January 31, 2012

Gymnastics 7.0

Hayley is in a more advanced gymnastics class, which meets at the same time as Mabel's, in the same gymnasium. When the classes begin, Hayley's class heads to the end of the mat for stretching in splits, while Mabel's circles up to plan their lesson. This is as close as they get for the entire hour.

Hayley begins practice on the trampoline. This is her favorite part, she says. She does a GREAT splits jump.

The girls in her class take turns in this area. After trampoline, it was Hayley's turn to practice handstands. A running start...

... and halfway upside down...

... and ta-dunk! Hayley's ample feet help balance her there on the 'green cheese'.

Backbends are difficult because the girls need to lean and land without fear. They start with a wedge and a spotter.

One of the things I love most about her advanced class, is that they are learning to tumble. The years Hayley spent repeating beginner classes got her nowhere (other than really good at somersaults, beginner cartwheels, and jumping on the tramp); she is finally in a class that is growing her skill level, and that is exciting!

During this exercise, she is running from her start point on the floor, jumping on the spring board, and landing on the stacked pyramid. When she is more comfortable with herself flinging through the air, she will land on the pyramid with her feet, square and still.

Footwork through wooden bars on the floor...

Then somersaults on the beams, closest to the floor to start. [The week after I took these shots, she successfully did a cartwheel, landing ON THE BEAM without falling or losing her balance!]

Then: BEAM. I love her on the high beam. It helps her work on grace and balance and she looks so good up there!  This is the highest beam she's ever been on.

I'm so proud of my big girl. And I love the fact that I get to share this with her. I love that she moved me toward it. If you know me well, you know I am NOT the tumble/cheerlead/gymnast type - but thanks to my stepdaughter, I'm now not afraid to be.

January 30, 2012

Gymnastics 4.0

So the little one in gymnastics is like, the cutest thing EVAH.

When they call the Big Dippers in, she runs in to sit on the lower balance beam. This is when dad and I go upstairs to watch in the parents viewing area.

First, they stretch out. Mabel is the second from the right, in the back. You can see that bahooky from here.

More stretching, now in a circle with friends. Hayley's class is actually the group stretching in splits in the upper left there.

After warming up and practicing tumbling, Mabel tried the monkey bars all by herself for the first time. She did so good!

Then it was time for the flipping bar. She watched as her coach used the rolly-wheel thing (technical term, yes) to guide her classmate over.

She wasn't shy! Up she goes...

and over...

Ta DA!

This was repeated 257 times. Meanwhile, Hayley was practicing her splits jump on the trampoline.

Next, Mabel worked on backwards somersaults. That's her there on the rightmost crayon wedge.

Then, the coach reminded her to keep her form, with her arms raised and her left toe pointed... while they practiced the start of most tumbles.

Beams were last on this day. And she isn't the least bit afraid of them. That's her puny little body on the lower beam. It's only about 8 inches from the floor.

Her on the left...

One on one coaching on turning on the beam. Lovely.

January 26, 2012

Weddennessday (on Thursday. Again.)

There is something about Cheerios, some flavor, some thing that makes them unique. You cannot buy generic Cheerios. I mean, we always get the store brands for the other favorites: Golden Grahams, Cocoa Pebbles, and Fruit Loops. But not Cheerios. Never Cheerios. I think once - I wanted to try it to avoid the $4 box of name brand Cheerios. It was vomitous and completely missing that special unique flavor. So now I purchase only when on sale. On the last grocery visit, we lucked out. 2/$5. Perfect. Mmmmm...
Last Saturday was the girls second gymnastics class. While they are both in the gym at the same time, their classes are not together. The gym is set up so wonderfully for children, with a birds nest for parent viewing. They come in the door, disrobe in the hallway and hang their duds on a hook, and then take their place with their class in the gym. Parents are not allowed into the gymnasium, but are encouraged to stay to view their child's progress. Upstairs is one room with glass on all sides. Bryon and I are able to watch Hayley and Mabel at the same time from up above. Aside from the glare on the glass, this also makes for awesome pictures. Last Saturday I sat two feet away from Bryon's ex-wife, with Bryon right behind me. Her new husband stood behind her. He happily clucked away at me, asking about Mabel. She did not. Oh no. It's the oddest thing. Polite un-speaking. Weird. We are so incredibly different.
I never pack enough for breakfast in the mornings. I try to eat a half a bagel with my coffee on the drive in, but for a variety of reasons, this rarely works out. I also pack fruit and a cheese stick for a morning snack. Recently, I didn't have time to grab the bagel half and my nectarine had a bad spot. I was left with 2 nectarine bites and a cheese stick. Raw almonds in my desk drawer helped a little but I am still hungry! I wish boiled eggs weren't so smelly; I'd love to bring one of those every day - still warm on the inside and covered in salt and pepper. YUM. Honestly, if Husband and I ever get to England this will be the highlight of my trip, having a boiled egg in an egg cup, straight away first thing in the morning.
I HATE cleaning up other people's messes without getting the credit for it. I'm talking about adults who dump a process on you midway through and then run off to something - then come back when you've knocked it out of the ballpark and saved their ass, just in time to receive all of the accolades. It's even better when they forget to thank you for helping in the first place. I see this repeatedly happen in daily life and in the workplace both - and I find it disgusting. It's not of Jesus. ARGH.
Andy's done some hard work to bring his Science grade up from a D to an A. We're very proud of him. Unfortunately for Andy last week, he 'forgot' 2 assignments and a re-do paper and got lower grades on all 3. Building discipline and study technique is MUCH harder than dealing with a child who doesn't understand a subject. Andy tries to half-ass his homework. His chores (we recently found a pan that he'd 'washed' put back in the cupboard with grilled cheese marks ALL over it). Making his bed. I want him to build the discipline to engage in what is important first, each time. This will bear fruit in his high school years, in college, when he's married, and when he's employed. There is a time to be laid back and funny. I love that about him. But there is a WRONG time to be laid back and funny, too.
We had tater tot hot dish last night - one of Bryon's favorites. When I was making it, I finely diced about 1/2 lb mushrooms and added them to the meat mixture while it was still browning. I also added about 1/2 of a yellow onion, finely diced. Mmmm the flavor! And the best news? ALL FOUR kids cleaned their plates (down the hatch, Mr. lean Hamburger, mushrooms, onions, green beans, black beans, and tater tots!) without even one grimace! Dad and I were shocked. And yes, I absolutely DID tell them at the end what they'd eaten. I do that because I think it busts up their ammo the next time I make something containing mushrooms. Oh you don't like them? Remember the one time... ? HA!
Trevor has a band concert coming up next week. Trumpet ala Cox. Can't wait to see his swollen, little, pink lips after! I'm bringing the Bloggie, don't you worry!  [I have to tell you that while I love this little recording device, it cannot be used in low lighting; there is no flash. This severely limits what I can share here on the blog because apparently, most of what I capture is too dark.]
Can we talk haircuts for a moment? Why is it that some people stick a $45, 40-yr old hair cut on a little child? How is this appropriate? Have I lost perspective? Is this cute and I'm just not seeing it? Let's discuss.

January 23, 2012

The Lord's Prayer, Chalkboard Gallery Wall-Style

We recently updated our chalkboard gallery wall to include some new scripture, in particular, The Lord's Prayer. It's something we want all of the children to memorize and see FIRST THING in our home.

I know many Christian recording artists have recorded a version of this Prayer, but only recently did one version stop my heart. I think I've posted this before. Have I posted this before? No? Well, prepare for all of your arm hair to fall off from the biggest goosebumps you've ever had. Turn those speakers up!

January 20, 2012

On Night Cuddling

[photo 12.11]

I love this thing I call night cuddling. It happens after you fall asleep, long after. You wake up tangled in your person.

The other night I was cold. I am married to a Russian werewolf, but he's a werewolf who likes to sleep on the edge of the bed. This means if I want to snuggle into his fur, I have to find him in the dark and while asleep. So on this night, I was shivering. I rolled over onto my belly and scooched a bit more toward the middle of the bed, searching for his heat. I only partly remember this because it was about 3am and I was asleep. Mostly.

Then it happened.

I heard boy snarfling beside me. On my left, it was warmer and warmer. My face was still buried into the pillow as I tried to absorb as much heat from the bed as I could. I wriggled myself face down even more. Then a very large and warm arm reached over my back, somewhere near my waist, and grabbed onto my right hip. And then SWOOP! I was drug about 2 feet to my left in the bed, under the covers. I ended up exactly next to my Russian werewolf and we were touching, from our shoulders down to our toes. 
I stopped shivering. He kissed my left shoulder and nuzzled my neck. He wriggled even closer to my body, if that was even possible, and he kept that right arm over top of me until both of us fell back asleep.

The next day at work, I emailed him to say thanks for warming me up in the night. He thanked me back for the best night's sleep he's had in a long time... well, since the last time we tangled ourselves together in the night. It's never quite comfortable when you do it on purpose, but it is deliciously perfect when you gravitate toward each other in the dark.

From the time we were dating, Bryon has always said he wanted to cuddle into me as the epitome of comfort when falling asleep. We'd be on the phone at bedtime - me in my house and he in his - and when it was time to hang up he would say, "If I were there, I would crawl into you and be asleep in two seconds."  Such a compliment.

Love him. And his Russian werewolf fur.

January 18, 2012


Dang, Peeps. I forgot to post yesterday. Sorry.
Husband was working on a big project at the end of last week, one that involved a few hours (from home) on Saturday. He trapped himself in the basement with his work laptop and a muted football game for several hours, popping upstairs to rant and rave periodically. He just needed to dump his brain out. So I hypothesized to his grouchy ass, "If I were a whiteboard, what would you write on me? Dump out what it is in your head..."  And so he did. I made some remarkably creative attempts to get him smiling so that he felt his work was lightweight instead of crushing, which worked. Before we knew it, he was writing all over the whiteboard ("I need to divide up assignments between each manager," kiss, kiss, "and then teach him how to do go in and calculate the metrics for the review," kiss, tickle... and then we were naked. Ahem.
So, here's the thing about skinny leggings: If you're going to invest in some that are NOT glorified pajamas, but are instead pants with structure that are also work-friendly, you're going to have to just.. not look at the size that fits. You have to be flexible and patient, and keep trying on dozens of pairs until you find the one that is just right. I say this because I went first to Target to find some of the $22 skinnies recommended by my Natalie and those are well, made for junior people. Yes, I was a grown, adult woman trying on junior jeans. Sue me. I took Natalie's recommendation and went up 2 sizes. Everything fit except the waist. Lord, I thought I was standing in Hollister instead of Target. I could fit two fists down the back of the jeans. Those were a no-go in any size! Then I took a deep breath and went into the Gap the next day. I went there next because I forgot to tell you good people that I tried on some legging jeans there after Christmas, but didn't buy them then. And when Natalie recommended the $22 junior jeans at Target, the cheap deal was worth a go-see, no? Right. Where was I? Oh yes, the Gap. I went to the Gap while my husband kept the 3 bigs busy in and around the mannequins. The baby came in with mama so that she could comment on my ladybug pant1es. I assume that's why she came in because that is what she did. Anyway, I had a hunch and took 3 sizes into the dressing room with me. And then I still had to go up one more to feel like I could wash them and not have a camel toe. Typically, I wear an 8. In these leggings, a 12 fit me perfectly. In years past I can promise you that I would have left the Gap right then, possibly in tears, feeling insecure about myself. For whatever reason I do not feel the same way about size anymore. The leggings fit. They feel amazing. And they came home with me.
One morning this week, Bryon and I woke up late and decided to ride to work together. I love when we ride to work together and get to smell his smell before I start my day. While I finished applying my mascara, he daddied up the children. Signed Andy's planner for homeroom. Talked to Trevor about his Social Studies Power Point. Dressed the baby. Mabel is pretty laid back about what she wears. However, she is different from Hayley in that Hayley has been trained that girls should fix their hair perfectly smooth and match their clothing. While that is certainly okay for some, I am a bit more um... creative. Mabel doesn't really care as long as she likes her outfit and it's fun. I tell you this because Bryon's past tendency (which makes total sense given his marriage to that trainer) was to dress them in the same matchy, fussy kind of way. Well, not on this morning. On this morning, daddy let the baby pick. Or maybe he channeled me and just reached for bright patterns. Whatever it was, it made me smile. She had on a 3 tiered, fluffy blujean skirt, yellow and white striped tights, a rainbow striped hoodie, her hot pink sherpa boots, and a blue headband straight around her head (a la Elsie Flannigan/Olivia Newton John). I LOVE IT. Honey, thank you for that.
Our local grocery got a huge stock of fresh picked green beans in and they are delicious! They were heaped into a bin so I couldn't see where they originated from, but they don't taste as though they've traveled too far. Maybe this is attributed to the crazy warm weather the entire country has seen this winter, but freshly picked green beans in the middle of January? I'll take it!
And Dear B: Thank you for starting last night by asking me about the conviction God has placed in my heart to love you better. Thank you for listening and for trying your best to understand my all-in leap toward being a better wife. I am called to BE BETTER. Thank you for reading the scripture with me and trying to understanding our human limitations. Most of all, thank you for reading WITH me - not only because you're interested but also because this is so very important to me. Laying in bed with you last night, eating cherry jubee hearts, and reading Jesus marriage books side by side? Now THAT was the cat's meow. You are THE BEST.
There are many things that make me unique. One of them is shared in common with my Mindy: when I'm eating something, I like to save the very best bite for last. I scope it out the entire time I'm chowing away and I move it to the side, to save it. I want my last bite to be the best. Now, this is very inconvenient if you are ever the one to walk past and take a bite off of my plate, a chip out of my hand, or a bite of my sandwich because LOOKOUT! You don't want to be the one who has stolen that bite I was saving. [Mindy is nodding her head in agreement right now; I can feel it all the way from Texas.]  When I eat a sandwich, I eat the entire crust all the way around, until I am left with the center of the sandwich, full of it's meat and veggies and appropriate sauce. That is the last, most delicious bite.
I am brewing a ginormous Target list. You know, those big, long, can-get-everything-there Target lists? I rattled it off to Bryon this morning and he seemed to agree that it is impossible to even step foot into Target without dropping a wad at the door. 2 pillows, Burt's Bees Blemish Stick, C9 duds for B, storage containers for dry goods (old ones broke this week), a glass measuring cup (melted in the dishwasher), an ice-cream scoop (lost it somehow), butcher block (split in the dishwasher), tissues (see below).
So IT Jesus invited us over to his place to watch a movie this weekend. He built a theater in his basement (which is what you do when you're an IT guy, I reckon) and wants to share that with us. The kids will be playing upstairs on the swing. The one that is hanging from the ceiling in the living room. Seriously coolest house evah. The movie? COURAGEOUS. I am so excited! We haven't seen it yet, but I hear it is amazing. I'm bringing tissues!
1.18.12  Life changed as a result of Shoes yet again. Just pray, Friends.
Women are little girls. That's what my husband said to me last night. We fight with words and get all upset about not only words, but gestures, implications, and things that haven't even happened yet. We act the exact same way as we did on the playground when we were 7. He looked at me with this revelation last night, as if he expected me to agree that this theory was ridiculous. Instead, I smiled and said, "Yeah? Duh."
Husband and I were invited to a marriage event at a local church in two weeks. We are praying that work allows for time to attend. It sounds fascinating.
I am in need of a creative project. I had all of these big ideas for the 11 days over Christmas. Some of those things happened and some of them disappeared for now. I need to sit and percolate and dream for a night. There will be something that surfaces itself.
Hair appointment tomorrow. Just a freshen up. Maybe something a little exciting. Will have to see.

January 16, 2012

On Love & Respect

I have mentioned before that Bryon and I continue to do a monthly marriage session to keep us healthy and growing in the right Godly direction. To say that we love this time and need this time together, dedicated to working on our marriage is a serious understatement. To say that I am grateful to have started it before normal life has the chance to wreck our stability is also a serious understatement. To us, counseling will be a constant, our 'normal.' It's also something our kids will see as a positive, ongoing way to work on a marriage. It is SUPPOSED to be good, hard, and rewarding work. Working to keep God inside of it. And, God has ebbed and flowed our time together such that these lunch sessions arrive exactly when they are most needed.
Months before we said our vows, we began our marriage series using this book:
This is a great book. However, it was not written by anyone who has actually suffered through a divorce and popped out on the other end with few enough bruises that they were willing to do it again. Being divorced (or perhaps, having parents who were) is critical to truly successful counseling on remarriage in our opinions. So, good book, but not holy grail material.
Over the past year we've had maybe 18 sessions. I bet during every one Plowman has mentioned to us this concept of "pink" and "blue" communication between women and men. The point that he was making is that men and women speak and listen differently, and Bryon and I are no different than every other couple out there. Men solve problems; women need details. It comes down to this simple verse, Peeps:
Ephesians 5:33: Each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Dr. Emerson Eggerich describes it like this:  If you gals imagine that you speak in pink (love) and hear in pink (love), then it makes sense that you can understand the empathetic, romantic, and superlative, loving notions of a woman - and that you EXPECT those same things coming back toward you from your husband. If you then also imagine that your man speaks in blue (respect) and hears in blue (respect), then it also makes sense that you can NOT understand what he is saying back to you. Nor are we speaking to them the way that they expect for us to (in blue). Therein lies the mess. The Crazy Cycle, as it were. 
This simple and rudimentary diagram was like lightening when I saw it. This entire theory is based on the book, Love & Respect. This one IS holy grail material, Folks. Humor me. Please?
This book was a wedding gift from my beautiful friend Carmen. I admit that I didn't crack the book until this past weekend. I'm not sure why. Probably because we were reading the other book above, maybe because I was preoccupied with something stupid. Well, we had a session with Plowman last Friday and again during our session, Plowman said, "pink and blue, Guys. She needs pink and you're saying blue. He needs blue and you're spitting out pink. Meanwhile, neither of your needs are being met until you beat it out of each other." Well, I paraphrase. But, it made me pick up the book, which was the Holy Spirit at work I assure you. So on Saturday he dinked around on the computer while I read the first chapter.
I was voracious. I could not read it fast enough, but wanted to slowly savor each sentence at the same time. Some of the examples were trite, but the message was there. Oh, how it was there! While I slouched on the couch, I became entirely convicted in my marriage. I became entirely convicted that I AM part of the reason why he's accidentally hurtful toward me. Why he doesn't speak in pink. I am called to respect my husband at all times but I am not doing that. The Bible doesn't say that I am to respect him when he earns it, or when I feel like it, or when he is loving to me. No, it says I am to do it because I am commanded to. [The Bible also says that my husband is to be loving to me at all times, regardless of how I speak to him, if I am disrespectful, or if he doesn't feel like making the effort... but I'm mainly focusing on my culpability in this post.]
I have not been doing as I have been commanded to. Folks, that feels shitty. As I read I was overwhelmed with accountability for my sin against my husband. All of those times that I was trying to help (while really just trying to give him a platform on which to show his love for me - pink) by asking him, "Did you call So And So? But did you tell them This? You should do it this way. Don't forget to do this, or do that." Ugh. It makes me sad just retyping it. No matter my good motive or how sweetly I said it, that is DISRESPECT right there, Ladies. I hate it because it's our natural tendency to accidentally talk down to them. But it is deeply disrespectful. This makes them cranky and *surprise* completely unloving in their responses to us.  
I certainly could blog to you all to convince your man of what HE needs to be doing to love you back, but I believe this book was written for the woman to read of her accountability first. If we are to serve our husbands, to honor and obey them and to look to them to lead us, then it makes complete sense that we should begin with ourselves. We need to look inward and ask the Lord to help us work there first.
As I read, I began to cry. I finished the first chapter and wiped my eyes eleventy times. Eventually Bryon looked up from his laptop. "Is your nose running? Or are you... are you CRYING?! Are you okay?"
I was completely overcome with how I have behaved as a wife. I was overcome with how he loved me in spite of it. And then I was overwhelmed at how our Heavenly Father loves us despite our everything. I was full of HOPE for our future. I apologized to him for being disrespectful, and I asked him to please, please read the book with me. He agreed immediately. And while I went into the kitchen [still completely lost in thought and crying, the entire time - literally crying while I cooked, I couldn't stop for the RELIEF I felt to finally know the path I should be going down. That was HOPE.]... he picked up the book and began to read.
Eventually I heard him close the book after the first chapter. He came into the kitchen and we discussed it. He was very surprised that the book was NOT a lesson on how he was doing something wrong. Or how I was. It was just... directions. It was scriptural directions made easy to understand. And, Folks, we are not "broken" by any means. We have no large divides in our relationship, nor are we consumed with anger toward one another. But we want to work on our marriage. Love it, pray for it, and do what we are commanded to do.
We have agreed to read one chapter at a time, one not reading ahead until the other has caught up. We've involved Plowman now, too. I am so excited! Once we figure out how to avoid the Crazy Cycle, then we can start what Dr. Eggerich refers to as the Energizing Cycle.
And, there is no bandwagon here. I'm not getting compensated for this review. And I know that this book is simply a vessel of God's directions. For that, we are grateful. But I am excited because this message is already convicting me in the day-to-day. I think about it all the time. Really, I do.
A couple of nights ago Bryon started down a blue path (because that's where boys naturally go). And I was moody and period-y and only listening in pink. At first, I mean. When he asked my opinion on something, I started my usual lovey-dovey, "Oh, Sweetie, you have to be careful because blah blah blah," as I giggled, "and then you should..." Oh I went on and on and giggled and he tolerated it - yes he did - he tolerated it until ... well, until he didn't anymore. 
He pushed my hand away.
I was CRUSHED. He has never pushed any part of me anywhere away before.
Now I had a choice right then. Right in that moment I could have gotten all pink and swirly and decided to let my feelings be hurt because he pushed me away (he pushed me away! me, who he loves so much, he pushed away. he was repulsed by something I did!). I felt myself circling the drain. He doesn't understand me. He has no idea that I was only trying to help. I wasn't trying to disrespect him. Then, slowly, the perspective seeped in: Hmm... I was doing that, wasn't I? Disrespecting and immasculating him. He was sitting there, quiet. He knew I was upset, but he was still pissed at me and couldn't decide what to say. So I sat there, too, replaying all of this in my head until I felt that familiar THUMP of the Holy Spirit in my chest. This was the perspective that this book had given to me in a new way.
Ephesians 5:33: Each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Dang it. I did it AGAIN. I couldn't believe me. Jeez, I might as well have lopped his balls off my own self right there.
So, instead of getting all pink and swirly and upset, I just spoke from the heart. I thought of the book and the Crazy Cycle. You guys, it was HARD because I wanted to swirl in pink. It was hard to say, "I'm sorry... I wasn't trying to disrespect you." And as I said it, I was still pissed. I had no idea what would happen next; I only knew that I meant it, and I wanted to handle this differently than usual to avoid the pink swirl.
We chatted for a moment. We held hands. Then he said, "I'm sorry... I overreacted."
That is not something he has EVER said to me before (the overreacted bit, I mean). That was a show of pink - he was trying to be loving in his own way. And just like that, he said something loving and stopped my spin. My respect for him directly led to him responding in a more loving way. Somehow, we both used what we had read. It doesn't get any better than that, Folks.
As I understand it, the point is this:
The woman must have blind faith in her husband, faith that he loves her above all things because he is commanded to do so. And she, because of this faith, must be able to see and find and appreciate all of the loving things that he DOES do for her already. Expectations will melt away into reality when this confidence motivates her to be more respectful of him in every way.
The man must have blind faith in his wife, that she respects him and appreciates all that he does for the family because she is commanded to do so. And he, because of this faith, must be more loving toward her in actions and comments, no matter how she behaves. Expectations will melt away into reality when he is more loving toward her, and he will begin to see all the times that she DOES respect him.
It is through this blind faith that they are both able to see the love and respect that they desperately need from one another. She can begin to hear blue and he, pink.
It's not magic. It's God's plan. And it's also not easy by any means. And we definitely don't have the hang of it yet. But there is hope in God's plan for us. Oh, there is hope. And it feels amazing!

January 11, 2012


Happy Weddennessday, yo.
I'm loving the colored jean trend. In fact, I plan to stop by Target this week because they have some Mossimo colored skinnies for less than $20 that I must check out. Assuming they fit nicely, the problem will become - which color to buy? Blue, red? So nice of Target to provide us with an inexpensive way to have some fashion fun.
I have Pinned some looks and chatted up blogger NatTheFatRat plenty of times here - but I recently learned that she does a family-style feature blog on Babble as well. In this feature, she talks about how to get very expensive looks for less. I'm ALL about that business. Check it out here! (She is also incredibly kind and I feel kind of special because she emailed me last week in response to my query about her elbow-patch sweater from Forever21. So nice!)
Yesterday, I rose above. We were about ten minutes out from supper when I became overwhelmed by something that's been chewing at me for days. The Holy Spirit directed me and I finally listened. It had been 13 days since the kids last spoke to Shoes. He called on Trevor's birthday and then it was radio silence for 13 days. During those 13 days, we reminded the boys that they should call him. We suggested and we asked. But it is delicate, our situation. I won't force them to do something they are not comfortable doing. I will, however, encourage them to BE comfortable calling him often. There is a difference. When something great happens to them we say, 'You should call and tell your dad! He would love to know that!' If they don't want to, then we don't force them. But 13 days? That's a little much for this mama. Especially in combination with the cancelled Christmas visit. It's not my style to call Shoes and scold him for not calling his children (it was my style years ago, but no longer). It's his bed; he's going to be the one to lie in it years from now. I can only be accountable for me. Unfortunately for my comfort level, Me was being chewed by this 13 days thing. I had the feeling I needed to be the bigger person. Bryon and I talked about it. Each day that passed was marked by one of us saying, "It's been 7 days now... they haven't talked to their dad in 9 days... he hasn't called in 11 days," and so on. Ultimately I decided that I still need to hand-hold this situation of ours for a while longer, when Shoes doesn't call and when the kids don't think of it hard enough or listen to us nag at them enough to pick up the phone. So, I dialed. Right there while we were cooking honey mustard, soy, and curry pork chops, I dialed and handed Trevor the phone. All 3 took a turn talking to him. I doubt he knew that I was the one that dialed the phone - Lord no, I'm the devil who keeps his kids from him. It was rising above the feeling of anger that Shoes didn't call his kids for 13 days. It's rising above knowing that Shoes is responsible for making sure the kids continue to have a warm relationship with him. That is not a child's responsibility, and it's also not mine. It was the right thing to do. All credit to the JC.
I was in Hobby Lobby the other day and noticed one of my favorite candies from childhood sitting there in a bag. They wanted to come home with me. And if you're curious, some 30 years later, I am *still* the only one in the house who likes Chick-O-Sticks. Pfft. Whatevah.
A couple of months back I sat down and began a furious thought-spilling creative session on some details I want to work on in our home. Before I knew it I had a full pages of scribbles, divided by room and in order of priority. [Even in chaotic mess, I always, always have linear thought. And yes, it's annoying sometimes.] That paper has long been lost, somewhere beneath an ice cream dish on the bedside table or under a pile of Christmas receipts. Either way and possibly because of that pause in time, it's become time to sit down and start that again. I have new ideas, new things I want to try. Heck, the chalkboard wall wasn't even on the scribble list to begiin with!
It finally snowed today, but it will be gone within hours. It was 57 yesterday (another record high) but only 34 as I drove in this morning. We are under wind advisory all day because of gusts up to 40mph. Guess what is blowing in! WINTER (I hope). So, little baby flakes of ice have been blowing and gusting around all day long, none of them sticking around anywhere of note. It looks you know, cold and possibly whiter outside. That's more winter-like. I very much appreciate that. It's about time.
Mabel has asked me every day if it is time for her gymnastics class. To say she likes it is the understatement of the century. She was a natural! He leaped and jumped and even did the balance beam. I'm hoping to take pictures of both of our girls this Saturday when Hayley's mother isn't standing right beside. AWH-KWARD. 
Can I wear leggings every day? Please? 

January 9, 2012

Joe Joe Got Married

Our beloved Joe Joe got himself married last week. Actually, his wife Brooke (gosh, weird to say) planned the entire evening as a complete surprise. It was wild! 

It marked the perfect occassion to snap lovely photos of The Boys.

[That would be Shannon, Joe, Homeslice, and Dennis]

And The Boys with their girls.

I love going to weddings with my honey pot.

January 8, 2012

Skinny Jeans for Every Body

I love skinny jeans. I'm not going to lie to you good people.

What I do NOT love are the choices most of us have in finding skinny jeans that actually fit. I am a WOMAN, not an insect. I have curves and yes, my ass is larger than my waist.

I have only one official pair of skinny jeans, the Laguna Skinny from Hollister. I know, I know, please try not to barf in your mouths while you hear me out. I bought them because I was desperate to have a pair of jeans that would fit down inside of my boots without having to be folded over. However, true to Hollister's clientelle base, I couldn't really fit into the top area of the jeans. I bought a size too big so it would fit my ass and then belted it to fit my waist. Consequently, I didn't wear them very often. What in the hell was the point of these beloved jeans then, I ask you?

Pissed me off for a good long time, I'll tell you that.

And then I saw this little craft pic on Pinterest a couple of months back, wherein you use a pair of skinny jeans as a pattern to MAKE skinny jeans out of jeans that you love.

Say what?

The tutorial I loosely followed was from mmmcrafts.blogspot.com.

I am sorry to say that I squeezed in this skinny jeans overhaul on the morning of our Christmas party, while Bryon was out of the house and I could sprawl all over the floor half-clothed. Because that's what you do when you have to try on jeans 85 times. My point is that I did not take pictures of each step.

The idea is this:  First and most importantly, select a pair of jeans that you love, that you wear, and that are comfortable. These should be stretchy and not carpenter or wide-legged. Just your normal straight leg or boot cut jeans will do.

You also need to have a pair of skinny jeans to work from. (Keep reading even if you don't.)

Turn both pairs of jeans inside out. Lay the wider jeans on the floor, front side up. Zip and button them, and flatten them out. Then lay the skinny jeans on TOP also front side up, matching the photo above. I realize the photo has the jeans rightside out, just trust me on the inside out swap. Align the crotch first. Then identify which of your seams is topstitched, and align these seams on top of each other.

In my case, both pairs of jeans that I altered had a topstitched INNER seam, so I aligned the crotch and then the inside seams of each leg. I pinned the top pair of jeans in place TO the bottom pair of jeans to prevent wiggling.

Then, using my quilting straight edge, I used an ink pen and traced the outer edge of the skinny jean onto the wider pair of jeans below. I followed that all of the way up until the jean seams naturally matched up. You're going to have to eyeball this... you will see that just before the hip area, the seams are in just about the same spot. End there. I did this on both legs. Before removing the pins, I also measured the width of the ankle openings to be sure they matched. I also measured the distance from the WAIST down to where  the new seam was going to begin, to be sure that was the same.

Then I sewed, using dark blue thread. Before cutting anything, turn the new pair of skinny jeans right side out and try them on. Once you are sure they are even and they fit well, turn them back inside out. I don't have a serger, so I sewed a second straight stitch beside the first, and then a zigzag beside that. THEN I trimmed the excess with pinking shears to prevent fraying.

Uh... voila. It is seriously that easy.

Okay, so if you don't already own a pair of skinny jeans to use as a pattern, you really only need to add a couple of steps. The first of which is to put your good pair of jeans on inside out. Have a friend help you pin from the ankle up to the thigh - measure from the cuff at the bottom to be sure you match, and be sure to use the seam that is NOT topstitched. Do not pin the legs too tightly.

Then, take the jeans off with the pins still in. If you stabbed yourself to death in the process, you pinned too tight and you need to let out your pins a bit. I would say 1" from the width of your leg is a good place to start. Measure twice. Draw your line with your ruler and a pen, and you may even need to re-place your pins and try on and off again before you sew. You're going to sew along the line, not the pins.

Then sew, just like above. Try them on and fall in love. Trim, and you're done!

January 5, 2012


While on Christmas break, Trevor wanted to watch the last movie in the Lord of The Rings trilogy. I brought it home for him and he spent the next almost four hours in this position. He was in love.
I should mention that, despite the fact that Shoes did not visit for Christmas, my 3 had a fantastic time over the holiday. They really, really did. We made it count, we celebrated together as 6 peeps, did fun and new things, and they got to stay up late late several times (and I guess that's really what it is mostly about), and really wallered in family time.
I'm thinking of a different way to print my blog. I tried out Blurb and I loved using it... until the software hocked a loogie somewhere and mysteriously lost all 265 pages I had completed. Some glich (that their technical support is aware of but cannot fix) prevents the saved file from ever being opened again. That 265 pages was only one year's worth [plus a solid week of my time, but who's counting], so I suppose I'm glad it took a shit then instead of after multiple years. Jeez. I nearly cried, Peeps. Seriously. I cannot allow that to happen ever again. So... I'm on the hunt for publishing tools. Thing is, I only want to print one copy. This isn't for anyone else to read - just as a large scrapbook basically, so I'm going to have to find a place that will bind only one book, and for less than a gagillion dollars.
Recently my Mindy reminded me to be a better mother. She didn't try to. She didn't scold me. What she did was share with me an area of prayer that really shined a light on one of my darker spots: yelling. I'm a yeller. Big time. And I get negative around my husband and kids, too. I forget that they are children and not small adults; my expectations for their greatness get in the way of my patience and mercy for them. I forget that they all look to me (to ME) to set the "tone" for the house. If I am grouchy and spread that to them, how dare I be surprised if they are grouchy and insubordiate back! DUH. I am called to minister to my children and be the light for everyone; that applies at home as well. The other day I made mashed potatoes (by Husband request). I pulled Mabel into the kitchen to help me instead of seeing her as underfoot while I was in a rush to get dinner on the table. I sat her safely on the counter and she washed potatoes. Then she counted potatoes. It did take me a few extra minutes, and she learned something about potatoes, but really that moment felt RIGHT. God was in that moment; it was His. He helped me to slow down and rock my baby, so to speak. All of this is the same principle. God is speaking to me on this because it keeps coming back up. My very best uterus friend stuck this same topic right under my nose!  I mean, I'm forever asking him to make me a better mother, to love my children the way HE loves them. Perhaps I need to shut up the yelling and let him answer me!
The other night, Hayley came home from gymnastics and taught Mabel everything she learned. Tuck jump, right, left, and center split jumps, the headstand, and the wall walk. Mabel even made a more-than-decent attempt at a cartwheel. We're going to take her on Saturday to a sort of "tumble session" to see how she likes it. We are expecting crazy bouncing from the baby, who is clearly becoming the unbaby. Hmm....
I am very disturbed by our lack of snow. We had about 1/2" in December, which stayed on the ground for about 4 hours. Then, on the afternoon of New Year's Eve, we had another dusting, which stayed for about 45 minutes. During that most recent dusting, I came outside of Blockbuster and stood on the sidewalk (while Bryon continued to the car before realizing I was stuck and hollered at me), with my eyes closed and my mouth open, trying to catch anything that could hit me in the face. The few flakes that landed on my skin were like pure, white, magic. My heart fluttered - literally fluttered. I remembered the Narnia of our wedding in that exact second. I remembered exactly why I love the snow so much. And that is why I was very sad when it was gone again 45 minutes later. Today? Today it is SIXTY FIVE DEGREES outside. This is not right, People. This is not Alabama or Virginia, or Texas. This is Da Plains. We expect a right dumping every winter and dang it, I want it! It's the middle of January. I don't think it's too much to ask. Just sayin'.
Oldest son is getting some acne. He's not sure how he feels about it. He seems equally impressed with his maturity and embarrassed by the miniature volcanos erupting on his face. Well, like 3. My little boy is definitely growing up.
Mabel is the best riser we have in the house. I qualify her as such because she gets up when we ask her to (unlike two little boys) and also doesn't wake up at the ass crack of dawn for no reason (that would be Hayley), either. She wakes with a smile and a chirp and with her hair all caddywompus. She bobbles herself up the steps and finds me to say, "Good morning, Mama!" Every morning. Every morning. It's very sweet. And her greeting is pronounced "goot MOE-neen" every morning. In case you were wanting to sound like a four year old.
My 11 day vacation with children was WONDERFUL. I did a mix of creative stuff, cleaning, and nothing at all whatsoever. Oh, there was some shopping and returning, and shopping and returning, too (Christmas, you know). I cooked with the girls several times, and sat on my butt several times. And the best part was that my darling husband was able to steal a few days off in there as well, so it was really a tremendously nice holiday. Praise the Lord for all of that!
I ate the last Tootsie Roll midget today. I am now forlorn.
I am in search of a faux-fur cowl. Anyone know of one? Like this (image Pinned):
The husband has an army. Have I mentioned? Yes, his entire crew (gosh, dozens and dozens of very hard-working, manly men) is an absolute army at this place. Three departments of hard workers. I love them all; I really do. They came to our wedding, they watched us (and laughed) fall in love before even our first date, and they continue to help me at every opportunity. It might be because I'm married to their boss. It might be because I get grouchy when things aren't being done correctly and I have to force a process. But I think it's because they have adopted me as someone they care about as well. Or maybe it might be that I am dillusional. Really, I am so grateful for them. Nobody at this plant works harder than his 3 departments. Nobody.
I am also searching for more Pyrex. I use it all the time. Might as well stock up, yo!
Bryon met his men's group for coffee this morning. I love that he continues to do that. I love that he gets so much out of it. I love that he works with two of the men (IT Jesus and minister Plowman) every day and they manage (quite well) to maintain stellar tight-knit relationships AND accountability between one another. I love that this men's Bible study gets such top billing in his heart. He's attended since just a couple of months after we started dating. It was most definitely part of God's plan for us.
The Things I Love Thursday post will be delayed a bit this week. I'm sorry; I'm not trying to be sloppy with my feature posts, Folks. Just swamped with life this week. I'd rather blather on with words with meaning, than give any sort of nod toward materialism. I know that I post the Things I Love as a collection of interests, but when something has to go, it's always the first.

January 3, 2012

Industrial Barstools

One by one we have been upgrading and further personalizing our home to combine our tastes. This one was me, I'm not going to lie.

Bryon had two barstools at the island when we moved in, but I found them too high (28") and uncomfortable. The kids knocked them around but they would have swung from anything provided, so that really didn't offer much feedback.

When we replaced the dining room table this fall with one that would seat our entire family, we chose distressed dark wood. I love that table so, so much. It wasn't handmade, but a steal for sure. But having dark wood up against those wooden barstools bothered me in the most girly way.

A couple of years ago I fell in love with an image on Stephmodo's blog of a Tolix-style stool. It was simple, metal, and modern. I didn't have a need for a barstool, but I never forgot that. Then, more of those stools kept popping up all over the interwebs. Lord love a trend, I guess.

Except I haveth not a million dollars. So I began searching Pinterest for alternatives. I did not find. I *did* find it on Apartment Therapy, though. The Lyon industrial stool. It's sold in a set of 2, for right around $100. Sold.

Except Bryon wasn't. He's a wood guy. So I sent him pictures of the metal stools in kitchens all over tarnation and talked up the positives of an upgrade in our kitchen. I mentioned the more appropriate 26" height, the rubber feet to protect the wood floor. I even promised to make little booty cushions for them (eventually). Finally, he caved. Consented. Allowed me the win. However you wanted to look at it, we were getting new stools that weren't wooden or traditional. We needed more modern in our mix anyway. Hollah!

Now, I will admit that I am only 99% satisfied with the grey paint color of these stools. I made husband promise that I could paint them metallic silver if I really couldn't let it go. So far, I'm okay with the industrial grey. And so far, he's okay with our new stools. God love him so.