December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011

Before 2011 closes on us, I want to document some Christmas highlights this year. It's not about the gifts, but the expressions of happiness for me.

First, Dad read the Christmas story from the book of Luke. The kids were all mesmerized. This will certainly become a new Christmas tradition for our family.


Now some highlights...


 




When I saw these night-vision spy goggles, two thoughts collided in my head: they were so entirely Andrew, and also? Reminded me heavily of those brothers in Sixteen Candles.





Oh yes, Madden 12. The kid was out of his mind.




Sometimes, a mom just scores, you know? The Barbie camper for my Hayley and Barbie and Tawny horse for my Moo.







And my favorite gift I gave this year? A framed, limited edition print of Michael Jordan. He was bowled ovah.




Also, my darling husband wanted to take a picture of me that afternoon. He's really not sneaky at all.




Good thing I'm not either.

Goodbye, 2011

So, if you're my friend on Facebook,  you read my post this morning and probably barfed yourself. I really am that happy most of the time. Can't help it.


It's very hard to believe that today is the last day of 2011. What a year... I've been married almost this entire year to my best friend, my life has changed in immeasurable ways. My walk with God has gotten much closer, and my relationships with my children have prospered for it. There have been challenges that could have knocked us flat, but God was there the whole time, lifting and holding. While we were trusting. I am so in love with this life that I have and in this place where I live. I feel so blessed. Moreover, I am blessed to have all of my friends and family who love and support me. Have a safe and wonderful new year, Friends.

I suppose that's how you say it when you're limited to a certain number of characters. Here is what I didn't have room for:

Bryon's promotion and how that's changed our family
The most amazing winter wedding covenant
Reaffirmation that Buck is the Man
An almost tragic happening with Nana and how that's changed our relationship
Our eight week date while the kids were gone
My golf swing
Dierks Bentley concert, yo (complete with red hair!)
My new position and what that has meant
Bullying knothole that nearly caused an identity crisis
The basement, the bills, the home makeover
LifeLight Christian music festival
The unexpected trial
The heavy, thick, and stewy first year of marriage that has been SO FREAKING AWESOME
The bonfires outside while fires roared inside
The horrific death of our coworker right in front of us
Grandpa Delmer's death and how that strengthened our whole family
Watching Grandma Darlene become weaker and remarkably strong at the same time
Amazing holidays that solidified our family and friendships

There are more things and definitely a littany of crafting, homemaking, cooking, and sewing projects that are too numerous to list out here. All of them - I am thankful for each and every one of them.

I am also quite thankful for all of you, for your allowing me to share my life in this space. I wish upon you a closer walk with Jesus, good friendships, health, and a desire to be the light.

I'd like to include in my last post for 2011 my favorite verse of scripture right now:

You are the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. You are a city on a hill. LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE BEFORE OTHERS so that they can see your good works and give GLORY TO OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.  Matthew 5:14-16

God bless you, my friends. Carry on.

December 30, 2011

This Punkin



Let it be known that I love and adore all four of my children equally. Each of them challenges me and makes me better. Each are God-selected for my life and I feel entrusted by Him to have them. That said, if ever there were a child that I wanted to freeze forever, it would be this punkin. This child captures my heart.

One night recently, we snuggled on the couch together under the first quilt I made at Mindy's house here in Da Plains. She had on her pink, furry-collared Dora pajamas and her hair was all caddywompus. I rubbed her tiny belly and softly rounded toes while we watched Food Network and picked our favorite desserts. Then I thought about those days 4 years ago, when I would go to court or fight on the phone with Shoes, when she was only weeks old (and I emotional and postpartum, yes) - those days shortly after moving in with Nana and then losing my job. Christmastime. I thought about how, when I would walk into the room, baby Mabel would lift my soul up. 

She was my extra gift from God. He knew I needed her right then. Well, the whole world needed her. But, she came at a time when others would have broken under the pressure of being a single mom to 3, having a newborn, a pending divorce with a mentally-ill husband, and a job loss. She came at the most perfect time. She was the balance. She was the soft pink of my heart. And oh how I squeezed her then. I could barely part from her, so little but lending mommy so much strength. It's no surprise to me that, while I now fully promote her independence, Mabel still has a special purpose in my life. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to explain it any better than that.

On that night under the quilt, I told her so. "You have always been very special to Mama's heart. Did you know?"

"Do you wish I could stay just this size, Mama?" she asked, while she wiped my hair back from my forehead. That is her favorite thing to do when she is in my face.

My eyes teared up. Because while I do wish she would stay this exact size for a hundred more years with my arms to hold her tight and squish her up, I would never want to deny her the next step of her life. The next adventure for Miss Moo. I would never want to stop this daughter of mine who is an absolute force.

We nuzzled noses and I quietly thanked Jesus for all four of my children, and especially for giving me the moments when I recognize how individually pure and perfect they are. If I can see them as HE sees them for only one moment - holy cow, the love in my heart just explodes. God's love is awesome. It's whole and infinite, and it is not dependent on any action or thing. And he lends that love to me as a mother.

I tell you what, being a mom is the bestest thing ever in the whole wide world. At least, that's what I told Mabel that night.

December 29, 2011

Monkey Bread

I used to make cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning. You know, the packaged kind. Until this year when two things occured to me: #1 We have these rolls more often now, so the super-special-indulgence of them has worn off (just ask my thighs), and #2 I wanted to cook something with my girls.

I decided on monkey bread, and we made it on the day we celebrated Christmas morning. Bryon, true to form, took Andy and went last-minute shopping that morning. Trevor was still snoring. So the girls and I hit the kitchen.




The recipe I used was from the Pioneer Woman. It's identical to the one my mommy and I followed when I was a little punkin'.

4 cans Buttermilk Biscuits (the Non-flaky Ones)
1/2 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons (to 3 Teaspoons) Cinnamon
2 sticks Butter
1/2 cup Brown Sugar


First, a proper apron is required. Well, not really. But I love any excuse to wear it. And next year, the girls will need aprons, too.



Time to get the monkeys out!

BWOP!


The girls lined the monkeys up so that I could cut them into quarters. Then they put them into a big plastic bowl while we made the butter sauce and the cinnamon sugar coating.




Butter sauce: one stick per princess, please.



The eldest and tallest girl is big enough to keep an eye on the butter sauce, and she stirred for me.



 
In what was the most fun part of the recipe (or so they thought), the making of the cinnamon sugar coating... each got to dip and dump. Hayley was chosen to pack the brown sugar, which is why her right hand is brown and glittery. Yum.

 

 
Then the monkeys must go into the bag with the cinnamon sugar. The girls were very concerned that all of the pieces be separate. Okay then.

 



You get to shake the bag like crazy? WHAT!?



Boy howdy they shook those monkeys. Most fun part of the recipe, Mom!




Then our little biscuit monkeys were carefully placed into the bundt pan (no need to grease it, your butter sauce is plenty non-stick enough). This part was the messiest. They got sparkly sugar all over the place.




Ahem.





With my two pretty princesses off washing their hands (with soap in the bathroom), I poured the hot butter sauce over the monkey bread. It looks soupy to start, but soaks into the biscuits while in the oven.




MERCY!

December 28, 2011

1:11

I am in denial that Trevor is 11 on this day. I remember he was born on a Thursday, during an episode of Friends. Not that I was watching because I was in the middle of my first natural labor, but my doula turned it on just before I started pushing.

I remember that he fell asleep while I was pushing and then woke up to kick me the last few times. My doula told me to put my hand on my belly and remember what that felt like.

His forehead was wrinkly and his hair was strawberry blonde. He was almost Frederick. I'm so glad he's not Frederick. He is a perfect Trevor.




His ambitions are lofty. His personality looms large. He is loud and hyperactive in a very all-boy way.

He wrestles his stepdad like his life depends on it, and his NFL and college football knowledge has more than doubled in the past year. He likes Green Bay and Ohio State, respectively.


He achieves straight A's without much effort and his favorite subject is history.

He plays the trumpet for the intermediate school band and he practices every day. I am incredibly proud of his dedication to that and he is getting really good. He also has begged for years to play the drums. Unfortunately, in the schools around here, a child cannot play drums unless they have had 2 years of piano lessons prior to 5th grade. So this year, Bryon and I devised a plan for Trevor to play his beloved drums. I found a Yamaha electronic set with earphones. Perfect!

One of his pupils is bigger than the other, just like Nana. [Yes, it's been checked out and is just a unique part of who he is. The whacko.]

I was so proud of him when he started school this year, embracing his newness. He was unafraid and befriended children who were nice instead of popular. He doesn't embarrass easily and loves to tell stories.





 
His favorite color is green.

His favorite food is pepperoni pizza with extra pepperoni and a side of pepperoni.

He loves soda, but the child cannot tolerate the sugar or caffiene worth a crap. His metabolism is super sensitive to high fructose corn syrup, caffiene, and food coloring. We don't modify his diet too much (because we don't have a ridiculous amount of that in the house anyway), but soda is out 99% of the time.


He is an AH-MAZING big brother to the girls. He leads them. He teaches them, and he has patience for younger children in a capacity that marvels me every time I see it. When we go out places with family, Trevor plays with the infants for a while. Gently. Slowly. Quietly. I truly, truly hope that God grants him a wife and a very large family. Not only does he deserve some of the same chaos he has provided to Bryon and me, but he deserves all of that love in his heart.

His heart knows Jesus.

He made me a mama.




He is 11 and me? I am the luckiest.

December 27, 2011

The Canvas Project: Love Will Turn You Around

I finished the canvas project and am very pleased with the results. How about some details, yo.

I bought a 16" x 20" canvas 2 pack from Hobby Lobby for $9.99 months ago and never found the right project for it. I was a big fat painting chicken. Then I saw this Pin on Tara Whitney's Pinboard. And then I devised a plan to use that canvas.




On the day that the urge overtook me, I also found bottles of black and white Delta Dreamcoat acrylic paint in my closet. And paintbrushes. It was meant to be.

I started by painting the entire surface with black, two coats. I painted on top of the new dining room table, using butcher paper to keep my husband from having a reason to kick my ass. It worked quite well. The paint dried quickly.

As you can see in the process shots, I didn't paint the words perfectly the first time. I didn't use pencil on the canvas, as I had considered beforehand. I wanted to write it in white paint, freehand. I did pencil it onto the paper just to get a feel for where I wanted my larger loops to be, how I wanted to fit 'around' into the corner. And then I took a deep breath, and painted.




If I painted something I didn't like, I waited until it was dry and went over it with black. I painted over just one letter at a time and kept what I wanted. I experimented with 3 different sizes of flat brushes, 1/4", 1/2" and 3/4".  There wasn't much I had to repaint once I embraced the imperfection.




When I was finished, I coated it with glossy ModPodge. Once dry, we hung it in the living room beside our wedding picture. Bryon loved it immediately, having been the one to make the final choice in the lyrics it would display. Love Will Turn You Around, by Kenny Rogers. Love will indeed turn you around.







We love it. I would encourage any of you to try this project. I bet I spent less than $20 overall, and that would include full bottles of paint and the ModPodge. One half-off coupon to Hobby Lobby and you'd be in business!

And now Bryon's favorite lyrics:



Right when a man's doing all that he planned
And he thinks he got just what he needs
Life will deliver a shock that will shiver
And drive him down to his knees
Make him start givin, living, living again

Well it's your mind, that tricks you in believing every time
Love will turn you around, turn you around
Well it's your heart, that talks you into to staying where you are
Love will turn you around, turn you around

Out of the blue she reaches for you
And you tell her you don't have the time
So you move away fast but you know it won't last
cause you can't get her off of your mind
Thoughts are burning, turning, they're turning around


I love that this part of our story now hangs in our home.

December 24, 2011

Fallen






Along with some seriously awesome Christmas tunes, Husband and I have been rocking this one out lately. It's very poignant for those in the Dead Dads Club.


This song is a 2011-version of the hard core moster ballad. Enjoy.



Feel the sadness burning in my heart
You left too early father love
So many things I should have said
But in your mind you knew it well


Holding on to what I got and love
But things still seems so dark and cold
The fire burning down my happiness
But I will rise


So proud and strong you truly were
I took it with me as a tool
A gift from father to his only son
Watching over me with eagle eyes
You gave me freedom to a love
Where dreams are born and truly became real


See me falling, yeah down and lonely
Are the angels on their way, I'm in the dirt
Hear me screaming, see me bleeding
'Cause the days are no more the same without you


Promise me my son you always will
Cherish what you love believing in
Never lose your values, stand up for the day
Oh, dear father, I thank you for the years
I'm writing this song on your desk
Together we can make it through the day


See me falling, yeah down and lonely
Are the angels on their way, I'm in the dirt
Hear me screaming, see me bleeding
'Cause the days are no more the same without you


See me falling, yeah down and lonely
Are the angels on their way, I'm in the dirt
Hear me screaming, see me bleeding
'Cause the days are no more the same without you


See me falling, yeah down and lonely
Are the angels on their way, I'm in the dirt
Hear me screaming, see me bleeding
'Cause the days are no more the same without you



There won't be blog posts again until next week, as we are in full-on Donky Kong Chrismas mode tomorrow hosting the famiy feast.  We're serving glazed honey ham, cheese and potato casserole, fresh veggies, little smokies, appetizers, and Aunt Barb's chocolate orange drops - and that's only what I'm making.

Until next week then, Friends, please do enjoy this wonderful holiday with your family and friends. I wish you the love of GIVING. I wish you the warmth of knowing that God sent his only Son for YOU, as his gift of life. I also wish you comfy Hollister sweatpants and delicious Kahlua.

December 23, 2011

Homeade Cream of Mushroom Soup

I love to make soup. It is one of my favorite things ever to cook. And I know that my soups are great because my kids ASK FOR IT. Soups are kinda my thing. A couple of weekends ago, I added a new one to my repertoire.
It started because I wanted tater tot hot dish for dinner. It was a casserole sort of night and we do live in the heart of the Midwest/Northern Plains/whatevah. It's also on the hubs' short list of favorite meals. While the boys Guitar Hero-d downstairs, I set out to get my ingredients together (this can vary by household of course, but we include: hamburger, cream of mushroom soup, green beans, black beans, and tater tots).

It was then that I noticed that I had only one can of cream of mushroom soup. I quick studied the ingredients to see if I could manage with one, add milk, do some magic and was startled to find MSG listed. Hubs has a reaction to MSG sometimes. While he'd never had a reaction to hot dish before (even having used the canned soup hundreds of times), I decided right then and there that there must be a better way. I did a very quick search on my phone and found this quick link: http://www.food.com/recipe/homemade-cream-of-mushroom-soup-264191 to homemade cream of mushroom soup. I imagine there are multiple recipes out there, but this is the one I used:
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped  
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onions (I used half an onion)
  • 1 -2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I used 4 because I was too lazy to cut it up and wanted to channel Pioneer Woman instead)
  • 2 -3 tablespoons flour (I used wheat)
  • 2 cups chicken broth*
  • 1 cup light cream or 1 cup evaporated milk   (I used skim milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

* This is the no-MSG stock I used for my chicken broth, if you're curious. It's delicious.

I did not follow it the recipe exactly. That's the thing about soups. If you know the basics, you can rock it out in any direction you'd like, using whatever you have in the fridge. Use beef stock instead if you have it. Omit the mushrooms if your kids won't eat them and you want more of a cream of chicken flavor. I also did not add my onions to the soup until after I had sauteed them in red wine (just some leftover pinot I had on hand) and butter.
I'll never buy the canned again. It's too quick to make homemade - just 15 minutes. And much, much healthier for your whole family. 


Hopefully you're all well on your way to a safe and happy Christmas weekend. And before I forget, I have a big prayer request for all of you reading. Please pray for my friend's teenage son, D. He was diagnosed with leukemia just this week and has already undergone his first chemotherapy treatment. He is in fantastic spirits and is waiting for God to continue to guide him through this journey. But let's pray. Please, please pray that D is healed, healthy, and tolerates treatment well. Thank you.

December 21, 2011

Weddennessday

I am not ready for Sunday. I am not ready for Sunday. I am not ready for Sunday.
 
 
Hmm... food. I wrote a reminder to myself to make a list today of the food I want to make, which will lead to a list of the food I need to pick up from the store tonight. Hopefully.
 
 
Chocolate orange drops, needs butter-flavor Crisco and lowfat cream cheese
Honeybaked ham glaze, which needs ground cloves, ground allspice
bakery sandwich buns
gourmet mustard
generic Bailey's liquor
baby beef smokies
carrots, cauliflower, etc for vegetable plate
ranch dip
aluminum foil
crumb cake mix for Christmas morning
 
 
... and that's all that is on my list.
 
 
 
I am also very strongly considering writing up an agenda of what needs to happen between now and then, as well as what I would like to get accomplished over those 11 days I am at home. With four children (oy!).
 
 
My brains are swirling.
 
 
We were told that we might get a few flakes this afternoon, but warned it wouldn't stick. I am disappointed to tell you that nothing fell from the sky in this place. I MISS THE SNOW. I know now firmly that I do no desire to live anywhere that never has snow. No way, José.
 
 
Last night we arrived home to several boxes on the doorstep. Some gifts I'd ordered online and others sent from family back east for the kids. What a timely season for robbers. Seriously. Does this never occur to package handlers? I remember last year when I ordered Bryon's yard games, that Amazon shipped one of them without an outer box. Slapped the label right on the front of the beanbag set. Boy howdy, I was pissed. I beat him home by 5 minutes and wrangled it into the garage before he could see it. Yipes!
 
 
I finally fixed my blog banner. I'm not sure what happened that caused the poor image quality, but I've remedied.
 
 
Now, to head home and wrap presents!

December 20, 2011

Birthday Spaghetti

Saturday morning Bryon left with the two boys to go shopping for my birthday and Christmas presents. While they were gone I cleaned the house and made 2 pairs of skinny jeans*. That night was our Christmas party. Before leaving the house, Bryon insisted that I open my birthday presents a day early. He and the boys were wagging their little tails to watch me open, so I caved. 
 
The first thing I noticed is that they picked out birthday wrapping paper for me and had secretly wrapped the presents when I was who knows where. So sweet. I opened both gifts and they were... magnificent. He and the boys had spent some time deciding what to get... and they did so well. The first gift will allow me to provide you all with videos in this place (you're welcome, Nana), as well as make home movies. The other is a much younger, sleeker version of Black Betty. Holy day, I am blessed! I almost passed out with excitement. Seriously, if I took the time and the tangent to tell you all the story of how I came to have my first laptop [it's a bad memory], you all would cry at the sweetness and selflessness with which Bryon gifted me this gift. I was really touched.
 
We got all dressed up and went to our Christmas party, which was a good time. We sat with Plowman while he emceed the event. Afterward, we went for drinks and silliness with friends. There were birthday toasts, let me tell you. A few of them. The sitter spent the night, so we didn't feel so guilty about walking in the door at 3am.
 
On our way in the door, Bryon got a call that indicated that he might have to go into work the next morning to oversee the wiring of a pump. On Sunday. On my birthday, which was Sunday. Oh HALE NO. I lost it. The work thing for him is a very delicate balance, and thanks to Shoes I am hypersensitive to any waffling in that area. God, family, work. Period. Sometimes I will admit that this leads to disrespect on my part, knowing that Bryon's job is very important to him and my harrassment about working hours doesn't really help him any. I apologize for that and then continue to do it repeatedly. Sigh. And yes, I pray about that. However, my query to him is one consistent thing: are you a husband with a job or a manager with a wife? That's what it comes down to folks. Of course, Bryon chooses to be a husband first, but that question always reminds him of how critical this is to my heart.
 
I'm not asking him to stop reaching. I'm not asking him to quit or stop. I never would because it makes him happy and I want him to be satisfied professionally. Challenged. Rewarded. And he is the leader of our family so he gets the 'say'. However, I just want to see the balance. My heart has deep scars there and I cannot fix those on my own. When work gets really thick and needy of him for weeks in a row, I just need a verbal reminder that, despite the calls that come in the middle of the night for a stupid freaking pump, our family is more important. Even if he has to go in, he'll be thinking of us while he is there. My insecurities need for him to say the obvious. I need the reassurance.
 
Now. Have I ever mentioned to you people that my husband is about as manly as they come? He is. He so is. Which means, despite the fact that he has a sister and a daughter, the man CANNOT SPEAK GIRL. He simply cannot understand "pink" until I have been crying for hours. It's not a dig - it's actually kind of precious you know, afterward. But during? Not so precious.
 
There was screaming on both of our parts. We were both direct and defensive. There were so many tears that I made myself sick. My eyes were swollen shut. He was so frustrated to not. be. getting. it. I was so frustrated that a simple, "I'm sorry that you're disappointed that I might not be home. It will suck if I have to go in tomorrow, but I'll be home quick and we'll make the day fun anyway..."  could have stopped the entire insecurity. Just a verbal reminder. But he didn't get it. He wouldn't give it up. I apologized for being upset, but he didn't really want to hear that either. We might as well have been beating ourselves with a couple of rubber bats for all the good it did.
 
'Round about 4am, Bryon passed out from exhaustion somewhere down at the end of the bed, with his head hanging off of it. I left him there. Partly because I was pissed and partly because my tummy had begun a strange rumbling. I didn't feel so good. And then, the poops started. Whatever virus had raided my husband last week chose that exact moment to strike me with a vengeance. The good news was, he was sleeping and unlikely to hear the very noisy outcome of this virus. The bad news was, virus. I was miserable. I was up and down and up and down multiple times and every time I caught a glimpse of his bald head hanging off of the bed I got pissed off all over again and then hurt all over again (this is the girl spiral, you know) and then I would go be sick and then come back to the bed to shiver and cry.
 
This went on until about 8am, when my eyelids fluttered open and he rustled around in the sheets. He did NOT get the call to come into work, so God resolved that one for me entirely. When he awoke, he came to the head of the bed and asked how I'd slept. Shitty in more than one way, I'd told him. We laid there in the quiet, neither one of us knowing what to say to the other, but knowing that the argument was not over. I took a deep breath and prayed for God to soften both of our hearts once more. And once more - more delicately this time - I reiterated WHY I felt the insecurity I feel when work threatens to 'take' him away from me. In my heart, it feels the exact same as him saying, "I'm choosing work over family today and I'm completely okay with it. I'm leaving you for work. You stay here and be okay with me leaving you all alone."  Now I fully realize how stupid that sounds. I also realize that he is NOT saying those things and moreover, his actions aren't either. However, this is how it FEELS when he leaves to go to work unexpectedly.
 
After at least another hour of talking (my belly had stopped convulsing), he took my hand in his. There it was. Clarity. He apologized. Not for his work or his love for work, but for yelling. I apologized, too. Then he said just about the smartest thing he ever could have on that day. He said I'd made myself some shitty spaghetti.
 
"I should have seen this coming. I'm sorry I didn't realize it in time. Between work stress and getting older [oh, how that is bothering me!], and the anniversary of your dad's death on your birthday, you've made yourself a nice big bowl of shitty spaghetti. You're just picking something to be mad at and this presented itself." Mostly, he was right. Oh, was he right. "Work is the just the swords we're holding, swinging at each other. We need to put them down." I wasn't really mad at him and he wasn't really mad at me. It had taken four hours of crying and pooping for the man to speak pink.
 
Then he told me that I was "a beautiful 35 years today" and stroked my hair. There was lots of hugging and more tears. I looked positively toad-like by that point.
 
I stayed in bed with the Golden Girls while he took the sitter home. He took the kids, too, so it was quiet in the house. I prayed. Then the 'happy birthday' texts started rolling in. The first one was from his mom and made me cry. Oh how I love her. Then Mindy, my sister in law, then Joe. I slept for a little bit and woke up when he came into the room, sat down on the side of the bed, and presented me with a McDonald's cheeseburger, no onion. It was the most delicious thing ever and, how sweet he was to think of bringing me something. He ate with the kids in the dining room while I didn't move a muscle in the bed. [I was afraid that muscle moving would lead to more pooping.] Then, he sent the kids outside (52 degees) and gave them things to play with and instructions on self-maintenance. He pulled me into the shower with him and I mostly just stood there letting the hot water soothe my muscles. My guts hurt. We didn't speak much, but he smiled as he cared for me. He understood.
 
And then the most magical thing happened. We tucked ourselves into the bed at noon on a Sunday, and laid there together for FIVE HOURS. There was quiet talking. There was Golden Girls watching. There was sleeping on and off. There was canoodling. There was the sun, leaking through the bottom blind and touching the bedsheets with us underneath. He laid with his arm around me, rubbing my back or playing with my hair for hours. He felt fine, but wanted to lay with me. I didn't ask him to. He didn't call in to work, he didn't check his phone even once. The kids were remarkably well behaved and kept themselves occupied all day without burning down the house. Mostly they saw dad, taking care of mom. And he did. Oh, how he did.
 
I'm not sure I'm expressing well enough what it did for my soul for him to lay there beside me all day long. He gave of himself for me, so I would feel better. I didn't ask. It was PINK and he just... did it. He is such a remarkable man, such a wonderful, wonderful husband.
 
It became the best birthday I've ever had.
 
 
 
* More to come on this skinny jean makeover. 

December 19, 2011

Monday

I'm running behind today, Folks. I'm uploading pictures so that I can expedite them here by Friday because we are HOSTING Christmas on Sunday and also need to hurry up and get to dinner with Michelle because YO - it's sushi time. Then I must run home tonight and finish the new wall (more to come I pinky swear) before I come in to work tomorrow to do rush inventory counts in jeans and sweatshirt.

2 awesome birthday presents, given a day early by the best husband ever. Christmas party was AH-some. Then the best husband ever and I got into the hugest argument ever and I cried for 4 hours. It was stupid, just you wait. And then I got sick and pooped for 4 more hours, all the while he snored. Then he woke up and made it the BEST argument ever and the best birthday I've ever had. Weird, but very true.

I am dillusional and I will share more when I can stop thinking in runon sentences. How many days until Christmas? GAH.

December 16, 2011

You Are The Light






I heard artist Kari Jobe talking about her song "We Are" on the radio the other day and it really struck a chord with me. She asked - what if the only light you had to tuck your children to bed at night was the light INSIDE of you? What if that's all you had to drive, to work, to live day to day. Would it be bright enough?
Her song is based on Matthew 5:14-16

14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.


On this Friday - ask yourself that question. What if, WHAT IF the only light in your world - in the world of your family, your spouse, and your children - was the light INSIDE of your heart? How can you make it shine brighter? How can you help the whole world see? How can you walk down the street, in the mall, sit at your desk, and cook supper bearing enough light for those around you to see?


Be His light. Have the courage to do it. I promise it will feel amazing. Pray about how; it will be different for all of us.


God bless you today, Friends.

December 15, 2011

Weddennessday on Thursday




I'm a day behind this week. Sorry.

We made cinnamon rolls last Saturday morning and crumb cake on Sunday morning. Seriously, I wasn't kidding about the feeding of my face. Tis the season for the curvature of my thighs! I can still fit in my pants, though, so I don't figure I'm in too much trouble yet.


I added the final layer of paint to my dining room wall. Pictures are delayed because it's dark when I get home and it's so, so awesome in God's daylight instead. I hope you'll be patient with me.


We watched Muppets In Space last weekend. When Mabel spotted Kermit The Frog, she went RACING down to her room, dug through the toxbox, and brought up one very old and very loved Kermie, who sat and watched the movie with her. Nana would be proud.


Bryon currently has bugs in his tummy (or that's how Mabel words it anyway). Prayers, please. When daddy is down for the count, it's a sad situation all around. We have two boys itching to wrestle... it's becomic volcanic, this pent up need to roll around on the floor with Dad. Seriously.


I need to talk about the "dad" and "daddy" thing for a moment please. I know that many of you readers come from blended families and are part of newly blended families yourselves. I appreciate the perspective that a biological parent's moniker is assumed: "mom/mother" and "dad/father" and is to never be forgotten. In our house, this is never ignored. Hayley's mother is and will always be her mother, but I am the mother inside the walls of our house. If she chooses to call me "mom," I'm not going to correct her because she is not wrong. If her heart sees me as a mother, then she should be allowed to speak that without ridicule or correction.  


Likewise, Shoes is and will always be the father of my 3, but Bryon is the dad inside the walls of our house. He is the leader of our family, the father, the provider. If my 3 choose to call him "dad," we are not going to correct them because they are not wrong. If their heart sees him as another father, then they should be allowed to say that without being corrected or made to feel guilty. EVER. Just as parents have the capacity to have more children and love them all equally, children also have the capacity to love multiple parents equally. It is NOT choosing one over the other; it's witnessing God grow the size of their hearts to include another person.


Adult insecurities need to be put away for the better of the children in this situation. To make a child feel guilty for that added love in their hearts is shameful.


I know that for the entirety of my 10 year marriage to Shoes, he called his stepdad "Dad." I cannot speak for Shoes, but it warmed MY heart to see that he loved and appreciated his stepfather and was proud to call him "Dad" his whole life long. That sets good example for our children, who are now part of a blended family. I pray that he continues that love and appreciation, and wraps with it an understanding that they are now the ones who have a stepdad and the same situation on their hands. Their hearts are bigger because of it.


Mabel in particular calls Bryon "Daddy." Of course she would; he's been that figurehead since she was 2. No one told her to call him anything and he was "Bwyan" for the longest time. Then one day, she just... changed, all on her own. She gave up trying to differentiate something within her heart. There is no need for confusion there! She loves them both and calls them both the same. It's ludicrous to think she will forget who MADE her because we will never stop reminding her that Shoes is her father. He will continue to have his own relationship with her. But one made her and the other will raise her. No better example of having two daddies. I think it's a blessing and I am grateful.


The boys do it, too, on occassion. Theirs is more deliberate because they are old enough to know the social difference between father and stepfather. Their hearts consider them both equally loved, but their heads make them worry about feeling guilty. What if Shoes hears them? What if Bryon's not receptive? What if, what if, what if. Poor little puppies. They test the waters with it and then look to see if we will correct them (and of course we would not). Andy especially. He writes in his journal and draws pictures of his "dad" - then he sneaks it over to us, like a 7th grader passing a note with a giggle. I've overheard Andy call Bryon "dad" several times. I've never called it out - and neither has Bryon. It's allowed at our house. It's a feeling, it was earned, and it is allowed. Trevor is older and feels the social difference even more but he, too, has said it a few times. I would even venture to say that Trevor most needs and wants affection from Bryon, out of all 3. They have a very special bond, those 2. Both were the oldest of 3 following a divorce. Bryon knows the hurt that Trevor has felt, the worry and the balance that Trevor tries to find. There is a constant reminder of respect for Shoes in our home, even though they don't see him as often. That is DRIVEN by Bryon. I love that the boys have him every day. It's a blessing and I am grateful.


Now. That is all I have to say about that.


I am so thankful that Buck is still the Man.


We're almost finished with Christmas Shopping. I'd say 90%. Nothing is wrapped mind you, but we're nearing the turn. And when I say "we" I totally mean *I* - but I'm shopping on behalf of both of us, so that counts right? And let's face it, I purchase for a living. I'm just better at shopping. He is better at doing boy things and I am better at shopping. It works for us.


I need to tell the world that I am PISSED off at the commercialization of Christmas. I know that my previous Christmas post touched on it a bit, but I am incredibly irritated by the lack of Christian-themed decorations this year. Where are the angels? Where is BABY JESUS, for goodness sakes! Happy Holidays my ass. We don't celebrate the holidays. We celebrate THE BIRTH OF CHRIST. *Deep breath.*


I have a need to watch New In Town soon. It reminds me of why I am in love with this place that I live. Morals abound. God's music and all.

For some reason, my blog header is all wonked out. Why is it blurry? What the heck?! It didn't start out that way and now I look like I don't know how to maintain a proper blog. Jeez.

December 12, 2011

Nuzzling


Two things on my mind today: Nuzzling is my new favorite, and I want snow for my birthday. More on those later.

Happy Monday, yo. We had a great and productive weekend, though I don't have the photos of my newly painted wall to show you yet. Why, you ask? Because I'm lazy and decided to feed my face and cuddle my hubbers instead.

This weekend, the kids and I finished decorating the Christmas tree while Bryon was at work for a little while. After the tree was done and he was home, they attacked him. His mom told me that his father used to wrestle Bryon and Bret all the time when they were littles; that made me smile.
We went to pick up Hayley's pink electric guitar from her mom's house on Saturday evening so that she and brother could jam. Yes I did just say that really cool sentence. Andy is teaching her what he learned from lessons, and beyond that - they are learning together. For HOURS, they jammed this weekend. On a related note, Trevor's trumpet is getting GOOD. I am very proud of him! He has quite the embouchure for it (the bigmouth - HA!).

I'm trying something new with my hair. It's too curly. Can you believe it? Seriously, it's never been this curly ever in my life. I think it's the outrageously great sex. Can't really think of anything else in my life that's changed in the past year other than that. Too bad they can't bottle THAT. Sorry. Not sure what's gotten into me today and I'm sorry you have to deal with it. Anyway, this new hair thing. First, I've stopped blowing it out straight for a while. The main reason is because it's getting too long and it takes more than 20 minutes to do. Yikes. I do still blow out my bangs, considering God blessed me with a cowlick on both sides of my forehead, making the natural bang thing just... stupid. I use Aquage Curl Cream and still air dry the curls, but instead of letting them be, I gather all of my hair together and gentle twist it several times, just laying it over my should, until my hair is dry. This stretches the curls out and I'm left with loose waves instead of corkscrews and frizz. It's even better on the second day.

So, the nuzzling. Nuzzling is my new favorite. Sunday morning, Bryon and I woke up late. We were both lazy tired; the kids were still sleeping. It was that blue-light-of-morning time when it chills you to stick a knee out from under the covers. I remember scooching toward him, and his strong arms swooping me toward him. I shivered from the cold and his I-am-basically-Alcide-Hervaux-the-werewolf hairy chest warmed me up. I love it when his hairy chest warms me up. There was giggling and hair that was sideways, pillows on the floor. Then after, we laid our cheeks against the cool sheet on the bed, as even more blue light leaked in the window. He nuzzled his forehead into my shoulder and rubbed it gently back and forth. He needed me. His hand rubbed my back and still, he nuzzled. His nose softly rubbed my arm and my neck. He didn't kiss; he just... nuzzled. He needed me. I rolled a little and snuggled into him closer, and he nuzzled my face and neck. I could feel him breathing against me. His heart was thumping like mad under my hand. There are a millions ways to show someone you need them, I suppose. And I've decided that nuzzling is my favorite. He spoke no words but said so much.

This week, I am waiting for feelings. I'm not sure which way they are going to take me. Sunday is my birthday. Sunday is also my dad's death day. Usually half the day is spent happy and the other half is spent sort of forlorn. I miss him. It's been 15 years this year. Oh my.

I've decided that I mostly would very much like to have snow for my birthday. I don't think it's too much to ask, considering the fact that we live in the middle of Da Plains and hello? WHERE IS THE SNOW?! Aside from the 1/2" we had a week ago, there has been nothing. Zilch. It's long melted, too. I can see grass, Peeps. On December 12, I can see green grass. That is not right! I need some fluffery, puffery, crunchly, glittery snow before Christmas. I have requested a good 12" dump. We'll have to see what God provides, I reckon!

December 9, 2011

The Very Plaid Bar Breakup Story

I had a bar breakup. Did you know that? 

I'm trying to remember if I've ever had a bar breakup before the one I'm about to tell you about. Hmmm... nope. There was the one the day after Valentine's Day, and the one on the phone (16 year old boys are such buttheads), but only one bar breakup. I feel sort of qualified now in some way. For what, I couldn't tell you.

What the hell was I saying?

Oh yes, the Viking. Mmm-hmm. I ran into him in the days leading up to Thanksgiving this year, at the small grocery store in the little town where we work (and I used to live). I smiled and said 'hello', and then thanked my stars the whole way home.

So, the very tall, very bald, and very plaid Viking and I dated for only a few months. Long enough to start the swoony, but there was never any depth there. Sure I liked that he was tall and he had nice eyes, and he certainly could be debonair, but the dude wasn't IT. I tried for him to be IT, you know. Kissing Wednesday - the day I just dropped in to kiss him hello. Just because. I was just being myself but he thought it was a little weird. I prayed about him and for him, and I was always just a little disturbed about a couple of things that I won't mention because it would be impolite. But, in the spirit of moving on, moving forward, and taking chances on a different "type" of man, I was patient. 

Meanwhile I was busy at work with office moving projects and just having moved into my first house. And by my first house I do not mean my first ever house - hello - I have lived lots of places, including our first ever house when we moved to Da Plains. No, I mean I was busy with my first house that I bought by myself, for myself, and with myself. There was so much to do and I was very occupied by it.

I was also occupied by this new guy at work who was assigned the same office moving project as I was. We became very fast friends because I gave him shit and he let me. He didn't hide. He laughed at my sense of humor and gave me shit right back. He was a maintenance planner back then and SO cute, this guy. He was flirty and smart. Looked fantastic in plaid. He was a MANLY man with strong bone structure (geez, Russian much?) and green eyes. Not that I was really looking because I was dating the viking and yo, I can't concentrate on more than one dude at a time. But I do have eyeballs and a heart - and both of those items became sort of, accidentally occupied with said Russian plaid boy. So, we were friendly and both of us found ourselves making excuses to see each other all the time for a signature, for a measurement of a room, or for an agreement to install blinds (that's a fun story I'll have to share with your another time). Soon enough I couldn't stop thinking about him and when I did, I felt really, really happy on the inside. So I prayed about my new friend.

"He likes you," my friends would say when they'd watch us together in a meeting. I didn't believe them because that would be too easy and things in my life were NOT easy. Plus, viking.

Only a couple of months in, the viking and I were struggling. Actually I will reword. Viking didn't notice anything was amiss; I, on the other hand, most definitely did. There were lots of reasons, all of which seem very obvious to me right now but were cloudier back then. I still placed so much blame on myself for my previous marriage (and have mercy, the completely stupidity of the first post-divorce boyfriend, Mr. Rugby Player didn't help much) - that I kept quiet then and wondered what *I* was contributing. Maybe I was being too uptight. Maybe I was being too boisterous. Maybe I wasn't giving the viking enough room to be HIMself. Maybe him not being perfect was okay and my expectations were too high. [Not saying I think any of that was correct - in fact, it's all BULLSHIT - but that is what was swirling through my brains.] There was also this strange nervousness whenever I'd go visit the viking. Anxious as all get out. It was WEIRD because one of my strongest qualities is this "suck it up, balls to the wall, direct" nature I have on life. I found myself having to talk... myself... into stopping to see him.

And I couldn't stop thinking of the Russian plaid boy at work. I was so distracted. Ridiculously so. Giggly. He made me so happy to just be near him. I started considering the fact that I might like him back. We did our office move project right after Christmas and my heart palpitated all sorts of silly that day.

I remember being out for New Year's Eve with the viking. He did not kiss me at midnight. He kissed me later and all, but where was the swoop at midnight? Where was the HAZZAH? He was a fuddy-duddy. Not overly moved to do... anything. Including lay a smacker on me at the stroke of midnight. Well, that honked me off, I've gotta tell ya.  

Still couldn't stop thinking of Bryon with an O. A Russian with an O. Hmmm. Way cute. Strong eyebrows. Nice hands. He seemed perfectly comfortable with me just as I am. I am a little uptight. I am very boisterous. And I need a platform to not only be myself, but to swing from the freaking rafters as ME. He gave me a platform. He invited it. He wasn't afraid to argue something out with me (see above mention of installing blinds) in the middle of his shop and still kept on liking me.

It is here where I need to lengthen my own story by telling you that I had to drive past the very large and green house on the corner where the viking lived EVERY MORNING on my way to work to see Russian plaid boy. I had to think of one on my way to see the other. And every morning I would play music to get myself in the right mood for the day. During that time of my life it was The Killers. Irony there because I had no idea that Mr. Brightside was sung by the Killers until the viking (who used to be a DJ) told me so. It's just the price I pay, destiny is calling me; open up my eager eyes...

On January 25, I walked to a local spot with girlyfriends. The ground was freshly powdered with sugary, white, all ill-resolving snow, and I met up with the viking. We hadn't gone to the place together, but he was there and I was there and we were both there in some sort of half-assed vortex of a relationship. The music was cranked and I was bouncing around, dancing. He was sulking over in the corner, against the wood-paneled walls. Right then some switch flipped in my head and I had a choice to make between the very tall, bald, and plaid viking and the very MANLY, Russian, plaid coworker.

Am I the only one who thinks this might be turning into a very long story about PLAID? Jeez.

It took .2 seconds to make the decision that I was done.

I had to act. I had to move NOW. I walked to where Viking Dan was sitting on a black bar stool in front of the slot machine in the corner. He put out his cigarette. He smiled when he saw me and stood up. Lawsy mercy he was TALL. We walked together toward the steps to the basement and his black cowboy boots echoed across the wooden floor, louder than the song was playing. I switched my red Solo cup to the other hand and took a deep breath to steady myself. I wasn't sure how he was going to take his introduction to the curb and quite honestly, I'd never really broken up with anyone in a bar before. Is there protocol for that?

I looked up at him and as he smiled down at me, a thunderbolt in my belly told me what I already knew in my heart: it would never work. I was a bird and he was a fish. I tried to think of what to say to him when he reached out for my arm. In his very deep voice he began to say words that I was not expecting. "It's not working out," Dan said.

I blinked and made a face. Was this really happening? Part of me probably should have been upset (that's the girl response, regardless of whether or not we were already planning to dump the boy in the first place), but all of me was very, very excited instead.

"I don't ever want to get married. I don't want more kids to worry about. I'd be happy just living alone in the woods. I'm not good at feelings." Blah blah blah. Poor Viking Dan. God has so much more for him but I don't think he will ever know it.

I smiled at him. "I came down here to break it off," I said. He was beyond shocked. I gave him some crap for not being honest with me about his intentions to begin with. And then I gave myself some crap for not listening to my guts and to doubting for one single second that my God above wanted me to be full of JOY instead of settling.

Then I LEAPT up the steps two at a time to the dance floor, sloshing just a little malibu on the knee of my jeans.

I was free and happy, and Viking Dan? He was left leaning against the wooden wall beneath the neon Budweiser sign, sulking. Just then I heard my mantra blare through the bar.







I came undone with happiness. Excitement at what I knew was about to happen. I bounced and giggled and told my friend what had happened. She immediately asked me about Russian plaid boy. "Are you going to ask him out? I still say he likes you," she said.

I was finally ready to find out, I guess. It was quite late by the time I got in that night. I paid the sitter, kissed 3 sleeping foreheads, and then settled down in front of my laptop in the living room of my first house. With a slice of oven pizza beside me, I logged on to Facebook, searched, and found Russian plaid boy. It was time to up the ante and make sure he knew I was available for pursuit. Well, that was my logical thought at 3-something a.m. anyway.

Did I want to Friend Bryon Krutsch?  Oh hell yes.

He accepted the next morning and that night I logged in and said, "Yo" to my favorite new person. Who also gave me butterflies. Yup yup.



A week or so later, he drove down to see me and we met up at the same small town bar with the wood floors and the red Solo cups. Again, a fresh and full snowfall laid on the streets as I walked to the bar out of my mind with excitement. Hours later a friend of mine snapped this [very grainy] photo, right before I drug Bryon out onto the dance floor with me. Guess what song was on? Right. The Killers were playing and I needed to bounce. He was giving me the platform after all.



And that, my friends, is exactly how I was truly the one who made the first move.