Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thinking About Christmas....Again.

Note: This past Sunday, during my father-in-law's sermon, he suggested that instead of grumbling when a cashier says "Happy Holidays", we could sincerely say thank you and ask which holiday they celebrate this season...not as part of our own agenda to tell them why they should celebrate Christmas, but just as a way to bless them and let them share about what's meaningful to them. I loved his suggestion, and it reminded me that I wanted to re-run this post. It was originally posted December 9, 2009. I'm re-posting it today because (a) I'm proud of what I wrote then, and (b) I could use a reminder about being conscious of my words and actions this holiday season.

Lately, on TV, the internet, and occasionally even in person, I'm hearing a lot of frustration from fellow believers about Christmas. Almost every day, I receive a Facebook request for a group called something to the effect of "Put CHRIST back in Christmas!" I hear Bill O'Reilly ranting and raving about the "secularization of Christmas." And as a Christian, I completely understand wanting our family to focus on the birth of Christ during this time. However, sometimes I also think about the message that Christians as a whole are giving to those who celebrate Christmas as a secular, rather than a religious holiday. Sometimes I worry that we come across as being rather hostile--'Give us OUR holiday back!' or 'People who celebrate Christmas and don't believe in Jesus are idiots!'

Much like Dan Merchant discussed in his book "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers", I would venture to guess that not too many non-believers feel loved on by Christians during the holiday season. I would venture to guess that some of them probably feel a pretty hostile response when they say that they don't go to church on Christmas Day, or that they believe Christmas is nothing more than a government sponsored economy boost. As a Christian, I strive to act and respond to others in such a way that they never experience hatred or hostility from me...only compassion and love. Because really, Jesus's message was one of love. I'm not perfect, and I don't always succeed at this, but I do try to be mindful of it.

Here's something that I didn't know until my first term in college--that both Christmas and Advent are symbolic celebrations. The Bible does not give us the actual date that Jesus was born, and it's pretty well accepted within both the religious and academic communities that in all likelihood, Jesus' birth was not on Dec 25th (read more about this here). Rather, early believers chose to remember his birth on that day for a few reasons. First, Dec 25th coincides with several pagan and secular celebrations, which allowed early believers to remember Jesus' birth without having to worry about being persecuted for their beliefs. Second, as more people came to believe and the persecution of Christians died down, the early church felt that it would be easier to substitute an "immoral secular" holiday with a "moral" one, rather than to eliminate a holiday altogether and schedule a new one (Augustine makes reference to this idea in his sermons).

So, "Christmas" was the religious significance that the church gave to a holiday that was originally secular, though known by another name at the time. Now, both the secular and religious celebrations have come to be known as "Christmas". And yes, the name "Christmas" does come from the name that those celebrating the birth of Jesus gave the day. However, many of the traditions that we continue to associate as part of the religious aspects of Christmas, like Christmas trees, are carried over from the secular holiday that pre-dated the religious holiday. Call it what you'd like, December 25th has long-since been a date that shared both secular and religious significance. And that's okay.

While I choose to celebrate Christmas for it's religious significance to me, I think it's important for us as Christians to remember that there has long-since been a secular significance to Christmas. And the secular celebration of Christmas doesn't in any way jeopardize the religious significance that we as Christians attribute to December 25th. Neither does the separation of church and state, which prevents state institutions from publically recognizing the religious aspect of Christmas.

Rather, the topic of religious vs. secular Christmas celebrations provides a great opportunity for us to have a dialogue with others about our beliefs regarding Christmas (while also allowing others to share their own beliefs regarding the day). Advent and Christmas are a particularly approrpiate time for this because as we remember Christ's initial coming into the flesh, it is a great opportunity for us also to remember and share that we do not need to be perfect people to come to Jesus--he has already come for us and will continue to come to us in the midst of absolutely any circumstance. There is no sin too great. No matter how broken we are or how much we've sinned when we turn to Jesus, he accepts us with open arms and tells us that he has already come to pay for our sins and that we've already been forgiven. What a comfort and blessing!

So, in my humble opinion, I think it's important for us to remember the historical significance of Christmas, and that it is and was both a religious and secular holiday. And rather than be angry and upset about that, let's use the opportunity to have a dialogue about our beliefs about Christmas and what it symbolizes. But in order to convey Jesus's Gospel of Love, we MUST do so lovingly and with respect.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So. An update about the bruise.

So, I just got a call from the dermatologist. She said that they are sending my "bruise" to Portland for a second opinion because it could be benign scar tissue, but it could also be that "zebra" she was telling me about, which something called a "DFSP" and is a very rare sarcoma. They should have the results in about two weeks. She then said (and I wrote this down pretty much exactly because I will need to remind myself of this over the next two weeks), "I don't want you to stress out because this isn't a big issue. This kind of sarcoma doesn't have lasting health effects or anything like that. It's not a big deal. If it comes back as positive, it would just require another in-office surgery to make sure we got it all, and we may want to do that anyway."

When we got off the phone, I was a little confused and obviously scared that she was talking about a "sarcoma". So, I googled "DFSP", and was not at all prepared for all the scary info that came my way. I don't know--even though I know sarcomas are cancer, from the way that the dermatologist portrayed it as really being no big deal, I just wasn't prepared for all the cancer info that popped up...and while a lot of it did say that the survival rate is much higher than other cancers (the 5 year survival rate is 99.2% and the 15 year survival rate is 97.2%), the bottom line is that I was just not prepared to even be seeing words like "survival rate".

And I couldn't stop myself from thinking 'Well, if it IS this extremely rare form of skin cancer that only like 5 in a million get anyway, what's to say that I wouldn't be the exception to the rule when it comes to the survival rate as well?'

Ugh. This is scary.

But on the other hand, nothing is for sure yet, and it could just be scar tissue and be totally fine.

I'm not sure how I'm going to get through the next two weeks without totally freaking out.

I'll tell you one thing though--tomorrow, when Justin gets paid,I'm going to order What Women Fear by Angie Smith. I'm going to carve out time every day to try and study and pray. I'm going to try to actually accept the comfort and strength that God readily offers to me. And right now, I'm going to curl up on the couch, and watch a movie with my sweet girl.

Things Learned from Pinterest...

So, I was browsing my "House Inspiration" board on Pinterest this morning. I've been pinning things to it, but haven't actually opened it up for awhile. As soon as I did, I laughed out loud, because this is what I saw:

Are you picking up on a theme here?! And yet, my house? The walls are definitely more gray than blue...which was all the rage on The Nest when we bought our house. I didn't really know what I liked at the time in terms of style, so I just went with that, and it does look nice, but I think this color blue is a lot more "us"--or maybe I should say it's more "me", because I don't think J has particularly strong feelings about paint, other than he doesn't particularly want to spend money on it ;)

 Maybe someday!

Monday, November 28, 2011

This and That

-I actually did something I pinned on Pinterest! I saw this quite awhile ago, suggesting to wrap up 25 Christmas books, and let your kiddo open one each night.

Originally, I planned to do it with non-Christmas books that we already have but don't read often. Then, between being given a bunch of Christmas books, finding a bunch at Goodwill, and raiding my parents' stash from when we were kids, we had 30 Christmasy books. So, I wrapped them up, and we've actually been letting Lizzy choose a book to open since Saturday.


I think Justin was a little suspect about letting her open a "present" a day, but I think it's a fun little Christmas tradition that we'll be able to do for years for only the cost of wrapping paper.

-I had what was probably my last photo shoot of the season over the weekend--for two girls that I went to high school with! They said that their parents don't really have any nice photos other than their senior pictures, so they wanted to surprise them with new photos of the kids for Christmas. LOVE that idea! And I've got to say, as much as I love shooting families/kids, there is something to be said for shooting adults who actually listen to instructions and smile when you tell them to! ;)

-I'm usually kind of a scrooge about decorating for Christmas until December, but after looking at our December calendar, I totally pressured J to put up our tree this weekend. And honestly, it's kind of fun. Now, I just have to figure out what to do with the rest of my decorations--I feel like half the stuff I have is the bright pink/green/turquoise Christmas stuff, and half is "natural"...and that just looks hodge-podged. I haven't quite figured out which direction I want to go with it, and also how to do it low-cost.

-We did Black Friday shopping, and this is the first year I can honestly say it was not worth it. Our Wal-Mart told me that none of the electronics were going on sale until 3am, and that it was basically only kids stuff that was on sale when they opened at 10pm. So we went at 11pm, and figured we'd miss the rush. Noooooo. We were out from 11pm-3:30am, and only made it to Wal-Mart and Old Navy. Wal-Mart was so crowded that the line literally wrapped all around the aisles, so you couldn't really look at anything anyway. It was absurd, and I didn't even get any good deals because you couldn't actually get to much of anything! I went back later Friday at like 8pm, and got everything that was on my list anyway. Lesson learned. And thank goodness, our crazy birthday/Christmas shopping is pretty much done. We still need to do Lizzy and each other, but that's all dependent on what J's check looks like and the actual end-cost of fixing The Most Expensive Car To Fix Ever.

-Speaking of which, our car goes in on Wednesday. Hopefully, it will be done soon thereafter. I'm still kind of pissed that it's going to cost $1,100 to fix. I'm also seriously hoping it doesn't cost MORE in the end. Still, trying to remain grateful that (a) it didn't break down on the side of the road and end up costing more and, (b) that we can actually pay for it, even though it will wipe out most of our emergency fund. Then again, I suppose this is exactly what emergency funds are for. But still. SUCK.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BQOTD- One thing you love about your spouse.

Because it's easier to default to complaining.

Because sometimes the good things get pushed to the back of my mind instead of the front.

Because we're all imperfect.

Because I sometimes need to cultivate a heart of blessing and thankfulness.

Today's BQOTD- What's one thing you love about
your spouse/significant other?

I'll go first--Justin is one of the most caring people I know, and is always ready to jump in and help others in any way he can.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fabric Scrap Tu-Tu Tutorial

Last night, I was supposed to be making fabric flowers for our church's annual Christmas bazaar. But then, I saw Lizzy wearing one of the stretchy headbands around her waist, and I had an idea--why not tie the strips of fabric onto a headband and make her a tu-tu? So I did. I didn't follow any particular tutorial, though they are ALL OVER Pinterest. I just did what made sense to me, and I think it worked.


I tried to get a totally cute picture of Lizzy wearing her tu-tu, but she was so excited to see it when she woke up that all I got was a lot of this:


So, these are REALLY simple, if not time-consuming to make. Here's how you do it and what you need:

1. Either elastic, or one of those stretchy headbands that we all use for running/working-out. Lizzy wears both 24months and 2T clothing, and the headband is a little big on her as a tu-tu.
2. 55-60 strips of fabric--about 1 inch wide, and 20-22 inches long. I didn't worry about the edges, but you could cut them with fancy (bunting?) scissors to give the edges a pattern.

First, take a strip of fabric, and fold it in half. Next, you'll knot the strip of fabric around the headband by taking the looped end of the strip under the headband, and then pulling the free ends of fabric over the headband and through the loop.


Continue knotting fabric all the way around the waistband, but try not to pull your knots too tight or the elastic may twist. And TA-DA, you're done. I kept to a pink/purple/turquoise scheme for the most part because that's mostly what I had...but I think these would be really cute even using non-matching fabric.

I keep debating about whether or not to make a few of these to sell at the bazaar as well, but they're just kind of time intensive, and I'm not sure that I could sell them for the $15-$20 that I'd want to in order to feel like my time was worth it. Maybe I'll just make one and see if it sells...

Happy Monday everyone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Things in my Head

-I went to the dermatologist yesterday for the mystery bruise. She didn't really know what it was either, but her top three guesses are all harmless. The fourth possibility she called a "zebra"--extremely rare, but concerning. Because of my medical history where rare = my life, she decided to have it biopsied, and cut it out. So, now I'm chilling here with stitches in my back, and a prohibition from picking up Lizzy for the next three days (which is really easy to follow when you've got a screaming, tantruming child who will not listen and a husband in the shower) but no more information than I had before.

And of course, the night before I went, I was congested, had a migraine all day, and just felt miserable. I woke up through the night alternately sweating and freezing--almost like I had a fever. The first thing she asked in regards to the 'zebra' was, "You haven't had any fevers or night chills have you?"  Of course. I told her that I had, just the night before, but she said that she wasn't all that worried in the context of the other cold-like symptoms. But seriously, I haven't had a fever or night sweats in probably a year. WHY did it have to make it's appearance right before going to the doctor, and give me something else to let my mind get wrapped up in worry about?! Overall, I've done pretty well with not worrying, but worry is a sneaky thing, and can take over so quickly--it doesn't need any extra footholds in my mind.

-Just after the dermatologist, we found out that it's going to cost $1,100 to fix our car. Our car has been rumbling, so we took it to our mechanic. It turns out that both the clutch and some bearings need to be replaced, and the Kia Sorento that we own seems to be the most expensive car in the world in terms of parts. I was figuring about $500, but the $1,100 was kind of a punch in the gut. Thankfully, we are in a better position financially than we have been in years and I'm confident that we'll actually be able to do it. The bad news is that it will essentially totally un-do all the work we've been doing in terms of savings and such, and Justin and I will probably only just do stockings again for Christmas, and that just sucks, you know? And could it happen at a worse time with Christmases and birthdays aplenty approaching?!

It's funny though, because usually I am the freak-outter and Justin is the one telling me everything will be okay, and that God is faithful to provide for our needs. This time, those roles were totally reversed--I was all calm and tranquil, and Justin was freaking out...though, I think he was mad more than anything else, because I know he had been wanting to get a new laptop for me for Christmas. But obviously, that's off the table now, which doesn't upset me, but I know is frustrating and irritating for him.

-But, to redeem the day, when we got home from the ridiculous morning, I had not one, but TWO pairs of free jeans waiting for me! One pair was a consolation prize of sorts from Lee Jeans for not winning the Life in Lee photo contest, and they are great. They're a pair of mid-rise skinny jeans in a long length--is it me, or are those REALLY hard to find?! And, they're stretch, but not skin tight or completely stretch. Still, they are the most comfortable jeans I think I've ever worn, and I'm excited to finally have a pair that I can tuck into boots. The second pair was from Meg, who totally blessed me by sending me a pair of the old school Long and Lean jeans after I raved about them the other day! I'm so excited!

-And THEN, I got to meet Cara @ Whimsy Smitten. Some of you may have seen the craziness that transpired during the post about the Band going to Mt. Shasta, but if you missed it, here's a re-cap: I came across Cara's blog several months ago (maybe from Incourage?), and at the time, she and her husband were living in Texas. Not too long ago, she mentioned that they were moving back to Oregon. I asked her where she was from, and she responded with the name of the small-town where Justin's parents live, and that they were living with their in-laws until they found a place. We talked about how it was such a small world, and that we should get together sometime, but it hadn't happened. AND THEN, when I posted about the band going to Mt. Shasta, Cara responded that the in-laws that she and her husband are living with are actually the drummer of the band and his wife! None of us had any idea--what a small world! So anyway, Cara's husband made some delicious pizza for all of us last night, and we got to meet and hang while the band had "practice" last night. It was tons of fun, and also totally helped redeem a sucky morning!

Friday, November 18, 2011

BQOTD: Black Friday/Stores Open Early

BQOTD: Do you go shopping on Black Friday? What do you usually shop for (i.e. doorbusters, Christmas presents for others, presents for yourself)?

Also, What do you think of this year's trend for stores to open earlier than ever on Thanksgiving night for "Black Friday" sales? Toys R Us opens at 9pm; Target, Best Buy, Kohls, Wal-Mart, and Old Navy are all open at midnight?

Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with Black Friday. I hate the crowds. I hate the bustle. But on the other hand, when we do our Christmas shopping for others on Black Friday, we *do* end up saving significantly.

On one hand, I like the idea of stores being open on Thanksgiving evening since I have an easier time staying up late than getting up early, but I also hate the fact that it means that retail employees may not to get to spend Thanksgiving with their families or would have to sleep through the day in order to report to work at midnight. There are so few days that retail stores are just flat-out closed, and I kind of like when they are.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Stranger at Target...

On Wednesdays, I watch Logan (Lizzy's cousin) in the morning before he goes to afternoon pre-K. This morning, our area rug was still wet after being steam cleaned, so I decided that rather than try to keep two kiddos off the drying rug, we'd head into town and run some errands. We had already been a few places when we headed to Target.

It was raining when we arrived, so it took a minute to find a cart that wasn't completely drenched. Once I did, I tried to put Lizzy in the seat, and she proceeded to throw a huge tantrum--she wanted to sit in the actual cart instead of the seat, which sometimes I let her do, but I thought that I might be getting some larger things today, and so I wanted her in the seat with the buckle. I told her that I understood that she was saying she wanted to sit in the cart, but that this time she needed to sit in the seat. She continued to throw a huge fit--swinging her arms, stamping her legs. I took her out of the cart, set her on the ground, kneeled down, and told her that screaming like this was not okay, and that if she couldn't calm down immediately, we would go outside for a time-out. She threw herself on the floor.

So, I picked her up, and pushed the cart with Logan (obviously, I hope!) outside to one of the benches under the awning, sat Lizzy down, and told her that she was in a time-out, and that once she stopped screaming, we could talk. She responded, "No TALK. LIZZY SCREAM!" and then continued to scream at the top of her lungs. I debated just packing up the kids and heading home, and maybe I'll get some grief for not doing so, but I did have errands that I needed to run, and I had already driven into town--it's not like I could just pop back to Target once Justin got home. So, since we were outside, I decided to just ignore the screaming...which seems to be most effective in calming Lizzy down in situations where she's screaming in an attempt to get something that she wants rather than because she's frustrated. I had the cart in front of the bench, perpendicular, so that I could see her and catch her if she decided to throw herself off the bench or something, but wasn't really engaging with her behavior.

Several people gave me looks as they walked by. You probably know the ones. Maybe you've been on the receiving end. Or the giving end.

Can't you make her stop crying? 
My child would NEVER get away with that crap. 
Aren't you going to do something about her screaming?

I wanted to yell at them, "Even her pediatrician says the most effective way to handle her stubborn, sometimes hours long tantrums right now is to ignore them. I AM doing something, and at least I took her outside to handle it, okay?!"

It's hard not to get a little flustered when your child is throwing a royal fit, and there's not a lot you can do to stop it. It's hard not to wonder if what you're doing is the right thing...even if your parents and friends tell you that it is. I sometimes wonder if people (strangers) realize that, say, picking up my phone during a tantrum isn't me not handling the situation--it's a way of showing her that I will not engage with her while she's behaving that way, and I will focus my attention elsewhere (just for the record, ignoring seems to be the recommended tactic for handling tantrums from all across the parenting spectrum, from Dr. Sears to Dobson/Focus on the Family). Deep down, I know that I handled it the best way that I could have--but it's hard not to question yourself when you get those darn looks from strangers.

And then, it what I can only describe as a moment of pure grace, an older woman walked by, pushing her cart. She touched my arm, leaned in close, and said, "You handled that just right." I was kind of stunned, but I think I managed to mumble "Thank you," and she smiled and walked away. 

I almost cried right there in the Target parking lot. Thank you, whoever you were. Truly. Thank you for recognizing a mama who was frazzled, and thank you for taking that recognition a step further by offering encouragement and affirmation. Thank you for recognizing that sometimes, encouragement from a stranger can be a particularly soothing kind of balm. I'll never forget it.

And I'll try to pass it on.

Random Snippets

-Awhile ago, a few of you asked what I thought about Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. I've been meaning to write a full review, but I just don't feel like I have a lot to say. I didn't hate it. I didn't love it. The writing style was easy enough for me to read, but I sort of felt like there was some esoteric message about...I'm not even sure what...that I just wasn't privy to. I kept thinking 'I must be missing something--it can't be this simple, can it?' I mean, I could venture to guess that the book was a metaphor for this or that, but I just love the book enough to want to spend any spare time wondering what the author really meant when he said "sand", ya know?

-I shampooed our area rug last night. It was the first time I'd done it in the 3 years we've lived here, and it was DISGUSTING. I shampooed it twice, and then asked Justin to do it once more while I put Lizzy down. He ended up doing it twice because he said that the water was so nasty when he dumped it out his first run (third overall). So, we've gone over it a total of four times, and the water we dump out is STILL nasty. Maybe now Justin understands why I'm always bugging him to keep his work boots off the rug...because seriously, I don't even want to KNOW what plumber's boots have all over them, let alone do I want them on my rug. Gross.

-I'm still doing TurboFire, and I do like it. It's fun. The only thing that I don't like is that many of the people in the video don't look like real people to me. Many of them look like they've had plastic surgery of some kind, which is fine if that's your thing, but sometimes I just worry that it is distorting my idea of what "fit" looks like.

-I have NO IDEA what to get Lizzy for Christmas or her birthday. Parents of toddlers--what are YOU doing?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Something New

Both Bible Studies that I've been involved with have just wrapped up until after the holidays. The problem is that without some sort of structured study, especially during the holiday season, it's really easy for me to fall out of taking time for devotionals and just spending time in the Word. So, even though the Fall Bible Study wasn't the most successful thing I've done on this blog, I want to continue with hosting something in that same vein for the winter and holiday season, if for no other reason than to keep ME on track. Only this time, I'd like to do something a little bit different...this time, a sort of "book club":

From the back of the book: Retracing his own spiritual journey, Strobel cross-examines the experts with tough point-blank questions: How reliable is the New Testaments? Does evidence exist for Jesus outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual historical event? 

This remarkable book reads like a captivating, fast paced novel. But it's not fiction. It's a riveting quest for truth about history's most compelling figure. What will your verdict be in The Case for Christ?

One of the reasons that I picked this book is that it's readily available--I come across copies in the used bookstores often, and most libraries seem to have a copy or two. Some of you may already own it, or have already read it (which is great!). On Amazon, I think it's $8. And local friends, I have an extra copy if anyone is interested.

I'm hoping that anyone who is interested can read along, and then on Fridays, we'll discuss--maybe one of the discussion questions at the end of each chapter? If anyone is interested, I'd LOVE IT if some of you would claim a Friday to guest post here about your thoughts. If you are game to "host" via guest post, let me know!

So, here's the schedule that I'm planning to follow (and I know that beginning by the 25th is going to be a bit of a stretch, but I'm hoping that even if you aren't able to get a copy by the 25th, the holiday weekend may give you some time to catch up for the following week):

11/25- Intro, Chapters 1 & 2
12/2- Chapters 3 & 4
12/9- Chapters 5 & 6
12/16- Chapters 7 & 8
12/23- Chapters 9 & 10
12/30- Chapters 11 & 12
1/6- Chapters 13 & 14
1/13- Conclusion

I hope you'll join me :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Trip and A Tantrum of Epic Proportions

Over the weekend, we trekked down to Mt. Shasta, CA for Justin's band to play at this little place called The Coffee Connection. It's actually a non-profit sponsored by 8 different churches in Mt. Shasta--all employees are volunteers from those churches. On Saturday nights, they have free coffee, free wi-fi, and often have bands that come down and play. It's a pretty cool outreach ministry.

{The Coffee Connection has this catwalk on the second story
where you can see the band that's playing below. It's pretty cool!}



{The only bad thing about shooting the band indoors without a flash is that I have to shoot with my ISO at 1600, which means grain out the wazoo. Oh well--I tell myself that the "gritty" look is appropriate for a band!}


{One funny thing: I am 99% sure that I know which song Renee is
singing just by looking at this photo! Renee, if you're reading, it's
He Cries, right?}


{Hey look--it's my (biological) sister who looks absolutely nothing like me.
In fact, people usually think she's Renee's sister instead of mine!}


Since we thought we'd get done around 10:30-11pm and then still have to drive back home, Lizzy stayed with my parents. The plan was for us to come back to their house and stay the night there since they live closer to CA than we do. Only, when we got back sometime around midnight, she was still awake. My parents had been trying to get her to sleep since 8pm, but Lizzy is one of the most stubborn kids you'll ever meet, and was still wide awake. At the time that we arrive, she was in fairly good spirits, but that quickly deteriorated. I tried turning on a movie to lay down with her, and she got HYSTERICAL. Kicking. Screaming. Trying to scratch and bite. I tried rocking. I tried singing. I tried every discipline tactic that I know--I could not get her to stop screaming hysterically at the top of her lungs. Justin came in the room, and I told him that I thought we might have to go home, at which point Lizzy started screaming, "NO MAMA! MAMA GO AWAY! LIZZY NO MAMA!"

Talk about making your heart break. I cried. At that point, it was almost 1am. We packed everything up, and decided that we just needed to go. She screamed at the top of her lungs for the next 20 minutes in the car before finally falling asleep.This morning, when she woke up, she came into bed with us and said, "Mama. Lizzy naughty. I sorry." Sweet precious girl. But, we had another hysterical sleep battle tonight as well. Please tell me there's a sleep regression or something around 2 years (she already has her 2 year molars I believe), because this is getting out of control.

To end on a good note though, here's a mash-up of the band's set if you're interested!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Betcha Didn't Know....

I totally stole this from Katie @ Loves of Life. But, today, I needed and wanted something fun and mindless!

Guilty Pleasure? 
"Reality" TV. Think Sister Wives, Top Chef, Project Runway, etc. It's just mindless TV that I can usually watch while knitting, cleaning, or folding laundry, and just veg out. Also, this: 

Pinnacle Whipped Vodka. It tastes like whipped cream and is AMAZING in apple cider, root beer, orange juice, cranberry juice...pretty much anything!

Recent Splurge? 
Does buying blackberries even though they're out of season and expensive count? Seriously though, I don't really buy things for myself very much because it just isn't in the budget. In fact, I was just telling Justin the other day that I think every single one of my sweaters is either a maternity sweater, or I wore while I was pregnant with Lizzy so they're stretched out all funny. In the next month, I do plan on splurging to buy a new dress to wear Christmas Eve/ to Justin's company party.

In bulk, I buy? 
I try to avoid Costco because it's impossible to get out of there spending less than $100. But when we do go, we usually buy diapers, wipes, Black Butte Porter for Justin, cheese, pepperoni, and milk. 

My go-to flower?
I really like purple dutch irises. I prefer the non-bearded irises that look like this: 

Comfort Food? 
This one is hard, because the truth is that I just love food. But, I think it's probably a big bowl of rice, beans, shredded beef, tomatoes, sour cream, cheese, and Cafe Yumm sauce.

For breakfast?
Today, I had coffee, a piece of toast with almond butter, and a little bit of homemade raspberry jam.

For dinner? 
Last night, I tried that boil-in-milk macaroni recipe that's been floating around Pinterest lately. It wasn't my favorite. Tonight, I'll probably just do enchiladas.

Love/hate relationship with? 
I can't think of anything off the top of my head.

Can't stop watching? 
Any guesses? Ha! 
Bones, of course!

Dreaming about? 
Babies. Seriously. I feel like every time I close my eyes, I'm pregnant with triplets. Baby fever might be kicking in a little bit, but we just can't go there yet for a couple different reasons. 

Every girl should have?
A pair of jeans that fit perfectly. I miss the old Gap Long and Lean jeans like crazy. They were in my dream last night too--I bought a pair of the old style ones even they cost $100! 

My style in five words? 
I don't really have a style. I'd be fine living in yoga pants 24/7. I've been trying to follow along with the challenge on Like A Warm Cup of Coffee to get dressed every day. Sweet Sarah Mae said at the beginning of the challenge something like, "Your kids will love it, your husband will love it, and you'll feel better about yourself." I had to laugh to myself, because I'm not sure Justin really ever notices what I'm wearing. In fact, I think he'd be fine if I were in yoga pants and tennis shoes all the time, because it would mean that we could spontaneously play a game of football/softball/whatever at any given time.

I love wearing? 
Yoga pants. Duh. But also, I love the several shirts I have that are actually "tall" shirts. I'm not pulling them down to cover my wrists or pulling the hem down.

Dream Job? 
Being paid to read books and take photos. So, pretty much, what I'm doing now. And it's awesome.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Evolution of a Nursery

A few weeks ago, my brother was given a king sized bed, so he and my parents were getting rid of his twin mattress. Justin and I quickly nabbed it, and it's been sitting in our garage ever since. We'd been talking about when to transition Lizzy out of her crib, and onto a twin mattress on the floor (for now) but thought that maybe we'd wait until she actually climbed out. Also, we didn't really know where we'd store the crib in the meantime since we're working on cleaning out our garage and spare bedroom.

And then a week or so ago, Kaitlin called to ask if I knew anyone that they could borrow a crib from while they are staying here. And it was a no-brainer--we'd been trying to figure out when to transition Lizzy, and decided that it just made sense for us to move Lizzy and let them use her old crib.

So, over the weekend, we broke down her crib and hauled in the twin sized bed.

(For now, we just got her a set of sheets that she picked out, and she uses a spare comforter. 
Eventually, she'll get her own, I'm just waiting for a sale!)


The dresser went into the closet to allow for a little more play room, since it's a pretty small room to begin with.


So far, Lizzy has done remarkably well. It's also nice for me to be able to lay down in bed with her if she's having a rough day or night! I have to admit though--I don't usually get all sad and weepy about Lizzy growing up, but I *was* a little sad when we were taking down her crib! It was the first time I honestly found myself missing the newborn stage just a little bit.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Decorating for Seasons

In the time that Justin and I have been married, I've never really decorated for seasons. Except Christmas, but even then, it's pretty much just been a Christmas tree and a miniature nativity set. For one, we just haven't ever had a mantel or any place that made sense to decorate seasonally. Second, seasonal decor was just an extra expense that we didn't need.

That said, over the weekend, we moved the buffet that matches our hutch inside from the garage. We've never had it inside before because the three different colorings of wood between the buffet, our table, and the cabinets drove me crazy. Plus, we had "inherited" the table from when Justin and his siblings were growing up, and it was already pretty big for the space. I've always hated that table even more than I hated the buffet/hutch, but Justin loves/loved it. He did agree to let me paint it, but it still didn't solve the problem of not being the right size or shape for the space. Also, the table is just starting to fall apart--the chairs are losing their support spindles, and the finish is totally worn down.

After the cabinets were painted, we talked a lot about the kitchen/dining area, and I suggested to Justin that if we had a long rectangular table, I thought the buffet would fit inside and free up some garage space for him. And then, I suggested building a farmhouse table. And after a few months, I think Justin is down for that plan, so we brought the buffet inside over the weekend.

And now, I also have the perfect spot for seasonal decor. The only problem was that we're on a tight budget (as always), and I didn't really have much in terms of a base to start from. But yesterday, I made it my mission to decorate the buffet for fall for less than $30. Here's what I came up with:


I'd still like to add something that says "Give Thanks", but haven't found quite what I'm looking for yet. It's kind of funny though--in real life, I almost feel like there's too much going on already, but it doesn't look that way in the photo at all! Anyway, I spent $5 on two yards of muslin for the runner, $5 for the blue and turquoise "bouquet", $10 for the candle holder, and $4 for spray paint to paint the wine bottles. I also made a fabric flower bouquet out of fabric that I already had.


They are so easy to make--you just cut out large circles of fabric, and then use a needle and thread to stitch all the way around the perimeter of the circle. Pull the two ends of the string together, knot, and cut the ends. And, TA-DA, you have a flat flower disc. Then, I just put some hot glue on the back of each flower disc and attached a stick to each. If you want a cleaner look, you can also hot glue buttons/pearls to the center of each flower. I think I may make it my goal to do a new fabric flower bouquet for each season.


And for the table, here's what I'm thinking, but with white benches that could be pushed underneath for more room:

Monday, November 7, 2011

BQOTD- Family Time

Our co-ed softball season is over now (we finished 4th this year in B minor league, which is much better than we did last year, or even Spring season in C league!). I'm a little bit sad, but also a little bit relieved--we've basically had a game every Sunday night since May. It will be nice to actually have those nights at home for awhile...because we're way too busy during the week. As it is, we usually only average one night at home during the week. The rest of the week, we're running all over the place to Bible Study, band practice, building the recording studio, photo shoots, J's men's softball league, and all kinds of other things that we find ourselves committed to. And weekends? Weekends are just busy, always, no matter what. This past Saturday was the first time we spent more than half the day at home in I-don't-know-how-long. And it was glorious.

Sometimes, I crave a slower pace. Less running. But, it's hard, because we truly feel passionate about all the activities we're involved in, and I'm not sure what could possibly be cut out. We've been talking about scheduling a designated "family night" where for the most part, we just don't do anything other than spend some time at home together. I hope we do follow through and do that--I think we all need it!

Today's BQOTD- How many nights per week, on average, do you spend at home with your family? Do you have a designated "family night" or anything like that?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

BQOTD- How Do You Want to Be Portrayed? | Fall '11 Blog Bible Study Week 8

Honestly, I'm having a hard time doing this study of Paul right now. Shortly after beginning this study, some of the moms at Mom's Group began doing Sheila Walsh's The Shelter of God's Promises (which is great, by the way!), and I joined them. It quickly became overwhelming for me to try and do the homework for both every day, but I tried to keep up with it. Often, this meant doing three or four days worth of devotionals on Friday morning and then trying to throw together a post. And those posts? Not the highest in terms of comments. I wish I could say that I didn't care in the slightest about the number of comments that I receive on posts, but the honest-to-goodness truth is that sometimes I do. I try not to. When I first decided to start this series, I prayed that I wouldn't, because it's not supposed to be about me. But sometimes I do care. This wasn't meant to be a pity party, but just to tell you that I'm human, and I struggle with this stuff sometimes, just like we all do. I'm sure that in a few months, I'll look back and see a lesson in all of this, but I'm just not there quite yet, ha!

Anyway, I picked up the Paul book this afternoon and flipped it open to where I thought I was supposed to be had I been keeping up like I was supposed to. I landed on Day 50, where Beth Moore asked the question, "What might be some parting words or themes you'd like to leave behind on those who follow you? What are the most important warnings and encouragements to pass on?"

She wasn't talking about blogging specifically, but I think it kind of relates, no? Which brings me to my Burning Question of the Day:

For those of you who blog, how do you hope that you're portraying yourself to your blog readers? Have you thought about it? Do you intentionally try to strive for something specific?

Personally, I hope that I'm portraying just what the "About Me" section on the sidebar says. I hope that I come across as someone who loves her husband, her daughter, and her family. As someone who is a mom, but more than that too. As someone who is passionate about photography, and loves spending Thursday nights curled up on the couch watching Bones. As someone who has recently re-prioritized faith in her life, and wants to learn and grow in that way. As someone who is real about her struggles (and definitely isn't perfect!), but doesn't complain too much...someone who can find the blessings and the hope. I know I don't get it right all the time, but I hope I do more often than not...

What about you?

Who Is She? Pt. 2

Yet another 5 minute free write, jumping right into where yesterday's post left off. Oddly enough, I have never, ever gotten so many spam comments as I did on yesterday's post!
"Here's your steak sir. Again, I'm so sorry about the mix-up in the kitchen," She said. 
"This is just unacceptable. My family's out for a nice dinner, and you can't even manage to cook a simple steak correctly!" 
"I apologize. I'm happy to get my manager for you if you'd like." 
"What I'd like, is for you to do your job," the customer snapped. 

She paused for a minute, thinking. Was this it? She could walk out the door, get into her car, and just drive. Isn't that her dream? To start over where no one knows her? She'd need money eventually, but surely she could find a job wherever she ended up. Most appealing of all, she'd never have to look into anyone's eyes and see pity. Or worse yet, pain at the memory of Todd.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Because It's NaBloPoMo

Free-write for five minutes using this prompt as the beginning:

Behind her, the noise escalated

Behind her, the noise escalated. The restaurant was less crowded than usual, but somehow, much more noisy. The noise felt cumbersome--it would have been a minor annoyance all by itself, but coupled with the rest of her day, it was just too much. She wanted nothing more than to put on a pair of fuzzy socks, her favorite sweatshirt, and to crawl into bed. But, she had another three hours left of her shift. Another three hours where her income depended on a happy, upbeat mood. She bit the inside of her cheek, and walked back to the table, hoping that it wasn't too easy for them to see how she really felt.

It's been a long time since I've done any sort of free-write, or even used a creative writing prompt. I had kind of forgotten how fun it can be to see where the words take you. 

This NaBloPoMo thing is new to me. Blogging every day, including weekends, is new to me. Already (a meager five days into things), I'm sometimes finding myself feeling like I don't have anything left to say. So maybe, this is it. Maybe, when I don't feel like I have anything left to say, maybe I free-write for five minutes about this person above--I don't know who she is yet, but it might be kind of fun to find out.

NaBloPoMo 2011
This post brought to you by the letters NaBloPoMo.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Paging Doctor Google...or Not.

I had a doctor's appointment this morning--I've had this little bitty bruise on my back for a couple of months now. It's the type of thing that I won't notice for a couple of months, and then I'll lean back in a chair and feel pain and think, "That's STILL there?!" I wasn't sure if it was from softball--maybe where the bat hits my back when I swing? But the bruise is so small (less than a half an inch), and the placement isn't quite right. Anyway, I told Justin that I'd just feel better if someone laid eyes on it, so I saw the nurse practitioner this morning.

She looked at it, and said, "Hmmmm. I've never seen anything like that before." Then, she called in my doctor. He said, "I've never even seen anything quite like that, even in textbooks," (I laughed, because that's just so me--I'm the girl whose appendicitis went undiagnosed because my appendix was in the wrong place. I'm the girl who had a breast tumor removed at age 19. I'm just kind of a medical anomaly.) The nurse said, "Yeah, and it doesn't blanch. It's sort of like a hematoma under the skin." They referred me to a dermatologist--they warned me that it would probably take 3 months to get in, but happily, the derm had an opening on the 18th. And largely, I didn't worry too much about it for the rest of the day...

And then. THEN. When I got home tonight, I consulted Dr. Google. Why do I do this? I *know* it's never a good idea, but I do it anyway. I Googled something about a hematoma that doesn't blanch, and what was starting me back in the face was enough to scare anybody's socks off--Leukemia. Meningitis. Lupus. All sorts of other things that I just don't want to deal with. And the worry and fear just came pouring in. Even though nothing really looked like my unique little bruise, it seems that anything that doesn't blanch is bad, bad, bad....according to Dr. Google anyway.

Why in the world do I think that Google will be able to diagnose me more effectively than the doctor who has literally known me my entire life? Better than a doctor who knows all my weird history, and was literally the only medical professional in my corner back during the tumor debacle?

More importantly, why don't I pray if I'm worried? I've seen firsthand in my life over the past year what a difference God has made in terms of my worries and fears, so why don't I turn to Him first, rather than Google? 

Dr. Google, I think it's time we break up. Hopefully this time it's for good.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


-I couldn't get Lizzy down for a nap until almost 4pm today. It was a battle royale, but I won. And because she went down for such a late nap, I'm seriously thinking about taking her to Justin's softball game tonight, which doesn't start until 8:30pm. I feel like it's going to be another battle royale to get her to bed tonight, and I just don't want to do it alone. On the other hand, I just feel badly keeping her out that late.

-Once J's game is done, we are staying up to watch the season premiere of Bones. I don't care if we have to stay up until MIDNIGHT to do so.

-I took this recipe to Mom's Group today, and it was glorious. And so easy.

And the perfect comfort food for a Mom's Group that I cried all the way through--we had an amazing woman named JoLayne come and talk about her faith. And, about her daughter Faith who died in September from cancer. JoLayne is now trying to raise awareness about childhood cancer as well as funds for research. I told JoLayne that while this is a small thing, if she ever wanted to write about what she's doing here on the blog, she's always welcome. And I hope she does--there were so many things I didn't know, and I'm sure most people don't.

-I've got two prayer requests for you guys. First, my-brother-in-law Justin's grandpa died today. I know his whole family would appreciate your prayers for comfort. Second, one of my best friends Kaitlin just recently found out that her husband Jesse is deploying for the third time. Very soon. I think they could use prayers all the way around too.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Your Last Meal

If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?

It's funny--there's a fancy restaurant here locally that my family always goes to on Christmas Eve, and what I order there is pretty close to what I think my ideal "last meal" would be--with just a few tweaks to sauces, dressings, and sides, I think it would be the perfect last meal. 

First, a blue cheese creme brulee appetizer, spread over warm sourdough bread. I'd eat a whole order by myself. Then, a garden salad with more blue cheese, caramelized pecans, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade to drink. Next, a medium rare steak with a sweet potato, and fresh fruit salad on the side. And heck, more bread and butter. And then, raspberry cobbler with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. 

I think this meal would also be my own "if you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life" answer. It's just good stuff. I find myself re-creating a simpler, less frilly version of this dinner often! If Justin wanted to cook a meal that would make me swoon, this would be it. 

That said, I also think that your "last meal" depends on who you're sharing it with--because let's face it, food tastes a whole lot better when you're eating it with people you love. 

 What about you guys? 

NaBloPoMo 2011
This post brought to you by the letters NaBloPoMo.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

BQOTD: Favorite Thanksgiving Dish

I have this "thing" about holidays--I don't want to talk about Thanksgiving until Halloween is over. Likewise, I don't do the Christmas thing until we've gotten through Thanksgiving. My ONE exception to this rule is all things peppermint (i.e. peppermint lattes, peppermint ice cream, and *hopefully* Dairy Queen will resurrect peppermint Blizzards from their early grave this year), which are acceptable all through Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Anyway...we're now through Halloween, so for today's Burning Question of the Day, I'm wondering:

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Are you all about the turkey? The cranberry sauce? Do you love that good old green bean casserole? Pumpkin pie? Tell me about it (and if you're feeling compelled to share the recipe, I won't complain!).

Justin and I live close to both sets of our parents, and so we do our best to alternate spending dinner with one set and dessert with the other. Sometimes we end up at one person's house for dinner/dessert two years in a row (either accidentally, or to try and see whoever has to work on that day), but so far, everyone has been really nice and not fussed about it at all. Anyway, I tell ya all this because Justin and I joke that we both prefer when we eat dinner at OUR parents' house, because it's Thanksgiving like we remember it as a kid. Don't get me wrong--both my mom and Justin's mom are great cooks, but they just each have their own recipes, and we remember the ones we grew up with!

Anyway, I still love the classic green bean casserole--my mom uses golden mushroom soup instead of cream of mushroom, but to me, that dish just SCREAMS Thanksgiving!
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