Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Fantastic Pinterest Fail.

Let me first say, I know there are those out there who really hate Pinterest. It's unoriginal, it makes people feel inferior about their crafting abilities, it makes people question their value as parents when they don't throw their kids Elmo-themed parties with Elmo-shaped cookies and buy them an Elmo car driven by Elmo like that one other Mom did and she must be really awful and let's make fun of her because she's obviously crazy or I'm just really insecure, etc.

I mean, really. Who cares. It's a website where you pin things.

I, for one, love Pinterest.

I've found some really great crafts, recipes, outfits, and jokes there and I have utilized all of them. All of my favorite things, all in one place. What's REALLY fun, however, is the occurrence of a fantastic Pinterest Fail (which happens quite frequently around here).

Behold: The Swirly Cookie Disaster of 2013.

Here is the pin:

Brought to you by this blog, Salt Tree, which has all of the amazing things.

Swirly blue cookies with sprinkles?? My kids would love those! After having these thoughts, I didn't bother to actually click on the link (ha ha) and follow the recipe ... I figured the pictures told enough and I could figure it out on my own.

It's how I roll and it almost always, wait, no .... always? bites me in the rear.

So, I bought pre-made dough (HA HA) and a box of sprinkles. Bring it on. After mixing blue food coloring gel in one of the batches of pre-made dough (HA HA), the dough started to turn a little green. Meh, okay. We'll do green swirly cookies! Fun! I added flour because, if you've ever used pre-made dough, you know it's oily. And probably full of just really awful things for you. Fun again!

I rolled out each layer of dough and attempted to lay one layer upon the other, only to discover that the layers were staunchly adhered to my countertops (despite a heavy coating of flour) and I had to scrape them off in pieces and kind of mash everything together. And, um, roll them up, jelly-roll style.

At this point, I was feeling a little discouraged but I was NOT GOING TO GIVE UP. I dumped the sprinkles on the countertop and started rolling the dough log on the sprinkles ... but they wouldn't stick. My oily awful flour-infused now-green-ish pre-made dough (HA HA) was not exactly welcoming to the little specks of sugar. So, in frustration, I grabbed handfuls of sprinkles and mashed them on the log.

It looked something like this.

A slug-shaped sprinkle log.

Appetizing, right?

I then attempted to wrap the thing in plastic wrap, like the step-by-step photos up there, and lo and behold, the plastic wrap was NOT interested in sticking to the sprinkles. So, I finally pulled about a football field's length of plastic wrap out of the box and spun it around the sprinkle slug log before mashing it into a packed drawer in my fridge, to let them cool and settle while I let myself cool and settle.

About an hour later, I pulled the sprinkle slug log out of the fridge and sliced it up. My swirly super-fun cookies? Looked like this:


Okay. So, after baking, Salt Tree's cookies looked like this:

Mine? Looked like THIS!

Whoa Nelly!

Oy. I lovingly sawed them apart (yes, they were hard as bricks) and positioned them sweetly on my cake platter for all to see. Yet another Katie Pinterest Fail.

But the kids? The kids thought they were amazing. To quote Cub: "These are the coolest green--no wait, are they grey? These are the coolest grey cookies EVER!"

That's right.

Nailed it.

Have a lovely day. :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Aiming For a Happy Monday.

It's safe to say that this morning I've been a little off my game.

I mean, I'm just a little snippy this morning. Annoyed, maybe? Do you ever have days where you're just ... annoyed? Maybe not. Maybe it's just me. But there are days where I wake up and everything just kind of bothers me, for whatever reason, and today was one of those days.

Dishes. Laundry. Again. And again. 

Lydia spilling Dad's cologne. Again.

Groceries being put away, food prep for the week getting finished, again. And again.

Me attempting a Pinterest dessert that ended up looking like a mutant giant slug.


And again and again and again.

These mundane tasks are usually something that I don't mind. I enjoy them, to some extent. Or, rather, I enjoy the sense of satisfaction when they are complete. Ahhh, DONE!

But, they aren't really done, because they will be there again tomorrow. And around and around we go.

As I was loading the darks into the washing machine, I could hear myself sighing. Do you know the sigh? The SIGGGHHHHH. The heavy one that is an obvious indication of discontent. And mid-sigh, I stopped myself. Why was I sighing? I stood up and looked around. Why was I so grumpy this morning?

Everything in my house is the same. The laundry room is the same, the kitchen is the same, my tasks and chores are all the same. 

The problem, then, became blaringly obvious: ME. 


On my phone's lock screen, I have this verse:

Let the morning bring me word
of Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go,
for to You I lift up my soul.

Psalm 143:18

It became clear to me that my morning was, in most ways, the same as it always is. But amidst the getting dressed and the grocery shopping and the food prepping and the scrubbing yogurt out of the kitchen chairs, I hadn't once paused to thank God for the day. To seek His guidance, to experience the joy of placing the day in His hands.

Of course this pause is not a guarantee that anything in my day will go well, at all. But in that still moment, my attitude is prepared for both the expected and the unexpected. And I find myself immersed in the reality of a Greater Purpose, the realization that the mundane is necessary and good. And that this day, like all of the days, will slip away soon and I won't get it back. 

And dang it, I can at least try to suck it up and have a good attitude.       

So, even now as my baby, lightly scented in Acqua di Gio, is climbing in my lap and impairing my ability to type, I say to all of you, this is the day that the Lord has made. 

And I will rejoice, and be glad in it.

Happy Monday.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Day of Preschool!

This boy started preschool today! His program is two days a week at the school he attended last year. He's pretty pumped. We will also supplement with homeschool curriculum throughout the week on the days he isn't at school. The year has begun!

Happy First Day of Preschool, bud. We're so proud of you!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nourishment For the Morning.

I can't tell you how many times I've read a passage of Scripture throughout my lifetime and when I pick it up again, it stirs my heart in a completely different way than it has before. As if I'm reading it for the first time. The words never change, but my needs, fears, circumstances, desires, and prayers, do. My heart absorbed these words this morning as if I were reading them for the first time, fresh and new, and I wanted to share them with you, too.

O, Lord, You have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.

You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.

You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

It is too high,

I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139:1-6 

May you be enraptured by His love today.

Have a blessed day, friends. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

White Tigers, Pizza, and Star Trek.

Warning: This post will contain lots of pictures from my phone and play-by-play of a recent trip we took (think, trip slideshow) to Houston. 

I've mentioned before how my hubby and his brother started a company last year. The change has been great. Our overall quality of life has improved--he's home more and even when he's at work, we're able to visit him whenever we want to. Don't get me wrong--obviously starting and managing a business comes with a lot of stress, too, but it's still ... better. We're abundantly thankful that he's taken this opportunity to forge his own path. Now. That being said, his hours can be crazy sometimes. More than once he's worked the night shift for several nights in a row, or, he's had to drive long distances to make a delivery (when there are only three employees, including yourself, everyone wears a lot of hats!). And these occurrences are often unpredictable, so we've learned to go with the flow. 

Last week, he had to make a last-minute trip to Houston. 

We decided to make it a family trip. I love a good road trip.

Even with kids.

On Monday we found out he would be going, on Tuesday we decided we would all be going and make a trip of it, and after a false start on Wednesday (again, unpredictability!), we headed out at the crack of dawn on Thursday. Rushed planning, rushed packing, all totally worth it. We loaded up in Dadda's truck, and headed out. 

As I threw stuff in the kids' activity bag, I tried remembering what sort of in-the-car things they could do. Didn't I write a post about this once?! Alas, my rushed brain was toast, so I tossed in their library books and the iPad and brought along a cooler full of fruit and snacks for the road. Crazy enough, the books and snacks were enough. They never once asked to watch a movie or play a game on the iPad, so we never offered it. I think they were just really excited about the trip. I read lots of books to the kids, too, which they loved. When they're strapped in, I have their undivided attention, ha! We were just north of Houston when my hoarse voice and I decided to download this:

Did any of you ever listen to Adventures in Odyssey as kids? I didn't, but my sister-in-law has always talked about it, and she's great, so I downloaded an album. Oh. My. Goodness. We were all hooked and listened to it over and over again through the rest of the trip.

We finally arrived at our hotel, stretched our legs, and took the kids to The Rainforest Cafe for dinner in the Houston Galleria. We were all equally excited for this one. The kids loved it. 

We meandered around the mall, making a quick stop in the Disney Store. Naomi immediately ran to the mirrors and started twirling. So cute. The kids were already asking which toys they could take home (sigh!) and we told them we had lots of fun activities planned for the trip, and after we had done all of those things, they could pick one toy from their favorite place and we would go back and get it.

(In the end, glow sticks from the Space Museum won.)

Our hotel was located on Post Oak Boulevard in Houston, which put us within walking distance of restaurants and shops. The kids and I hit up Starbucks every morning! We all shared one hotel room and Mommy needed to stay caffeinated.

We ventured to the Houston Aquarium the next day. The kids loved the massive fish tanks, train ride through a shark tank, plus there were carnival-ish rides outside, so we hit up the ferris wheel and the carousel. It was HOT, but it was fun! Cub was all about the rides! Oh, they also had a real white tiger. And a fake white tiger you could pose with (check out my husband's awesome pic below):

After we came home and cleaned up, we piled the kids in the jogger and walked to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. Their margherita pizza is my frozen favorite, but never had I indulged in an actual California Pizza Kitchen restaurant. I had the VIP (complete with avocado, oregano, chicken, etc.) and it was absolutely the best pizza I've ever eaten. The kids devoured each of their small pizzas. Everything was so good! 

(Check out the kids' fantastic cheese smiles. It's our latest thing.)

The next day, we loaded up and headed to the Houston Space Center. This is a large, open museum with tons of space exhibits and artifacts, plus a food court and play area. From here, you can take a shuttle to the Johnson Space Center. Yes. WHERE NASA HAPPENS.

(Cheesy smiles all around!)

I am a huge geek when it comes to space-ish things. (Just ask my bestie, who I schlepped to the Tulsa Air and Space Museum to watch a live viewing of the last manned shuttle launch in the Planetarium a few years ago.) I just really love all things space. I think a lot of it is nostalgic--space was so exciting and interesting when we were kids. We were able to sit in the viewing gallery at Mission Control in the Johnson Space Center, and I had to wipe tears. Imagine what it was like to be in there during the first moon walk? The Apollo 13 "successful failure"?? Or when we lost Challenger and Columbia? So many historical moments there. I was a bit emotional during that part of the tour.

And then Lydia started crying so I spent the remainder of our time at Mission Control in the stairwell, singing "Itsy-Bitsy Spider".


And, I have to give props to the Space Center for assembling this bad boy in the museum:

Our kids played on that thing forever. See that big yellow slide? It's massive. Space Angry Birds in the Space Center. Well played.

Some of my other favorites were the Saturn V rocket at Rocket Park (it never went in space, but it's the real deal, before the space "shuttle" was created) and posters of the different teams who flew into space, with quotes and information about the astronauts.

Um, wait. What's this? The Galileo Shuttlecraft from Star Trek's "The Galileo Seven" episode? Hm? How did this picture make it in here? Wait, is that drool on the corner of the picture?? What kind of geek would be so excited about a prop from Star Trek that took over a year to renovate before finding its permanent home at the Space Center, that is coveted by Star Trek fans around the world??

(Raises hand meekly.)

I may or may not have jumped up and down upon seeing this, and my husband may or may not have immediately steered the jogger in the other direction. I stood there for a minute to take it in. Along with a balding middle-aged man with a man purse and horn-rimmed glasses. 

We shared the moment.

After an exhausting day, we headed to Kroger to buy non-restaurant-eating-out food for dinner, and, after a swim, a picnic and glow-stick dance party in the hotel room and my first sampling of Mexican Coke (yum!), we crashed. 

The next day was one of those "unpredictable, so let's stay flexible" days. We were supposed to be driving home that day but had a delay, so, after a quick hotel change, we took the kids to see the movie "Planes" (so cute) and wandered around a store called Gander Mountain. Think Bass Pro, for my okie friends. The kids played in the tents. Win.

(Please note my kids covering their eyes while standing below the "Planes" movie poster. We had just walked out of the theatre and "the sun is just so BRIGHT!".)

We were finally able to head home on Monday. I have to admit, I was a little sad. Granted, we were out of clean clothes and had that "road trip" odor, but the trip was so much fun. It was so great to be together. It was exhausting--I don't think we really every sat still for very long, unless we were eating or sleeping, but it was all worth it. I'm so thankful we were able to drop everything and go. 

And I'm thankful for this guy, who works so hard for us.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sabbath, Revisited.

Poor Cub has been throwing up, Lydia, who just had an epic diaper change, is climbing all over my lap, and Naomi is running around the house singing a song she made up about unicorns who go to work with Dadda.

Coincidentally, this post is about rest. Ha! And I preface it with that information only to warn you that it will most likely consist of haphazard stream-of-consciousness bursts (what's new?) rather than one long cohesive thought. It's how we roll these days!

I've mentioned before that it is difficult for me to rest at home. I love my home and find it to be a comforting, familiar place. But, it is also where I spend the vast majority of my days, and I have a hard time resting in it if I know that there are things that need to be done.

Which is always.

There is always a room to be vacuumed, a load of laundry waiting, dishes to be done, bills to be addressed, closets to be cleaned, etc., not to mention our little birds three who require their fair share of attention. But I found that I was beginning to feel restless (pun intended). It's as though my soul longed for a pause, a moment of reflection, but my body and mind just kept plowing ahead. While my checklist was continually accomplished, my heart was longing for reprieve. After absorbing the input of friends (and readers!) from my previous post regarding Sabbath rest, I decided it was time to put rest in action. 

Taking a cue from Jen Hatmaker's book, Seven, I decided the time-frame for my Sabbath rest would be from sundown on Saturday to sundown on Sunday. That way, I would still have time on Sunday night to get ready for Monday, and I would also more easily enjoy my Saturday nights, too. 

So far, y'all, so good.

My original plan included me rushing around on Saturdays, getting things done that I was afraid I would worry about on Sunday, to keep ... me ... from ... worrying. However, all it takes is one busy Saturday to put the kibosh on that plan, so I've had to throw my hands in the air and say that whatever state the house is in on Saturday at sundown, it will stay until Sunday at sundown. I mean, we pick up toys here and there, but, truthfully, that's about it. Dishes hang out in the sink and laundry stays put in the hamper. 

And by golly, do you know what? Despite 24 hours of pause, it all gets done. Sunday evening, after the kids are in bed, I clean up from the day and I'm always surprised that it's never as big of a mess as I anticipate. 

Lesson: It's okay to take a day of rest. It's like God knew what He was talking about when He ordained it. Crazy!

The result is a rested Mom, and, thusly, a rested household.

This past weekend, I made a point to actually usher in the Sabbath. I hope to find some good readings on how to do this (suggestions welcome), but even without textbook formality, the moment was sweet. We gathered at the table before bedtime, before sunset. The kids said what they were thankful for and I explained how God tells us to work hard, but to rest well, too, and that both are equally important. We talked about Creation and God taking a day of rest from His work. If the Creator of the Universe can take a day to rest, so can we.

We lit two candles, and broke bread together. We didn't take communion--I want the kids to understand their sinfulness and subsequent need for salvation before they partake in that--but we did break bread (naan) together. It was relaxed and sweet. The kids loved the candles.

When the bread was eaten and the sun was set, we blew out the candles and sang the Doxology. 

Complete with the "almond" at the end. 

I know my kids are little. I know we are only standing on the brink of what will inevitably be the busiest season of our lives, as the kids grow and join sports/dance/etc. But in my heart I want to keep this day as sacred as possible, to honor the rest God intends for us. And to keep it as a family.

If you made it to the end of this post, blessings to you. Happy Monday.

Have a lovely day, friends!