Monday, December 31, 2007

We Do Go Outside Occasionally

Exactly three times tonight, Lilly made fake crying sounds from the bedroom with hopes of an adult rescuing her. From sleep, I guess.

Act I: Mom

"Lilly, why are you crying?"

"It's just not fair that Jackson is still awake and the adults are all playing the Wii while I am just lying here! Why does Jackson get to stay up later?"

I couldn't really tell her that there was in fact, NO REASON that Jackson stayed up later except that Uncle Mark and I were in the middle of a single skull rowing race and I hadn't really noticed that it was 9:30 and Jackson hadn't been tucked in.

But Lilly was gracious.

"Mommy, I forgive you for not letting me stay up as late as Jackson. It's okay."

Act II: Papa

"Lilly, why are you crying?"

"I can't sleep."


"Do you want me to tell you a Bible story?"

"Yes, I want to hear all about when Jesus died."

"Well, Lilly, we told that one last night."

"Ok, then how about when God sent fire and burned up all the idols."

"I'm sure that will soothe you right to sleep, Lilly."

Act III: Grammy

(We hear "crying" again).

(Grammy volunteers to go check out the "problem.")

(Grammy emerges a few minutes later.)

"Lilly says she can't sleep because her butt hurts."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

But Are You Going to Keep It?

"Thanks, babe. Is this shirt for me or my boyfriend?"

Coming from the guy who is borrowing a 62 year-old's robe for the week.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Eating and Shopping and Eating and Shopping. And Eating.

We have done a LOT of those activities. In fact, throw in video games and I have just summarized our entire Christmas experience.

This laptop is currently resting on my very enlarged stomach which is digesting Kari's birthday dinner at P.F.Chang's. Eight of us enjoyed an evening together and according to my very precise calculations we ordered one of everything. In fact, the entire party was clutching our stuffed stomachs at the end of the meal, staring at CLEAN PLATES, at which point we ordered one more round of Oolong Marinated Sea Bass and passed around the platter so we could put the deliciousness directly in our mouths. Because of the problem we have with moderation.

Oh, and then we sped directly home and ate some of the best chocolate birthday cake and Blue Bell ice cream I'd ever dreamed of in the history of double chocolate cakes. I did not even have room for coffee, which is saying something because coffee is a liquid and doesn't need as much space in my stomach as the entire menu of P.F. Chang's and chocolate cake.

And now for the shopping report because my stomach hurts just typing about food.

The day after Christmas was quite the jackpot. Starbucks was our obligatory first-stop and it was maahhvelous. One of our favorite shopping establishments has a huge carousel in the middle along with the Disney store, which is on currently on hiatus in Colorado. Whoo hoo! With the kids entertained, I swarmed the post-Christmas sales like white on rice.

Brad is especially excited that we are well-outfitted for Christmas next year because he thought our home was particularly under-decorated and not festive this year. I find such JOY in ornaments that were formerly $10, marked down to ninety-nine cents. It was such a blessing.

Kirkland's had a HUGE sale at which, among other things, I bought lamps and other large home accessories that will not fold up nicely and fit in our suitcases to go home. But really, it would have been wrong NOT to buy them.

And then there is Sam Moon.

Formerly a seedy, shady, dive on Harry Hines, it's now a proper shopping mecca, with plans to expand all over Dallas. Let me just say up front that I cannot possibly describe the retail transformation it has undergone. It used to be located in an area of stores that offered (among other things) photography, massages, and lingerie. COUGH. COUGH.

Come Saturday morning, the store was absolutely swarming with beautiful Dallas women desperately searching for a nice Coach bag, David Yurman jewelry, and some Louis Vittioun luggage. Factory direct, I believe.

I love a good, cheap handbag straight from China, along with earrings, necklaces, and wallets. At one time, you could purchase a purse, then the store-owners would carefully STICK-ON the designer label on at the register. Now doesn't that sound legitimate and very upscale all at the same time?

As in life, my shopping standards are VERY high.

There was an absolutely perfect purse/bag that I acquired, but it really deserves it's own blog entry, so I will write more another time.

Hopefully, the digestion process will come to a halt within 2 or 3 days, at which time my head will clear considerably and I'll go get some barbeque.

I'm Changing the Blog Title to "We Interrupt This Bowling Tournament..."

Jackson and I spent some time bonding the past few days. Looking into each other's eyes, sharing our hearts, working through a ropes course together, and playing Nintendo for such a long duration that I feel it would jeopardize my parenting cred to print the actual hours.

I suppose I always wanted to be his hero in one way or another. I thought it might come when I cooked really great meals or counseled his heart after a break-up with a girlfriend.

But the Lord did not prepare me for the fact that we would laugh, high-five, nearly cry, and have serious talks about not throwing the DS when we lose at SuperMario World .

I have memorized quite a few Bible verses in my days, but recall few with the same clarity as I recall the levels and hidden teasures in Mario Land. I feel terrible about that, but there is not much I can do other than share my vast wealth of useless video game knowledge and insight with J.

And I feel that would be a good use of my spiritual gifts.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Brace Yourself for the Most Overused Puns Ever: "Wii are Having a Ball!"

It's true. Papa stood in line at Target for some ungodly morning hours to bring home the 2007 version of the Cabbage Patch Kid (for which he also stood in line way back when.)

Revisiting one of my favorite Christmas surprise techniques, we had the kids unwrap a Wii game before they opened the entire system.

"What's this?! We don't even have a Wii!" Jackson was very confused, but Lilly sensed the excitement. And since then, we've built stadium-seating in the family room complete with dugouts and concessions.

The kids (and possibly the adults) have virtually burned a bowling lane into the formerly fine rug in front of the TV.

Not that our family is competitive or anything, but so far Mark and Brad have bulked up their sorry physiques doing pushups as penance for pitiful bowling.

They are also thinking of starting a vicious bowling gang to knock off AARP members and kindergartners who beat them to a pulp.

The sleeper bowling sensations are Grammy and Jackson. The 5 year-old holds the current record of 190, and that doesn't bother us older bowlers at all. Although, the adults are getting in quite a bit of lane time after everyone goes to bed. And court time. And track time. And tee time. And off-road, desert race-course time. And we are fueling this competition with toffee, chocolate, pie and eggnog.

We just like to model moderation and healthy-living whenever possible.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I'm Verklempt

At the Christmas Eve service, I watched one of those magical moments between my kids that I wish I could have captured to see over and over again.

As goes the tradition, the pastor at church invites all the kids onto the stage to listen to a story while he reads. Jackson and Lilly anticipated the fun and were so excited to walk to the front.

The call came for the kids to come on down and listen to the story, so Jackson and Lilly shimmied between knees and seats to make their way down the row. As they reached the aisle, Jackson took a step down then stopped.

He looked back over his shoulder and saw Lilly right behind him. Jackson caught her eye and then instinctively reached out his hand to hold hers. Lilly gladly accepted and we watched their heads bob up and down as they bounced down the stairs and found a seat on the stage. Together.

For every moment in their lives that makes me cringe, I am thankful for the precious ones. Seeing Sweet Jackson stop to take his little sister's hand in an unfamiliar place put a lump in my throat and just melted me. I'm so grateful for the sense of friendship and love they demonstrated tonight.

Because like it or not, they'll always have each other.

Merry Linking to You!

Seems like there's a bloggy tradition out there that when you get to your 100th post, the blogger posts 100 things about herself. Anything I could potentially list past number 7 would have people crying tears of boredom and they'd be begging for to just blow up and put them out of their misery.

Do y'all really want to know that I've had my left eardrum replaced twice and that it hurt MUCH worse than birthing a ten-pound child without the aid of a c-section?

Or that I took have strong feelings about the pronunciation of the word "pecan?"

Or that I dearly loved "American Gladiators" and will gladly watch it again if it comes back on TV and would consider trying out to be a challenger?

See, I teased you with absolutely mind-numbing facts to prove my point.

Instead, I thought I'd put some links to some other great blogs I read because many of these folks are quasi-professionals and say things with greater wit and creativity than I could dream of. Much better than reading about when I triple-pierced my own ears in high school, right?

As a disclaimer (and with no offense intended to the bloggers I'm about to mention) I am not exactly riveted by thought-provoking material. In case you thought you might be linking to some great conversations about world peace, global warming, and discussions of the New York Times OpEd page, just remember that I am easily amused by eating and sleeping.

First off, Big Mama. Melanie boldly says what some others are afraid to: Christmas sweaters are OUT. OUT. OUT.

And I commented on her site in order to agree with her, so I shall share it with you. When there are fraternity theme parties and parties throughout the neighborhood with themes like "Ugly Christmas Sweaters" you know it is time to fold it up and put it away.

Of course, that didn't stop many parishioners yesterday at church from sporting their Christmas finery. But just because you OWN something doesn't mean you have to WEAR that something. Brad and I have that conversation almost weekly when he wants to get out his Ron Jon Surf Shop shirt and tool around town.

Next, are you reading Confessions of a Pioneer Woman?! Well, you really should be. She is funny, smart, and amazingly talented with a camera. Plus, she takes pictures of things the rest of us can't photograph everyday like her beautiful horses (can you believe I am loving her animals?), Marlboro Man, and her ranch.

She also has a site about cooking, which I've come to LOVE. She makes delicious, down-home recipes (I don't believe there's a lot of gourmet fixins available near the ranch) and they are just delicious.

Speaking of food: Smitten Kitchen. Deb lives in New York, and the availability of ingredients and inspirations is a little...broader than the Pioneer Woman. Love her food, love her pictures, love her.

Yet another of my favorites is Sophie at Boomama. We are soulmates even though she is not aware of it yet. We were in the same sorority, gave birth to a gigantic child, love decorating, eating/cooking, jeans and laughing at our own stupidity. Here is one of my favorite posts. I wanted to add more, but didn't have time...but I'll just tell you that she had me at "Asian Hooters."

Now, BigMama and BooMama do these things called podcasts which means they call each other on their cellphones and record it for those on the interweb to download. Doesn't that sound just thrilling? Let me just tell you that I have gotten stray glances from nearby treadmills while I am snorting and wiping tears of laughter from my eyes while listening to these two.

I would not say these girls have a wide appeal (Dad, I do not think you'd be interested seeing as I don't know how interested you are in MY blog), but I am certainly in their demographic (women with 4 year-olds who enjoy making purchases at Target) and they just kill me. One of my favorite episodes was when they discussed the perfumes our generation wore in high school. If you could pick out Calvin Klein's CKOne scent blindfolded with one nostril open, you will die laughing.

Oh, and do y'all ever look at Baby Bangs? It's Amanda Jones (Beth Moore's oldest daughter's) blog. You know, my Bible study friends and I are lovers and fans of Beth, so her offspring are of great interest to us. Plus, Amanda is about my age, lives in Dallas, and has a son named Jackson. What else can I say? (Other than please don't tell her that I'm stalking her.)

For the kids, track Santa here.

And if you have a few minutes to focus on Christmas, definitely listen to this. Andy, the pastor at our church in Texas, shared an amazingly impactful advent message yesterday. Really, really good stuff about the first nativity.

So there you have it...some holiday fun for the teeny moment of downtime when you can sneak away for a nap or much needed technology boost.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yahoo/Boohoo Moment #75439029458

Although it was early in the morning, the family was hauling through the airport to make our flight. Brad slugged through on two hours of sleep and I was slightly tense because I'd thought of several things I'd already forgotten at home. INCLUDING MOVIES FOR THE CHILDREN.

Movies are really the life-blood of all travel in our family. I don't even pretend to make-up fun car games or creative time killers. Instead, I give myself carte blanche to fire up the DVD player and let the small ones watch until they've stopped blinking and drool is pooling in their laps.

Luckily, God has blessed me with kids who will watch TV for hours on end without so much as a batted eyelash or potty intermission. Nope, He knew I would need a very special diversion for these little people and in the form of Anakin Skywalker and the Backyardigans, I have an answered prayer.

So back to the we literally dashed (and I am not using that word just because it's Christmastime) away from the ticket counter, we grabbed the kids' hands and headed for the escalator.

"Brad. Stop."

"What?!?! We are going to be late!"

I am having a moment.

"We are in the airport, with our children and WITHOUT A STROLLER for the first time in over five years. Did you even notice? We are all WALKING OF OUR OWN VOLITION. We have to take this in!"

This is HUGE. Because our famlies are many states away, Jackson's first plane ride was at eight weeks old. And the worst day of my life occurred when I lost all decision-making ability and flew ALONE with both kids--Jackson at 20 months and Lilly at 2 months.

The Bean was strapped to my chest via the Baby Bjorn and Jackson rode in one of those convertible stroller/car seat things, which I borrowed from a friend who PROMISED I could just get on the airplane and push it down the aisle. Oh no, I most certianly as the sky is blue could not. So somehow, I had to hoist it up and over the seats and carry my statistically gigantic oldest child ALONG WITH THIS AWFUL SEAT out in front of the Bjorn and sleeping infant for what seemed like the length of the entire plane.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't crying by the time I sat down.

Running 20 miles in the humidity of August produced less sweat than I did trying to get myself and my entourage through the security line. The overly-aggressive TSA mafia made me take off the shoes/booties of three people, unstrap Lilly, hand her to someone who appeared to have never handled a doll, let alone a live, breathing infant, and then get Jackson to walk through the metal detector by bribing him with a flower sticker. That only took, you know, 45 minutes or something.

And it never occured to me that I really had no way to go to the bathroom on the plane or change a diaper by myself. Hmmm..leave the toddler boy to run wild in the main cabin while I change the girl or leave the infant daughter on the seat and hope for no turbulance while I manage the boy's diaper situation. Of course, I could've just changed them right there in row 17 which would have REALLY thrilled all our seatmates. Because, have y'all ever tried to fit THREE PEOPLE NO MATTER THEIR SIZE in the airplane lavatory? I think not.

Sometimes when things in life are going very badly, I still wake up having nightmares about it.

But what has happened? Where are those babies? No diaper bags, no backpacks (more of an oversight than an intentional decision), no snacks (ditto), no drinks (now I'm sounding downright negligent), no NOTHING.

And for the kicker, as we settled into our seats, I reached into my purse to get the beloved Nintendo DS Machines of Paradise. Jackson chose that very minute to inform me that Lilly's Little Mermaid game wasn't in hers. Apparently he KNEW the game was not in the machine much earlier when we were packing, but thought NOTHING of it. Men...

Panic flew over me, for while we have made travel progress, we are not in the clear. Especially because we were movie-free and not flying Frontier, which offers the fabulousness of TVs for 500 pennies.

But you know what? That Lillybean just sat and colored and played word games and went potty three times (anything to kill time) and watched Jackson play Nintendo and she was GREAT.

I couldn't believe it.

There have been enough vomit, diarrhea, exploding diapers, holding-screaming-babies-in-the-flight-attendant-galley episodes and the trip when I read "Barnyard Dance" upwards of 100 times (dead serious) to alleviate any guilt I might have felt.

But there was sadness, think our time of reading board books, entertaining with games and songs, and praying for the rapture to come during that very flight was over. Not sadness that I don't have to put on a full dog and pony show each trip, but sadness in recognition that an entire era of our lives has passed.

How crazy that an airplane ride mirrored the journey which is our lives. Thank goodness reality offers much better food.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

There is Drama Oozing Out of Her Pores

Let me set the scene for you.

Lilly was horsing around the kitchen, acting ridiculously silly and super-charged like that time I stupidly let her eat Sport Beans. You know, jumping off of the counter, rolling under the table, somersaulting on the couch and taking it waaaaayyyyy beyond "fun."

After asking her several times to dial it down a notch, she ran smack into the island and laid in a heap violently convulsing and sobbing.

Since I had forseen this dramatic finale about 30 minutes prior and tried my best to use my very special parental powers to warn her of the impending doom that comes when a small one jumps around and acts hyper beyond all hyperness, I stood there.

Didn't flinch. Didn't budge. Just stood there and struggled to even feel bad for the headache that was likely coming on.


She screamed in a voice that reminded me of Meg Ryan's character(s) who scream through tears in Sleepless in Seattle/You've Got Mail/When a Man Loves a Woman. She continues:

"I can't believe you are JUST STANDING THERE and LOOKING AT ME!"

"Lilly, I just kind of feel like I warned you about the consequences of what might happen if you kept running around like this."

Sob. Sob. Dramatic, hyseterical Sob. More shrieking:

"You aren't even doing one thing and I'm laying here and I've INJURED MY BRAIN."

When we get to junior high, HEAVEN. HELP. ME.


Brad and I have a long history of celebrating our children's birthday milestones in wildly different emotional states. He is way more into the "yahoo" moment of the occasion and I lean strongly toward the "boo hoo" feeling which is generally accompanied by lots of crying. For example:

(My throat is tight and my eyes are watering.)

"So you just wanted to have kids so we can get them out of the house as soon as possible?"

Brad rolls his eyes and sighs deeply out of exasperation.

"So you just wanted to have kids so we can never be alone again for a single moment in our lives?"

We are ruled by extremes.

So here I am on Lilly's 4th birthday. She is growing up, my girl. And as usual, I am not okay.

For each birthday, I write my kids a letter. Not one to receive any time soon, but for the future. College, maybe? Or when they get married? Or maybe when they hit a rough patch in high school? We'll see.

But I want them to know how as they were changing, growing, maturing, and driving me crazy that they were loved. Above all, without exception, and more deeply than I can possibly express with any clarity unless my heart suddenly develops the ability to type.

I don't include only the "high" points of developmental milestones, but struggles, frustrations, and rocky patches as well.

There is a certain beauty to knowing you are loved without question despite less-than-perfect tendencies. Parenting is certainly a mix of elation and frustration. But sometimes, years later, when the intensity of the small struggles has worn off, it's easy to look back with rose-colored glasses and see only the happy, compliant times. That's great in many respects, but there is a shallowness and simplicity when someone loves you and delares, "You are easy to love."

That sort of love, while sincere, feels better suited for small puppies and uncomplicated lives.

I just think how blessed I am that God included so many of the failures of the greatest kings, prophets, leaders, and disciples in the Word. Not that I revel in others' sin, but to realize that these people screwed up BIG TIME and yet God loved them, used them, and even blessed them as privileged pillars in his kingdom is awe-inspiring. That certainly takes a love greater than any human has to offer.

So she is four. My baby. She surprised us when we found out she would be ours and continues that theme in spades to this day.

I have no idea how the quietest, meekest, easiest baby morphed into the most rambunctious, opinionated, insightful little girl I know. But I am thankful for her complexity.

For in it, we are forced and compelled to love her highs and lows and the craziness in between. It is quite the rollercoaster ride of emotion, but abiding through it all is love.

She is simply amazing. And I love her.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Because I Haven't Blogged Much About Camels

A local church sponsored "A Night in Bethlehem" which basically meant that they transformed the church building into a village of shops, homes, and the actual stable where Jesus was born.

The actors/Israelites were VERY in character and started out by asking us, "How did you get here? Did you follow the star in the east? Did the angels tell you of the good news?!"

Jackson looked at the lady (totally deadpan) and said, "No. We used GPS."

Very literal is my boy.

The highlight of the evening was the camel, "Dutchie," which I do not believe is her Hebrew name.
There was also a pen of sheep and miniature goats. Unlike Bethlehem, they were flanked by space heaters which made me want to hang out with them much longer than I typically want to spend with animals.

Lilly took a special liking to the baby/mini goats and made it her goal to groom their coats to a fine sheen. These goats were the same size as Sparky, the cat who wears dog clothing, so it was a little confusing for the kids.

Here they are with Zach and Lauren AND the ACTUAL DONKEY on which Mary rode into Bethlehem.

Don't worry...we didn't tell them that and twist Bible truths. In fact, we spent the entire night trying to convince them that these were actually ACTORS and animals who might RESEMBLE the original animals, and that donkeys don't live to be over 2,000 years old

Needless to say, they thought we were joking.

As for our finale, it's ME, losing it while trying to get these sweet, precious children to take a normal picture.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

No Black-lights Needed

So the other night, I tore back the covers to my perfectly heated bed (thanks to the mattress pad warmer that every house in America should have) to find this:

Apparently there was a party involving cupcakes in my bed and I was NOT invited.

I can only imagine what was going through the minds of two small people when they secretly hid under the covers, secretly snarfed down cupcakes, secretly pulled the comforter over the crumbs, and secretly sneaked out of the room.

It does not take a CSI-caliber detective to find the mistake the criminals made. Leaving 100% of the evidence at the crime scene and just covering it up does not really throw a super-cop like myself off-track.

My, they are tricky.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We are Most Definitely Related

Monday, December 17, 2007

And Brad Wonders Why I Need Personal Space

Some sweet friends came over for movie night and all-you-can eat cookies on Friday. Needless to say, we had a great time eating pizza, cookie dough, chocolate, and more dough.

After the eating bonanza, all four kids spent approximately a half hour negotiating for prime sleeping bag real estate, arranging pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, slippers, and down comforters all on the family room floor in front of the TV.

Like a campout. On the floor.

With the kids entertained, I was hoping to blog/cook/clean-up/make phone calls/wrap presents/plan a Sunday School lesson/fold laundry/change the world.

And ten minutes later, this is how we watched "The Grinch":

And you should also consider this your "save the date" announcement for a wedding in 2024:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Until Now I Never Had Much in Common With Sylvestor Stallone

This morning the tempture was about half-past freezing, so I thought it might be perfect for an early run.

Shocking, I know, because I am the one who refuses to take my children to the pool when it's below 85 and I don't even break a good sweat until the mercury hits the mid 90's. I may have determined the location of my college education in part due to the climate and have never once complained about heat on our many trips to Phoenix.

What I'm saying is: I like it hot. Really hot. Not cold. Ever. Not balmy. Not cool. Not refreshing. And brisk only in the month of October. HOT.

So I am baffling even myself with this new/sudden desire to pile on the clothes and voluntarily run outside in the snow.

This morning, I had no less than five layers of clothing on my upper half alone. My hands didn't warm up until 20 minutes out (when I could no longer feel them anyway) and I spent three or four minutes of the run trying to determine if my toes were still attached to the greater part of my foot. (I am happy to report that they were.)

Yet there is a serenity so rare that only the sharp bite of cold and glimmer of snow create. Crunching ground brings monotony that is rhythmic and calming. So quiet was the neighborhood that I heard with amazing clarity each pick of the guitar strings through the miracle of my iPod.

Just when I determined that I didn't need to turn back to avoid accidentally and prematurely freezing my organs for science, I realized that I was actually ok. The uphill climb forced warmth through my blood vessels while working in tandem with all my gloriously synthetic clothing. This formed a haven of sorts for me to focus on the Creator who scattered the snow, froze the earth, and originated the idea of fire for warmth. (And Gore-Tex, too, but I do not believe that was available to the early church.)

The simplicity and beauty of it all was just perfect. Simple strides in snow, heavenly harmonies through the earbuds, and a body blessed with the ability to run and push itself harder and farther.

So I couldn't help but wonder if that's exactly what Rocky Balboa thought while he tranied in Russia to prepare for the big fight. Running in the cold and racing the clydesdales certainly bolstered his fortitude. After today, I know there certainly is a precious strength that comes from facing the elements and feeling victorious.

There is also probably a strength that comes from knocking out Ivan Drago after fifteen rounds when even the Russian Polit Bureau begins to chant "U-S-A! U-S-A!", but I will stick with the chilly wintery running.

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Best Work Since "Highlights"

Life right this very second is pretty amazing...huge, beautiful snowflakes are falling outside our very large window, the kids are napping (or so I choose to believe), I am watching the Food Network, and spending some time on the computer.

Sounds great if I was a recluse. Or simply a mom in need of a few moments to gather sanity before tonight's HUGE SLEEPOVER OF CHRISTMAS FEST PALOOZA.

Seems that much of the country is under heavy/ice fall and school has been cancelled in record proportions.

Anyway, one of my favorite bloggers, Shannon, is hosting a Snow Day haiku contest. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Head over there to read some pretty hilarious aspiring mommy poets.

If sixth grade poetry isn't your thing, I'll go ahead and show you the two I submitted. I have no pretenses about winning, but just thought I'd join in the snowy fun based on some...personal...experiences today.

Not too snowy for
Starbucks run cocoa spills
Clean up on aisle one

Mixing, eating dough
Cookies, brownies, cakes delish
Throw scale into snow

Thursday, December 13, 2007

If Only a Hat Could Change Lives

I really feel this hat embodies everything I am about.

For starters it nicely covers dark roots, which I am known to sport about 80% of the time.

Secondly, it is brown.

Thirdly, it discuss at length my favorite food group.

Fourthly, it is made by Life is Good...probably the best sportswear company around unless you like ugly things that aren't comfortable.

Fifthly, it is so cute.

Sixthly, there is a matching long sleeve t-shirt and mug. While it might be a bit much to wear/carry them all at the same time, it might be nice to own all the pieces in the collection because THEY ARE CUTE.

In short, I feel this would be a nice accessory to own because it is so versatile...from the kindergarten drop-off loop to the gym to the Super Target.

And that about summarizes my very glamorous existence.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Just Ducky Indeed

In case you were unclear, our family OWNS a digital camera, we are just not good at remembering to bring it places or actually using it.

So yet again, this post will be filled with fantastic photos that were taken with Brad's camera phone.

Because we are obsessed with quality blogging.

Lilly's preschool class celebrates "Just Ducky Week" where she is the featured superstar and they plaster her face all over a mock-up for "Us Weekly" to prepare her for future fame and glory.

She also gets a ducky necklace to wear and they sing a cute theme song. Just like "Us Weekly" does for Hillary Duff.

Anyway, here is Lilly basking in her Ducky glory:

Here she is receiving her Ducky necklace from her teacher. I feel led to point out that she insisted on wearing those boots on the wrong feet. Much like I insisted wearing two different colored socks and layering them in the 80's.

After GREAT deliberation, Lilly chose Jackson to hold the poster she specially made for this day. As you can tell, he was very humbled and thrilled by the honor:

I wish you could see all the photos on there because Lilly chose them all herself. (That would be evident if you could see them because they aren't remotely interesting to the general public or even a realistic snapshot of her life.)

She told the class all about the picture of the scooter she had when she was two. Brad and I sat there trying to pretend like we were thrilled with her public speaking skills and fantastic memory when Lilly recounted:

"Here I am riding my scooter when when I was two. I loved to ride in the street with my eyes closed, not wearing a helmet."

Right on, girl! Next time be sure to include how we walk barefoot across hot coals and never wear sunscreen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Apparently Blogging Takes Us To New Lows


"You claim to be the "Colorado Runner Mom" so I thought I'd get some pictures of you in your running gear for the blog."


(deep breath for patience)

"I, NEVER, in my wildest dreams thought I would have to articulate this seemingly obvious guideline to you: Please do not surprise me by taking pictures of me in our closet that you plan to post on the internet.


Thank you."

I Get Cold Just Looking at This

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Put the Kleenex on High Alert

It doesn't get much better than snow glowing through Christmas lights, a warm fire, and snuggling under the blanket to read Christmas stories with hot chocolate and my babies.


I will let that scene soak in while we pretend that hot chocolate never spills and there is no fighting about where people sit and who is hogging the blanket.


So, I'm sharing my favorite new-er Christmas book, You Are My Miracle.

My Aunt Dede gave this to us last year very casually. You know, she just sent it in the mail to Lilly and didn't mention that I'd need enough tissue for the free world just to get through it and that the kids would wonder why I was hyperventilating through the tears.

It isn't sad (that cute little bear doesn't die or anything) but the author amazingly and insightfully captures the parent-child relationship through Christmas imagery.

"I am your bundle up; you are my dash outside.
I am your uphill pull; you are my fast sleigh ride."

The illustrations are beautiful, but the words make me pause and consider the balance of a parent's responsibility and love for their child and the child's sometimes reckless, spontaneous, messy life. And the beauty of it all.

As a disclaimer, my kids are not exactly shoving this one into my lap to read all the time. They are more interested in Olive the Other Reindeer or Polar Express. But it is a keeper.

The other day while Lilly and I were gluing together a paper chain for the Christmas tree, I quietly heard Jackson open this book and start reading. So I asked him to read it for us.

Hearing these precious words read aloud and wrapped in the innocence of my five year-old's voice magnified their depth and truth.

Then I remember that I am far more complicated and unruly than a tangled wad of Christmas lights in the eyes of my Father. And he loves me just the same. Amazing.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Possibly the Blurriest and Lowest Quality Pictures to Date

For her birthday, Lilly was blessed with a visit to Disney Princesses on Ice from her buddy, Lauren.

It was pretty amazing, as you can tell from this gorgeous picture of Cinderella and Prince Charming:
The girls loved every moment and even the adults were pretty taken in by the awesome skating and storylines. That might seem sarcastic (ahem) but I really do love Disney on Ice and want to continue this tradition every year.

This was Lilly's stance for most of the show...drinking juice out of Ariel's head and waving her Tinkerbell twirly thing in the air:
I would like to give a quick shout-out to our friends, Katie & Sydney, who gave the Tinkerbell twirly thing to Lilly for her birthday. They were selling these for TWENTY DOLLARS AMERICAN MONEY at the show.

For a brief moment I considered selling Lilly's for a small profit to finance some gut-busting pizza and Coke, but thought better of it.

I did have to hide the twirly deal in the bottom of my purse so it wouldn't get confiscated at the arduous bag search when they made me throw out the Doritos and ham sandwich I brought in case I got hungry and didn't want to get a home-equity loan to buy a hot dog.

Holly did a great job disguising the very snazzy princess juice drinks because those could have fetched a small fortune in the underground princess gear market. She hid them under a diaper for safe keeping.

We are like secret agents, people.

And we are one photogenic bunch:

The girls would NOT give us a decent smile for the camera. And clearly, I was having some flash problems. Actually, it is probably a little more user-error and a little less "flash problems" but the result is the same.

It could have been like Lilly's Preschool Christmas Program where I got ZERO pictures because I am totally inept with any mechanics having more than one part. (I will not tell you how adorable she looked because I am the only one who will ever know.)

I love things with no parts--like hairbrushes and jeans.

I believe that picture has a lot of what my photography friends call "noise." But I would say it is an improvement over my shots without the subject actually in them.

I used a special lens in the next one to really show the tiredness that comes over your eyes when you are really sleepy:

Thanks, Lauren! We'll do it again next year. At which time I will hopefully catch up with most seven year-olds and learn to take a picture.


"Mom and Dad, I told on you today at school."

"Really. What have we done now?"

"I told my teacher that you call me Beanie Weanie and that I don't like it."


"She said that she wouldn't want to be called that, either."

"Did you mention to her that your nickname is 'Lillybean?'

"Or that you told us you love to be called Beanie Weanie?"

She clears her throat.

"Well, my name is Lilly Noelle and I would like to be called 'Noelle.'"

"Ok, no problem. If that's your name, you have to know how to spell it. So, how do you spell it?"


"Well then, it's settled."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Just in Time for Your New Year's Diet

Today I am participating in a soup recipe exchange because I am a lover of soups in the months between October and March. During the summer I return to a steady diet of ice cream.

Life is too short to mess around with exotic vegetables and broths, so this recipe includes two of the Industrial Age's finest products: Velveeta and Ro-Tel. Together again. Thank you, Lord.

Queso Soup
1 box au Gratin potatoes
1 11 oz. can of corn (drained)
1 can rotel
2 c. water
2 c. milk
Small box of Velveeta Light (I hear that is MUCH healthier than regular Velveeta)

Make in a 5 quart saucepan.
1. While still in the plastic bag, break potatoes into smallish pieces.

2. Place potatoes, water, corn, and rotel in a saucepan. Bring just to a boil. Turn down and simmer until potatoes are tender (approx. 10 minutes).

3. Mix package of powdered cheese (from potatoes) to milk. Add mixture to saucepan.

4. Cut Velveeta into small cubes and add to saucepan until melted. Stir as needed.

Important Tip: Keep heat low so cheese doesn't scorch!

Serve with nacho chips or warm tortillas.

Personally, I like to heat the flour tortilla, butter it, roll up that bad boy, and dip it into the cheesey soupy goodness as a utensil of sorts.

I'd also suggest serving with a side of treadmill.

For more great soups, check out BooMama.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

That's It in the Longest Nutshell You've Ever Read

Lilly's 4th birthday party was this past Saturday at our house. The theme was cupcakes and the frosting flowed like a Shocking Pink River.

Here is my girl waiting at the front door for her best buddies to come on over.

There were 16 little beauties, so we divided into stations to conquer the fun. I used to be a first grade teacher, so I apologize up front for trying to organize chaos and using centers at birthday parties. It is a sickness.

Station 1: Decorating miniatures strawberry cakes. Darn cute, y'all.

If I had to estimate, the sprinkles were approximately 2 inches taller than the actual cake height.

Exhibit A:

Grandma Mac single-handedly captained the craziest station of them all. The excitement was high and the frosting was flying.

For the record, the color of frosting I bought was called "rose." Except that I have never seen any roses in nature that naturally occur this color:
Audrey did not even pretend to frost that cake.
The girls decorated these boxes to take home their treasures.

Station #2 was the cupcake ornament painting kiosk.

I would like to take a moment and marvel at the cuteness of Lilly's friends:

And I would also like to tell P how much I appreciate that she coordinates the ornament colors with that of her apron. What a girl.
Lauren was more into the abstract:
As was Rainbow Brite:

Brad and Jackson ran the three-ring circus known as the Games Station and did a fine job.

At this point I should mention there are around 250 pictures of this blessed event, so if I am boring you, just know this is truly the Cliffs Notes version and I am withholding lots of fabulous material.

Then came the present-opening:

Now for the cake! This is really my favorite part, because I love a good theme cake. I also love eating a good theme cake especially when it is Double Chocolate Pound Cake Oh My Gosh.

Between Brad and I, we have quite a legacy of Dukes of Hazzard and Strawberry Shortcake desserts at our childhood birthday parties. This can in no way measure up to the General Lee, but I gave it my all:

If you know how to put four candles in your precious baby girl's cake without fighting back tears, feel free to let me know.
I would like to point out that Jackson looked like a young Food Network Executive in his shirt and apron.

I would also like to point out that I started making that apron when he was approximately three years old and very into all things cowboy. Nothing like spending two and a half years on that little project.

Yet again, I roped in several friends and an entire set of grandparents to help throw this little party. Big hugs and thanks for all the help.

I am also glad that Grandpa is gifted and talented at stain removal techniques and products because the carpet and counters had lots of that very soft, warm, "rose" color all over them.

Christmas Meme

I've been tagged for this meme by Holly...and I hereby tag each one of you Proud Blog Owners to copy and answer these questions on your own blog. IMMEDIATELY. (And then let me know so I can check it out!)

If you have laundry to do, you can thank me right now.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I am obsessed with wrapping paper.

2. Real tree or artificial?
Fakey fake fake. I am still recovering from our last Real Tree Cut Down Experience. It was two years ago.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Right after Thanksgiving...although I started early this year.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Right after Christmas.

5. Do you like eggnog?
You bet...especially in a latte.

6. Favorite gift received as a child
That's a hard one...either the Cabbage Patch Kid (I am dating myself) or clothes (not much has changed).

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, and the Little People version is my absolute favorite.

8. Hardest person to buy for?
Brad...he has a love of expensive technology and still fits into clothes from high school. And wears them.

9. Easiest person to buy for?
Kiddos and my brother (he can never have too many collegiate hooded sweatshirts).

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I would say the Jimmy Buffet "Margaritaville" running outfit that matches my Mom's & Kari's. The colors are a little....tropical...for Colorado but that doesn't stop me from wearing it and pretending I am doing laps around the retirement home pond.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Definitely mail...this is one of my favorite traditions and I have gone so far as to handcraft the cards this year. But if I could find room in the budget, I'd order them from

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Classics: Miracle on 34th Street (always watched with my mom) and White Christmas. Current: Elf and Christmas Vacation

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I need to get going on that right this minute.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I really don't think so, but I am not opposed to re-gifting in any way.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Well frankly, that is really a whole blog unto itself. But I would say Christmas cookies, chocolate pie, steak, sausage balls, breakfast burritos, rum cake, shrimp, and melted cheese...

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Clear, for now.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
Please do not laugh when I say "Silver Bells" by The Judds.

18. Travel for Christmas or stay at home?
The only Christmas I was "home" was when I was in the hospital with Lilly.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Actually, we have a snowman and the children are not happy about it.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Morning. And I have VERY strong feelings about this.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Yards "decorated" with inflatable animals and creatures that have nothing to do with Christmas. Ok, fine. ALL INFLATABLES.

23. What I love most about Christmas?
I'm not going to lie: I love to give and receive presents. However...I also love that the kids are able to understand more and more of God's great gift to us each year.

24. Do you believe in Santa Claus?
You know, he is not a real big part of our celebration, but I do like to have fun with it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

And Gingerbread Houses To Boot

Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete. ~Marcy DeMaree

It is such a blessing when Jackson and Lilly get to spend time with their grandparents.

We live over 1,000 miles in different directions from both sets of grandparents, which is heart-breaking most of the time, but extra-sweet when we are together.

Without prompting or coaching, the kids innately sense the unbridled love and unabashed feelings of being cherished simply for who they are. It probably comes on more strongly since we only see them a few times each year. Also, they are known to carry large amounts of sugar and gifts with them at all times.

Grandma and Grandpa Mac are so great and always prepared with lots of fun that keep the kids just giggling and going crazy with excitement. Grandma brought her world-renowned gingerbread houses (that might be a bit of an exaggeration--I think they are only known all over the entire U.S.) and the kids loved decorating them. I'll be honest...they haven't really caught on to the idea of making them cute or symmetrical or even neat, which their Home Stager mother would aspire for them, even at the tender ages of 4 and 5, but that is okay. It was fun and they ate a LOT of candy.

Really, who's to complain?

Oh, the candy. (And that cheek...I'll eat some of that.)

From what I can tell, Lilly did not eat any frosting.

My own gingerbread house was not up to the rigorous standards of decor I pretend to hold my own home to, but I blame that on the fact that People's Style Watch and Southern Living have not had recent Gingerbread House Special Editions from which I could steal and implement ideas.

Grandma and Grandpa also opened the Unending Flood of Portable Entertainment known as Nintendo DS. As a sign of his great joy, Jackson used the entire 19 hour battery in the first 24 hours. Lilly, holding her adorable pink model (she is already learning to accessorize), fell asleep with the power on.

I should probably denounce video games and cry about how my kids' brains are going to shrink, but I was actually thrilled at the gift. Mostly, because it's something special from Grandma and Grandpa that we wouldn't have bought.

Secondly, it's because I sure do love video games. Leave me with Super Mario & Co. for a few hours and I will be far more intrigued than I could ever pretend to be in any corner of academia.

Also, this is an area where I can openly and frequently destroy Brad. (Not that we are competitive or that I enjoy winning and by "destroy" I just mean "winning so decisively that he is forced to blame his loss on an animated vehicle instead of lacking actual driving ability.")

Even Brad can openly admit that I handily trash him at all driving games, both at the arcade and in the privacy of our home. I will take him down to Chinatown on Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, or Centipede. That said, he beats me at Skee-Ball, which is not really an even comparison, but somehow in the same category.

Just so it's clear, THE KIDS have been using up the batteries.


The kids are currently in serious Grandma and Grandpa withdrawl, constantly asking to go to their house like it is just up the road.

But we will remember them each time we switch on the Nintendo. Which is to say, we remember them A WHOLE STINKIN' LOT.