Wednesday, December 08, 2010

My Happy Place

I live in your typical suburban town, with cookie cutter houses and a neighborhood park every few blocks. Everyone keeps their yards looking nicely manicured; flowers are abloom in the summer and snow is neatly shoveled in the winter. People are friendly and say hello, and year-round on mild nights we can hear kids laughing at the park down the street. It's a small town, complete with high school homecoming parades and over-the-top excitement when a Walgreens was built.

But my favorite part about my town is that it feels like it's in the middle of nowhere. While some might see this as a major grievance, I love it. We're surrounded by countryside and farms. I could literally drive for 10 seconds in any direction and find myself in an empty field. The majority of shops and restaurants are about 20 minutes away (save for The Walmart which is 10 minutes away; after all, I do live in America), and to get to any of them, I pass by several farms and homesteads.

And it's looking across these fields that I'm instantly taken to my happy place.

There is something so calming to me about a freshly baled field. Maybe it's the raw, primitive nature of it. Maybe it's the order of it; creating something out of nothing.
Some might think it an inconvenience to have to drive through this countryside anytime we need to get anywhere, but I think it's a gift. I treasure the drive to church, to the mall, to school.
I carry my camera with me most of the time, and sometimes can't help myself. I pull over and take a picture from the side of the road when I'm afraid the picture in my mind won't last.
Where I'm from, it's normal to be running late because you had to follow a tractor for 1/2 mile down the road.
I can be in the middle of a stressful day, but the moment I catch a glimpse of the country, my heart is calmed. I can't help but stare. With my beautiful mountains as the backdrop, the perfect rows all evenly spaced, the sun shining... I can't help but think that God's created this landscape just for me.
Kauai is another of my happy places. Drastically different, I know! Where's your "happy place?"

Monday, December 06, 2010

Monday Monday (La Laaa La La La La)

Good Monday morning to you!

Did you know that Christmas is just 19 days away? I KNOW! I feel strangely calm about it. Today I'll be putting my to-do list together of all that needs to be done before then. But more than that, I want to just FOCUS. Focus on not doing, and just being. I don't want Christmas to pass by us this year - again - without just soaking in the season. More on this later this week...

Seven random thoughts of the morning:
  1. I have four stockings hanging from my mantle. Poor Brody hasn't had a stocking the last two years; I've just doubled up and shared with him. Now Chloe needs one too. Gary's and mine have our names on them, otherwise I'd just pass them onto the little kids. Maybe I'll suggest to the girls that we'll alternate years, and this year it's Brody's and Chloe's turn to get stockings instead of them. Yeah, that'd go over well!
  2. Addie has two birthday parties and a playdate this week, plus another birthday party next week! My little social butterfly.
  3. Gary left town yesterday and gets home tomorrow. Confession: In his absence I ate an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's last night in 25 minutes flat. Maybe less. Soooo wish I hadn't done that. (Because now there's none for tonight!) (What'd you think I was gonna say?)
  4. Emma's class has been learning about Hanakkuh in class lately. I'm totally okay with that... but I sure hope the teacher intends to teach about Jesus' birth too. I'm interested to see how this plays out...
  5. Gary and I were in Florida the one time it snowed last month, which means that so far I haven't seen ANY snow yet this season. What state do I live in, anyway? It is strangely mild around here. Just the other night, Gary was out on the front porch talking on the phone while the kids played tag in the front yard. It was DECEMBER 3rd! In Colorado! What's going on? Come March, I won't be complaining, but I'm ready for those flakes!
  6. Don't you think cake would taste better if it were served on this pretty little cake plate? I think it's so charming.
  7. I don't even bake cakes that often. And if I do, they're in a rectangular cake pan. I'm not sure how I'd get it out and put it on this thing. (Kidding.) But seriously, the corners would hang off. (Kidding again.) But really, how do you keep the cake batter from pouring off the edge of this while it bakes? (Okay, I don't deserve something this pretty.)
    I can't find my iPod anywhere. Boo. And in related news, I have yet to turn on any Christmas music! Can you believe it? Today that will change. I proclaim today, "Break Out The Christmas Music Day" in my house, henceforth known as BOTCMD. And FYI, BOTCMD can change from year to year; it doesn't need to always fall on December 6th. In fact, I intended for BOTCMD to be celebrated earlier. So help me out, on this beautiful BOTCMD, what's your favorite Christmas album this year (new or old)?

    Happy Monday to you!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

From the Littlest

Well, hello there!

I'm Chloe.
My mommy hasn't written much on her blog in the last few months because she's been busy taking care of me. And doing a lot of this:
I think it's so funny.
When she doesn't pay attention to me, I get sad.
I'm a little high maintenance, but that's okay, right?
Because I'm too cute to resist.
You want to kiss these cheeks, don't you?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday night on a Tuesday afternoon

It's Monday night. (Or it was Monday night. See, I started writing this last night and am just now finishing it. Welcome to my life.)

While Gary is watching football with Chloe cuddled by his side, and Brody is crawling around the house like a puppy, and Addie is chasing that puppy around trying to pet it, I'm at the kitchen table fighting the homework battle with Emma. It's a rude awakening after a restful, do-nothing week. It's not that the homework is hard, she's just easily distracted. (Can you imagine? Here?!)

Until I had school-age kids, weekends were like weekdays, and holiday breaks were like any other weeks. It all just ran together. But now? Oh, how I live for those weekends! And breaks! Last week was a wonderful week of lazy mornings, plentiful family time and no schedule. Today I looked at the calendar and counted the days until Christmas break (14 school days, in case you were wondering). (Which is now 13, because remember, now it's Tuesday.)

We had a great Thanksgiving break. It was filled with a whole lot of nothing. A whole lot of wonderful nothing that was everything we needed it to be. Gary got to be home with us a bunch, which is our favorite thing. We cleaned the house, decorated for Christmas, played games, did puzzles, watched movies, built Lego houses, played the Wii, hung out with friends and extended family, cleaned up the yard... truly, it was all very relaxing.

I caught a bug over Thanksgiving break. The SEWING bug! I got this impulsive idea to make outfits for my kids for Thanksgiving. Matching outfits, of course! I come by it naturally. I think my mom dressed my sisters and I alike until I was 14. I'm probably not exaggerating, but I might be. Anyway, I think they turned out SUPER cute. And it was SO FUN! Who knew I could sew?! Maybe I'll post about them.

Also, I got determined to use up stuff in my pantry, freezer and refrigerator. Am I the only one that has random cans of beans and half-used packages of pasta in the pantry? Meat in the freezer that I got at a good price and have no idea how to cook? And two cans of peach nectar that have been in the fridge for years? No? Oh. Well, I took inventory of what was in there and found recipes to accommodate it all. This is NOT like me. It's like a more organized, more motivated version of myself has taken over the house. It's awesome. I made my list of groceries to complete the recipes and actually planned this week's meals. It's a miracle. At this moment, I'm browning the meat for lasagna. All I needed to complete this meal was the ricotta cheese - I had the rest! Now I just need to figure out what to do with the two bags of chow mein noodles I have in the pantry. Looks like we might need to make some tingalings in the next few weeks! (Maybe I'll post about that too - my mom always made tingalings every Christmas. Didn't everyone? My sisters and I loved eating them in our matching outfits.)

Speaking of Christmas, our tree was up and decorated for barely 24 hours when a certain 2-year-old tornado destroyed the bottom 1/3. And you know what? I'm probably not going to fix it.

Happy Monday/Tuesday! :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Take THAT, Santa!

(Oops! I wasn't finished with this post the first time I hit "publish" - this is the REAL one, in case you caught a glimpse of it before!)

Last year for Christmas, the girls both asked Santa for a hair salon that they'd seen on TV. Well, Santa hemmed and hawed, because quite honestly, the toy looked like a piece of JUNK. But the girls weren't asking Santa for anything else, despite the clever promptings of their clever mom.


A week before Christmas, clueless about what to get the girls, Santa buckled and went to Toys-R-Us. Predictably, the only toy they wanted for Christmas was out of stock. Santa called nearly every Toys-R-Us in the state. You guessed it - NOTHING.

My cousin Alicia saved the day and went to her Toys-R-Us and guess what? They had it!

And the elves rejoiced.

She bought it and hauled the thing around in her trunk for me. However, she's in Dallas. I'm in Denver. With the exorbitant shipping costs to get it that distance in time for Christmas (because we were now just days away), Santa may as well have bought the girls a REAL hair salon complete with tuition to beauty school. It wasn't going to happen.

Thank you, Alicia, for going above and beyond the duties of cousinhood.

Fast forward nine months or so. A few weeks ago over lunch, Addie says to me, "Mom, you know what? I learned that if you want Santa to bring you something you want for Christmas, you shouldn't ask him. Because I wanted a hair salon for Christmas and instead I got Baby Alive. Mommy, I didn't even WANT Baby Alive."

Alrighty then. A little reverse psychology on Santa. Well played, Addie.

Her birthday was just a few weeks after this conversation, and so what was she asking for? That's right. The hair salon.

And this time, it was in stock. In places other than Dallas.

Here's the part where Gary and I become heroes: we got it for her for her 5th birthday last week.

If you could have been there when she opened that present, you'd have thought she'd opened the door to the Publisher's Clearing House Prize Patrol. But instead of $1 million dollars, it was just a cheap, plastic, probably-going-to-break-in-a-week hair salon.

She's in heaven with this thing.

Ha! Santa ain't got NOTHIN' on us!

And for the record, I definitely don't want these boots, or this necklace for Christmas. Got that, Santa?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

California Vacation :: Epilogue

Our California vacation ended the same way every vacation does.

Suitcases to put away.
Mounds of laundry to do.

But despite Mt. Washmore, we'd do it all over again.

If you didn't get enough pictures from our trip, you can find more on Facebook!

Friday, October 22, 2010

California Vacation :: Family & Friends

Sea World is super, the beach is the bomb and Disneyland is dynamite, but our awesome family and friends are the real reason we love visiting California!

(And thus concludes the cheesiest blog post opening ever!)

But seriously.

Sweet times with Granny-Great (Gary's grandma):
Hangin' out with Papa Bob & Grammy:
Celebrating birthdays with Aunts, Uncles & fun cousins:
Goofing around with Aunt Heidi:
Reconnecting with special friends... first, Thomas, Kristen & Katin:
...and of course, LV.
We had a fun time just being together.
Enjoying each other.
Creating golden California memories.


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