Monday, May 30, 2011


Graham at 5.5 months

Marianna at 5.5 months

What do you think? I think it's wild. My two identical twins 5 years apart.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


this boy serves it up every day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

What's for dinner?

Lately, my answer to this very often asked question usually comes from my gold mine of a recipe go to place:

I know there are a bunch of different recipe websites out there, but this one has been the perfect fit for me. For starters, it has a recipe for just about whatever I can think of, so if I want to get a recipe for something specific, it's easy. I also love the reviews. I rarely ever make a dish just as it is written, since I find so many great suggestions from the people who have already forged that new territory before me. I've also been impressed by how many great meal ideas I've found by searching around on the website.

Since I started using frequently, it has become my goal to try at least one new recipe a week. That doesn't sound impressive at all, and it's not, but it is definitely breaking ground for me. I have had a set of staple recipes that I have run into the ground over the past nine years, and since I'm nothing like my creative, food wizard of a sister-in-law, it was a rarity to try something new. But this makes it easy for me, and since it has been easy, I've done it. And after doing it, I've found that it is really fun to try something new on a weekly basis! For a non culinary expert like myself, it has made meals something exciting and worth the wait. If you have been in the same boat as me, try it out! I don't think you will be disappointed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

odds and ends

Last night I found that Marianna had taped a piece of paper around a cross I have on the kitchen counter. I went for a closer look and found she had written "King of the Jews".

Today I went to went to the movie theatre with all three kids. There were moments when I felt like I had bitten off a little more than I could chew, but really overall, it was fine. I can't tell you the entire plot of Kung Fu Panda 2, but I got enough to think it was a pretty cute sequel.

Tonight I'm running in my first race in almost two years. Yikes! I don't know how much "zoom" there will be in my "zoom through the zoo" but I think it should be fun.

Today this is what Nathan discovered when he got out of his car at work.

I really got a kick out of that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A day of Celebration

May 24th was a big day in the Luce house for two big reasons. First of all, May 24th is our anniversary, and yesterday we celebrated nine years of sharing life together. Isn't that crazy?! I just turned 29 last week, so it seems wild that we've already been married almost a decade. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I am so grateful for the man I am married to. He is really, truly an amazing person. He is a man who loves God and his family above everything else, and I cannot imagine life without him. Being married to a person like him for nine years is definitely a reason to celebrate!

As if that were not enough, yesterday also brought to completion a LONG awaited home improvement project in our flower beds. Last year I began losing the battle against bermuda that I had been fighting ever since we built our house back in 2003. It was so entrenched in our beds, that it eventually became more effective to use the weed whacker than gardening gloves. It was demoralizing, and eventually, I threw in the towel. By fall, I had given the bed over to the bermuda, hopeless and discouraged. This spring, things got worse than ever. Several plants died; the grass grass continued to thrive. It was a bad scene. Nathan saw my despair and decided the best plan of attack was a total re-haul of the flower beds. We decided to build a stone wall to give a more formidable barrier between the bermuda and the beds, before we took out all the dirt, all the plants, and started with a clean slate.

The wall construction has been going on over the past few weeks, and finally yesterday we activated the final stage, digging out the old dirt, adding the new, and incorporating brand new plants in our landscaping. It was a beautiful thing.

Nathan and I celebrated both events by going out to dinner at a place we had never been and trying out dishes we had never tasted. My moussaka (grilled eggplant layered with meet and something fluffy) was incredible!! Definitely a day of celebration all the way around.

Friday, May 20, 2011

really, really weird

Last night I went out with some other girls for birthday dessert, so Nathan put the kids down for bed. It hit me at about 11:45, right when I was just about to turn out the light, that I hadn't gone up to see the girls or Graham. It felt weird not kissing them and tucking them in, so I went up and tiptoed in their rooms and saw all three sleeping as peacefully as three little gooselings. All was well, so I went back down to my room and fell promptly to sleep.

A little over an hour later, we (and I really mean me, because Nathan hears nothing in his sleep) were awakened by a very loud pounding on our door. Adrienne. The knock is a dead give away, because for some reason she won't just open the door and come in. We have to get up and open it. Nathan almost always handles nighttime incidents because it doesn't really wake him up. As soon as his head hits the pillow, he is back out. So he took her up, and I began the try to sleep process once again.

I'm just drifting off when I get that weird sense that there are a few extra bodies in the room. I open my eyes, and standing just a foot from my head are both girls. Marianna says, in a voice way too alert for the hour, "We aren't tired, Mom. And we're thirsty." I get up, get the drink, deposit them back in bed, and stumble back downstairs, not feeling very good at all about the scenario that is brewing. First, I've never seen them both up at the same time at night. Second, if either of them ever happens to wake up, they usually look as sleepy and disoriented as I do. Third, if a child ever gets up, they never get up twice. So things just weren't looking good.

I go back to bed, unable to sleep because I'm listening for the telltale creak on the stairs that would signal a return to our bedroom. After 15 minutes of silence, I let out a big breath, pray a little thank you, and begin trying to relax and sleep once again. This time after I've been asleep 15 minutes or so, I heart a series of far away sounding thuds. That was enough to startle me into instant alert because nothing about those sounds was typical of two little girls coming downstairs again. This time I'm up for awhile, listening intently, trying to decide whether to wake Nathan up, until finally, I decide I must have dreamed it, and I try to sleep again.

45 minutes later, I hear giggles next to my head. I open my eyes, and two big eyed girls are smiling down at me. "What are y'all doing!?" I asked, stunned.

"We just finished our movie!"

"WHAT?!" I look at the clock, and sure enough, it's now nearly 4:00 am.

I can't remember the rest of that conversation, but I do remember the distinct impression that Marianna felt like she was describing the most natural thing in the world. Almost like, "Well of course we were watching a movie. We weren't sleepy. What did you expect?"

Nathan was still sleeping, oblivious that anyone had ever woken up again after the initial Adrienne incident, and I felt unequal to handling it any other way than to put them on the floor, one on each side of the room, and tuck them in. Both tried to carry on conversations, and both were swiftly cut off. They are still sleeping now, but I look forward to asking some more probing questions after they get up.

Maybe I should stop being surprised by weird, but I kind of doubt I ever will ;)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Let the Homeschooling Adventure Begin!

Marianna and I are just about to come to the end of our first "school year." Back in August I decided we would start a very loose, very flexible school schedule. She was four when we started, too young to officially be in Kindergarten, but she is a fantastic student and loves to learn so I didn't see any reason to wait. I ordered the Kindergarten curriculum from A Beka Books, and we began working through that at our own pace.

By Christmas, we had pretty much wrapped up all of the K-5 books, so I went ahead and ordered some of the first grade materials, and Marianna has been working her way through those this second semester, completing about 1/3 or her books. She has a passion for reading, a girl after my own heart, and a great love for science, a girl after her daddy's heart as well. We are just about to bring our psuedo school year to a close, but I am already beginning to gear up in earnest for our first real homeschooling year.

Now that is getting close to being official, I'm feeling the pressure of making sure I get her started on the right foot. I love to teach, but I know very little about what is out there and available as far as home school curriculums are concerned. I need to decide fairly soon, but before I order strictly A Beka again, I thought I would see if anyone had any insight into a good program for reading, history, science, math or Bible. I am all ears!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

non-verbal communication

Who needs it? Not Graham. He and his sisters tired of that about one week after he was born, so I graciously stepped in to help them out. Graham needed a voice, and I provided it.

It might surprise you to know that Graham is quite the talker indeed. He talks to the girls all day long, and it's getting him to stop that is sometimes the trouble. He tells them what he wants and what he doesn't want. He isn't afraid to ask them for their help with getting him diapers and burp cloths and new clothes. He tells them story and sings silly songs, and he entertains with his antics and jokes. There's pretty much not anything he won't say.

Every once in awhile Graham will wake up and forget to greet the girls, or heaven forbid, sometimes I answer a question directed solely at him. The girls are quick to correct me. After all, it's not me they are wanting to hear from. They want to speak to their brother. And who can blame them? Graham is a charmer, no doubt about it.

The only place Graham seems to be shy is in public, where he typically either whispers or defers conversation to me. Just one of his little quirks I suppose. Marianna and Adrienne are usually understanding of this one shy tendency. Usually.

No, we really can't imagine Graham using strictly non-verbal communication skills around here. He simply has too much to say to wait til he's one!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Contentment Killer

Today is my birthday. I guess all the kids remembered, because they are starting out the day by sleeping in. What a nice present! That sleeping in has given me time this morning to sit quietly, drink my chai, and think.

As I've been pondering, it has occurred to me that I have all to often fallen victim to what I will call The Curse of the Birthday (and Other Big Holidays). What is it? Expectation.

It is such a killer. Believe me, I know. I have been the road kill far to often to be able to deny it. When it comes down to it, expectation, whether on a particular day, or toward a particular person, or in a particular situation, is almost always going to end in disappointment. The whole basis of expectation is faulty, so there is no way I can ever expect to build something on top of it, and it stand.

Almost always, expectation is self-focused. It does not spring from love, but from a desire to get what I want. It is the ultimate all-about-me game, and if it is not met, then it usually results in another all-about-me activity, self pity. And self pity is a dangerous thing indeed. It breeds dissatisfaction, and dissatisfaction can mutate into a whole host of ugly things.

Expectation can cripple a marriage, frustrate a parent, and ruin a friendship. It can do so much damage, yet it is so preventable! In so many areas I have learned this the hard way. I have failed at this again, and again, and again. But God is the God who forgives us again, and again, and again. That is something I can expect. I can also expect His help to erase those expectations when I ask Him. And that's really what it comes down to. Asking. Expecting God to help us to find our contentment in Him and not in our expectations of others.

It is in Him, and only Him, that we find our Freedom.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Oh, boy!

Graham, welcome to the world of solids. You love to eat, so this should be a match made in heaven. Believe me when I say, it only gets better from here as most would agree that rice cereal is bottom rung on the taste ladder. Maybe the biggest adventure of all will be your sisters trying to feed you. That will be new territory for us all.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Party Must Go On

Today was party day for one pint sized three year old. Come Splish, Come Spash! was the first line of Adrienne's birthday party invitation, but if you live in Memphis, you know that the weather wasn't cooperating with the theme. At least one person showed up to the party in a puffer vest, and there were coats and long sleeves all around.

Fortunately the weather man gave me a heads up, so we were able to switch gears earlier in the week and plan accordingly. The water balloons, sprinklers, and super soakers were all stowed away, and instead we celebrated with balloons, hoola hoops, bocce ball, and other equally dry activities. Adrienne loved it, water or no, so we will call it a success and wait a few more weeks yet before we take a dip.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Snake on the Sidewalk

Last night I went out for my run around 7:45, and I planned on winding up right as the sun went down. It was a beautiful night, and with my music up high, the three miles ticked by without event until I got to the homestretch. I was almost insight of my car when my paranoid radar kicked into high gear. Behind me a large red pick up was slowly driving through the neighborhood, so slowly that it was not gaining on me at all. That always strikes me as suspicious, so I began to run at a sprint to cover the short distance remaining. At the same time, I kept looking behind me, hoping the truck would turn into a driveway. I turned my head back to the front, still running full speed, and looked down just in time to avoid stepping on a huge snake that was lying on the sidewalk.

My foot was literally less than two feet away from the two-inch thick body when I registered what was about to happen. I screamed and jumped to the left, and the snake lurched and slithered off to the right. It was horrifying. I have never come so close to stepping on a snake. The snake wasn’t even hiding, but since I hadn’t been looking, I had almost stepped on it anyway. It was a close call.

When my heart rate decelerated enough to think clearly, I was struck by the illustration I had just experienced. You see right before leaving to go on my run, I had been watching the American Idol results show. I’ve hardly watched any of this season, but if I am home and I think about it, I usually turn it on. As I was lacing my shoes, I glanced up to see Lady Gaga's performance filling the screen. I know she has a reputation for doing all that is shocking and outlandish, but last night as I watched her banging on the piano in nothing but her underwear, I felt sick in the pit of my stomach.

The unrest stirred inside of me as I realized that the most main stream show in America, a show targeting a family audience including young children and preteens, was funneling a lewd, demeaning, and immodest message to everyone watching. Under the guise of "entertainment" the young performer was chipping away at the moral center of our culture. She was making a performance in her underwear seem okay, okay enough to be on the most popular show on broadcast t.v.

You might think I'm getting a little too worked up about it. After all, she's a singer. Her currency is shock value, right?

But I think that's what bothers me the most. The danger is no longer the snake in the grass. It's not hiding on porn sites on the internet, or behind closed doors, or on the cable channels. It's the snake on the sidewalk. It's right there in front of us, but if we're not paying attention, we just might step on it anyway. I don't want to be lulled into thinking the danger isn't all around us. I don't want to be tricked into thinking it's okay because it is "entertainment." A snake is a snake, no matter what we call it. I think we all need to keep our eyes open, and our hearts tender to God's spirit. Our children need us to protect them, and to teach them to recognize the snake, hiding in the grass and out in the open.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Donuts for Breakfast

I made the mistake of taking Adrienne to the grocery store with me the other day on her birthday. As a result, pink yogurt pretzels, Pringles, Danininos, and Krispy Kreme powdered donuts all made an unexpected appearance in the cart. Am I weak? Well, it was her birthday after all, and it's not like any of those things were poison ;) Just not the normal grocery store staples.

What I didn't realize while we were in the store was just how many of those powdered donuts are in one of those Krispy Kreme bags. The daunting number of those powdered minis has left me with quite a cunundrum. I don't want them, and Nathan is cutting back on sugar, which leaves two little girls to tackle the whole bag by themselves. I'm not sure about the shelf life, but I'm guessing it's not in the 1 donut a day range. I hate for them to go bad which would mean we were wasteful, but I'm also not fond of the alternative, namely sugar injected wild women.

After very briefly thinking it over (because, in reality, I'm not losing sleep over this), I've decided on giving each girl two of the mini donuts for breakfast for the next few days. This morning I presented Adrienne with her plate, and was met with a pair of rather incredulous eyes. She looked up at me and said, "But Mom, I want SO many." It appears that Adrienne had been doing some calculations of her own and my math wasn't adding up. I guess now that she's three I won't be pulling any fast ones by her.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

vacation is spelled B-E-A-C-H

B is for Being gone from the Dogs

Those dogs of ours, Chum and Marlee, have become increasingly burdonsome with each child we have added to the family. Before children, they were our children. That time was so long ago I can hardly write the words without smirking. I took Marlee to the vet the other day and some of the paperwork spoke of me as Marlee's mother. I laughed right there, out loud, in the vet's office. No, I certainly don't feel that way about them anymore. They eat the girls' food, they shred diapers, they track in mud and grass, smells abound, they are grumpy, they bolt when the door opens and bark during nap time (and all other times) and all around remind me that while I used to consider myself a dog person, I now consider myself a child person, and for me, there is no merging of the two ;) So being gone from them for a week was vacation all in itself.

E is for Eating some really great food

We did a combo of eating out and in while we were gone on our beach excursion, and what it all had in common was deliciousness. I think the beach universally makes people hungry, or at least I hope I am not alone in feeling the need for double portions after a beautiful day on the beach. We had steak, sea food, and pasta, and boy was it good!

A is for Airing out by the Seashore

One of my favorite parts of the beach day after day is simply sitting next to the ocean, letting the breeze wash over me again and again. I felt like my house on one of those first days of spring when it is finally warm enough to open up a window and let the fresh air pour into the rooms, stuffy after a long winter. I am now thoroughly aired and all the better for it!

C is for Catching the Waves

I am an ocean girl. Not a pool girl. Meaning that while I'm at the beach, I don't want to be sitting up by the pool. I want to be in the ocean! Marianna and Nathan share a similar passion, and all of us agreed that one of the best things about vacation is catching the waves. We don't surf, but we do a whole lot of wave jumping and wave floating and wave crashing.

H is for Having fun with the fam

No matter what we were doing, the beach was the perfect backdrop for having fun with each other. It was the first laid back vacation we have taken in a long, long time, and it was amazing!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sunshine is She

Dear Adrienne,

May 10th is a very special reminder to me that God knows more than I do. It reminds me that His understanding is complete, where as mine is not even formed. It is the most beautiful reminder that His plan is more amazing than anything I could ever conjecture. I will tell you why May 10th is such a good reminder. Three years ago today on May 10th, I can't tell you what I was doing. In fact, I have no memory of the day whatsoever. That's why it makes me smile up at Heaven when I think how May 10th, 2008 was a day that was changing my life forever, and I didn't even know it.

You know why May 10th is so special. It is your birthday. You are three years old today, marking three amazing years that God has allowed your sunshine to light up our lives. I hope you believe me when I say this: nothing could have prepared me for how amazing you are. Your dad and I love you more than we can get our heads around, and even though we are partial, I think it is fair to say that everyone who meets you loves you too.

You really are like the sunshine. You draw people with your charm, your quirkiness, and your love. You entertain me every single day with all your funny ways and expressions. You love to sing at the top of your lungs, and you love to stand up in front of the fire place mantle and do "shows" where you barely sing above a whisper for dramatic effect. You eat like a bird, but can pack away more chocolate and candy than an elephant at a circus. You are a morning person, and I like that. You have an independent streak that is something fierce and you are as cuddly as the lovie you sleep with every night. You are a hall monitor when it comes to regulating the behavior of others. You are a lover of Tangled, the bath, shoes, the trampoline, and your brother and sister.

You are special. That sums it all up. I love you more than all these words can describe, and I will always be so grateful for that May 10th 3 years ago, unaware as I was, that you came into this world and into our home three weeks later. I will never stop thanking God for the gift of Adrienne.