Monday, June 30, 2008

Home Sweet Suburban

Sorry I've been away from The Blog for a bit, bit we've been a little busy.

For starters, I'm mobile blogging via Brad's Blackberry.

I was always, "Who blogs from their Blackberry? Psychos?" But now I know.

It's people who are on a cross-country road trip, except they're on I-80 and the traffic has been at a DEAD STANDSTILL for an hour so the "road trip" has turned into more of an "interstate house party."

And my 4 year-old has some pressing lavatory needs.

But the Suburban is not lavatory-equipped.

Brad is in the third-row command seat, firing up his laptop in order to figure out why people who should be driving their vehicles are milling about on the highway as if a troupe of jugglers and fire-breathers were about to parade right past.

But he is not having success.

So if you know why we are here (wherever "here" is), feel free to shoot me a text.

Our plan was to drive through the night and return to the Mile High City around sunrise so Brad could head to work all rested and refreshed (and oily!) after driving all night long.

But alas, we might be Campin' on I-80.

Sounds like a horror movie to me.

I'll let you know how it goes.

In the meanwhile, we're looking for stale french fries to stockpile in case this is an all-nighter.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stop Talking Like Yoda, I Cannot

I would just like to say that Jackson is way too sweet-looking to be a Jedi.


We are still recovering from all of the Star Wars fun on Friday. There is only so much Yoda Soda one can drink before the teeth start to rot and Yodaisms run through the blood veins and come out the mouth. Constantly.

I am super thankful for the 125 amazing Lego sets Jackson received that are underfoot no matter which way I step. The bottoms of my feet are covered with some lovely indentions that only Legos provide. And I think only one Lego Storm Trooper has suffered death under impact of my entire body weight.

Before I begin the photo journey through Jackson's party, let me say that I am sorry for the disorganization. It is WAY too hard to get all the pictures in the order I want them when Blogger only allows me to upload five at a time.

I'm sure I could go through and plan it out and number the pictures and make it all logical, but that would not be my style. And I am working on this while laying down and counting the minutes until bed, so don't expect much.

Below, you see our back"yard" or the Rock Quarry as we call it.  As much as we're dying to have grass, it did come in handy as a Jedi Training Course.

Um, that blue thing Jackson is riding in is a speeder bike. NOT a wagon. Just so we're clear.

Special guest appearance:

(Beep beep wheeeeewooo woo)

And do you know who this is?

I knew you would figure out that it's Han Solo frozen in carbonite! The Young Jedi had to rescue him from Jabba's palace.

They succeeded.

Check out J and the marshmallow blaster:

By my best calculations, it snowed about 7 million mini-marshmallows in the Quarry. The Jedi had a ball running around and blasting each other.

Only one shot hit me from point-blank range in the ear canal. 

I was ecstatic.

We hired out Darth Maul to warmly welcome and greet the boys:

Ah, the cake. In case you're not well versed in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, this is Mustafar. Obi-Wan and Anakin are battling with a Paning Droid looking on.

Don't worry...I didn't know all of that info off the top of my head. Numero Uno Jedi, Jackson, gave me the details. I just put the lava and volcanic matter where he told me to.

This was an Epic Battle to End All Epic Battles. I believe half the neighborhood watched from their front porches.

And the target of this Rebel Uprising, you ask?


His back was littered with lightsaber welts the next day. Sexy.

These goodies were part of the favors, along with pretzel rod lightsabers. Isn't it all about the food? 

Here is J trying to be ferocious.

Y'all, he just can't do it. Sweet to the core, is that boy.

And one for the road...

I sure hope pictures speak a thousand words because I am STILL tired. There are about 200 more pictures, which I have spared you from viewing.

However, if you are a relative or planning your own Star Wars Par-tay, shoot me an email and I'll send you a link to the rest o' the batch.



Friday, June 20, 2008

Not Sure Who Had More Fun

I know you are waiting on the edge of your computer chair, waiting to see the pictures from Jackson's Star Wars party.

But since my sweet friend, Karen, took over 250 pictures, it's going to take me some time to sort through the madness.

In the meanwhile, we struck up some "conversation" with Tatooine's finest.

Karen had a thing for Anakin...

And for that matter, so did Holly.

But I like my men tall and hairy.

Anakin preferred Holly's tush grab to Karen's passionate kiss.

And then Holly and I partied with an Imperial Guard.

Rock. On.

(And never let go of your Sonic cup.)


Thursday, June 19, 2008

At Least I'm Focused on the Big Things

So last night as B and I worked on the Star Wars party that happens TOMORROW, we directed most of our time toward the important aspects, like games, favors, and soft drinks:

I'm going to be honest.

It took me forever to figure out how to important the Jedi font and search for pictures of Jabba the Hutt that didn't include Leia in her metal bikini.

But my sense of satisfaction over having theme-appropriate beverages is immense.

Coca-Cola will probably contact me within the hour to order some fancy labels as part of their next marketing campaign. (If polar bears can sell Coke, I don't know why a 900 year-old Jedi Master and disgusting lizardy gangster can't do the trick.)

I know the boys probably won't take time to appreciate my attention to detail as they wash down their Padawan Pizza with Yoda Soda. (Hopefully no one will choke on the Sith Snacks.)

But I don't care.

My cup runneth over.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Delinquent Party Planner, I Am

**Edited Because of My Stupidity****
Somehow, I published the previous entry at 5 this a.m. when I clearly should've been sleeping. 

Here's the edited post (which does not promise any greater level of excitement than the other one):

Hey Friends,

I have so much to blog about lately, but I've been swamped. I even went to Wal-Mart yesterday for the first time in over a year, if that speaks to my level of desperation in any way.

Regardless, here is my shopping list:

green M&M's
red M&M's
brown fabric
Han Solo (2)
orange food coloring
gift bags
large labels
Hawaiian Punch
Orange Soda
black tablecloth
Mustafar Panning Droid
gold vellum

In case you haven't guessed by now, I'm finally throwing together Jackson's 6th Star Wars Birthday Party.

By my sketchy calculations, it's only seven weeks after the actual birth date. And those seven weeks haven't exactly been chock-full of party planning madness.

That started yesterday.

And the party is Friday.

(In your best Yoda voice:)
"Poor time management issues, you have?"

So, to combat my slackerdom, I started off the day going to Sportsmania with Lilly.

Then we went to the pool.

And I just built the kids a pool cabana in the family room. (Hey, they can dream.)

Focus and determination are two of my strongest character traits. Can't you tell?

But I really do have things to do.

Like print off Jedi Training Certifications.

And freezing Han Solo in carbonite.

And using The Force to clean my entire house.

Or at least thinking about cleaning.

And then I shall rest from all the activity.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Birds of a Feather

Have you ever had a friend who just loves to be silly with you?

One that loves to change clothes 17 times an hour?

Is it ever tempting to go in your Mom's closet and put on whatever you'd like?

And then make faces?

Nature vs. Nuture?

Um, Nature.

People are always trying to figure out how they're related.
(They're not.)

But Audrey and Lilly are very sophisticated and refined.

Just like their mothers.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Best Chicken Salad You've Never Had

Keeping in mind that I have some OCD tendencies, I just thought the public might like to know what I've eaten for the past four days:

I'm working on coming up with a name for this summery goodness beyond "chicken salad."

As you know, chicken salad recipes are many and the time to eat them is few.

Therefore, one cannot waste a single bite on substandard chicken salad fare. I sort of love a traditional chicken salad (mayo, sour cream, grapes, nuts, coconut, celery).

But I only say "sort of" because mayonnaise (even the typing of the word) kind of makes my toes curl under and my stomach lurch.

For starters, I picture Hugh Grant's flatmate in "Notting Hill" eating the mayo he mistakes for yogurt.

For enders, I picture raw egg, gloppy texture, and my thighs jiggling.

That's pretty much a deal breaker. 

As I'm sure it will be for you now, as well.

So since Holly shared this recipe with me, I proceeded to make it over and over and over again.

And guess what? I'm not even close to sick of it.

When I've recently eaten six chocolate chip cookies, I like it over salad greens.

When I'm starving, I like it in a tortilla wrap.

When I need a snack, I get a serving-size spoon and eating it right out of the bowl as I stand in the shadow of the fridge.

(I hear that's a healthy diet tip.)

I'm going to post the recipe, but only if you promise not to be intimidated by the number of ingredients.

Some things are good with one ingredient. Like peanut butter.

Some things are good with two ingredients. Like jalapeno jelly and cream cheese.

And sometimes it might take fifteenish ingredients to do the trick. But really, it's all stuff you have hiding somewhere in the fridge. Or at least it's a good excuse to go to the grocery store and shop while sipping a latte.

If that's your bag, baby.

Killer Chicken Salad

1/2 c. olive oil*
1/2 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. lime juice
2 t. chili powder
2 t. cumin
1/2 t. garlic powder
2 t. kosher salt (you can probably use any kind, but I always keep kosher salt on hand)
1 t. pepper
1/2 t. tabasco (or a little more if you're like me)
4 c. chopped cooked chicken
1 can corn, drained
1/2 c. cilantro (finely chopped)
1/2 c. diced red pepper
2 jalapenos (seeded  & chopped)
4 chopped green onions (I've used red in a pinch)
diced tomatoes (I just dice and add when I'm serving it)

Just combine it all! It tastes even better with some time to marinade. 

*Oh, and I only use 1/4 c. of olive oil, but I am sharing the original recipe.

I'm on Killer Chicken Salad: Day 4 and the flavor is still fantastic. Just give it a quick stir and serve. Or eat out of the bowl.

And leave the thigh-jiggling work to ice cream.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thank Goodness Snow Isn't Really a Biblical Theme

There are many days in the life of a mostly-stay-at-home mom that are challenging. 

Do I even need to describe them?

Full of selfish behavior, selective eaters, indecisive dressers, and fight-pickers.

And that is just me.

And there are the other days when I feel like I am the luckiest person alive and this whole mostly-stay-at-home mom gig is the best ticket in town.

I'm so thankful B loves his job and its many perks. For example: eating out. Today he has breakfast and two (2!) lunches on the calendar. That is some serious eating.

And this is on the heels of happy hour, a fancy schmancy steak dinner, and breakfast and lunch out yesterday.

There is obviously lots of hard work, tough days, and less-than-pleasant people he comes across. But I don't hear B complaining that his lot for the forseeable future is to wake up, head out the door and you know, Sell Stuff.

But my days are far more cluttered with various activities including, but never limited to: cleaning up entire grape slushes from the far reaches of the 'Burb, folding laundry (or at least "doing" laundry...the folding is questionable), and policing bike etiquette and related injuries from the front lawn.

(I'm seriously considering purchasing an orange, vintage "Safety Patrol" belt/sash.)

But back to today.

It's been great.

It's 2:13.

And it's only going to get better.

After picking up Jackson from school, a friend offered to let the cherubs hang out at her house while I went for a quick run.

I literally got teary as I watched them pedal down the street together, lunch boxes dangling from their bikes.

I've dreamed about their independence for SO INCREDIBLY LONG but now that it's here? I'm crying. And wishing that for a few moments (or seconds) they would be fat, immobile infants again.

Jackson wanted Lilly to ride ahead so he could help her if anything happened. Precious. The wind blew Lilly's ponytail to the side while Jackson casually pedaled backwards and shouted encouragement to his sister.

They turned the corner, riding uphill to see friends and I headed out the door for my run.

The solitude of running is always incomparable, but today it was extra-amazing.

As I left the house, the wind was blowing, the sky was grey, and teeny raindrops were occasionally falling. Probably just a handful of jagged splatters per sidewalk square.

I debated sneaking back in for a mug of hot chocolate and a long shower, but then thought of a late-afternoon lunch date and book group tonight (and look at me! I read the book!), then decided that the calorie-burn combined with the mental relaxation factor was too strong.

I grabbed my iPod and without scrolling through my playlists, I hit play, ready to hear whatever randomness awaited.

And let me tell you, God is in the small things.

It was the most divinely orchestrated playlist I've heard.

Once my iPod switches on, I usually roll my thumb around to a workout playlist full of 80's rock or some up-tempo worship.

But not today.

Perfect rainy-day songs kept me running just to hear what God had next. None of the music quickened my feet, but the mellow worship made my heart race and reflect on the one who brings the rain.

Sandwiched in the middle of the run were four songs that talked about "letting mercy rain." As the actual rain intensified, I let the full meaning of that word picture fall on me. (Sorry. Had to.)

To see mercy and to actually feel mercy are completely different. 

It was powerful to picture each raindrop (which were growing significantly in size and number at this point) as a literal, tactile reminders of God's many mercies in my life.

This wasn't the general mercies I've read about in the Word.

This was the Creator who reigns in heaven, causing rainfall that actually landed on my skin.

Despite the fact that the sky never downpoured and thunder failed to sound, by the end of the run I was soaking.

Covered in mercy.

Tired, wet, and joyful.

Somehow I think that's exactly what He had in mind when I went out for a run today.

And then back around the corner rode two of the sweetest mercies my life will ever know.

"You're the overflow,
You're the fountain of my heart,
So let your mercy rain,
let your mercy rain on us.

You're the Faithful One,
When the world's falling apart,
So let your mercy rain,
let your mercy rain on us."

--Chris Tomlin, "Let Your Mercy Rain"


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blog Makeover Giveaway

As you know, there's nothing I love more than ANYTHING that's FREE!

(Although Chick-fil-A discontinued their Free Breakfast Tuesdays, so I am standing in the kitchen wondering What On Earth I will eat and can I possibly make a Chicken Biscuit at home?)

And my very special blog designer, Jenny, is at it again!

She's hosting a giveaway at her site for a free blog makeover for you AND a friend! How fun is that?

Head over to her website to check out her amazing'll be hooked! If your blog already has a design you love, you can enter to win for a friend, add buttons, or get a re-design.

It's kind of like summer tank tops or ice cream--you can never have enough variations!

It's also like exclamation marks in this post! You! Can't! Ever! Have! Enough!


Monday, June 09, 2008

Her Halo Rests on Her Horns

We were at the breakfast table discussing which princess dress Lilly could borrow to wear for an upcoming birthday party.

It wasn't going well.

Jackson: "Lilly, you just don't like anything girly."

Lilly: "YES I DO, Jackson!! I LOVE WITCHES!

Mom, can I wear my black, purple, and orange dress to the party?"

But she did borrow a short pink dress...which she wore with long khaki shorts and tennis shoes.

No crown.

No glass slippers.

And certainly no feather boas.

And today?

She rode her 2-wheeler all over the neighborhood.

Her blond, tangled hair hung below the backwards baseball cap.

And for all the talk about her not being girly, I love exactly who she is.

Lilly doesn't pretend to be someone she's not.

She doesn't fake loving things she doesn't.

And she will eat anything dipped in syrup.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Why I Blog

A Short Essay That May or May Not Bore You to Tears

Ever since a Blogging Peep posed the question a few weeks ago, I've been pondering why I blog. Silly to ask myself, probably, but it did stop and make me think.

I know why I started blogging: desperation.

And not the kind you think. I didn't need an escape or another community, support or a creative outlet. (Because you know I am fine being totally uncreative and just eating cookies and hanging out with friends and going to happy hour at Sonic a few--or several--times a week.)

It was desperation to simply share our lives with people we love.

Although Colorado is currently "home," it's not really home. It's where we live. 

It's Far, Far Away (we just watched Shrek) from both of our families.

Chicago, Texas, North Carolina, to name a few.


And I am probably the worst keeper-in-toucher you could imagine. 

So, realizing my gross inadequacy at sending pictures via email, writing short updates capturing Jackson and Lilly's latest craziness, and after failing to keep people informed as to our lives in general, I decided to start a blog.

I hesitated because it feels so impersonal.

I would rather write a detailed email or send a letter via snail mail. But it just doesn't get done.

Having a few anecdotes out there on the blog feels selfish. Like I am too busy to make contact with each of you, but if you make the effort to come to me, I'll be here!

You come to me! Ugh.

And even then, it is still such a small piece of our lives.

Someone in the blogosphere (I can't remember whom or I would give them credit) described the blog as a mere sliver of pie. 

With each post, people get a teeny slice of our lives. Not even close to the whole pie--the full picture of who we are, what our days are like, and of course, the many endeavors that we choose to withhold from the entire free world with internet access. (Imagine that.)

I started blogging (well for real, that is...there were a few stops and false starts along the way) after my kids were toddlers. Therefore, the big developmental milestones and rapid changes had slowed down considerably by the time I started sharing these snippets with loved ones.

Granted, there are still plenty of amazing and significant moments. But the rapid succession of teething, crawling, walking, and emptying entire drawers in less than ten seconds had passed.

(Praise. God.)

So for whatever reason, I came up with a bunch of other nonsensical "content." 



Home and auto disasters.

Food fantasies and recipes.



You know, stuff. 

I was told that all of those categories are too broad of a blogging focus and I need to clarify my purpose. 

But that randomness perfectly reflects my multi-tasking, haphazard, no two-days-alike life.

I love how something as small as a latte can make my day, how Lilly's wardrobe decisions crack me up, how Jackson oozes tenderness and ruggedness at the same time, and how shopping is just plain FUN. 

*******Beep beep beepbeepbeep beep***********

Speaking of which, Lilly spent all afternoon in her size 2T Tinkerball pajamas, brown and pink argyle knee socks, and hot pink furry snow boots.

Because she is Lilly.

*******Beep beep beepbeepbeep beep************

As a bonus, I've met and adore the other bloggers out there who share life in such a unique way. I love the fellow moms who share life's small victories, tears, and grand disasters without judgment or condescension.

I love laughing instead of crying (except when I laugh so hard I cry...which is often) and exchanging emails with people I may never meet but I somehow know are kindred spirits. 

(And I am positive they love Anne of Green Gables and Will Ferrell as much as I do.)

I love that our extended family has some clue of what's going on in our lives and that I don't have to keep a scrapbook to document all of the moments (precious and otherwise) that fly in and out of our garage door each day.

(Scrapbooks make me all shaky and tense and I AM AGAINST THEM and poor Lilly doesn't have so much as shreds of paper with dates written on them as to when she hit developmental phases. 

I just remember thinking things like, "That's when Jackson got teeth!" so hopefully she'll never ask.)

But another thing I love about the blog is that it's a place to record the insanely simple and fun daily blessings, giving God glory for each of His good and perfect gifts.

I am thankful beyond words to have some amazing girls in my life with who I regularly share my burdens, struggles, and thorns. We wrestle with tough truths in the Bible while pushing each other to live out our faith, work out our theology, and live sacrificially on a daily basis.

We ask challenging questions and have sworn to spur each other toward the best road...not the easy or even the good path.

However, those are conversations I love having in person. The blog is just not a good way for me to flesh out my convictions. (I really admire those who are brave enough to attempt that.)

I love to read blogs where people argue beliefs and challenge each other's thinking...but I am not ready to jump in on those conversations. I feel too limited, too misunderstood, and like I might have to be articulate or something.

Dude. No can do.

But I do feel that the blog is a great forum to capture the blissfulness and simplicity of my latest finds at the Gap.

It is also a great venue for Hair Talk, The Great Suburban Odyssey, and any and all things food.

I have no idea how many people show up each day to read the brain cell-emptying posts about tank tops and wonder how Brad and I were allowed to leave the hospital with live babies and no parenting license.

But I am so thankful they (YOU!) do. Thank you for the many emails, thank you for the comments, thank you for the encouragement that keeps this humble blog going.

Fo' real, yo.

Love it.

I can't promise I'll be blogging a month or a year from now. But for today it is great.

God has overwhelmed me yet again with grace and goodness in unexpected places.

I can just picture myself in heaven explaining this "blog" business to Moses. He will be picturing stone tablets and shaking his head.

Just like you are right now.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

I Brake for Fake Smiles

Jackson had a starring role in the Spring Kindergarten Performance tonight. His costume (a loose term at best) was an ant.

He had two lines and just NAILED them.

A few thousand people have mentioned that the kids look Just. Like. Us.

And each other.

I don't know what to make of that.

That said, I do believe they could be twins born a year and a half apart. Which, of course, wouldn't make them twins.

But close enough.

And just so we're clear, there is never a bad time for a little thumb sucking.

In fact, I think I get the same expression on my face when I down a 44-ounce Diet Dr. Pepper.

Guess we do look alike after all.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Did I Hear a Niner in There?

I'm at a total supreme black hole-esque loss regarding the topic of this blog. I was thinking about coming up with something fun to commemorate our ninth anniversary, which is tomorrow. 

I don't want to be too sappy. Because B and I aren't exactly sappy people.

But quoting a bunch of lines from "Anchorman" or "The Office" doesn't necessarily seem appropriate either. 

Pictures seemed like a good idea to post, but I honestly have no idea where any photos circa 1999 might be. I can narrow it down to the general vicinity of the basement, but that doesn't really put a dent in the exact location.

My guess is that they're packed in a box with B's "Wayne's World" wig, some Legos, and a few favorite Happy Meal toys.

Summer 200?

So I am going to take a true journalistic view and interview B to see what he's thought of the first nine years of marriage. 

And maybe some other topics that come to mind.

I will probably pull more from the "other topics" category than from the marriage category. 

Just because.

N: Who is your favorite celebrity couple and what can we do to be more like them?

B: I would say Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Because we don't have nearly enough tattoos. Or children. Or expensive vacations. Or homes in France. But we're 50% of the way to greatness because we have the same name.

N: I know you're an avid reader. If you can narrow down the list, what are the Top 10 best books you've read so far this year?

B: I'm reading Sports Illustrated right now. Does that count? I'm o-fer on books this year. And last year. But I'm an expert at the History Channel and Discovery Channel. And John Cusack movies.

N: Do you feel a lot of pressure to make our tenth anniversary next year an out-of-this-world experience that we'll never forget?

B: No.

N: What is the biggest material sacrifice you've made since getting married?

B: Probably going to the gym. Since you're not into fitness, I've had to give up my chiseled physique.

N: That's ok. You just wish you could fake tan and shave your whole body to show off the muscles.

N: I know I am a little obsessed with food. What are your food obsessions?

B: Deli sandwiches and pizza. And cereal.

N: Any reasons why?

B: There's a lot of variety between those three genres. I could eat a variation at each meal and never get tired of them. 

N: Who is the Video Game Grand Master Champion of Awesomeness in our Family?

B: You are.

N: ME?! For real?! Thank you very much. I'm humbled! Especially considering I don't play much.

Ok folks, I think that's it. It's really hard to make up questions for someone you've known since the first grade. B is truly one of the funniest people ever, but his talents are best suited to musical impressions and sight gags. And comedy dancing.

You'll have to come to a wedding with us sometime.

We promise not to dress like this:
Halloween 2006

I am serious. That was Halloween. Not our actual prom.

Although I did wear that exact dress to Turnabout in 1992. I am appalled that B's arm is covering the rhinestone bow.

(But please notice my Swatch.)

So to celebrate this momentous occasion, we're going to have some barbeque, watch a movie, and buy each other some new Nalgene water bottles.

(I may have lost both of ours at the gym. Within a week. The same week in which--ironically--I spilled an entire water bottle on my cell phone.)

Ah, young love.

Or middle-aged love.

Whatever. Let's go eat barbeque.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Rounding Out His Skill Set

After living in our home for nearly a year, I got the carpets cleaned for the first time last week.

After living in our home for nearly a year, I cashed in on a gift card to have a cleaning service come and do all kinds of deep cleaning and other jobs I hate--yesterday.


Less than 24 hours ago.

So what do you think happened last night?

Around midnight?

And then again around 4 a.m.?

Jackson got sick. Puking everywhere.

And by "everywhere" I mean he stood at the top of the stairs and let loose in such a way that vomit rained all of the newly cleaned carpet upstairs AND the newly cleaned floors, walls and baseboards downstairs.

Two floors of barf.

That is impressive.

Good thing that boy is cute.