Friday, September 23, 2011

First Day of Fall

At this point, I think we've all come to understand why I only committed to the S.O.B.


Once school and Bible study and soccer and football and run club and math olympiad and college football and pumpkin eating-season begin, I'm toast.

Plus, people around here want laundered clothes and food at regular intervals.

And sadly, blogging is near the bottom of the priority list...unless I get way behind on cleaning, in which case I'll do anything to avoid scrubbing the bathroom floor.

These pictures I finally uploaded are from our Labor Day hike up Devil's Head.

It was the perfect day, our backpacks were ridiculously loaded with snacks, and the kids didn't even complain once the entire hike. Miraculous.

A similar-aged kid whined and groaned the whole way up the trail about how long and painful and boring it was. It helped Jackson and Lilly tremendously to see how unbecoming the complaining appeared on another child. 

{We've extended that favor to MANY other families, MANY other times, so it felt like sweet payback.}

Lilly shimmied up this rock with no plan to get down.

Her only tactic was to have me catch her or free fall onto super sharp rocks. It was one of those teachable moments when the Love & Logic people probably would've advocated a natural consequence.

But in plain sight of other hovering/judging parents, I decided to play it safe and keep her alive. 

At the top of Devil's Head, there are 142 stairs that lead to a watch tower. In the olden days, the fire watchman would stand up there and look out for forest fires. If he saw the trees ablaze, he'd then race down the stairs, 3 miles down the mountain to the middle of nowhere, and alert the bison that fire was imminent. 

 {this is about halfway up}

I couldn't exactly figure out how this was efficient, but J had fun climbing the stairs a few times to check things out.

The four of us had an amazing day, as evidenced by the kids falling asleep in the car on the way home. Whoo hoo for awesomeness!


So, being that it is no longer summer, I'm not sure if this is good-bye or if I'll blog again.

It's so much fun to chronicle our insignificant family happenings...and even though they're rarely interesting or spectacular, they're the special collection of little moments that make up a lifetime.

Another distraction is a new job I began that feels a lot more like a hobby, involves writing and trends, and has me working with an amazingly talented team of people. They haven't figured out that I have no idea what I'm doing, so I'm going to ride this wave while it lasts:)

More about that another time...

But for now, I'm returning to my favorite mantra:

They're probably the most freeing words I say every day. When overwhelming feelings creep in, I realize I forgot that I wasn't created to be everything to everyone.

God gives me just enough grace for each moment, each decision, each child, each person, each need that comes across my path each day. 

And while I firmly believe we can't have it all, I know I have enough.

So tomorrow we are on the run again...but filled with "enough" my heart is carried through it all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rif Ram Bah Zoo Lickety Lickety Woo Woo

If that reads like nonsense to you, then you probably didn't go to TCU.  

I don't think the ol' chant/cheer is still in good favor because I didn't hear it once at the game this weekend and the university probably realized there was a little something in the sauce the night it was penned.

We're coming off one of the most fun footy-footy-football {name that movie} weekends of ALL TIMES. And that is saying something because I've enjoyed a lot of amazing football.

One element that added to the wonderfulness was having our fellow purple-blooded cousin, Rylie, here with us. She and her dad are professional Horned Frog fans, so her extensive player knowledge helped us a ton. 

Mark and Rylie flew in from Dallas to cheer on the Frogs in Colorado Springs at the TCU vs. Air Force showdown.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...every good game starts with an even better tailgate. Friday night unofficially kicked off our festivities while we canvassed Target in search of the perfect tailgate accessories and food.

We debated...

cute little grill or larger more functional grill {cute! i won!}

sliders or full-size burgers {sliders}

Doritos or Cracked Pepper Kettle Chips or Salsa Sun Chips or Black Bean Roasted Garlic Tortilla Chips or Cheetos {ALL}

And of course, we grabbed root beer for the sub-21 crowd.

The girls mostly liked hanging out the windows yelling "Go TCU!" to everyone who walked by.

I don't know if it's a sign of the times, but none of us had ever grilled with charcoal before. Or at least not in recent memory.

But the Big Man with the Little Grill made it happen.


The kids chugged root beer like it was super water {Parks & Rec fans??}. That was in-between football tosses, befriending fellow Frogs, and "hikes" in the "woods."


The friendly tailgaters next door even offered to share their posh food after they saw our leetle bitty grill and felt compassion for us. A full-on Asian Fusion buffet, complete with dipping sauces and a gorgeous Williams-Sonoma tablecloth awaited us.

One stray bean bag flew their way during Corn Hole, and suddenly we were devouring their skewered grilled scallops and setting up a love connection in Oregon for a very eligible bachelor friend of ours.

Isn't that the joy of the tailgate? The food, the camaraderie, the match-making? 

After downing a couple dozen sliders and a bag of chips {each}, we made our way into the game.

This was an official TCU "travel game," so the stands were packed with Texans! YES! And our cheering definitely out team-spirited the Air Force.

In their defense, the fighter jet flyover was pretty cool. The Horned Frogs left their F-16s at home this one time.

Of course, by the third quarter {Lilly kept calling them "innings"}, the Frog Faithful were getting a little tired.

But Rylie's Horned Frog spirit just cannot be put down. Even by exhaustion.
{would you be so kind as to notice the lady in front of us who was shielding the sun with her program? following an incredible catch, the girls got a little wild with the pom-poms and she shot us a death glare like they were PERMANENTLY displacing her hair. and then she rests a magazine up there like it won't mold her sweaty hair to her head in the shape of a tent. 
just sayin'.}

After the game, Tank Carder came over and high-fived his biggest fans.
And then I asked possibly the worst candidate in the stadium to take our photo with my phone. I should've denied his cheerful volunteerism when he said "so how do you work this thing?" but I didn't want to insult his lack of tech-savviness, so assured him he would be fine.

And other than not getting Lilly in the picture, he was awesome!

Monday, September 05, 2011


I think everyone will be glad to know that I have been talked down from the meal-planning related cliffs of insanity. My sister-in-law was laughing because we had this exact conversation exactly one month ago and I researched a bunch of websites that vow to help out with dinner/grocery shopping issues and emailed her some suggestions.

The difference is that she actually reads the websites and takes their advice. Her family is well-fed and happy. 

Mine are under-nourished, but forgiving. {Chocolate chip cookies will get you that, at least.}

A sweet friend really helped me find my cooking mojo again...knowing that I work on inspiration, not organization or planning. {This would explain a lot of decisions in my home, like the revolving door of decor on the main level and the pit of shame in the basement.} 

Anyway, she suggested I watch some cooking shows where they make amazing food, and pretty soon I'd be wanting to join their ranks.

Well, she was right.

I didn't even have to watch the shows. I just had to think about them and click around on the Food Network website and...HEALED!

Tonight, one of our primary food groups of summer was re-visited: The Burger and It's Many Wonderful Variations. All it took was a little caramelized onions and jalapenos, swiss cheese and spicy barbecue sauce before I was shunning the pizza/pot roast combo forever.

In the name of accountability, here's our menu for this week:
M-burgers {check, glorious check.}
T-chicken & mozzarella ravioli
W-spicy chicken & sausage jambalaya
Th-chicken cordon bleu
F-Hot Dog Quesadilla Wrap {OH, I KID}


We did have a particularly awesome weekend...and yes, it involved food.

After living in Colorado for NINE entire years {approximately 7.5 longer than we ever imagined}, we've grown tired of being the shame of the entire state.

This is amazing, beautiful country, and we rarely leave our suburban campsite that could  double as suburbia anywhere.

Brad and I came to the terrible reality that we spent more time in the mountains--as vacationers and skiiers--before we lived here.

On a clear day, you can see Pikes Peak from our house, and we decided this would be the weekend we summited the mountain.

If you're thinking we hiked, than you've never visited Pikes Peak. But if you saw the photo above and immediately knew Lilly devoured a donut with awesome puffing capability due to the altitude, then you are a veteran.

I'm a little hesitant to post so many "scenic" pictures, because I'm picturing an old blue floral velvety picture album at a nursing home opening up, while the reader gets a look of panic and dread while wondering how long MeMaw is going to bore her with an unending narrative of Pikes Peak{!} and eleventy million pictures that don't even contain people.

But we're not at a nursing home and you can click away RIGHT NOW, so be my guest:)

But in defense of a lengthy photo montage, our little excursion was really cool.

Just ask Lilly. 

The beauty of the uphill drive, the extra-tall mountains, the glimpses of thousands of miles of land were so gasp-worthy, that I could totally see how Katherine Lee Bates could write "America The Beautiful" while hanging out up there.

I'm not even a songwriter, and I wanted to write something or sing something or just run around freaking out because it was so beyond words.

{I am wondering a little about the "fruited plain." Didn't see it. Even the "amber waves" seemed more like dead grass and trees, but the beauty of poetic license is that she could've imagined it to be grain, but I saw on the drive up the mountain that it was clearly NOT.} 

Instead of getting patriotic, we cranked up the David Crowder and had our own little worship time in the car.

And we talked a lot about the geologic chicken or the egg-- "mountain or the rocks." Did God create mountains and then they crumbled some and then these huge rocks were created? Or did he just create rocks as sprinkles on top of the mountains?

Either way, it was great to see this beautiful state from a brand new perspective.

I tend to be a little indoorsy, and find no shortage of opportunity to praise God for a clearance item at Target or a just-reduced pair of jeans at Nordstrom Rack. 

But it's humbling to thank Him for creating rocks that cry out His praise and to stand on mountains that were clearly carved by His voice. It brings a different joy to see the dimension of clouds a breath away and the awe on a diverse community of faces as they collectively revel in what no man could make. It reminds me that I am so small and He beyond what I can even conceive of as "big."

But since they don't have trampolines on top of the mountain, we had to come back down.

And if you haven't read Psalm 19 in awhile, you just might:)

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Can We Talk?

I am having some serious meal planning/preparation issues. This is what my fridge looks like once in awhile with alarming regularity.

I asked the kids and NO, they didn't want to eat rotting meat, expired yogurt, and pickles for dinner.

Each week starts with grand ambitions and sometimes even a menu{!} that looks like this: 

M-pulled pork tacos 
T-chicken scallopini 
Th-spicy tilapia
F-grilled balsamic bbq chicken

But our reality last week looked like:

M-take & bake pizza
T- sandwiches
W-pot roast (the fancy microwave kind from costco)
Th-leftover pizza and pot roast (on the same plate)
F-peanut butter chocolate chip waffles
Sat--suspect buffalo burgers from a New Age street vendor (lunch) and hot dogs (dinner)

We all love good food, but I am struggling to figure out when and how to a) buy food and b) prepare it.

And that is even after we added this bad boy to our family:

I'm so proud to have scored this awesome gas range at a home sale for $100. Whoo hoo! We already had a gas outlet, so Brad just had to drop it in and we were in business.

Actually, he had to power down the entire house and do some shady wiring and re-routing of electric currents, but it's working like a dream.

Even though it hasn't seen much dinner action, the gas range has scrambled enough eggs to make entire chicken coops nervous. I love my overly naive and supportive kids who tell me every morning, "These cheesy eggs cooked over a gas flame taste sooo much better!"

{Did you catch that? I do make eggs. All is not lost. The smoke signal of despair will be when I buy Pop-Tarts.}

I have even made some fantastic lunches, due to my favorite invention, the bento lunch box, at

I LOVE not digging for tupperware containers/lids or using a million Ziploc bags.

Before you think I'm all Martha-y with the lunches {because I'm assuming that you've blocked out that I served re-heated pizza and re-heated pot roast on the same plate last week}, this lunch organization is not an everyday thing.

{I should mention that when I served the sketchy pizza/roast duo, Brad was out of town and we didn't get home from practice until 7.}

{But I should also mention that when I'm out of town, Brad eats things like triple decker PB&J's and hot dogs in a tortilla with cheese...which he actually named "The Quesadilla Hot Dog Wrap."}

So what I'm humbly asking the precious blog-reading community is for you all to fix my problem. Even meal planning and grocery shopping require too much thought. I need something magical, like a Harry Potterish spell that could fix dinner every night. Expecto dinner delicioso!

Clearly, I can plan the menu, I just can't execute the menu. 

People talk about things like crock-pots all the time, but I'm always worried about drying things out or serving a gloppy mess for dinner.

This is a weird problem because I love cooking, but it seems like if I haven't cooked dinner by 9 a.m., it's not happening. Also, groceries aren't spontaneously appearing at my house like they used to.

My conscious is slightly guilt-ridden, because I did manage to find time to bake muffins, chocolate peanut butter cookies, peanut butter brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and m&m brownies this week. Somehow I always manage to have those ingredients on hand??

So here's the deal, if anyone can help, I'll make you a cake the next time you need Polly Pocket floating in a blue jell-o pool while Chewy & the Storm Trooper battle it out.

And please don't mention anything about priorities.