Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Girls and Clothes

So what is it with girls and clothes, anyways? I have a 4 1/2 year old son who has changed his clothes without being told just a handful of times, and those just in the past year or so. I guess I just didn't understand how different a daughter would be.

Okay, so I do have memories of my sister Anna, 11 years my junior, going through a phase of changing her clothes several times a day when she was somewhere between 3 and 5, I'd have to ask my mom exactly when. It was a humorous and cute, if not a little annoying at times, habit. But it didn't really affect me that much.

Now I have Marissa, 2 1/2 years old. Lately she has been surprising me with her clothes, or lack thereof. Sometimes it's just a change of pants. One day during naptime, when she was supposed to be asleep, I found her in Corban's room, wearing only panties (she had been wearing a pull-up and clothes), put on with one leg through the waist opening. Another day she was traipsing down the hallway just in panties, dress-up slippers, and her pink blanket draped around her shoulders like a shawl. But today really took the cake.

We had a busy day and a short time for naps before heading out for Corban's gymnastics. I had just gone downstairs for some water and came back up to hear some mysterious noises in her room. I opened the door to see her completely naked, playing with her dollhouse. What??? I can't figure out what got into her! Her jeans had been put in a drawer and her shirt and pull-up were on her bed. She had no explanation for why she had disrobed and was happy as a clam. Ridiculous. It's not like that kind of behavior is modeled around here.

Boys just don't do this sort of thing. At least, mine never has. Why do girls feel the compulsive need to change clothes or take them off altogether? At least it's only in the privacy of her own room during sleep times....thusfar, anyways.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


We had a really good message at MOPS today....and I wanted to jot down some notes here so I won't forget them! The speaker was the CEO of MOPS International, Elisa Morgan. Okay, so she wasn't exactly AT my group, we watched her message on DVD, but it was still her. While nothing she said was brand new information, it was so good to get a reminder of many of her points.
1. You are Loved. No matter where you are in your life or who you are, God loves you. Even when your house is a mess and you've yelled at your kids all day and dinner is burned, God loves you. That will never change. You cannot make Him stop loving you.
2. You are Chosen. God picked you to be the Mom of your children. He knew exactly who they would need as a mom and who you would need as children. He put you together.
3. You Matter. You have an influence on those around you, whether you see it or not. Your children are constantly watching you and learning from you, and even if your daily routine is mundane and repetitive and you feel like nothing worthwhile is accomplished, you DO matter, to your husband, your children, and to God.
4. You are Not Alone. Whatever life throws at you, the Holy Spirit is always with you. Whether you're starting out in motherhood or a 70 year old veteran grandmother, living in prosperity or need, you will not be forsaken by your heavenly Father. He will always be there for you.

Well, I wish I had gotten to actually take notes during the message, because I didn't capture nearly all that she conveyed here....but I was nursing and rocking a noisy, fussy Annika to this is it.

Here's a photo of the girls on Sunday...because it's just not a good post without at least one picture!

Aren't they cute? Thanks for the gorgeous dresses, Grandma!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Kids' Conversation

Caution----Potty Talk ahead! Okay, consider yourself warned.

Yesterday as Marissa was using the bathroom and Corban lounged on the floor outside the door, the following conversation ensued.

Corban: "That was a toot...that's funny!" (giggles)
Marissa: "Toots are NOT funny, they're yucky." (furrowed eyebrows)
Corban: "No, they're funny!" (more giggles)
Marissa: "Okay, they're funny, but they're yucky too." (reluctant smile)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Baby stuff

Annika has cut her first tooth. Well, she actually cut it last week, but I'm just now getting around to writing about it. It's on the bottom, middle left. Didn't seem to cause her much pain, thankfully. Hopefully all her teeth will be that easy! Okay, so maybe I just shared this news to have an excuse to put up more pictures of her because I think she's so cute. What can I say?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Beautiful Day

We have not had grass in our backyard for 2, thanks to Grant's hard work in laying a compost/dirt mix, seeding a couple of times, and faithful watering, look at it now! We are so happy with it, we can hardly stand it. We haven't been able to play out back for awhile during the new grass stage....but today we threw all caution to the wind and went outside to enjoy the gorgeous weather.

Corban loves showing off how good he is on the rings.

Marissa is proud to give her dolly a good ride on the swing.

Annika's just happy to be here! She loves swinging!

And she most definitely does NOT love grass. This face happened just before she started to wail...nonstop.....until I picked her up. And I thought she'd like it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's Your Fault

It's funny how kids are seemingly blind at their own bad behavior but very observant of others'. I couldn't tell you how many times a day Corban and Marissa get into squabbles about sharing toys or get a stern talking to (if not worse) for being unkind/downright mean to each other. Yet somehow they rarely seem to acknowledge that they were in the wrong, or if they do, they complain that it's too hard to be nice.
Today, however, it was interesting to watch them at a playground nearby. There was a little girl, Abigail, probably a little older than Marissa, playing at a sand table with a plastic cup. A 4 year old boy Evan (who was MUCH smaller than Corban) who knew her was playing nearby, chatting with Corban. He approached Abigail and sweetly asked if he could use her cup to play when she was finished. She yelled "NO!" and pushed him vigorously away. This continued for a couple of minutes, with the occasional holler from Evan's mom several yards away for him to leave Abigail alone. Corban was continuing to play but stole glances over at the argument, while Marissa stopped all she was doing and stared. After awhile, Marissa piped up to Abigail in a soft voice, "Be nice, okay?" Abigail ignored her and kept shoving Evan away. After they finally moved away, Corban added, "She wasn't sharing, Mom. She wasn't being nice at all".
Well, whaddya know. My kids DO know what ugly behavior is, they just don't want to admit it when they are the offenders. Now that I think about it, that's not unlike most adults I know. It's much easier to criticize the mistakes of others than to admit our own. Hmmm...that's a good reminder to reflect on Matthew 7:2-4 (New King James Version):

2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Never a dull moment

So, if you saw an empty dogfood bag in your kitchen, what would you do with it? If you were 4 years old and your name was Corban, and you had just had a bath, you would definitely pick up the bag and turn it upside down on your head. Oh, then you'd discover that "empty" dogfood bags are never truly empty and the top of your head, as well as the floor in a 3-foot radius around you, was covered with crumbs. Of dogfood. Whoops. Maybe next time you'll know better.

Sad News

It's official, my sister did not win the Pillsbury BakeOff. Boo. Some overly simplistic and plain double peanut butter cookie took top honors. Well, at least she'll be on the Food Network, that's pretty darn cool if you ask me.

Bargain Yeast and Vanilla

Most of you probably know this, but just in case you don't, I wanted to share how I save money on yeast and vanilla. Costco or Sam's. I know those bulk warehouses don't have bargain prices on everything (though they'd like you to think they do), but I think getting two pounds of yeast for $4.00 and a pint of pure vanilla for less than $6.00 is so much cheaper than the grocery store, it's not even funny. I don't have a membership to either place, but since I have family members and a friend who are, I either ask them to pick it up for me or tag along when they're already shopping.

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's Bakeoff Day!

Today my sister Sarah is competing as a finalist in the Pillsbury BakeOff, with the hopes of winning the Grand Prize of $1,000,000. Yeah, that's six zeros there. Her recipe for Thai-Style Mexican Chicken Wraps is unique and delicious....I think she has as good a chance as anyone to win. Oh, and guess what else. Out of the 100 finalists, she was chosen (probably due to her excellent performances on her local news stations) with about four others to be featured on the Food Network's coverage of the BakeOff. She already had one interview with them, they'll be covering her a lot today throughout the cooking, and then there will be more interviews afterwards. I can't wait to see her on national television!!! I'll let everyone know when it will be broadcast as soon as I find out. Go Sarah!

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm only 29

So today officially the last day of my 20's. It's kinda depressing, but not that bad. I've been thinking about all that has happened to me in the past decade. It's been pretty eventful!

I turned 20 on April 12, 1998. I was a junior in college at the University of Arkansas. I got my wisdom teeth cut out the next month, but much more traumatic than that, my dear sweet Grandma passed away that October. Losing a beloved grandparent was very difficult, especially since we had lost Grandpa a couple of years earlier.

After turning 21, I graduated from college with a degree in therapeutic recreation, did my internship at a rehab hospital, and moved to Nashville with my sister to support her dream of musical stardom. I worked at an alternative school (boy, the stories I have from there!) for 2 years, took up swing dancing, and met my husband when I was nearly 23. Right after our second date, my last surviving grandparent, my dad's dad, passed away. I flew to Kansas City for his funeral, especially mournful because I had seen him so infrequently during his last years. Five months later, in July of 2001, Grant and I were married.

Being a military wife was full of new challenges, since not only was I immersed in a brand new culture, in a new town where I knew no-one, had to find a job, and oh yeah, I was married, September 11 happened and our whole lives changed. Grant was part of the initial ground troops invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving me to cope with living alone (which I had never done) and worring about my husband in war zones, with whom I rarely had contact. What did I do with my oodles of spare time? I learned how to mow my own large yard, put together 2 1,000 piece puzzles and had them framed, and helped lead worship at my church. And yes, I spent a lot of time writing letters and moping. And praying. And moping more. And visiting my sister in Nashville.

During his deployment to Afghanistan, my younger brother, almost 16, was diagnosed with AML, a fast-moving, life-threatening form of leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. Thanks to God's providence, 3 of us 4 siblings were perfect matches. A miracle in itself. I was chosen to be the donor and the transplant occurred on September 11, 2002. Grant had just gotten home the month before. Despite a few setbacks along the way, my brother is fully recovered and close to graduating from college, Praise God!

Just before Grant left for Iraq, I got pregnant. I was 24. That was a tough deployment. Okay, they were both tough. I can't really say which was harder.

Anyways, again Grant got home just in the nick of time, a month before delivery. He got to come home before the rest of his division because he was separating from the Army. Corban was born on October 20, 2003.

In a whirlwind of events, we spent holidays travelling to see families and then moving to Virginia for Grant's new job.

We bought our first home and settled in. Our home was on a double lot and Grant spent nearly 2 years going through the process of splitting the lot so we could either sell or build. We built. We broke ground just a month after our daughter, Marissa was born...October 28, 2005.

We moved into our new home (right next door....easiest move by far!) in June 2006. I was 28 years old.

Fast forward a few months and I'm pregnant again, another baby girl. Annika was born September 6, 2007. We are so blessed with big, healthy, beautiful babies and good deliveries. One of the special things about this daughter; my Grandma was the second daughter (3rd child) of her mother. My mom was the second daughter (4th child) of her mom, born when Grandma was 30. I am the second daughter of my mom (3rd child), born just weeks before she turned 30. Annika is my second daughter (3rd child), born 7 months before I turn 30. Kinda cool.

So let's see. Nutshell version. In the past 10 years, I've lost 2 grandparents, graduated from college, moved 4 times, had 3 different jobs (other than wife and mother), gotten married, gone through 2 deployments, donated bone marrow to my brother, had 3 babies, bought and sold a house, built a house, and started a blog. Not to mention all the "little" things like mastering cheesecake baking, making lots of new friends, joining MOPS, growing in leaps and bounds in being a good wife and mother (though I have so far to go yet), and starting homeschooling.

It's been a good 10 years. I'm excited to see where the Lord takes me in the next 10.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Peanut Butter Bars

One of my all time favorite desserts. Peanut Butter Bars. Super easy, quick, and combines chocolate and peanut butter. How can you get better than that? So yesterday, Corban and I whipped up a batch for Grant to take to a work lunch.

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (one package)
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
12 oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
4-5 T milk

Combine cracker crumbs and powdered sugar well in a 13 x 9 inch pan. Melt the butter and peanut butter together and stir until smooth. Pour over the crumb mixture and mix until completely combined. Press down firmly and evenly into pan. Melt the chocolate chips and milk together and stir until smooth. Pour over the crust, stick in the fridge to set up, and you're done!
Corban proudly donned his apron and was ready to work!

Crushing the graham crackers was his primary job.

So after I got the bars completed, I left Corban in the kitchen while I went to get Marissa up from her nap. When we came back downstairs, here was what we saw.

Well, actually, what we saw was his entire head in the bowl I had melted the chocolate in, licking up every spot. This is the result of that manic chocolate chasing.
Just one last bit of chocolate to lick, Mom.

Yep, that's a boy after my own heart.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Growing up

Disclaimer: This is purely for the enjoyment of the proud grandparents and aunts/uncles. Annika (7 months in 2 days) has started waving.....and it is just about the cutest thing ever. She gets this huge grin on her face and awkwardly jerks her entire arm around in pseudo-circles. I just love this stage!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Talking in the shower

Early this morning I was changing Marissa (2) while Grant was in the shower. We heard him say something to himself and Marissa got a big grin on her face. "Daddy's talking on the phone in the shower....that's SO SILLY!" And she giggled. So cute. Note: This picture is several months old...but I thought it was fitting for this post.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Substitution for Cream

I often try to make dishes as healthy as possible without compromising taste or appearance. One of my favorite substitutions is evaporated skim milk for cream. Now I love a good sauce with cream, but my goodness, my bathroom scale doesn' I'll just use equal parts of the fat free evaporated milk and maybe add a little cornstarch (dissolved in a tad of cold water) for additional thickening, as evap. milk is truly not as "creamy" as cream, go figure. The main recipe I use this with is Cajun Chicken Pasta. It's delicious and SO much less fat without the cream. Give it a try!

Little Personality Test

I just took a simple personality test here. I scored a 42....which means "Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out."
I'm not sure that's completely accurate, especially the "constantly in the center of attention" part. Shoot, I don't know about being "lively" or "always interesting" either. "Charming" and "amusing"? Definitely me. (ha ha)
I don't know how valid these sort of quizzes truly are, but it was fun to take. Try it and tell me your results!

I'm no Martha Stewart

Mountains of laundry waiting to be folded, grubby refrigerator, sticky kitchen floor, streaks on all the mirrors, piles of papers to file, dust gathering, muddy pawprints on the carpet, dirty dishes covering the counter...... and little ones clamoring for attention nonstop. The list of things to do never seems to shrink when you're a mom of young children. I know we all get overwhelmed with trying to keep a neat and organized house at least once in awhile, some of us more than others. I have a very large house, and while the space is wonderful to have, when it comes time to clean (which is every day to some degree), I get behind and discouraged often. I read some blogs of ladies who never seem to have this problem because they have such dedication to their schedules and stay on top of things consistently. I am NOT one of those ladies. However, I do take solace in the words of a very wise 70 year old friend, who shared with me the advice her mother gave her years ago. She said, "If your house is messy and a guest comes over, one of two things will happen. Either she'll see that you're not perfect and don't always have your act together and then won't feel so bad about herself and her lack of "perfection" (because we all know that as women, we're constantly comparing ourselves to others) OR she'll see that you're messier than she is and feel better about herself. Whichever happens, your guest went away feeling happy! And that should make you feel happy too!"
So now whenever I start to feel down because I can't seem to make my house as neat as I want, even for social gatherings, let alone every day, and I lack that knack for decorating you see in the magazines, I try to remember that all that stuff probably doesn't make real people feel better anyways.
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