November 27, 2012

Hayley Turned 8

Hayley Noelle turned 8 this year. We took her to McDonald's for her favorite lunch (she actually IS part chicken nugget; thank you for asking) and then to the park to play. And play we did.

She said it was the favorite part of her birthday. Might have been rolling down the hill with daddy or chasing the boys. Could have even been building leaf piles with Mabel. Honestly, I think it was getting to be "it" when we played tag for an hour. Who doesn't want to be "it" on their birthday?

This year my girl asked for an angel food cake with marshmallow frosting. Lavender marshmallow frosting. Okay then.  I found a delicious recipe for 7-minute frosting that Grandma Sharon said reminded her of Grandma Darlene in Heaven - perfect! Unfortunately, my angel food cake did not fill the pan entirely and had a bubble while baking. This led to premature flopping on one side. The poor cake looked like it was going to  fall over at any second. But it was delicious.

Happy birthday, Phyllis Funyon. I am so blessed by you in my life!

November 26, 2012


Today was amazing. We went to church and listened to a wonderful message by Steve Hayes (love me some Steve Hayes) about letting God see our messy lives, about forgiving ourselves so that we can forgive others and so that Christ’s forgiveness can cover us. From there we came home and went about our day, which was rattled with exwifery and chores. I sewed up the hems on a few pairs of jeans for Hayley and prayed stern words as the needle hopped up and down on my machine. As I sewed, the yucky began to stick in me and I felt so unappreciated for this extra I do for her mother. I feel invaded and bullied every day, my ‘high road’ being taken advantage of. Often, we try to be gracious, but feel bullied instead. There was work for my husband, though all of us helped him sort his paperwork on the countertops. At some point in the afternoon he and I met in the kitchen and embraced. I sighed and he knew my sigh (he vowed to do that). Then he sat beside me on the couch and laid his head on my shoulder in silence. He wrapped his arms around me and sniffed my hair and held me as close as he could, and everything dissolved. We were us again. I felt rebalanced and he thanked me for doing what I do for all of our children.

Later in the day, Bryon wrestled with the kids and they all fell in love again. It’s what they do, see. They wrestle and scream and giggle and bond. It’s weird to me having been an only child, but I love it – and so do they. Without it, they are grouchy. After this weekend circus we began to talk about adding a little friend to our home of the rodent variety, and how pistachio mustachio was a tremendous name for a guinea puss. So then I drew mustaches on everyone and I’ve never laughed so hard with my kids.

We made a night of family time and watched Courageous together. Have you seen that movie yet? It’s another Christian film by Alex Kendrick, along the same lines as Fireproof. Instead of highlighting God’s intent for marriage, it targets His intent for fatherhood. It’s a tremendous mantle, His intention. I mean, WOW.  Here is the Resolution that each of the fathers agree to be bound to:

I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children. I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home. I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me. I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength. I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly. I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy. I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion. I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family. I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged. I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God. I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will. I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. ---Joshua 24:15


Bryon and I watched this movie before with Plowman and IT Jesus when it was released months ago. However, the children played and didn’t watch it with us. We were a little apprehensive about how the boys would react to this very in your face explanation of fatherhood. Would it cause questions for them? What would God have us say in response? So we all gathered downstairs in front of the fireplace with quilts all over everyplace and watched.

I sobbed, People. I just outright bawl during this movie. It’s everything I always wanted for my children and never thought they would have. But then God reminded me that He was in charge. The movie was more meaningful to Bryon this second time around because his relationships with the kids have grown so much. And the boys, well, they loved the movie. They had very few questions for us with respect to the role of “father” in their lives. In time, perhaps the kids will be moved to ask more. In time, they may realize Bryon’s unique role in their lives, what God has so clearly planned for them right now, and how Bryon has accepted loving and raising them as his own. That isn’t instead of Shoes, that is in addition to whatever relationship they have or do not have with him. It is a beautiful and rare thing for a stepfather to accept children so completely, to accept responsibility for them, and to work to father them as God intended.

I am so blessed by him and his courage every single day!

November 23, 2012

Things I Love This Thanksgiving

The love and mercy of my lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

The man I share my life and marriage with.

All four of our little peeps: Trevor, Andrew, Hayley, and Mabel.

The Kikipottamus.

Family, and especially the two mommies in my life, Judy and Sharon.

Many friends, brought into my life with purpose by God.

Our health, home, and ability to afford our bills.

I am thankful for my talents and who I am.

Being a mother and a wife to this family.

Coffee each morning and prayers each night.

I am so very thankful.

November 19, 2012

The One Where I Promise To Sew

Okay, Peeps. My sitter is closed today, so I am playing mommy at home with the Moo. She is coloring and I have already checked work email.

I'm going to do it, Guys. I'm actually going to sew today. You just wait until you see what! Unless it sucks in which case you can pretend I never mentioned it.

I'll take pictures!

So... I'm also hosting Thanksgiving this year so that means cooking and prep a few days out. This space is going to be crickets for a few days.

For now... SEWING.

November 15, 2012

Weddennessday, With Black Hills Cabins

Andrew is strange and I love him that way.  The other day he blurted out a question, “Am I at the top of food chain?” When Bryon and I looked over at him, he was sitting on the floor in front of the loveseat with a pillow on his head. You know, the homemade envelope-style throw pillows? Yeah, he opened the envelope and shoved his head in the middle, so it framed his head like a sideways star. Blinking, he just stared at us and we couldn’t help but giggle. Cheeser.

So last weekend we made a trip to the mall and stopped at Macy’s on the way to the car. The only thing I ever shop at Macy’s for (which is stupid because I love many of their lines – hello, Martha Stewart and the to-die-for kitchen section!) … is the Clinique counter. I’ve told you all before how much I love Clinique. Clinique and I go way back, and you’ll see how shortly. Anyway, I brought Mabel with me to the counter and sat her up on the white stool in front of the mirror. I loaded her up with q-tips and foam wedges and then approached the saleslady. Very nice, looked about 14 years old. I began to feel a little… old. I told her that I needed to pick up a new bottle of the clarifying lotion 2 and also some liquid eyeliner in black. She grabbed the clarifying lotion 2 and then looked at me like I had 2 heads. She went through drawers and flung little floral boxes over her shoulder, in an effort to find this liquid eyeliner. Mabel was… decently well-behaved, attempting to ‘try on’ all of the lipsticks and mascaras available. As cute and girlie as it was, she’s had a cold and it skeeved me out so I had to distract her eleventy times while babysitting the aggravated saleslady. “I don’t think we carry that anymore. I’m not sure we ever did,” she tried to explain. Uh… no. I politely informed her that I’ve been using the liquid eyeliner from Clinique for a number of years – it’s my holy grail eyeliner, Peeps. I know where it comes from. Still, she was a deer in the headlights. “I think they’ve stopped making it because I’ve worked here a couple of years and I’ve never heard of it. Perhaps you should consider a pencil,” she said, growing more annoyed. Finally, I said, “Look, Lady, I know they make it. I’ve been buying it from Clinique since I was 16. That was… (I paused and tick-tocked my eyes and then became very quiet) almost twenty years ago,” I whispered. Suddenly her eyes grew big and she must have relented to my superior product love because she went to her computer then and pulled it right on up on the screen. Well, well, my friend. I did have to have it shipped to my house, but that was just fine with me. But I walked away realizing that I have been loyal to a product – a very, very wonderful product – for twenty years. And suddenly I began to feel a little more … old.

Husband and I stopped at Last Stop CD Shop a few days ago. He was looking for second-hand Wii and Playstation2 games, and I, for movies. In the end, I brought home Lilo & Stich and The Last Unicorn for our girls. THE LAST UNICORN! Le sigh!

Mabel was excited about both of the new movies, but most especially The Last Unicorn. She wasn’t feeling so well that evening, so I set her up in our bedroom to watch it and I stayed in there with her for a few minutes to make sure it played properly. Well that, and I really wanted to just… see the unicorn. Just once. I fell in love with that movie in 1982 when my daddy brought it home for me to watch in our living room (which was formal and only used for movie-watching… usually by little me). When the credits started, I told Mabes about the movie and then little tears fell out of my eyes. Dang it. Sigh. I adore that movie and I’m so excited that I found it to share with my girls, too. And also… 1982 was the year I was turned 6. Which made me feel even… older.

Because I use this blog as a reference tool for my own brains, I need to remind myself of something for next year. Dear Self, please check out Bluebell Lodge in Custer State Park and the Hillside Country Cabins in Rapid. Amen.

I spent two days this week scrambling to last-minute plan something different for Hayley’s birthday party with little girlie friends. Planning for four children never ends, Folks. And it’s impossible when you try to crack something out inside of 7 days. On tap for our family birthday with Hayley this year: angel food cake with lavender marshmallow frosting and pink Sixlets!

The gal who used to sit behind me and snark about my best friendship with my husband is no longer there. Instead there is a rather austere older gentleman with full brush mustache. He says, “Holy balls!” all the time. He is from Iowa and makes me smile.

The other day Bryon sent me one of those emails that you keep forever. It said, “You are my eternal love….my forever Boo….my favorite person to sit next to….my one and only duck commanderette….my throw-a-leg-over and pass out peacefully, rock.”  I love the emails that you keep forever.

My favorite coworker J sits beside me. He is younger than I am, softspoken, a twin, and has a beard and strawberry blonde hair. He is my office little brother. He hears me rant and rave, he allows me to train him, and he still comes to me with respect, asking for advice on a variety of work importances. As you can imagine, he’s heard me say all sorts of weird things and come to know that I’m just different than the average bear. Even in the workplace (what, you don’t talk about your fallopian tubes?). And so last week when he was asking me to do some filing, I made a comment about how, just because I am a girl I shouldn’t be on the frontlines of the filing. Then J says, “Listen, I was just asking you for help. You don’t need to go swinging your uterus around.” Both of us died laughing. The other folks sitting nearby were nonplussed. It was so funny I had to tell Bryon all about it. He was very surprised that little J said ‘uterus.’ The following morning, my (not so big but very) scary husband walked up to J and put his hand on his shoulder. “I hear you were talking about my wife’s uterus yesterday.” I think J damn near peed his pants. It was hilarious, even though he knew we were kidding. So thankful to have good friends to work with. Who are willing to say uterus.

And also – BRYON said uterus in the workplace! Score one for my husband! 

November 12, 2012


The Jedi is mostly better. He still slept a lot of the weekend and spent much of it making up what he missed at work. We made time for sushi and hot tea (our favorite - that tea is AH-mazing) and I broke out the crochet hooks for a new project. I'm rusty but I still have skeelz.

Mabel and Trevor took a turn being sick, though it was very brief in comparison. Mabel watched hours worth of The Last Unicorn (more on that later), and finally the boys couldn’t take it anymore and wrestled with Bryon anyway. It’s a good thing he had his strength back because they are not the size they used to be. Holy cow. There was so much lumping and thumping and grunting I had to leave the proximity of the knot. 

I am mostly better, though I still feel a funk lurking. I’m praying it goes away before the weekend. Hayley turns 8 this Sunday and we’re still finalizing birthday plans. I have a cute tomato red hat to wear. Between my almost-funk and the fact that her mother’s baby has the flu as well, I’m just praying SHE doesn’t end up sicky, too. That would stink.

Over the weekend, Bryon was contacted by a new friend of ours who is going through a divorce. The man wanted God-guy advice during this time of grief and anger and loss. My husband said to him, “It’s about being on your knees… and opening your heart to His strength and really feeling how great the world is and everything He has blessed you with.” I was stopped in my tracks by that. To hear my husband testify to another man from his very own perspective (because duh, that’s what a testimony is after all) was just amazing. I am thankful to God for the opportunity we both have with this new friend, I am thankful for my husband’s heart, and for the growth that we’ve both made in our journey with Christ.

I am looking forward to a great week.

November 9, 2012

The Jedi is Sicky

*TAP TAP* Where is the Force when you need it?

The flu is not fun, Peeps. Not even a little, and especially not for my Jedi who NEVER gets sick. Ahem.

It's been a week full of missed work, my own chest rumblings and headaches (praying God keeps it away from me so that I can continue to care for my family), parent-teacher conferences 1/3, and schlepping for this mama. Sadly now two of the littles are down as well, though not as bad as daddy. I'm hopeful that the weekend is exactly what we need to recover.

Pray for us this week, please?

Over and out.

November 7, 2012

Things I Love Thursday

1. Hmmmm. Must try.

2. Quite honestly, I think this is some vintage book rack from a wicked cool library some place. It's way too cool to have been born a plant stand. But I want to find one like I want to breathe! WOW.

3. Marshmallow frosting for Hayley's birthday cake? Yes, please.

4. Tweed is definitely popular this time of year. I don't think tweed is necessary to pull of this look. I think its a combination of the jeans, the tee shirt, the belt, and the blazer.

5. E.K. again. This time the strappy heels and leather jacket make me squeal!

6. I looooove Elin Kling's style. I pin photos of her often. Such a great look, casual and chic both.

7. Oh, Camp Brand, you naughty little tease, you. I spied the original gray Camp Brand sweatshirt months ago on Pinterest. So did everyone else, which I suspect is the reason their entire store has been out of stock since. This little baby was hidden there, the Rebel Reelers a play on girls who love to fish, and in my very most favorite color of blue. I checked daily to see if the shirts were back in stock. Then one night last week around gosh, 11 maybe, my blue baby was there in the store, waiting to come home with me. Online I mean. You know how it is. I may never take her off.

8. Ladies, listen here. I pinned this ages ago in one of those 'I might need that one day' moments. Honestly it was probably up for the next spring clean, to be deleted. However, my newest pair of black peep toe pumps weren't broken in yet and I neeeeded to wear them last week. Enter this dandy little pin. It works. Athletic socks and a hair dryer... seriously less than 5 minutes and I wore those heels for about 6 hours with zero blisters.

9. Fisherman cable cardigan + hot tea + vintage housedress + (unpictured) messy bun = *FAINTS*

10. I need to get my ass in gear at home. Dresser styling is so important and easy to do, the best requiring the least amount of effort. The plants are key. NEED.

November 6, 2012

Girls' Time

Immediately following Mabel's suprise graduation from Big Dippers class at gymnastics two weeks ago, we hit our favorite sushi restaurant. My girl loves miso soup, edamame, and rice so it was only fitting that we lunch together while the boys were away hunting.

She eats Japanese fried chicken and picks at my maki. Eventually, she'll get braver. She loves the little bowls and the big spoons, and I was lucky to have 6 edamame before she devoured the whole basket.


After a stop at the Halloween store [where Mabel decided it was wicked fun to be scared out of her mind by big, furry spiders eleventy times], we stopped at all of our favorite thrift stores in town. Would you believe that we didn't find anything to bring home? Sad, actually. So we wandered the mall instead. She was thrilled to see the trains running.

Then we wandered the grocery store, where we came upon a wonderful plan for the rest of the evening. It included two dudes named Ben and Jerry, and some wedding television. We talked about silk and taffeta, hoop skirts and tulle, and definitely pink bridesmaids dresses for her imaginary wedding. We also set out the pink sparkly nail polish for the next day.

And then Sunday morning was the perfect time to practice being a kitty for Halloween. Kiki should be flattered, I guess.

Mabel always notices when the boys are away, even if they are just outside. She looks around and shouts, "It's girls time!" with a hug on my leg. And so it was that she and I had Girls Time while the boys were doing their own thing and shooting stuff. And it was swell. I love me some girls time. And I love me some Moo.

November 5, 2012

A Story About Sister Uteruses

Our two girls are as different as night and day. In fact, their only thing in common is the possession of a uterus.

Mabel has always been all-in with Hayley. She is never jealous or selfish, always accepting of anything her big sister has to offer, say, do, or whatever. She would give Hayley her favorite horse to play with.  Mabel was fun at first but as the months together drew on, Hayley became a bit … annoyed. Mabel following. Mabel copying. Mabel being generally in her business 100% of the time. For daddy’s only child, this was a hefty change on her side.  We know they will work it out and God will pave the way to a relationship that He knew would exist before either of them was born.

However, a week or two ago I noticed something so sweet and special that I want to remember it forever. Mabel got into trouble for misbehaving at the dinner table and was in time out. After she completed her meal, daddy sent her to use the potty and put on pajamas. This is code for: you've misbehaved and now it’s straight to bed.

Having finished their dinners, the 3 bigs had earned a cookie for dessert, which they ate while they did the dishes and I relaxed on the couch. Bryon was supervising, see. Did I mention I love not having to both cook the dinner and clean up the dinner anymore? Yes, but this isn’t a story about me.

So Mabel came over to me on the couch, freshly pajama-ed and pottied, and also full of tears. I said her goodnight prayers with her and sang her a goodnight song (as I do every night, no matter the circumstance or when she’s going to bed), but that did not stop the tears. The bigs were having cookies and she had been in trouble. Daddy needed to goodnight her, too, with hugs and kisses. And so I sent her into the kitchen, a little nervous and wringing her hands in front of her.

Daddy and I were passing eyes, see. We had silently confirmed between us that he would first make sure she knew why she’d been in trouble, that she was sorry and would try to be respectful, and then he’d reward her for being honest and remorseful with a cookie of her own. I love silent confirmation with my husband.

He lifted her up and cuddled her. She said her part and he sat her on the edge of the kitchen island. She smiled and quietly ate her cookie.

It was then that I noticed her big sister, acting not like a step but instead like a full, walking up to her.

“Are you okay, Mabel?” Hayley asked her quietly. Mabel nodded.

“How is your cookie?” Mabel did not answer. She was still feeling sorry.

The boys were at the sink washing and drying, and Bryon was supervising them goof off. The girls were a bit unnoticed. Except for this mama.

And so big sister Hayley reached up under Mabel’s arms and lifted her down from the island. She didn’t put her on the floor beside her – oh no. She wrapped Mabel’s body around her own, like a toddler, and cuddled her close. She laid Mabel’s wet face on her own shoulder and patted her back.

“It’s okay, Mabel. Daddy was just making sure you knew how to be good. He’s not mad at you. He loves you.”

I could see how comforted Mabel was just then and my heart lit on fire.

So then, after Mabel finished munching her cookie and still attached to her big sister, Hayley asked, “Want me to take you down to bed?”

Mabel nodded and Hales spun her around (still attached to her person like a skinny little monkey) and carried her down the steps very carefully. She carried her down the hallway and laid her onto her pink fluff. She pulled up the covers and tucked her in tight. I did not hear exactly what they shared, whispering between them. But they both were smiling.

It was then that Bryon noticed Hayley carrying Mabel through the house and again, we passed eyes. Silent confirmation that Hales had this under control, and was very much in control of this big sistering. It was so delicious for both of them.

And that is how I know that, no matter big sister’s attitude or differences, or little sister’s being a little sister – Hayley Noelle is still the exact sister that Mabel Rae was meant to have her whole life long. And, Friends, I am so thankful for that!