New Addition to the Family!

We are adding a new member to the Norton-Sanner household!  We have adopted a kitty!  Meet Mr. Django.

DjangoProfileDjango is a lilac point Siamese. He’s about two years old.  The name Django comes from the Leonardo DiCaprio movie Django Unchained.  (I’m sure you know how big of a DiCaprio fan I am, and Chris wouldn’t let me name him Leo.)

Our decision to get a cat was a quick one.  We had been living in our first home for a few months when Chris told me that it just didn’t feel like “home” without a cat.  Both Chris and I had grown up with cats.  I knew exactly what he meant.  Thus began our search for the perfect kitty to join our family.

Chris found a photo of Django online.  We couldn’t get over how gorgeous he was.  This adorable kitty was abandoned by his owners along with about a dozen others.  His cat family was taken in by Pets and People.  The next day we visited the shelter and met the loveable guy.  Immediately we knew he was our cat as he came right over to us and began purring.

Django&ChrisFrom the moment he came home, Django fit right in!  He is the cuddliest cat I have ever seen, always wanting to be the center of attention.  Django’s meow is soft and sweet, but he’s got a spunky personality.

We worried if the pugs would get along with their new brother.  The first couple of days Maggie drove us crazy, alerting us at all times of the cat’s location and activity.  I joked that she took on the role of “kitty patrol.”  Once she realized the kitty was not an intruder but part of the family, though, they became best friends.

Django&Maggie Suruchi, on the other hand, couldn’t care less.  She is only aware of those who serve her.  No one else exists in her world.

Playing with cats has always provided lots of fun and laughs.  I was excited to have a new kitty to teach new tricks and keep me entertained.  Chris and I started Django with the typical cat games hoping he’d be interested.  Ironically, we learned that the cat just wanted to entertain himself, but the dogs loved cat games. It’s proved to be hilarious!

Django ignores “games for cats” iPad game.  Maggie, however, is a pro.  She chases the red dot around with her pug nose and licks the screen to make it disappear.  Likewise, Django shows no interest in chasing a laser light around the house, but Maggie and Suruchi go crazy running after the it!  Maggie jumps on walls and slides around the laminate floors to catch it; Suruchi smashes her face into the floor attempting to eat it.

Lastly, Django isn’t phased by golf ball fetch.  The pugs, though, found that the golf ball is the perfect size to carry around in their mouths.  They will run after the ball rolling around on the floor, pick it up and bring it back.  I don’t know how we’ve gone three years without realizing our pugs like cat games!  I can’t decide if they like the games just because we are trying to play with Django and they are jealous so they join in.  Or if they really do like cat games, and not the dog games we’ve attempted to play with them over the years.  Despite the reasoning, it’s been so fun and we are glad to have Django as part of our family!

Pinspiration: Plaid + Sequence

As a wannabe DIYer, I love Pinterest.  I keep a board of “to dos” for days when creativity takes over.  You can check that out here if you like.  I enjoy taking old things and making them new or adding a personal touch to a favorite.

shirt3My mom gave me a red and blue plaid button up that I really wasn’t sure about.  It was a little too cowboy-ish for my taste.  But, it was free!  You can never pass up free.  And plaid is kind-of in right now.  So, when I saw this plaid shirt with sequence on Pinterest, I immediately wanted to give it a try!

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 9.44.50 PMPinterest board

And I had the perfect sparkles to go with it!  I like to keep a “give away” bag in my closet in case something isn’t fitting right, or I find a shirt I haven’t worn in months.  This sequenced shrug was in that bag, because I decided it was a bit too flashy for my personality.  But, when mixed with plaid, I thought could work!  shirt1

I took out the back panel of my plaid shirt and used that piece to cut and fit a replacement piece from the sequenced fabric.  Then I was able to set the new sparkles and sew them into place.  Creating my very own and one-of-a-kind button up.   shirt4

Working with two vastly different materials was a challenge.  The flannel plaid was extremely thin, and the sequenced fabric was stretchy and slinky.  I used lots of straight pins to keep the fabrics in place, and stitched with small stitches.  Also, I zig-zagged the seam to hold it all together.

shirt5In the end, I’m still not quite sure what I think about the plaid.  I like the mix-up of such contrasting fabrics and patters, and I enjoy having something personalized and unique.  The sequence fabric, however, made the shirt very itchy, so I have to wear another shirt under it, and I don’t like layers.  And I still feel like a cowboy, mixed with a disco-dancer from the 70s.  Maybe I don’t have the confidence to pull it off?  Maybe it’s just not my style.  But, it was worth a try!

Dumb in Denver

20131113-185907.jpgIn another episode of “Did You Really Just Do That,” we travel to Denver to discover Sara doing really dumb things.

Chris was invited to speak at ChaserCon 2015, the largest storm chasing conference in the nation.  He presented on taking photos and video of extreme weather events.  And he did a fantastic job!  It wasn’t my first choice to spend Valentine’s Day in the Mile-High City, as I’m not at all fond of cold climates, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to share this event, which my husband loves so much, with him.

IMG_0795In preparation for my trip, I researched the city of Denver.  I added a few “must see” items to my list and mapped out my journey on public transit.  Then, I created a schedule based on conference breaks, meals and when Chris would present.  I was ready to go!

That was until I arrived at the hotel on Friday morning only to discover that we were not actually in Denver, we were in the burbs.

I can’t stand the suburbs.

I want to be right in the middle of the action!  And the burbs are not. They are just close enough to make the commute to the city minor, but just far enough away that public transportation is out of reach.

That’s right…I found myself just on the outskirts of Denver with no car, no access to public transit, and too far away for walking very far.  I immediately crossed off all items on my “must see” list.  It was going to be a long weekend.

Friday night I was exhausted from traveling and hung out around the hotel.  On Saturday, I built up my bravery and planned to trek out a few miles to hit up shopping centers.  Our hotel was in between two major shopping centers (with all chain stores I might add, because it’s the burbs).  One just South was a short hike with sidewalks.  The other, however, was across a huge highway and not accessible by foot.

And of course, after researching stores at each center, I wanted to visit the shopping center that was not accessible by foot.  Because it had a second-hand shop that was hosting a 75% off sale on all winter items!  Can’t beat that.

I went into planning mode once again.  I had my journey mapped out.  The plan was to walk the two miles to the bus station in the middle of the closest shopping center, then take the bus from the first shopping center across the highway to the second shopping center.  It was only two bus stops away.  The bus came every hour and I had just enough time to leave the hotel, speed walk, and catch the bus.

IMG_0801I took off walking on sidewalks along a busy four-lane.  I crossed a few streets, was whistled at, passed horrible amounts of litter and finally arrived at the bus stop.  It was then I realized that I didn’t have cash.  I never carry cash.  I expected to be able to purchase a bus ticket at the bus station with a credit card, much like you would a subway ticket in New York.  I found I could purchase a parking ticket with my credit card in order to park in the bus stop lot, but I couldn’t purchase a ticket with my card.  Fail.

I wanted to visit a store to use my debit card and get cash back, but the stores were just far enough away that I couldn’t make it to the store and back in time to get on the bus.  It would be another hour before the next bus came.  It would take 30 minutes to get back to the hotel.  Alas, I remembered a Goodwill at the closest shopping center.  I walked back to Goodwill planning to waste an hour, get cash, then hop on the bus to get to the other shopping center.

At Goodwill brightly colored signs hung from the ceiling “50% off storewide!”  Maybe I’d hit the jackpot after all!  I could definitely waste an hour shopping half off.  And I did.  I loaded a basket full, visited each section browsing carefully, went to the dressing room…almost an hour later, I was ready to check out.  At the checkout I was informed that all items were 50% off that day only, except for orange and blue tagged items (this was NOT on the signs all over the store!) and of course, my basket was filled with ALL orange and blue items.  Of course.

I left Goodwill with a $7 jacket because I was so cold.  That jacket should have been $3.50, but whatever.

After my Goodwill ordeal my feet hurt and I was so frustrated with myself for not paying enough attention to the bus payment methods or the Goodwill sale that I decided I’d just go back to the hotel and call it a day.

When walking back, I passed much more trash along the sidewalks (Denver, or the burbs, was rather dirty), I was yelled at by boys hanging their heads out their trucks (do people in Denver, or the burbs, never walk on their sidewalks?) and I was approached by a homeless panhandler who decided to sing country music to me in exchange for money.  I’m guessing he was high, which to his credit is legal now in Colorado, but did not win me over.

Neither did the Denver suburbs win me over.  I lost all bravery and decided to stay put at the hotel the rest of the weekend.  IMG_1497

We were able to get all dressed up for the Saturday banquet on Valentine’s Day.  I shared a delicious meal with my love and enjoyed meeting new friends.

The conference wrapped up the next day. It was my job to check us out of the hotel room at the front desk. I’m not sure why because I’d had no contact with anyone at the front desk my entire stay. While waiting for the final bill, I noticed a flier sitting on the counter. It was a flier for the shopping center across the highway that I had wanted to visit the day before.  It was a flier that described how the hotel provided FREE transportation to and from said shopping center several times daily.

I was speechless.  My frustration flared up once again.  This was just not my weekend, and not my city.  All I could think was, “Did I really waste an entire afternoon trying to get somewhere that the hotel would have taken me for free!?”

Apparently I need to work on those planning skills.  Let’s not do that again Denver (or burbs).

Knowing Them By Name

IMG_0790This evening I went on my first bike ride around our new neighborhood. Bicycle riding has been something I’ve enjoyed my entire life. It’s a great way to exercise and clear my mind. It also gets me out of the comfort of my house to see life from a different perspective.

As I road through the neighborhood becoming familiar with street names and the city layout, I could smell hamburgers grilling in the distance, I heard children laughing and a basketball dribbling, I felt the warm air breeze against my bare arms. It was magical.

I adore the warm weather, because it makes the community come alive. Children run and play from house to house. Seniors sit on their porches and drink sweet tea. Young mothers help their babies take their first steps in the front yard of their first home. Men work on their pickup trucks in driveways. Everyone you pass gives you a kind wave and asks how you’re doing. The friendliness of my neighborhood is contagious. It’s times like these that I’m proud to be an Okie.

While riding my bike down the streets, I couldn’t help but remember a quote from The Wonder Years. I used to watch Kevin Arnold as he reflected on his own childhood growing up in suburban setting. He said something along the lines of…in the midst of the big city and cookie-cutter houses in vast housing addition that look on the outside to be all the same, there are families and individuals each with a unique story.

My husband and I are so thankful to be homeowners invested in a new community. I look forward to the day when we will know each of our neighbors by name. And after that day passes, another will come when I will learn the story behind each name. I believe that each of these people with these stories is important. All of them are different, but yet, they are all the same. And my story is the same too. We are all broken individuals with a deep need for a Redeemer.

It’s so easy to pass my neighbors’ homes as I drive to work in the morning, then pass them by again coming home, only to hide all evening behind closed doors and get much needed rest alone with my family. But, bike rides remind me of the people living right next door, and the opportunity God has placed right in front of me to minister.

These are people who matter and people who need a Savior. They are people who I can invite to my church and people who can come over for LifeGroup. People who can become my very best friends and people who can change the world.

If only I step outside of the comfort of my own home, change my perspective to see the needs in my own neighborhood, open my heart to those around me, learn their names and learn their stories.

Home Ownership Can be Crappy…Literally!

Getting your own home is wonderful.  But, it does have downsides.  When you experience a problem with your place while renting, you just call the landlord.  It’s their responsibility.  But, when you own a home, everything is your responsibility.  Chris and I discovered this the very first week in our first home, and it was really crappy.

A couple days after we moved in, we had dishes to wash and clothes to clean.  I noticed water backing up into the bathrooms anytime we took showers or ran the dishwasher.  We snaked the drain with the 25 foot snake we had on hand, but sadly with zero results.  Chris rented a 50 foot snake we thought would do the job.  It removed a few clogs, and we supposed our problems were over.  The three days following were fine.  But, that didn’t last long.

Our drains started backing up again, this time onto the new carpet.  That’s when I threw a fit.  I did not want my new carpet in my new home getting ruined!  Unfortunately, this was Christmas week and we couldn’t find a plumber to come assess our problem.  We waited though the New Year until someone became available.  This meant we lived that week without showers, doing dishes or washing clothes.

After the 1st, we discovered that we couldn’t get a plumber out because we didn’t have a clean-out (or that we could find).  So, the following weekend my dad came to assist us.  We rented an even larger snake and ran it through the drains again with no luck.  Finally, we started digging in search for a sewer line, thinking it may have a leak.  We still had no idea what the actual problem was.

We dug for an hour with no luck.  That’s when we started canvasing the neighborhood.  My mom and I went to visit neighbors to see if anyone knew where the sewer line ran.  We came home with mixed advice.  We continued digging two, then three more hours attracting more neighbors, still not progressing.

At one point, my dad was so frustrated, he decided to take it out on my flower garden.  While hacking away at my shrubs, he accidentally ran across the clean-out!  We then ran the snake down the clean-out searching for the issue.

IMG_0700We couldn’t clear the line, but did discover which direction it ran.  This allowed us to dig in the right location and we finally found the line in our front yard! IMG_0698
At two feet, we hit water.  Apparently there was a leak in the line.  At three feet, we found the line snapped in half and crushed.  Someone had attempted to patch the break using a piece of cardboard and two metal clamps.  Do I need to mention this didn’t work? IMG_0702Because we’d spent so much time digging, there wasn’t time to put in a new line.  We secured the line with a temporary pipe, with hopes of getting a plumber to put in a permanent fix.

It didn’t take long to realize the temporary fix had failed, or so we thought.  Chris and I went back to rationing water.  We called for quotes from plumbers and priced materials for a new line.  We decided a do-it-yourself approach was best for the budget.  IMG_1179My dad and my husband spent a second day digging up the yard.  They noticed then, that our entire sewer line had collapsed.

Just days after our home was purchased, we found ourselves knee deep in our own crap, digging out a rotted line.  It was a marvelous way to spend the New Year.  One month after our house was purchased, our new plumbing was in place.  It’s definitely not what we expected when buying our first home.  And something we hope we don’t have to experience again, in this home anyways.

We Bought a House!

At the end of 2014, Chris and I bought a house!  It was a dream come true!

houseSince getting married two years ago, we have saved up for a down payment on our first home.  Our family pinched pennies, lived below our means and sacrificed a few extras to fill up the savings account. Now that we’ve signed on the dotted line to become first-time home buyers, I can say that the sacrifices were well worth it.  We have a place to call our very own, and most days I still can’t believe it!

I never expected the process to happen so quickly.  We owe a special thanks to the Chickasaw Nation, my Native American Tribe, who fights for its people to have the opportunity to purchase their own homes in Oklahoma.  The Chickasaw Nation provided financial advisers who advocated on our behalf throughout the loan approval process.

chickI found it very fitting that the month of January in the 2015 Chickasaw Calendar (seen above) shares the goal of the Chickasaw Nation Division of Housing.

One of the most important parts of our mission is helping Chickasaw families find and secure quality housing.  In order to make the dream of homeownership a reality, housing and loan counseling, personal finance training and classes on home maintenance and safety are available to citizens.  I addition, loans for home construction and home improvement are available to eligible applicants.  Closing costs and down payment assistance is also available to citizens.

We’ve truly been blessed by this experience.  Our new home is just another way we are putting down roots in this city where God has called us to minister.  It’s another tool God has given us to share with our LifeGroup, our friends and our family.  We have more space to serve meals, an extra room for anyone in need of rest and a bigger backyard for the pugs to run and play.

I can’t wait for the many years we will spend and the many memories we will make in our very first home!

My Word for 2015

seek“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him–though he is not far from any one of us..” Acts 17:29

At the end of 2014, when I pondered the new year, I didn’t want to make resolutions that I wouldn’t keep (even though I love making lists and checking them off!).  Honestly, neither did I want to choose a silly “word” as so many of my co-workers and friends were doing.  I’m fond of going against the grain, not conforming to mainstream or popular ideas.  I’ve never wanted to do something just because it’s what everyone else was doing.

I didn’t want to put a word down on paper simply because I was supposed to.

Yet, when I sat with Bible in hand, the YouVersion Bible App on my phone of course, finishing up my current reading plan for the year, God had a different idea for my new year.  He was beckoning me to draw closer to Him.  I couldn’t deny it.  Though he had not been far from me the past year, I hadn’t been moving any closer toward him.

I’d gotten lost in my tasked-based way of thinking and I’d forgotten to merely seek His face.

When I read the verse from Act 17, the word seek flew off the page (or screen).  I knew instantly that to seek after God with more passion and consistency would be my goal for 2015.

Since that day, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of choosing a word for the year as I’ve realized just how powerful this practice can and will be in my life.  I’ve been eager to share my word and how God revealed it to me.  And God has continued to point me toward scriptures that contain this word, truly showing me that when I seek after him, he will be found!

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33