Monday, February 11, 2008

Blogging is easy to forget....

That's right....time flies and before you know it a month has passed since your last blog and your Mom has reminded you to post something new. So, without further ado, here's an update on the Collins.

MAC has now completed his first seminary course. He mailed his final (which took him almost 3 hours to complete) last Friday and he actually starts a new class tomorrow. This class will be on Tuesday evenings for about 12 weeks, so he'll only be working 1/2 days again for quite a while on that day. Life just continues on as normal for me with nothing extremely exciting or newsworthy. We are super excited about our annual youth ski trip this weekend. When you take 125 teenagers in 3 Greyhound buses for 10 hour roadtrip to WV to ski for 2 days, it's always a blast! We leave in 4 days and can't wait :-)

Mikayla finished her rather intense ADD testing and all the paperwork has been returned to her psychologist, but we have not gotten the results back yet. She's doing so well in her FOCUS classes (gifted classes). They have formed a minis-society and she is learning about town charters, governments, business, etc. She and another boy have decided to open a pet shop and there's a county wide market in a few weeks where they can go and buy supplies for their business from other FOCUS classes in the county. She loves the hands-on interaction and being involved in group decisions that way.

We are getting ready to register Matthew in public school the 1st of March. It's a lottery system, so we have no idea where he'll end up, but we're praying that God will enable him to be in Mikayla's school. It'd make it easier on all of us! He continues to grow and ask more questions every day; sometimes, it's enough to make me scream. But he's extremely curious about everything, so at least he's learning.

Well, I know it's not a lot, but at least it's a blog post. I'll try to update a little more regularly in the future!

Monday, January 14, 2008

My Top 10 TV shows for 2007

To continue with my Top 10 lists for 2007, here are my fav TV shows in no particular order:

1. LOST - This is the single most creative, mysterious, awe-inspiring, gasp-inducing and all around greatest show on TV. All of the character's deliver top-notch perfomances, and the writers and creators did the show a HUGE favor by limiting the number of shows left in the series....thereby giving all fans hope that the story lines will be tied up neatly and not left dangling for years while the network tries to make more money. The 7 month wait has been awful, but in a few more weeks it'll be time to "get lost" again....and I can't wait!

2. Desperate Housewives - For a show in a such a creative slump for the past few years, this one really turned around. The addition of 2 new families (one of them gay and absolutely hilarious in a good way) was very welcome and then the show has returned more to it's soapy roots instead of the distracted story lines from the past couple of seasons. Some of it is over the top, but that's what makes a night soap work.

3. Prison Break - I have still never seen the first season of this show. Caught the last 2 episodes of that season and then went online to (which is an AWESOME site if you love a good detailed but mocking commentary on every single episode of any TV show) and read the entire first season's commentaries. Have been a religious watcher ever since. Although MAC makes fun of Wentworth Miller's "stare", I think he inhabits Michael Scofield's withdrawn, conflicted, and clever character well....and he's grown into it over the last few years. Just watch the scene where he finds out Sarah has been killed. The addition of William Fitcher was great (fresh off of Invasion which was another awesome show cancelled before the first season ever finished)...and to top if all off you get Robert Knepper as the almost unwatchable perv, who somehow you can't help but cheer for.

4. Chuck - This is one of my favorite new shows in 2007. It's funny, smart, and very well acted. The action sequences for a TV show are way better than anything on Bionic Woman (which was a total dud), and the chemistry between Chuck and his CIA operative/guardian Sarah is so sweet. Plus anyone who heads up the "Nerd Herd" and drives a SmartCar is all right with me :-)

5. Gossip Girl - Who doesn't love a good teen drama? LOL This is a guilty pleasure, and although I started out the year just giving it a chance based on the creator's past O.C. history, it's grown into a must-see show each week. Although we enjoyed the O.C. for it's laid back, California lifestyle and the humor of Adam Brody, this is all prep school and cattiness. And who doesn't like watching pretty rich people have problems like the rest of us?

6. Dirty Sexy Money - Probably my favorite new show for 2007. The premise is great, the acting supurb, the characters are over-the-top but believable at the same time....and it just has a humor that I enjoy. Just when you think it's all froth and fun, they throw a dramatic scene in there that just tugs at your heart-strings.

7. Ugly Betty - This is one of the better shows on TV. It actually tries to prove a point each week, almost like the Cosby Show from the 80s. It's funny but very sweet and for a show that started out as a brutal mock-fest of a girl who would never belong, it has - since about the 45 minute mark of the first show - gone on to point out that you can be different and that's still OK.

8. Supernatural - I'll watch anything with Jensen Ackles after watching him in Dark Angel, so this was a no-brainer for me. The first few shows scared me so bad it was hard to go to bed afterward....and I still don't like to watch them without MAC! The brother relationship is portrayed a little cheesily sometimes, but the show overall is great for the weekly dose of horror, urban legend and the sarcastic interaction between Sam & Dean.

9. What Not to Wear - I love this show because I love fashion that normal people can wear, the snarky commentary from Stacy and Clinton, the tips for dressing a not-so-normal body like mine, and the fun of watching someone who can't dress or shop learn things most of us have known our whole lives (like how to match colors, tapered jeans do NO one any good, etc).

10. The Tudors - We don't have Showtime or HBO, so we have to rent these kinds of shows from Blockbuster. And although I don't agree with the gratuitous sex scenes which require a good bit of fast forwarding, the historial content and acting is excellent. The costumes are second to none and add so much to this period work. Although most everyone knows the story of Henry VIII, it's so much more fun to see it lived out in detail on the screen.

And there you have it....due to the writer's strike most of these shows have no more new episodes which really stinks. But I'm looking forward to trying the new Terminator show and with LOST coming back at least there'll be something to watch. If not, there's always Blockbuster and HBO's series "Rome"!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Heather's Top 10 for 2007 - Part 1

I love "Top 10" lists! And right now, they're in all my magazines, facebook notes, TV specials, etc. So, I figured why not make up my own? So, I'm going to do a "Top 10" list for the next few days. Now, remember....these are my favs, not necessarily yours! But lots of times, after reading someone else's list like this, I'll try something new and find out I love it too.

Most of you know our entire family loves music. Our radio/CD player/Ipod is always on in the car, and this Christmas I even got a CD/radio mounted under my kitchen counters and XM satallite for the cars. Also, our kids have never listened to Barney, the Wiggles, or anything ridiculous like that. They have always listened to our music (censored, of course), so that's all they know. They can hum a little Ozzy with the rest of us! So, my first Top 10 list for 2007 is my favorite bands or songs. Here goes.....

1. My Chemical Romance - We'd heard a total of 2 songs from this band before 2007 and they were irregularlly played on stations we didn't hear often. Then we bought "The Black Parade" and went to their concert in April, at one of our teenager's recommendation, and were hooked. One of the best performances we'd ever seen onstage. Yes, I know they're dark and goth and they sing about death an awful lot....but if you listen to the words and the music together it's a much more uplifting combo than you'd think. Their "Black Parade" CD is awesome, from the first song to the last, which I find rare in a CD.

2. Buckcherry - OK, don't judge this band by the one song you might have heard on the radio that uses the word *itch about 100 times. I think it's a funny song and MAC and I love it, but the kids aren't allowed to hear it! But their CD "15" is full of all different kinds of sounds. The majority of their stuff isn't like "Crazy *itch" and is fun to roll the windows down in the car and crank up really loud. Also, try "Sorry" of those "I did bad, but I'm really sorry songs" that's surprisingly not sappy!

3. Daughtry - I am not a big fan of American Idol. We watch it on occasion, but mostly just to mock the contestants who think they can sing and get praise from the judges but are really off key half the time, have no personality, copy karaoke singing, etc. And the few times we heard Chris Daughtry on the show, we weren't impressed. But once his first album came out, I grudgingly fell for it. Almost every one of this songs is good! He's not hard core rock, but more mainstream, and some people have a cow about that. I, on the other hand, enjoy having some decent rock played on our stations around here that mostly play 70s-90s music. He also did an awesome duet with Slash this year on the song "What I Want". You'll only hear it occasionally on modern and alternative rock stations, but it's a great song as well. I wish AI would encourage more people in the rock genre, but since it's a pop idol show, that'll probably never happen.

4. Justin Timberlake - Can't believe I'm putting his name on my Top 10 list. I used to despise his music, along with almost every other "boy band" and "spice girl" type band you could name. That kind of music is like the tip of a marzipan flower on a wedding cake as far as substance goes. But with Justin's latest album, I've accepted that he is actually a good singer/songwriter. The songs have different sounds and most of them are very catchy, funky and cool. This year, I really enjoyed "Love/Stoned" (love it when she says "hot damn on the chorus") and "What Goes Around". They're horribly overplayed on the radio, but can't help that. So, embrace the boy sound and give it a try. I usually go for the growly type men singers, but a little fluff every now and then is OK!

5. Nickelback - Another overplayed group on the radio....and also one that MAC cannot stand to hear. He says the lead singer sounds constipated all the time :-) I, on the other hand, love most every song they put out. They sound rough around the edges and sing about some stuff I don't agree with, but I can't get away from the sound. Their song "Rockstar" this year was hilarious, but yet, so true.

6. Velvet Revolver - Any group that has Slash as a guitarist is OK in my book. They have a "grown up" sound, that I love....and the music with the guitar solos is great. Their newest CD "Libertad" is a great mix of sounds, from harder rock to country sounding blends that mean I can listen to them for a while without getting bored. We missed seeing them in concert this year, but hope to make it some other time.

7. AC/DC - Since marrying MAC I've fallen in love with a good many older bands. AC/DC has a sound all their own. You can pick them out anywhere (and my kids can, too)....mostly due to the whiny sounding lead singer. But who can refuse rocking out to "Back in Black", "Shook me all Night Long", etc? Some of their songs are ridiculous ("She's Got the Jack", anyone?), but the sound itself is unique. Another band to crank up with the sunroof open and the windows down.

8. Maroon 5 - When their first CD "Songs of Jane" came out a few years ago, we adored this band. The mix of sensual lyrics, funky beats and Adam Levin's falsetto were quite the package. The entire collection of songs on that CD were favorites. And after hearing their first single from the new CD back in April, I knew I'd have to have the new one as well. Their new recording isn't as good as the's like they've tried to go more mainstream and toned down the funkiness of their first effort. But the more I listen to it, the more I like it. Thier music is mostly "love 'em and leave 'em" type sentiments, but it's a lot of fun to listen to!

***My last 2 are actually songs....not bands....but they deserved a mention on my list***

9. "Her Eyes" by Pat Monahan - Back when "Drop of Jupiter" came out, we got Train's CD and really loved it. They lost that sound over the years, but I really love Pat's new song. I'm not sure if he's going solo now, or just recorded a single as a solo artist, but either way it's great. Who can resist the lyrics? They're romantic, sensual, funny and I listen to it several times a day. What woman doesn't want to hear that the entire world can be found by looking into her eyes?

10. "Music is my Hot, Hot Sex" by CSS - Who remembers this song from the TV commercial for some phone or other? I had to have it! It's not really about sex....but about how music can be the favorite thing in your life. The band is Swedish or Spanish or something weird and they do have some funky foreign language in it, but listen to the lyrics....they're hilarious and true for any musicphile like myself.

So, there you have favs for 2007. And don't bash me because most of them are more mainstream and they're not obscure bands from who knows what garage. There are tons of "honorable mention" artists, but most of them are just bands I've loved for years and I wanted to do ones that I mostly "discovered" during last year. Anyway, if you've never heard of some of them, try it out. They may not be for you. But every year when Stephen King puts out his "Top 10 lists" in Entertainment Weekly, you can bet I'm on the computer looking them up and giving them a try!

Til next time.....

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Wonder of God's Forgiveness

Today I was emailing one of the girls in our youth group at church who is struggling with something she's done in her past. While working through that email, the Lord really just opened my eyes to something I've known for years but never really thought about.

Lots of people feel shame over things they've said or done in their past; but as Christians I don't think we have any right to feel shame. Yes, there are regrets and often consequences for our sin or stupidity, but do we need to feel shame? I don't think so. If God, who loved us before we were ever conceived knowing that we would commit these sins against him and other people, can love us unconditionally and choose, because he's God, to forgive and forget these sins if they are under Christ's blood....then what right do we have to carry them around with us and beat ourselves over the head with those past failures? We don't! God even gives us the means and grace to deal with the consequences of past sins; and we can be assured that just because we failed, or sinned, or did things outside of His will, it did absolutely nothing to derail his plan for our lives. How awesome is that? It's hard for me to understand how people live their lives without believing wholeheartedly in the sovreignty of God....just to know that He is planning and guiding my life, in spite of my failures and falls, is so comforting.

Just my theological thought for the day!

Monday, January 7, 2008

A New Year full of changes

This year has started off with a bang. Friday, MAC left for his first weekend of seminary classes. He absolutely loved the entire experience! Class for 2 hours on Friday night, then he spent the night with a friend in Atlanta and class again on Saturday for 8 hours (although he did get out early). He said the professor is awesome, the material is extremely thought provoking and he just loves being in school. Hearing him recount the entire weekend just made me want to go back to school! Sunday was a real treat. We have been out of town for the holidays and then helping with the music in a church plant last it was a blessing to be back at our home church, among our teenagers for the day.

Mikayla had her first appointment with the child phsycologist for ADD on Friday. Basically, she asked us 100 questions and we set up her round of testing for Jan 22nd. It will take several hours and hopefully, the doctor can make some firm recommendations for treatment, if any is needed, by the end of January. Mikayla starts her "gifted classes" at school tomorrow and I'm really praying that she can keep up at this point.

Matthew continues to grow and he asks about 1000 questions a day. Yesterday's big one was "When God takes all the people off the earth, is he going to crush it?" LOL What do you say to that without getting into a ton of Biblical theology?!? We just had to laugh. He is a pretty deep thinker for a 4-year-old and asks some very deep questions about Jesus, God and the Bible. Maybe he'll be the next theologian in the family.

I am thanking God that both kids are finally back in school and my day is back to normal. And guess what? It's TAX SEASON! I am one of the crazy people in the world who enjoy doing taxes! Our membership with TurboTax was renewed today and I tried to start right in, but with no W2s, it's a little difficult! LOL So, I'll try to be patient and wait for the rest of the paperwork to trickle in.

So, that should catch everybody up. Again, nothing fancy, but life usually isn't fancy!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

It's been a while

Sitting at the computer today, I realized it's been almost 10 days since my last blog entry. When I first started doing this, it was easy to remember to do it almost I forget most of the time!

Things continue on here as usual. We had a great Christmas at my parents, where the kids got way too much stuff and the SUV was so loaded down on the way home there was hardly any room to sit. The week was so short due to coming home on Wednesday that it was almost like one big holiday week. When the kids are out of school, I only work as needed and usually take them with me to the office (which means, when I do go, we're only there about an hour which is all the kids and I can handle of each other in my office!). We watched part of almost every bowl game played. Procrastinated the annual Goodwill drop and missed the Dec. 31st tax deadline as well as procrastinated our holiday decor removal....both things still need to be done! For New Years we got some movies and had a movie/popcorn night with the kids, ate with MAC's family for a traditional southern New Years's meal of black eyed peas and ham; and watched even more bowl games. I'd like to mention that I particularly enjoyed watching UGA clean Hawaii's clock on Tuesday night!

All in all, it's been an enjoyable holiday....but as usual....I'm anxious for life to get back to the normal routine. Mikayla starts back to school tomorrow and Matthew starts on Monday. MAC also starts his first seminary class tomorrow night and will be gone for 3 weekends in a row. I'm looking at buying a pistol and taking a handgun class for these times when he's out of town....seriously! So, although we'll be back in routine, there will be some changes as well and we'll keep you updated on what all's going on! Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Family and the holidays

We've been at my parent's house since Friday and so blogging is a little slow these days. We got in late Friday night, but the kids had napped on the way here, so they were excited and running all around. Mom had set up 2 electric train sets for Matthew and he was engrossed in those for hours. Saturday, Mom and I went shopping and out to lunch, just like we used to do in the old days when I still lived at home and Mom made one of my favorite dishes for supper. Sunday we had a glorious service at church....lots of Handel's Messiah and the strings section of the Charlotte Symphony for even more fun. My grandad got to come to that service and even though this Christmas season is harder for him, due to my grandmother's death, I think he had a good time. Mom, Mikayla and I made cut-out sugar cookies in the afternoon between singing and dancing around the kitchen to Christmas songs on the radio. Then after the kids were in bed, we snuck to their rooms and ran in ringing jingle bells and banging pot lids (this was Mom's idea....and yes, even MAC joined in), scooped up the kids and ran them out to the truck in their pjs! We rode around and looked at Chistmas lights for an hour singing more Christmas songs and then the kids were about asleep by the time we got home. Then the adults sat around and ate cookies and played cards til late. Seems we've made a few new traditions this year. Next year, the kids will be expecting crazy adults to rush in ringing bells and throw them in the car!!

Today, the guys have gone golfing (in the cold...crazies!) and we will start working on the meal for tomorrow. There's a candlelight communion service at church tonight and hopefully my entier family will be there. My younger brother, Ben, and his family are lighting the final advent candle tonight, and hopefully, my youngest brother, Judah, will be able to make it. My grandad is coming to stay overnight, the first time he's done that in years and years. He and my Mimi used to spend the night with us every year on Christmas Eve. The kids are excited and we're having a blast. Hope your holidays are just as joyous! I probably won't be writing again until we get home, so hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends.

PS...Sam, I know you're not with family this year, but just know we're thinking of you and praying for you!