September 26, 2008

We Saved You Some Cupcakes, Nana

Please observe the cupcake. I made them this afternoon - chocolate with pink frosting. It was a bit surreal, considering these are the exact cupcakes we were supposed to have for Mabel's welcome-baby-brunch. They've been a year in the making; life got in the way.

Anyway - I made them. They were fun, the kids helped, and they were yummy. On with the photos.

Aunt Mindy held Moo's hands while we all sang "Happy Birthday."

Time to dig in.

We saved you some cupcakes, Mom.

Would you believe my utter disappointment when I realized Mabel was done with her cupcake and was only this messy? A travesty! Totally unfair from a picture taking perspective.

So, I embellished a bit. Here is Mohawk 1:

A clear shot of some-other-kind-of Hawk 2:

Oops. I think I went too far.
Oh well. I bathed her and the curls came right back out.
*Sigh.* I can't BELIEVE she is one.

The Moo is One

Today is a very special day.

Mabel Rae
Born Wednesday, September 26, 2007 at 10:48 pm
8 lbs 2 oz
20 1/2 inches

It's so wild how much little Moo Rae's life has changed in a year. I'm so proud and blessed to have her. She was the icing on my cake.

Happy Birthday, Mabel Rae. We all love you so much.

September 23, 2008

Meet Olive

Olive joined our family today. She is 11 weeks old and *DARLING*. The kids are over the moon for her. Olive is from Iowa (Everyone say "ooooooohhh"). Olive, Mabel and I walked to school to pick up the boys today. She was ever so patient while she waited with Moo outside the front doors.

I can't stop snarfling her smooshed up nose. Or her bony toes. Or her belly freckles.

Uh Oh


I'm in trouble now.

I couldn't resist and now, I'm in trouble.

I'll explain more soon.

PS - Did I ever tell you that I *love* black olives on my pizza? Random thing about moi.

September 19, 2008

Homemade Dishwasher Powder and Detergent

This formula is earth friendly/green, and CHEAP. Here's the condensed instructions of the formula created by Lynn Siprelle of The New Homemaker:

Mix the following ingredients in a plastic container with an airtight lid (one you can shake):

1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup citric acid (Unsweetened Lemonade-Flavored Kool-Aid can be used also, but be sure to avoid any other flavours due to their food dye content)
30 drops a citrus essential oil of your choice

Shake the contents until thoroughly mixed.

Dole out the mixture (one Tbsp per cleaning receptacle) into your dishwasher and use as a light kitchen scouring powder.

Taken from Apartment Therapy.

****** ETA REVIEW ******

I made this powder shortly after we moved into our place and I really like it. It's taken some getting used to, though. For example, if I use too much I get a thin film on my glasses. Not enough and food particles stick to everything. I still have to use a rinsing agent. Next time I will not add as much essential oil. I expect to fiddle with the recipe and get it just right (and minus the film). Overall, worth the ton of money I've saved on this stuff. And green, too.

Jeremiah 29: 11-13

Thanks for the support after my last post.

If it's okay with her, I think I'll adopt Christy's verse as my verse as well.

11.For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call
upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me
and find me when you seek me with all your hear.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

I love that God knows what is next for us. I love that I don't have to worry about it; He will take care of that for me. Sometimes I get all tied up and tangled in the logistics of being the one down here worrying about how to make God's plan happen (even when I don't know what it is), thinking that God is the puppet-master instead of the Everything. Shame on my doubt.

I love you, Lord. Thank you.

September 17, 2008

Contrary to Popular Belief...

I am not always smiling.

I am not always chippery and happy and optimistic. Sometimes (it's rare) the scary creeps in.

Sometimes I get very overwhelmed and very defeated. I usually have to pray it out. Nothing feels better than prayer. Some 1 on 1 time with God. Tears, lots of tears. Out loud praying, too - He knows I mean business when I'm talking out loud to Him.

So today I felt defeated and scared. Terrified, really. I am afraid I won't be able to afford what we need. In a few months, I'll be a rockstar... but that scares me today. Please pray with me. Please pray that God enlarges my territory and that my work is fruitful SOON. Please pray.

I'm also feeling very disappointed in my comfy shoes. Appalled. Never in my almost 13 years of knowing said shoes did I ever think he would entirely financially abandon his children. I wouldn't have married him a decade ago if I had any inkling, let me tell ya. But he wasn't like that then; my husband is gone - floating around up in Heaven somewhere. That makes me damn angry. And taking the high road all the time - showing class - is getting old. What I'd rather do is kick his ass. Please pray for Comfy Shoes. God will know who you're talking about. Pray that Shoes listens to God knocking on his heart and decides to help take care of his kids.

I even talked to my mom more than usual today. I mean, I miss the hell out of her so I call her all the time - but today was pitiful. Here she was trying to rest and get her house ready for fall and all I wanted to do was hear her sweet voice telling me to stay strong, telling me that I'm a good mama. (Thanks, Mommy!) What I really want to hear her say is that she is going to come and rescue me and move in and live with me here and help me be a good mama and hug and kiss me and share her Molly with me. (No pressure there, Mom.) No, I know time will tell if my mom decides to move out here and it won't be to rescue me. What I mean is that I do secretly harbor this fear that I can't do this. This single parent thing is freaking hard. And with 3 kids? Holy crap! I've never even done this on my own, let alone with 3 kiddos. And in 2 weeks when we move into our home (our very own home I've promised to the kids), it's for real. It's all me. Can I do this? Surely I can. My mom raised me to do this and do it well. But I'm still scared. Please, please pray I kick this worry's sorry butt.

I also read about Nie Nie and her recovery. On her sister CJane's blog, I learned about a woman named Carol (please pray for Carol, too) who just delivered her 2nd daughter 3 months ago and got a staph/MRSA infection. She has lost both of her legs, one arm, a few fingers, and her SIGHT. She has never seen her new baby. Needless to say, I was humbled. My situation last year was bad, but it could be so much worse.

Then my mind goes to all I've been through - not to mention the kids - I think about having a beautiful daughter and then, weeks later, watching my husband deteriorate before my eyes. Literally fall apart. I couldn't help him; no one could. I watched him mentally transform from the guy I loved into something else entirely. Something hollowed out and empty. It was a gut-wrenchingly awful movie playing out before my eyes that is only beginning to feel real. It was dangerous. It was horrifying. It has left memories in my mind that I wouldn't wish on anyone. During his collapse I also learned the guy I loved had cheated. How pitiful. Then I lost my home. My kids lost their school. I lost friends and a family I'd belonged to for 13 years. The money was gone. Then I lost my job, too. And I patiently waited for MONTHS for something...anything to happen. There was so much more detail to our ordeal, but that's how trampled I've been this past year. Now here I am, being birthed out on the other side of this mess and I feel very vulnerable.

But I have a lot that I am thankful for. All of it makes me smile. God knows because I tell him several times a day. Even though I'm scared, I have to rely on faith. I have to keep smiling. God brought me out here. He will provide. He will take care of us. He will enlarge our territory and see to it that the bills are paid somehow. He will make me successful in my job. He will make the money stretch. One day, he will give me the words of explanation when my kids someday ask about Shoes. I have faith.

Thank you, Jesus for all of our blessings.

September 16, 2008

The Sky Is Bigger in Da Plains

I tell my mom all the time that the sky is bigger out here. I noticed it the first time I drove out in July, about midway through Wisconsin. The sky seemed to just... open up.

Imagine it. Instead of seeing smog and haze and building tops, or skyscrapers and sirens, imagine seeing nothing but God's blue sky every single time you look outside. Imagine that instead of seeing the beauty of the sun break through the clouds far away, you see the sun break through right over top of your head and cast its glory down onto your face. Heaven feels that close.

*This is the view from Lulu's balcony. Nothing but sky. You can see the two story homes and trees and streetlights, but the really just disappear.
At night, the moon is so big and so close in comparison to what I'm used to, I feel like I could reach out and grab it. The stars are brighter. I can find both of the dippers in .03 seconds - EVEN when it's a bit cloudy at night. They're just brighter. Closer. Bigger.

I feel like, out here, I'm closer to God. Odd, but totally true.

September 15, 2008

Fishing Trip, Lips to Tail

The big kids had early release last Friday from school, so we were invited to join Lulu's clan for an afternoon of fishing at a local state park. The kids did not need licenses to fish; I did. I chose to be the photographer instead. Not that I don't like to fish; on the contrary I LOVE to fish. But I wasn't broken hearted. Because I love to take pictures more than I love to fish.

Moving on.

This would be a great spot to tell you the story of my cousin David who, during an August fishing trip, ripped the lips off of the bass he was trying to reel in. Thought it was the funniest thing I had ever heard as a child and my father (the BIG bass fisherman) dubbed David "fish lips" forever. The last time I went to a family reunion and asked about David, I was told that old fish lips had gotten married and had a baby. Good times.

And in case you were curious, the babies did not fish. Moo anxiously awaited all of the commotion, however. More on that in a moment.

This is the most gorgeous state park that we (they) fished in.

We set up on a dock. Uncle Roger had fetched us some live minnows earlier that afternoon.

Maddy was the first and second person to bring in a fish. In fact, she and her Papaw were the only people who brought in any fish at all.

There was lots of waiting for fish. LOTS of waiting. Trevor waited patiently, hoping something would grab his hook. Oh well on the fish, I love the waiting because I can take tons of top-of-the-head shots during waiting. I love top-of-the-head shots.

Andy was also waiting. First he waited patiently.

Then, after he watched Maddy pull out a fish beside him, he sulked over to another spot in which to fish.

Hmmm. Maybe if he turns and faces the other direction, the fish will come.

Nope. No fish. Maddy pulls out another. Then Mr. Thomas. Andy moved spots to be nearer to the action, but I could tell the waiting was taking its toll on his patience.

Finally, Andy got brave enough to reel in and inspect his hook. Just as he suspected.

"My guppy is DEAD! That's why I can't catch any fish!" he wailed. Yes, that's what happens when you reel them in over and over and over and don't just let them swim. Poor Andy.
While rebaiting Andy's hook, a minnow was placed in front of the Mooer. She was ecstatic. She kept trying to pincher that thing in her fingers. Lucky for the fish, he kept flopping around.

I rescued him shortly after this and returned him to the safety of Andy's hook.

Self portrait. I need my roots done.

So, about this time, Trevor feels he must, *must* be brave enough to bait his own hook with a minnow. He's plenty brave enough for worms, but the minnows were wriggly and jiggly.

Hesitant. Uncle Roger looks on and tells him to get it over with. "Just reach in there and get you one..."

*Giggle.* Looks like those minnows actually move.



Hmmm... Andy has an idea.

Andy's idea was to grab a handfull of "guppies" and throw them into the lake. This is a big no-no and nearly gave Mr. Thomas a coronary. Andy is demoted to worms.

Later when no one is looking (except Mom behind the camera lens), Trevor tries to educate Andy on minnows. Because he is now a professional minnow wrangler, you see.

Andy even stuck around long enough for Trevor to demonstrate putting the minnow on his hook. How's that for brotherly love. Caught ya.

So, the best part of the fishing trip was walking up off of the dock and seeing this.

Ohhhhhh.... no WAY were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas frying up the fish lakeside! Oh yes, they were! My heart did flip flops. (All I could think of was the numerous fish fries I attended as a child, about catfish and eggs for breakfast at Mary Helen's house, about helping my dad clean fish ALL the time.) I was too late to help (you bet I asked!), but in plenty of time to sample.

Trevor even ate himself several pieces of catfish.

What a great day.