Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

We've had a happy day, full with family and Christmas excitement from beginning to end. It was one of those years where everything just seemed perfect, making me want to lock all the memories away as they happened. To help me with that, I just happened to get a Christmas present that I'm more than a little excited about. A new camera!!!

I am so pumped.

I know next to nothing about it, but I was able to grasp the automatic function well enough to capture the day. I look forward to diving in later, but for now, here is a glimpse of Christmas.

I hope that no matter your situation, good or bad, the hope of Jesus was with each of you today. Christmas can just as easily be difficult as light-hearted, but Jesus is the same. I pray that His light will shine brightly in all of us as we finish out this year. Merry Christmas, and may God bless you each and all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Marianna's musings

Today I thought I would share with you some of Marianna's keener observations of late. She keeps me laughing on a daily basis, and I hope some of them make you smile too. Enjoy!!

*A few days ago Marianna and Adrienne were eating lunch in the car. Adrienne had already finished her chicken and she decided she would like to have some of Marianna's lunch as well. Marianna tried for several minutes to keep the sandwich out of reach, but Adrienne continued to protest. That's when Marianna decided to try a new tactic. I heard her announce: "Okay Adrienne, the person whose hand is bigger will get to eat the sandwich. (half second pause for examination) Well, it looks like my hand is bigger. I get the sandwich!"

No arguing that logic, right? Unfortunately, Adrienne wasn't satisfied with the full proof decider-of-sandwich method Marianna created, and the protest continued until the sandwich was gone =).

*Yesterday morning I let the girls each open an early Christmas present that came in the mail. Marianna was thrilled with her new microphone, but it turns out Adrienne was as well. Between the signing microphone and the screaming girls, the noise level was soon above operational. We sat down and had a talk about the right and wrong ways to respond to a toy being taken away, and with Christmas just a week away, I felt it was a much needed discussion. A few minutes later I asked Marianna, " What do I not want to hear on Christmas morning?" hoping to reinforce what we had just talked about. She immediately replied, "That Santa Claus isn't real!"

I had to stop and laugh. Yesterday we had also had a discussion, focusing on the fact that while Marianna does not believe in Santa, her cousins do, so any word to the contrary that would ruin Christmas for them would not be appreciated. So, yes, she was right. An exclamation of "Santa Claus isn't real!" is definitely not what I want to hear on Christmas. Among other things.

I tried again. "What else do I not want to hear on Christmas morning?" She replies in her meanest voice, "I hate you! I will never be your friend! I don't want any of my presents!..." And I cut that little tirade off right there. Yes, once again, she hit the bulls eye. None of those things would be music to my ear on Christmas morning either. I realized the open-endness of my question was getting me no where, so we went ahead and moved on. Hopefully, she will also remember, among all the other many examples she gave of what not to say on Christmas, that she will also not scream if her sister takes a toy from her =).

*The other day we were listening to a Christmas cd that I have in the car. One of the songs is Faith Hill's "A Baby Changes Everything", and as soon as that song finished playing Marianna exclaimed, "Mom, that song is just like me, isn't it? Because when I was a baby, I changed everything too." I responded, "Well, for me and your daddy, you certainly did."

If nothing else, we've given the child a healthy self-esteem, wouldn't you say?


So what has your child said today that has you rolling with laughter? I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

my Christmas loves







Thank you to Ashleigh Peak for the beautiful work she did!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas on the brain


This is an action shot of Marianna pouring her heart out to Santa on Saturday night. She was ready, rapid fire style with her list: a Barbie with a fashion dress, a Barbie camper, and a Barbie necklace. It was all business as she discussed this with Santa, who by the way, she doesn't even believe in. But still, she feels it is an important thing to do.

Today Nathan shared with me one tidbit he had forgotten about last night's experience. During her bathroom break last night, Marianna evidently examined the contents of the toilet bowl and let Nathan know she felt it looked like a wise man's crown. I feel all of you will probably agree that when observations of that nature are being made it's safe to say that Christmas is on the brain.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

a new trick

To me, Photoshop is like the Bermuda triangle. I feel like once I step in, I might get swallowed up by the vastness of everything I don't know about it. It's scary, so I generally don't touch it.

But tonight I have broken through a barrier and peeled back a tiny corner of that vastness that has previously been untouched. Yes, I have learned a new trick, and I'm going to show it off.

The backdrop for my new talent is the Alpine Village, a wonderfully magical Christmas event at a local church that focuses on children under age 10. I was blown away by everything, from the 10 or so cottages the kids could go into to make crafts, cookies, candles, cards, and more, to the North Pole visit to Santa, to the live nativity, to the puppet show. It was really fantastic, and as you will see, the girls had a blast.



Here they are showing off their new ink.


Posing, angelic and frostine.


And there you have it. I've learned how to make a photo collage with my pictures. Nathan wanted to know if I thought the new discovery would revolutionize my blogging. Probably not.
But it is fun, and I do love new tricks!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Energy

It's Christmastime again—or as Marianna calls it, Christmas days. There is no doubt it is all about the days to her right now as she take one little nativity character out of her advent calendar each day and puts it up at the top. For me they fly, to her they creep, but either way, one day at a time we are going through the days of December.

In these first 11 days, we've already witnessed around here what I'm sure you already know to be true: we all have a little extra energy to spend during the Christmas season. You all know that Marianna's Christmas energy led to eager and unrestrained fingers about a week ago, but whether we have a penchant for present spying or not, we all have extra Christmas energy that we use in some way or another. We decorate with flair, we bake with passion, we shop with determination. There just seems to be a little more "umph" in everything we do.

So the question is, where am I directing all of my energy this season? Last year I thought about this question a lot, and as I was thinking on how to purposefully use my energy, it became very clear to me how lazily I had used my energy before. In years past I had been no less busy, but it seemed I couldn't remember spending my time on many things that were truly important. Yes, I did a lot, but staying occupied isn't the point of Christmas. The point is remembering what it is really about and doing those things that help make Christmas more meaningful to you and those around you in your family, friend circles, and communities.

That's why last year I had a little campaign on my blog to "Take Christmas Back." It was my way of setting a goal to do something purposefully every day that helped me and Nathan and the girls remember what Christmas is really about. It was really, really wonderful to sit back and look at Christmas from a "how can I make it meaningful" perspective, and it's something I definitely want to do again this year, and every year.

The terrific thing is how easy and fun it is to incorporate little things into each day that help us focus on Jesus and His gift to us. Just keeping your ears open is a fantastic way to find places to go, things to make, and activities to participate that focus on the giving and not the getting. And the way things are going around here, I can tell we need that lesson more this year than ever before. So how have we kept little minds off of ripping into Christmas presents around here? Well, truth be told, we haven't =). But we have found some super fun ways to be actively involved in trying to give to others like Jesus has given to us.

On Monday night we had the privilege of being able to go back for the second time to the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home to throw a Christmas party for one of the cottages. Our fantastic connection class at church along with another wonderful class from Bellevue, joined forces to put together a dinner, presents, and lots of crafts and games for the seven girls in the cottage. It was SO much fun to get to visit with these amazing girls. And I mean that in the truest sense of the word. These girls blew me away.

That's just one example of the thousands of opportunities that I know are all around us, not only at Christmas, but all year long. I want to do, not for the sake of doing, but for the sake of taking advantage of our time, and using it to some things that are truly important. And coincidentally, those things also happen to make Christmas all the more fun and exciting and special to each of the members of our family. Focusing only on the presents leaves us feeling a little empty. Baking and decorating and doing only for ourselves doesn't automatically make us happy.

The true joy in Christmas I believe comes from looking at Jesus, rejoicing over His gift, and using that as the springboard for everything else we do this Christmas season.

What do you think? I'd love to hear some ideas from you on opportunities you've noticed or taken advantage of to make Christmas special this year.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The run

is done!!!



This morning was the St. Jude half-marathon, the race that I have been looking forward to and training for all summer and fall. I didn't know what to expect, never having done anything like it before, but it was an experience I will not soon forget.

St. Jude is an amazing place, and getting to run for the kids was definitely special. One of the best parts of the race was when the course took us through the St. Jude campus and the different families came out to cheer. One in particular brought tears to my eyes. A little boy in a wheel chair, hooked up to tubes and covered in blankets, sat next to his parents, cheering us on. He was such an inspiration, reminding me that you can't run for a better cause.

When I hit mile 10, those three miles ahead of me were looking awfully long; by mile 12 I was on autopilot. But I had two wonderful running buddies and together we pushed to the end. The race finished in AutoZone park to a baseball stadium full of cheering people. I finished at 2:09:52.

After today I can confidently say two things: 1)I'm glad I decided to run in a half marathon. 2) I will never run the full 26.2. That vow was made around mile 13 =).

And of course, the best part was seeing the happy faces waiting on me at the end.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

T-minus 2 days

Anticipation, I am just about to kiss you goodbye.

You have been my constant companion these past four months, inspiring me, pushing me, keeping me going.

You've been a companion worth having because you have gotten me to the place I need to be.

But at 8:00 Saturday morning as soon as the whistle blows, you will be gone.

Because at 8:00 AM when the whistle sounds, the race will begin.

13.1 miles. St. Jude Half-Marathon. Here I come!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You Better Watch Out

Since we are officially in the Christmas swing of things, I believe you can all finish the phrase. Those words to the classic children's song are supposed to serve as a helpful admonition to all children to be on their best behavior, because of course, Santa Claus is coming to town!

Maybe Marianna is not old enough to understand that, or maybe she just felt like those words were better applied to me. Here's what happened.

We put our Christmas tree up on Saturday. It was by far, her most thrilling Christmas decorating session to date. Every ornament she came across was like a reunion with her best friend. I can't imagine that she even remembered most of them from last year, but she talks a big game and I was beginning to think maybe, just maybe, she did.

The tree went up, the tree skirt went under, the star went on top, and no sooner were we done than Marianna was begging for a few presents to be wrapped and put under the tree. Her presents of course. Nathan, being the terrific dad he is, wrapped up three presents as soon as the girls went to bed and had them placed under the tree for them to see when they woke up. That was Sunday.

Monday morning, just 24 hours later, I'm in the kitchen when I hear Marianna saying, "Oh Mom, I'm so sorry! I'm so, so sorry! I'm sorry. I'm sorry." I run in and find her sitting in front of the Christmas tree, an empty box and shredded paper in front of her, a confused, but innocent sister beside her, and a hand behind her back, clutching the present she has just unwrapped.

Yes, I better watch out indeed. It seems that 4 is the age from which I will always have to be on the look out from the little Christmas eager claws of Marianna. I will now probably have to find better hiding spots and out of reach locations to hide the presents that evidently cannot go under the tree this year until Christmas Eve.

The hardest part? Not laughing.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Praise the Lord, for His goodness never ceases

Today is December 1st, and in many ways it is the day that gives me more reason to praise God than any other because of what it symbolizes in my life. I praise God because I am a different person because of the past two December firsts God has ushered into my life. I praise God that through these two days specifically, and many others collectively, He has shown me that He is real, good, gracious, and loving. I know that more today than I used. I believe it more today, not because I didn't believe it before, but because I didn't have the capacity for believing it as deeply as I do now. God is good. He is always good. But this day highlights his goodness in my life like none other.

Most of you probably know that today is Poppy's 2nd birthday. It was on this morning two years ago that we got to meet the miracle that God blessed us with. I say that now, two years later, with conviction. We were blessed by Poppy. She was such a gift, although one I didn't always recognize in the months leading up to her birth. I saw the disease of trisomy 18 as the enemy. Now I see that in a way, it was her sickness that allowed God's glory to shine all the brighter. Poppy was beautiful, and perfect, and loved, by us and most of all by God. She looks down from heaven. From heaven! I don't believe that today she is sad because of the sickness that shortened her time here, and though I will always miss her, I am no longer consumed with sadness. This was God's plan for her, and His plan for us, and over the past two years God has graciously let me see even more glimpses of His perspective by showing me the big picture of how He uses our tiny baby to cast His light on the dark, hard places of different peoples' hearts.

That's why today is a day to celebrate and praise.

One year ago today, something else significant happened. God orchestrated something beautiful for us when He allowed Adrienne's official adoption day to be December 1, 2008. On May 29th Adrienne came into our home, but the law requires a six month waiting period before adoptions can become official. That is how it happened that last year, on Poppy's first birthday, we gathered at the courthouse to sign the paperwork that would make Adrienne a part of our family forever. Another reminder that God is good.

God is good, but not just because He allowed us to adopt Adrienne. Please don't walk away thinking God was only good because He did something for us. The truth is, whether we were chosen to be Adrienne's family or not, God is good. God is good despite the circumstances of our life. If you don't believe that, then believe me, you will go through circumstances terrible enough to make you doubt God. If you don't believe that God is good no matter what, then you will compare your life to the lives of others and walk away feeling God has not been very good to you. Please, please, don't believe that lie. Instead, I hope that you will see God is good, in the good and in the bad. Good because that is His essence. He loves us, He has given everything for us, and whether or not we are going through something difficult or coasting through on an easy road, He is good.

December 1 reminds me of that. That is why today is a day for celebration and praising.

I want to share with you again a few of the moments captured on film and video on Poppy's birthday two years ago. What we shared with her during those three hours, I will never forget.




Monday, November 30, 2009

hairiffic news


Why in the world is Adrienne so excited?



Because of her "hairiffic news" of course!


Yes, having a first pony tail is definitely something to clap for.

Way to go, Adrienne!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

thankful...

Today I'm thankful...

*that despite the lack of desire from just about all parties besides myself, Nathan, his two brothers, and my new sister-in-law, Anna, participated in the first annual Luce family turkey trot, consisting of a scenic two mile jog through Lakeland. Maybe next year will add feathers to our outfits. I didn't want to press my luck today, for fear of total cancellation. But next year...

*for the salvaging of the maiden attempt of providing the rolls to the Thanksgiving dinner. Homemade rolls, that is. I've been responsible for picking up the package of Sister Shubert's plenty of times before. But this year, thanks to the inspiration of my Secrets homemaking class, I decided to go hardcore. That meant buying yeast for the first time in my life, and after only three trips down the baking aisle, I was very relieved to find it.

This morning I was in the zone, getting up to make the rolls first thing so that they would have time to rise two times before lunch. All was going according to plan, until 1 1/2 hours into the 2 hour rising process I saw we had hit a bump in the road. Namely that the dough wasn't rising and, in fact, looked more like soup that dough. "What could have gone wrong?" I asked myself as I stared at what was clearly not going to turn into anything that could be kneaded and rolled out in 30 short minutes. I'll tell you what it could be. It soon came to my attention that I skipped over one line of the instructions. The one that told me to add 2 cups of flour. Yes, that definitely makes a difference. Well, there was no time to start over, so mission salvage Thanksgiving officially began. I went ahead and added the missing flour, fully aware that yeast is finicky and the dough might not rise. But rise it did, and even though I have a feeling that the fluffy factor may have been damaged, the rolls themselves were edible and served with pride.

*that Nathan didn't fall off the roof today trying to look for the football he had thrown from the backyard, with intentions of hitting Micah, who was standing in the front yard. There was much talk of ladder positioning, roof steepness before Nathan finally mounted the ladder, willing to risk it all for the $10 ball from Wal-mart. It was then that Nathan's dad made the fortuitous discovery that the much worried about football was actually quite safe on the ground, hidden by a shrub, but very much on the ground.

*that at least one of my new culinary attempts went according to plan, and actually turned out to be Thanksgiving-worthy delicious. Carmel Pecan Pumpkin Bread Pudding. It's a mouthfull to say, but it's worth every syllable. For a pumpkin and bread pudding loving kind of a girl like myself, this was a little piece of heaven on earth.

*for two turkey-wearing little girls, a handsome husband, and a wonderful family (both sides).

*for Jesus. When you boil it all down, and take everything else away, there is Jesus, and He is more to be thankful for than I will ever have words to do justice.

So today, and all the others, I am thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Makeup

Whew.

What a week. It was totally wonderful and completely crazy. It was busy and it was meaningful. It was emotional and it was hysterical. And by the time last night rolled around, I was enjoying that wonderful, exhausted feeling that comes when you can finally let your hair down and relax after a whirlwind schedule.

The good news is, now I finally have time to tell you about it! So here we go.

Thursday: Day one of the Christmas Tea at Faith (my church!). My pastor's wife called me months ago to see if I would be able to speak and share our story, and I was thrilled. I remember over a year ago having a conversation with God, telling Him that I wanted Him to use our story to however He would, in whatever ways He wanted to. If that meant me sharing it, I wanted to do it. The story of Poppy is the story of God's faithfulness. It is the story that shows how amazing, how loving, how good, how powerful, and how all-knowing our God is, and if He can use me to share the hope I have in Him, I want to do it.

The night was beautiful, and I was so humbled to be able to have a part in it. The theme was "Jesus, the Light of the World," and I shared how God is the light that brings us hope for living, even in our darkest hour. As I retold so many aspects of our story, I was blown away once again by how God took care of us, loved us, and blessed us through the gift of Poppy.

Friday: I got to do it all over again. The Christmas Tea is a two night affair, with each night bringing in a new group of ladies. It was great.

Saturday: The big day. Marianna's 4th birthday.

But first, I had a 5k race to run. That morning I got up early before anyone was up and headed out to run with my friend Samantha. We got to the race at 8:15, thinking the race began at 8:30. But it didn't. It started at 9:30. The big bummer was that we had planned on running our extra mileage (we were supposed to run 8 to keep up with our training for the 1/2 marathon) after the race, but instead we found ourselves running 3 miles before the race started. Then we ran the 3.1 for the race. And then we ran two more. The really funny thing was that we both managed to get 1st place in our age divisions, even with the less than optimal conditions. So all in all, success!

In the meantime, Marianna was spending her birthday morning having a date with daddy. They had pancakes at Ihop before running over to the mall to go on the spider jump.

As you can see from the clip below, it involved some high-flying action, and the birthday girl loved every second.

video

And finally, the moment had come for the pink poodle party—the one Marianna started planning just two months after she turned three. It was so much fun, from the poodle cake, to the silly games, to the dog collars, to the poodle "paw"dicures. Marianna loved it.






There is no such thing as too much pink believe it or not, but if there was, we got awfully close to the limit =).



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Genesis

Two glorious weeks of weather.

Ahhh...

It has been amazing. No rain. No coats. Only glorious fall weather, begging for parks and zoo trips and bike rides. So what gets left behind? Blogging. And that is A-Ok by me. We'll trade in the nice weather for frequent updates any day of the year! I hope all of you have been enjoying the same.

The weather is supposed to continue for several more days, but I wanted to pop in from my weather break to tell you about something incredible we got to experience on Sunday and Monday. A man by the name of Ken Ham came and spoke at our church, teaching 7 sessions over two days. Have you ever heard of him? He is the founder of a ministry called Answers in Genesis, an organization built around the principles that the foundation of the Bible is built upon the truth found in that very first book.

We all have questions. I don't think we can be alive in this period of history and not have questions about many of the topics Ken Ham and AIG focus their attention. Do you ever wonder about evolution vs creation? How dinosaurs fit into the Bible? What the Bible says about the age of our earth? Was the flood a literal world-wide catastrophe? Where did all of the races come from? How do science and religion fit together?

All of these questions and more he discussed with compelling arguments and logic. He is passionate about those questions because he believes with all of his heart that they matter. He explained that many people who have a relationship with God say something like this, "Well, I believe that creation _____________ (fill in the blank), but it doesn't really matter." He argues that nothing could be farther from the truth. I won't be able to do his argument justice, although I wish I could, but let me say, if you are the least bit curious about really having some foundation for what you believe, or if you want a strong, biblical argument for any of these topics, you need to check out Answers in Genesis. His talks were some of the most vital I have heard on this subject. I wish everyone could hear him in person, but I do believe that all of the DVDs of his seminars are available, in addition to a wide selection of books and other materials.

Something else that he spoke about in great length was the Creation Museum. It's located up in Cincinnati, and it sounds amazing! The museum takes you through the pages of Genesis, complete with exhibits on dinosaurs, the flood, the tower of Babel, and more. It looks incredible, and as soon as the girls are old enough to go and understand what they are seeing, we're heading that way.

In other news, we here at the Luce household have a busy week in store, not the least of which involves a birthday for a certain soon-to-be four year old. In the midst of birthday preparations, there are race preparations for a 5k I have Saturday morning, and speaking preparations for a Ladies' Christmas Tea I will be sharing at on Thursday and Friday nights. I would appreciate prayers for the last item! So it will be busy, but a fun and exciting busy. I'm sure I won't check in before it's over, but rest assured that pictures of a pink poodlena birthday party are to come!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

a head start: not always a good thing

Halloween has become the new Thanksgiving, don't you think? In days past it seems like the Christmas decorations waited until black Friday, or at least until Thanksgiving was just around the corner, and talk of Christmas shopping was reserved for the four weeks counting down to December 25. Well, those days are obviously no longer.

Today as the girls and I walked through the mall, Marianna was quick to notice the glittery garland strung from the ceiling, squealing with delight about the beautiful decorations. I also heard djs on the radio talking about the numerous websites out there dedicated to Black Friday sales. You can evidently go to blackfriday.com, blackfridayads.com, blackfriday.net—you get the picture. And it's only the first week of November.

I'm sorting out how I feel about all of that. Every year it seems the advertising market stretches us a bit more, makes us feel a little more comfortable with Christmas music before Thanksgiving, decorations the day after Halloween, and the build up of huge sales weeks before they actually take place. So is there anything so wrong with that?

Not really. It's still my choice to decide when I will personally dive into the holiday bliss, but the early marketing steals away a little of the fun. How so? There's something of a let down in waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to really get into the season, only to feel like you've finally given in to the tide around you. Instead I wish we could all get on board together with one big giant unveiling of the Christmas season. An all of the sudden, BOOM, it's here and it's all around us kind of feeling.

It's the same with snow. What's better: Going to sleep with no snow and waking up to find a blizzard has come while you slept and left you with 2 feet of snow, or gradually throughout the day and evening watch as 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch builds up on the ground until finally, you have enough to go out and play in? I rest my case. Everyone prefers the overnight blizzard.

And that's what I miss about Christmas. I wish an overnight blizzard would hit the Friday after Thanksgiving, knocking us over with the Christmas joy and jump starting the season the right way. I'm all for capitalism, but I do feel the loss of what marketing has taken from me by exploiting these early November weeks.

Don't worry, it won't steal my joy. I will make my lament and move on. But still, don't you think Christmas would be just a little nicer if it waited and came when it should?

And just to show solidarity with my topic, I will post a Halloween picture of my girls. No red and green for us. Not yet. But it's coming =).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Reformation Day

Did you know that's what today is? Reformation Day. The day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the All Saints' Church, an event that has since been credited for the spark of the Protestant Reformation. A pretty good day to celebrate, don't you think?

Better than Halloween in my opinion. We in the Luce household enjoy dressing up most days of the year, so of course October 31st is no different. Throw in a little candy to sweeten the deal? Well, let's just say we have a day that warranted Marianna going around to her little friends last night, grabbing them by the upper arms, and with a smile stretched across her face exclaiming, "Tomorrow is Halloween!" But there is something about celebrating Halloween that I don't like. To me, there is still so much evil associated with the day, so much darkness, that it doesn't sit right with me.

Of course, for the purposes of the little girls in my house, the extent of Halloween is getting to dress up in beautiful costumes, get loads of candy, and play with friends. And there's nothing wrong with one little bit of that. I just don't want to celebrate Halloween itself. So I like that today is Reformation Day. Something worth celebrating along side all of the fun that comes with October 31.

In anticipation of today, last night we took care of a few preparations.

We started in the kitchen, as Marianna exercised some superior skills with a tube of icing.

The finished product. Quite cute, I do believe.

And then we took care of our pumpkin. No carving for us this year. We went with the surprisingly cleaner alternative of pumpkin painting.

A very colorful finished product.


Today's festivities have not begun, but they will center around one Alice in Wonderland (or Allison Wonderland, as Marianna prefers) and her faithful side kick, Adrienne Bee. The big fun comes later this afternoon and evening. Trunk or Treating at church, trick or treating at home, and a birthday party for a friend to wrap it all up. Happy Reformation day indeed!


Monday, October 26, 2009

a series of disproportionate events

This morning I'm back from a wonderful, and slightly wacky, weekend in Louisville, where we got the chance to visit our good friends, the Boevings. If you work with me on the title, you'll see that while nothing that happened was really unfortunate, things didn't exactly go 100 % as planned. Thus, disproportionate. Maybe not the best word, but definitely the most catchy.

Let's begin with my in-car entertainment. I had planned to use the 6 hour car ride from Memphis to Louisville to begin knitting a baby blanket for my new second cousin, Townes, who will be arriving in December. I've got mad blanket knitting skills, but my talent ends there. I can stitch row after row until I've got a square, but if you want something with a shape other than a rectangle, you've come to the wrong person.

I began knitting as soon as the tires hit the pavement, hoping to make big-time headway. Well, headway I made, but not in the direction I was hoping. I'm not sure how, but I soon discovered that the "blanket" I was working on was more like a full size bed spread. What's worse, after my first ball of yarn was up, my work in progress was only 3 1/2 inches long. What does that mean? About 100 balls of yarn were in my future if I continued on the path I set out on. So the blanket morphed into a scarf, and a rather long one at that. Just over 7 feet, if you want to know. It's lovely, if I do say so, but boy is it long. So much for the mad skills.

Next in the series of weekend adventures was a disproportionately hard hit to the head taken by little Aubrey Boeving shortly after we arrived. Adrienne was running around with the Boeving sisters, when suddenly Aubrey tripped and ended up falling headlong onto the corner of a chest with nothing to break her fall. The cut was deep and required stitches, so Nathan, Adrienne, Savannah, and I spent a quiet evening in the house while Aaron and Laurin took poor Aubrey up to the emergency room for three stitches. She was a champ the rest of the weekend, sporting her band-aid proudly.

On Saturday followed a disproportionately cold day for the fall festival taking place right next to where the Boevings live. Three very cold, but cutely costumed, kiddos tried their best to enjoy a frigid festival before we packed it up and opted for warmer in-door play. And just hours after that, I followed up our disproportionately cold morning with a disproportionately long run alone. Laurin, still recovering from laryngitis, couldn't go with me, making the 7.4 miles I did my longest solo run to date. The trees were gorgeous and the day had warmed up, making for ideal conditions for the run, but still, I missed her company!

Wrapping up the wacky weekend of a disproportionate nature was our drive home Sunday afternoon. The three hours to Nashville flew by like the wind, leaving us marvelling at what an easy drive we were experiencing. We even anticipated getting home ahead of schedule and cutting 30 minutes off of the 6 hour trip. But that was not to be. Two very long, very unexplained traffic jams had us pulling in at 7:45, nearly 8 hours after leaving the Boeving's house. Adrienne proved to be car-rider extraordinaire, but still, two periods of standstill traffic, each lasting longer than 45 minutes, in the distance between Memphis and Nashville? It's just plain disproportionate.

And so our series of disproportionate events came to a close. Or so we thought. Fast asleep after our weekend adventure, we didn't expect the little surprise our alarm system gave us around 4:00 am. I woke up to a rapid beeping sound, which we soon discovered was our alarm system panel on the fritz. Nathan thought it was shorting out, and this seemed to be confirmed when it completely lost power a few minutes later, appearing to be totally dead with no lit buttons. Oh, if only. No that little alarm panel was not dead or shorted out. Instead, over the next two hours the panel would activate, deactivate, make a series of beeping sounds, and power off. And then it would do it again. I still have no idea what's going on, and I'm a little afraid to open my doors since I'm not ever sure whether it has set itself or not. A little unnerving for sure.

But appropriate, don't you think? It completed our weekend very nicely. Now all I need is a nap to catch up from our wildly wacky series of disproportionate events.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Secrets

Ready for a few kitchen fast balls? If a recipe called for a little lemon zest, would you know the exact tool to grab? If you were told to braise a piece of meat, would you be able to launch into action? If you had nothing but your bare hands and a stubborn glass jar, would you be able to get the top off without the need for reinforcements? My answer to all three of these questions would have been a big fat no a month ago.

But not any more. I am taking a class on Wednesday mornings called Secrets, and it has been revolutionary to my domestic skills (or at least has illuminated the fact that I didn't have all that many of them to begin with). The idea behind this class offered by Bellevue's women's ministry is to teach younger women the tricks and secrets to cooking and other domestic endeavors. Taught by some of the ladies of the church, it is both practical, educational, and fun! For example, this week we learned how to make four one-dish meals with a rotisserie chicken. The ladies even made the recipes for us to sample. You just can't beat that =).

This week's class also focused on organization. A guest speaker came in and shared some of her tricks of the trade for organized living, one of which revolved around a website called e-mealz.com. It was so amazing I thought it was a must share idea. This website, created and maintained by moms, is designed to make meal planning easy by doing the meal planning for you. Each week, seven complete, well-balanced meals designed to feed 4-6 people are available, along with the recipes, grocery list, and instructions. You literally just print out the list, and out comes one list for instructions and another for the grocery. And it gets better. You can plug in your grocery destination of choice, and the website will make sure that the meals for each week center around the specials your particular store is advertising that week. So if pot roast is on sale, one meal that week will probably be a crock pot roast. Pretty cool? I thought so. And it's only $5.00 a month to join!

I haven't gotten my membership yet, mostly because we just don't eat at home that many times a week, but I'm definitely keeping it in mind for the future. And if I hear of any more irresistible secrets, I'll pass those along too!

A few secrets of my own this week?

*Let the girls brush their teeth in the bath tub each morning. We kill the proverbial two birds with one stone, and potentially save an outfit from a red toothpaste fate to boot.

*Edit your pictures at home and print them off at walmart.com. The shipping fee is less than the gas it would take to drive to the store two times, not to mention the time and frustration of editing pictures with two kiddos in the cart!

*When trying to get out the door, get the kids ready first. That doesn't necessarily mean we'll be on time, but it does mean that it will just be me rushing and not all three of us. And trust me, that is infinitely better.

Last, but not least, tomorrow is the much awaited Christmas in the Valley crafts fair! I really hope to see some of you there. Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest! I am happy to announce that our winner, picked by random.org, is Karlye. I will get your book to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

lessons in self-discipline

When I was in college I worked for Starbucks. To best juggle school, work, and marriage, I worked as an opener, which meant arriving at 5:00 a.m. to open the store and be ready for the first customer at 5:30. That wake up time, somewhere between 4:00-4:15, was scary at first. I had a hard time imagining that my body would really function behind a wheel or in front of an espresso machine at that time of the morning (or night, whichever way you look at it), but to my pleasant surprise it did. There was something wonderful about walking into a store where the smell of espresso hit you like a wave, waking you up gently as the caffeine seemed to seep into your pores.

I worked there for over a year before I graduated from college and took a teaching job, and the early wake-up habit proved to be one that stuck. For awhile. For a long time, waking up at 7:00 felt like sleeping in, and anything over 7:30 was unheard of. But over time and after children, all of that changed.

I happen to have two girls who are fantastically late sleepers on most occasions. In fact, on Saturday morning I got back from my run at 9:30 to find Nathan and the girls had all rolled out of bed just moments before. What that means is that I am virtually never woken up because of a child. I am the first one up.

There is a gold mine of opportunity in those morning hours before M and A are up, and I know that the possibilities of what can be accomplished in that time are unlimited. The problem is, I've gotten lazy. Knowing they will sleep has led to sleeping in a little later myself. And before I know it, that window of opportunity is something like a shrunken shirt: still there but too small to be of use. I want to change, but I've discovered wanting it, and wanting it enough to do something about it, are two different things.

If I get up with Nathan every morning at 6:00, that would mean at least 2 hours of uninterrupted time to get my day off to a great start. I could work, have my Bible study, do some cleaning, you name it! It would be amazing. Amazing enough that I decided last night that I was really ready to do something about it. I promised myself that at 6:00, I would wake up.

Well, I did indeed wake up at 6:00, but I discovered another important part of the equation that I had overlooked last night at bed time. I found out that I can be awake in bed for a solid hour before my body feels ready to move. Yes, I am speaking from this morning's experience. So lesson number one in self-discipline: swing those legs out of bed and get up! Consciousness from underneath the covers doesn't count.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Christmas in the Valley


Christmas in the Valley is just around the corner, and we need your help to get the word out! To help spread the word, my sister, Rachel, asked me to do a giveaway for a copy of Poppies in December. I know that all of you don't live here and obviously won't be able to make it, but there is still a way for my out-of-town readers to enter.

To enter, you can do any of the following. Please be sure to leave a comment for EACH of the following that you do:


  1. Become a follower of my blog and leave me a comment saying you did! If you’re already a follower, just leave a comment letting me know that you already are! (that way every reader can have an entry =) )
  1. My sister is doing a vendor spotlight each day on her blog from now until Christmas in the Valley (Oct. 17th). Go to her blog(http://rachelericandallie.blogspot.com) and come back here and leave a comment saying something you learned about that vendor (1 entry per vendor – you can earn extra entries for EACH vendor that you comment on back here – just be sure to leave a separate comment for each one)

3. Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment here saying you did to get an extra entry.

Winner will be selected on Friday, Oct. 17th by Random.org


The comments on this post will stay open all week, even when new posts appear. I hope to see some of you next Saturday!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lately... (with pictures)

Lately...

One nearly four year old little girl has been a little Ariel crazed.

FYI, I'm happy to report that Ariel-in-a-box is now Ariel-out-of-the-box. And we all breathed a little sigh of relief for that.

Lately...

Our 16 month old little girl is not such a baby any longer.


What is she? Pure sunshine. Amazingly big. Brave, daring and independent. But definitely not a baby any more.

Lately...

Marianna has had a lot to smile about.


She has started ballet and art class, she is quite busy planning a pink poodle themed birthday party and praying for a little brother (one that is definitely not on the way), and she has discovered the joy playing the Wii with her daddy.

She also went to Disney on Ice.


Lately...

Adrienne has grown enough hair to be wind blown.

She has also grown a wild side and decided that nothing is to big for her. Even if mom has to come along for the ride.

Lately...

It's fall, and that means sewing! I have started on the newest set of outfits, with the first of several completed just last night.


Lately...

Life has been good.


Fall weather, playing with friends, enjoying all things outdoors. Life has been very, very good.