Wednesday, December 31, 2008

3 Years

Heath & I celebrated our third year of marriage yesterday. Perhaps it wasn't the most elaborate celebration, but it was wonderful nonetheless! We went out for dinner at Cheddars' (they have the best & cheapest appetizers!) with Ainsley. After dinner, we picked up Italian gelato to enjoy at home after putting Ainsley to bed. With our ice cream and a fresh pot of coffee (for me, of course!), we settled in and watched the first episode of Season Six of West Wing.

I've been asked what I like best about marriage, and I'd have to say it's just so much fun to be friends with Heath. I love that I don't yet know everything about him and that I have the rest of our lives to learn! I love you, Babe!! Thanks for 3 great years and for the hope of many more to come!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My 5 Things

Sorry, Danielle, I keep forgetting to post this. Shantel actually reminded me by posting hers - thanks!

The "5 THINGS GAME" The rules are to write 5 things under each of the 5 headings, and then tag 5 other people.

10 years ago...
1. I was fourteen years old.
2. I had never been on a date, much less met my husband, Heath.
3. I was looking forward to the Spring Band & Choir trip to San Antonio.
4. I was adjusting to a public high school with a class five times bigger than my 8th grade class.
5. I was scared to drive, even though I had my permit.

5 Things on Today's "To-Do" List
1. Go for a walk.
2. Fold the towels.
3. Plan Saturday's "To-Do" List.
4. Give Ainsley a bath.
5. Make pizza for dinner.

5 Snacks I Enjoy...
1. Chocolate & strawberries
2. Coffee & a bagel
3. Cheese
4. Kettle corn (only the Boy Scout brand)
5. Fresh fruit

5 Things I Would Do if I were a Millionaire!
1. Pay off our student loans.
2. Buy a house that we love.
3. Save for Ainsley's college fund.
4. Save for our future.
5. Help out our families & give a lot away.

5 Places I Have Lived...
1. West Marion
2. East Marion
3. Ames
4. Bangkok
5. Dallas

5 Jobs I've had/Still have...
1. Babysitting
2. The PretzelMaker
3. Gregory's Coffeehouse
4. MU Cafe
5. Joshua Expeditions

5 People I'm tagging:
1. Kendra
2. Emily
3. Dan & Lynn
4. Rosa
5. Karen
5. Kelly

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I've been asked what I decided to name the scarecrow I made. Well, the poll was not all that helpful because it ended as a three-way tie. But while my parents were visiting, Dad said he didn't vote but he liked "Mifflin"; Heath would have voted the same way. So, there you have it - Mifflin he is.

For those who are wondering where the name came from, I'll indulge your curiosity. George Mifflin Dallas, the Vice President under President Polk, was also the man for whom the city of Dallas was named. Fitting name for my scarecrow, I'd say, seeing as how Dallas is where we are living!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy October 1st!

For three years now, I have anticipated the first day of October with both dread and excitement. You see, there is a huge deadline for all the students who will be traveling with my company this year to turn in their paperwork by October 1st. While they feel excited, perhaps, or relieved, to have the ball rolling for their trip, I am met with an avalanche of work. This time of year excites me because I thrive on being busy. On the other hand, having worked at this company for the past 2 years, I also know exactly what is coming. There is no way of preparing to make it easier or doing work ahead of time. I just wait for the dreaded October First.

There is, I think (in my imperfect knowledge on the subject), a fine line between drowning and keeping your head above water - somewhere between all-out panic at the first sensation of water lapping your nose and being so tired of treading water that your whole body aches. For the next month and a half, my goal is to keep my head above water. Not finish the work at the end of the day, for that won't happen for several weeks. But I will outlast the stormy waves.

I try to keep life as normal as possible - shower every morning, eat breakfast, lunch & dinner, workout, hang out with friends on the weekend, love on Heath & Ainsley. But I'll also get up a little earlier and stay up a little later. This actually works out well. Since I'm working from home, I can work while Heath does homework and during the day I get to watch Ainsley's antics out of the corner of my eye and hear her sweet, playful voice while I type away. And, for this month and a half, I'll swallow the perfectionism that says everything needs to be done at the end of the day. I'll leave a mountain of work for the next day - although hopefully it will be smaller than earlier in the day; and I will work steadily until I can finally say at the end of the day that there is nothing more to do.

I hope I haven't given the impression that I'm complaining or wishing October never came. As in every season, the good is often found in the difficulties. Besides that, each day is brand new; it has yet to be lived in; today's sunrise has never been seen before.

With that, I'm off to begin work for the day! Have a great one, dear friends!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dirt-Covered, Yet Beautiful

A quick drive or cursory glance down the streets of our neighborhood would give you the image of unkempt lawns, overgrown weeds, garish & badly done paint jobs, broken sidewalks, discarded trash, and bars on windows. Not the kind of place that says "Beauty" or "Grace" to a passerby.

But that would only be part of the picture, for it takes a slower pace to see the beauty. As Annie Dillard wrote:

"As I walked along...I got better and better at seeing frogs both in and out of the water. I learned to recognize, slowing down, the difference in texture of the light reflected from mud bank, water, grass, or frog."

A slower, closer look at our neighborhood affords visual treasures, things like:

the startled butterfly who flew on ahead;

the nearly hidden, but well tended rose garden;

neatly potted plants along a porch;

the earthy green front door which perfectly compliments the stone house;

the elderly gentleman who waters and weeds his wildflower garden nearly every day;

a well placed decorative wheelbarrow filled with dark, rich soil and crisp, white petunias;

large, shady trees lining the street;

the way the morning sunlight flickers through the trees, creating soft shadows;

a pair of cream rocking chairs inviting company;

sweet smelling honeysuckle climbing over a fence;

a vine-covered wall.

It has taken awhile, but I am learning to find the beauty in the broken & dirty things of life. I am broken, dirty, needy, sinful but God is making me sweet smelling, full of His beauty and grace.

There is so much that is unattractive in this world - Lord help me to view it all through your eyes of grace.

What's in your cupboard?

RealSimple magazine has a neat section called "New uses for old things." Partially inspired by their creativity and partially by Ainsley's need for challenge & discovery, I started my own list of ways to use common household items as toys. It is in no way exhaustive nor do I claim to be the first to have thought of these things. Each day I think of something else, but I have not used all of these ideas yet. Feel free to both use my ideas and suggest your own!

  • Plastic kitchen serving/stirring spoon
  • Empty & clean individual size plastic juice bottle filled with pennies (or beads)
  • Empty, clear plastic hand soap dispenser filled with water (bath toy)
  • Nesting Tupperware containers
  • Tupperware container with a lid filled with pennies (or anything that makes noise)
  • Sponge & container to squeeze water into (bath toy)
  • Empty, clean diaper wipe container with a top that opens by pushing a button

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sparkling Names

I laughed out loud this morning on the way to work. As I passed a car dealership, the sign on the building caught my eye. It read, "Pre-Loved." I love it - I'm still laughing. Normally, I wouldn't think twice about any car in a lot, especially if we're not in the market for a new car. But today my interest was peaked by who might have previously loved each car in that lot.

The sign reminds me of the tendency of Amy Carmichael & Anne Shirley to give ordinary and plain places more imaginative names. Instead of "the bathroom or restroom", Amy called it The Place, creating mystery & politeness around something unremarkable. Barry's Pond became The Lake of Shining Waters to Anne, allowing the simple pond to take on a romantic and magical element.

It's the art of naming, a skill I don't possess - as illustrated by my scarecrow name poll!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Bit of Fall Nostalgia

Cooler temperatures have awakened my senses to the approaching fall. Somehow the light seems different - warmer and softer, rather than the harsh, beating sun of the summer. It's long-sleeve t-shirt and jeans weather - my absolute favorite! My nose is just tingling, waiting for those autumn smells - spiced apple cider, pumpkin bread, dew covered grass, warm apple pie, a wood burning fireplace.

Fall decor has been on my "to-do" and my shopping lists this past week. I found a very cheap small pumpkin the other day which made its home on the bookshelf in our entryway. Two other very cute miniature pumpkins nestled on my kitchen counter, but they needed one more friend. I decided a scarecrow would be perfect, and since I was planning on going out yesterday, thought it would be a good time to look for one. But then I remembered making rag dolls and rag rugs out of strips of leftover material when I was a kid. It's been many years since then; even so, my hands had an itching to try it again. So out came the big sewing tub and I began to dig through it, searching for pieces of fabric that would be long enough. Ainsley was playing on the floor with the toys I brought downstairs for her, but she wasn't really interested in them. Instead she discovered (again) the fabric that used to be my living room curtains which is now tossed under my sewing table. I don't usually let her play with it, but yesterday was different - it was crafting day. And she needed a "craft" as well. While I cut strips of cloth, Ainsley rolled around with that fabric, pulled it this way and that, and even caught her leg in it a couple times.

"Together" we created a rag doll scarecrow with a little set of overalls, patches included; a shirt; a handkerchief; and a straw hat. He took his rightful place by the two pumpkins on my kitchen counter. The only thing left to do is to give him a name. I'm terrible at giving names - really terrible. I think it took me at least a week to name my kitty once I brought him home and then I called him "Bashful", the complete opposite of what his personality turned out to be. So, I need some help - please vote in the poll to the left and help me name this little guy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Four Things - Belated

I was tagged by Emily a long while ago and forgot to post my Four Things. Here we go...

Four Things...

Four jobs I've had:
1. Babysitter
2. PretzelMaker worker
3. Church Youth Intern
4. Barista

Four movies I've seen more than once:
1. You've Got Mail
2. While You Were Sleeping
3. Aladdin
4. Pride and Prejudice (the long BBC version)

Four TV shows I watch:
1. The Office
2. CSI
3. Monk
4. Chuck

Four places I've been:
1. Thailand
2. Maine
3. Niagara Falls
4. Monaco

Four people who email me regularly:
1. My Mom
2. Brandi
3. Rosa
4. ??

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Cheese
2. Strawberries
3. Chicken
4. Dark Chocolate

Four things I'm looking forward to in the next year:
1. My 25th Birthday!
2. Ainsley's 1st Christmas
3. Fall
4. Christmas in Iowa

And now I'll tag Steph.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Weathermen were 100%

WRONG!!! (I know, I know...imagine that?!) Not only did we not get major storms or wind yesterday, but Ike didn't even pass over Dallas. It went to the East of us, leaving us with just a couple mild rain showers.

There are still plenty of people who were affected and could use your prayers for safety, quick cleanup & restoration of their property. Two of my cousins are in South Texas with my aunt & uncle waiting out the storm, and friends of ours have families' in the Houston area. Our prayers are with you!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Probably all of you know that there is a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico ravaging the coast of Texas. But did you know that experts anticipate North Texas being affected as well? Okay, you might think it would be obvious that we'd see the effects in some thunderstorms and windy days. What they are anticipating, though, seems to be a little worse than what Heath & I are accustomed to. When we first heard the news report a couple nights ago we were skeptical at best. The news report showed a lady with an emergency backpack. She explained what we would need if our electricity was out for several days.

Say, what?!!

That's right - a few days.

I still might have ignored the newscaster's advice had there not been something else that confirmed their story. Yesterday morning, I had emailed some girlfriends to see if anyone was up for hanging out today since Heath would be at class all day. At first, they were all gung-ho about doing something fun, but as the day wore on, emails trickled in...

"...I saw the weather report, and well, uh, maybe we should hold off on making plans."

"Yeah, it looks like it's going to hit around noon, so maybe this isn't such a good idea."

"Let's play it by ear."

Skepticism meets Worry. All of these girls are seasoned Texans and know much, much more about hurricanes than I do. Since the storm is supposed to hit us around noon or 1pm with the strength of a tropical storm, I decided it would be better to be safe than sorry. I made an "emergency" run to Walmart at 6:30 this morning. My goal - non perishable things to eat. Not my forte. I try to stay far away from packaged foods 1) because generally they aren't extremely healthy and 2) because if it's in the house I will eat all of it! I wandered the aisles of Walmart and here's what I left with:

Besides the food, I picked up a couple more candles and topped off my tank of gas. Of course, if the anticipated deluge of rain hits us, our street will be flooded, and my full tank of gas rendered useless. Heath filled up our giant camping water jug. Now we just wait. Mostly I hope we don't have to go without electricity for too long. Which reminds me, I better do some laundry, take a shower, and make coffee now, just in case.

All this fades in comparison to what the people of Houston & Galveston and all the cities in between are facing. Many of them had to evacuate their homes, leaving precious things behind and taking only a few essentials. And now they get to wait out the storm in some warehouse or gym with 300 other people. When I think of that and of what they might have left (or not have left) when they return to their homes, I'm ashamed of my worries, humbled, and ready to get on my knees for them.

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
measured heaven with a span
and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?"

"Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us."

Isaiah 40:12; Psalm 62:8

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fabric, Fabric

Before Ainsley was born, I got a hankering to make her a baby quilt. You've probably seen it in the background of pictures we've posted, but here's a better look at it. Well, sort of a better look. As I was getting ready to take the picture, Ainsley decided I was having way too much fun without her.

I made another one for a friend at church who had a baby girl this summer, but it was more of the typical girl blanket. I didn't think to take a picture of it, but I think it turned out very pretty. Then last week, I made a third - this time for a friend in Iowa who is due mid-October to have a baby girl. This one was especially fun because I took Ainsley to the fabric store with me to pick out fabric. She sat so big in her stroller and enjoyed looking at all the brightly colored fabric. Anyway, here's the finished product. (And a note: their theme is more green & yellow and animals than pink & purple, so that's the direction I went with their blanket.)

I tend to have creative spurts, mostly because it costs money (not a lot, but still money). So whenever I get an excuse to make something new, I run with it! After I thought of making the most recent quilt, it was finished in 2 days and in the mail within a week. The downside of that is I'm back to not having a project to work on! Actually, that's not true - I have some photos of Ainsley that need to be scrapbooked...perhaps I'll work on that tonight!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Not Even A Sparrow...

falls without the Lord knowing."

Lest I forget that the Lord watches over and cares for us, I had an alarming reminder on Monday morning. I left earlier than normal for work, hoping to have time to stop for coffee. It didn't happen exactly as I imagined. About 20 minutes into my drive, I heard a horrible "WAP WAP, WAP WAP" and knew I had to get off the highway immediately. (I have no idea how to describe the noise I heard in letters, so just use your imagination.) For the past week or so, I've been thinking that my car was making more noise than usual, but after mentioning it to Heath, I chalked it up to paranoia because of the recent trips to the mechanic. So, I was driving unusually & tediously careful. The Lord watches over us. Since I had left so early, the traffic was light and it was easy to move quickly from the far left lane to the right shoulder. The Lord watches over us. I called Heath from my cell. The Lord watches over us. He not only was home, but not terribly busy, so he left right away (after waking Ainsley up and gathering a bottle & diapers for her). The Lord watches over us. He pulled off the left rear tire, noticing that the tread had slowly started to come off - rather than blowing all at once. The Lord watches over us. This was the same tire which the mechanic had noticed was soon in need of replacement and had kindly moved it from the front of the car to the rear. The Lord watches over us. The offending tire removed, the spare was replaced, without either Heath or I (or Ainsley in the backseat of Heath's car) being run over by the speeding Highway traffic. The Lord watches over us. We were able to get to a nearby Discount Tire and get a new tire, which would be ready in an hour. We had time to go out for breakfast and coffee!!! The Lord watches over us. So, a couple hours later and a spontaneous date, we were back home safe & sound. (I had called work to tell them I wouldn't be in after all.)

Yes, the Lord watches over us!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Keeping Busy

You may have noticed that my blog has been a wee bit short of posts lately. I've been sitting here typing excuses and erasing them the moment I do. As soon as I write a sentence, I notice the lameness and immediately backspace over it. So I guess the best thing to do is to move on.

Besides working and watching, playing with and trying to teach our little girl, I've been creating a few things of my own. In the evenings, I hop onto, which is a fantastic place to find any sort of recipe to you want - simple, different, easy, international, homecooking, desserts. You can also sign up (for free) for an account and get a digital recipe box. It's wonderful! My sister-in-law introduced me to the recipe box, and I can't get enough of it.

I love to find and try new recipes. In the past week or so, we've tried Bacon Wrapped Chicken, Chicken Pot Pie, Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup, and Turkey Shepherd's Pie for dinner. Each turned out great and were put in the "Definitely Will Eat Again" category. Dinner is something I have to make (at least several times a week) so it's imperative to make it fun.

I also like to try new "just for fun" recipes - those that you don't have to make every day. Things like desserts, breads, and appetizers fall into that category for me. With zucchini in abundance and cheap these days, I've been craving zucchini bread. After searching AllRecipes, I found two promising recipes. I tried the first and didn't even glance at the second. The best part about it is it's relatively healthy. The recipe calls for brown sugar and honey rather than white sugar and uses some whole wheat flour. Yummy and healthy?! Awesome! And the recipe was huge, making enough to put in the freezer and give away!

Another recent craving necessitated a recipe search - lemon bars. The first ones I made - no good. They had WAY too much lemon in them. I like the kind of lemon bars that just barely have a lemony hint. So I searched again, this time striking gold. Another fantastic recipe!

Cooking hasn't been my only creative outlet. I've also been painting quite a bit, making new card designs and building up my stash. I don't like to be out of note cards - I never know when I may need one. Here's what I've been up to:

These are the "classic" cards that I've been making for years.

For this one, I used a brown paper sack to paint on and attached it to the white card stock with a bit of ribbon.

This is my new bouquet design, in a variety of colors.

I also tried a single flower; I'd love to know what you think about these!

All in all, I'm having fun trying new things while I take care of our little family and home!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Heath told me last night that he needed to make a couple stops on the way home from work. I assumed he meant that he would deposit his checks at the bank. Instead, he walked in the door with these flowers and chocolate ice cream for me!!! Two of my favorite things! What a wonderful surprise and a fabulously thoughtful husband!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pretty Useful

I love all things adorable & practical and this skirt is a perfect mix of the two!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another Favorite from Grosgrain

Okay, this new dress on Grosgrain's blog is definitely my favorite so far! It's so cute & stylish, with little girl written all over it but with a hint of grown-up flair. (I hope I win it!)
Click the link below to see it.

Train Stop Shirt Dress GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

return of the prodigal cd

Woohoo! My Coffee Lands CD emerged from it's hiding place. I'm so happy to have it back! I just want to dance...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


When I made up my meal menu for the week and my grocery list on Friday, I decided to try something new. I recently learned that my brother's girlfriend, Chelsea, makes her own pasta, and I was incredibly impressed. My Better Home & Gardens monster-of-a-cookbook had a recipe for Homemade Pasta, so I thought I'd try it. I knew it would take me a few hours because the estimated time on the recipe said "1 hour" and everything always takes me longer. I would have made it Monday night but I forgot until late afternoon. The same thing happened yesterday. I finally remembered early enough today to get started on it. While the recipe instructions are quite straightforward and seemingly easy, I had a few snafus. (By the way, it turns out that "snafu" is a real word! I thought it was just one of those things people say.) First of all, the amount of kneading required is well, let's just say that my hands are going to be super buff if I keep this up. It seemed terribly difficult to roll out the dough and why in the world did I have to separate it into 4 equal pieces? Why couldn't I just roll it all out together? My cutting of the dough into noodle-like strips went quite about as well as the rolling out. My noodles lay drying on my wire rack, and it is such a pitiful pile. All that work for perhaps 2 servings of noodles?! Needless to say, I've learned a few things:

1. I am incredible impressed with anyone who makes their own pasta.
2. Next time I do this (if ever) I will make a bigger batch.
3. If I ever do this again, I would like a noodle cutter machine to be in my possession.
4. Buying a 16 oz box of noodles for $1.25 never sounded so great!

Lest you think that I am completely discouraged from trying new things, think again. Despite the work and little frustrations, this was a delightful experience. Besides, now I can say that I've made my own pasta!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Coupons That Actually Save Money

I am all about saving money. I scour the ads to find the great deals, laboriously clip the coupons, and even put the necessary ones in my wallet before I head to the store. The problem is, I almost always forget to give them to the cash register attendant when I'm checking out! Coupons certainly don't do much good sitting in my wallet as I get in the car and drive back home. Sometimes, I figure that it doesn't matter that much, I'll just use the coupons next time. Yesterday was the rare time when it was imperative that I use the coupon. I had seen Target's ad which had a coupon for a $10 Target gift card when you get a new prescription filled. It was perfect because I had a new prescription from the doctor, and I wanted a new pharmacy. However, had I not possessed a coupon, I would have filled the prescription at Walmart because that's where I do my grocery shopping, and as a result most of my other shopping. Since Ainsley was born, I've learned to consolidate trips as much as possible! Carrying her in and out of stores gets very tiring!
But alas, I completely spaced when the pharmacy dude asked if I wanted him to ring up all of my items. I guess that threw me off because I did not give him my $1.50 off kitty litter coupon or my get-a-free-$10-gift-card-coupon.

I realized my blunder after arriving home, but couldn't turn around then and it didn't work out to return the rest of the day. Instead, Ainsley and I headed off this morning hoping for favor from the Customer Service representatives. I think they would have liked to help me; there were four women working on it and trying several different options. They gave me a $1.50 for the kitty litter coupon, but they just couldn't swing the $10 gift card. They couldn't return the prescription and then re-sell it because that's unethical (I guess) and also because it would look like they were giving out more pills than they're getting paid for. I couldn't argue too much with that because Heath & I have a friend who is a pharmacist and I would hate for him to get in trouble for something like this. Still, it was quite a bummer. I walked out of Target with tears brimming - mostly out of frustration that I had forgotten the coupon in the first place. And now I have a perfectly good coupon that I can't use (since I already filled a new prescription).

Ah well, perhaps that's the kick in the pants I needed so I won't forget again!

Friday, May 23, 2008

all about me

I've been tagged by Steph to complete this list describing myself. She tagged me more than a week ago, but I've been putting it off because, to tell you the truth, I'm not crazy about these types of things. I have a terrible time filling them out and usually feel by the end that I'm a pretty pathetic excuse for a human being. However, I finally got over myself enough to fill it out and post it. Here are the results:

I am…an artist wannabe.
I want…a soy latte.
I wish…that I loved to run.
I hate…bugs in my house, especially the unmentionables (roaches) which grow much too large in hot places.
I miss…the fields of Iowa and my family.
I fear…failure.
I feel…content.
I hear…baby Ainsley “talking” as she plays.
I smell…the glorious fresh air!
I crave…chocolate ice cream & fresh strawberries. (together of course!)
I search….for great bargains.
I wonder…at the miracle of a baby.
I regret…misplacing my favorite CD – Music from the Coffee Lands.
I love…rising early.
I ache…when my daughter cries.
I care…about my family.
I always…take a shower, even on Christmas morning.
I am not…a risk-taker.
I believe…that the grace of God is enough for me.
I dance…when I’m feeling giddy and silly.
I sing...when I’m alone.
I cry…most often when I’m extremely tired.
I don’t always…turn off the lights when I exit a room. I’m getting better, though!
I fight…rarely, but when I do, it is generally when I’m tired and over insignificant things.
I write…letters. Call me old-fashioned, but I still love snail mail more than email.
I never…floss. I really should start.
I listen…to the morning traffic reports on the way to work.
I need…the words of God throughout the day.
I am happy…with a cup of coffee in hand & sitting across the table from a good friend.

Now I'm tagging Emily!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Danger! Watch for Falling Objects!

My kitchen was getting on my nerves last week. The Number 1 reason is that my counters have been cluttered with dishes whose cabinet homes have been under repair. The Number 2 reason is that I've been noticing how dirty the inside of my cabinets have gotten - how does that happen? They are closed most of the time.
I have this wonder of a corner cabinet which has a three tier spinny thing in lieu of regular shelves. It used to work great; I would spin it and find whichever measuring cup or leftover dish was needed. Recently, it has randomly fallen out of it's groove thereby dumping its contents into my surprised and clumsy hands. Luckily nothing has broken. It had become so hostile towards me that finally I removed everything and stacked it as nicely as I could on the counters. This temporary solution, however, had reached the end of my patience this weekend. I decided to tackle my Number 2 problem - cleaning out the cabinets. The thing is, in the process of cleaning, I decided to rearrange a few of my cabinets. It may take a few days for me to open the correct cabinet! Toward the end of this project, my sweet husband hauled his toolbox upstairs and began to look into my Number 1 problem - the leaning tower of Pisa. We were shocked to find out that the reason the spinny thing had been falling more often lately is because the bottom of the whole cabinet was slowly falling out. It's a good thing it didn't - can you imagine the disaster?! He got right to work. Just a few minutes and a handful of screws later, all was fixed. The spinny thing is sturdier than ever! Yea! All thanks to my brilliant husband!

So, my kitchen is organized, clean, and no longer a hazard zone. I keep glancing in and smiling. It's quite satisfying to finish a project and get to enjoy the results!

Ironically, as I was putting the finishing touches on the kitchen, Heath said,
"Wouldn't it be funny to take a picture of your sparkling clean kitchen and then compare it to a picture of my not-so-sparkling clean office area?"

Laughing, I said, "Why, yes, it would. It's funny, though, that each means we've been working hard - your desk area is covered with stacks of monster books because of the papers and projects you've been working on. And the kitchen is clean because I've been working to clean it."

That begs the question: Is cleanliness really next to godliness?

Nevertheless, when I arrived home from work this morning, the desk and its surrounding area was looking much less cluttered. Thanks, Babe! He knows how much happier I am with less clutter!

By the way, Mom, I found two lids that belong to you. I'll try to remember to bring them up this summer.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

a lesson in power

Earlier this morning I wrote this by pen & paper. I would have posted it then, but our electricity was not working.

Our power is out again. I really need to stop giving it fun money and time off. (see last post) When I realized at 12:45am that the intense thunderstorms had once again knocked out our electricity, my heart sank. The first time this happened two weeks ago it was rather fun, but today I just thought, "What in the world am I going to do with myself all day?" Most days the time flies as I make breakfast (toast and coffee, neither of which I can have this morning), begin the work day on the computer, do some laundry, and fix dinner. Some days I am up for a little spontaneity. Today is not one of those days. Nonetheless, I tried to gear my mind into creative mode. What beneficial things can I do today which don't require electricity? So I pulled out my paints, brushes, and cardstock and got to work on building my supply of notecards. Other tasks on today's to-do list include: reading more of "The Grace Awakening" by Charles Swindoll, going to the church to lend an administrative hand on a project, perhaps organizing my art supplies, making a grocery list for next week, and spending extra time playing with Ainsley - maybe we'll even go for a walk! Hmmmm...all of a sudden, it sounds like a productive and energizing day. I can't wait to begin!

P.S. Almost as soon as I had finished writing the above paragraph, I heard the beep of the microwave clock, the humming of the refrigerator, and the whirring of the ceiling fan. Bummer, now my plans are changing again! What do you suppose I did first? I turned on the computer, reset the clocks, and made a strong pot of coffee. I gained something valuable this morning - 30 half finished notecards and a better appreciation of how little control I have over my life. With just a word, the Lord send thunder & lightening so powerful that the electric power which runs everything upon which I depend is rendered ineffective.

Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?

Do you have an arm like God's,
and can your voice thunder like his?

What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?

Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,

to water a land where no man lives,
a desert with no one in it,

to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?

Only You, o Lord! Only You!

Friday, April 11, 2008

life in the olden days

Yesterday morning I awoke with the familiar feeling of needing to use the restroom. As I slipped out of bed, I curiously glanced at the clock on the nightstand. A black screen stared back at me. Confused and half asleep, I reached out and touched it, I suppose to confirm what I already knew - there were no numbers. Walking into the bathroom, I flipped both light switches although I was now fairly certain that nothing would happen. I was right - our electricity was out. It was "out", as if it had decided to go for a leisurely morning drive to pick up the newspaper, a coffee, and some bagels. I hoped it would return quickly. In the semi-dark, I climbed the stairs, feeling that there was something unfamiliar in the air. I checked my phone - 6:32am. Phew! It was only 17 minutes later than we were supposed to get up. On my way back downstairs, every "no electricity survival tip" that my parents had taught me came rushing into my mind: grab a flashlight, light some candles, don't open the refrigerator any more that you have to, be careful not to use all the hot water in the shower. I woke Heath up and while he prepared for the day, I fed and changed Ainsley and put her back in bed. And then it hit me, the unfamiliarity - it was the unusual stillness of the morning, no whirring ceiling fans, no gentle hum of the refrigerator, no drone of the AC. It was so quiet, it was almost creepy. Is this what it was like before electricity? I never really think about how noisy my life is with it.
I began to think through my normal morning activities. Which of them, if any, could I actually accomplish? I definitely could not work because I had to access my work computer from the home computer which would not run without the electricity. Laundry and dishes were off the list; I was glad that I was caught up with both anyway. I couldn't work on budget stuff because I needed my laptop for that. It seemed that I was down to the basics...take a quick shower and then read. I was glad. I've had books piling up that I want to read; this was the perfect chance to just read guilt-free. So I did - I relished my quiet, distraction free day. I finished two books, which were both wonderful in their own ways. I played with Ainsley more than I usually do, which was quite fun! If she were older, we would have spent the day pretending we lived in the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House in the Big Woods. Those days will come quickly enough, so for now she sat in her Bumbo and grinned. And I had time to think about how I love the little things in life - wildflowers growing beside the highway, a monarch alighting on a twig, watching Ainsley play with her hands, listening to the birds sing their sweet song. I don't ever want to get to the point where I ignore these things.

When Heath returned from class & work, we all went for a walk and out for dinner. We even stopped to talk with our neighbors, something we are usually too shy or too busy to do. Not having electricity made us bolder, more alert, and more compassionate toward our neighbors. It was great to connect with people so different from us.

The day began unlike any other day and ended in the same way. And despite my dislike of change and spontaneity, it was surprisingly refreshing. It made me wish that I was born in the olden days...almost. I really like that we have plumbing.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

In Memorium

Heath and I visited Dallas in the Summer of 2006 to find an apartment before our big move. When we saw our current apartment, I was very excited about the deck that is right off the living room. I had visions in my head of creating a luscious secret garden which would be my calming get-a-way. The first semester here, being fall, was not the best time to plant a garden besides the fact that we were still trying to catch our breath financially. So I decided to wait until the Spring. It came and I excitedly bought pots and researched the best kinds of plants to grow in Texas. I looked up local garden shops in order to get the best plants, and I created a spreadsheet to keep track of my expenditures. If the success of a garden was based on passion, organization, or research, I would have an A+ no problem.

Before I continue, I should give you a little of my background in botany: Every summer when I was young I helped my mom plant, weed, and harvest a vegetable garden in our backyard. But somehow, there's a difference between helping with mom's garden and owning my own plants. I think it was my freshman year of college that I got my first ivy plant. I thought it was beautiful and couldn't wait for it to grow. And it may have sprouted a little, but mostly it just turned yellow and finally died. I couldn't understand what had happened. Here's to you, little ivy - I'm so sorry I didn't know what to do for you.
Then there was ivy #2; I guess I thought I would do better the second time around. Instead of improving, my little ivy fared much worse than the first one. Poor ivy #2; I'm sorry I was just too busy to pay any attention to you.

Now, you're up to date and we can continue with the Dallas plant saga. For a short time, I had several plants - a sweet smelling Jasmine; a fragrant Rosemary; some kind of flower that I never saw sprout, much less bloom; and I'm sure there was another one, but I just can't remember it. None of these plants lasted too long, either. The Jasmine was left out in the scorching Texas sun for too long. The Rosemary was over watered or under watered - I don't know which. And the flowers, well, the poor things just never got a chance. Soon all I had was a pile of empty pots.

What's funny, though, is that despite my obvious bad luck or irresponsibility or black thumb, I still relish the idea of having a deck covered with wonderful green plants! So, last year when a woman at work said I could snip a bit of her ivy, how could I pass up the opportunity? This was my chance! She said if I put it in water for a few weeks, roots would grow, and then I could plant it in a pot. So I got a styrofoam cup, filled it to the brim with water and gently placed the ivy in it. Days went by and I began to see little roots, then weeks, then months and the ivy was still sitting on my desk in its styrofoam planter. Finally, I brought it home, put it in a pot, and set it on the windowsill above my kitchen sink. I'm sure I haven't given it any more attention than any of my other plants, at least not on purpose. But a couple weeks ago, I noticed a tiny leaf forming on the end of it. Oh boy, was I excited! Not only have I managed to not kill it, but it seems to be growing!

Here's to you, Little Ivy #3, I truly hope you have a long and luscious life!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

an unusually exciting day

In the past couple of hours, I have gotten 2 emails each notifying me that a brand new baby has entered the world! How unlikely is it that I would know two pregnant women (due only a few days apart) whose babies would be born within 2 hours of each other (and neither of them on their due date)?? Hopefully, I'll be visiting babies tomorrow!

Welcome Jillian Marie Anderson & Anthony Mammina!!

Congrats to the Mamminas & Andersons!

something new

I bought a new coffee mug yesterday. For those of you who don't drink coffee, don't read further because you'll just think I'm crazy. But for those coffee lovers out there, you know the necessity of the "perfect mug." You know that it's gotta fit nicely in your hands, the handle must be easy to hold, and most importantly, it must have it's own personality. (If you're not a coffee lover, this is where you're thinking I've gone off my rocker, so please, do us both a favor and stop reading!) Seriously, though, am I right, coffee lovers? Of course, the quality of the coffee is important. But, at least in my mind, the best tasting coffee deflates without the right mug. The mug I bought yesterday had been eyeing me for a couple days (yes, that's what I meant to write). It's bright, bold, confidant, and inspiring. And I think it knew that I need a little bit of those things every once in awhile. So, here I am enjoying a wonderful cup of coffee in the perfect mug for today.

You non-coffee lovers, I know you're still reading, so I'll say it for you. I may be a little bit crazy.

I've been sitting here for 5 minutes trying to think of a title, and this is the best I've come up with; please humor me and keep reading!

This past weekend temperatures hit 80 degrees here in the lovely metropolitan city of Dallas. On the way to church, Heath pointed out how many of the trees were budding already. I was shocked! Most years, I am the first one to notice any hint of Spring, whether is is the first robin or the earthworms on the pavement after a rain or green shoots in the flower beds or tiny new buds on the trees. But this year, apparently I had completely missed it! As we continued driving, this newfound information heightened my observational skills. I began to see trees all over the place that were showing signs of Spring. I kept thinking "it's only March 2nd; how can this be true?" Yet, the evidence was clear and I was not about to dispute it. Besides, the weather people were saying that the mild winter was bringing on an early Spring. I was just going to have to live with the fact that Spring had begun! I was not at all disappointed about this! I love Spring!

But then, the inevitable happened; my fairy tale ended, the bubble burst, hopes were dashed. For late last night, as Heath and I were headed to bed, we saw a light dusting of snow covering the grass, rooftops, and vehicles. "What?!" I exclaimed. A woman at work had mentioned that the weather people were now expecting snow, but I mean, really, what were the chances that we'd have snow now in March when there's been not a single ice or snow storm all year? Content with my fantasy of Spring, I had easily dismissed the thought.

Faint in my memory are such days in Iowa, where an unexpected snowstorm would interrupt Spring's arrival. At least in Iowa, everyone knows that snow is possible even through April (even though its not often welcome). I just thought Texas was bigger than that. Texas is independent, the only state to join the Union voluntarily, and the only one that can legally cede at any time. Can't someone here decide that when Spring comes, the snow stays away?

This is all in jest, really, because I know just as much as the seasoned Texan that the snow will melt by 9am, and we probably won't see another hint of winter until next November.

So, stubbornly, with the snow covered roofs in plain sight, I gleefully exclaim, "Welcome, Spring!"

Monday, February 18, 2008

once upon a time, there was a perfect morning...

Today was a big day around here, or maybe just for me. It was my first day to actually go into the office where I work. I was supposed to be there from 8-10 this morning. And not only was I going, but I was planning on taking Ainsley with me. Don't forget that my office is 45 minutes from our house. This was going to be a BIG trip.

Naturally, last night around 6pm I started thinking about everything I would need to do and take with me this morning. I put the box of papers that need to be filed at the office by the stairs so I wouldn't forget them. I got a bottle for Ainsley ready to go in the refrigerator. I made sure I had diapers, wipes, and a changing pad in my purse. I reminded Heath that I'd have to wake him up early so he could move his car from behind mine. I even planned out what both Ainsley and I would wear on this BIG day, all the way down to shoes and socks. For those who may be interested it was a classic black shirt and jean jacket with comfy khakis for me and cute green and white outfit for her. I thought through how long getting myself ready and fed and Ainsley dressed and fed would take and set my alarm clock accordingly. And then I went to bed assured that everything was just right, planned perfectly so that the following morning would go off without a hitch.

I awoke this morning to my lovely alarm music and only dilly-dallied for a minute before getting out of bed. The morning went exactly as planned; both Ainsley and I were dressed, fed, and ready to go by 7am. I was quite pleased to be walking out the door right on time. (If my life was a B-rated movie, this is the point where a song going something like "pride goes before the fall" would start playing.) After backing the car out of the driveway, I put it into drive and looked up into a completely fogged over windshield. Immediately frustrated, I pulled the car over, blasted the defrost, and impatiently leaned back to wait until I could once again see the oncoming traffic. All you who live in the North are shaking your heads at me right about now - how could I, a good Iowa girl, forget that a cold car needs time to warm up?! My justification is that it is so rarely cold here, it is usually safe to assume that I won't need to utilize my cold weather common sense. Anyway, a full twenty minutes later, I was finally leaving our neighborhood. I was fuming as I merged with the early morning traffic on the nearby highway. I mean really, what Dallasarian would ever think to add more time in their schedule to allow for car window to defrost?

And then I realized "I'm such a control freak!" I've never thought of myself as a control freak, but I can hardly deny it after such a performance. It had absolutely destroyed my mood to have one relatively small unexpected event disrupt my perfectly planned morning. Hmm...what a discovery! I guess it's true that you learn something new every day.

Friday, February 15, 2008

hi, my name is...what's my name, again?

It's been awhile since I've written and though I could give excuses such as "I just had a baby!" to explain my long absence, the real reason is that my thoughts of late have been a little muddled and lacking creativity. So if this post seems random and disorganized, please know that I'm processing a mountain of thoughts that have accumulated over the past 5 1/2 weeks and are now avalanching their way out. Here goes...

Unconsciously, I think I've been trying to figure out where I fit into this new role as "Mother." (Doesn't just the name sound daunting and intimidating?) Even though I've been able to lay claim to this title for over 5 weeks, I am just now "feeling it". No one told me it would take this long before I'd feel comfortable considering myself "Mother." From everyone's comments, I assumed I would just slip into the role naturally, without any confusion as to where "I" come in. What I mean by that is this: Pre-Ainsley (from here on out, PA) I knew who I was and what sorts of roles and activities characterized my life. I was wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee, co-worker, neighbor. I took care of the house, cooked, worked, hung out with Heath, enjoyed many creative outlets. Adding "Mother" to my established list threw a wrench in things, to say the least. Suddenly I had become feeder, bather, diaper changer, put-er to bed, story teller, get the picture - a whole new list of activities and roles which til now were altogether unfamiliar to me. During those first weeks, my days and nights were quite consumed with feeding, waking, diapering, and playing with Ainsley. I had neither time nor energy to think much about my PA activites like cooking, cleaning, working, reading, shopping, going for walks, being creative, hanging out with friends. Was the new role "Mother" supposed to trump everything now? Are my PA activities and roles supposed to go into hibernation until the empty nest period?

Only in the past several days have I been able to begin processing all this to discover again how it fits together. True, I've added "Mother" to the top of my list of roles (after child of God and wife), but the PA me that I knew is still there. I still like to read, paint, scrapbook, cook, decorate, sew, crochet. My heart is still refreshed by creativity, deep friendships, a good book, and a cup of coffee. I am still interested in a great bargain, in hunting down the perfect gift, in trying new & different recipes. I am still Me. Me just also happens to be "Mother" to a precious baby girl named Ainsley. And I'm so glad to discover that I am and can be both! I love the new "Mother" emotions I'm experiencing - hurting when she's in pain, glee when she's happy, relief when she falls asleep, anticipation of her next milestone, the desire to protect her, hope that she'll understand her need for a Savior, pride in her accomplishments, and a deeper trust that the One who made her and gave her to me loves her more than I ever could. I love the idea of teaching her how to tie her shoes, color in the lines, bake cookies, and write a research paper. But most of all, I love that I've been given the awesome joy and responsibility to teach and train this little one to be a godly woman who will be a refreshing light in this dark world.

Hi, my name is Kristen, and I am a Mother.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ainsley's first 2 weeks

a few of my favorite photos...