You Might Live in Minnesota if...





I thought you would enjoy the wind chill warning that I found on the weather channel for us tonight. It's never a good thing when they mention death. Currently it is -16 outside, but with the wind chill, it feels like -36. According to this warning, we still have 10 degrees to go until we reach the low! Enough said. Can someone remind us why we left NAPLES, FLORIDA for THIS???????

Tale of the Tooth...Part Deux

In an effort to keep you posted on the status of my teeth, I thought you might like to know the latest update to my aforementioned "treatment plan." After my previous dental post, I realized I am not the only one who hasn't been to the dentist in know who you are! For those of you interested in what happened to my broken tooth, here it is...this is riveting stuff, I know. Last Monday I went in for 4 fillings in all 4 molars on the left side of my mouth and after 6, yes 6, shots of numbing agents, my molars are cavity free and my broken tooth is broken no more. In case you're wondering, that was alot of work done for one appointment, but my dentist was very good and managed to complete all of it while keeping me pain-free! So, as she put it, I am now "worth my weight in silver." Here's to part two of the treatment plan...I can hardly wait for part three!


Worlds' Best Husband...and the "LUCK" of the Armstrongs rolls on.

Well, it's been another eventful weekend here at the Armstrongs! You who read this blog, cannot tell me that we are anything short of exciting!! I'll give you the story of our last few days in 2 parts, just to keep the drama straight...

Part One: Husband of the Year
This weekend WAS a weekend that I had been looking forward to for a long time. I signed up for a Scrapbooking Retreat about a month ago and I have been waiting and waiting for it to come. Most of you know that I am a diehard scrapbooker, but this year has gotten away from me and I haven't been able to do it as much as I'd like to or used to. So, imagine my excitement when this retreat came up and Travis thought I should go! I stayed home from Church on Wednesday night and organized all my pictures, cleaned out my scrapbooking stuff, and packed my bags. After work on Thursday, I came home to get my stuff...and there was ALOT of it...said goodbye to Travis and Ryley and then drove to Wisconsin (about an 1.5 hours away) to join the weekend long retreat! I got there safely, chatted with several women, set all my stuff up, and even did 2 pages before I decided to head to bed. It has been a very long and stressful week, so I was more than ready for a good night's rest...little did I know that was not going to happen!

At about 12:00am I layed in bed and realized I didn't feel so great, but I didn't think much of it and I just tried to fall asleep faster. Well that "sleep" was quite short lived as I awoke violently at 12:30am with the feeling that I was going to throw up at any second. Needless to say, I RAN to the bathroom that I SHARED with 2 other women and I proceeded to "hurl" 7 times for the next 5 hours, getting almost no sleep at all and feeling HORRIBLE. I actually called Travis at about 1:00am and basically cried on the phone because I felt so bad. He could tell I was miserable and he immediately felt sorry for me, telling me to call in the morning and hoping that this was going to pass quickly. Somehow, I made it through that night and I called him at about 9:00am, again crying because I could not even lift my head or stand up without feeling like it was going to start all over again! All the while, I could hear all the women laughing and having fun, talking about their photos and comparing their pages...and there I was, laying in bed, with the chills and a headache, sicker than a dog and all alone...are you feeling sorry for me yet??

This was yesterday, Friday morning, and I was supposed to be at this retreat until toinght, Saturday night, so I told Travis that I wanted to try and sleep it off hoping that I could still salvage some of the weekend and actually scrapbook. The day rolled on and I kept trying to get up, but each time with the same result...nausea, headaches, and body aches. I tried to go out to my station, looking WONDERFUL, and trying to do something that related to scrapbooking, but it only lasted about 5 minutes and finally after reluctant deliberation, I made THE CALL. I called Travis and asked him to come get me...IN WISCONSIN...and now you know why he is "THE HUSBAND OF THE YEAR"! He came! On his day off, he changed his plans and he caught a ride with some other ladies who were coming to the retreat yesterday afternoon so that he could clean my stuff up and drive me home. And when he got there, he took one look at me, grinning and laughing about how sad and pathetic I looked, but feeling very sorry for me and realizing how badly I wanted to stay and scrapbook with all the other ladies. He warmed up the car, cleaned up my stuff, and put me in the that point I could still not sit up...then he drove me home, back to Minnesota, listening to me moan and groan in the backseat about how "fast and curvy" he was driving (remember I was still nauseous) until we got home. Is he the best or what? Then he unpacked the car, made me some chicken noodle soup and put me to bed. I love him, because he's so sweet when it comes to stuff like this. He never gave me a hard time about leaving early or having to come pick me up and he even told me he how sorry he was that I had to miss my scrapbooking weekend, as he saw it was something I would have loved.

Well, today I am feeling much better and we even mananged to have a great day at home together. I set up my own scrapbooking extravaganza on our dining room table and we watched college basketball all day...including the IOWA game!! Go Hawks! Then we remembered we had to go pick up Travis' car, which he left in front of one of the lady's homes whom he rode with...and that leads me to part two of our weekend.

Part Two: The "luck" of the Armstrongs rolls on
After watching UNC lose a close game to Maryland, we got in the car and headed to Richfield to pick up Trav's car. When we arrived, Travis got out of our car and decided to warm up his for a few minutes as it's currently -35 wind chill outside (that's a whole new topic for later!). After he got in the car, I noticed that he was having trouble shutting his door...I assumed this was due to "user error" until he suddenly got out, looked at the car, and yelled to me..."someone hit our car!!" Well, if I wasn't already used to our HORRID LUCK with cars, I would have been surprised. But since it was our car, I just shook my head and closed my eyes. Unbelieveable. Let me just give you a quick breakdown of our car history together:

My Car- Nissan Maxima
-hit and run in Naples, damages back bumper
-hit in Church parking lot, damages front bumper and head light
-dies in Iowa, on Thanksgiving

Our second car- Saturn Sedan
-We were "Keyed" at a mall in Raleigh, all along the passenger side door
-After owning it for only a month and a half, I was hit from behind and the car was deemed totaled by the insurance company...classic

Our replacement for the Saturn- Acura Integra
-One month after buying, Travis was hit in a grocery store parking lot, damages back side panel
-One week after moving to Minnesota, Travis was hit in front of mall, damages same back side panel
-Last winter, Travis slides into snowbank on snowy day and cracks front bumper
-Today, someone backs into driver's side door, denting door, bending frame, and chipping paint...leaving the door unable to close! Seriously.

Do I have to say anything more? We have been hit, by other people, 7 times!!! We don't even know what to say about this latest accident, other than we're pretty sure this old couple did it and I'm fairly certain that she lied to me when I knocked on her door and asked her about it...that makes us more mad than anything else. Can you imagine hitting someone, doing damage, and not telling them or leaving a note??? Anyway, we've hardly talked about it, because we want to remain in denial and we don't know what to do other than just shake our heads and look at each other...before we burst into laughter.

So there you have it, another stellar weekend at the Armstrongs...stay tuned for more fun next week!!


Ancient Words, Ever True...

"But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, "You are my God." My times are in your hands...How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you...Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord."
Psalm 31:14-15, 19, 24

So my good start to the week ended up taking a sharp turn...we're now walking through a tough time in our church and clinging to these precious promises from the Lord. Oh how I love His word and its ability to heal the deepest wounds. Like a healing balm, it washes over all who drink it in. If I've learned one thing this year, it is to RUN and dig DEEP into God's word when things crumble around you...nothing, absolutely NOTHING, satisfies like Jesus.


So glad it's Monday...

Well it's Monday night, and my favorite day of the week is coming to a close. That's right, Monday is my favorite. It's the only day that I'm off and home alone all day...unless you count Ryley. I spend almost every Monday cleaning, organizing, doing laundry, and getting prepared for another week. I love that. I let myself sleep in a little later than normal and then I spend all day doing what I do best. For me, it's all about the mood and ambiance, so I open all the blinds, turn up the music, drink a little coffee and light some could call it my Monday morning ritual in fact. It's a great backdrop for reading the Word, talking to a friend, or just relaxing and catching my breath. After an extremely busy weekend, I am so grateful for a day to "recover" and "re-group" and I do everything I can to try and protect my Mondays from getting filled with activity.

So as this day wraps up, I can say that it's been a good one. Travis and I got wild and crazy tonight and decided to catch a 7:00pm movie, National Treasure, which was fun (love that Helen Mirren ever since we saw her in The Queen). We've been wanting to see that for awhile and it did not disappoint. I have to tell you that we saw Dan in Real Life last week and it was amazing!! Probably the best movie I've seen in awhile. So funny and touching and sweet. If you haven't seen it yet, run out and find a dollar's too late for it to be in a regular theater, but that means it will be on DVD soon, so if you don't make it, you can rent it! It's really, really good. In the absence of our favorite shows, due to the never ending writer's strike, we are catching up on some movies we've been meaning to see and we're really enjoying that. Nothing is filling the void in our hearts for The Office however...I'm not sure what we're going to do if if doesn't come back soon! Thank goodness for the re-runs on TBS and the epsidodes we have saved on our's scary how much we love and long for the Dunder Mifflin crowd. I guess we miss the regular dose of laughter it brings us! And on that note, I think this is officially the most rambling and annoying blog entry I've had in I think I'll head to bed before it gets worse! Hope you had a great Monday too and wonderful start to the week! We did!

***** Update:*****
For those of you who are dying to know, my tooth is not fixed yet...but I have an appointment on Monday to get it permanently fixed! Strangely, I've adapted to eating on one side of my mouth and am somewhat used to the jagged edge still scraping the side of my tongue. I wanted to get in earlier to fix it, but I've been too busy to even consider re-scheduling. So, I'm looking forward, with great anticipation, to a week from now when I'll be "whole" again!


The Tale of the Tooth.

After my marathon blogging last week, I forgot to mention one of the most significant things that happened to me while we were home for Christmas. I don't know how I managed to miss it, as it was the element of my week that almost ruined Christmas for me...well, maybe not Christmas, but my ability to fully partake in the enjoyment of it. Normally I would consider it insignificant, but due to recent developments tonight, it's surfaced once again. Let me set it up for you, for full dramatic effect...

My Dad is a candy lover, and at Christmas, a peanut brittle lover. I myself don't like peanut brittle, never have, but for some stupid reason I forgot that this year. Perhaps that's because all I heard about from my sister (who shall remain nameless, because I may blame her just a bit still!) was that she found this amazing peanut brittle that Dad was going to love. It was from some little candy shop on the coast(that may give her innocence away)and they apparently make peanut brittle that isn't hard and "brittle" but instead creamy and buttery. I have to admit, my interests were peaked and I thought maybe I'd been wrong all these years about it, so when the gift was given and my Dad unwrapped it, I unfortunately gave in and tried it. Big mistake.

Admittedly, my first impression was one of sheer delight. I could immediately detect the buttery flavor and it seemed very tasty. I still wouldn't have called it "creamy" just not as hard as peanut brittle I'd had in the past. And that's where the irony lies. I, who does not like or eat peanut brittle, decided to taste the "creamy" kind and thus paid the heavy price, owed by so many peanut brittle fans...while swallowing a delicious bite, I apparently swalled half of my tooth that was stuck to it! It took me a few seconds to realize what had just happened, but the gaping hole in the back of my mouth and the razor sharp edge now rubbing against my tongue was an immediate reminder of the now obvious peanut brittle "accident." Oh, and it was Christmas morning when this happened, which of course meant that I was just beginning to eat all the wonderful things we had been making for the week and now I was going to be "enjoying" it all on the right side of my mouth. Did I mention I don't even like peanut brittle?

Needless to say, I had to wait to go to the dentist until we got home and when I did, I was in for quite a "treat", as it had been almost 6 years since I'd been to a dentist. I of course apologized profusely for my lack of dental visits over the last few years, but I explained the lack of insurance for awhile, the chaos of moving, and my sheer laziness in making an appointment. These all seemed to be fine excuses for my hygenist, who smiled and told me that it was very normal for them to hear that often and the important thing was that I was here now...I was pleasantly surprised and even at ease after her sweet demeanor and her kind explanation, "this wasn't so bad" I thought and I wondered what the big deal was about going to the dentist??

Well, I jumped to that conclusion too soon and before I knew it, the dentist walked it...and then my sweet little hygenist suddenly became a tad critical and sarcastic (a trait I most certainly do not appreciate or relate to by the way). She started by telling my dentist who I was, where I had been and what my husband did. How nice she was, even remembering that I was about to go to our New Year's Eve event, and telling the dentist that I was just as "nice as can be." She opened my mouth, starting shoving things that are WAY TOO BIG for any human mouth to handle and got me all ready for the dentist. Then she did it. She began explaining what happened to my tooth over Christmas and she came up with the statement that I was not seeing a dentist for my dental needs but that I was instead "self treating" and had been for almost 6 years. Of course she chose to say that when my mouth was pried open and I could not even remotely defend myself and then I had to endure "the look" and a lecture from my new dentist. Can you believe it? I kind of wanted to say "Hey Nancy( I don't know if that's her name, but it seems like it should be!), keep your mouth shut! I'll do my own explaining thank you!"

An hour later, I made it out of there with a temporary filling, two more appointments and a print out of my new "treatment plan." Yes, that's right. It seems after six years away, I now need enough work to constitute a "PLAN." However, as part of my "plan", I was going to have to decide which type of filling I'd like to pre-order...the obvious choice was the white composite one, but I was told to check with my insurance company as they typically charge more for that choice (vs. silver) and it will require a down payment. If we were talking about one tooth I wouldn't care, but because my "plan" covers a ridiculous number of teeth, the extra charges could be the difference between some new furniture for the Armstrongs or not. Good grief. Can you blame me for staying away for six years? Seriously, I am not anit-dentist and I truly do value good dental hygiene. I've appreciated my temporary filling, as it's allowed me to eat normally again, and I'm very thankful for our great dental insurance. But that was an hour ago. That was before I ate a cookie and apparently before my "very-temporary" filling FELL OUT. Can you believe the luck?

I'm back to square one, with my gaping hole and jagged tooth...and I can hardly wait to call the dentist in the morning to update my "treatment plan."


New Year's Eve Madness!!!

The Best way to ring in the new year!!

Literally seconds before we saw the ball drop in Time's Square...goodbye 2007!

Stacie and Jesse were along for the ride too...Happy 2008!

Definately some serious planning taking place between Jason and I...yeah right!

Travis pointing at the 1,000 balloons we had up in the catwalks to release at midnight!

A view of the maze we set up for dart wars in the grand commons...lots of fun!

Well, we are fresh off of our huge New Year's Eve Blast and we are soooo thankful for what a huge success it was! This is by far the biggest event we do all year, so we have lots of planning, staffing, and money wrapped up in other words, we NEED it to go well and it did, better than we hoped for actually! I posted the last Office Spoof we did to advertise for it...I personally love this episode and the students must have too, because they came out in droves last night to attend.

Our event was from 7pm-7am ( Travis and I are still delirious to some extent after 26 hours of no sleep!)and we had lots to do for both high school and junior high. As is the tradition at most churches I think, our students are not good about registering IN ADVANCE for things, so we almost always end up guessing at our final numbers and then hope we are correct. As of yesterday at noon, we were at 85 junior highers and 65 high schoolers. We had a pretty good feeling that we were going to get alot of students at the door because the buzz seemed good, but we were shocked and thrilled when approx. 250 of them came and registered last night, bringing our grand total to approx. 400 students!! What a total blessing and breath of fresh air that turnout was...I can tell you as the wife of a youth Pastor, it's very satisfying when that many students belive in what you're doing and show up...I had a VERY happy husband because of it! Logistically however, that many students made my night WAY BUSIER! I am sure I walked at least 10 miles last night just following up on details, rounding kids up, taking care of "sick" kids, getting supplies, etc., etc., etc. Praise God for radios and walkie talkies...our church is so big and we were all over the building, so if it weren't for radios, I can't imagine how we would have pulled that off!

We also had an army of wonderful volunteers who helped us pull an all-nighter off without any major glitches. We had simulaneous events happening for both age groups last night, and a shared program for both around midnight. The senior highers had a carnival at Grace, bowling in Eden Prairie, and a movie and the junior highers had dart wars at Grace, a carnival at Grace and a movie as well. We videoed the program and I hope to have the video of the winning airband up soon....they were AMAZING by the way! All the bands were great, but this particular band was SOOOO good!

All in all, we are thrilled with the way the night went and we are very aware of the Lord's hand on us all night. More than any other thing, we are most excited about the 12 students (that we know of so far) that prayed to receive Christ after Jason shared the Gospel around 1:00am...the late nights, the long days, the planning, our aching bodies and our exhausted minds were worth every bit just to see the Lord move in our students hearts. He is so good to use our feeble attempts at evangelism to reach those kids. People ask me how we could do this for a living and why we would want to work with junior high students and I can think of no better answer than what happened last night. Changed hearts, changed lives, and changed eternal there any better high than that??? Student ministry is hard and it's full of burned out, stressed out people...but every student is worth all of it and to know that we can minister God's grace to them just by loving them and having fun with them is humbling and very, very worth our time and energy. 2008 is off to a great start for the Armstrongs...we pray the God's richest blessings on all of you as well. Happy New Year!!

A Christmas Treat For You!!

Now seriously, have you ever seen a sweeter dog?? I can hardly stand it when his paws are crossed like that!!! Here he is with "christmas beary" in his favorite chair at my parents house...I had to share because I think this might be my favorite picture of Ryley...oooohhh, I just love him!

The Puzzle is now complete...

Christmas morning was especially fun this year because the "long-awatited proposal" finally happened for my sister Jennie and her finace Dave. We knew it was coming sometime during the day, but Dave surprised everyone and proposed to Jennie, in front of all of us, after we opened gifts. Tears were flowing all around and Jennie's eyes were immediately glued to the new ring on her finger! It was very fun and a memory we won't soon forget...from that point on I don't think Jennie heard much of what we said all week...she was in la-la land and as every new bride does, she was flashing that ring all over the place!! Way to go Dave!

Our tradtional Christmas morning-right out of bed-everyone dreads but does anyway-picture!

Tigger in his annual Santa costume, which he hates and we love!!

The actual moment they got engaged, after a stunned Jennie realized what was happening!

The North Carolinians, Stacie and Jesse, back in Iowa where they belong!

Christmas morning with my hunky favorite present ever.

The Happy Couple posing in one of MANY pictures to follow that day!

In case you're wondering what Ryley got for Christmas, here it is! His very own hamburger and hot dog!

The eight of us, plus Tigger, plus Ryley!

Three sisters and three rings...we've been waiting awhile to take that shot!

Fondue-in it Up!

One of the best things about going home to Iowa is the amount of food we consume while we're there! My Mom loves to cook, and I know I inherited that from her, and I think both Stacie and Jennie might have too. So, half the fun of the holidays is figuring out what we're going to eat and when. On Christmas eve we traditionally do the same meal, my mom's amazing bar-b-que brisket(Trav's favorite) with all kinds of side dishes, but this year we decided to do soups and appetizers and fondue for was yummy! I'm really loving the stage my immediate family is in right grandkids yet, so we get to sleep late, eat all day, and stay up late being silly...we chose to really find the joy in that this year and not take it for granted. Needless to say, we did our part!

Some of the fondue spread...those bing cherries look great and tasted even better!