Monday, January 31, 2011

She's A Killer

Over the weekend, my sister went to one of those 'Murder Mystery' parties. The theme was a Class Reunion Of '85. The pictures were sooo good, I just had to share them with all of the internet. She's more than likely going to kill me.

Every person was assigned a character. She was the Drama Queen. She just won an Emmy for her role in a Soap Opera. She was instructed to attend the party with her Emmy in hand.

Have you ever watched that show, "Toddlers and Tiaras"? Watching my sister get ready for this event was kinda like watching that show. You can't believe what you're seeing, but you can't pull your eyes away. You simultaneously can't decide if it's horrifying or just super weird.

Her gown came from the Goodwill, as well as the shoes. Thank heavens she wore some fancy leggings. One should always keep modesty in mind when there is murder involved.

Her Emmy appears to be a bobble head, but I'm sure it's made out of real gold. I'm just sure of it. Oh, and her earrings were long enough to touch her shoulders. I was worried that she would shake her head at the party and they would swing enough to make her tip over.

Apparently, it was revealed during the party that she was the killer. Which, when you look at her outfit, isn't all too surprising. One glance at all those sequins is enough to strike anyone down. Shield your eyes.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spread It 'Round

Texans love the Lord. Which is very cool, because I do too. But, until I moved here, I had no idea that you could so openly talk about Him. Religion doesn't carry so many boundaries here. "I'll pray for you" is just as common as asking what neighborhood you live in. There is somewhat of a moral compass that ticks beneath the surface. I'm sure there are some who find it annoying. I find it to be fantastic.

As a new Texan, over 3 years ago, relative strangers would discover how sick my dad was. They would offer to pray for him. They always asked me for his name, just so they could make sure it reached heaven's ears when they said a prayer. This happened often. And every time, I simply marveled at the gift.

Yesterday, I was thinking about all those offers for prayer. Did they change the outcome of my dad's story? No, that wasn't His plan. But, I do think they softened the edges of the harsh reality a bit. All those prayers somehow gave me a soft place to rest when the grief was too heavy.

I've had a particular friend on my mind. Well, she is actually more of a friend of a friend. But, her story has reached me. She's in the midst of hard stuff. Not the average hard stuff. More of the world shattering kind. And as I've thought of her, I've thought of those prayers and all the strangers who each sent my dad's name to the Lord.

We all know someone who is struggling. Maybe more than one. Or, maybe that someone is us. Either way, I think there is strength to be found when we pray for one another. No matter our religious beliefs, those words spoken are sent as a sacred offering. We can't change the details of anyone's story. We can't fix what's broken. But, we can always offer strength through our whispered words.

So, I pray for the one who I know is struggling. I pray that she might find stable ground to stand on in order to know which direction to take. We can pray together. I think there is strength in numbers. The offering isn't grand and can't be tied up with a bow. But, it's given with heart and hope. And those kinds of gifts are always the ones to reach heaven first.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Am I the only one who feels like my life is one continuous loop around the dishwasher? I started to unload it this morning, and it felt like the movie, Ground Hog Day. Every morning, I ask the girls 18 times to get up and then I'm standing at the dishwasher. Again. Unloading and then loading. Again. It seems to never end.

My life is one perpetual dish washer. Anyone else relate? Can I get an "Amen!"?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Days Are Numbered

OK. What I'm about to tell you is earth shattering. So, prepare yourself. I'm serious.

Kellie vacuumed the kitchen. Without me asking. Did you catch that? Without. Me. Asking! She just cleared out all the chairs and cleaned the floor. It's unbelievable, right? I don't think I've ever, I mean ever, had a child perform a household chore that I didn't have to yell, fight, scream and kick to get them to do it.

There is only one explanation. It's the end of days. This is the first warning. So, whatever it takes, get your life in order. Read your scriptures, start saying your prayers and making good choices, because the end has to be near. There is simply no other possible answer.

I'll but sure to keep you posted if I see other warning signs. You know, like TWO of my children actually listening to my voice when I speak. I'm not holding out high hopes of anything that miraculous, but I'll definitely let you know.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Which Voice?

Lately, I've been thinking about listening. Not the obvious, physical kind of listening, but more of the voice that speaks inside ourselves. Do I listen to the voice that speaks the loudest? Or, do I concentrate on the singular one that is quiet and blends into the background?

You see, the voice changes. Sometimes it's kind, sometimes judgemental, sometimes it praises and most of the time it carries guilt. The voice is always loudest when guilt is involved. And not the big kind of guilt, it's the small, almost invisible kind. That's the one I tend to listen to the most. I know I shouldn't, but it just draws me in.

I tend to listen at the end of the day or when I'm driving in my car. I review all the mom things I've done that I wish I could reverse or words I wish I hadn't said. And then there are the things that I know I should be doing, but have yet to get to. The voice brings those to memory so quickly.

As I sat in church today, I heard a different voice. The one that is soft and blends into the background if you don't concentrate to listen. It's not loud or flamboyant, and it never carries guilt. Maybe a gentle nudge, but never guilt. I also realized that this voice can also be felt. It brushes my heart with kindness.

That is the voice I want to listen to. It's the one I want to always hear. But, when I step away from church and quiet reflection, it's hard to find. My normal, busy life seems to muffle it's sound. I tend to lose my grip on the effort required to hold onto it. Maybe the whole point is the difficulty involved. The greater the work, the deeper the blessing.

I think we should all listen together. What if that makes it easier to hear? What if we collectively decide to ignore the voice that tends to make us feel like 'not enough'? And instead, we agree to listen to the whispered words that build, restore and strengthen.

Are we perfect? Not at all. Do we make the right mom choices or always keep our patience? Definitely a no. But, our imperfections do not define the voice we listen to. They are simply steps in our our redefining. They are turns we take on a path to growth.

Let's listen. And, let's hear. The words aren't complicated or hidden. They are quietly spoken over and over again. We just have to be willing to reach out and grab them. If we all hold on together, we just may be able to increase the volume so that it's the only voice we ever hear.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm Sharing

I don't like to share. It's hard for me. What does that say about me? Um, let's not discuss that. I don't share dessert. Like, ever. It's one of the commandments (in fine print). But, I really get selfish with my twins. My sister claims she gave birth, therefore they are her twins. I really just see that as a minor technicality.

Today I've decided to share a wee bit of Riley with you. It's so selfless of me. Deep down, I feel like she is this secret from heaven that only a few of us know about. I'm letting you take a peek. Again, I'm a giver. Why am I being so thoughtful? Because Riley offers a happiness that just needs to be shared.

Her physical limitations are many. She has cerebral palsy, a life threatening heart condition, brain damage, and I could go on, but that list does not define her. She has this gift that is heaven sent. I really can't form it into words to even define it. You look into her eyes and you just know she sees more than we see. She smiles and you can catch a view of heaven.

She doesn't talk. But, she laughs. Oh, how she laughs. There is nothing quite like it. You hear it and it makes you giggle. Really. It's one of her many gifts she gives.

So, I'm sharing her laugh. Watch and feel happy. And, if you look closely, you'll see a little piece of heaven tucked into that smile.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Point Of View

Has my life actually reached the point where I am putting Spray N' Wash on doll clothes that no one plays with anymore? Really, truly?

Well, yes, yes I think I have.

Note to self: Figure out a way to make better use of my time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

5 of 40

I'm two weeks in to my 'Do Less, Be More' year. And, I've already discovered something. The 'doing' is harder than the saying. It takes effort and focus. Definitely not something I planned on. It also requires decisions. What exactly do I choose to do less, so that I can be more?

Saturday night found the family room looking like the aftermath of a hurricane. This is only one side of the room, the other looked just as bad. My kids felt the desire to pull out all art activities at once. Then they found lanterns to add to the ambiance.

I stood in front of this mess and surveyed the scene and cringed. I tossed around two different thoughts simultanesouly. Clean up and make everyone miserable while doing so, or sit, relax and enjoy time with my family. Sitting is hard for me, relaxing even harder.

Making the choice felt monumental. It shouldn't have been. Logically, any good parent would sit and enjoy time with their kids. But, here's the thing-- messes make me crazy. I can tolerate them only so long and then I need the carpet wiped clean. Leaving the mess untouched makes my insides tie in knots. Sad, but true.

Folded within my choice was the realization that in order to Do Less and Be More, I had to give myself permission to do so. I had to decide that there was freedom in both options. That in order to do something different with my life, I had to do something different with the way I thought about it.

I sat down on the couch with my kids and watched TV. Later, I left the mess and went to bed. I shocked myself right to sleep. Is that always the choice I'll make? Probably not. But, discovery did not come lightly. Less Doing and More Being starts within. The greatest change always does. Whispered moments where we decide to Do and Be will eventually find ground and help us to become More. It's just that simple.

1 of 40, 2 of 40, 3 of 40, 4 of 40

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Flower Deconstructed

I probably should have taken photos while I was making this flower. But, by this point in the room re-do, I was only focused on getting it done rather than picture taking. So, I've tried to reconstruct my how-to.

For the flower leaves, I copied The Nester's idea for her sunburst mirror found here. I wanted my leaves to look more flowerish, so I made them wider. Also, the poster board I bought (Walmart) was as thick as cowhide. It was beyond a nightmare to cut. If you attempt this project, I would suggest the really nice, thin, parchment-like poster board you can buy at the Hob Lob.

I started by cutting all the leaves I would need. I also made sure they were creased down the middle really well. (I ran the flat side of a ruler over the fold on both sides of the leaf).
My center disc is actually a wooden frame. I found it in the craft isle at Walmart. I spray painted it with high gloss white. I knew I wasn't going to use the center opening where you would normally put a picture, so I just painted over it.

Once I had the leaves positioned, I turned the wooden frame over and started hot gluing. Start with the smallest leaves first and work outward. I used A LOT of hot glue to make sure nothing was going to fall apart.

For the fluffy center, I used white cupcake liners. I found them at my local grocery store. I used one package. Scrunch the liner over a pencil and put hot glue on the top of it.

Start by placing the cupcake liners in the center of the frame (the opening where the picture normally goes). Work from the center out. Hold the pencil in place for just a few seconds to make sure the hot glue cools a little before letting go.

By using a frame, it gave me a nice perfect circle to follow. I just simply filled it in with cupcake wrappers. As you glue more and more wrappers, it just fluffs itself out. I just worked to make sure everything looked even.

If you attempt this project, wear rubber gloves. The cutting gave me a major blister that eventually tore open, and the hot glue ended up on my fingertips more than once. Good Luck!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Behind The Scenes Is Always Ugly

For the last 8 months, the 14 yr. old has asked for a new room. I've put it off until now for many reasons. The first being the fact that this is a teenager's room. Just the thought of clearing it out frightened me. I couldn't bring myself to start this project because I knew what I was in for.

Nana's Christmas brought a new bedspread, and I finally gathered enough energy to pull everything off the walls and scoop up all the crap off the floor. Why do teenagers always put everything on the floor?

The new room is lovely. She loves it and I'm just glad it's finished. It took me days and days. Most of it was my own doing. I took on way too many projects. But, looking at it from here seems to sugar coat all the labor.

With every project, the 'before' is yucky and the 'after' is great. It's the in-between section that's a ridiculous mess. It's always somewhere in that middle part that I start thinking, "Why did I ever start this!?" When I say those words in my head, I usually add in several cuss words just because it makes me feel good.

During this room overhaul, I:
  • Lost a section off the top of my thumb when I jammed it with a screw driver.
  • I lost full use of my arms because covering a bright pink paint with a light, soft turquoise requires 3, I repeat 3, coats of paint.
  • I formed a blister and cut it open while making the uber cute flower above the bed.
  • I recoated all of the frames in this room and then some, which required 2 store trips and 6 cans of spray paint.
  • I may, or may not, have made a hole in the wall the size of a zhu-zhu pet (hence, the thumb incident).
My favorite part of working on a project? The rest of the house gets churned in a tornado. Exhibit A, the playroom:

Every time I finish a project, I tell myself I am never, ever starting another one. Deep down I know it's a lie, but the words bring me momentary peace. For now, I'm focusing all my efforts on sitting on the comfy couch with a book. I may just stay that way until the next paint job rolls around.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dreams Can Come In A Box

There is a certain bacon-loving 8 year old that just put
a bag of heaven into the microwave.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Then And Now

I'm not a good scrapbooker. No time. Sam has a great scrapbook that covers the first 18 months of her life. After that? Zip. Nothing scrapped or booked from that time on. But, I am successful at writing down dates and ages on anything I save. It's my mental stamp to record what they were like. Once I write on the back, it gets shoved in a nicely labeled bin. It's my 'someday' project. 'Someday' just never rolls around.

I'm redoing Sam's room and wanted to frame a few things. So, I pulled out her 'someday' bin. It's like dumping Time on the floor. Years and years of her life tumbled out of that bin. Looking through it all brought back flashes of a different season of life.

One of my favorites amongst her piles, was this picture:

I looked at it's label-- November 2000, age 4. I even took the time to write down that Sam had told me this was a picture of our house.

At that time, I had only 2 kids. Life felt like one continuous cycle of taking care of little people. I remember feeling like I would be stuck in that stage forever. I dreamed of the day where everyone could feed themselves and get dressed without assistance. I tried to enjoy that stage of life, but I found myself wishing for a future time.

My Now has suddenly become that time. Back Then I longed for it. Now it's here. Sam no longer colors pictures for me to place on the fridge. Everyone in my house can dress and feed themselves. Now has it's advantages. But, looking back, Then did too. It was just really hard to see.

Maybe my perspective needs adjusting. Nothing major, just a slight tilt in the angle. The challenge isn't to survive the day-to-day. That's just a given for any parent. I really think it's more about finding the ability to See the ordinary as extraordinary.

So much of our daily cycle turns into just that. A cycle. What we do and our daily living becomes so routine it fades into a 'someday' pile. And before we know it, our Then becomes Now. Children who once drew stick houses become teenagers who text instead of talk. Ages and trials change, but the day-to-day is ever present. Never changing.

Maybe the trick to Seeing is knowing that there will always be a 'day-to-day'. We will always be living in our ordinary, daily routine, no matter it's shape, size or kid's ages. With that knowledge, the ordinary suddenly becomes our permanent focus. Why? Because we know it will always be there. And in that light, my daily ordinary looks just a little bit more extraordinary.

Then and Now. They are one in the same.

'Someday' doesn't look so far away after all.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Good Intentions

My sister asked me the other day if I always do everything I intend to do. I paused to think about that. At first I answered, "of course". Because, you know, I have to keep up my supermom appearance. But later, and ever since then, I've wondered what the real answer is.

In general, I wake up every morning intending to talk with a sweet voice to my children and shower them with patience. But then they wake up. The morning routine leaves little room for the words, 'sweet' and 'patience'. Apparently, my intentions are only good when they're sleeping.

Before Child #1 arrived on the scene, I intended to be good parent who set firm, but loving boundaries. Today I let a child stay home from school who said she felt sick, even when I knew full well she was only slightly (faking) sick. She worked on the computer, made lunch and played with the twins. See what I mean? My parenting good intentions don't equate to much of anything.

My intentions are not limited just to my kids. Todd gets bunched in there too. I really, really intend to be a good wife. But then he opens his mouth and talks. He called me today and asked if I would make the 75 minute drive to his work to bring him his Chap Stick. He forgot his lip balm and was in a serious pickle. Instead of taking it to him, I stayed home and called him every hour to ask if his lips were dry (while I stifled a giggle).

I think tomorrow I'll try and follow through and accomplish exactly what I intend to do. That way I'll know that it can actually be done. Sugar will be involved. And, probably a good amount of reading. I like my odds all ready.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Her Talents Have Multiplied

Quote of the week:

Kellie: "Hey guys! Guess what? My bottom is double jointed!"

This isn't a foreshadowing for the rest of the year, right? Right?!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

How Did You Celebrate?

We closed the year out by heading south to the African Safari (Texas style). This is our third time to feed these animals. It never gets old. Being nearly impaled by a Texas Longhorn just adds a spice to life that you can't get anywhere else.

The driver warned the kids about the llama's tendency to spit. I think it struck a good portion of fear into them. Maybe I should start threatening to spit on them at home. That's definitely a discipline trick I have yet to try.

A picture of a Longhorn simply can't offer a clear reality to what it's like to have a Longhorn chasing after you for your food. I almost stopped breathing, and I'm pretty sure each of his horns is larger than my legs.

The camels were nice. They walk slow and they chew slow. Mine kind of animal.

I have no idea what is so appealing about a petting zoo. The kids hung on the grime infested gate and talked to the pigs and baby goats. I nearly fainted.

You would think that this was enough excitement to last one family a month or two. But not us. Within 24 hours, Addie had thrown up in the car. In. The. Car. With all of us surrounding her, staring in horror. She was covered, the floor mats were covered and so were Makell's NEW shoes and jacket. I almost got out of the car and walked all the way back to the petting zoo. Mercy heavens.