Wednesday, May 6, 2009
First, do this....
Thursday, April 23, 2009
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?"Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Pick me up right around 5:30, please."I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -- but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.She's going ... she's going ... she's gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."
In the days ahead I would read -- no, devour -- the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals—we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."And the workman replied, "Because God sees."I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over.You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home.And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.
Monday, April 20, 2009
These are my Strawberry Shortcake dolls from when I was a little girl. My mom saved them for me and gave them to me at one of my baby showers before I had Lola. They're almost 30 years old, but still smell sweet! I recently hung three large shelves in Lola's room and now these little guys have a place to hang out. I'm not going to let Bee play with them until she's older, though. I love old things like this and am so thrilled that my mom kept them for me! I played with her Barbies all the time when I was a kid, so it's neat that Lola will have these soon too.
Below: The leader herself, Strawberry Shortcake. I had to help her hairdid bc after being packed away in her strawberry carrier for about 25 years, it was a little messy. After playing beauty shop on each of them, I gave SS some sideswept bangs and rearranged her bob. Much better.
Below: My strawberry carrying case. It's now on display too.
I still have lots of work to do on Bee's room, though. She's been living in her big girl room now since last fall, but I just haven't been able to decide on how exactly to decorate it. I am very indecisive. It takes me forever to commit to anything decorative. At least we (Kendall) got it painted a very soft green before she moved in. I just want it to be a happy place for her. Maybe having these little dolls on display will inspire me.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Lola didn't know what she was getting into other than we had been telling her she was going to find eggs and put them in her new basket. She seemed to understand the concept, but when it came time to fill her basket, she got shy. Frankly, I think she was a little intimidated bc there were so many bigger kids who were there that were just waiting to dive in. As you can tell from the picture above, the eggs weren't hidden. They were just set out in the middle of the Treasure Island room. However, they did let the youngest kids go first, so Lola was able to get some eggs. Her friend, Avery, was on hand to help so that I could sit back and get pictures. She didn't get any special eggs with tickets for Chick-Fil-A inside, but she did manage to get some "chockit!!!" (chocolate Hershey kiss). Hence the last picture.
And, just so you know, every evening we've had to hide the eggs in the house so she can re-hunt them.
This afternoon I made a quiche for breakfast tomorrow morning. Quiches are very popular at my house. We have them a couple times each month bc they're not only delicious, but they are perfect for using up miscellaneous ingredients that there's not enough of for other recipes. For example, I had half of a green pepper left over from my meatloaf the other night; about 1/4 c. of cheese left over from tacos; green onions left over from a salad; and I always keep frozen pie crusts in my freezer. (They always come in handy for something.)
I probably owe my love for quiches to my friend, Cassy. She baked one for my bridal brunch the day of my wedding and I thought it was outstanding! From then on, I've been a quiche girl. They also reheat very well.
Here's the version I made today:
Frozen pie crust
1/4 - 1/2 c. milk
1 lb. or so of sausage, cooked
Green onions, chopped
Green pepper, chopped
Any kind of shredded cheese
Garlic powder, paprika
All you do is let your pie crust soften, and then prick it all over with a fork. Bake it at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Once that's done, lower the temp to 325 degrees. Dump in all of your ingredients except for the eggs and milk. In a bowl, beat your eggs and milk together. Pour over the sausage mixture and bake for roughly 50 minutes or until set in the center.
You can even throw in chopped apples, sliced mushrooms, spinach, hashbrowns, shredded carrots, whatever. Just have fun with it!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I'm so excited to start stockpiling my coupons and paying closer attention to sales ads to get the best bang for my grocery buck. (She taught us about saving money on other things besides groceries, but since we don't spend much on other non-necessities, groceries are our biggest expense.) I wish I could have kept count of how many times my jaw literally dropped after hearing some of her amazing stories. For example, she bought her kids approximately $400 worth of toys for Christmas for $40. She has toothpaste built up for, like, a year that she got for free through couponing! It was just amazing! It will definitely take practice to get good at it, but I'm always a willing learner so I can't wait to start putting what I learned to good use.
Check out her blog here.
Monday, April 6, 2009
On Saturday afternoon (after visiting the Easter Wabbit at Bass Pro and lunch at Panera) we went to Sesame Street Live. This was Lola's first experience at a live show. As a kid, my grandma always made sure my bro and I were able to attend these things, so it's pretty cool to get to start doing the same for Lola. KJ's mom got us tickets for a suite and we all went together. It even worked out that KJ got to go with us, which wasn't the original plan. It was a lot of fun to see the show with Lola; she was so fascinated. She loved clapping and dancing with the music :)
Below: Lola managed to get herself a Zoe doll on the way to our seats. She loves this little doll. I was trying to take the pic so that it looked like Zoe was on the stage, but it just never would work out quite right....
Below: Bee (and Zoe) patiently waiting for the show to begin. She is such a sweetie and I just love her so much!
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Below: The lady on the left in navy blue is one of her teachers, Doby. The lady on the left in the green is her other teacher, Nikkoli. The lady in black in the middle is the gym teacher, Patty. Oh, and that's Bee climbing out from that cube thing.
Below: This was my favorite part of the class. I had no idea Lola could do a hand stand! Granted, Patty helps them get into position, but she held herself for long enough that I was very impressed! It was funny to see how proud they each were after plopping back down onto the ground.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Below: Look at the icing! I watched the owner/creator of Sprinkles last year on Martha and she said they take pride in having a neat, smooth appearance of their icing. FYI: You can buy Sprinkles' cake mixes at Williams-Sonoma. Their flavors are limited, though. I've never made one. I did make Sprinkles strawberry cupcakes from scratch for Valentine's Day last year. I got the recipe from Martha's website. The owner shared her recipe for the show. They were very good, but I have to admit: I think my mom's strawberry cake recipe is just as good....)
Friday, March 27, 2009
Okay, so last weekend me and my friend Jodi went to Barnes & Noble to a Q&A/book signing with The Duggars. The Duggars are the great family from Arkansas with 18 kids. They have a show on TLC called "18 Kids & Counting." For the past several years I've followed this family on Discovery/TLC specials. I love these guys! They are a Christian family and are not afraid to share their faith. Aside from that, the mom, Michelle, is so fascinating to me. She seems like one of those people who I could just sit and listen to hear speak for hours bc she speaks so crisp and cleanly, she seems so pleasant and friendly; I could just soak her up. (Maybe that's bc I'm a court reporter and can ALWAYS appreciate a person who speaks so clearly. Plus, she has very pretty teeth.) So, to sum it all up, I'm a huge fan of these guys and when I learned they would be in town, I knew I had to go. I called my crazy friend Jodi -- who also loves them, but was still thinking they're a tad nutty -- and she was more than happy to go with me.
Saturday rolled around and after we had lunch we got to B&N an hour early just to get up close to the table they'd be sitting at. We sat on the floor like a bunch of school children and waited an hour. Legs going numb the whole time. Finally they arrived! Michelle and Jim Bob were literally within 2 feet of us the whole time. I could have grabbed her. I was totally absorbed in their talk and wish they would have been able to stay longer. I wanted to ask her if she had any tips on potty training, but I didn't have the nerve. I totally chickened out. I'd like to get Lola potty-trained by the time Baby Boy arrives, but just don't know where to begin. I figured Michelle would have all the best tips...but, like I said, I chickened out.
Anyway, it was awesome. I just love them even more now. 15 of their 18 kids were there. (And so well-behaved.) The oldest and his wife were at a marriage conference and I forget where the others were. What was cool was that the production crew from TLC was there too, so maybe Tulsa will make it onto one of their episodes! I think the Duggars are just so darn neat. They only buy clothes from secondhand stores; nothing is ever new. Their philosophy is "Buy used and save the difference." They also live totally debt-free. That is so awesome to me too.
Okay, so that's my Duggar story. Love them. Love their show. Wish I could spend a day with them :)
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Okay, so we don't have screens on several of our windows. Our beloved mutt, Izzy, ripped and ultimately destroyed almost all of them not long after we got her and we've just never taken the time to replace them. Hopefully, we won't have to live with it much longer bc I can't handle all of the leaves and grass and dust that blow in every time we open the windows. (Which is a LOT.)
Anyway, so while I was fixing dinner the other day it was quiet for quite some time, causing me to wonder what was Lola doing. This is how I found her -- only Izzy was licking Lola's face ALL OVER and Lola was happily just sitting still for her. I'm talking literally ALL OVER: eyes, forehead, mouth (sorry), chin, cheeks...
So, I guess actually the pic above is Lola trying to play it all off like she's not doing anything. Then, Izzy popped in one last time and gave a final sugar, and this is all I could get....
This is Penny. She has been one of Lola's best friends since birth. We used to tuck Penny into the side of Lola's baby carrier/car seat anytime we would leave the house. She spent many hours dancing for Lola, playing Peek-A-Boo, and just being her little friend.
This morning before getting dressed, Lola decided to drag out every doll she owns and kinda rediscovered Penny. (Poor Penny must have been buried under all the other dolls for a while now.) So, below are the pics of their reunion.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Well, about a year or two ago I learned of a photographer at my church, Ashley, and quickly became hooked to her blog/website. Every morning I check it out just to see recent pics and get cool ideas for lots of things. I was so inspired by her work that for Christmas Kendall bought me a very nice camera and lens so I could learn more about photography. And, as luck would have it, Ashley was going to take a break from photography, but begin offering photography classes! I was beyond thrilled to finally get a chance to dive into photography without having to go for semester(s) at a college, etc. (Which I had checked into a million times.)
So, last weekend was the big day and it was, quite simply, AWESOME. Ashley was a great teacher and was able to take some stuff that was pretty technical, but explain it in a way that made sense to me. Plus, there were only 10 of us, so it allowed plenty of time to ask questions and just jump in. I learned a lot about photography, but still have so much to learn. (And lots of practice ahead of me.) However, I'm having so much fun learning to tell stories with my pics. Even if no one ever saw anything I photographed, I would love it just as much bc I feel like now I have the "tools" to start narrating my family's lives through pics. I just want to look back in years from now and have real-life, pretty pics of my kids and family, rather than stiff, posed, unnatural traditional photos.
So, to gain plenty of practice, don't be surprised if I show up with my camera the next time I see you!
Below: This is just a shot I captured once things began to wind down. (And Bee was able to catch her breath.) I don't know what's up with the goofy grin.... :)
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Have I mentioned lately how much I love my church? I feel so blessed to be part of a place that is touching so many lives.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
We feel so blessed by our babies.
Kendall got Lola a make-your-own gingerbread house kit back in early December. He assembled it for her but let her decorate it. She had so much fun sticking all of the little pieces of candy on her house. It was quite messy, but she loved it. Once completed, it became our dining room table's holiday centerpiece.
And, being the Martha Stewart junkie that I am, I bought lots of her Christmas art supplies to do projects with. It was my first attempt at stamps. I don't do it right bc for some reason they never turn out right, but me and Lola still had fun making gift tags and cards. Below are the ornaments she made. It was just cardstock, Martha's stamps, Martha's gingerbread stickers, and ribbon. Lola did all the stamping and sticker-placing, then I just cut circles around the better parts, made a hole at the top, and inserted two types of ribbon. We mailed most of them with Cmas cards to the grandparents. I think we'll do this every year too. I was inspired to do this super easy project after helping decorate my mom's Cmas tree. She has two ornaments on her tree that me and my brother made back in the early '80s when we were really little. They're similiar to what Lola made. She said we made our ornaments at Dillards or some other department store. Back then they had an area where you could leave your kids while you shopped for Cmas gifts. While at this kid drop-off, they had us decorate paper ornaments with markers. Mine was a snowman and my brother's was a traditional ball ornament. I love the idea of having a tree covered in my kids' projects and artwork. I never thought I'd be that type of person. I always wanted the "pretty" tree like out of a magazine. Things have changed so much from my pre-kid days! I want my trees to be full of memories.
Below are pics from last year and also this year's visit. Because we've been so busy the past month, we didn't make it to Santa until Dec. 22! And, as luck would have it, it was something like 20 degrees outside this evening. It was FREEZING!!!!
Below: I always have to have a pic of Lola outside the Santa House. (She couldn't walk at this point last year.)
Below: She's saying "Cheeeeese."
Below: This pic is blurry bc I was laughing so hard while trying to take the pic. Also, Lola's wildly flailing arms didn't help. My camera couldn't handle that much action. I think Santa was just trying to keep his beard on.
Below: Notice Santa's face on this one. I think he was ready for her to leave. LOL As soon as this pic was taken, Kendall picked up Lola and she was still a little hysterical. However, Santa reached over for his basket of goodies and said, "Would you like a cookie?" and Lola immediately stopped bawling and cheerfully replied "Yes!!!" She gets that from her momma. Sweets always make everything better.