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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Movies, Mother's Day Out, Meatballs, and Muffins

I like alliteration. Sue me.

The Back-up Plan was dumb. Ugh, I had such high hopes for it to be a fun chick flick that I wasted the number one spot on our Netflix on it. Jennifer Lopez should not be allowed in movies, with the exception of The Wedding Planner. And even then, Matthew McConaughey, Justin Chambers, and Judy Greer were the ones who made it amazing, not ol' Jenny from the Block. Okay, so consider yourself warned if you decide to watch this poorly acted, obnoxiously written, completely far-fetched romantic "comedy."

Avery started Mother's Day Out today! She wasn't even a little sad to leave me all day (I mean, come on, Avery. Is one tear too much to ask?), and I had to literally pick her up off the floor to get her to leave the room to go home. Mommy Fail of the day: not packing enough lunch. That's my girl. She's an eater. And when I got there to pick her up, her teachers asked me if she talks a lot at home because apparently she wouldn't stop talking all day. Again, we might be related. I think it's safe to say she had fun, and I got lots of work done at church. Everybody wins. Oh, and today was free lattes for the parents, so I might have won a little more.

Tonight's (delayed-because-I-overestimated-my-cooking-abilities) dinner: BBQ Meatballs a la Pioneer Woman. I am SO on a PW kick. And so is my waistline, thankyouverymuch. So so so so so good. However, (and I feel blasphemous for saying this because Ree and I are tight like that) our associate pastor's wife, Julie, makes better meatballs (and sauce). There, I said it. Please don't hate me, P-Dub. I still love you.

Tomorrow's (breakfast for) dinner: Make-Ahead Muffin Melts.They're pretty much a heart attack on an English muffin. But we'll have fruit, too, so that makes it okay, right? Right? Just humor me, okay?

My neck hurts. It's probably because I have worked from sunrise (okay, so maybe not that early but it felt like it) to sunset (and beyond!), and a good portion of the day was battling a copy machine that wants to see me die (or at least burn off my fingers). Now would be a good time to end this random little note and head to bed.

So. Goodnight.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

We like the lake.

We were so blessed today to be able to spend the entire day at the Reed's lakehouse with our families and some super awesome people from church. Wade and Marilyn invited some of the past youth helpers (and their families) who have helped out with lake camp to come out and get a chance to actually relax at the house.

And relax we did.

Always an audience! Good thing since Avery's becoming quite the ham.
Oh, the food!
Hanging out with Grandpa on the boat.
Arlene and Carrie hanging on for dear life!
My husband, the skipper.
I love love love this picture. My two favorite people. :)
Poor thing hated the life jacket.
Swimming (duh) before Matt lost his wedding ring. (p.s. Shout out to Scott for finding it at the bottom of the lake!)
Terry and Carrie brave the waves
Avery's new friend Hailey
Happy (almost) birthday, Mom!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Five: Back to School

Confession: I'm writing my Friday Five on Saturday. Normally I would just skip it since I didn't have a chance to post on Friday, but I wanted to do a Five on my first "official" week as a SAHM. I'm also publishing the post to read like I posted it on Friday. It's my blog; I can do that.

1. MONDAY: Grocery day! Not too much excitement, but it was nice. We played lots. Avery's really good at that. That night Matt and I got to go to the Ranger game with our sweet friends Katherine and Justin. We met Katherine during Little Women, and we just love them. To top it all off, the Rangers beat the Twins (the Longs are from Minnesota), but I'm not a bad winner or anything. Hehe.

2. TUESDAY: Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I already posted about it though; no need to beat the horse. He's dead.

3. WEDNESDAY: Is it sad that now I can't even remember what we did on Wednesday? I know we went to Costco. I know it was better than Tuesday. Hmm.

4. THURSDAY: Errands day. We hit the doctor's office, the bank, the DSM box office to get tickets for Shrek: The Musical, and Northpark Mall. Apparently Northpark is the place to be for mommies (and nannies for that matter) with strollers and too much free time. Holy cow, I felt out of place. But then I realized that I wasn't. I am, in fact, a mommy with a stroller and (gasp) free time.So I rocked that stroller. And Avery's always a rock star in public places; she waved to everyone, and practiced her new favorite word by shouting "Baby!" at every stroller we saw.

Avery loves Chick-Fil-A. This is no secret. So naturally we got our lunch at the one in the food court. However. All those mommies and strollers meant that all those kids also needed high chairs, leaving none for us. None. How do you run out of high chairs? So Avery was a big girl and sat next to me in the booth. She seemed so grown up! And sweet-- this girl loves giving hugs. She would stop after every bite to give me a great big hug. My shirt was practically ruined with chicken nugget juice and fruit remnants by the end of the meal, but it's washable and there was no way I was going to make her stop.

I also took the opportunity to introduce my sweet girl to my favorite smoothie ever: blueberry banana from Thirsty's. Oh my goodness, if you haven't tried one, go. Go now. It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway, Avery was in love. In fact, she threw a nasty little fit when I tried to put her in the car because I took said smoothie away. I'm so mean.

On Thursday night we got to meet Avery's Mother's Day Out teachers. They're both super sweet, and I think Avery's going to love it there. She's the only girl in her class, and she's also the youngest (but tallest, ha!). She starts next week, yay!

5. FRIDAY: This was the only day that we didn't go somewhere. We were super lazy and just hung out and played in our pajamas for most of the day. Avery fought both of her naps ferociously (which was a recurring theme of the week), but when she wasn't screaming, she was quite pleasant. :)

I made an intense dinner though: chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Courtesy of the Pioneer Woman. Love her. But I don't love how she makes everything sounds like it's easy breezy. I forged my way through the recipes though and nobody got sick. Point for Heather.

And Matt's family got here on Friday evening in time to see Avery before she went to bed! We're so excited they got to come for the weekend! There is much fun to be had.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I was so encouraged yesterday because after a rough first week staying at home, things were definitely looking up. Avery was happy, she took a nap, we ran errands without incident, the day flew by, and Matt and I got to go to the Ranger game (which we won) with some friends. Good day!

Today? Not so much.

I overslept, woke up with a headache, have had contact issues for a week now, tried to work at church but was unsuccessful because Avery was uncharacteristically clingy, couldn't get Avery to eat lunch, took a folder full of papers to be laminated at the teacher store and ended up being there for TWO HOURS because the girl was so slow, embarrassed myself at said teacher store because Avery was just over it, missed going to Costco because for some reason I didn't feel like walking around a store with a crying kid, got home to realize that I forgot to get a pile of papers laminated, listened to Avery scream for an entire hour because she refused to take a nap, and sat on the couch instead of cleaning the house like I needed to.

Ugh. I seriously don't know how everybody does it. I only have one kid and a super-supportive husband, and I can't seem to get it together.

Whine fest over.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Five

1. My sister's a beast. She put this Behind the Scenes video together for the Little Women cast. It's fun. And now I'm done posting stuff about Little Women. Promise.

2. The deck is finished! Complete! The end! Woohoo! Well, until next summer when Matt builds the pergola. For now we just need to find some patio furniture that won't break the bank. Oh, and it would be nice if Texas would decide to stay below 100 degrees so we can have a partay!

3. All of you iPhone, iPod, iPad, iLovers out there need to download the Super 7 game. It is so much fun. I can't stop playing it. And it's educational, too, so that means it's not a waste of time, right? Okay fine, so I don't need to practice my single-digit addition and subtraction skills. Anyway, the game rocks and it's free. Go get it. Go!

4. Today Avery had her very first trip to the zoo! We went with my friend Whitney and her 2-year-old daughter, Pearson. Avery adores Pearson (as she does most "big kids") and wears at least one of her hand-me-downs daily. We left the zoo too late to get home for lunch, so we got to eat at Avery's my favorite place. Chick-fil-a, y'all. Ahh, I could eat their chicken nuggets every single day. Sad, I know. I need a more sophisticated palate.

You probably can't see, but she was making fishy faces at the penguins.
The new Giants of the Savanna exhibit is super cool (but hot!). Avery wasn't terribly impressed with the giraffes.
She sure likes to "color" though! She loved the kids area.
Pearson is a zookeeper in training!
We found her animal of choice. The donkey. Go figure. She would not leave that fence. So we stayed there. Forever.
Pearson taking a dip in the kids' water area. Avery stripped down and enjoyed it, but Pearson had flair. So cute!
5. I'm excited for Matt to be home with us this weekend! Unfortunately, I'll be working at church for the majority of it. Whose idea was it to change Sunday School and Children's Church curriculum at the same time? Oh yeah, mine. Lesson learned. But I'm looking forward to Monday when teacher training is over and we're heading back to The Ballpark after a too-long hiatus. The Rangers better get back to their winning ways, especially since we're going to the Minnesota game with Twins fans!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Today's been a good day so far.

Before I forget to add it to the blog (thus forgetting for my "records" since I all but stopped updating her baby book), drumroll please, Avery is walking on her own initiative as of Tuesday. She's been cruising for forever it seems like, and she always wants to walk with us holding her hands, but this week she finally decided to head out on her own. It's so cute and wobbly, and of course we couldn't find our little video camera. We'll get some footage soon.

Little Miss was in a very good mood this morning. It's always a good sign when let's us know she's awake by yelling, "Book!" instead of just crying her little eyes out. So we read some all of her books this morning, all before breakfast.

We also took a trip over to the high school to have lunch with Matt and visit with some of the English teachers. I was pleasantly surprised to note that I wasn't even sad after seeing my room all, well, not my room anymore. (p.s. Beth, you did a GREAT job with it. I love it!) As stressed as I am right now with some stuff going on with my position at church, it was a nice reminder that it could be so much worse. Plus, it was good to say hi to everybody.

The day got even better when we got to eat lunch at Gimme Sugar with Matt and my two favorite English teachers, Sarah and Megan. Oh. my. goodness. I'd only had their cupcakes (which are to die for, btw), but their Minnie's sandwiches are super yummy.

Plus, Avery fell asleep in the car within 2 minutes of dropping Matt off at school, and she even stayed asleep when I dragged her out of her carseat, put her in bed, and took off her shoes.

I think somebody was a little tired.

Other fun things about today: Gap Groupon for 50% off, my new Cricut is being delivered today, and Matt is totally finished with the deck!

Happy Thursday!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

T-minus 1 day...

...until I'm officially a stay-at-home-mom.

I know we're doing the right thing, and I'm so beyond words excited to spend every day with my sweet Avery, but I can't help feeling really, um, nervous? anxious? worried? about what's about to go down. I mean, I'm responsible for her education, entertainment, and general well-being from sunrise to sunset without a break. (Wait, that's motherhood, you say?)

Summer's different. Matt's home, there's tons to see and do, and it's just, well, summer. But Tuesday. Tuesday is when we get down to business. Babies thrive under a routine (and let's face it, so do I), and while we've had some semblance of order this summer, it's not quite the same. I need to get my butt in gear.

I'm up to the challenge, but, as is true in all areas of my life, I fear the f-word.

No, not that f-word. Get your mind out of the gutter.


Yikes, I said it. What if I'm not good enough? What if all I have in the kitchen for breakfast one morning is chocolate cake? What if I'm so behind on laundry that we have to go to the grocery store in our pajamas? What if Avery isn't reading, coloring between the lines, speaking Spanish, or saving the world before the age of 2? I jest, but it's so easy to get caught up in the comparisons to other kids and even other moms.

I'm not Supermom. I probably never will be. The trick, I believe, is going to be remembering that all those other moms aren't either. Not that I need to be comparing myself to them anyway.

This blog post said it better than I could, "I have the exact qualities God knew my kids would need in a mother. So, each day I hold up my willingness and ask God to make me the best version of me I can be."

I love that. 

And I love that I'm supposed to be inadequate. If I were able to do it all on my own, I would have no need for the saving grace of the One who owns it all.

So here's to the next chapter. I'll fail as a mother, wife, daughter, and friend. Don't expect me to have it all together. I won't. But each day I'll "hold up my willingness and ask God to make me the best version of me I can be."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Five

1. I'm technically writing this on Thursday night, but Friday's only about half an hour away. Matt's slaving away outside, and I'm trying to stay awake so he's not jealous that I'm comfy cozy and sound asleep in bed while he's drenched in sweat and dog drool.

Why is he in that state, you ask? He's prepping our yard for the deck he's starting TOMORROW! Oh I can't wait. My Uncle Dennis is coming over to help him with the foundation base tomorrow, and Matt thinks he can be done with the whole thing by the weekend. He's a super-hard worker, so I believe him! I'll post pictures when it's finished.

2. When I was growing up, I loved Beverly Cleary's Ramona books. Loved them. My little sister did, too. So my mom took us to see Ramona and Beezus Thursday, and oh my goodness, it was so surprisingly great! Yes, it's a little kid movie, but I laughed so hard I cried. Parts of it were so sweet that I just cried in those, too. I'm a mess. But mess withstanding, you really should see it. At least add it to your Netflix queue. I'll be adding it to my DVD collection for Avery to watch when she's older. After she's read the books, of course. :)

3. Speaking of Avery, she's smack dab in the middle of baby bedtime bootcamp. Since she was born we've rocked her to sleep and then gently placed her (fast asleep) in her crib, where she sleeps the rest of the night. She's always been a good sleeper, and we just weren't comfortable letting her "cry it out" (not judging anyone else's methodology here, just explaining where we are/were), so rocking her and spending that extra time snuggling was the right choice for us.

However. Now that she's extra-aware of her surroundings and all the fun that is to be had in the world, it's getting harder and harder and taking longer and longer to get her to that sleepy place. Enter bootcamp. The method probably has a more accurate name because I sure didn't come up with it, but I don't know it. Sorry. I read an article in a parenting magazine, and my cousin's wife, Allison, recommended it as well. Anyway, it's the deal where you do your bedtime routine (i.e. bath, bottle, book, bed) and then when the baby is almost asleep (but not all the way), you lay them in their crib. When they wake up (which they usually do), you just talk/sing to them while staying right by the crib until they fall asleep. You do that for 3 days then on the fourth day you move halfway across the room and repeat. Then 3 days after that you sit in the doorway. The principle is that the baby learns to fall asleep on her own.

We've completed day four, and so far so good. She falls asleep within 30 minutes, but it's been closer to 15-20. Bedtime has been a much more relaxing experience for all parties involved.

4. I love Ross and Marshall's. I'm not ashamed. One of my favorite recent purchases was these boots that Allison told me I had to buy lest she hate me forever. Okay maybe it wasn't that dramatic. I'm always ridiculously hesitant to conform to the latest trends (in this case, boots over the jeans), but then my hesitation eventually goes away so I end up a year behind everybody else fashion-wise. Oh well, at least I get said trends for cheaper, even if that does mean that I'm constantly out of style.

The other score was these baskets. I can't wait to sort through Avery's overflowing laundry-basket-turned-toy-box and condense her living room toy options to fit into some cute baskets that actually match the decor.

5. We loved our Thursday evening with the Carlos, Kendra, Nick, and Allison. Carlos and Kendra just moved to an apartment (unfortunately now 40 minutes away...), so we went to check out the place, devour some authentic Venezuelan fare (empanadas with wasakaka sauce), and play games. Minus the working status of the smoke detectors that Carlos inadvertently discovered, it was a very enjoyable way to spend one of the last nights of the summer.

And it is now technically Friday, which means I can officially publish this post. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Every year on the first Monday of August my family makes the eight-hour trek to a tiny Texas town called Skillman's Grove. Actually, I'm not sure it's even considered a town. Anyway, it's the site of Bloys Campmeeting, a 121-year-old tradition where, for one week out of the year, the 400+ tin cabins that make up the encampment come to life as the setting of countless new memories for the more than 4,000 people who gather from all over the country.

While my family wasn't part of that first meeting in 1870, my dad's been attending since he was young, and my siblings and I have gone our entire lives. I've only missed twice ever: once when I was too young to remember and the summer right after we got engaged (and I was miserable the entire week).

It's kind of a big deal.

The experience (for lack of a better term) is hard to put into words, so I'll give you a glimpse through the lens.

It is unbelievable how much you have to pack when you take a one-year-old camping. Hence the picture. Believe it.
Yes, our child is brilliant and is reading at 13 months. Haha, okay, so the book is upside down. She was entertained.
After being cooped up in a car for 10 hours (the aforementioned 8 is without a baby), the poor girl needed time to stretch and explore.
Part of that exploration meant that she would pick up every. single. leaf. and hand it to me while I said, "Thank you."
Usually the daily nap is one of my favorite things about campmeeting. This year, however, naptime was spent driving Avery through the mountains so she could sleep where it was cool and quiet: the car.
Still not walking on her own, but she'll walk back and forth between people. I guess she just needs the right motivation. :)
Having a nice chat with Grandma on the deck.
Aview of the cabin from the outside. Notice it's not enclosed. Good thing the temps get in the low 60s at night, and the highs during the day usually don't pass 90. Yes, it's August. Yes, it's Texas. Anyway, as far as I know, our cabin is the only one that's got the open-air concept; there are some fancy shmancy cabins out there, but come on, people. You're there for a week out of the entire year. Is it really worth it?
Avery's first meal at the cookshed. That is some good eatin' right there. Three heavy ranch meals a day, and I leave 7 pounds heavier. Think lots of beef, potatoes, biscuits (with gravy for breakfast!), beans, corn, and Pecos cantaloupe. 
Avery's new "trick": stopping multiple times during a meal to hug Daddy's arm. Priceless.
Chillin' with the cousins. Amy (left) is Avery's 2nd cousin (my cousin), and Riley (right) is Avery's fifth cousin. There were 26 people sharing the cabin this year (with two bathrooms and only one shower-- how's that for "roughing it?").
Always an audience. Hehe, Avery loved the attention though (imagine that)! We took her ducky bath instead of trying to brave the tiny shower with her.
See what I mean? She has an adoring public. She was a little lost when we got home and people weren't clamoring over her every second of the day.
Ah, time to read. This year I read Heart of the Matter, Emily Giffin's new book. One of my favorite parts (and there are many) about campmeeting is being able to get through a whole book (usually more) relatively quickly. Mindless chick reads are the best when you have all that free time...aaah. Who needs the beach?
Standing in line at the cookshed. There are two lines that form for the buffet-style service.
Avery got her first taste of hiking when we attempted to take her up the mountain. We didn't get very far. Fortunately, she was much more enjoyable on the way down. Unfortunately for Matt, he had to pretty much crawl through the trail to avoid the overhang from the trees.
Mmm, dirt. A healthy dose of iron is a staple of campmeeting.
We play lots a ridiculous amount of games during the week. Yahtzee's always a favorite, as are Grouch (aka Nertz), late-night Canasta, Moon, Settlers of Catan, and, this year, Things.
So Avery won't walk on her own, right? Well, the only problem is that she still wants to walk all the time. Thus requiring a willing party to be her crutch, lest a tantrum occur. Aunt Chelsea was the innocent victim this time. (p.s. Chelsea and my brother Aaron actually met at campmeeting years ago. They got married last summer.)
Aaron looks high here, but he was just mad that Matt and I beat him and Chelsea at Spades. I'm not competitive at all.
Ohmygoodness, how can you not love this precious face?!? Her second hike up the mountain was much more successful. She even sang "Amy...Amy...Amy..." all the way up. And down.
Traditional family picture at the cross (along the mountain trail).
Morning nap with Daddy in the tent. We've slept in a tent ever since we got married. As much as we love being close to everybody in the cabin, it's nice to have a place just a little bit separate. Especially with a baby.
Every year on Friday my dad checks camp attendance since he's on the grounds committee. I wonder where I got my love of lists...
So the chair in the foreground kinda ruins the picture, but here's a glimpse at part of the sleeping arrangements. Two full beds, a twin, and bunk beds in the main part of the cabin, plus a full-size futon and top bunk on the "porch." There's also a cabin addition (not pictured) that sleeps 7 (I think). Add some cots for the covered porches, and you can cram in more people that you'd think.
On the Friday after the annual camp-wide "talent" show, we take s'more fixins over to the cookshed for some marshmallow-y goodness. Yum.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Harp. Here's the outside of the tabernacle. There are four services a day, each alternating preachers from different denominations: Baptist, Methodist, Disciples of Christ, and Presbyterian.

It's an incomplete picture because you never really "get" campmeeting until you go, but here's something to go by in the meantime. Some of my very best memories are from this yearly tradition, and I'm so thankful that my kids will have some of those same experiences.