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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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Preschool Graduate


Goodbye preschool...hello Kindergarten!

Mei Mei finished up last week with preschool and I'm still a bit in shock.  How can two years have already gone flying past?  Wasn't it just yesterday that we were easing her into Sunday School and the 2 year old class and prepping her for her first year of preschool once she turned 3?
But what growth we've seen!  She's completely at ease and LOVES going to school.  Quite honestly, I'm not sure how she's going to cope with not going back until late August!
She is confident in her abilities, exuberant each day when she greets her teachers and (hardly ever) gives me a backwards glance as she's racing into the classroom.

Her language is right where it should be and she's hit all of her developmental milestones, and then some.  Now if only we can get her back on that bike...............
When school was finished and the Noodle and I picked her up, we surprised her with a trip to DQ for cones.
Wondering what the side-eye is all about?  Both of them were fascinated watching the "big girls" aka the teenagers who were also in there getting an afterschool treat.  Ha!
And just because I love a good "then and now" shot...

Here's at the start of the year:
and here she is now:
Oh Mei Mei!  You're on your way sweet love!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mother's Day and computer issues


Mother's Day.  May 8th, 2016...I was planning on posting that day except my computer had other ideas.  Like crashing.  Ugh.  Technology.

The good news is that we have Carbonite.  The bad news?  For some reason, not all of the files were backing up (think photos from 2006 until the present, all our adoption files/paperwork for both girls, anything school related of mine that I've worked on at home, etc., etc.).  The good news is that J has his IT guy "tinkering" around on the old hard drive, excited about the challenge of pulling data off a defunct piece of equipment.  The bad news--he was very upfront about the fact that sometimes he's successful and other times...not so much.
Big sigh here.
But really, it is out of our control and so getting upset and emotional and playing the blame game doesn't do anyone any good so what's the point?!

As I was driving down to J's office to give him the old hard drive so he could hand it off to the IT guy, I drove right by a man who was homeless.  Nothing like the sobering reminder of your first world problem when you're face to face with someone living under a piece of cardboard and eating from the garbage can.

That certainly pricked my heart and causes me to stop short.  I hear you Lord and I'm sorry.


So.  Mother's Day.  We enjoyed a brisk walk to church and back and then took a stroll around the 'hood.  It was breezy but the sun was out.  All the flowers were on display and the sun and blue sky were putting on a fabulous show too!  Bring it!

After stopping at two garden stores for annuals, we met Lala and Papa for brunch.  Too much food but oh so yummy!  And of course, mimosas.  What's brunch without them?!

After we finished eating we headed back to Lala and Papa's condo.  The landscaping at their condo is so beautiful at this time of year we had to get a few photos.
The only problem was that no sooner would everyone get together, then one small person would have to go potty.  We'd put the whole party on hold for 10 minutes until they'd get back and then we'd try it again.  Only to have the other little person declare that now she had to go (even though 10 minutes prior to that, she had sworn that she didn't need to go).
The rest of the afternoon we spent gardening and potting up pots.  The girls were busy hanging outside and helping out so it was the perfect end to the day.

I do have to admit that this is always a bittersweet day for me.  Anyone who has ever dealt with infertility or the loss of a child can certainly empathize.  It is also one of those days that I am always much more keenly aware that around the other side of the world, there are two mothers who are mourning the loss of their children too.  Two birth mothers who never miss a day without wondering where their daughters are and how they are doing.

Their losses made me a mother and I am forever grateful to them and for them for the difficult choices they made.

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."