Thursday, October 30, 2008

A 60th Surprise

Today is my mom's 60th birthday.  I've spent a lot of time today thinking about how grateful I am for her.  She is wise, industrious, talented, funny, thoughtful, kind and compassionate.  My main memories growing up are of her reading to me, helping me with homework, making dinner for our family, playing with me, encouraging me and making me feel incredibly loved.   I'm glad that we live close to each other, and I am so thankful that my girls are growing up around her.  

To celebrate her big day, her sister and I (along with two of her three brothers who live nearby) planned to throw a surprise party.  We had a hard time figuring out when and how to pull it off, but in the end, we got her good.  About 25 of our friends and family met at my parents' house Sunday morning while she was at church.  When she got home we were all there waiting.  It was great.  We then spent the rest of the afternoon celebrating and spending time together. I'm so glad to be a part of such a big, fun family.

We splurged on a famous Ribbon Cake from Raspberries 'n Cream.  Oh so good.  And pretty.

Me with two of my wonderful cousins, a.k.a. "the ladies in black".

My aunt and uncle brought their brand new 9 wk. old puppy named Abraham.  I just had to throw a picture of him in here because he is just too darn cute.My mom with her old lady cane.  It came complete with "dirty old man repellent."
Happy Birthday, Mom!  I love you.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Favorite Places:: Dining Room

So I've decided to show you a few of my favorite places right here in our own home. We built our house and moved in sixteen month ago. It was a lot of fun to build. We liked picking out the flooring, the countertops, etc. Before we moved into our new home, we lived in a little house built in 1952.  It had the original stove/oven, huge oak trees in the front and back yard, and beautiful hardwood floors. I loved that old house for all its charm and because we have so many good memories there. It was the first house we purchased together, the house we entertained family and friends in, and the house we brought our sweet newborn twins home to.  But we outgrew the space, and we had to move.  I sometimes find myself caught between loving the quirkiness of the old place and the newness of our current home.  I had so many favorite spots in our old house!  But over time, I'm finding new places in our current home to fall in love with.  

One of those favorite places is our dining room.

Our first furniture purchase when we started building our house was this table.  We found it at an antique store in Bethany.  The store owner said it came from a farm and is called a harvest table.  The table didn't come with any chairs, so we thought pairing some more modern burnt orange chairs would be cool.  And when we saw the table in the store we could instantly imagine many family dinners and holiday meals happening around it.

The old blue scale in the back corner has a little history too.  Mike's parents bought it at an antique store back in the early 1970s.  It sat in their house for years, then was passed on to Mike's aunt, and then passed on to us. We thought it was a fun conversation piece.  In its day, you could drop a penny into a slot, see how much you weighed, and receive a small printed card with a picture of a movie star and your fortune printed on the back. How cool is that?

And finally we added to the wall a collage of family pics-- both new and old.  I love having those up, but Mike instantly said it looked like the wall at Applebee's, so he's working on a big painting to replace the collage.  I think we might scale it down and move the collage to the entryway.  Just a thought.  And I'll be sure to post a pic of the new painting whenever it's done.   I'm sure it will be great!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Glimpses Into My Day

I have not left my house in the past twenty four hours.  Fridays are typically like that for me, and I keep them that way on purpose.  Monday -Thursday is filled with mother's day out, ballet, and other activities.  And I work two night a week as an English tutor.  So Fridays are our days at home to play, rest, catch-up and just be.  Here are a few glimpses into what we did today:

Breakfast:  oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon, coffee for mom, apple juice for the Banana and Bee.
Silly face pictures as the girls called them.  They love to look at them after we take them and they just crack up.
Playing a game that involved cramming just about every stuffed animal into a "house" then toppling it over and recramming it full again.  

Dressing up as Dorothy and singing "We're off to see the Wizard" about twenty times.
Even Tundra crawled out of her safe spot under our chair to have some fun today.
She loves to "scratch" on my jeans.  Oh Tundra, you are too cute.

Those are just a few images from our day at home.  Not pictured were the stack of books we read, the grilled cheese sandwiches and apple slices we ate at lunch, the four loads of laundry I managed to squeeze in, the inevitable sibling squabbles, and the time spent drawing at the kitchen table.  All in all it was a good Friday.  Tomorrow I will have to venture out into society because we're running low on groceries.  I guess I have to get back out there sometime!  

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pumpkin Bread

In my last post I mentioned pumpkin bread as one of my favorite fall things to eat.  Really I eat it year round, but it's especially good on those cold, dreary days when the smell of it baking fills the whole house.  So I thought I'd share my recipe with you all.  Feel free to tweak it to fit your specific dietary plan.  Oh and one of the best things about this recipe is that it makes two loaves of bread.  I love it because I always keep one loaf for my family and pass another loaf on to someone else.  Sometimes I give it to my parents just as a small thank you for helping out with my girls.  I've used it several times to welcome new neighbors, and I've also used it to give to friends who have added a new baby to their family. So I challenge you if you make this to find someone to give a loaf to.  It;'s a very small "pay it forward" of the cooking world.   

Pumpkin Bread
*preheat oven to 350 degrees
3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs, beaten
1 can pumpkin (16 oz)
2/3 cup water
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
Cream sugar and oil with a mixer on medium speed.  Add eggs and pumpkin and mix well.  Sift together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients and water.  Pour into 2 well greased 9x5 loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick poked into the middle comes out clean.  Let it stand on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool.  

Enjoy one of my favorite tastes of fall!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Random Thoughts

It's Tuesday night and I'm full of random thoughts. Some funny, some meaningless. Here's a sampling:

* Lately when we're in the car Leah will ask to talk about "bugs and blood." I think this is because my dad explained what a mosquito does when it bites you.

* A coldfront is supposed to move through here tonight, so I'm bracing myself for a chilly north wind tomorrow. The weather forecast last night proclaimed, "December Coming Early!". Our local meteorologists crack me up with their drama.

* I'm currently reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and am liking it very much. I think I would like to experience Brooklyn in 1912 maybe just for a few days.

* The girls desperately need new socks. I think we went all summer without wearing any! But when I put some one their feet yesterday the little line of stitching that should be at their heel was in the middle of their sole.

* Bring on the soups, stews and chili for fall. And pumpkin bread and hot chocolate and apple cake and........

* My children will be 4 years old in a matter of two months. Oh my.

* The last movie I watched that made me both laugh and cry was Lars and the Real Girl.

* This morning while the girls were back in their room playing I overheard Hannah tell her sister, "Leah, grown ups are good-- babies are bad!" What does this mean?

What are your random thoughts this week? Do share!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lake Weekend

Mike and I just returned from a wonderful weekend getaway at Lake Tenkiller.  On Friday we dropped our kids off with Grandma and PaPa, and headed three hours east into the hilly, pretty part of Oklahoma (yes, there is one) for a chance to enjoy the fall weather and a chance to catch up with good friends.

Our weekend started Friday afternoon.  We picked up our dear friends Reed and Nikki and then hit the road.  We stopped in Shawnee, OK (our college town) for dinner at Van's Pig Stand, our favorite barbeque joint that we frequented while going to school.

We made it to the lake by eight o'clock that night and spent the evening playing a board game, eating brownies and ice cream, and watching a movie. It was the simple kind of night that I absolutely love. Our other good friends, Brian and Angie, drove up from Dallas and joined us at the lake house around one in the morning. I am so thankful for the friendships we have with these two couples. We've known them for about nine years now and we have spent so much time together that we feel more like family than just friends.

Saturday was probably as close to perfect as it could get for me. We woke up to the sound of wind in the trees, beautiful fall colors everywhere, and full mugs of coffee. We all sat on the back deck sipping our drinks, chatting, and watching the deer that would occasionally wander through. After breakfast we loaded up in the mule for a drive around the area, looking for a perfect place to hike and explore.

Our view of the lake.
Can you spot the two young deer in the distance?  I decided that they were twins.
Loaded up and ready to go.

We ended up finding the perfect exploring spot and spent an hour doing just that.

Heading into the woods and being mindful of snakes.  

Me and my sweet husband.  
Our posse trying out the self timer.  

After our adventure outside, we headed back to the house to grill some burgers and watch the OU football game.  When we opened the lid to the grill we were surprised to find a mama mouse nursing four little baby mice.  She had made a perfect little home there.  It was so cute.  We gently moved them before we did any grilling of course.  

With full tummies we all relaxed in the living room and watched the game. But during half time the ladies decided to grab some blankets and head outside for a nap in the great outdoors.  I cannot tell you how I wished I could have pushed a pause button to make time stop for awhile.  We each found a lounge chair, covered up, and spent the next two hours listening to the wind, watching the birds in the trees, talking, laughing, and sometimes just being quiet.  I love that we know each other well enough to be comfortable with quiet.

Eventually, we all headed out for a twilight walk.  As daylight quickly faded we watched the sun slowly slip under the horizon.

We ended our day with cups of chicken tortilla soup and smores made over a campfire. I loved how many stars we could see without city lights to block them out.  Sunday morning we lingered as long as we could before heading out around noon. It was a short, but sweet trip, and we came home feeling rested and restored.  And ready to go again next weekend!!  

A BIG thank you goes out to my aunt and uncle for letting us use their lake house. We really appreciate it!!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Crystal Bridge

Last week my mom and I took the girls to the Crystal Bridge Botanical Garden in downtown Oklahoma City.  I really enjoyed our afternoon.  The weather was cool, but sunny.  The sky was a beautiful blue and the girls had such a good time enjoying nature and being together.

  The roar of the waterfall is the first thing you hear when you enter.  The girls were amazed.

I love their faces as they looked up at the waterfall.  Leah is in mid "Ooooo" and Hannah's chocolate brown eyes are wide in wonder.  Love it.

The flowers were amazing. In full bloom and in a variety of vibrant colors.

After we climbed to the top of the garden, we looked down and I loved all the different textures in the leaves. They look like fans.

The girls' motto is: anytime you can swing-- do it. And make sure you laugh out loud in the process.

Afterwards we went outside to enjoy the weather. We spent some time exploring the park and locating ducks, turtles and fish in the pond. We eventually found a nice hill. At the top was plenty of shade to sit under, and the hill itself was absolutely perfect for running and rolling down.

I love reliving my childhood.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Doll House

Hands down my favorite Christmas gift ever would have to be my doll house.  As a little girl who loved to play dolls and Barbies, I had long been wanting a special house for them to play in.  Several of my friends had enormous, brightly colored, plastic Barbie houses which I had been praying for months that I would receive from Santa.  When I was seven years old, my prayers were answered as I was presented with a doll house of my very own.  It was not a three story Barbie mansion-- it was better.  It was better because my grandpa had made it himself.   My grandfather was a career Army officer and retired as a full colonel.  One of his hobbies was carpentry.  He was really gifted at it and would even sell his wooden tops and toys at local craft fairs.  He used those carpentry skills and his time to make me a special two story, three room house-- fully furnished.  Not only had he made the house, but furniture too.  Two twin beds, a dresser, a vanity table, two rocking chairs, a couch, a china cabinet, and a round table with four chairs.  My grandma even got in on the action and made curtains, pillows, bedspreads, and a tablecloth.  My grandparents added special touches like wallpapering the dollhouse bedroom with the same paper that was in my actual bedroom and using fabric for the bedspreads that matched my own bedspread!  I spent many happy hours playing with that doll house and I felt incredibly loved because my grandfather had made it especially for me.  

Eventually I outgrew my doll house and it went up to my parent's attic where it stayed for the next 20 years.  A few weekends ago, I thought it was time to bring it out of its hiding place to give it a facelift so I could present it to my girls. It was like seeing an old friend again.  Some of the furniture was broken, but some was in perfect condition.  The carpet needed to be replaced, and Mike spent a few nights repainting the outside and inside walls.  But in a matter of days, my old doll house had been updated and was ready to be presented to a new generation.  Needless to say, they loved it. They don't have any Barbies to play with, but they have plenty of little dolls and stuffed animals to make up for that!  It is a big hit.

My grandpa died the summer of 1985.   I look back and wish I could have had many more years to get to know him better.  But I do have eight years of memories, pictures, and stories to remember him by.  And when I look at the doll house as my little ones play with it in their room, I can imagine him out in his garage, sanding down one of the little wooden rocking chairs, and thinking of me.  

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mr. Googly-Eye Stickyfeet

We met a new friend yesterday afternoon.  We found him when we pulled into our driveway after ballet class and saw a large blob on the window of the girls' room. "What is that?"  I said out loud.  We jumped out of the car, and when we all ran over to the window we discovered this guy clinging to the glass:

Can you see him? Here let me get a little closer.

It was a huge, fat grasshopper!  The girls instantly loved him and wanted him for our pet. While having him as our pet was out of the question, we decided to give him a name. After much deliberation, we chose Mr. Googly-Eye Stickyfeet. I think it suited him well.

This shot was from the inside looking out.  I'm sure he was wishing he could come in and play. He ended up staying on the window for several hours. The girls were fascinated and kept coming back to check on him, but eventually he moved on. The girls decided he went home to find his mommy and daddy and sleep in his cozy bed.

Wherever he is, I'm sure glad he entertained my Banana and Bee for a few hours. Even though you kind of freak me out, you're welcome back anytime Mr. Googly-Eye Stickyfeet. Anytime.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Bald Head and New Shoes

We had such a nice weekend. I think the niceness started Friday afternoon when my mom and I took my girls to a local shoe store to have their feet measured. We were on a mission to find  shoes that could take them through the chilly autumn/winter months. Hannah had her feet measured first, then it was Leah's turn. The nice man taking care of us was an older gentlemen with a shiny bald head surrounded by a faint halo of hair. Classic bald guy look. He was patient with my wiggly three year olds and was very friendly. As Leah was getting her feet measured I saw her staring at the top of the man's head. Instantly I knew some words were about to come out of her mouth, but I couldn't do anything about it. don't have any hair on your head!!  She exclaimed loudly. Where did it go? Did it all fall out?

I was embarrassed, but the nice man just smiled and said, "Yes, it did all fall out!"  He even let her rub the top of it like rubbing a Buddah belly for luck.  I'm glad he wasn't offended.  And in the end we took home some classic black Mary Janes and a new pair of sneakers.  

Our spoils:  shoes come in sets of four around here.

That night Mike's mom came in to town to stay with us, so we took the girls to the zoo for a night visit.  They didn't really even see many animals because the zoo was giving free carousel and train rides.  Big, Big hit.

Walking to the zoo entrance hand in hand with Gram.

Leah enjoying the carousel.

Saturday morning my wonderful mother-in-law and I met my friend Nikki for breakfast sans kids.  It was a great relaxing way to start a Saturday-- with strong coffee , yummy pastries and good conversation.  The rest of Saturday was spent setting up a tent in the backyard for the girls to play in as well as checking in on the OU/Baylor score.  OU remained #1 for another week.  Yip-ee!  Mike played gormet chef Saturday night and made an amazing meal of homemade pizza and caesar salad, and I ate way too much.  Whenever he cooks it's gooooood.

Sunday we went to church then came home and spent the day relaxing, doing laundry, reading books-- just being a family.  I even fit in a nice walk as the sun was setting.  A beautiful end to a lovely weekend.  

Me with a smile of contentment.  

Monday, October 6, 2008


We sang this song at church yesterday. I like Phil Wickham, but I'd never heard this one before. I loved it. Beautiful lyrics and a beautiful melody for a beautiful Savior. Take 5 minutes and just listen and soak it in.

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
You’re beautiful

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It’s all proclaiming who You are
You’re beautiful, You're beautiful

I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now you are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful, you're beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful

I see Your face, You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful
I see Your face, You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful
I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tundra and Ellie

I thought it was about time that I introduce you to the two other members of our family.  Our cats.  The hairy beasts that leave cat hair bunnies in the corners of our home and on our chocolate brown comforter.  The cats who occasionally throw up in the middle of the carpet.  Who do nothing but eat, sleep and lie around.  These are the furry creatures who we love and adore despite all these things.  Our first "babies."

This fat sausage of a cat is Tundra.  I couldn't get a good picture of her in this position without the crazy green pet eyes, but you can get a feel for her...uh, for lack of a better word....girth.  The cat is definitely on the large side.  

This is Tundra just after the first picture saying, "Why did you just disrupt my seventeenth nap of the day?"

"I refuse to look at you now.  You disrupter of cat naps."

"Oh, okay.  Just one look."
Thank you, Tundra.  I really do love this cat.  She is sweet natured. And she's my shadow during the day.  Always lurking in the background ready for me to love on her a bit.  She's definitely a keeper.  

And this skinny black cat is Ellie.  This is the only picture I got of her because she's like water-- always moving, changing, darting about.  She's not as obvious in her cat behavior as Tundra.  Tundra flaunts her laziness by placing herself down in the middle of a crowded room of people, rolling onto her back, and stretching out as if to say, "Please admire me."  While Ellie keeps to herself.  She has her hiding spots (under our bed, under the ottoman in the living room), but when the house is quiet she comes out and loves to snuggle.  She also has the best attitude towards our girls. She even sleeps with them at night sometimes where Tundra is way to busy for 3 year olds.  She doesn't have time in her nap schedule to play with them.  

I'll tell you more about their individual adoption stories another time.  They do make good stories.  Today was just a post to say hello.  And here they are in all their feline glory.