Thursday, March 31, 2011

And While We're Talking About Art

I may as well show you these.  I captured these Madison Moments at Disney on her spring break a few weeks ago.

To me, her precious little life is a daily manifestation of the beautiful artistry of our God.  She is a work of art.

Not To Leave Trevor Out...

So Trevor is not my little artist.  At least, not yet.  But a couple of weeks ago he drew this.

When I asked him for the, ahem, you know..."interpretation" (as in what is that?), he answered, "A jewwyfish."

Of course. A jellyfish.

Best little jellyfish I've ever seen.  Even gave that guy a place of honor on the fridge.


On Art and The Wisdom of Children

Last night on the way home from church, Trevor asked me who made him. I answered God.  Then he went through his little list of family members asking who made them.  I kept answering God.

It got quiet for a second except for the raindrops hitting the windshield, so I asked Trevor who made the rain.  Both kids giggled a bit and exclaimed, "God!"  I mentioned a few other items in creation to which they answered God as well.  I said, "You are right, because God is our creator."  Then Madi, in her childlike innocence yet wisdom declared enthusiastically, "Yes, He's an artist!!!"

I found this interesting because Madi is the child who fills our home with her art.

She is constantly coloring, cutting, creating, and coming up with the neatest things.  I loved this cast she made and had her grandparents sign...

She dreams of taking art lessons and has been delighted to go to an art club two times.  I thought her depiction of popsicles was darling, and noticed her little details.  The popsicles are different colors, some have a bite taken out of them, some are dripping.  It's one of my favorite pictures she has ever drawn.

So it should not surprise me that her five year old heart and mind understand this aspect of God.  To her, He is not only the creator, but an artist as well.  It sort of takes that aspect of who He is to the next level. Madi is an insightful child, and she has perceived the art in the world that surrounds her.  And honestly, I think this is an area in which she identifies with the God of the universe.  She likes art, and so does He.

Children are often wiser than we think.  No wonder Jesus said to let them come unto Him, and said our faith should be like theirs.  Perhaps we would stop more often to marvel at God's artistry and creativity in creation if we stopped to draw popsicles and rainbows and kept life a little bit simpler.  Because she is so right.

He's an artist, indeed.  The best there ever is and was.

Psalm 19:1 

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Ephesians 2:10 

For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It Is Finished

Early this morning, I completed lesson 90 in my Jesus: 90 Days With The One And Only study by Beth Moore.  You've heard me talk about this study, and if I am honest, I have never felt so bittersweet about finishing a Bible study. It was emotional for me to wrap it up, because this journey has truly brought me closer to my Savior.  I know more about Him, and I know Him more.  We have had sweet communion together throughout these 436 pages, and I feel sad to close this chapter of study, but do so marveling at what I have gained not just in knowledge, but also in love and adoration.

This quote from the final session stood out to me..."Jesus Christ walked the way of humanity so that humanity could walk the way of God."

Oh, how He loves us.  Praise Him.

I also loved this..."He is changeless.  But you and I were destined for change.  So determined is God to transform us, we cannot draw near Him and remain the same."

This is truth.  He changes lives like no other.

So I am thankful.  Thankful for an in depth study into the life of Jesus Christ, who gave His life on the cross and rose victoriously from the grave, changing the course of history and the course of one simple, small life lived by a girl who would one day write about Jesus on her coffee blog.  A girl who knows she is nothing without His love.

And I am also excited.  Excited because tomorrow I will begin this journey...

90 Days with Paul.  90 sessions about his journey of faith that took him from a persecutor of Christians to a man willing to give it all for Christ.  A man who made huge impacts for the kingdom, but who suffered unbelievable trials alongside the victories.  A man who once set out to destroy the church, but later wrote letters encouraging and exhorting the church.

 I can't wait.

I will be sure to update you here and there along the way.

And I hope and pray you are diving into God's Word.  Nothing will anchor your soul like those moments in Truth.



I've Got Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

My dad used to sing that song to me when I was little.  So when I was in middle school and the movie Father of the Bride came out, I bawled uncontrollably during the scene where My Girl is the soundtrack as they play basketball in the driveway and they show Annie growing up!  I still love both that song and that movie.

But all of us need a little sunshine on a cloudy day!  As I write this it is cloudy here, but yesterday wasn't just cloudy - it rained

Trevor and I ended up running errands in the rain all day with my mom.  It was very productive for me, as I was able to use some coupons I had been saving (yay!) and get some supplies for my daughter's upcoming birthday party.

But in the midst of all the errands in the rain I had a few little spots of sunshine I wanted to tell you about.  First was this...

That would be a nonfat, all milk no water, chai tea latte from Starbucks.  Starbucks is a rare treat for this here girl and don't you think a warm cup of tea is perfect on a gray, rainy day?  It was a warm spot of spicy goodness!

My second spot of sunshine was this...

Now let me tell you about this because you just might want to go out and treat yourself!  I had stopped in Bath and Body Works (coupon in hand) when I saw a little preview display with this new fragrance.  I'll be honest, I was drawn to then name because I think it's a good description of my style.  Country Chic.  Whether it is home or fashion, I'm a little bit city and a little bit country.  It probably has much to do with where I was raised and where I live now; where I spent my college years and where many of our travels have taken us; the way my eye is drawn to both chic sophistication and farmhouse freshness; the way I enjoy the lights, sounds, and pulse of a big city but love to breathe in the air of wide open spaces.

At any rate, the name intrigued me so I tried the fragrance and was pleased with its fresh but not too floral scent.  These trial size bottles offer plenty, and here is the best part; because it was a preview, the lotion was only $1 and the spray was only $2, and there was a coupon on the back of the lotion for when this spring fragrance officially hits the stores in April!!

Now that's the kind of beauty indulgence a girl on a shoestring budget can afford!

Another spot of sunshine was this...

My mom had picked up a new Melissa and Doug pirate puzzle for my puzzle loving four year old.  This puzzle was 100 pieces and as I cooked dinner yesterday evening, he put every one of those 100 pieces together all by himself!!  We were proud of our little buddy, and I think he was a little proud of himself too.  :)

More sunshine came when my daughter did a puppet show of the Good Samaritan story for us, read us some books, and the kids said cute things that as usual, made us crack up laughing.

If your day is cloudy, I hope you find sunshine somewhere!  Here's to a great day!

Sweet Surprise

This is what a typical afternoon snack looks like...

But every once in awhile I try to do something to make snack time extra special.  It's fun to make a homemade treat like banana bread or chocolate chip cookies because the response is always one of excitement!

Last Monday, I went to one of my favorite bakeries (I just love a good bakery!) and got each of the kids a Mickey Mouse cake.  Trevor gobbled his up happily, and I had Madi's waiting for her on her tray after school.  I also had a little monogrammed box with tiny sheets of paper that I picked up at from (you guessed it) the $1 section of Michael's, because what little girl doesn't like to play office and write notes and such?!  (Trevor had picked out a toy dinosaur from the same $1 section that day so they each got a small treat.)

My little girl was thrilled when she got to the table that afternoon!  It's fun to change up snack every once in awhile, making it an occasion and treat.  Everyone needs a sweet surprise now and then.

Is there someone in your life who could use a sweet surprise today?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Off The Charts!!

One of the tools that I have found helpful in parenting little ones is using charts.  Sometimes they are handmade on a piece of construction paper (in desperation perhaps?!), sometimes they are ones I have bought at learning stores.  Sometimes the boxes are filled with stickers, other times I may just draw a star.  But I have found that the visual aspect of charts is helpful to my children, and the emotional aspect of positive reinforcement really helps out, especially in times that I find myself having to discipline often.

I really do believe kids go through "stages" and often that's when I'll pull out a chart!! A month or two ago Trev was all of a sudden challenging me far more often than usual.  I usually don't have to discipline him all that much (well, at least not for defiance - his troubles often involve being too rambunctious!), but boy, were we going head to head for a few days there!  So I pulled out my little charts and animal stickers.  I rewarded him when he was "caught being good" or made a good choice without having to be forced.  He earned a doughnut date with mom when he filled up his chart of 20 little stickers, and honestly we turned a big corner and got over that little slump!  He was so excited!

For the past couple years Madi has been a relatively obedient child.  But during her toddler years, let me tell you, that girl had a will of iron!  When she would go through particularly strong willed phases or be temper tantrum prone and I felt like all I was doing all day was disciplining (anyone else been there? no fun!) I would make a chart with the same sort of idea - if she made good choices or was caught being good she could put a sticker on her chart or I would draw happy faces or stars on it.  I would hang it on the refrigerator where she could see it and it really did help during those rougher weeks.  One particular memory that stands out is when she really pulled it together and filled up a chart, and Jimmy surprised her and took her on a Daddy-Daughter date to Downtown Disney to ride the paddle-boats.  It was a couple years ago and she still talks about that time with him!

A few weeks ago I pulled out the charts again, with a different twist.  I knew spring break was coming up and that we would be heading to Disney a couple of times.  Both Madi and Trev have really gotten into collecting the Disney pins, and I thought that would be a good motivation for filling up charts.  I made them each two charts, one labeled Behavior and one labeled Reading.  On the behavior chart, same rules as always applied - they would get a sticker if they were caught doing something good or making a good choice without prodding from me.  As for their reading chart, Trevor got a sticker for every book I read to him, Madi got a sticker for every book she read on her own.  I told them I would give them a bit of allowance (something we haven't done before) when they filled up their charts and they could put the money in their piggy banks and use it on spring break to put towards a pin.

This turned into a really fun challenge for them! Both of them ended up filling up several charts.  I saw lots and lots of great behavior, agreeable attitudes, and quick obedience.  Madi read dozens of books, and Trev eagerly sat with me for reading time.  I really didn't give them all that much allowance - $1 when they got 20 stickers on the behavior chart,  and $2 when they got 20 stickers on the reading chart (10 cents a book).  However, when spring break rolled around they each had about enough to buy a new pin for their lanyards, and they both felt a sense of accomplishment for earning it.

Another thing I enjoyed about this is that it made me intentionally praise them when they chose to act in an honorable way, which not only made them feel proud of themselves, but helped me positively reinforce the kind of behavior that pleases God and helps our family to get along as we should.  Using charts creates great dialogue about these issues because when I tell them they are getting a sticker, I explain to them why and how their choice pleased God and our family. And of course, being an avid reader, I always like to praise them for spending time reading books as an activity!

I share this for those of you out there with little ones (or kids of any age for that matter!) because it may be a tool you want to use periodically either as a motivation to earn something (be it a doughnut date or opportunity to do something they want to do or allowance), or even if it's just for the visual reinforcement to see that they did and can make good choices or be productive during the day.  It gives them the satisfaction of a job well done.

And who knows, you may enjoy a week or two where their behavior is simply off the charts!!!  :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Put A Spring In Her Step!

Since we have been enjoying spring's beauties for a time now, and since my daughter appreciates beauty and notices details, I wanted to add a little spring to her life!

So one day this week while she was at school, I cleaned up some of the clutter that had accumulated in her room (we creative people deal with clutter, it's just the way it is!)...and then I made a few simple changes to the decorations in her room.

I changed all of her American Girl dolls out of dark, winter outfits and into pastel dresses and rearranged them a bit; I rearranged the items in her corner cabinet, adding in some different items from elsewhere in her room; I hung her Kit hat and a pair of fairy wings she got at a birthday party on the cabinet doors; put in a picture I had printed off of her and all of her American Girl dolls; and then hung Easter Egg ornaments I found in the Michael's dollar section on the hooks of her mirror.

I didn't really say much about this, just let Madi discover it when she went into her room. I was in my room ironing something when she flew in saying, "Thank you so much, I love it!!"  It took me a minute to figure out what she was talking about, and she proceeded to go on and on about her room! She has literally been talking about it all week, pointing out her favorite little details, asking me if I would do this every spring, or leave it that way forever!

It's funny how such small and simple changes could make her room feel fresh and give her so much enthusiasm and enjoyment.  These little touches of springtime definitely put a spring in her step!

Sunday Letters

Dear Madi,

I will admit that part of me was sad to send you back to school after our fun together during spring break.  But I was also happy for you to get back into your structured routine of learning... and happy you got to go to an art club after school one day this week!!  This was a dream come true for you!  My heart was full at your absolute joy from getting that extra hour in the art room to create!  And as usual, all week our home has been filled with your little creations and expressions of creativity.

What color you add to our world!


Dear Trev,

You and I started off our week with a Mommy-Son Day since Daddy didn't take his usual Monday off.  I got the most satisfaction as you ran around a park and tried to capture butterflies on your fingers in the morning sun and breezes.  I had fun letting you pick a dinosaur from the $1 section at Michael's, and even more fun watching you point out things you thought your sister would like or could use at her upcoming birthday party.  How thoughtful of you!  "My Mad" you often call her, and how you love her. The bond you share is precious beyond words.  The connection the four of us share deepens my life and is my greatest earthly treasure.

Praying that may always remain.


Dear Jimmy,

Can we go on a date night to Maggiano's every week?

Okay, so it's more like twice a year but seriously, how fun was that?!  I find beauty in the ordinary with you, but also love the out of ordinary moments that add dimension and make memories!

I also loved serving with you this week in some different capacities than usual.  I'm always amazed how many different avenues of ministry there are, and how God can use such variety to bring glory to His name and spread His love!

I am beyond thankful to serve with you.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Daily Bread

The other day I was praying as I drove to pick my daughter up from school, and I started to pray the Lord's Prayer.  I am not sure why I don't do this more often, considering it is the very prayer Jesus used when teaching how to pray.  I really should be praying this every day! However, as I spoke the words "Give us this day our daily bread" I felt a sudden sense of conviction and inspiration.  Conviction because I don't always have a daily bread mindset.  Inspiration because of the transformation that would occur if I did.

Let me explain.  Because of the extremely blessed, but also "self-sufficient" society in which I live, I do not necessarily feel dependent on daily bread.  I have enough bread in my pantry for a week.  If I run out, there are grocery stores stocked with more.  But it's not just about food. 

Society constantly stresses having goals and objectives that promise to take us from point A to point B.  Society emphasizes having the perfect plan which will supposedly set us up for the perfect future.  Culture tells us we can "have it all" if we just follow certain rules and sometimes even play certain games with a mindset to win.  Culture says we have the power to control our destinies. Consequently, it becomes easy to live completely in a big picture/make things happen/have it all mindset, without any regard for the daily.  It's easy to think we can control the future, but then freak out when it becomes obvious that we can't.  If we are honest, we are often a stressed out people.  Overwhelmed, and in many cases even depressed.

Our prayers can sometimes reflect that.  They can be last-ditch requests for miraculous results when our own self-made plans and efforts aren't working out like we thought or as we were promised.

Now please don't misunderstand, the Bible teaches about hard work, good stewardship and choices, and wise planning.  I believe all of those things are godly character traits!  Here's where we often go wrong... 

Our efforts to plan for the big picture turn into power and control; and sometimes staring into the often grim portrait of the future the big picture paints can result in fret and worry.  Unfortunately, when we allow things like control and worry in our lives they tend to trump faith and trust, and when faith and trust are replaced with fleshy efforts we lose every time.

*So we beg God to wave a magic wand and fix all of our troubles in an instant, rather than coming to Him in faith and dependence for daily sufficiency.

*We worry and wonder how on earth we will make it another month let alone year after year on this tight budget, yet we don't come to Him to gratefully and humbly ask for provision for the day.

*We ask Him to completely eradicate all extremely stressful situations in our lives and become frustrated if He doesn't, instead of starting our mornings asking Him for the grace and wisdom to deal with whatever this one day will hold, and trusting Him for it.

Okay, friends, I have been guilty of these.  Have you?

But what if we did seek Him for daily sufficiency, what if we did seek Him for daily provision, what if we did ask for the grace and wisdom we will need for the day, and did so each morning with a heart of gratitude

 I think we would have more hope, less stress, more peace, less worry, and a sweeter daily communion with God. That's what I mean by praying with a daily bread mindset.  

It does not surprise me that in Matthew 6, the same chapter where the Lord's Prayer is recorded, Jesus teaches about worry, saying in verse 34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things..." He taught how we are not to worry about what we will eat or wear because God feeds the birds and clothes the flowers, and surely He will take care of us.

 I saw some of the most beautiful flowers this past week at Epcot, and I am assured He is clothing them in splendor! So I can be assured He will take care of us and provide for our daily needs!

All of this reminds me of two lines from Thomas Chisholm's famous hymn: "Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow...great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me."

Greater trust.

Reduced stress.

More hope.

Fewer worries.

Increased dependence on God.

Less reliance on self.

Give us this day our daily bread.

These Are The Moments I Thank God That I'm Alive...

I could not ask for more.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Have I Got Some Recipes For You!!!

And I will let you know up front that I didn't make these, my mom did... she saved me the leftovers from a meal that she knew I would love (and the rest of my family wouldn't get into) and after savoring every bite I just had to share them with you!

First she made some tilapia with a caribbean salsa. She got the recipe for the salsa from Publix, and it was fresh and delicious!  Here's how to make it...

Combine 2 cups chopped fresh or canned pineapple, 2 yellow or red bell peppers seeded or chopped, 3 kiwifruit peeled and chopped, 1 small red onion finely chopped 1 cup peeled, chopped mango, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tsp seeded chopped jalapeno pepper, juice of one lime.

Cover and chill for 1 hours and serve with fish or chicken.


She also made marinated strawberries to serve over fresh spinach leaves.  We are in the middle of strawberry season so they are in abundance around here.  This is an absolutely delicious way to prepare them!  She got this recipe from a Weight Watchers magazine a few years ago.

Combine 2 TBSP fresh lime juice, 2 TBSP honey, 1/2 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper and stir with a wire whisk. Add 1 quart fresh strawberries that have been cut into thick slices and toss.  Sprinkle with grated lime rind.  Cover and chill. 

Oh-so-tasty, especially combined with the spinach!

Healthy, fresh, and absolutely wonderful! Such great ways to jazz up fresh produce!

Reflections On My Cup Of Coffee With Peter

Yesterday morning before the sun was up, I stumbled out of bed to make a cup of Donut Shop coffee with Cinnabon creamer, then settled in my green chair with my Bible and 90 Days With Jesus study by Beth Moore.  The lesson was titled A Serious Case Of Denial and was from Luke 22:47-62.

As I sipped my hot, fragrant coffee and read by the dim light I had lit in the darkness, I was overcome by emotion reading of Peter's blatant denial of Jesus whom he loved.

A few days ago I studied how Jesus had predicted that Peter would do this.  He told Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed.  Peter's response was reflective of how most of us who love Jesus would respond - Lord, I would never do that!  I will follow you to the end!

But like so many of us, Peter did something he thought he would never do.  I mean, haven't we all at some point made a mistake or choice we never thought we would make?  Haven't all of us set out with the best of intentions only to fall flat on our face when we acted or spoke impulsively or out of self-protection?

Just an hour or so after cutting off a man's ear in defense of Jesus, he denied Him not once, not twice, but three times.  What gripped my emotions so much when reading this account was that it said while he was still speaking the third time, the rooster crowed.  Before the words were even out of his mouth he knew that he had done the unthinkable that Jesus had said he would do.

Then verse 61 says, "And the Lord turned and looked at Peter."  

Can you even imagine the grief Peter felt at that look?  The same Jesus who washed Peter's feet looked in his eyes as Peter denied Him. Verse 62 says Peter went out and wept bitterly.  I can't imagine the outpouring of emotions at that moment.  But again, on some level, all of us have been there.  We have done something we thought we'd never do, we knew that the Lord saw us, and we have been stricken with grief at our sin and humanity.  We have sorrowed because we hurt the One we love most.

A very interesting factor in this whole story is something I was reading a few days ago that I had never paid much attention to.  In studying Luke 22:31-34 I read where Jesus told Peter that Satan had literally asked for permission to sift Peter as wheat.  Satan hoped that through this time of sifting only the chaff and tares would be revealed, that Peter would ultimately deny Christ and reject Him.  But Jesus goes on to tell Peter that He (Jesus) prayed for him that his faith would not fail, and that when he returned to Him he would help strengthen other believers.

So Jesus predicted Peter's denial, but knew that ultimately Peter would come back to Him, live for Him, and help others grow in their faith.  Jesus knew that He would have the final victory in this sifting, not Satan.  He knew that even though Peter would blow it big time, he would repent and live on to make a huge difference for the kingdom of God  John 21:18-19 predicts Peter's death by crucifixion, and history indicates Peter was crucified for his faith upside down, because he didn't feel worthy to even suffer and die as his precious Lord did.

Once again, as I sipped my coffee and processed this painful story, I realized most of us can relate to this; we can recall a time where Satan was after us big time with temptation, discouragement, defeat, or one of his other many tactics and we blew it or our weakness was revealed, but yet we were able to turn away from sin or allow God to pick us up from a place of discouragement and defeat. Then we, by His beautiful grace, were able to take steps towards the Savior and make a difference for Him.  Sometimes His grace is most obvious in our own weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). If we were self-sufficient or perfect on our own, we would have no need for a Savior.  But oh, how we need Him.

I love 2 Corinthians 3:5.  It says, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God."

Peter was not sufficient of himself.  Self-protection, impulsive behavior, and fear caused him to make wrong choices that made him weep and mourn.  However, in Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, " are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."

That's grace right there.  God shining His light through cracked jars of clay.  God using brokenness for a mosaic of His glory.

My cup of coffee with Peter in the darkness of morning once again reminded my heart that it is in the grip of grace.  That on my own and I am prone to weakness, fear, and failure.  But when my heart is hidden in the heart of Christ He can still use me - and He can still use you - as we acknowledge our sufficiency is fully and completely in Him.

Be blessed today as you let Him use you, cracked jars, broken pieces, and all.  Rest in surrender.



Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Idea Of Corned Beef and Cabbage is a Reuben...

So that's what I made for dinner on St. Patrick's Day!

But that wasn't all.  Our sweet friend, who often babysits the kids at church and is a bubbly part of our youth group, came over for a baking/cooking day.  Jimmy wasn't coming home for dinner that night so while Trevor napped, Madi enjoyed some girl time with us in the kitchen - we had a ball!

We started with some baking using a Funfetti cake mix...and ended up with our version of a rainbow with gold at the end of it!

So bright, cheerful, and yummy!  We also made some cookies using the recipe on the Funfetti cake mix box, and let me say, I would highly recommend trying that recipe. It is extremely simple and they are so tasty!

I had this fun shamrock pasta on hand thanks to a kindergarten fundraiser...

So we made an easy, but very delicious pasta salad.  Earlier in the week I found some mini gourmet cucumbers at the store, so we chopped three of them.  They were so fragrant that their aroma filled the kitchen!  We mixed the cooked and drained pasta, the cucumbers, some lowfat mayonnaise, and a ranch dressing seasoning packet together and let it chill.  I was so pleased with the result!  You should try this with your favorite pasta (bow-ties would be great) for a spring/summer salad!  Simple, fresh, and fabulous!

We had our rainbow with gold, a shamrock pasta salad with green cucumbers in a green bowl...we heated up a can of green peas (Le Sueur young ones, my faves), and then heated up the griddle to make reubens, which as I said is my idea of corned beef and cabbage!  I love a good reuben.

With our plastic green tablecloth and cups, green plates, and place cards the girls made, we had a festive little St. Patrick's Day dinner! And most importantly, we had great conversations and lots of fun while we worked in the kitchen.

What's going on in your kitchen these days?! 
I would love to hear!

Sunday Letters


Dear Madi,

It is no secret that I loved having you home this week on Spring Break!  Among the reasons why are these...

*seeing you hanging around in your pajamas instead of rushing you out the door

*watching you read dozens of books on your own

*observing you making your endless pictures, crafts, and projects

*having a "sleepover" with you one night where you giggled and laughed until I told you we just had to get some sleep

*going to a tea party to celebrate your best friend's birthday with you

And that's just a few of the reasons! I especially enjoyed our Disney time together because you are so into Disney right now.  You had the privilege of riding all the rides you had been wanting to try - Expedition Everest, Test Track, Soaring - and were thrilled by every minute!  You even gave Tower of Terror another try, which made me proud because you conquered a fear.  When talking about Tower of Terror and Everest, you said you were scared but just held on to me and buried your face into my arm.  Life is going to be that way sometimes, Madi.  There will be milestones that will be thrilling and scary all at the same time.  But I want you to know that you can always hold my hand.  Just like these rides, there will be times we encourage you to try something that we know will help you grow or that you will ultimately enjoy, but we will be there along the way to help you and guide you, and sometimes to let you bury your face in our arms.  Because you and your brother are our greatest gifts from God, gifts we strive to steward well. 

Thanks for adding rays of sunshine to this week.  I've loved every minute.


Dear Trevor,

I think your best line of the week was Monday when were outside on a beautiful evening at Epcot.  We hadn't eaten our meal yet, but discovered a bakery in France and tried the chocolate cake which turned out to be so delicious we ordered another piece.  After you dug in and gobbled it up, you looked at all of us, smiled with a face covered in chocolate crumbs, and said cheerfully, "Well, that was a great dinner!"

And such is your take on life!  You take things in stride, enjoy yourself, and make everyone else stop to enjoy themselves!  Your cheer is contagious and inspiring.

From Disney days to waffle mornings to Play-Doh creations to watching the old Star Wars movies for the first time, you've had a fun week.   And that, my son, makes my heart happy.

Here's to more chocolate cake for dinner,


Dear Jimmy,

We are blessed.  And we are both thankful.  Which just makes me more thankful.  I treasure spending life with a man who has a grateful heart.

Counting our blessings,


P.S. Thanks for eating all those turkey sandwiches this week!  The packed bag lunches and dinners we ate at Disney were worth the memories made, even though lunch and dinner were usually identical!  You are always such a good sport. Thanks!  :)

Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you so much for gifting us with these part time Disney passes at Christmas.  It was a surprise that has been a tremendous blessing to our family during this season of our lives!  We are making so many memories, and they made this spring break so much fun!  I'm glad you guys could enjoy some of the fun with us this week.  You always bless us, and we appreciate you more than you know.


Our Family

Dear God,

Every good and perfect gift comes from You.

Thank You.

Standing grateful,

Your Daughter

Back Again, Back Again, Bliggity Blog

It's been a great week!  A blog free week for me, because this week my girl was on spring break and we had the best time!  We spent a good portion of our week outside because God blessed us with bright, sunny weather in the 80's with no rain and a beautiful breeze, especially in the mornings and evenings.  We could not have had better weather for spring break if we had tried to plan it ourselves!  What a gift!

So between our fun in the sun, a couple of birthday parties, and days spent just enjoying a break from the grind at home, I decided this was not the week to blog.  I soaked up family time and enjoyed seeing these two together all day again...

Now that school is a part of our lives, I treasure the days when they are both playing Play-Doh in the kitchen in their pajamas while I serve up homemade waffles and fruit, or running around using their imaginations together from the time their feet hit the ground.  I loved watching them drag out an old crib mattress to play "hospital" and seeing them use green army men and pillows to have a "war".

I especially loved our magical memories made at Disney with all four of us.  One of the highlights for me was enjoying the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot for the first time.  The abundance of flowers and natural beauty was almost overwhelming.  To experience that with my family all together in picture perfect weather was a true gift.  One of my favorite spots was Bambi's Butterfly House where we saw dozens of beautiful butterflies flitting around fragrant and colorful flowers...

And the Toy Story topiary display at the entrance was magical as well!

We had a week well spent, revolving around time together as a family! Tomorrow starts school and schedules, and I'm looking forward to hopefully spending some time blogging this week.  I hope wherever you are, spring break finds you and leaves you with some sunshine on your cheeks and some memories with family to last a lifetime!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"I'd Like To Add His Initial To My Monogram..."

Don't you just love that song?  George Gershwin wrote it, Ella Fitzgerald performed it...classic.  I am smitten with these types of old standards, aren't you? (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, look up Someone To Watch Over Me.)

Well, the reason that song lyric came to mind was because I did a little project with a monogram today.  I actually left the house (I know) because I had to pick up a birthday gift for a classmate of Madi's.  While at Michael's I picked up a wooden P ($3.49), a spool of black and white ribbon ($1.99), and a big yellow daisy ($1.00).  I was feeling crafty!

Now, remember what I was saying yesterday about simplicity?  With these three items, a glue gun, and about 10 minutes, I made a fun spring addition for my entryway.

Here's a side note: Because I like change and because I like seasonal decorating, what I often do is simply move items in the house around and use things I already have.  For instance, my new vignette with the monogram is in my entryway.  But that little table has been in my guest room since we moved in.  I decided to move it to the entryway for something fresh, threw some flowers in a watering can we had, moved that picture of us (from before we had kids!) from the guestroom, and then added that little black pail I found at the blessed Target $1 section.

I added this vignette to the other side of my little entryway.  Again, these were all items I had around the house (including one of Madi's dolls and a pair of rainboots I wear!) - I just added some new silk flowers that were 50% off at Michael's and now I have a very fresh look for spring, out of things I already had.

The change of seasons always gets my creative juices flowing.  What are you creating these days?!  I'd love to hear!