August 31, 2009

Christian Confessions

Beth Moore. Living Proof Simulcast. This past weekend. Glorious.

What an amazing time of renewal in my heart, sweet fellowship with my girlfriends, and rockin' out some praise for the Lord! I wish I knew where to begin about what made this weekend exactly what I needed. I have been going through such a desert time in my walk as a Christian and asking God to revitalize the fellowship we once had. Sadly, I found that I have built layers onto my calloused heart. I truly have been living each day as if I were the controller of my own destiny. Not absolutely sure why I decided to take the driver's seat of my own life because I am seriously lost! I am on an unbeaten path, so to speak. Its boring. There is no scenery. No excitement. No danger. I am just traveling along the day to day commute of life. Just wondering how life began happening to me instead of things happening in my life.

Then, this weekend I realized my issue. I have joked about it with friends but never knew the sin that had taken over my thought life. It was the sin of glorifying myself. I cringe as I tap out these keys admitting openly the dark, cobwebby places of my mind. See, this is where long time Christians get tripped up. We strip away all the obvious stuff...like partying, having a potty mouth, slandering others, blah, blah, blah. But its the MIND where it all begins. The actual enticement of sin. We entertain it like long lost friends and they manifest into thoughts that soon become behaviors. This is frightening because the life of a Christian does not model this...actually, it is the exact opposite. We are to decrease as Christ increases within. We are to glorify God, not ourselves and our lives are the exemplification of Christ. When you see me, you need to see Jesus. So here is the bile that comes to the fore as I think on this truth for myself...if I want my own glory, then I am no better than Satan himself who equates himself to God wanting the same glory.

This disgusts me to the core.

And it makes me realize that I have a lot of work to do. Not because anything I can do will make God love me, pleased more or less, or even appease Him from anger. No, He understands my humanity and that understanding alone is mercy and undeserved grace in its purity. But the work of a Christian sold out for Jesus. Taking up my cross. Surrendering my total will; not part of it.
Now I am thinking of that song...

Holiness, holiness is what I long for
Holiness is what I need.
Holiness, holiness is what you want from me
So take my heart and form it
Take my mind; transform it
Take my will and conform it
to yours, to yours, O Lord.

This is so the cry of my heart. And because of that I want to admit some things here. Not because it's funny or blog worthy. But because we are set free by not hiding and becoming transparent. So many Christians hurt the Christian image as a whole because they are scared to be honest and seen as fallible. Because guess what? We all fall short of the glory of God!

So here are my 10 confessions so that we can keep it real at Two Shades of Pink, get encouraged and realize working out our salvation is living up to what we have already attained. So many people have it backwards. They are working towards acceptance. Praise you Jesus Christ, I am already accepted and I am asked to live out my salvation that is 100% assured.

Ready?

1. During Beth Moore on Friday night, I was praying with my whole heart, asking God to get all the glory, to bring me back to the heart of worship and all of a sudden my closet pops in my head and I begin moving hangers figuring our what I am going to wear to the Saturday portion of the Simulcast.
2. Most days when I have a choice to read my bible or read Christian fiction. I pick the fiction every time since it is a lot easier to live vicariously through a book character then devote my own daily fellowship with God.
3. Sometimes when I sing worship in church, I wonder if people heard the notes I am hitting really well rather then remembering the God I am supposed to be worshipping.
4. I had a Jehovah's Witness come to my door the other day. The girls were napping and instead of talking to her for 2 hours like I would have 2 years ago (I so know they got together and marked my house with an X and never came here anymore because I would trap them with chocolate chip scones and the solid truth of Jesus Christ) I told her I was a born again Christian and I really was not interested. I was nice but where the heck was my loving witness? In all honesty? I wanted to be alone with the free time I had.
5. I have been afraid to write on this blog like I am with this post because I cared more about gaining readers then I did about my own convictions. I am not saying every post will be like a sermon but I never want to water down my very life source again.
6. I spend more time preparing my look each Sunday then I do about preparing my heart for God's message.
7. I gossip more than I care to admit. Yet, I am rather intuitive to others who do the same and can hold them at arms length.
8. I often judge my husband and where he is lacking spiritually rather than focusing on where I am utterly wanting in my own faith. It is so easy for me to spot the sin of others and cover it over my own with appalling piety.
9. I am so insecure that I think I spend more time worried about what my friends think of me then enjoying and growing a friendship. This also affects me in my witness. I want people to like me more than I want them to hear the Good News.
10. I quickly become disenchanted by Christians who fall due to holding high expectations of those in the faith. Grace is often a willful choice for me. I do extend grace, but remember I am sharing my thought life with you. But it does change my behavior. So where others will reach out, snatch those from the flames, I can sometimes desire to watch them burn and call it natural consequence.

OK. I may need to go throw up after admitting all of these things. But here is the thing. I am a work in progress. I acknowledge my limitations and ask God to transform me. To give me His likeness. To use me mightily.

And most of all...to get all the Glory.

August 30, 2009

Tooth Bear Craft


Yep. I'm doing a craft post. It will be short, I promise.

I share this little craft with you since I am in the frame of mind of gift giving for kids right now. So many birthdays, babies about to be born, etc I am always thinking of what I can give with the personal touch.

I was a little nervous giving these as a gift but it was for my BFF's two boys and she always appreciates my frugal...ok....handmade gifts. At the very least, if she already had something like this for them put away they could have little keepsake bears (they are pretty small...perfect for the Ms. Fairy to retrieve under a pillow).

Now before you get a little intimidated, it actually ended up pretty easy. It was only a little hard because I had no idea how to do a whip stitch or blanket stitch but I kinda got the hang of it after I was almost done. It looks VERY handmade but I kinda liked that effect. I changed up the look a little bit and put her boy's initials on the little pockets where the tooth goes. Her oldest (who was four at the time) was really excited about these bears. Who woulda thunk?

I got this idea from the Martha Stewart website and you can get the detailed instructions for this project here.

At the very least, I hope you enjoyed seeing a cute little craft. My hope is to make something like this for my girls but much more girly. A flower, bird, butterfly...the possibilities are just endless.

Am I converting any of you into getting crafty?

August 29, 2009

New Look

I am so excited about this new blog background and header that I can not even see straight!. I am beside myself!! (just got back from Beth Moore simulcast and had to throw in a Bethism)

Yesterday, the girls were playing dress up in these pink, poofy, totally all girl princess dresses and I just started snapping pictures. I wanted to post them but had nothing to write about but theeeeen...

Curiosity got the best of me and I checked out Shabby Blogs which had new goodies which I had been putting off taking a look. Everything on the site is just GORGEOUS so I knew if I just remained loyal to my old layout, all would be status quo and there would be no temptation to change. You give me too much choice and I will overload. And the backgrounds and pretty things are just all so wonderful I can't begin to choose.

But I peeked. And I was NOT disappointed! There I am just ooh and ahhing over all these beautiful bloggy things and then there it was. Drum roll, please. A beacon of light shined straight down from heaven right on the spot on the monitor where I was staring. I am convinced that Megan, the designer of this heaven sent site, had me in mind when including this header. But there was my new header and as sure as I knew I was breathing in and out, I knew my blog was about to get a make-over. A header with TWO SHADES OF PINK??? I immediately got to work and you are now seeing the new look.

So this may happen often. Its like redecorating your favorite room...for free. But I could not help myself; it was too perfect. I am still trying to get the ideal photo but until then, those are my girls in their dress-up, princess dresses just melting my heart all over again.

I just smile and think, ain't it grand to be a girl?

August 28, 2009

The Story Behind 2 Shades of Pink

It's time. I have often wondered if this blog can sometimes confuse people. Do they wonder where the focus might be? Why I write stories one day, talk about how God inspires me the next and then throw a little crafty thing in there? But that's me. And I like it.

But you need to know how this all began. My journey to being a mother. How my life came to be at this point. At this moment. How the journey during these last 6 years have shaped me to be the person I am now.

This will be a blog mini-series of sorts. I am not sure if it will be daily or weekly because the story is long. Incredibly miraculous, so it is worth it. But I may have to return to a valley I have emerged from that was rather dark for me. Scary and hopeless (or so I thought). So I will do my best. My goal is to have my words here be a heritage to my children. Memories, creative fun, laughter, some tears and most of all, to thank my Jesus.

I am not sure how much humor will enter into this because this was a tough time in my life. You will share with me the pain of infertility, the path through becoming foster parents, understanding what it means to have radical faith, and becoming a mom to my girls. So here goes...

OK. I am staring at the monitor wondering how to begin this.
Let's start wiiiiiiith...

Once upon a time...I got married.

June 16, 2002 to be exact. A sweet outside wedding in North Carolina where we lived. My husband and I were friends for a year, started dating around Thanksgiving of 2001, engaged by February 2002 and BAM...married 4 months later. I so sounded like Emeril there and I really just don't have the energy to delete it. But whatever. Things were great. I had decided to go on birth control three months earlier fearful that I would be pregnant too soon. Oh, how young and idealistic I was. Anyway, told my OB that I had not had my period in a year. Yes, a year. She said she really did not think we had anything to worry about. We could run some blood tests but did not feel it was a major issue. Okidokes. You're the doc, I will go with that.

Within 10 months of being married, we moved to Florida and in November of 2003 we decide to start trying to have a baby. I have an annual check, tell them my plans, go off the pill and my period decides to be MIA for the next 3 months. I go back to my OB to find out what is going on, they run blood work and realize I have something I have never heard of before; Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS. I had never heard of it but I had almost every single marker for having it. Always carried extra weight, still would break out like a teenager, my blood work confirmed it. The next step was an ultrasound of my ovaries which was the final confirmation since the ultrasound indicated a pearl like strand of cysts all over my ovaries. And so began a journey through infertility that I thought so naively was not a big deal.

Initially, it was not something I felt sad or worried about. I was not yet in the infertility trenches of yearning for a child. I was in the beginning stage of asking myself, how long will this really take? I will take some of these here chlomid pills, give it a whirl a few months and there you have it...we will make a baby. Uh, not what happened.

But in the process of this I began meeting fellow PCOSers. With children. Or pregnant. OK, so I was like what is the big deal? But after doing 3 cycles of chlomid with no indications of ovulation, it was time to be referred to an Infertility Specialist.

This is when allllllll the pieces began coming together to form the much needed BIG PICTURE for me. Here was the bottom line which finally became reality for me...it will be hard to get pregnant. Period. You kinda need to ovulate to make a baby. And I was not ovulating. At all.

OK. I am actually entering a sad place even with my two children sleeping peacefully in their rooms. So I am going to wrap up for today. It is the strangest thing. When you talk to anyone who has had a similar journey, you realize they never really can forget. The sadness and pain, I mean. My friend who has 4 children under 3 (triplets about to turn 3 and a 13 month old) still says it is hard to hear when people are pregnant. The same for me. And everyone I know seems to have a bun cooking or the timer just went off. But I will delve into that issue a little later. Just wanted you to get a sneak peek into the genesis of Jessica becoming a mommy.

Until my next post...or until one of these miracle babies do something funny again...

August 25, 2009

Two Tips Tuesday

Tip #1 Unique Containers

I looooove containers. I want to put anything and everything in a container if I am able. I think I would have enormous baskets for my girls if it was...you know... humane. But it's not, so I don't but everything else is fair game.

I am also poor so I need to get creative with my containers and sometimes I find new uses for things. I also have this thing for presentation. It has to look pretty. I can spend an hour stuffing a gift bag with tissue paper because it has to look full enough and the colors all have to work. If I have a party, I will actually create a layout of the table. So I admit to a need for things to look pretty. It makes me enjoy the everyday stuff of life.
My tip today is to invite you to see some ways I use or re-purpose containers and maybe it can give you the desire to pretty up the mundane too. Or just have some more convenience. Here are some examples that may get you thinking about what you have around your house to use...

This is an old coffee cup with a broken handle. So I put it in my medicine closet in my bathroom for my cotton balls (the broke handle facing in). Without a handle, it is a perfect container to just reach in and grab a cotton ball. A lot nicer then the bag they come in.

This is soooooo not pretty. But I had to admit I appreciated my Dad's reuse of this IBC container to bring bottled water on a van trip to a museum. I am not a "green" kind of girl but I do endeavor to re-purpose stuff. But my favorite part of this was the convenience. It was just plain smart.


This is an old fashioned type lemonade or iced tea jug. I love it but never use it for this purpose. I like that it has a handle and lid so I often use it as a cookie jar. It keeps them fresh, I can pick it up, and it just looks pretty on my counter. Especially after baking some of those M&M cookies from the girl's birthday party and tying the jar tag to the cookie jar.

This is my one stop coffee station. I so need coffee in the AM. I am not a pretty picture in the mirror or in my speech unless I have a mug in my hand. Well, still not pretty in the mirror but at least I start talking sweetly. So I need things to be readily accessible and right where I need it. I came up with this basket to have all our coffee needs in one place. The mugs are above it on the wall, the coffee and coffee maker to the right. Speedy convenience in a cute basket. Ahhhhh.


This is part of my coffee station. I put my coffee in a square, glass container that used to house pasta but then the presentation of pasta lost its appeal for me ever since carbs have been deemed starchy poison. It looks so pretty in there and I am coveting this gorgeous coffee scoop from my friend's shop Kookie Krums. My sugar is in a cute dispenser for my husband to dump his daily insulin shock amount into his coffee (I'm a splenda girl) and I put a dash of cinnamon in my coffee each day. I give my coffee a little shake of it from that handled jar. It is actually cinnamon sugar in there which I also use on buttered toast as a fun treat.

Tip #2 Photo Magnets

Do you ever get these magnets in the mail or on your phone book that are business cards for your fridge? Some are pretty nice to have like appointment cards, emergency numbers or library hours. But they can add up and just start cluttering your fridge with unnecessary information you do not need. So I decided to give them new life...

This one is one of those big jobs that came on the front of our phone book advertising some legal practice. So I painted it. What a great way to put your kids art work on the fridge by giving them a magnet like this as their canvas!


This one is from this past Valentine's Day when I sent all the grandparent's magnets of the girls with their cutie and festive outfits on. A fun idea is to add some scrapbooking flair to the magnet and smack a photo right on there! It ended up so cute! Or you can just mount a photo on one of the magnets. So instead of some stranger's mug, you got one of your family or friends. Fun, fun, fun!
Happy Tuesday Friends!

August 20, 2009

Mommy Confessions

Hello. My name is Jessica. And I am a mom who will tell you things that no one really talks about in Mommy groups or church pews. Oh, I may tell my BFF. My hubby. I may even joke about it...a little. But let's discuss what a real mom does instead of what we assume they do. Seriously, do all of us feel everyone has it together except when we look in the mirror? Because I do. Seriously, just because I have cheerios in a baggie in a plastic drawer does not mean I have it together. It means I have a plastic drawer with snacks in it .

I am going to start a list. I have no idea what I am going to write but I am going to see what happens. I hope it encourages others that none of us know what we are doing but just trying to do our best...or maybe just trying to survive.

  1. Yesterday, Ella dumped her whole graduates meal (yes, not a home cooked meal but one where dull colored veggies and a congealed mass of orange carbs called mac & cheese sit on a room temperature shelf for us super nutritious minded mommy's to buy) on the dining room rug. I looked down, scooped it up and put it right back on her tray. Dig in, kid!
  2. We have a flip flop basket right by the front door and I kid you not...I let Ella use them as chew toys to keep her stationary for longer than 2 minutes.
  3. I allow Cati to take naps with odd objects because the faster she goes down, the faster I can go read a book or run on the treadmill. Last week was a balloon. On a string. A few days ago it was her sandals swaddled like a baby.
  4. I actually project vanity onto my girls by selecting outfits based on a particular activity. Junky clothes for home days, cutie patootie outfits for running errands, totally trendy clothes for play dates (to make other Mom's think I have brilliant fashion sense), and designer clothes for church. I worry too often that if the bow is not in Cati's hair for the entire time in church preschool, I have somehow failed Little Girl Hair 101. This particular admission was hard but what is the point of being transparent if we can't be brutally honest about our inner thoughts and foolish misconceptions?
  5. I actually do bribe my 3 year old with Popsicles to eat 2 bites of peas. She is consuming more sugar then nutritious food and yet I still feel victorious. Call me a mommy sucker.
  6. I assume all Mom's think I am an awful mom when I am with them and I compare my mothering skills to theirs. When in fact, most of these wonderful friends will later tell me how I encourage them. Why do I torture myself?
  7. I often "check out" when Mommy life gets overwhelming and get on the computer or the phone. Instead of playing with my children. I can get so unorganized with my time when I am actually VERY organized. But I look for an escape. This one grieves my heart the most and I admit it because I feel shame. I think lots of moms sometimes do this and maybe feel guilty. I know this time period of our children being small is so fleeting and we are to enjoy each moment but some days I wonder how we do that in the midst of it. Why does it seem so much easier in retrospect?
  8. I actually let Cati break house rules so I can have a 5 minute conversation with a friend. Not proud of the hypocrisy here.
  9. If my child refuses to eat what I serve her, she does not eat until the next meal. I am convinced imminent death is not a threat. Though many Grandmother's are probably gathering to hunt me down.
  10. I already fear being judged by this honest list yet I believe if it speaks to anyone who is afraid that they don't have it all together they will realize it is so OK if they don't.

My goal is to never try to impress people. I typically laugh at myself or write about things at my own expense. It takes the pressure off and lets me laugh at life. So I hope you know that I admit these things to help me as parent see that I just do what I can to survive. Some days are good and others I fly by the seat of my pants.

Wait...is that a bird? a plane? Nooo...just Jessica holding onto a fabulous pair of jeans.

August 19, 2009

Felt Bookmarks

OK. It is official. I am drawing a blank on what to write. This frustrates me to no end because I am a blog reader too. I love reading funny or creative, or insightful posts. Are you currently thinking to yourself, what on earth does this have to do with felt bookmarks? Well, nothing. I am just venting. But I am digging out of past writing and creating because I am refusing to confess my life is at a boring standstill at the moment. I am in the flux of a daily routine so what can I do? Prove to all 6 readers (are there more of you? Please tell me. I wonder and stay up late wondering if there are friends out there I have not met who have shared in my ramblings on life) that I really have worthwhile things to post. But I better find something new before I run out of the old stuff.

The bookmarks. This was easy and fun. And I always love something useful and pretty. Now I have admitted I am a very average crafter. But I think these bookmarks turned out pretty cute. Let me post a picture before you stop reading since I am going on and on...

All I did was make them with craft felt and fabric. The J Initial has fabric on the back but I used adhesive backed felt and the stitches are just for show. The B Initial is sewn together.

Here is the fabric on the back of the J Initial. The B has stiffened felt in between the two sewn pieces of felt to give the bookmark strength and keep it straight.

This is really inexpensive and easy to do with adhesive backed craft felt if sewing is not your thing. Great gift to give with a book or journal. No tutorial today since I did this awhile ago. Hope you are once again inspired. It inspired me to go read...someone else's blog! ;)

August 18, 2009

Two Tips Tuesday

Tip #1 Organize Snacks To Go

This tip is probably one that I personally need the most because I feel like I am always on the go and never organized to be on time. I am usually very organized but having children has caused me to let things go. Also, I am a stickler for being on time...OK, I was a stickler for being on time but children and their never ending surprises that cause delays has fixed that for me. Now I am always late. To church. To a play date. To whatever I plan to do. But this tip helps me throw things together last minute and run out of here.

I really think this one is a great one but it requires some consistency and planning. I have a philosophy that you need to GET organized to BE organized. I also love this because it applies to kids of all ages, including adults.

This all started when I began bagging grapes because I could probably eat a whole bag of them in a sitting. Those little sweet pieces of fruit can pack on calories and pounds if you are not careful so I started putting 15 to 20 of them in little baggies to keep my portion sizes more reasonable. Then I thought, why don't I do this all the time and with other snacks too? So I did.


This is one of those craft drawers that I put on a shelf in my laundry room/pantry. It is easily accessible for Cati to grab a snack and I can see through it for when it starts getting empty.

I put various goodies in snack size baggies (goldfish, graham crackers, Cheerios, rice cake snacks, etc) and put them in these drawers. Along with them are cracker packs, raisin boxes, and cereal bars. This makes for fast packing of a lunch or Mommy bag on the go.


This is my fruit drawer. I also took to putting my fruit free of grocery store baggies & made small bags of grapes to grab on the go. This is a little hard with fruit like berries which need to be kept unwashed until ready to eat (so they last longer). But I keep melon cut up in a container and so on which makes it easier. Plus, older children can begin packing their own lunches or hubbies who are running late to work can just grab something and go too!

Tip #2 Creative Fragrance Fresheners

I love things that smell good. I love the smell of coffee brewing, walking outside by a house drying clothes in the dryer, baking bread, a baby after a bath, a burning candle, and even the smell of fresh air on a cool day. They evoke memories & even affect my mood. So I strive to make anything smell good in my house. And if you know me well, I am really weird when I smell something. I never knew I was weird about it until my family starting making fun of me for it. If I pick something up to smell it, I put my nose almost on it and inhale like I am trying to consume all of the smell and pack it right up there in my nose. Attractive image, right? I guess I am not a dainty smeller. If you need proof, watch my Cati smell something. She'll just put her nose right on it. When she smells a cupcake, frosting is on her nose. Since Cate is my little Mini-Me I guess we just don't do things half way.

Enough about my exuberant smelling methods.

So here are some fun things I found that work to freshen up the house with happy smells...

Grind citrus fruit in the disposal. I love this because I have pushed some forgotten food down there that ends up making my kitchen smelly with a yucky odor. Grinding lemons makes it smell so good and lasts too.

Dryer sheets. I put these over air vents or in storage boxes with out of season clothes. I learned this in college when my room could get funky from smells from the hallway. Bring some in your suitcase when you go to a hotel room too. It works!

Simmering spices on the stove. I do this every Autumn through Christmas. I fill a pot with water and throw cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla extract in there and let the pot come to a rolling boil while the steam lets off a wonderful, spicy fragrance. This is my favorite time of year and the house seems so homey during this season so this just makes it extra special. Be careful though. I have ruined pots forgetting it was on there so consider a low temperature to make it last and not blacken a pot.

Essential Oils. Don't laugh but a few drops of this can freshen your toilet. Of course, clean toilet water is good too but this is just extra. :D I used to have lavender linen spray I received as a gift and never used. So one day I poured a little in the toilet and it ended up smelling the bathroom so nice! Pretty funny, I know. But it was better then throwing it away. Plus, if you don't like it, flush it away!

Happy Tuesday Friends!

August 17, 2009

Make An Easy Flower Mobile

It is blazing hot. I am used to Florida summers but lately my tolerance has been low for this crazy humidity and heat. So being the wimp I am, I act like it the Ozone has been obliterated and stay inside. I venture out in the mornings before 11 am and after 5 pm. Wimp, Wimp, Wimp.
Today was one of my low tolerance days so I whipped out the craft box and hoped to come up with a spontaneous idea for Cati while using what supplies I had on hand. I figured we could do something fun using stickers (which she always wants to do) & give her something to feel proud about. I am no expert in craft tutorials and this is my first attempt but you know I am not an expert crafter. I just want to encourage others with their own creativity. Here we go...

The above pic are the supplies I used...

6 different colors of craft foam
2 craft Popsicle sticks
2 Pipe Cleaners
Foam stickers
Flower Cookie Cutter
Scissors
Spool of thread
Hole Punch (not pictured)

To make the flowers I just made an impression on the foam sheet with the cookie cutter and then cut out the shapes.

I cut out 6 different color flowers.

I then used the hole punch to make holes on the top of each flower.

Then Cati decorated each flower with the stickers and I tied thread to each flower at different lengths.


To anchor the flowers, I put two Popsicle sticks in a an X pattern and then wound 2 pipe cleaners around it since I did not feel like using glue and then waiting for it to dry. I then tied the flowers with thread to each end, tied the excess in a knot and then strung it up through the middle with a loop on the end to hang it.

This is it...Cati wanted it hanging where everyone can see it (especially Daddy when he gets home). It is not perfect but completely adorable.
Hope this inspired some creativity in you today!

August 12, 2009

Whoopee! Cati is 3!

I am convinced that Cati believes she has the never-ending birthday. Two sets of grandparents came into town and she already had her big bash. Before her actual birthday. Each night when she prays she thanks God that her birthday is coming. This has been for weeks, now. Sadly, this Groundhog Birthday of hers has ended. But we had a blast today on her official birthday. We started our morning at the zoo...


We saw birds...

Got a little wet...

Saw more birds and fed the budgies...

who kinda attacked my hubby and started grooming him...too funny

Fed a giraffe...

Rode a pony...twice

Made some goat friends...who taught us how to clean up the pen...


Got really hot...then rained on...then hot again...
Rode a plastic giraffe...then a plastic horse because plastic giraffe did not go up and down...of course this can also be done at the mall and came after the real live pony but its Cati's day...

Opened some gifts...
digging it...

went out for a birthday dinner...pizza, of course...

and it was yummy...

...and finally for ice cream where Cati opted out of having a small cake to have Smurf ice cream. A neon, blue color with little marshmallows in it that tastes like the bubble gum flavored toothpaste at the dentist office (blech!)
Happy Birthday Cati!

August 11, 2009

Blinky & Pink. Oh Yes.


These are Cati's new shoes. Are they not the epitome of girly? I should put this as my picture for this blog. It's so perfect! They are two shades of pink, completely girly, and I LOVE THEM!

Cati's grandparents bought these for her after her Daddy and I were ready to leave the store because nothing came in a wide for her size. I figured the search was over and we would try it another day. Then we turn around to Cati trying on the display set of these shoes. They fit her and she wants to wear them home. They have those blinky lights that I do not have the heart to tell her will not last and she is doing her best to figure out their blink capacity. She kicks her heels like she's trying to find her way out of Oz. She kicks the back of the seat in the car (my particular favorite). She jumps up and down, runs, smacks the bottom with her hand. She wants to sleep with them, puts them on with her pj's at night and puts them on first thing int he morning. This is the first thing I have ever seen her do this with and I am just astounded that it would be with pink, girly shoes. Where does she get this fetish from?

Okay. Me.

I love shoes. A little too much. Heels, flip flops, running shoes, wedges, boots (ohhhh, boots), flats, you name it. I love them. They make you feel like a gazillion bucks when you wear them, especially when you know you got them at Nordstrom during their half yearly sale for a crazy steal. So my love of shoes has become a heritage passed down to my oldest. Clearly, I must work on the spiritual emphasis of this heritage but it does this mommy proud to see a love of shoes passed on. Pray for me to have sharper focus of this completely superficial obsession. Pray for me more that I am proud to see it manifested in my child.

So I watch this dance of Cati's where she is thinking constantly of these shoes, needing them on her feet, and focused throughout her day on what they do, how they look, and how much she loves them.

You so know where I am going. I am transparent like cling wrap.

Yes. It's a God lesson. Why, oh why does my focus on God not look just like this? Why don't I wake up each morning prepared to embrace the day with the God of my life? Why is that not my first thought? It used to be. Why don't I see him in every aspect of my life? How I parent, how I nurture my marriage, the way I serve the body of Christ, the way I witness my faith to all I encounter? Why is the bible like an errand that has to get done instead of a delight? Why have I forgotten my first love?

I really believe if I loved Jesus like Cati loves those shoes, my spiritual walk would look significantly different.

I think I would would start each day with God (at this moment I hear the CHRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIPPPP of the Velcro as she puts them on...again), delight in the way I see him work in different ways within my daily life, I would pray without ceasing, I would draw him close to me until I laid down my head to sleep and wait for a new day.

Who knew a devotional type post would come from blinky, pink shoes? Not me. I know that Cati is just being a sweet little girl who delights in something that she loves. Pure and simple. But I am a woman. A woman saved by grave who needs to live her life in thankfulness to her Savior. And this verse keeps echoing in my head as I type...

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

I do not believe my love of shoes is an idol. I am actually making fun of myself here. But I do believe I put my focus and hope on everything but my King. Often. Maybe daily.

I confess to you that there days I feel close to despair as I see marriages crumbling, Christians being frighteningly unlawful; becoming ensnared by such depravity it takes my breath away. I see it and I say, "Why is this happening? Is the body being attacked this much?"

Yes, I think it is. And a still small voice speaks to the inner most parts of my soul with this chilling question...

"How are you any different or any less susceptible, Beloved?"

The answer feels like a kick in the gut. I am not any different. I can fall prey just like anyone else. Fellowship with God, true fellowship is where I begin. Lately, I have been living off a relationship with God that is maintained by God. Fellowship with God is maintained by me. I am to draw near, to pray, to study His precepts, and dig deep into the spiritual trenches of His Word in order to fight what I see is a losing battle for so many.

I have a quote written on the title page of my bible...

"The scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives."
-D.L. Moody

May I take this to heart. So my prayer is that I fellowship with God like Cati enjoys her pink, blinky shoes. Maybe, just maybe I can experience a new pair of shoes for me while drinking deep of the living water...can I have both? But I know what is temporal and what is eternal.

Two Tips Tuesday

TIP #1 Rainy Day Ideas (or any other day)

This has got to be the rainiest (is that a word?) summer I have encountered since moving to Florida. Rain is common in the summer but usually for only a few hours per day. This summer, we have been hit with monsoon marathons. Not really. But a cute label, right? So being a Mommy, I have had to come up with some creative ideas to stimulate the girls. Plus, its fun to see what works and what does not.

This list was initially devised for a friend of mine who's sweet son had a bit of a stomach bug which caused many bathroom trips. Poor guy was not feeling too hot for a number of days. So I came up with this list, told her about it, but never sent it. Now she is one of my loyal 6 followers so I know she will read this and be so excited that it is published on my very famous blog. A girl can hope.

I titled her list, "Fun Things To Do When You Are Not in the Loo." But of course, I have rephrased it for this post...
  1. Take a photo or cut out a picture, glue it to a piece of cardboard and cut it out to make a homemade puzzle.
  2. Make a fort under your dining room table (remove chairs) using bed sheets and pillows. Bring snacks, flash lights, books, and favorite stuffed animals for more fun!
  3. Blow up a balloon, draw a picture or write a message, deflate it and mail one to a friend (or a few). You could even do this as birthday invites.
  4. Fill up 10 empty water bottles with water, (tighten those caps WELL) use food coloring to make different colors and roll a heavy ball for indoor bowling.
  5. Color coffee filters with washable markers, put them out in the rain or spray them with a water bottle to see what cool designs they make.
  6. Make rice krispie treats and put them on bamboo skewers. Then use leftover marshmallows, cut up fruit and graham crackers, heat up some chocolate chips in the microwave and have a fun fondue!
  7. Make a placemat out of scrap paper (or even fabric or ribbon), stickers, or draw on the paper (fabric markers for fabric) and put it between 2 pieces of contact paper.
  8. Bake cookies and if you have ice cream, make homemade ice cream sandwiches. YUM!
  9. Do a scavenger hunt in your house or backyard (if it isn't raining). Time yourself. Use themes like a photo scavenger hunt (take pictures of objects or people) or work on things like colors, numbers, etc.
  10. Have a pretend party. Examples are a pizza party (cut out paper pizzas, fixins' and decorate a bunch), tea party (use iced tea and play dress up), music party (Use instruments or make them to jam) and get creative.

TIP #2 Easy Gift Tags or Post Cards

I have this major pet peeve with how expensive the little things are these days...especially greeting cards. Now I don't know about you but I feel like there are too many occasions for greeting cards. Holidays, birthdays, Tuesdays. Makes me crazy. And I have enough people in my family to create it's own zip code. I am half Italian and half Irish. They tend to do a lot of people making. So it just gets rather overwhelming. Here is a good way to put all that money to good use a second time around and use those cards again...

Use greeting cards and cut up the front to make a pretty gift tag on a gift or cut the card in half and use the front of the card as a post card. (This goes without saying but I will say it...do not send it back to the original sender of the card...so tacky. But in my family, it would probably make everyone laugh. Other uses are photo mats in scrapbooks, make them into bookmarks, or even tags for organization. There are some really cute cards that can be recycled into another use.

Enjoy another Tuesday with new and exciting wisdom from a tip guru such as myself. Next Tuesday...how to encourage friends to remain humble and meek.

August 5, 2009

He is Forever Faithful

Rita Springer - I Have To Believe lyrics LyricsMode.com

The above link has lyrics that are the cry of my heart on this night, at this moment. My family and I just returned from church after a prayer meeting, praying for our friends eight year old son who has been diagnosed with leukemia.

I have been sort of in shock over this news and all I can think about is what this little boy must be going through and how his parents are possibly feeling helpless or discouraged at times. But I rejoice in knowing God is their only hope, their only help, their only strength, their only refuge.

It also makes me think of my girls, my miracle girls...

My Cati who asks me too many questions until I get frustrated and ask her to stop. How loud would the silence be if she was not here to ask any questions at all?

My Ella who can sometimes hurt my feelings when she would rather be held by Daddy. How about if there was no Ella to ever hold?

My Cati who prays at the dinner table and begins to talk gibberish which may be the Holy Spirit's groanings audibly heard because I have no clue what she is saying and I want her to stop so I can eat. How incredibly precious that My Cati delights in thanking God for her food, friends and family?

My Ella who can be so feisty and cry at the least provocation. I get annoyed and want to check out because she seems so high strung and demanding. Why don't I think of the fact that she needs to know I am there to love her and protect her no matter what she does or how she behaves?

I think about these things that pale in comparison to one of my girls not being here at all or going through a sickness or disease and wondering what is happening and why.

So tonight by heart feels so full of gratitude to a God who loves this little boy and this family more than we can fathom. That this family gives glory to the God of the universe who can heal, perform miracles, do the impossible. I am also grateful that if He decides not to heal this little boy, our God is still worthy of all honor and praise. That He knows what's best, that our thoughts are not His thoughts; our ways are not His ways, that He works all things together for good, according to His perfect will and purpose.

And most of all...that this little boy knows Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He knows where His help comes from. His help comes from the Lord.

May the Lord God almighty show His glorious works and completely heal this little boy.

And if He does not...yet I will still praise Him.

August 4, 2009

Two Tips Tuesday

I have shocked myself that I have adhered to this weekly post for the second time. Folks, this may stick. But when I run out of tips I might start making some pretty weak excuses. But I will do my best until I hit a blog block.

Tip #1 VISUAL DAILY SCHEDULE
Sadly, I feel like a hypocrite sharing this tip because I have not adhered to this like I have wanted. But my goal is to get back in the swing of things by using this schedule. Here is what I did. I used printable post cards, clip art, and contact paper to make the cards. I put magnets on the back to put them on the fridge. I, of course, got caught up in the process trying to choose the precise placing of the picture and wording until it became a 3 day project. Plus, I do not have a color printer as I have mentioned and I did not have a lamination machine. Can you say tedious? But again, my perfectionism sickness is caused me to grow weary of the whole thing by the time I was done. Here's your visual:

Awful picture! But this is my fridge where I have posted all the activities for the day in the order in which I want it to happen. I have not printed out the times yet but I did make them. I just got lazy and I think it is the reason I am not doing well with this because I am a slave to the clock. Everything revolves around time for me and it helps me to stay focused during my day. So from top to bottom, the activities are lined up from breakfast to bedtime.

Here are some examples close up of some of the activities I have on the cards. This is my full list:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack, Exercise, Free Time, Outside, Quiet Play, Nap, Bedtime, Errands, Playdate, Learning Time, Devotional/Bible Study, Prayer, Crafts, Coloring, TV, Movie, Family Time, Chores, Bedtime, Brush Teeth, Library, Playground.

This enables my kids to understand how to plan their day, recognize a word because there is a picture image, and a way for me to stay on task to balance activities such as TV time or remembering to include important activities like devotionals. This actually all began when I found I was letting Cati watch 4 hours of TV a day. We do not have cable so it was literally me just letting one DVD play over and over or me mindlessly changing the DVD. She had been acting out and I realized I was not giving her the attention she needed and cleaned up my act. It improved things a quite a bit. I realized I was really focusing on me and just trying to get through the day instead of focusing on the girls. I also found if I put the cards up each day I was more likely to do the activity like walk to the playground or run those errands I keep putting it off until I HAVE to do it.
If this seems far fetched, maybe just planning out a weekly schedule will help. This has worked for me becasue it is a scheule that is in my face. I find that I am overwhelmed at the responsibility of being a mom and all that goes with it. The least I can do is put forth a little planning and effort to give the girls predictability and some fun learning.
Tip # 2 RECIPE: Summer Berry Bake

I really should not give away this recipe but it is so easy and so yummy that I have to share the wealth. I came across this recipe in Cooks Country Magazine and I have used it for brunches to potlucks. It is something perfect for a picnic, a classy lunch, or even a dessert to bring when attending a dinner party. Last year, I made it for a baby shower and even brought it to Disney World when meeting my family there. My nieces and nephews gobbled it up and loved it! So for either super casual or a dinner party, this one is perfect. Plus, it takes literally 10 minutes or less.
It is best during the summer season when the berries are the sweetest and in season...


4 oz. (1/2 package) cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup lemon curd
1/4 cup sour cream
2 cups fresh raspberries and strawberries
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to sit 7 inches below broiler element and heat broiler.
2. Whisk cream cheese, lemon curd, and sour cream in medium bowl until smooth ( I use my kitchenaid or hand mixer here)
3. Scatter berries in the bottom of a broiler safe gratin dish or tart pan (I use a pie plate). Spoon cream mixture over berries and gently spread the mixture until it covers berries completely. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over surface, place in oven, and broil until sugar is bubbly and caramelized, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve warm. (Although I like it best cold!)


Hope you like this Tuesday's tips!

August 2, 2009

Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

It's a perfect evening out for dinner with my family. My parents are in town this week and tonight is their last night here before they fly home tomorrow. So we had a full day going to Great Explorations Children's Museum, swimming at the hotel pool, and then going out to dinner downtown. I live in this quaint little historic town in walking distance from shops, boutiques, restaurants, and the water. Sadly, a little too touristy but really a sweet place to live. My parents had a hotel room in walking distance to both town and our house. We planned to meet at the Mexican place tonight and everything was just peachy when the oddest thing happens after ordering our food.

We are in the restaurant just plowing through chips and salsa when all of a sudden the lights start flashing and someones cranks up the volume of this pretty awesome Latin number. I mean, LOUD! Then, we see this woman in this tight little get up taking this "O" shaped ring from the ceiling and is fiddling with the ropes that tie it up. Now I, being the innocent patron that I am, completely assume that this is some sort of funny toss game where someone gets a free dessert for getting three burritos through the hoop or something. I mean, what do you do with this ring that hangs from the ceiling? Light a fire to it?

Nope.

Leotard clad lady is going to hang from it in positions that God never intended for our bodies to do. Especially in front of people shoveling in chips and salsa or the fajita I am waiting on. Um, hello? Family atmosphere people! My children are now mesmerized by the woman swinging from this hoop and quite frankly I am appalled that this is our dining entertainment. Am I alone in this thinking? Well, apparently, since thunderous applause erupts at the close of her routine.

Now call me a prude but wouldn't some jammin' maracas be more appropriate then mid air splits while hanging upside down? But just as I am breathing a sigh of relief, a sweet little girl who is the mini me of this woman begins climbing two, long panels of fabric like a fireman pole, then splitting the panels apart at the top while hanging to them. I kid you not. She then twists them around her ankles and then suddenly is hanging in a split from midair with only this fabric wrapped around her for support. Now I have kicked in to Mom gear and wondering if anyone else is concerned that this little baby is hanging by a literal thread from the ceiling. A picture of my future flashed before my eyes where my Cati aspires to doing dangerous circus acts in family restaurants while people throw chips at her.

How good are those chips by the way? Too good to throw in my opinion.

Alarm is the best word to describe how I feel but now I can't take my eyes off this precious little girl who really can bend in ways that should not be possible. Then Leotard gets back up there to finish off the routine and at one point gets rolled up in these fabric panels like a cocoon and then unravels herself almost to the floor before catching herself. All without a net!!! Seriously, there should be rules against this type of thing. The music from Sesame Street where you look at four things and one of them just doesn't belong? This is the tune playing in my head as I look at the rest of the diners who either see this as utterly normal or seem oblivious to this display.

The best part? They pass out pamphlets at the end to promote the dance studio that teaches this gift of entertainment and I can not tell a lie. The pamphlet is in my purse.

August 1, 2009

THE PARTY!

I was honestly surprised at how fun this party was! I feared that the activities would kind of be over their heads but they were all for it! They played hard and used their creative minds for some adorable creations! Cati & Ella had a blast too though Ella kind of melted down towards the end. Not shocking for a one year old with no nap. But the pictures will probably explain themselves but I will put comments here and there for fun.
I wish I had more to say today. It has been a draining week but God is continually reminding me of His goodness. So until another day of blogging...here are the pictures from today's hoopla!
This is Ella's smash cake. Obviously, it is her initial "e" with polka dots. I just used a boxed cake and icing. I am not very good at decorating cakes but I still think it's fun.

This is Ella eating her smash cake.



This is Cati's birthday cake which was a Hot Fudge Sundae Cake. I cut ice cream sandwiches for the edge, filled it with chocolate ice cream (In a spring form pan), froze it and then poured hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Daddy & Ella before the party.
I was actually in panic mode the night before because I realized I made a bib but nothing special for Cati. I am really losing my brain cells planning this party. So I am making this little 3 pin with ribbons (that matches the bib for Ella) the night before at 12 :08 am but knowing with each stitch that my precious Cati is worth all the fatigue. She looks so precious in this picture. Sometimes my heart aches when I look at her beautiful face.


Look at my Ella's smile!! Oh yeah! In the background are black & white pictures of the girls from infancy until their ages now. They turned out so cute hanging from string from the ceiling.

Here is the Sweet Bling station where we made edible bracelets with gummy life savers, fruity cheerios, and little candies on twizzler pull aways. Mmmm mmmmm.

Making the aprons. I set out fabric markers and foamie stickers.
Decorating cookies & cupcakes. Just incredibly fun!
So there's me with the pink icing decorating a tulip cookie.


Me again with Cati cheesing for the camera.

Group Picture! Could these kiddos be any more scrumptious and cute? They look so cute in their aprons! Good times, good times. And um, how funny is my Cati looking like a celebrity in the middle with her groupies?