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I love to laugh and love with my family, read, exercise, cook and sew, all the while giving thanks to God for his immeasureable love and faithfulness to me.

Friday, April 29, 2016

16 years

16 years ago we looked a little younger.  A few less wrinkles, a little more color and not so much gray, a couple of pounds lighter.
We also thought we knew what being married was all about.  Love, laughs, long talks, all the heart-eye emojis (were those even a thing back then?!).
But then the years started to go by.  There are good times, definitely, but then there are those times when we look at each other and wonder how.will.we.ever?!  When all you want to do is just roll over and go to sleep instead of hashing out the same ol' topic--again.  When you make the conscious decision to focus on the good points, rather than on all of those things that make you wanna scream.
I'm not going to lie.  Most of the time J and I are pretty good together.  It is easy to talk to him and I still thoroughly enjoy being with him.  Keeping in mind these guide-points has certainly helped our marriage.  When we disagree, it is usually short-lived and we're able to come to a resolution quickly.
All that being said, I realize how fortunate we are.  Marriage can be HARD.  Talking to your friends/sister/mom about your husband is not the same as talking directly to him about the issues you're facing.  Arguing about a situation is not the same as having a conversation about it.
I know that marriage is a fragile tapestry held together but that if there are one or two loose threads, the whole thing can quickly unravel.  A few couples we are close to are going through some difficult stuff.  We don't even begin to know the half of it.  I have such respect for them though, because they are sticking with it--for better or for worse.  It is the un-glamorous side of marriage.  The nitty-gritty, claw-your-way through side of marriage.
So on our 16th year anniversary, this is my prayer for them:
"Dry bones, listen to what the Lord is saying to you, "I the Lord God, will put breath in you, and once again you will live...My Spirit will give you breath, and you will live again.  I will bring you home, and you will know that I have kept my promise.  I, the Lord, have spoken."--Ezekiel 37: 4-5,14.

I know that their lives are testimonies for what the Lord can and is doing.  I'm claiming that prayer for them.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Crossover

This year the Noodle has gotten involved with the group American Heritage Girls (AHG), which is an organization whose mission is to "build women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country".
She was a Tenderheart (girls ages K-3 grade) and had the opportunity to meet lots of new girls (both older and younger than she was), participate in some cool service projects and earn lots of badges. She also got to do it with her best bud, so it was a win on all accounts!
At the end of their 3rd grade year, the Tenderhearts crossover to become Explorers.  As with any scouting program, with each level that you advance, there are more expectations but also more privileges.
Her troop just had their crossover ceremony and it was also the time where they were able to receive the badges they had been working towards.  It was hard work but she was very proud of herself.  So were we!
I love that this is an organization that has the primary emphasis on becoming all that God created these girls to be but that it also ties in scouting with a heavy dose of service to others.  This is such a good balance for the Noodle.  Now, I wonder what badges she'll start working on over the summer?  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sip and Savor Wine Tasting

One thing about myself that I have learned is that I have to be pushed to have people over.  Does that sound horrible to write/say out loud?  What I guess I mean is that, in general, I'm pretty introverted and feel most comfortable hangin' with my fam at home.  It is my default mode.

That being said, about a year ago, I felt the Lord was challenging me on this and calling me to step out of my comfort zone a little.  Not that all of a sudden we'd be throwing huge parties every weekend, but to make more of a concerted effort to invite other families into our home and share food and fellowship, all the while remembering that it can be perfectly imperfect.  To be a little more willing to say yes that that one thing He was asking me to do.  Reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist as well as reading this book as well as this one has helped.
A few weeks ago a little idea started percolating in my mind.  We've had quite a few new people move into our neighborhood within the last year so I thought it might be fun to have the women over for a wine tasting.  Winters around here can be pretty brutal and everyone mostly stays hunkered down in their homes, so this would be an opportunity to re-connect and meet the new folks.

Of course, like most women, I immediately went to Pinterest to get some inspirations.  And then I became overwhelmed with all of the magazine-worthy, professional-styled photos and was about ready to bail.  But... Then I took a breath and started focusing on what I could do with what I already had and things began to take shape.

First things first, the menu.  Since this was going to be at 7:30 pm I knew I'd just do some light appies and simple desserts.  Caprese kabobs, various cheeses, Prosciutto, bread/crackers, olives and almonds.  Rich dark chocolate brownies with white chocolate chips, strawberries, stuffed-raspberries and chocolate truffles with pistachios.



When I am hosting, I like to pull out all of my serving pieces in advance and then I put a post-it on each piece so I know what will go in where.  For some reason this, along with setting the table ahead of time, makes me feel calmer.
I kept the centerpiece the same from Easter  with the silver and succulents and just added in some extra candles and the wine glasses with extra corks.  Easy-peasy.
A friend from church that I volunteer with, who is responsible for the special needs ministry, also sells Uppercase Living on the side.  She happened to have the initials of everyone who was coming and graciously let me have them for the wineglasses.  If you know me at all, you know that I love a good monogram, so these favors were perfect!
I had asked everyone to bring a bottle of their favorite wine to share.  This free printable made it easy for us to keep track of our notes and thoughts on each of the different vinos.
Lala had given me these napkins a while ago and I had never used them...this little gathering seemed like the perfect reason to break them out--ha ha!!
I wrote out a few questions to spark conversation as well.  There were various levels of familiarity among the women, so it was great to hear everyone's thoughts as well as to keep things flowing.  I used these as a starting point.
We had such a lovely time just talking, laughing and drawing closer to each other.  Later on in the evening, J came down and joined us.  I love the fact that he felt comfortable enough to come and hang with us and didn't shy away from adding in his thoughts to our discussions.  I'm blessed to have such a man as him!
This little 'sip and savor' gathering was a perfect reminder that, as Shauna Niequist wrote in her book Bread and Wine, when we celebrate the sharing of food, "it reminds [us] of the joy found in a life around the table.  It's about the way God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them."

Friday, April 8, 2016

Spring Break 2016


Ahhh, spring break!  We love you so!  This year, we had a couple of things scheduled on the calendar but also lots of downtime too.

There was quite a bit of LEGO building that went on.  The ideas just kept coming and it was great to see Mei Mei getting into the LEGOs too.
The Noodle had received a gift card for Christmas from Amazon and finally decided what she wanted to spend it on--the Dolphin Cruiser.  She opened it up and started working on it at 5 pm and by 8 pm she had put the whole thing together...by herself.  Love it!
Zootopia was on the list of things to do this break and it did not disappoint!  Lollie joined us and we all rooted for Judy as she solved the mystery concerning the animals going savage.
While it certainly wasn't warm by any stretch, at least we had some sunshine.  Walks around the neighborhood were a given.  The girls can't seem to pass by sticks and NOT pick them up.  Ha!
The Noodle joined J and Grandpa for a visit to the junkyard to search for a new swim ladder for the Lake.  They were successful, but she is her father's daughter after all...
There is a really large park close by that we don't visit that regularly, so going to play there was a highlight.  See that crazy big hill behind?  The girls were dying to walk up and roll/run down.  Since the grass was a soggy, muddy mess, [most of us] made do with running down it.
 Fro-yo anyone?!
Then, one night, while the Noodle was attending the CAVS game and doing her amazing ball handling tricks for both the pre-game and half-time shows,
Mei Mei and I enjoyed a girls night in and ate sushi.
As the week was winding down we snuck in one more visit to the zoo.  It was sunny but c.o.l.d and windy!  We basically had the place to ourselves which was surprising considering it was a Saturday.
 Monkey see, monkey do.
Last stop?  Lunch at our favorite 1950's-style diner.  
This is how we feel about milkshakes...
 What?!  You don't think I'll eat the whole thing?!
Mei Mei ended the week with a birthday party at a local spot.  I thought for sure that she'd crash on the way home, but nope.  Even with all the running, climbing, sliding and jumping she was raring to go for more!
It was a great spring break and we had so much fun hanging out together.  Now we start the downhill slide toward the end of the school year!  Yikes!!