Five More Minutes, Please?

Today's weather was wonderful!  We spent every minute we could outside.  I even have some color on my arms and face, as well as freckles...  (My legs are hopeless)...  :)  So, of course after school, the girls and I got a huge watermelon and roast chicken and met Taylor at a park for a picnic.  (There was a huge group of teenagers who had the same idea.  Usually I hate it when teenagers take over a park, but this group of 20 or more were so much fun to watch.  They were playing games and eating and enjoying the weather as well.  Every now and then you would hear them all yell and laugh.  You couldn't help but feel carefree with that kind of energy around.  It was awesome!).  Aaaaanyways,we had a great time outside at the park.  I even snapped a few photos.  Go figure.

And we ended the picnic with a sweet snack. ..

Lily loves the cones with the caramel in the middle.

And I couldn't help but stop in the middle of the bike trail to take a picture of this moment.  It doesn't even catch the real magic, but that's what it was.  Imagine Lexi strolling along in the warm sunshine with her hero and a large pink popsicle.  It gave me that lump in my throat.  It also made me think how lucky Taylor is to have two girls who absolutely adore him.  Lucky... (and he knows it).

When we got home I didn't want to do anything...  But, I made myself get off my butt and go for a run.  I did the whole "loop".  I didn't run the whole way... I ran a little less than 3/4 of it (and that was more than I thought I could do since I have only been running half a loop for about 2 weeks... This was my first full loop trial run).  The tough part is the very last stretch...  It is all uphill and by the time I get there, my lungs and legs are burning.  But I set a goal  of 90 minutes to finish the whole thing and I did it in 80.  (Now I need to work on cutting that time by 30 minutes).  I WILL make it up that hill without stopping by the end of this running season...  Right?  THIS is my new favorite running song. (The video is pretty awesome too).  Maybe it will give me that extra "something" I need to run up that hill.  :)


Bizzzzzzzy Bee

I have been pretty busy so far this weekend... At least it is the good kind of busy.  I am starting to get a few things prepared for Lily's birthday party...   Without giving too much away (because of course I will be posting about Lily's birthday later...), I will show you two of my favorite projects so far...

One:  Cake plates...  Aunt Tami professed her undying love for cake plates (which I totally share) and I knew I needed to make some for Lily's upcoming party...

Lily and I had fun spray painting them on Friday afternoon.  (My favorite is the clear glass plate with the chrome candlestick...  Lily's favorite is the pink one...)  Aunt Tami's cake plates beat mine in price and looks...  But, each one of my cake plates only cost $3.00.  (That is without counting the spray paint, since I have had it for over a year... otherwise... add, like, 50 cents).  Pretty good I think.  We are still gonna jazz them up with pretty ribbons for Lily's party.  (Now all I have to worry about is making the food look as good as the plates...  EEEK!  Aunt Tami, I NEED your super cupcake recipe).  I am sure there will be cooking disaster posts in the near future...  :)

The next project I was so happy with was her birthday invitations...  I was going to order greeting cards from Costco, so I signed up online so that I could order them without having to go down there with the girls...  Somehow, they always trick me into getting an ice cream sundae....  Anyways, we will just say I signed up to avoid the extra calories...  BUT, because I was a first time user, I got 60 free 4x6 prints...  So.... I made my own "greeting card" using picnik and then sent them off into cyberspace (Costco)...  And they were done the same day!  WOW!  Here they are..

We haven't actually handed them out yet...  But she will hand them out to her primary class tomorrow and then to some of the kids at school on Monday.  She has 27 or 28 kids in her kindergarten class this year (there were so many new kids the last few months of school, that I lost count).  That is a crazy number to handle at home, so we are letting her pick 5 or 6 friends from school...  I am still not sure this is the best way... I don't want kids to feel left out and sad if they don't get an invite, but 28 is way too many.  At first, I was going to say no kids from school... but she has made some really great friends this year...  Plus, Lily has never had a real birthday party, so we will try it out and see how it goes.

On a totally different note... I have caught the "refashion bug".  (I just erased a huge story about why I have caught the bug.... but I feel like this post goes on forever).  Anyways, here is one of my latest refashions:

Shirt Before:

I got this shirt like 2 years ago... It is big and "airy" and has an asymmetrical hem.  (What was I thinking?  Oh yeah.  I really loved the neckline and sparkly beading around it... That's why).  I just couldn't wrap my mind around the rest of it...  So it has sat in my drawer for... approximately 2 years...  until now.  :)

I measured it against another shirt that fits really well and sewed... 
Now its the perfect shirt to go with the new maxi skirt I made.. (more on that later too).  :)

Lastly, I have been considering starting a new blog that will be about all the projects I am doing.  This is so that those of you who just want to know what/how our family is doing don't have to read all the "in-between" posts...  What do you think?  And... What would I call it?


First Real Day of Summer

I didn't realize that yesterday was the first official day of summer until it was almost over.  So, today we decided we needed to do a little celebrating!  (Especially since it is not raining!)...

 Lexi was more excited about her rainbow sucker...

And here is Lily being excited for the arrival of summer!!


(As I was taking pictures of the girls, the tune to the song Kokomo got stuck in my head.. ).



After getting upset with Lily (for something I found out later she didn't even do), I came upstairs and saw this...

It made me laugh so hard, I was crying.  That poor little girl.  She is such a great helper and so good to her sister.  Sometimes I feel like we are too hard on her.  Sometimes I think I should try a different parenting technique, or maybe I shouldn't expect so much out of her... but then I see what an amazing little girl she is and I can picture the beautiful woman she will become and I think Taylor and I are doing okay.  (Of course there are days I cry and feel like the worst mother ever, but I have learned that even parents need humility and if we are willing to admit our mistakes... then we will be all the better for it).  
Lily, Taylor, and I had a good talk after this.  (She had been grouchy all day long and needed an intervention).  Afterwards, there was hugs, kisses, and lots of positive reinforcement.  
I feel like even though punishment and discipline can be a hard thing, if it is paired with kind words, love, and plenty of attention, it will be all the better for our girls and they will always know they are loved.

Anyways.... On another note...

I wanted to start something new on this blog.  I am always amazed by the creativity of my children.  They express it in many ways.  One way is clothing.  So, I am going to post some of the outfits Lily has come up with (on her own - I will take no credit for these creations!).  I just have to share some of the things she insists on wearing....  I am telling ya, that girl is ahead of her time!  Here are a few I have captured so far...

I call this look "Dressual" - the new dressy/casual.  It consists of a cute dress, cuffed shorts, knee socks, and dirty old running shoes.  Perfection!

I call this one "Manfused"... That stands for matching/confused.   I'm not sure why she is wearing jeans under her skirt... but her socks to match her sweater... (well, the fact that her socks match each other is good enough for me).

 This one is called "Canadian Winter"...  The girl is so desperate to keep warm that she has to wear her earmuffs over her toque.  I couldn't talk her out of it.

 This one shows Lily's wild side.  She loves to wear her leopard print shirt and act like wild animals.  (At least she matches... I had to talk her out of buttoning up her cardigan all the way).

This last one just shows me how much this girl loves fashion...  Her favorite game at the mall is hiding among the mannequins.  I can't even find her... she fits right in.  :)


Joy in the Journey

Have you ever had a day when everything is so perfect, it seems that it can't be just left to chance?  A day when Heaven seems to be in the very sunlight that encircles you?  When God is in the wind that brushes it's cool touch across your cheeks?  When the beauty of angels is in your child's smile?

I never have... until the other day.  I woke up feeling light.  I felt happy to be here... on the earth at this time, in this peaceful part of the world.  I felt hopeful as I saw the sunlight streaming in through the blinds, touching Alexis' hair and making it seem as if it were gold.  As I lay there letting that feeling sink in, I heard Lily singing as she got herself dressed for the day.  And I thought, "how can I be this blessed?"  Of course nothing in our life is perfect.  Oh, we try our best, but something always is too messy, too loud, too full of pride, too fearful... But this day, from beginning to end, was perfect.  I am not embellishing...  I am not bragging.  I am writing it down so that, in a couple of days when the house is a mess again and our lives are crazy, I can remember how it all felt.  I am telling you, it was awesome!  Instead of the planned activities, we scrapped everything and did what we wanted.  We dressed in shorts and t-shirts without looking at the weather forecast, because we just knew it would be beautiful outside... and it was.  We walked (Lily rode her bike and Lexi was in the wagon, so I guess I was the only one who really walked) to the "far away" park.  We played there all morning, picking bouquets of dandilions, playing in the rocks, chasing each other on the jungle gym, and soaking up the sun.  We talked with strangers - feeling as though we had been friends for years.  Lily met her first golden lab and fell fast in love.  We smiled and others smiled back.  Then we made the long trek home and Lily rode her bike up some pretty steep hills.  I was so proud of her.  Alexis sang us her version of the story called "Going on a Bear Hunt".  It was bliss!  Then we made lunch together and walked Lily to school.  Alexis and I went home and read "Going on a Bear Hunt".  As soon as it was over, I told her she needed to close her eyes and go to sleep and when she woke up we would go get Lily.  Just as her eyes closed, a cloud covered the sun and the room went dim so that she could easily fall asleep.  (I'm not kidding - it was like someone dimmed the lights so she could get some much needed rest after the long day at the park).    One of my favorite things to do is watch a small child in the action of falling asleep.  It is like some force comes over them and they are peaceful and beautiful and... quiet.  :)  I laid beside Alexis thinking of the events of the day that far....  As I did, I felt that warmth and peace that comes when I allow myself to be still and listen.  At that moment, I knew it couldn't all be for chance.  I have long believed this way, but at this moment, it seemed like more than believing... more than faith.  I just knew.  I am here for something more.  I am here to learn and feel and grow.  I am here to be "refined" and polished.  And at that quiet moment, I felt like Heaven wasn't as far away as it can sometimes seem.

I am thankful for these little experiences I have that remind me who I am, where I am going, and who I am meant to be.  And for those days when I am being smoothed and perfected, when it is hard to remember who I am and why I am here, I hope to look back on this day and remember that this life is a joyous, wonderful, lovely, privilege that I chose.  I hope to remember how very, truly blessed I am.


Yeah... What she said.

I normally hate it when people get all "quotey" (yes, even though blogger doesn't recognize it, quotey is a real word).  But I came across this one and I couldn't help but share it.

"First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches. May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty. When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half... Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called 'Hell Drop,''Tower of Torture,' or 'The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,' and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age... Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short...  O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers... And when she one day turns on me and calls me a B in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Sh%^&t. I will not have it. And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. 'My mother did this for me once,' she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. 'My mother did this for me.' And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes. Amen." - from BossyPants, by Tina Fey

There are a lot of things I didn't know before I became a mother.  For instance, I didn't know how critical the situation really is when a toddler whispers that she has to go to the bathroom and there isn't one in sight.  I didn't know how many juice boxes you can go through in one day.  I didn't know how many stuffed animals can be acquired in a few years.  I didn't know that my heart would ache to hear my baby cry in her bed - even though she is 2 and a half and should be able to sleep on her own.  I didn't realize that when you become a mother, you give up all privacy in the bathroom.  I didn't realize how fast they really grow.  I didn't realize how my heart would race as I watch Lily ride her bike so fast (hoping she really will stop at the end of the street).  I didn't know I would be a sucker when they ask me really nicely just before bed if they can have an ice cream cone... (but they smelled so good and looked so sweet!).  I didn't expect the tears to come so steadily the day I dropped Lily off for her first day of school.  I really didn't expect to worry so much - about so much!  I didn't expect to be so proud!  I didn't expect to love them so strongly and so easily.  I really didn't.

And, one day, they will know exactly how I feel.  They will love and worry just as I do.  Just the way my mother did before me.