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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Because I need it today - maybe you do too.  It's been one of those days.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. -Matthew 11:28-29

 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” -Revelation 21:4

That's all I've got in me, today, blog-world.

-A

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kitchen Decor

So, this is one art project that has been on my to-do list for some time, but, as you have probably noticed, there have been quite a few things on my to-do list for some time.  This isn't the finished project, yet, but it'll give you a good idea of what the finished project will look like.  I'm in the market for a good frame to distress or a cheap "pre-distressed" frame bought right from the store. 

To preface the 'art', I'll say that one thing I have always prayed for the girls (and students in general) in our youth group, is that they would be so in love with their Lord that they would ooze JesusI love this analogy.  I really can't think of any other way to describe it. 

When you think about a sponge, the nature of a sponge is to soak in and ooze out.  When squeezed, all that is in the sponge oozes from it's pores.  Even when the sponge is at rest, it oozes.  My prayer is that we, as Christians, would soak in so much of Jesus, that when squeezed and even when at rest, Jesus is what pours out from us.  That being said:


-A

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thunder Brownies

It is yet another rainy day here in our neck of the woods.  We are all so tired of the severe weather and constant rain.  It's really quite depressing.  It also makes it very difficult to spend good quality time with a toddler boy who thrives on being outside. 

So today, after asking for the 1,000th time, to go play in the rain (I ordered him rainboots and a raincoat yesterday for this specific purpose), I decided I needed to get his mind busy doing something. 

After a semi-failure on blondie brownies a few months back (let's just say they tasted somewhat similar to that of cardboard), I decided to give a different recipe a shot.  If nothing else, it would keep Bryton occupied for a half an hour.  And that it did.  Join us on our adventure:

First, we got all of the ingredients out and on the cabinet (allows Bryton to have something to play with and allows me to make sure I have everything ;).


 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Combine ingredients (1 cup sifted flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup chopped nuts)


Eat white chocolate chips while mom mixes together 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar with 1/3 cup melted butter, one beaten egg, and 1 Tbsp. of Vanilla.  Then mix in flour / nut mixture small amounts at a time.  Put in an 8x8 (or 9x9) inch baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Sprinkle with white chocolate (or semi - sweet chocolate) chips.

 
Let cool, and slice 'em up!


Enjoy!


Until next time!
-A

Motivate Me Monday

Welcome to another Motivate Me Monday segment!

I'm figuring out that I need to break these things up day by day in order to get them done, so I hope as I continue this segment I find myself more and more successful.  We shall see. 

For this week:
  1. Clean out kids closet / drawers and do inventory.  I admit it, friends.  I'm a huge bargain shopper, and I buy in advance for my kids' next season (or in some cases, next years) clothes.  We've actually done fairly well up to this point about judging sizes well and all.  The one thing I've not done great at is doing inventory of what I have so that I have enough of one thing and not 3,000 of something else.  That being said, I'm assuming Ansley is stocked up through this time next year, and I know Bryton probably needs a lot of everything (it's been hard to find great deals on clothes in his size recently... weird), but I need to find out what the needs really are for both of them. 
  2. One art project accomplished.  Yep, one.  Why? Because I have about 17 (it feels like) on the drawing board, and I need to feel the accomplishment of finishing one.   I have one project that is in the 'works', but i can't rush it... I'm excited for how it turns out in the end.  Don't worry, I'll keep you all posted :) 
  3. This is a pay bills / menu plan week.  I may share with you my menu plan with you when it comes together this week.  I'm going to see how much I can use out of my stockpile and how little I can buy from the store :) 
  4. Whole house cleaned (again).  I'm more motivated to do it when I see it on here. 
I'd mention the bushes again, but we're still trying to decide what to do with them, and being that it's a tough week for Aaron work wise, and it's a holiday weekend coming up, we'll postpone that for a time. 

Keep checking back, multiple blogs a day. 

-A


Cheap Home Decor Idea

So before I post this week's Motivate Me Monday segment (which includes, ahem, still several decor projects), I thought I'd post an idea for a really cheap 4th of July decor idea.

Tiny Prints is once again offering up another free card (if you've not ordered from them, you really should, the quality of the cards are great, and I'm always impressed with their designs!)

Anyway, check out this cute 4th of July card:


I went and ordered this very card, did no personalization, used the promo code TROOPS to get the card FREE (including shipping) and will use just this side of the car, put in a matted frame and voila, 4th of July decor that I can reuse year after year ;)

Go here to get started, and be sure to browse around when you are done!  They offer free cards all of the time, and they are all very cute!

-A

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On Vacation with Swagbucks

For those of you who know me well, you know I love a good bargain.  Well, may I tell you, I'm working on a bargain! :)

Aaron and I are planning vacation for our family (and hopefully alongside another family who are great friends of ours) and, though you can't get everything free, I'm starting on earning swagbucks like CrAzY to either pay airfare (southwest giftcard - if we fly), hotel rooms (hotels.com giftcard - if we drive and need to stay overnight on the way down and back), or restaurants (O'Charlie's, etc). 

There are enough things you can't necessarily get free or great deals on, but if you get free or great deals on enough other things, you can splurge on things like, oh, Disney World! :)  And Disney World is worth the splurge ;)

I'll keep you posted on my success.  1,000 or so down, 20,000 or so to go ;)

-A

(Not a member of swagbucks?  Click on the link on the sidebar to register!  Earn swagbucks for all kinds of free things!)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Memorizing the Jesus Book and Teaching Blend Sounds

Alright friends of the blog realm, I'm on a mission.  Let me tell you about my elephant errrr, child.  He remembers everything.  Take, for example, just last night.  I told him we were going to watch daddy play softball (he's been to the softball fields one time in the past year), and he proceeded to ask me if he could play on the slides there (there's a small playground) and if he was going to get to eat an apple and cookies (the last time we had chicken salad sandwiches, apples, and animal crackers while we were watching daddy play).  He's two, by golly, I didn't even remember that until he mentioned it!

So, being that he's remembering stuff and all, I'd love to have him start doing some scripture memorization.  (As is being done by my blog friend at Thoughts & Whatnots with her toddler.)  I'm a little perplexed about where to start.  I need suggestions!  He typically remembers things more when they are repeated over and over.  Maybe this is a good time for he and I to work on a verse every couple of months (one that can be repeated over and over at specific times???)  What do you all think?

And here's another, errr, confession (I guess).  Bryton is having an issue saying the blend 'tr'.  Think "train", "truck", "trip" etc.  The problem is that he replaces the "tr" with "f".  Sure, you are thinking, "Okay, Alicia, he's two, give him a break."  But here's the problem:  "Choo choo frain" is not the problem, nor is "fip" for trip, but don't make me spell out what 'truck' is if you drop the "tr" and add the 'f'.  Granted, he's two and has no idea what he's saying... but he's definitely been turning some heads when saying "big truck" or "fire truck" lately.  HELP!  Is there any way to teach him this, or do we just have to wait this one out?

-A

Friday, June 24, 2011

Consider the Successes

In fairness, I feel I should share with you all of the many successes Bryton has had recently. 

After all, there is something about watching your child succeed, or overcome fear, or show trust, or develop kindness, that brings a smile to the lips and a tear to the eye.  Makes me think God must feel the same for us. 

Anyway, here are a few Bryton tidbits:
  • Little Man has dominated the tricycle recently, and I do mean dominated.  For a kid who literally could not reach the pedals two months ago, we've walked (ahem, jogged) next to him up and down the sidewalks the past couple days, after catching him riding it in circles around our enclosed front porch.  We didn't even know he was capable!  Go B!
  • He has shown no fear with the pool this year.  Rewind to just a few weeks ago when he was terrified of the very small waterfall at the Penguin exhibit at the zoo, and we were worried that our 2 year old's pool time would be minimal this year.  We were mistaken.  He's all about jumping off the edge, whether you are there to catch him at all.  He may be a little too comfortable. 
  • The past two days I've watched Bryton show a level of compassion for other kids his age that I've never seen before.  He's not sure what to do with it yet, but he's recognizing the hurt in others, and as a mother who wants him to exude compassion, kindness, and concern, I'm proud of him just for noticing.  
  • We made it all day with one time-out.  One, I tell you.  God, Himself, must be responsible for that.  Afterall, when we're bad, it's us, when we're good, it's the Jesus in us (seems like I've heard that somewhere before)... 
  • And finally... Bryton's time out routine goes something like this: being sent to time out, serving his 'time', being told to get up, him coming to us in which we ask what he's done wrong.  He tells us why he had to have a time out, we explain to him why what he did was bad (trying not to use the 'because we told you so' line), and he's expected to say he's sorry (and also to apologize to whomever else was involved... which really is only applicable when it's the dog... the only being he ever abuses).  Anyhow, Aaron's been adding in the question, "What does 'I'm sorry' mean?"  To which Bryton now replies, "Sorry means I won't do it again."  (On a side note, I, of course, wanted to add, "I feel bad for what I've done,' but I don't know that he's at a place in life where he can be remorseful for his actions just yet, and I don't want him lying, so for right now, we'll go with "I won't do it again.")  All in all - I mentioned all of that just to say, he's grasping a better concept of apology and of right and wrong.  
(That being noted, he's also grasping a better concept of 'flash a really great smile and say "I love you, daddy," when Aaron is disciplining, which I get a really great chuckle out of if I'm not in view.)

It's crazy all of the little successes we are having.  Bryton was with Aaron in the pool today, and he suddenly looked huge to me.  I still refer to him as my baby, but he sure is looking like a little boy.

Until next time -
A

Weigh Day Friday


A new week, a new update.

I'm really not sure how to feel about any of this.  Let's start with the numbers:

Weight:  130.6 (insert large sad face here)
Inches (around midsection at belly button): 33 3/4

So... I've gained 1.4 pounds and lost a half inch around my waist.  This is exactly why I don't know how to feel.  Granted, my pre-pregnancy weight was 128, so it's not like I'm far off, and to be completely honest, I'm not overly concerned about the number on the scale.  (Though if I could choose, I'd get myself down to the 'pre-road' weight of 120-124)  I'm more concerned with the image in the mirror.  However, I'm not really wanting the number on the scale to go up. 

My 'trainer' says I could be replacing fat with muscle (and muscle weighs more than fat), but still.  So I'm continuing on for the month of June, seeing what happens, and July I'm going to start dramatically changing my diet as well and see what happens.

A few other things have crossed my mind as well... one is just being a female.  My weight fluctuates from day to day, and can be a pound or more difference from day to day.  Another thing that I've been considering is our BC method.  I was 105 all during high school and gained my next 15-20 pounds after BC.  (I gained the next 3 on the road... bleh.)  I'd never change our BC method due to weight, but I'm not sure that it isn't causing a great deal of headaches as well.  So that may be something to take into consideration in the coming months.  We'll see how this all goes...

How are you all doing?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's Easy to Get Caught Up

In light of recent events (what seem to be tragic, recurring, events) God is welling up in me a spirit of thankfulness. 

Getting Caught Up
It's become easy, lately, to get caught up in moments, namely, frustrating, difficult moments.  Those of you with children know the moments I'm speaking of.  The moments where your child looks you right in the face and continues doing the very thing that you've asked repeatedly for them not to do.  These are the moments of time outs and, in our house, 'bad spoons'.  These are the 6 am wake up calls (rather than the 'after 7's' that I prefer), these are the two year old feet kicking the tar out of my seat in the car, these are the little girl screams when she should be sleeping, these are loud talking when he's been told to be quiet, it's the getting up out of bed 10 times when he should be napping, it is fits and throwing himself on the floor.  And it is all exhausting and frustrating. 

And, Yet, These Are The Moments...
That I know I'd long for if the unthinkable happened.  These are the moments we would cherish and one day laugh about.  Along with every precious, joyous moment, these moments of frustration join to bring us some of life's greatest blessings.

I'm Learning
That my frustration in these trying moments may, in no way, be justified.  No, I've been shown a great deal of patience by a Father who watches me continue to do all of the things He has repeatedly asked me not too.  He has not shown wrath when I've disobeyed in light of the fact that He knows that I know better.  I'm certain there are times that I look like that angry two year old throwing herself on the floor when He knows what's best for me.  We have a much wider view than our children as to what is best for them, as is true with God's all-knowing perspective compared to ours which is so limited. 

  Yet, He loves us.  
And He maintains patience.  And He is jubilant over us.  He corrects us, but He does so in love.  He sees a relationship with us as something worth sacrifice.  He cares deeply for our needs, hurts deeply for our sin, and desires a relationship with us in much the same way we do with our own children.

Now, to love like the Father. 
To discipline with love, not in anger.  To rejoice for my children, delighting in them and caring for their needs, hurting for their sin, and desiring a relationship with them that only comes through great sacrifice.  To love them in light of their sin and in spite of their sin... and to be thankful for every moment God allows them to be in my care.  For I am allowed a glimpse of the Father's delight in His children only through Him allowing me the privilege of loving my own.  For they are


I Don't Always Get it Right
But I pray that I always remember that every kicked seat, every minute of sleep lost, every fit thrown, every tear wept... they are all part of the blessing, and will all be missed, will all be cherished, will all be treasured when kids are grown, kids are gone, or when we part as a loved one passes... 

In an effort to be more conscious of the blessings...

-A 
   
 

Blastoff Bushes!

So, somewhere Bryton has come up with the word "Blastoff!"  And it usually comes as a precedent to the word 'go!'  It's been normal in our house the past week or so to hear 'Blastoff!  Go!" and see a little finger waving in the air as he takes off through the house.

What does that have to do with our bushes?

I wish they would blastoff and go somewhere.

They stink.  (Not literally, but just wait until you see them.)

So, as I'd talked to you all about before, we've been trying to decide what to do with this little eyesore here in our yard:


Believe it or not, these bushes (yes, these.  Come to find out there are three separate bushes in this monstrosity.) actually got bigger before we butchered them to see if we could make them salvageable.  After having had enough, and figuring out that there were three different bushes here, anyway, we decided it may be beneficial just to try to separate them into their distinct identities and see what happened.  (Knowing full well that we don't love these bushes anyway, so if they have to go, they have to go.)  Here's the result:

 I can't even say it's better... it's just a different kind of 'bad.'  What were overflowing, dominant, intimidating bushes that were looking as if they could take over our home at any moment, have now become ghastly, ugly, weeping bushes that look like they are dying.  I don't necessarily want either hanging out in my front yard...

SO - it's looking as if we may be doing some front yard surgery in coming days.  One thing we did find with the butchering of our plants, the brick behind it is actually not atrocious and isn't something that would have to be hidden!  It gives us many more options for whatever we decide to put there!

Keep checking back, hopefully this looks better soon.

(And you can't tell from the picture, but all of the 'green' underneath the bushes are weeds... every blasted bit of it... ugh... ugliness.)

Until Next Time -
A

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mystery History


Week 1 of Mystery History.  
Mystery History is going to be a temporary meme in which I throw out some clues regarding historic events leading to future happenings.  You'll want in to see this unfold ;)  

So here is week 1.  Enjoy :) 

Gas by the gallon was 33 cents! 
Now $3.65 seems a horrible offense, 
And with eyes to see and ears to call - 
You my friend have seen it all!

Until next time :)  

-A

The Relational Status' of Childhood Characters

I'd tell you what got me thinking about all of this, but I'll wait until the end, because I want to make you wonder where these thoughts could have possibly come from. 

So, as is normal in our house, we were watching a dvr'ed episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse the other day, ultimately, Bryton's favorite show.  I was paying extra close attention on this particular day, and I began to notice just how odd the make up of Mickey's social circle happens to be. 

Think with me, won't you?

Mickey is a mouse.  Mice, notoriously, are small.  (He's Mickey Mouse, not Mickey Rat).  Mickey has his girlfriend (though tactfully, thankfully we have no mouse make-out sessions) whose name is Minnie.  Minnie seems a little flighty, but very polite, and Mickey seems to like her a lot.  All in all, pretty normal.  At least, as of now. 



Now, add in that their couple friends, Donald and Daisy, both ducks.  I'm not sure about you, but when was the last time you saw mice and ducks hanging out together.  If you are like me, not very often.  Now, I know, I know, have a little bit of an imagination, Alicia!  Since when do mice have clubhouses anyway?  Still, though... ducks?   So, Donald has this speech impediment that, in like 50 years he's never been able to overcome, and Daisy, well, she seems a little more strong-headed than Minnie.   And, somehow, Donald and Daisy appear to be the same size as Mickey and Minnie.  Weird.  Ducks and mice, the same size?  But it gets even more weird. 



This is where it all started falling apart for me, our remaining major characters are Goofy (a dog) and Pluto (also a dog).  The problem?  Well, Goofy acts as if he is one of the gang, and by account, he is!  He talks, participates, plays with and solves mysteries with the rest of the crew, but somehow, Pluto, well, he's just a dog.  Ok - whose idea was this?  "Let's make a group of friends, two mice, two ducks, one dog, and oh - let's give 'em a pet... how about another dog for a pet?  Great!"



So I'm not sure who I feel worse for... Pluto, because, well, poor guy just has to be a dog, or Goofy, who has no soul mate (I mean, come on, God Himself said it was not good for man to be alone.)  But, is he really alone?  After watching enough Mickey, I've come to the conclusion that no, he is not alone.  He has Clarabelle apparently... and for those of you who don't know Mickey Mouse Clubhouse... Clarabelle is a cow.   





Yep - a cow.  So, now, friends, we have a dog and a cow who apparently enjoy each others' company, if ya know what I'm sayin'.  This is just perplexing me.  Maybe I'm too much of a realist, and I'm a huge Disney fan, but really, what were they thinking? 

Add onto this that you never really know from episode to episode whether Pete and Willie are good guys or bad guys, and you have one confused momma who was simply trying to figure out how to make us all Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Characters for Halloween (Bryton and Ansley will be Mickey and Minnie, and I can't imagine Aaron agreeing with dressing as Donald.  So if he's Goofy, apparently I have to be Clarabelle cow, and come one, I really have no desire to be a cow, especially one who is a minor character that I'll have to explain my life away on... ugh.  Decisions.) 

So there ya go - the soap opera of Mickey...

-A

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Birth Announcement DIY

So this project that I put together last week (did the 'grunt work') was completed this week with frames :)

I initially got the idea perusing on Etsy, and come to find, people were charging $15 - $25 for just the print (on paper or cardstock!) for these things.  I, of course, thought to myself, "I'm no diy'er, but surely with the help of my computer I can do the same thing for way less than $25 (frame and all)!

And so, I spent about 1/2 hour on the computer, 15 minutes in Hobby Lobby shopping for cute frames that fit the personality of each of the kiddos, bought two (on sale for 50% off of course), and minus the cost of the ink and two pieces of paper (just regular ole' paper), I spent a total of $19.74 for both of these.  (I love when frames are on sale at Hobby Lobby!)

AND - I personalized them exactly how I wanted, with both of their 'life verses' (as we've given them at this point, they will certainly be able to choose their own at some point) on them as well.  Ready to see the finished products?  Here ya go ;)





So, whatcha think?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Motivate Me Monday


Welcome to another edition of Motivate Me Monday!

This may as well be a "do it yourself" edition of Motivate Me Monday, because I've got a lot of projects to add to the regular 'work-list' (house cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc.).  I also have it in my plan of action to post all of those projects here on the blog :)  Stay tuned for those!  Here it goes:

  1. You know that birth announcement project I had in mind last week.  It's on my list this week, and is on the blog schedule for tomorrow!  That means I'm making certain it gets done!  Make sure to check back!  
  2. You remember those yucky awful bushes in our front yard, with the major question as to what to do with them.  Well, they looked awful and needed trimmed, so hubby was a good man and trimmed them.  Then they still looked awful (not his fault), and so we decided maybe if we shaped them as the three individual bushes they are (rather than one ginormous bush), it'd look better, and they still look awful.  So I'll take you a new picture (the after of the before we already posted), and put it on our schedule this week to make that area look better.  It may just mean we may get the dumb things dug up and start brainstorming again.  
  3. Ahem (blushing)... get the Christmas lights down.  I know, awful, right?  I'm embarrassed.  If I have to get on the roof myself I'll do it.  Or maybe I'll pay a boy $20 to get them down... any takers?     Done!  Thanks, Adam!
  4. I'm starting a new, temporary, meme this week.  It should be a fun one, but I'm trying to decide exactly how to get it done... so it's going to require some brainstorming!  Let's see, I have a Friday and a Monday, so how about I add this to the blog list for Wednesdays! :)  
  5. I have another 'art project' on my mind.  We'll see if I can get going on it.  It'll be easy if I can find what I need for it :)  I'll keep you up to date on that one too.  
I'll cut the list short this week - as these should keep me plenty busy... though I know that I'll publish this and my list will multiply exponentially.  Er, such is life.

Make sure you keep checking back as I'm blogging everyday!  I have my blog list ready for this week, and I'm excited about some of the things coming up ;)

Hope everyone has a great week!!!

-A

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Daddies

There's just something about them. 

I had a rough time with daddies in my life starting off.  Long story short, my father walked out of my life when I was a little girl, Bruce stepped in to be my daddy when I was only 2 or 3, and was the only 'daddy' I ever knew.  However, when it came time for him to adopt me (legally) into his family at the age of 15, I couldn't get over the fact that my real father didn't want anything to do with  me... ever.  The adoption was more than proof. 

As girls we need the acceptance, approval, and love from men in our lives, and he was absent to say the least.  I struggled a great deal, the adoption went through, and I mourned the loss of a father I never had... so I thought.  (I should note, I wanted the adoption.)

It wasn't until a year following the adoption that I came home from school and saw a cake sitting at my place on the kitchen table.  It was a one year birthday cake marking the 'birth' of my legal entrance into my daddy's family.  It was at this time that I realized what a daddy I'd had all along, and when you have a daddy, who needs a father?  (If I'm honest, I even prefer the term 'daddy' for my spiritual Father rather than the word 'father' for this reason.) 

From that moment on I completely saw my dad in a different light. 
As a family we walked through so much after this time.  After my engagement in December, my dad had a heart-attack in February that nearly took him from us.  We spent a great deal of time in the hospital, praying that Jesus would spare his life.  He still had to walk me down an aisle. 

His recovery was long, and he seemed frail and sick for a long time after, but by golly, he walked me down that aisle.  Standing with him in the vestibule is something I will never forget.  History of his being the 'man in my life' flashed before my eyes, littered with the little things he did (and put up with) that showed how much he loved me.  (I mean, you can only play Candy Land with a 3 year old so many times before you pack a bag and go running the other direction.)  And with tears in his eyes we left that vestibule, and he gave me away to the man who would bring a whole new meaning to the word 'daddy.' 


When you get married you can't imagine loving your husband anymore than you already do. 
You're in love... newlyweds, living up the easy life and enjoying all of the newness of living together and doing life together. 

Then, babies enter the picture and everything changes.  Your house becomes littered with toys, you get too little sleep and have too much change.  Your life begins to revolve around diapers and schedules.  And one day, when the fog fades, you walk in the room to see the husband that you could never love more be a daddy, talking and making faces and cooing and this precious being the two of you created together, and somehow that love reaches an incredible new level.  The 'daddy' in Aaron makes me love him even more.  I love seeing him enjoy our children.  I love his workings with them, his interactions with them, his love for them, and I know that one of these days he will be standing with Ansley in some vestibule and before her eyes will flash all of the love she received from her daddy.  One day, Bryton will be playing with his own son, and he'll understand the love and pride that Aaron felt the first time he knocked his Cardinal baseball off that tee. 

And I look at him now and relish in the idea that I have a husband who is also an incredible daddy.  A spiritual leader, a playmate, a little girl's first love (and I hope only love for a long time)... he disciplines but he lifts up, he plays and he teaches, he protects and instills confidence. 

It's said that girls marry men who are like their fathers... and from the outside, I'd have to say that couldn't be further from the truth in my case, but when I really look at the hearts of the two daddies in my life, their hearts couldn't be any more the same.  Frankly, I think Ansley would be lucky to marry a man who turns out to be a man just like her daddy, and Bryton has quite a role model to lead him into his own adulthood. 

All in all, I'm realizing tonight, on the eve of Father's day, that I am a very blessed woman, and I'm very thankful for the daddies in my life. 

More news on daddies tomorrow... (and again when I get our Segway pictures in from the day!  BOY, was that fun!!!)

-A

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Don't Even Know What to Name This

I'm a fixer by nature.  That's supposed to be a male attribute, but it's the female in me that hates conflict, hates drama (imagine that), and hates heartache, and I'd gladly go through the awkwardness or the uncomfortableness of fixing things rather than live with that heartache.  I want resolution.  I want things mended.  I want things fixed

And when you have a broken leg - people can fix it.  Most conflict between people, there can be found resolution.  Broken lamp, toy, table... fix it (Ok, or buy a new one, still fixes the problem), but I'm learning more and more that there are some things that we just can't fix.  

And right now I'd say my heart is shattered, trampled, crumpled... broken.  And I'm not sure there's much to do to fix it.

But maybe that's not our jobs... maybe it's not even in our power.  This fallen world we live in is a breeding ground for broken hearts.  In fact, I'd say whether we know it or not there is always turmoil in and around us, the only joy and peace that we feel is that given to us by God. 

It seems everywhere I look there is unexpected death, unexpected pain, unexpected conflict, and quite frankly, you'd think we'd start to expect it.  That's what this world is about now... and what it's been about since sin entered in millenniums ago. 

Often times people fail us, life fails us, but God never does.  And I'll be honest and say that sometimes it's hard for me to distinguish the feelings I get from this world between the feelings God and I have towards one another... but I have to remind myself that God is pleased, smiling, jubilant even, over us... He's an encourager... He pushes us to persevere... He is our strength in our weakness... He keeps us going when we feel we cannot.  And it's in this place that character is built, faith is strengthened, and bonds become more intimate.  And for that I must be thankful. 

Psalm 34:17-18
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
   he delivers them from all their troubles.
 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
   and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Ansley's a Quarter of a Year Old

Weird, right?!  I mean, c'mon, she just got here.  Or at least it seems like it. 

It seems only appropriate, with her being 3 months old and all, that I update my blogger friends of her growing and such. 


Whoever it was who said siblings are completely unlike one another must have known my kids.  Sure, they share a few of the same tendencies, and they really seem to enjoy each other (oh, you should just see how she watches and looks at him... and how he lays next to her... this is why I wanted two children!), but as far as personalities at this age... they are on such polar opposite extremes that I can hardly compare them at all.  Case and points:
  • Bryton was a colicky, screamy, unhappy infant which meant our lives revolved around staying in (sitters had problems with the screaming child who wouldn't stop), following extremely strict schedules (once we figured the schedules out) and listening to a great deal of screaming in the car (though that started, well, at about Ansley's age now.)  He was a major spitter and spent most of his life in a bib.  Okay, that's an understatement.  He spent all of his life in a bib, normally going through 10-12 a day, and I'm not exaggerating.  He didn't sleep through the night, or even close to it, until the end of his eighth month, when it finally happened.  (But hey, once it did there was no turning back!  He's been a great sleeper since!)  To say Bryton was a difficult baby would, well, be an understatement.  (And most of you who know him now would be so surprised to hear all of this, I'm sure.  He's such a delightful kid now... well, most of the time ;)  
  • Ansley, on the other hand, rarely cries.  If she's crying, she's probably tired.  If she's crying and she's not tired, something bigger is wrong, because she is normally very happy.  She loves laying on her playmat, sitting in her swing (which Bryton hated), and it seems she is fond of tv (ugh, the one thing that Bryton hated and I loved that he hated it... gonna have to get her used to activity now, she may be my couch potato).  She won't take a paci (Bryton wouldn't sleep without it), but she chews on her hands like they taste like ice cream.  (Bryton was never a thumb or finger sucker.)  She's had a bib on one time in her short life, and it was because I was feeding her in the car.  (Don't want to mess up those pretty outfits.)  If she spits, we get the size of a quarter, normally.  She's been angelic, for the most part, for those who have watched her (knock on wood), and (this is a big knock on wood - I've not said hardly anything since it started happening, why jinx it?) she's been sleeping 8 hour stretches through the night since about 3 weeks and been sleeping 10-12 hour nights since about 6 weeks.  She has to be the easiest baby in the world.  (Granted - she did have a routine where she was wanting to go to bed very early, but we did get that resolved.)
So all in all, utterly different kids.  Her personality now masks more of Bryton's personality now (minus the 'independent stage' that I'm sure we'll battle until he moves out).

Because of the difference, Aaron and I have found life to be much easier with two than it even was with one when Bryton was her age. 

As far as milestones:
  • Ansley rivals me on talking.  (Ahem, I don't ever shut up if I'm really honest.)  She coos and talks all the time.  (Did I mention all Bryton did was scream?  Even if it was happy screaming?  Ok, just checking.)
  • She's been smiling at us for quite some time, but just in the past week or two we have gotten some really great cackling laughs out of her.  I was playing 'peek a boo' with her the other day and she thought that was hilarious.  Nothing better than a baby's laugh.  And that goes for all of our babies.  I don't know that I'll ever outgrow the enjoyment I get out of Bryton's laughter (the real stuff, not the fake stuff ;), unless of course he's laughing at something he shouldn't be... 
  • This girl can roll with the best of them, but it makes no sense to us that she rolls like crazy from back to front, with no problems and no hesitation, but she's rolled from front to back once, and I'm fairly certain it was a fluke.  Isn't back to front supposed to be more difficult?  She must have better ab muscles than I do!
Ansley is officially wearing 3-6 month clothing and should be wearing size 2 diapers.  (We have like 2 days worth of 1-2's left, and by golly, we are going to use them.)  Her feet are definitely long enough for shoes, but are too skinny to keep them on... did I mention Bryton's feet are like blocks of wood?  Shoes don't fit him because his feet are too thick.  Oh, my children.  :)

She also still has the 'old man horseshoe' for a haircut, though her head is beginning to get much more fuzzy.  I just can't imagine her having noticeable hair anytime soon.  This of course rivals Bryton's 'hairstyle' at this age.  He wasn't much older than Ansley when I had to cut his hair because he had so much down the middle that it looked like the 'old man comb-over.'   What'd we do before kids, anyway?  

So there you have it... Ansley and her milestones at, well, 3 1/2 months now.  Two weeks until her next doctor appointment... which means two weeks until her next weight and length update, and two weeks until her next shots.  Boo on the shots.  Bleh. 

I'll keep you all posted on how big our big girl is ;)

-A

Weigh Day Friday


Well - I'm a little disappointed with my weight loss this week, but unless I've totally measured wrong (if that's even possible) I'm happy with my inches lost...

Weight: 129.2
Inches (around midsection at belly button):  34 1/2

How are you all doing?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

July Warmer and Scent of the Month

So I have to put a post every once an awhile about my Scentsy stuff (which I'm LOVING by the way).  I got a few new scents of my own recently and I'm loving 'Luna'!

Anyway - here's a brief synopsis of the month of July

The warmer of the month is cupcake and looks like this:

(Really cute, huh?!)  And as a midsize warmer will be $22.50 for the month of July only!

The scent that goes with this warmer is called "Happy Birthday":
The description of this scent reads: 

Bring back childhood memories of licking sweet, rich frosting off the beaters. Happy Birthday is a “candy-licious” confection of sparkling sugar, fluffy whipped cream, and warm vanilla extract.

All of the "Happy Birthday" scents (bars, room sprays, scent circles, and bricks) will be 10% off for the month of July!  

OH - and if you book a party for the month of July - you get a FREE bar of "Happy Birthday" (along with all of your hostess rewards!)  Book your party today!

Don't miss it! 

-A 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

God's Teaching Me Some Things

Have you ever heard that saying that for every negative or critical comment you make to someone you need to make ten positive ones to account for it?  I've heard that before, and after much consideration, I believe it must be true. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm in no way making the point that there isn't a place for constructive, gentle criticism.  That is how we are edified as Christians and brought into a better relationship with Christ and with others.  Rather, I'm vying for relationships in which we are less critical and more encouraging.  After all, I don't know about you, but I take criticism much better from those who I know are for me and encourage me in my normal relationship with them.  I trust them more and handle the criticism better. 

And I got to thinking about how I've been handling Bryton lately.  There's been many outside factors recently effecting my attitude... a slew of migraines, lots of big thoughts running through my head, a to-do list seventeen miles long and wide (I mean, come on, you guys have seen half of it), etc, etc, etc.  And with my mood already being dampered, add on top of that a two year old whose new favorite thing is to swipe all 25 (because we've lost one somewhere - wonder why?) of his magnetic letters off of the refrigerator onto our hardwood floor... normally while his sister is sleeping, and it isn't loud, I promise.  Add the fact that the same two year old has a slight problem obeying when his mother tells him to stop, and then has an equally hard time not saying 'no' when I ask him to go sit in time out.  Add the fact that he's pushing boundaries in about 300 other places during the same days, sometimes at the same times, and it makes for lots of frustration and lots of time outs. 

And if I sat back today and was really honest, I handled my temper well today (which I cannot always say to be true), but if I had to answer whether I encouraged him 10 times more than I corrected him, I'd fail miserably.  If anything, it was the other way around.  ONE time I remember telling him, "thank you for obeying," when I asked him to go sit in time out and he actually did it rather than going to sit in his bed.  One time.  Sad. 

And I want my kids to know that I'm really their biggest fans.  I don't want to be a nag or a nuisance, I want to be an encourager... then when I need to criticize, they will know that it comes from a spirit of compassion and wanting what is best for them. 

So if I take nothing else from today - I take this... I want to lift up my babies... love them, and correct them because of that love.  Something tells me that if I step back and look for those things to encourage him on and give him an 'attaboy' on, I may realize I have much less to correct him about...

-A

Cats, Kickboxing, Projects and Motivation Blockers

It's random - yes, I know - but thus is life... so let's break it all down. 

Cats.
As in the cat is out of the bag, which really has nothing to do with cats at all.  Gotcha!  No - it really has everything to do with Segways and stadiums.  You know, Segways.  Think Mall Cop.  Yeah - now you've got it. 
This picture must be like extreme Segwaying... the blurred surroundings makes it look like he's going about 40 miles per hour.  No, thank you.

Anyway, Aaron and I love Segways!  We rode them on vacation one time and swore (when we were on the road) that we were going to buy one for summer camps with Ken the next year.  Aaron said he'd double me.  Would be interesting on a Segway (being that they have everything to do with balance and all), but I thought it'd be fun to try. 

We never bought one.  SO- for Father's Day (that's the cat that's out of the bag, btw) - I'm taking Aaron on a 3 hour Segway tour of downtown St. Louis.  Woot woot!  I think we get to go over a bridge!  Hope I have my balance down by that point. 

And stadiums - well, they go with the Segways, only they don't really.  The stadium is just going to happen on the same day as the Segway... and comes in the form of a tour this time.  Every time Aaron and I have been to the new Busch, we've said we wanted to do a tour to see all of the top secret stuff, so we decided we'd settle on the tour they offer and do that as part of Aaron's Father's Day as well.

I had originally thought I would keep it a secret - but hey, secrets are sometimes overrated (though I LOVE a good surprise), and it worked out for us to go with some dear friends of ours... so there will be some cat trip pictures later for you to laugh at enjoy. 

Kickboxing - well, that's exactly what it is.  I figured you'd want an update.  I have not given up.  No, I'm still going, and I haven't even fallen again (though there have been times that I really felt like I was going to!) My kickboxing guy (yeah, we have a 'guy') told me after my first experience that I'd be sore but by the weekend would feel strong.  Ahem - just a little note to say that I did not feel strong, unless of course your call painful jello strong, because I definitely felt like painful jello after that first time.  Now, I'm a little sore here and there, but when it's over, I do feel strong, and that's a feeling I enjoy.  We get our gloves soon, and I know it sounds cheesy, but I'm excited about the gloves.  May make me feel stronger looking the part ;)

Projects.  I have a list 3 and a 1/2 miles long... but number one on the list (only because it's almost accomplished) is finding a couple of white frames for some really cute name posters I made for the kids.  I'll take pictures as soon as I find the frames I like.  I found something similar on Etsy and decided I'd make them myself... and I'm really happy with how they turned out!   Hopefully before the week is over I have something to show you as far as they are concerned! 

And motivation blockers... well, those are in reference to Motivate Me Monday.  I'm going to have to put more thought into my Monday meme, as I've had to add about 15 extra things to the list (and the things on the list are not disappearing as quickly as I'd like), including grocery shopping, details regarding our Father's day outing, planning several different things, etc.  I have 8 things on my list of To Do's for tomorrow, that do not include the ones still left on my Monday meme list. 

So - remaining motivated and not discouraged is becoming difficult, but I'm hanging in there...

Check back soon for those cat pictures!

-A

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Promised Tie Dyed T-Shirts

And here they are:
Here is Ansley Mak in her onesie, embellished with all of the tie dye colors in our kit.  She is truly a flower child now. 
 Here is Momma in shirt number 1.  Note:  we did NOT wear these at the same time.  
I'm not that cheesy.

 And here is Bryton in his boy version.  The red tended to run a little too much to keep the 'boy look', more on that later. 
 And here is momma in shirt number 2.  This shirt I wanted to remain more white, but it didn't seem to take much color at all... oh well.  Satisfied the purpose of the red, white and blue.

Now - there was also an 18 month shirt done for Ansley for next year and a shirt done for Aaron.  Those two were my least favorites... I did Aaron's in the style he wanted, but I tried to do red, white and blue, and the red and blue that overlapped made purple (I know, a typical 2nd grade art class concept, right? duh, Alicia) and the red ran like crazy making the white in Aaron's shirt pink.  Needless to say, he won't be wearing his purple and pink creation that I made him.  Sorry, honey.  (I don't feel too bad, when I told him I got him a shirt too, he acted surprised and had that "I'm never going to wear it," look on his face.  So no harm, no foul.) 

So overall - I deem it a successful venture.  Now - to get on with the other projects in our household.  

-A

Monday, June 13, 2011

Motivate Me Mondays

Here's another new meme for the week...


I mean, come on, how can that face not be motivating ;)

So Monday's are a to do list of the things that need to be done in the week.  Here's this weeks: (And it's already been edited to add more to it... yeesh.)


  1. Menu Plan
  2. Make out bills.
  3. House cleaned from top to bottom. 
  4. Finalize Scentsy Party
  5. Complete one of my projects on my to do list.
  6. Take tax bill to bank.
That seems achievable!

-A

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Some Saturday Randomness

It's a late post day for me.  I was busy doing life this morning :) 

I took Bryton to my mom's house to go swimming in the pool.  It was successful, which was refreshing, being that the only thing he freaked on at the zoo was any kind of water feature or pool, would barely sit in the kiddie pool at the in-laws house, and was terrified of the sprinkler.  Amazing considering this kid love his bath and has always loved being in the water before... unbelievable. 

So - being that he starts swimming lessons with his friend Reagan on Monday, it was a refreshing surprise to see how excited he was to get in the pool at Gaga's house. 

I didn't get any pictures this time, because, well, I was in the pool with him! :)

We got chinese for lunch and then tie dyed t-shirts, which was on my list of things to do all week.  It didn't turn out to be near as much of a group or family activity as I wanted it to be, so hopefully they turn out well to make it worth it.  I'll post pictures when they're done... maybe.  We'll see how they turn out ;) They are currently still saturating.  

I then went back to my mom's house (alone) to lay out at the pool to get this white girl a bit of sun.  I'm past wanting to be super dark all summer long, mostly because I don't want to be a wrinkly / leathery 30 year old, but this white girl needs a little base so she doesn't burn every time she's in the sun for the rest of the summer.  I think I did well at getting a small base but not over doing it and burning.

Now we're working on putting some fish on the grill.  Oh, if you even knew the milestone this is for me!!  I would never eat fish growing up... and this is the first time we've ever even had fish in our house!  So - now that I've overcome my fear of eating it, I'm hoping we've fixed it in such a way that I like it... we've marinaded it with Caribbean jerk... any other great fish recipes out there we could try?  Right now we've got tilapia in the freezer...

Fill me in - gotta eat more of this stuff!

-A

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weigh Day Friday

Alright, folks. It's time for some new memes around here!

So I now introduce to you:


You heard it here first, friends.  Every Friday marks the day that I mark the pounds as they shed (hopefully), or more importantly, the inches as they disappear!

So I guess we'll consider today a starting day since I just started doing anything about it ;)

So - baby belly and all:
weight: 129.6
inches: (right around the belly, where I'm wanting to lose them) 35''

ugh - that means I'm almost 3 feet around.  Bleh.

I'm not so concerned about that number on the scale, but that number on the tape has to come down!
We'll see where I sit next week!

Need the challenge yourself?  Take on the Weigh Day Meme!  I share well with others ;)

-A

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Deal on Coupons :)

I search for deals on everything!  Even coupons :)

A few weeks ago there was a deal on a deal site (is it bad to say that I'm subscribed to so many that I don't even remember which one???) for a subscription to the STL Post Dispatch (our best 'local' paper) for .99 an issue and if you subscribed for 52 weeks you got $40 in Target gift cards!  Well folks, if you do the math, that's almost like paying $12 for my entire year of coupons (if you take into account that I'd spend $40 at Target in a given year anyway).

And what came in the mail today?


Yep, I'm a happy St. Louis Post Subscriber ;)

-A

Home-Made Pancakes

I don't do many things home-made.  I'll admit it.  I've never used a cloth diaper for anything more than a spit rag.  I've never pickled my own cucumbers.  Rarely do I even bake cookies from scratch.  (Although I used to have one mean recipe for vanilla wafers... completely from scratch, and my dad still talks about them.  Hey, when you are a 6th grader and stuck home alone over the summer, you have to find something to do...) 

Anyway, case and point, I suck at home-made, not because I can't do it, but usually because I don't have the time. 

And if there is anything that budgeting has helped me do, it's doing some things homemade.  Tonight I tried a new one:  homemade pancakes. 

I'll be honest, I assumed you could make home-made pancakes (I mean, there was a time before Aunt Jemima), but I didn't think people actually did that anymore... until I started looking for recipes.  Holy moly there are a lot of homemade pancake recipes!  So I chose one with four stars, tweaked it just a little bit (mostly because it makes me feel like I know what I'm doing, bahaha), and what resulted was some darn good pancakes, if I do say so myself! 

Here's the tweaked version of my recipe:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon (plus just a smidge) of white sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

(sift these all together and make a well in the middle)

dump in the well:
3 tablespoons of melted butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon (plus a smidge) of vanilla

mix together until basically smooth

cook on griddle or skillet warmed up to medium / high heat.

Yum, to rich and fluffy pancakes!  Also, while I was making pancakes I thought of all of the add ins we have in the house!  White chocolate chips, bananas, blackberries, strawberries, (would have had blueberries had Bryton not eaten them ALL this morning) cinnamon, raisins, and even nuts!  So many options!  So for tonight, I made a couple 'special' white chocolate chip / strawberry pancakes for Bryton and I (Aaron's a plain jane pancake eater).  Yuuuuuummmmy!  I want to make more just for more add ins!  I see peaches in pancakes being yummy! 

I see lots more pancakes in our future! 

-A

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Community

I don't claim to know much, but I just woke up from a dream, a dream that felt so real, so raw, that I had to document it before that fogginess of what felt like a bitter-sweet reality wore off.

As a church we had broken into groups, and rather than doing topical small groups, rather than putting a check next to our names that we'd been there (even though in our minds we are usually somewhere else), we decided to do community as they were demonstrated for us in times past. 

I don't remember everything, but I do remember that these groups were in homes, and our group happened to meet at a home of a gray old man, with a splotchy 5 o'clock shadow, who got around a little better than his age should allow for, but walked down onto his patio, off of the fuzzy green steps that old people often had, and into our midst. 

I can't remember who all was there.  In fact, all I do remember was a man and woman couple, around Aaron's age, and the woman was wearing a pink shirt, two youth kids who had ridden to the man's house with us, and stood awkwardly up against the edge of the patio.  It was obvious they didn't want to be there.  Myself, Aaron and Bryton stood similarly as awkwardly, realizing first hand that life could easily get messy if this worked out like it was supposed to, especially with Bryton in tow, but the church wanted to really do life together... and Bryton and Ansley were parts of our lives.

Being that the man, who was named 'Tommy' in my dream, was home-bound, few of us knew him or have heard of him.  His house was sanctioned somewhere down Park street, just off of a side street to the left, somehow you could see the cemetery from all directions from  his patio... a constant reminder of our fallen world.  As Tommy walked down the one step from his home onto the patio I cringed a little bit, "What could we possibly have in common with this old man?"  After all, there has to be a reason we have always been broken apart into age groups, right? 

As Tommy stepped out we learned a great deal about him, the first thing being was that he played the violin, and he did it well.  He sat in our middle, and we gathered around him.  (What an amazing feeling that must be at such an age, to feel rallied behind and to feel as if you are contributing something to those who have come after you!  What a celebration!)  One of our youth, a girl I remember now, asked if he could teach her.  (I'll admit, I was thinking the same thing for myself.)  He said he could, but had the wisdom to know that she wanted a quick jog on the instrument, not the marathon that it would take for her to perfect an art. 

He told us how he'd had quite a baseball career, playing all the way through the age of 40 for different leagues and organizations.  A pitcher (a very good one, it seemed), he was very humble, and I remember thinking, in my dream this is, that the college age boy in our midst, though not a baseball player, was clinging onto these words.  I wonder if he was catching on to the humility.  What a great example to us all! 

And hours passed that first day.  I can't remember the last time I wanted to do church for any longer than what was already planned for, but we all shared our lives together, the young having more in common with the old and the old more with the young than we'd ever imagined.  Bryton had even been sitting on Tommy's lap, and later playing in his backyard with the man about Aaron's age and the college-aged boy.  Is this what "It takes a village," feels like?  Is this what community really feels like? 

The rest of my dream was a whirlwind of events that happened in sporadic times.  The things I do remember were the anticipation of meeting at Tommy's house and the enjoyment once we got there.  I remember that I no longer dreaded having to take our kids in fear they'd be a distraction.  Since we were simply doing life together, we did just that.  There was no fear that they'd get in the way. 

We did read through God's word while we were there, but it was always in the context of our evening, was never forced, and happened when it was most convenient to happen.  There was no devotional book, no teaching material, no lesson.  Rather, our Bible often got opened when someone would say, "You have to read this, this is really where we are right now," or "God spoke these passages into my life when I was fighting cancer (the lady in the pink shirt... she was always in pink)."  It brought to life the idea that the Word is meant to be passed down through relationships... trusting relationships... loving relationships.  Sure there are most definitely times for large corporate worship and learning.  Jesus conducted these large worship events Himself!  But if you look at the disciples and at the times in which they learned, it was usually after Jesus spoke when they went to Him and said, "Um, could you dumb that down for us, please?  We don't get it."   These relationships are the tie that make the message trustworthy by those hearing it.  Deuteronomy 6:6-9 impresses upon this idea:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (NIV - sorry, not my favorite either, trying to get this all written before the fogginess fades.) 

Tommy walked that road with us, we all walked that road together, and had valuable wisdom and life experience to offer to one another.  Our character qualities that God had taught or was forming in us rubbed off on those around us. 

Aaron and I began going to Tommy's house with our kids a couple times a week to visit, not because we were forced to during small group, but because we now had the time to not have to do church in the evenings, but to experience relationship with people that would bring us nearer to Christ.  On those outings to Tommy's house Tommy spent a great deal of time with Bryton.  He couldn't chase him around the yard or run crazy with him, but he sure knew how to catch a baseball.  He spent the entire summer, and spring and fall, teaching our little boy (who had gotten bigger in my dream, it seems) to throw off-speed pitches.  He was an encouraging teacher.  It never seemed like a task or a hindrance to him, but rather, something he looked forward to.  We tried to pay him several times to which his reply was always a grin, a wink and, "Ah, I can't take it with me, and I'm close to leaving." 

The winter rolled around and it was obvious that Bryton was missing that special time with Mr. Tommy, and Mr. Tommy obviously was too, because while we met at his house one evening, with it all smelling like moth balls and we were sitting on his old brown shag carpet, Mr. Tommy got up, left the room, and came back with that violin. 

He showed Bryton how it worked and how to properly hold it.  He sat behind him and fingered notes on the frets (are they even called frets on a violin?) and used Bryton's hand to run the bow across the strings.  Bryton's eyes became the size of quarters and lit up the room. 

All I know, is that Mr. Tommy taught Bryton more about life, love and faith through a baseball and a violin than I could have by reading to Him monotonously every word of every scripture in the entire Bible.  He did life with him in such a way that Bryton loved him dearly and wanted to display the characteristics, and most of all, wanted to know the Jesus Tommy talked so affectionately about all of the time.  To Tommy, Jesus wasn't a chore to be done, but a relationship to be celebrated.  His talking about Him never felt forced, but seemed to ooze out of the overflows of love that he felt for Him. 

And in my dream, as we were at Mr. Tommy's the following spring, Bryton sat down in the grass of the small backyard that was amongst the cemetery.  He and Mr. Tommy had been throwing around that baseball again, Bryton's pitching becoming increasingly (and surprisingly) accurate.  Mr. Tommy walked over to him and sat himself down on that green grass, all 83 years of him.  What progressed was a scene that we only were able to witness from afar... when after what seemed like an hour in my dream did Mr. Tommy and Bryton bow their heads, spent some time loving on Jesus, hugged, and picked their gloves up off the ground.  We found out later that Mr. Tommy had the privilege of leading our baby to Jesus. 

Yesterday - before this dream - I thought that I would feel hurt, even jealous, of the person who got to lead my babies to Christ, but this morning, I pray for that Tommy in the life of my babies, that person who will love Jesus in such a way that it will infect those around them. 

In my dream I remember my thankfulness, I remember crying.  I remember sending an urgent prayer to God thanking Him for putting Tommy in our lives. 

The next scene I remember with Tommy was at a ceremony of some sort, a celebration.  We were all dressed up, sitting around large tables, and the woman in our group who normally had on the pink shirt was now dressed in a black, sequined dress.  Bryton sat to my left, Ansley to Aaron's right, noticeably the only two children in a room of adults.  This served as a reminder to me that they were a part of the group.  They weren't our baggage that we toted with us, but they, even as Bryton a child at this point, and Ansley even younger, were part of our community, and without them we lost a piece of what God was trying to do within our group.

The presentation started as we all sat around our big round tables, Tommy sitting across from us and flashing us smiles here and there, when the person behind the podium held up a large gold reward and the lady with the pink shirt got up from our table and walked to the podium.  She gave a long speech, full of tears, and she held a kleenex in her left hand.  I noticed the Kleenex because she'd often wave it in a gesture our direction as she was thanking people (for what, I'm, honestly, unsure), but all I know was that the pride we felt for her was the same kind of pride we felt when our own children succeeded.  It was pride that had tears streaming down the smiling face of Tommy.  As she walked down the stairs from the podium we all stood to hug and congratulate her, and I remember thinking, in my dream, "I bet these people didn't know that this is what a family looks like."

It was as that ceremony ended that Tommy passed away in our midst.  There was no rushing to call an ambulance, he had gone, it was certain, and he had done so peacefully, with a smile on his face.  Our smiling had turned to crying, he'd been saying for years that he was leaving soon, and now he had left.  How would our lives ever be the same?

Then I woke up. 

And I woke with tears in my eyes.  I'm not certain if the sadness I felt was that Tommy, who I had grown so affectionate towards in my dream, had died, or because I had just realized he hadn't existed at all.  This safe community in which we shared life together had been only a figment of my imagination. 

But I have to imagine, I have to wonder, what life could be like in that context of trust and messy relationships, when people know your junk, share life, share wisdom, and even share skills like throwing off speed pitches and playing violins, wanting nothing more than the pleasure of being allowed to do it.  I have to wonder what it would be like if church was more than a chore and more of a lifestyle, where we loved others as we are called to love them by Christ, and that love brings us in closer relationship with Him because of what wisdom we gain from them. 

I sit here thinking that I've never felt, in a 'religious' setting, that my kids were any more than 'baggage,' something that kept us and kept others from engaging with God more fully, (awful, I know) but I remember feeling in our dream like they were a part of us, like our group was not fully present or fully functioning without them there to offer what God had given them to our group.  I'll admit, I long for the feeling that my kids are a part - and not a part of a group their own age, but a part of a bonding social environment that will deepen their love, strengthen their character, and introduce them to the face of God. 

And I thank God for the friends we have that allow us to glimpse what a community like this could feel like, and I pray someday that He allows us to be a part of such community...

-A

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Something New With Bryton (And Ansley)

Maybe we're bad parents, errr bad Christians, since we haven't started this with our children earlier, but I'm really feeling like now is the ideal time to start doing some Bible reading / devotions with Bryton. 

For Christmas we got Bryton a kids Bible (well, book of Bible stories), and he likes it, but the stories can be a little long for a 2 year old's attention span.  (Although, he refers to it as his "Jesus book," and I won't lie, I love hearing him walk around with it referring to it as such.  It is all about Jesus.)

While shopping in the Christian bookstore the other day I came across this:




and I started thumbing through it.  Like an adults devotion book (ok, I'm not a fan of these one liner devotion books for mature Christian adults, but come on, our audience here is a 2 year old :) there's a scripture and an explanation for all of the days of the year.  They are one page long and there's a two line little poem at the bottom.  Perfect for two year old attention spans!

So I'm thinking - every night before Ansley goes to bed, we may sit around with this here book (which I, of course, didn't purchase at the bookstore for $15, but rather on Amazon for $11.95 with free shipping :), and make it part of our bedtime routine!  I'm excited about it and am praying God uses it to turn the hearts of our babies towards Him!

On another note - Aaron and I are restarting our devotion time together.  Time is just so hard to come by, but we could all use this time together, not just individually!

Go ahead, I need the accountability, check up with me on this!
-A

Well...

I didn't accomplish everything yesterday, so I'm off to accomplish all of the rest today...
Off to get it accomplished.
You know, vacuuming would be much less time consuming if I didn't have to wait for a 2 year old to pick up 1,217 toys first ;)

-A

By the way... I've been inspired to do a tie-dye project with Bryton ;)  Let the fun begin!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ugh. Motivation.

I have no heavy thoughts today.  I don't even have topical thoughts today.  No, today my thoughts are so sporadic that I'm just trying not to think.

Ugh.  After being gone for just a few days all I can think about are the things I should be doing, and there are so many of them that I don't even have the motivation to think about doing one.

I have laundry to make up for a couple of days since I wasn't home to do it.  I have household chores that didn't get done while I was gone, several of them.

I have a little boy who desperately wants to be outside... a little girl who really can't be outside very long, and a whole slew of projects that I want to get done.

So I guess today is going to be a 'catchup Monday.'  I guess I'll switch my no motivation to an overachiever's motivation.  Here's what I'm going to try to accomplish:

  • load of dishes (running currently) 
  • laundry finished (almost...)
  • floors swept
  • house dusted (almost finished it... darn...)
  • supper prepared
  • kickboxing
  • scentsy party
  • read another chapter in my book
  • grocery store
  • bryton to the library
  • fruit cut and put away
Alright - here we go... let's see how I do...
(And thanks for the encouragement, Jen!  It may be what I need to get this all going.  Although, I can see some of these are going to have to carry over until tomorrow... grrr....)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's That Time





There's something that tells me that summer is upon us... maybe it is the sweaty brow of a 2 year old after 1/2 hour of playing outside, maybe it is the cute summery dresses that line the closet of our brand new daughter, or who knows, maybe it's the 70% humidity and a heat index of 110 degrees, either way, it's upon us. 

And despite the dreaded hotness of the whole season, I actually enjoy all that summer entails. (I'm a seasonal girl, myself.  Experiencing the seasons is nice.  I love them all for their own qualities, well, except from spring, because it is of the devil, plagued with allergens and all.) So I thought I'd take a short Sunday minute to post about the 10 things I love most about the summer:

10.  Longer days = more sunshine.  More sunshine = higher serotonin levels.  Higher serotonin levels = happier and less stressed Alicia.  Yay for sunshine! 

9.  Playing outside with Bryton!  Bats and balls and bubbles, oh my!

8.  My entire menu plan changes, Aaron gets in on some cooking... on the grill!  Woot woot for marinaded chicken, steak, pork tenderloin, and fresh veggies and fruit! 

7.  Tropical sno (guava or peach, pineapple and red raspberry are both favorites), ice cream, and half price drinks at Sonic! 

6.  The water!  Whether it be in lake, pond, ocean, or pool, the water during summer makes this girl happy!  (And I welcome the light tan that comes with it!)

5.  Cardinal baseball is in full swing!  (Although our losing game the other night had me wishing for winter again...)

4.  Shorts, tanks, sandals, and sunglasses!   Makes sticking kids in carseats easier, makes getting ready faster, makes looking cute more fun!  Woo hoo for warm weather!

3.  Our front porch.  Bryton can play outside alone if he wants, mom can relax in the evenings, and thanks to our new ceiling fan (thanks, honey), our front porch sitting can happen in the summer and not just spring and fall!

2.  Green, as in grass, plants, bushes, etc.  It lingers around dead for so long that any color is welcomed... although it does usually die of heat stroke before the end of July or August though...

1.  Bbq's, parties, time with friends, vacations, etc.  What a great time of year to 'do' (and not just 'be') with the ones you love!  Awww, bliss!

So what do you enjoy about summer?

-A

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I Wouldn't Have Made it in Egypy


Ok.  So it isn't a locust, but it's close.  It's a Cicada.  a '13 Year Cicada' to be exact.  Also known as: really annoying.  And gross (in my opinion). 

The first I heard of these lousy creatures was on the news a couple of weeks ago.  Apparently scientists from all over the world have made their way to southern Illinois to document this 'phenomena' (as they called it.)  These cicadas have apparently been alive underground for 13 years.  During the 13th year, they basically burrow holes up from the one foot under they've been, leaving creepy .5 inch holes in their wake, and spend the next 4-6 weeks being very loud, mating, and laying eggs before they die.  What an existence. 

So after seeing this on the news (and being made aware that they were in 'our neck of the woods'), I was thankful that they weren't in our woods so to speak, but rather in a few nearby towns.  (I don't do bugs well anyway.)  So it would be an understatement to say that I was just slightly disappointed when we realized the horrid noise that we heard in the car (over driving 60 mph and The Letter Factory blaring in the backseat) on the way for our fun - filled weekend outside was these lousy insects.  With still a 30 minute drive to our destination, I was hopeful they wouldn't be where we were going. 

Boy was I wrong.  Quite to the contrary, within a couple blocks of my in-laws home we literally heard the swarming as we turned the corner, and the bugs were everywhere.  There were thousands of them.  Better yet, statistically there is supposed to be 1.1 million in every acre they occupy.  I don't know if you can do the math, but that's a lot of stinking bugs.  Really large, really loud (deafening even), really annoying bugs that aren't afraid to land on you, swarm you, and invade your 2 year olds basketball themed wading pool.  Ick!  Makes me squirm to think about them.

I couldn't even walk outside without being grossed out.  Tree bark literally crawled.  These bugs were dead all over sidewalks, porches, in the grass, on driveways, and they were swarming and crawling all over everything.  It would be an understatement to say that you could easily find a dead one, a dying one, and a swarming one all in about a foot proximity from one another. 

And let me tell you, the stench of thousands of dying bugs mixed with the stench of thousands of mating bugs that are laying eggs... not pleasant.  Not pleasant at all. 

So needless to say - my 'fun-filled weekend outside' quickly became a 'semi fun - filled weekend on a screened in porch' (hence the picture above that I took within the comfort of that screened in porch), with a 2 year old who said repeatedly (in a whiny voice), "Bugs.  Bugs.  Bugs," as he stood frozen, not even being able to walk without stepping on them. 

And to think the plagues were worse than this.  I couldn't have made it. 

And to think - my in-laws only have 2-4 weeks left of this...

-A