A List, a List, My Kingdom for a List

Okay, I don't really know that that means, but it sounded good at the time.

Because my brain is jumbled and I don't believe I can compose a coherent post, I shall resort to my faithful friend, yet still red headed stepchild, the list.

* After one week of school our house was besieged by the plague just in time for the weekend. Not that we had any plans, but then we really didn't have any plans.

* Except for Scott who went to a fantasy football draft Saturday night after magically rebounding from his bout with the plague (fever, chills, general malaise) that began Thursday.

* Currently, I remain plague free.

*Annelise is on the mend (I think) thanks to Children's Motrin, chicken noodle soup, and movie marathons from the comfort of the couch. Since she still had fever this morning, she'll stay home from school Monday, you know, the whole no fever for 24 hour rule. We shall try to be good rule followers.

*One good thing that has come from Plague Weekend is I've had ample time to delve deeper into Here Be Dragons. Oh my goodness, it's slap your Mama good. I'll save my ravings until I finish, because I think they will be full post worthy, but if you are between books and like historical fiction I say you should get your hot little hands on Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman, pronto. Snap. Snap.

*Another good thing is I finished a project three, count them THREE days, before it was due. Stop the world.

*We found a few more items for Annelise's SW/JTA party and the invitations are in the works. Well, not right at this minute because I'm typing this, but you get the idea. Scott is also planning to stalk the Lowe's freight area before 7:00 am tomorrow to hopefully get large appliance boxes for essential Jedi training activities. Fingers crossed.

*I discovered a white noise app for Pinky (my pet name for my iPhone) and have decided it's the coolest thing evAH. Except last night I had the beach waves a wee bit too loud and thought I might get swept away. Must adjust.

Gotta dash...we may finally be having a visit from the tooth fairy tonight!!


Five for Friday

1. We made it through our first full week of Kindergarten. Annelise loves her class, her teacher, the routine, her homework, all of it. I'm so thankful. She goes into class with a smile on her face and is bursting with stories to tell when I pick her up in the afternoon. Again, I am thankful. Yesterday though she got her clothespin moved to yellow (a warning) for talking, and was quick to tell me as soon as she got in the car (along with a report on the boy and girl that got moved to orange). We talked about it and she said she's going to try really hard not to do it again. Fingers crossed.

2. We are settling into a semblance of a routine in the mornings and evenings. Mornings still seem rushed, some are better than others, but we haven't been late to school so that is progress. Annelise and I have been finishing up her scripture loops, reading one each morning before school. She's learning to look them up in the Bible with some help, which is good, and even said she'd like to make some more loops to keep this little routine going. That made me happy! It's not quite the devotional I had imagined in my mind, but it works for now. In the evenings before bed we've been reading from the Bible and the devotional book we bought a couple of weeks ago so that's been really nice as well.

3. One thing (among many) I've felt guilty about is not planning and preparing more (okay, any) meals at home. For the last several weeks we ate out almost every night. Not only was it expensive, it made for later bed times, so I knew that could not continue once school started. Over the weekend I got myself together, planned meals and wrote out a grocery list. I know. Monday after I dropped Annelise off at school I went straight to HEB so I couldn't/wouldn't talk myself out of it. I felt so much more at peace having a stocked refrigerator and pantry, and felt much more purposeful preparing meals for my family. Or letting my Crock Pot prepare meals for my family, whatever. Thanks to a tweet on Twitter, I discovered a month's worth of Crock Pot recipes. I made slow cooked pork chops Monday (from that site) along with Paula's Mashed Potatoes, green peas and Paula's Peach Cobbler. Annelise thought it was Thanksgiving. We've also had this tasty chicken stroganoff and comforting chili. We even had leftovers one night without complaining. Good thing I've started exercising again, right?

I hope this newly rediscovered trend of mine, you know, cooking, continues and we limit our eating out to only once a week or on the weekends. Now that time together seems so much more segmented by school, it's been so nice to have intentional evenings at home, supper around our table, with a little free time left for playing or bike rides before bedtime.

4. I seem to have found myself in a bit of a reading slump. I know! I started Here Be Dragons earlier this week and have barely gotten myself into it. I haven't gotten hooked yet, but I can tell I will like it, especially once I get used to all the Welsh dialogue and characters. It's 700+ pages, which is rather daunting and quite a time commitment, so wish me luck.

5. I am torn between being scared and excited about Annelise's upcoming birthday party. She decided she wants a Star Wars themed party so we are going to try and pull off a Jedi Training Academy. In two weeks. Should I run for the hills now? Thanks to Tip Junkie and Makes & Takes and this overwhelming site, I came up with a list almost three pages long of possible ideas. I then proceeded to drive Scott crazy by talking about the ideas, the games, the favors, the guest list, and the invitations until he begged for mercy. Or silence. What can I say? I tend to obsess about certain things. We have managed to come up with a rough timeline/agenda for the party and have started to gather supplies. How about a pat on the back for two deeply ingrained fly by the seat of our pants procrastinators? Thank you.

Now I'm stressed by the fact that once I finish the invitations and mail them out, then it's a sealed deal. Set in stone. No turning back. (Well, unless a hurricane hits again, which I don't think Annelise will tolerate two years in a row.) A large number of children will be descending upon our home, ready to be trained as Jedi Knights and entertained for two hours. I am also stressed about our game/activity timeline. The way it is now, after all the games and training tasks, we have the last fifteen minutes to open presents, ooh & ahh over each one in a calm, appreciative manner, record the gift and giver, sing Happy Birthday and dive into cake and ice cream. I don't think that's gonna fly.

Are you sure I can't run for the hills?

How is your school routine coming together? Do you love your Crock Pot as much as I love mine? Do you think we can pull off a successful Jedi Training Academy in two weeks and within 2 hours?


Taking Myself to the Woodshed

I don't know if you've noticed, or if you even care, but I used to talk about running. You know, from time to time.

And then I stopped.

The running and the talking about it.

There have been small resurgences here and there, but with huge gaps in between. Sigh. I'll spare you the whiny excuses, because really, don't you hear enough whining already?

I will toot my own horn a bit to tell you that this week I laced up my running shoes and managed to get in three weekday runs along with four P90X workouts. (TOOT TOOT!)

Let's just relish that a while, shall we? Thankseversomuch.

I still haven't signed up for a marathon, so I don't really know what I'm running for, but I am running. Again. And doing P90X. Again. I'm trying to get back into the groove and make time for exercise. Again. Yes, it's hard to get up early to run, but only for a few days, then it's not so bad.

One thing that I've allowed to be a hindrance is juggling the exercising with the showering/hair drying/flat-ironing/getting myself together thing. I hate fixin' myself up more than once a day, especially the hair do, so it works best if I get my run on/P90X thing done in the morning. This morning I got my run done early then took Annelise to school still in ick mode, though I did blow dry my sweaty hair and spray Bath & Body Sea Cotton body spray, then came home to do Yoga X. So, um...yeah, I try to juggle my exercise around my beauty routine as best I can.

This week I've been happier and have felt slightly more productive. Running is my mood stabilizer.

I'm glad to have it back.


Selective Listening to the Rescue

Today was day 4 of Kindergarten and I pretended not to hear Annelise this morning when she said she did not need me to walk her to her classroom. Thank goodness she did not say, "I don't want you to ..." that would have really hurt.

And yet. Still.

Her surprise exertions of independence, while normal and a sign of confidence, maturity, self-reliance, blah, blah, BLAH, have the ability to cut me to the quick and squish my heart like a bug.

Hence my coping mechanism of fake deafness. How long can I get away with that?

I am trying to adjust to the huge chasm of emptiness and quiet while she is at school. I feel a little on edge, antsy. Like I need, should, MUST be doing something productive and useful but I'm not quite sure what that is. Yet.

Yesterday I grocery shopped and as I grabbed the HEB reusable bags I realized that climbing over the seats is Annelise's job (not that I climbed over the seats to get them, I just lifted the hatch, not as fun but...) and that I had to tackle HEB alone. Yes, it was a little easier and a little faster, but I still missed her.

I feel like I am compensating for my emotions over this new-life-stage-change-thingie by cooking and baking and doing laundry. There's only so much baking you can do (Paula Deen's peach cobbler last night and maybe cookies this afternoon) before you see the effects and laundry ebbs and flows every few days. Then what do I do? I don't want to be a shopper or be an errand runner to fill the time. There's exercise to do and creative things to work on. I also have other projects and a birthday party to plan.

And yet. Still.

I feel antsy. Not quite myself.

Who IS this new self anyway, this self that has more than a handful of hours alone each day?

I don't know. Yet.



Today was our last day of summer, our last full day together before everything changes tomorrow with the big K.

I did not want to do anything that we did not absolutely have to do, neither did Annelise.

So we didn't.

We had a lazy morning at home. We baked a cake (not for us). We played paper dolls. We read. We watched a movie. We printed out labels for her school stuff and scrounged in the cabinet for just the right water bottle. We baked brownies. We talked.

It was delightful.

Later we went to a nursing home in our area for their monthly birthday party which ladies from our church support. I've provided cakes, but Annelise and I had not helped serve the residents at the party before today.

What an honor to spend a little bit of time passing out bowls of cake and ice cream to these precious elderly folk while Frank Sinatra, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash tunes were played by a sweet two man band. Annelise was cautious at first, but soon warmed to chatting with them and sharing smiles, handshakes and hugs.

It was delightful.

She thought the cake was rather delightful as well.

"Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?"

Job 12:12


Blogging, Baking and Befriending {or when worlds collide}

In my 2 something or n'other years of blogging I have made several virtual friends. Bloggy friends, internet peeps, or whatever term you use, they are a type of friends. Real friends, even if you have not met face to face, it's a form of a relationship. They read your blog, you read their blog, you know their story and they know yours.

If you are like me, you might talk about your bloggy friends from time to time, either with your FIRL (friends in real life) or your spouse. Not like in an obsessed stalker kind of way, but in an occasional so and so is moving to ________, or so and so just started a ________, or so and so made/baked/tried/quilted/organized/repainted/found a___________, I wonder if I can do it too. If your spouse is anything like mine, he kind of rolls his eyes but he at least pretends to listen and tries to keep the stories and locales straight. Or maybe not. If you are like me, you hope to meet some (okay, maybe even ALL) of your bloggy friends in real life someday. Or maybe not.

Well, last week I had the chance to meet one. I did! I did!

In preparation for our meeting, I decided to try my hand at making what are known in some circles as blog brownies, otherwise known as mint brownies. I have read about these treats for years and this was the perfect reason to make them.

In honor of blog friend Kelly (Thister Thaster, but her blog is now private) I listened to Kink.FM while I had the recipe up on my computer, courtesy of Patsy (uber mom) and her friends.

As I measured, poured and stirred I thought about these women and their stories.

I also thought about meeting more bloggy friends someday. And making more mint brownies (they are truly divine).

Oh. I bet you want to know just who I was making this particular batch of mint brownies for. Now that for at the end is glaring at me, taunting me. For whom I was baking the mint brownies just sounds so stuffy and all nose in the air. Eh, grammar, you tease.

Some of you might know Anne (her blog is private, sorry). She is hip, young, a marathon runner and recently ENGAGED. She also just moved from the DC area to Houston. Brave, brave girl, that's what she is. We exchanged a few emails and hammered out a time to get together for supper. Now if you don't already think I'm a weirdo for talking and thinking about my bloggy friends, this might seal the deal. I was kind of nervous to call her. I know. What on earth? But I did, and she was delightful. Then once we made plans I was kind of nervous to meet her. I know. What on earth? I hope this next confession doesn't push you right over the edge, but in an odd way I felt like I was going on a date. I know. What on earth? Like, what should I wear, what will we talk about, what will she think, what if...and so forth. I know. What. on. earth.

Guess what? We met (she is ADORABLE). We talked. We laughed. We talked some more. We ate Tex-Mex. We laughed. We talked some more. We ate a mint brownie. It was delightful.

What on earth was I worried about? Seriously.

Now, my head is hung in complete shame because you have surely noticed by now that I took pictures of the baking process and the mint brownies*, but NOT OF OUR ACTUAL NOT-A-DATE DATE.

I know. What on earth?

*This oversight is in no way a suggestion that mint brownies are more important than meeting fellow bloggers, especially Anne. I think we were so caught up in the talking and the eating, photo documentation slipped my mind. I know. What on earth? Sorry.

** Also, because obviously I can not talk enough about the mint brownies, I learned that these treats have the capability of knocking out Scott's highly tolerant sweet tooth. I know. What on earth? He declared them too sweet. I did not find that a problem at all. One more thing, mint brownies are, like revenge, best served cold.


I Can't Believe SHE Wore THAT {Volume 1}

The she is me. And this is my story.

In an effort to try and stay somewhat fashion forward even at my advanced age, I attempted the Maxi dress. First, I must say I'm not quite sure why it's called Maxi except possibly for the large amounts of material that go into them. Most are floor length and quite roomy. There are halter versions, spaghetti strap versions and {gasp} even strapless versions.

I must admit I was drawn to all the colors and styles when I encountered the display down at the TarJay. Bright, festive, comfy. The low price tag was a plus too. These dresses seem to be quite popular this summer with people wearing them out and about and as swimsuit cover ups at the pool. I've seen people wear them by themselves, with a tank underneath (or even a T shirt which is cute but comes dangerously close to the jumpers I sported in 1995) or with a denim jacket (which I would do if I wasn't concerned about passing out from heat stroke).

I went for the layered approach with a black tank and a short lightweight sweater. So, without further ado I present the result...

I know, just call me Mrs. Roper. Here's another view...

This dress had a small tie at the waist which gave an illusion of shape (most are more mu-mu-esque) and was very comfortable. I felt kind of hip and trendy (two teen girls at church gave me the once over, I hope I met with their approval), yet the sheer volume of the dress combined with the horizontal stripes might not have worked in my favor after all.

What do you think? Is a Maxi dress my friend or foe? What would Stacy and Clinton say? Have you tried one yet?


SatSummary {no, not a part of the orange family}

We got ourselves together earlier than usual for a Saturday morning and went to a family seminar at church. I had to snap a photo on my way to the car of our outrageous crepe myrtle bursting with pink goodness. She's a rather proud tree.

After the seminar and a hot dog/frito pie lunch (that would haunt me later) we dropped Annelise off at Pappo and Grandma's house (WHOOP) and went on a date (Double WHOOP). We went to a matinee showing of (500) Days of Summer. Um, could it have BEEN any cuter or quirkier? Nope. Pardon my Chandler Bingness. Scott even liked it.

We followed the movie with a trip to our new local yogurt bar, Sprinkles. Apparently these places are all the rage. You select your flavors, your toppings and pay by the ounce. You are then encouraged to stay and read, play games, socialize...you know, just hang. Scott and I both did a neopolitan-esque cup, except I chose Key Lime (delightful and refreshing) instead of vanilla. It was DEE-lish.

I had an itchin' to go to the mall without a little person, so I talked Scott into it. He was a good sport. I wanted to try out a new-to-me perfume, Chance by Chanel. I liked it okay, but I fell back in love with Coco Mademoiselle which I used to wear several years ago. What can I say, I am creature of habit.

On the way out of Macy's, this display scared me something awful.

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you, those are stirrup pants. I almost cried. They were right next to big shirts and lots of plaid. Who makes these fashion decisions? We need to talk.
Moving right along. By now we were ready for supper so we went to Pei Wei. Are you sitting down? Good. We had never been there. I know. What is wrong with us? Well, we both liked it tremendously and will definitely be going back. Here I am diving into Lemon Pepper Chicken. Yum!

Rounding out our delightful date was a trip to Lifeway and Barnes & Noble. Movies, food and books: the big three. At Lifeway we found one of the books recommended during the family seminar along with a family devotional book. I know I've said this before about wanting to have regular--even daily--family devotional time, ideally in the morning. I've said it, I've wished it, I've felt disappointed/guilty about not doing it...well, now I'm saying it AGAIN. And this time we ARE really going to do it. So, please hold me accountable, okay? Thanks!
We also got Annelise a couple of books for starting Kindergarten later this week. I'll hide them until Thursday (and hopefully remember to dig them out).

Take a gander at how Annelise came home this morning, it cracked me up.

Her nightgown and sneakers. I forgot to send her dress for church. Ooops!
What's the latest movie you've seen? Have you smelled Coco Mademoiselle or Chanel Chance? What's your position on stirrup pants? What's your favorite meal at Pei Wei?


Loops of Love

Although I've known about it all summer, felt it's presence looming on the horizon for a long time, it still managed to sneak up on me anyway.

The day my precious child leaves home for a significant portion of the day, wearing a backpack and clutching a lunch.


For the past several days we've been getting ready with the physical stuff, the uniforms, the lunch box, the new shoes. Errands here and there taking up time, precious time. She's been asking lots of questions and we've been talking more about what to expect in Kindergarten. In her own way she is sharing her fears and uncertainties, seeking my reassurance. She was thrilled to receive a postcard from her teacher earlier this week, I was thrilled to read in the parent letter that her teacher is praying for Annelise and the entire class. My heart was comforted.

In an effort to create even more enthusiasm (if that's possible) Annelise and I made a paper chain to count down the days until Kindergarten blast-off. In an effort to increase our time in God's word I wrote a scripture on each strip of paper. Scriptures that I hope will ease any anxiety she (we) might be having and remind her (us) that God's word is most important.

Needless to say she LOVED gluing the strips together, taking time to choose the next color ever so carefully. Bless her little picky heart.

She also seems to be excited about tearing off a new link each day AND looking the scripture up in the Bible together. Bless her little enthusiastic heart.

Bless her heart. Please, Lord.



A Phone, Skates and Toilets

And John Hughes, because my title vaguely reminds me of The Breakfast Club tag line about a brain, an athlete, a basketcase, a princess and a criminal.

It's one of my favorite John Hughes' films (Don't You Forget About Me was our senior song, um...not so sure it worked), but really how can you pick just one? Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Plains, Trains and Automobiles, Home Alone. Ever since I heard about his death, I've had the urge to pull out as many of his movies (VHS tapes) that we have, pretend I am Molly for a while and celebrate the 80s. I haven't done it yet, but I might. Soon. Wanna join me?

I wouldn't mind celebrating the 80s a little, like in the privacy of my home, but I wouldn't want to re-live them. Would you? The hairspray alone would be a threat to our budget. When I was in the mall a few weeks ago I was painfully surprised to see such a homage to one of our more embarrassing decades. Leggings. Long, baggy shirts. Copious amounts of plaid. There may have been a scrunchie. My innards clenched. What's going on folks? The 80s are over fashion people, please, PUHlease don't bring them back, I'm begging you.

Moving right along. Look what Scott brought home Friday evening...

Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to do a self-portrait showing the front of it. My brain just doesn't work that way. Is it possible? Anyway, can you figure out what it is? That's right my friends, it's an iPhone!!! Oh my, it's fun and overwhelming at the same time. And could become addictive. I've only added a few apps, one of my faves being Pandora for music (you create your own radio stations). I'm trying not to become obsessed with my new toy. Balance and moderation, balance and moderation...

Last night we went to our local roller rink, although they call it a SK8 center now. Whatever. It's the same place where I skated my awkward pre-adolescence away oh so many years ago. Though they may have painted it, moved a few things around and installed some bouncy play things, it's the basically the same.

Bless my granddaddy, Archie, for taking me and sometimes a little friend of mine too, on summer afternoons and waiting patiently for us to skate our little hearts out. He and my grandmother, Sue, gave me my absolute favorite pair of skates. Blue tennis shoe skates with yellow stripes, yellow laces and jumbo yellow wheels. Sigh. They were so cool, therefore I was too. Ahem. I soon outgrew those and the afternoon skating sessions, moving on to Junior High, Jordache jeans with a comb in my pocket and being dropped off with friends for skate nights. Sigh. Good times.

Here we are before we hit the rink.

This was Annelise's third time to skate, and she had been talking about it almost non-stop for 2 days. She. was. excited. I think she expected to hit the rink rolling and gracefully glide off into the sunset.

That was not to be.

Scott and I soon found ourselves with our noodle-legged-daughter-on-wheels in the coned off beginner area. She didn't want to be there, she wanted to be in the thick of all the kids zooming around the big circle. She tried, she fell, she tried again. And again.

We only lasted about an hour. Annelise declared it the worst evening ever. We kept trying to boost her spirits by saying how much better she was doing at the end than at the start, and it just takes practice, yada, yada...she wasn't buying it. Oh well. I guess she has also changed her mind about wanting to have a rollerskating birthday party. Mock rats.

What's this orange blur you see?

That would be me during a backward skate. Yessiree, I've still got the moves. Until they changed it to backward backward skate. Yikes!

Ah yes, toilets. I'm reading Something Missing which is about a well intentioned thief with OCD tendencies. He only steals things he believes his clients (his word) wouldn't notice or miss, their extras. In the middle of stealing a few ibuprofen tablets he accidentally knocks the lady's toothbrush into the toilet. The OCD horror. And thus the story takes off. But it got me to thinking, am I cleaning my toilets thoroughly? Probably not up to OCD standards, but I think they are okay. Regular (usually weekly) bowl scrubbing with Lysol toilet bowl cleaner & brush, regular wipe downs with Clorox wipes (I keep a container in each bathroom cabinet) and occasional wipe downs with Clorox cleaner with bleach.

So, I bring my concerns to you, my dear bloggy friends, is this good enough? Or am I one step away from a nasty gas station bathroom? How often and with what method do you clean your toilets? Just curious. Okay, nosy.

EDITED TO ADD: (because I didn't ramble enough the first time) In the story, Martin (the OCD thief) blames the toothbrush incident on the homeowners for not keeping their toilet lids down. So of course I thought, hmm...we leave ours up, is that just asking for trouble? I don't know. We've always left the lid up so everything is ready to go, no waiting. And we don't have furry toilet lid covers. Why do people use those anyway? What possesses people to want to decorate their toilet lids? No offense, if you do, of course. It's a free toilet society, do what you want.

So in summary:

What is your favorite John Hughes film? If you have an iPhone, what apps are your rave faves? Do you still roller skate? and let's not forget to share your toilet cleaning tips as well. Thanks ever so much.


Sunday Snippets

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen."

Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV

Last weekend during our girlfriend getaway we were blessed to study God's word together, the focus being this passage from Ephesians and the concept of God's measureless love for us. Some of the points have been churning around in my mind and heart all week, so I thought I would share a few of them.

Who am I trying to measure up to? Who am I trying to measure up for? Who am I trying to measure God by?

The concept of measuring up to others really hit home to me. I don't know why I'm 40 years old and still struggling with comparing myself to other women (real life friends/people and those in media/advertising). I mainly do this in a physical way (hello, insecure much?) and also in a personality/character/spiritual way (again with the insecurity). Sometimes it can motivate me to change or try harder at something, but often it feeds my insecurities and leads to jealousy. Not good.

More thoughts...

The more filled up with Jesus I am, the less I will seek other ways to fill the emptiness.
The devil seeks a stronghold through our insecurities and our emptiness, steals our effectiveness.
All excess is rooted in emptiness. (Ouch!) Our culture has forgotten moderation. (Ouch again!)
If we are so filled with other stuff it's hard to be filled with the Spirit. We must continually empty ourselves and ask to be filled with the Spirit--filled to overflowing.

My prayer is that I will identify areas of excess (some are blatant, some are sneaky) and change my behaviors; that I will stop measuring myself against others (big one) and that I will empty myself out daily so that there is more room for Jesus. I want to grasp how wide, how long, how deep and how wide God's love for me is. I want to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

How about you, any thoughts?


Maria Sharapova Better Watch Her Back

Where on earth can you get THIS sweaty and have THIS much fun at 7:30 in the morning?

Tennis camp of course!

Plenty of skills, drills, relays, games and prizes make the morning pass lickety-split. And the sweat go drippety-drop.

Lots of individual attention to help get your forehand just right.



Wait! I've got a mosquito bite that needs attention.

Perfecting a killer backhand.

Learning all the secrets of serving and then,

giving it your best try.

Don't forget to take plenty of water breaks!

I think their red, sweaty,but still smiley faces say it best,

"Coach Pat's tennis camp ROCKED!!"

This sweaty fun courtesy of Coach Pat's awesome tennis camp, a week of 6:30 am wake-up calls, unforgiving sun, heat and humidity, hundreds of tennis balls and a Barbie tennis racket (there was no talking her out of it once she saw it, its saving grace was the fact it was an actual brand, Head, not just Mattel).

Game. Set. Match.


Girlfriend Getaway {the CHUNK Edition}

I was more than...

to pack up my bag (can you guess which one is mine?)...

and head north with my girlfriends (except we were really missing Lacie!!) last weekend. Not that we really need an excuse to get together, but our reason this time was to celebrate our birthdays in one fell swoop. No gifts were exchanged, just the gift of time together sharing laughter, God's word, and cheesecake. Priceless!

Friday afternoon we hit this place first. Have you been?

I hadn't been before and look at my reaction... (besides my horrible posture, I look like I'm one step away from a Boniva commercial).

It's the hugest warehouse store filled beyond comprehension with cheap handbags, jewelry, accessories, oh...and hair (yes, I couldn't resist trying some on). We ended up spending close to THREE hours there, can you believe it? We all found a few pieces of jewelry that we could not live without, most of it rather large and chunky, therefore CHUNK became our word of the weekend (more on that soon). Go chunk or go home.

After fortifying ourselves with coffee and checking into our hotel, we ventured back out to the Market Street shops. Many of them were pure eye candy since the prices were well above our budgets, yet still entertaining and enjoyable. My jaw dropped when we entered Maggie's which was a total high-end frou frou shop, but highly pleasing to the eyes. Isn't this bed divine?

I could see our cats lounging in high style, can't you? Then my jaw dropped again when I saw all the mirrors, apothecary jars and glass domes on display. SO pretty. But I wouldn't want to dust all that.

We browsed and drooled through the shops for a while longer, then made our way over to the mall. I know. It was delightful to browse without a time limit, no little people and no husbands perfecting the art of sighing and checking their watches not too discreetly over in the corner. Not that mine does that or anything. I went inside an Anthropologie for the first time. I know, where have I been? Loved everything, drooled a lot, wondered who actually buys things there ($$ cha-CHING).

Supper was a delicious chopped salad at The Cheesecake Factory and of course, cheesecake. Three of us were fully prepared to order four slices of cheesecake and then eat it buffet style, one of us spoke with reason and moderation and convinced us two slices would be more than plenty. Turns out, she was right.

Back at the hotel, we got in our jammies and did our first bible study lesson. There were three lessons in all based on Ephesians 3 and the theme of God's Measureless Love. We were reminded to give a CHUNK of our time filling ourselves up with God's word and memorizing a CHUNK of scripture at a time. Sadly, since it was past midnight when we started, I was sitting on a comfy bed and I was in my jammies, I fell asleep halfway through the first lesson! Whoops! I have some homework to do. Saturday morning we slept in, got ready at our leisure, then completed the second lesson before checking out of our hotel. A perfect morning!

Lunch was at La Madeleine (we had a rule that we couldn't eat at a restaurant that we normally have access to, but La Madeleine received a waiver because we love it madly). Here we are, Heather, Robyn...

Kim and of course, moi, showing off our new CHUNK-y jewelry.

One of the silliest and most hilarious things we did was to get fitted for new, ahem, brassieres (seriously, that is a silly word) at two different stores (one was a shop in the mall and one was a high end shop on Market Street, we were seeking a Nordstrom, to no avail). If you can't do something like this with your best girlfriends, then who CAN you do it with? I'm sure the sales ladies thought we were off our meds and out on a day pass. What can I say? We know how to YUK it up. Here is evidence of our adventure,

(for some reason I don't have a picture of me with a bra on my head, sorry).

After all that, it was time for a refueling of iced coffees and frapps. Divine. We tried to do the last lesson both inside and on the patio of Starbucks but it was too noisy and too stinkin' hot. We took advantage of Borders' A/C and casual hang-out policy and Heather set up her laptop on one of their tables and we were in business. Later they asked us to move so we wouldn't block the aisle, but overall they didn't mind us doing a bible study in one of their corners. Cool.

We finished off our fabulous weekend with supper at, you guessed it, The Cheesecake Factory. Again. It was crowded, and we were hungry, so when faced with the choice of a 45 minute wait or to sit immediately on the patio, we chose the patio. Things were just peachy until the inebriated guy behind us, barely six feet away, um...barfed. Nice. Remember though, this was the weekend of the CHUNK, right? Yep. Our coolicious waiter, Tom, hooked us up with a table inside in a jiffy, so it was all good. And we got to enjoy the A/C after all. And two more slices of cheesecake. Can you guess what flavor one them was?

Snicker Bar CHUNK cheesecake. For several reasons.


Oh My Goodness I Actually Finished Something {Cue Fireworks & Band}

After reigniting my scrapbooking flame recently, I am pleased as punch to report that I finished the Maine vacation album. The one long overdue, you know from 2007. Ta-da!

It's an 8x8 album, which is one of my favorite sizes to work with. They are perfect for one theme or event, easy for the littles to hold and enjoy and seem easier to actually finish. If you watch for sales at Hobby Lobby (or use a coupon) this size won't pinch your pocket too much either.

A drawback to this size is not being able to fit very many pictures on each page. Using this size layout more and more has forced me to choose only the best pictures and to be creative with my cropping. I usually crop an inch or so off each picture, use my large paper punches on my photos or only put one (maaaaybe two) uncropped photo on a page.

Another thing I like to do is use a repeated pattern of simple embellishments. For this album (honestly though, I do it all the time) I used my circle punches to make circles from coordinating papers that I dotted around the pages here and there. Fast, cheap and easy!

Sometimes I will type up my journaling and print it out, I do think that is a nice touch. However, I believe leaving a record of our actual handwriting is more important. Our written words, no matter if we think our handwriting is too messy, too slanted or not perfect, will be much more meaningful to our families.

Remember, and say it with me, "It does NOT have to be perfect to be beautiful."

For this album I either wrote on a piece of white card stock and used my spiral punch (above) to add a little flair, or I wrote directly on the layout itself (below). It's okay to do that. Really. Pinky swear.

Whenever we take a trip I pack a small spiral in my bag so I can journal our experiences while they are still fresh. If you have been a faithful reader of my blog, and have plodded through my rather long winded posts, you know I have a lot to say. This little spiral has been to Maine, Washington DC (I counted a whopping 13 pages front and back for that one) and Disney World, with room left over for more memories. It helps me get my words out when I'm away and therefore helps stop my brain from exploding. Scott also appreciates the fact I write things down, not just for memories but to give him a break too. I'm nice that way.

At the end of the album, along with a map of the local area on one side, I made a pocket for extra pictures, postcards, ephemera and the Maine pages (hahaha--get it, huh, get it??) from my trusty spiral.

Though it took me a while to get into the groove, I'm tickled pink to be finished. Annelise was excited to look back through and talk about our trip again. Since we don't get to visit Uncle Dan and Aunt Jerry very often, I hope this little album keeps our Maine memories fresh.

Now I that I'm on a roll...watch out. Well, maybe.

If you scrapbook, what is your favorite album size? What's your favorite tip or trick to make the process easier/faster? Do you take notes or save ephemera (yes, that's my word of the day) on your travels and use them in your albums later?
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