Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On the go...

Here is our day today...seriously! Just so you know what a day is like in Benson Land of starting our own business. We are always on the go. So, if you don't hear from us, don't be offended. We think about you...we just are always go, go, go.
Today went a like this:
*9:15 am - leave house, go to bank.
*Next stop, post office.
*Then, off to Batesville, but stop along the way in Searcy at Restaurant Supply Store.
*Back in truck (pulling concession trailer), stop at Southside and fill propane on trailer.
*Next, go to Cave City to drop off fryer that is out in trailer.
*1:00pm - Have lunch with old high school buddy in Cave City and see their new house.
*Then, back in truck to take concession trailer and donations to John 3:16 Ministries.
*4:30pm - Head towards Newport to return Dad's farm truck and get Jeep back. Stop and fill up truck with gas.
*5:30 pm - make it to Mom and Dad's where we switch back vehicles and play with new kittens for a minute.
*6:00 pm - head to NLR for Sam's trip that is needed for tomorrow's cooking job.
*7:15 pm - take returns to Sam's and turn around and spend the return money on tomorrow's job.
*8:45 pm - home to find that a storm hit while we were traveling Arkansas and I have a mess to clean up from Jax being afraid of storms.

That is our 11 1/2 hour day ... but we LOVE it! :-)
Whew! I am about to crash!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Critic or Guinea Pig?

Either title is fine with me...I will sample Kevin's food any day and everyday!! :-) He is officially writing a food column for a website once a week now. His first article was turned in today, and he included a recipe for nachos. Would I mind eating them to make sure they were up to par? You don't even have to ask twice! Ha!

Yes, they were yummy! Wonder what next week's article is gonna be about? I'm gonna like this!!

*I'll link up when the article is posted. :-)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tired...

3 days in 100 degree weather working concessions = TIRED!! But I am not complaining....I really do love it! But it was H.O.T.!!! That little A/C unit just cannot compete with friers cooking and the 100 degree weather. You know it's bad when you have to stick your head out of the trailer to cool off! ha!
It was a good weekend. We had great help - thanks to Jared, Kristen, Tanner and Kevin's mom. Family is awesome and teenagers needing money is really awesome! LOL!
Kevin got numerous compliments on how his BBQ was "the best they had ever eaten". One lady on two separate days got 5 sandwiches so she could eat them for breakfast and dinner too!! Seriously! Out of three days of serving, we only had one unhappy customer because we didn't accept checks. I admit I was surprised and thrown by the rudeness and let it bother me entirely too much. I know you can't make everyone happy, but why be so rude unnecessarily? We had so many positives over the weekend, but it is amazing how much more a negative can stand out. Hmmm.....
But then, on the way home, we were on the receiving end of a random act of kindness. Get this - we are pulling the smoker and the nut comes off the ball/hitch somehow/somewhere??? So, we stop at a truck stop and a random stranger GIVES us his ball/hitch thingy and takes ours that is missing a nut. And, we trucked it on home. HOW NICE!! Thank you random stranger!! We will pass it on!
God is good ALL the time! :-)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Little bits...

...of random insight/happenings with our life around here:

*First, I have to praise John 3:16 Ministries again!! Kevin is back from volunteering there for a few days, and I am just grateful for a camp that welcomes us both with love each time we pass through the gates. This ministry is helping so many good hearted men gets their lives and families back. Kevin has made some life-long friends there, and Bryan Tuggle is a great mentor. I will sing John 3:16's praises for as long as people will listen and probably even longer!!

*We have a full weekend of concessions again around here. Kevin was requested to serve for the Jr. Olympics Skeet Shooting competition this weekend. They had someone else last weekend apparently and so many people complained and requested Kevin come back that they called him...how is that for a compliment? And, the butts are on the smoker getting ready as we speak...

*I finished my masters project FINALLY! 31 pages later and turned in...so many hours went into it that I will probably cry if I don't make an A!! Then, I had a presentation on Monday night that I fumbled my way through...urgh! I hate presenting!!! My final is next week and then on to Summer II session.

*In baby talk...I admit to my first real disappointment. I know its early in the game but I was late. You momma's know that means your hopes get up a bit...you can't help it. I bought my first pregnancy test and nope. Then, for sure, no yesterday. Bummer! Not time yet...Sometimes you really want to know God's plan in advance! ha!

*Jax update for those keeping up...he had his test for Cushings Disease on Tuesday. I almost cried when I left him...he is so spoiled that when he figured out I wasn't walking into the back with him, he tried to run back to me. I sat in the car and thought, "jeez...what will I be like with a human kid?" LOL!! Anyway...so far, still no results on the test. We are supposed to hear something tomorrow.

*Have a good weekend!! Feel free to send us a few prayers as we work in the 110 degree heat index!! Yikes!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

Today is what summer should be...a day filled with no responsibilities, giggles, gossip, girlfriends, good food, and puppy breath! :-) The only downside to today was leaving Jax at the vet all day for bloodwork to see if he has Cushings Disease. (We should have results tomorrow.)
I started the day shopping for Kevin's birthday presents. Fun! Then, I went on to Lindsey's house because I was dying to see her new baby...I mean can you blame me? Look how cute she is:
Willow is a miniature Australian Shephard...and precious!!! She looks like a baby bear cub! If Jax had any kind of sense, he would at least let me babysit this sweet puppy! But, he's rotten and doesn't allow other dogs in his house. urgh!
Anyway...I did manage to tear myself away from Willow's fluff and puppy breath to go eat with the girls. YUM! Good pick there Lindsey! :-)
And, once I got home, I had about an hour before I headed out to dinner with two of my other BFF's. Good stuff today!
Now, tomorrow I get to go pick up Big Bear and start eating at home again! Ha!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Oops!

Maybe I should have checked the garden before today... This zucchini is gigantic! ha!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Uncomfortable

*Warning - I don't know where this post will take me but it has been on my mind and a long time coming. This is a highly personal and sensitive topic to me, so enter at your own risk.*

Father's Day. What a bittersweet day for me. First, let me say I am grateful for my step-dad who raised me. Was he perfect? No. Is any parent? No. Was he the only dad I ever had? Yes. Would he do anything for me? Yes. He IS my dad. It is him who I affectionately reserve the title of dad. It is him who will be the grandfather to my children. That is why when someone asks me who my dad is and I know that they are aiming at my real dad, I want to scream Steve is my dad!! What makes a "real dad"? That is the question? Just because I have N's (let's call him N for simplicity) ...just because I have his DNA does not make him my dad. That is my opinion and I am sticking to it.
If you are fortunate enough to have both of your parents, you stop right now and count your blessings. You are truly blessed in ways you don't even realize. It was February 1992 the last time I spoke to N, my real dad. 17 years ago. Almost half my lifetime spent without him in it. His last words to me were "leave your keys on the table." Before that day, we had never had an easy relationship. It was a relationship full of disappointments. I am sure there is another side to the story but my version is that my Mom was ALWAYS there. She never let me down. Her strength is amazing to me. On the other hand, N was never there. So many moments in my life were spent looking for him and wondering if he showed up. Unfortunately, us kids of divorce, always seem to seek out the love of the parent that lets us down the most. You know the lesson in life I learned from him? Actions speak louder than words. He would say I love you all the time. But did he show it? It is easy to say those words but not as easy to back them up. I am currently struggling again with the topic N, because in my prayer life, I am praying for forgiveness for him. I have to be able to forgive him to find true peace. My bible study leader said one night "if there is someone that came in the front door that would make you want to run out the back door, then you haven't forgiven them." Who immediately popped into my head? N. I would run full speed in the other direction. How do you forgive someone that has ignored the fact they even have a daughter for 17 years? How do you forgive someone that hurt you over and over? How do you forgive someone that is supposed to love you unconditionally but looked at you with pure hatred in their eyes? How? I am praying. I am still not there. In my Bible reading, I do know that God wants me to forgive him, but He also does not expect me to have a relationship that is unhealthy for me. I just cannot after all this time even think about that. I do not want a relationship with him. I don't want him back in my life. I just want the peace that comes with forgiveness. I never want him to have a chance to hurt my future children the way he disappointed and hurt me.
It is ironic to me that the week of Father's Day, N has come up on two different occasions. This is a topic that makes me extremely uncomfortable. I do not normally like to talk about it, but I am trying to work through it. Last Sunday at Kevin's parents church (we are ALL from this small community in NE Arkansas), a random lady comes up to me and says, "I think we may be related. Who is your dad?" Well, great! I wanted to say Steve E., but I knew what she wanted and knew because of my maiden name. Now, how do you say to a complete stranger, oh, I haven't talked to him in almost 20 years???? I always get so uncomfortable because honestly, I feel that I am being judged for not having a relationship with my dad. To me, it gives an opposite impression of who I am. I am with family all the time. I love my family. It is just that family equals my Mom's side because they are my rock, my support system, the ones who have always been there and would NEVER disappear for 20 years!!! How did I handle stranger lady's question? I gave her the name of N that she was looking for. Then she went into relatives we supposedly have in common. UNCOMFORTABLE!! I politely explained that I wasn't really sure who the people were because I hadn't spoken with my dad in years. Then, I was in a haze of 'get me out of here thinking' for a bit and I think Kevin rescued me. This is not the first time this has happened at this church. The difference is the last time, I cried a lot when I got off by myself. So, maybe I'm making progress. I don't really feel like it though.
I often wonder on days like today if I cross his mind. Does he think of me at all or is it like I don't exist? I will never know...all I do know is that I somehow have to find forgiveness for years of hurt and disappointment and let it go. Feel free to join me in prayer about this.
In the meantime, I will call my step-dad who in my heart holds the title of real dad and wish him a Happy Father's Day, because he has earned it. And from now on, when someone asks me who my dad is (even if I know they are looking for the answer of N), I will tell them proudly that Steve E. is my dad. He is the only one who stepped up to the plate to do the job. And, I love him for it!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

In our little world...

This is what has been happening (short versions only):
*Kevin had his last court date last Thursday before we left for camping. He was able to close a chapter of his life. All went well & no more court. I was still nervous...something about a courtroom...scary to me!!
*Sunday night we left our camping trip and went to Rector to meet up with John 3:16 at Kevin's parents church for a service. Kevin gave his testimony, and I think he did great!! Better than I did - I chickened out and didn't speak! ha!
*Monday we took my Mom to lunch on our way back home. Hmmm....Lackey's tamales - the best!
*I have been killing myself over a Master's project!! Urgh! Ready to be finished but probably have at least 3 more solid days of work on it ahead.
*I have also been a moody mess over this project, money, and the huge mess my house was that I had to clean because we are so messy the cleaning lady quit. HA! Poor Kevin!
*In really great news, Mom got us tickets to see Keith Urban AND Sugarland...my two favs!! Woohoo! I am so excited!!!!
*Other great news, Kevin booked another 3 day concession job today for next week.
*In the midst of all that, I have managed to do laundry, unpack from the camping trip, clean house, pay bills, and here is the kicker - start a closet clean-out project and stop and start another project before I finished!! GASP! Kevin is rubbing off on me! I may get rid of this type-A personality afterall! LOL!
So, what's up in your world?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bloomin' season!!

Welcome to our backyard!
One of my favorite times of year is when my daylillies start blooming...I wish they lasted longer because I love to look at them!! They are almost all in bloom right now and the backyard is full of color. Below is a mum that I transplated a few years ago that blooms in Spring and again in the fall. It is the only one that does that - any one know if that is a special kind of mum? I would like to have more!! And, see the dog crossing stepping stone...another fav of mine! I love the backyard!!!My favorite of my new daylillies that I scored last year from a friend of a friend that gave me a bunch of plants if I would just dig them up. CRAZY! They are gorgeous!!
I like the petals on this one:These light purple are actually my least favorite but they are still pretty. I think I just like the vibrant colors better.
Anyway...here is my favorite flowerbed because my pond is hidden behind all those blooms!! This is where the frogs live...I just saved one from the cat! ha!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Top Ten Camping Memories...

For this trip ~
10. Relaxing night time boat ride...thanks Dad! (and of course, playing 20 question with Autumn and Jayce on the "relaxing" ride and Jayce explaining to everyone what a carnivore is - he was in kindergarten this year and SO smart!)

9. Autumn and Tayhlor's fascination with ANYTHING the boys did - what they said or where they went - the girls were in awe. Reminded me of when I was little and thought that my cousin's Burke and Shane were the coolest.

8. Dad getting in trouble by the Lake Patrol for the exact same thing he reminded Jared not to do the day before! LOL! Keep the seadoo 100 feet away from other water craft....heehee!

7. No technology for 3 days!! (except when Mom made me carry my phone on Saturday because hers was dead.) Oh, and I figured out when I finally looked at my phone that everyone blew it up because a tornado was heading our way. Camping for me = no phone or computer.

6. Sleeping in the rain...some great thunderstorms!

5. Jared and Tanner imitating the girls screaming the entire time they rode the innertube for the first time. Ha!

4. Family time...Jared and Tanner are great campers and can tag along with me and Kev anytime! Love those boys like they were mine!! Thursday thru Sunday was us with Mom, Dad, Bubby, Valerie, Autumn and Tayhlor. Then, on Saturday, we had so many family members come for the day that I can't name them all. For a bit on Saturday, it was like running concessions again! ha!

3. Kevin's ribs and BBQ!! I know I am partial but that man can cook! YUM!

2. Campfires...indeed! :-)

1. And, the funniest part of this trip was Lucky, the best camping dog I've seen in a long time. My brothers new dog was obsessed with swimming like nothing I've ever seen. It was too funny!! They would take him out of the water and as soon as his feet hit the ground, he would run back in and just swim and swim as long as they let him. By Sunday, the poor dog was so sore from hours of swimming that he could barely lift his leg to pee! LOL!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Let the pictures do the talking...

Tell ya all about it tomorrow...just got back today!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

For my big bear...

Kevin,
You have been sober for 9 months today and you need to be so proud of yourself! You have worked so hard for your sobriety and struggled way more than most people realize. You try to joke and make light of the pain but I was there and know how hard you tried to fight your way to this life of sobriety. I do want us to always remember the pain and where we have been so that we appreciate our days and life with God all the more. You know we cannot do this alone. We both have to keep God as #1 in our lives or we will surely fall. That isn't to say that we won't have struggles - just think of all the trials over the past few weeks. The difference in the trials today versus the trials of yesterday are that now YOU lead us in prayer rather than hiding and drinking. Isn't life so much better now?
You are my best friend in the world and always have been. It makes me happy just to see you smile and succeed. I have no doubt that we have a blessed life ahead of us if we keep spreading the good news and living for Him. You are my life, soul mate, and best friend. Stay strong on your path so you can continue to be the spiritual leader to me and our future children.
I love you more than you know and am SO, SO very proud of you and honored to get to be your wife!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Helpers

We could NOT have pulled off these past 6 weeks of working concessions every weekend without the help of some family and friends. We were a little too busy to really be snapping pictures throughout, but the last 2 days I remembered my camera and after the chaos of the day, I snapped some shots of our helpers.
There are no words that could fully express our gratitude at helping us get this business up and running...but maybe Kevin's BBQ will help! Invites coming soon!
Several Saturday's we had Tanner running drinks:
Don't you want to buy a soda from him? ha!
We had Jared as our runner who did just about anything from running after propane or bread in town when we completely ran out of both...to pulling hot dogs off the grill...to restocking sodas...to running the fryers on the last day. He is one of the helpers that wore many hats. Thanks Jared!
On the last Saturday, we were able to make one of Kayce's dreams come true! She was dying to work for Kevin. She ran dranks with Sandy all day and at the end of the day was thrilled to give us all a break and run the concession stand. I have to say, she did a great job and I think we have a future helper here!
Kevin's nephews and sister really pitched in and helped us run drinks. Austin was even the runner one day. Rhonda got to take my place and run the window a few times. I think my favorite day was the final Saturday when Jared and I were working the food in the trailer with Rhonda on the window. She has amazing customer service and I liked the rush of getting the food out!
Rhonda running drinks: heehee!
As you can see, we managed to have fun throughout! :-)
We had more helpers that I didn't manage to get a picture of - Kristen ran drinks one day for us, Kevin's Mom came every Friday and ran the fryers, Jill & Bradley helped us a few times, and Kevin's dad was our Customer Service Rep one day! ha!
Hope I didn't leave anyone out!! We appreciate ALL of you!! Thanks again!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Adventures of the Benson's...

Lately, if it can go wrong, it will and we just have to laugh! Seriously, you will NOT believe our day today...but before I even get to that, let me give you quick run-down of some "uh-oh's" the past few weeks:
*2 weekends ago, almost ready to open concessions trailer for business and have NO electricity. The power cord has burned the plug-in at the extension cord. Can you say electrical fire? There was A LOT of praying happening! And, Game & Fish is the place to be when problems like these arise. They had someone over and new electric ran pretty quick. One problem down. Then, ran out of propane. Oops! We are now the proud owners of 4 propane tanks!! Ha! What's that? Not enough trouble...how about a gas leak to go with it??? Yep, it's true!
*Next weekend, we had the blow-out on the trailer on the side of the interstate. Continued problems with the gas leak that then caused one fryer to completely go out on Saturday. Kevin had to cook french fries in our turkey fryer behind the concessions trailer. HA! But we survived.
*Now for the really fun part!! TODAY! We needed to get the concessions trailer from Lonoke to NLR to store it for a few weeks. My Jeep sways when it pulls it, so we borrowed my Bubby's old work truck. On the way to NLR, we start smelling something funny...like its burning or melting plastic smell. So, we pull over and call Bubby. It's not overheated, so keep going unless it overheats. We make it back on the interstate and it starts smoking - inside the cab of the truck. Oh, and keep in mind it is 90 degrees and no air conditioner! So, we pull over again. Call Bubby. He says Dad is leaving work & to call him. So, Dad comes and pulls trailer rest of way to NLR and I follow in the safety of Dad's car. :-) It smokes a little while Dad drives it, but he says there isn't anything wrong with it. We unload the trailer and are going to take the truck back to Bubby. Dad says all is fine...the carpet is just melting??? So, off we go. It really starts smoking...so bad that we are covering our noses with our shirts because we can't breathe. And, suddenly Kevin yells, "Pull over! We are on fire! FLAMES!" And he is literally stomping out flames with his feet on the passenger side of the truck. I pull over and Kevin gets the fire out. We call Dad and tell him there IS something wrong and we just caught on fire!!! My Dad turns around and comes back to rescue us again. He basically pulls the carpet up, gets the drivers seat, says there isn't anything to catch on fire now, and drives the truck back to Bubby's house. HA! You gotta know my Dad. A little fire...driving down the interstate...no problem...what's all the fuss? LOL! So, we returned my Bubby's truck with a huge hole in the floor of the passengers side where it caught on fire. I feel horrible about it! But, the good news is that we are all ok. And, that is just some of our adventures lately!!!! Seriously! HA!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Catering Crawfish...YUM!

Tonight it was catering catfish and crawfish for the Game & Fish. YUMMY!

Kevin, of course, was not happy with the way it turned out, but he never is. I guess that is what makes him so good because he always wants it to be even better. Trust me, it was GOOD! Oh, and that's him with Tanner - his right-hand man the past few days. Way to go Kevin! 2 more days of concessions and we can go camping! woohoo!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mixed Emotions

Tomorrow is the last day of school...all who know me well, know what that means...I will be excited that summer is here but sad to let my kids go. I have taught 11 years now and have cried every year (except one) on the last day of school. Whew and that one year was the year I thought I maybe should just give up teaching all together! I got ALL the crazy kids! ha! I can laugh now...not so much then though!!!
I was putting stuff away today and thinking it doesn't seem real that the year is already over. It really went FAST! This was a challenging group at the beginning of the year, but I have really grown to love them....even if they are only good for me and some days even I want to pull my hair out! LOL! Still they are my kiddo's and tomorrow I will be sad to say goodbye. (but I will recover by the next morning! ha!)
Because soon I can say....SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Our Dream...


...is on its way to reality! With the help of John 3:16 letting us start off with their concessions trailer, our dream of Benson's Catering and Concessions is off and running. There it is again...John 3:16 Ministries...I just CANNOT say enough good things about this ministry. Be sure to hop on over to their website every now and then and see what they are up to!!
Kevin got a 5 week job as the sole concessionaire for a Game & Fish tournament and that has ran our weekends for 4 weeks now. This upcoming weekend, he has a catering on Thursday, and concessions Friday and Saturday. AND, he booked another catering and another concessions job this week. This is the start of our business. Kevin loves to cook and after closing his restaurant in Fayetteville has always wanted to be his own boss again and do something with food. Concessions is his dream that also became mine the first time he took me on a job with him. I love it! Right now, he says what we are doing is like playing golf with a shovel because we don't have all the right equipment we need, but we will get there. One job at a time! I know this is the start of a successful business for him. He is so good at it! I am super proud of you honey and happy to be your partner!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Congratulations!!!

Our friends, Jill and Bradley won the motorcycle from the John 3:16 drawing on Saturday night!!! Woo-hoo!! We are so excited that one of the tickets we sold at our reception was a winning ticket!! Kevin is about to pop with excitement - it is almost like he won! They have both been a big help to us with the concessions we have been doing and it was good to see them receive something!! There were 10,000 tickets and they were one of three drawn! How awesome! Congrats!! Now, just be careful on it! ha!