We crossed the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and passed through the Ozark Mountains.

A Riverboat in Memphis

I was struck by the fact that every state has something to be proud of, something that sets it apart and makes it special. Arkansas, which was the last place I expected to find something notable, sported walls of beautiful tall trees lining the Interstate. Twining up the tree trunks were amazing vines that made me think of far off jungles, or maybe it's what they call the bayou. Whatever the name for it, I could not get over the beauty of it. It was easy to imagine the state a hundred or so years ago before civilization carved out its stamp upon a sprawling forest.

I also discovered that Arkansas is noted for its peaches. This is indeed notable, because I have not had a good peach in years, and for whatever reason (what could it be?) I have had an insatiable craving for that full juicy flavor of a tree-ripened peach. Holy smokes, Arkansas peaches fit the bill.

Sunset in Hope, Arkansas

As I drove I also thought on the possibilities of future trips, in which we could stop along the way at different places to spend a day or two of our vacation, to break up the trip. Memphis and Cincinnati seemed to me the best candidates for future explorations; Cinci with King's Island and the Zoo, and Memphis (and Nashville) with its rich musical heritage. There is also a corridor in Kentucky, called the cave region, that seems tailor made for visiting while road tripping. Mammoth Cave and Dino World are at the same exit off the Interstate, and are exactly one day's drive from Canton, making them an ideal location for a family vacation there someday.

I just love road trips, and this most recent one was no exception. Making it even better was the fact that I was not also moving at the same time, as has been the case with most of my big trips. The whole experience was a big success, and I anticipate that in another two years or so we will repeat the drive.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mermaid Maren

I think sometimes that Maren would never get out of the pool if nobody suggested she needed to. I did not realize the extent of her passion for the pool until recently, when Jesse began requesting to go back inside to play. Seeing him reach his limit in the pool suddenly brought into focus the fact that never once in her life has Maren requested to change from a pool activity to a non-pool activity.

I love watching this girl love the water. She truly swims like a fish, and will probably follow in her father's footsteps by showing a lifelong love for any activity involving total immersion in water.

Want to catch it for yourself? Mermaid Maren makes daily appearances from February through October. Come on down!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Same view, different address

I had never seen egrets and cows together before this spring, but apparently they are a compatible set. At first the sight seemed a little preposterous, but now I just enjoy the view!

Speaking of views, my wonderful tech-savvy husband set me up with my own unique domain for this blog: For awhile it will just be redirecting traffic to the blogspot site, but my ambition is to migrate all of my entries over to the new domain and begin publishing there exclusively. This is part of a master plan involving my future writing goals.

So for those of you who use a bookmark to find me, just edit the .blogspot part out of the bookmark, and you're set to take advantage of my brand new own personal website!

Monday, July 7, 2008


My apologies to my regular blog readers, of whom there are more than I thought. Since my last post, I have been holding my breath, and thus have not known what or how to write.

I planned a trip to Ohio to visit my family for the month of June. As I planned that, we found that our contingency buyers had finally agreed upon a buyer for their home. Getting that house to the closing date at the end of June was a daily challenge and trust exercise, clear up until the last moment. Even the last moment ended up getting postponed on a day by day basis for almost a week, but on July 1 we finally received the call that all was officially completed. So we are officially no longer landowners in Utah. Or anywhere.

I am sure the details of that excruciating transaction would make for a good story, but I think the best way to summarize the process is that it has left me feeling very shy about buying another house. We now plan to stay on at the lovely resort house in the country for a couple more months to pay off some final bills, and to savor the joy of not having a mortgage payment for a small season. My hope is to be in our own place in time to host Thanksgiving dinner, but it's kinda nice not having a timetable at the moment.

My trip to Ohio was relaxing. The kids and I drove up the second week of June, and stayed until the 2nd of July. I took a break from writing, and instead played pinball on my computer for hours on end. During the days the kids got together with their cousins, and my mom, sister-in-law and I enjoyed spending many days together. Got to visit the Fiesta factory in West Virginia, to add to my dish collection now that I am about to have my own kitchen again.

My last weekend in Ohio actually consisted of a trip back to Detroit, to pick up Justin at the airport and go to his best friend's wedding. I left the kids with my parents. After three weeks of being apart, which included Father's Day; his birthday (involving driver's license renewal woes); a major meltdown at work which required him to work 80 hour weeks while I was gone; and him signing closing papers on the house in my absence, we really enjoyed the three day getaway.

After stopping back in Ohio to pick up the kids, we embarked on our three day drive back to Texas. I really enjoyed the chance to see the country, and to have our small family all together solo for a few days.

Speaking of family, this is my chance to find out who checks my blog even when I haven't been writing! I find it humorous the way God works, even when it sometimes seems painful at the same time.

On Memorial Day weekend, I ran out of patience for waiting for my life to move forward, and began to plan that trip to Ohio. At about the same time, I began to suspect there might be something else going on. Sure enough, on Memorial Day Monday we found out that we are expecting our third child. Of course this brought the tension of selling our house into full force, but no kidding it was the next day, Tuesday, that our agent called to say that our house could finally close by the end of June. What in the world?!

So that is why the month of June basically consisted of holding my breath as I saw the end of one chapter of my life finally come into view. And now we are into July, with the sale of our house behind us, the addition of a new family member in front of us, and just the right amount of time to get from point A to point B before it happens.

At night, Jesse usually prays some variation on this prayer: "Thank you for food, thank you for all the food we want. Thank you for trains, thank you for all the trains we want. Thank you for Jesus, thank you for all the Jesus we want. Amen." To which I would like to add today: "Thank you for blessings, thank you for all the blessings we want. Amen."