Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Blogoversary!

They say it's my blogoversary!
Na na na na na!

Happy Blogoversary to me!
Na na na na na!

Today I'm celebrating FIVE years of blogged bliss. Won't you celebrate with me?

Because I love you, because it's snowing, because the dial up at my parents will only allow me time for two pictures, I'm having a giveaway!

This giveaway will be open for one week, until 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday, March 2nd. To enter:

1. Leave a comment! I want to know who you are and how long you've been reading!
2. Click on some of the links in my sidebar and find yourself a new blog to enjoy! There are so many good ones out there worth reading. Come back and leave a second comment telling me who you checked out.

The winning comment (selected at random) will get to choose the handmade gift of their choosing, thereby resurrecting one of my abandoned hobbies. :)

I'll make you either:

a set of handmade stationery (15 cards plus envelopes), in the colors of your choosing, or;

a hand knit scarf, again in the color of your choosing! Yeah!
(It's a full-length scarf, soft and cozy, in an interesting pattern)

Thanks for being such faithful readers. Now I find out who you are!

*Lucky for you I'm in Oregon where my mom has handmade items for your viewing pleasure. The scarf model is yours truly, clad in sweats, unshowered, as is my modus operandi when hibernating at my parents' house. xoxo

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I just returned from a quick trip to Oregon, where I was spending some time with this sweet lady, my paternal grandmother, aka Grandma Evie:

Grandma passed away this morning, quietly and in her sleep. I was there most of the day yesterday and she rested quietly and peacefully nearly the whole day. She was awake and responsive at one point, in which the home health aide asked if she was in any pain, and she clearly shook her head no.

Grandma was in every way the quintessential matriarch of my dad's side of the family. She was raised on a farm, married my grandpa at 18 and then raised three boys. Any mama of three boys has to be a tough cookie (especially if you know my dad and his brothers!) :) I'm sure they gave her a run for her money on their best days.

My grandma wanted to die at home, surrounded by her family, and that is exactly what happened. She was never without a loved one by her side from the moment she decided to stop chemotherapy and start palliative care. Grandpa, her husband of over 60 years was always there, plus a son, daughter-in-law or grandkid.

Seeing the love and dignity she was shown, witnessing the gentle care of my family as they bent over her bed, caressed her hair, kissed her cheek--the sum of these things was enough to fill my heart with such joy and gladness. To know that she was allowed to die at peace, with her loved ones, solidifies my own desires to go that way, if possible. It also showed me just how natural and normal it all is. I'd happily take care of any one of my family members just like that, should they choose this way.

I walked around her house and captured a couple photographs while visiting. She had this large tub of hummingbird syrup in the fridge. I will always remember her love for hummingbirds and the constant hum and movement outside their back window where the feeder hung from the roof. The fact that this is an old peanut butter jar, written on more than once in permanent marker, shows you just what a practical lady she was, not throwing the jar away but using it for months and months in other capacities.

Above is a list she wrote this week, groceries needed, as well as some notes at the bottom about a meal she'd prepared and placed in the freezer ahead of time. Always the caretaker, always thinking ahead, she practically refused help as long as she was up and around, making meals, freezing others, checking in on her next door neighbor, watching out for Grandpa and also his frail older sister, my Aunt Norma.

We will miss her affectionate hugs, all but demanded from her beloved great-grandchildren at each family gathering. We'll remember her delicious homemade pies that were a constant fixture at family dinners, even this past Christmas when she was worn out from chemo. We'll remember her at work in the garden, gloves dirty, legs tanned. We'll remember a house filled with roses, fresh veggies and fruit in the drawer, oreos in the cupboard. We'll remember her no-nonsense advice on matters of grooming (Don't touch those eyebrows! They're perfect!) and sibling relationships (Boys will be boys! Don't let it get to you!)

We will miss her love for golf, her passion for her family, and the love she provided all of us from the time we were born well into adulthood.

Love you Grandma Evie!

my funny valentines

I love Valentine's Day. Not in a mushy, buy into the commercialism way, but in my own glad-to-have-such-love-in-my-life way. We started our day with special pancakes. Heart shaped for the boys, with strawberries and whipping cream, and a girl for Maddie, as requested:

My kids ALWAYS ask for pancakes and then proceed to eat the strawberries and whipping cream. Can't say I blame them!

Valentine's Day gives me excuse to break out my crafty side and indulge in some chandelier hangy-celebratory things (sure you've seen these before):

I loved my body by getting a chiropractic adjustment and then we enjoyed a little love day play date at Blackhawk (until Mama wimped out. It was cold!)

When we returned, a neighbor had dropped off some delicious mini cupcakes, enjoyed thoroughly by the kiddos after lunch:

Post-nap, Maddie made valentines for many loved ones, including a hand-written note for Grammy and Papa and this big red heart for her BFF Nicole:

Mama joined in and made a valentine for Daddy:

And wrapped up some goodies for the kiddos (I use minor holidays as an excuse to update our bookshelves with some new reads):

And the kiddos helped me make Daddy's favorite: rice krispy treats! We mixed it up a little this time by doing chocolate and regular treats, with a little heart cut-out:

And my valentine gave me a most unexpected gift of my own:

Beautiful, right? And totally unexpected. He picked out a blue topaz because he loves the way I look in blue. What a romantic, this one. Smooch!

Our sweet friend Rita watched our kids so we grabbed a delicious tasting menu at Stomp and even watched The King's Speech up at Blackhawk! A real, live date night!

Happy Valentine's to all my beloved readers!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Maddie: 49 Months

Dear Punky Boo,

So you are now officially four years and one month. You are full of personality, spunk, energy, love and creativity. You are kind, generous, conscientious, inquisitive and persistent. Each day you remind us a little of ourselves, some Daddy, some Mama, but usually we are just impressed with how unique and wonderfully made you are.

It is with joy that we watch you grow and mature into a little girl. You are so grown up! One morning you took it upon yourself to get breakfast for Sam. After staying in bed a few extra minutes I came downstairs to find you had taken all the necessary steps to make a bowl of cereal, from obtaining the bowl and spoon to retrieving the cereal (from a high cupboard) and milk (from the top shelf in the fridge). You then proceeded to pour both cereal and milk into the bowl without spilling. Amazing.

You are quite the little Mama. Just this week I was upstairs engaged in housework when I asked you to run and check on Sam and come back with a report. You returned in a few minutes, breathless from running up the stairs, and remarked that you had found him outside, where he was turning on the BBQ. "So I put him in a ten-minute time out," you said to me, and then turned and yelled down the stairs to Sam, "and if you move from that spot I'll make it seven minutes more!!" Hmm. Wonder where you got that?!

Your imagination is wild and endlessly creative. You enjoy playing princesses and babies, building castles and cakes, dressing up and having tea parties. Though you constantly create and make believe, you are also fact-checking which things are true and which are pretend. Such as when we met Cinderella at Kate's birthday party: "She's not actually Cinderella, Mama. She is a nice lady who dresses up and makes little girls happy."

Last week you took your first communion with Daddy in "big church." Since that day you've been playing Last Supper with your little brother. One morning this week we could hardly contain our laughter when we heard you say with intent, "This is Christ's body, Sam, broken for you; now EAT IT!!!!" Poor guy didn't know what was coming when that "bread" was pushed with ferocious intensity in his face.

It is so fun to take you to the playground because you are so strong, capable and brave. You love to try new things and will practice until you've mastered it, calling me over to see your "cool new trick." You love to swing and hang from bars, run all around, climb up high, and especially to make friends. I hardly see you at the park anymore because your first objective is to make a buddy, spending the rest of your time chasing, playing and enjoying each other.

It seems as though you never stop going, other than your mandatory rest time and when you sleep at night. You nap only a few days a week now, frequently forgoing sleep for quiet (or not so) playtime for an hour or so. One day this month you insisted that you weren't tired and shouldn't take a nap. I insisted you stay in your room and quietly play in order that I might get a rest. When I came back to take you downstairs to play, I found my tuckered out princess asleep in her chair, crown and fancy shoes still in their places.

You love to create. It seems like we pull out the art jar at least once every day. Last week you made books for your friends with pictures, letters, and complicated plots (verbal, that is). You made Sam a clown costume out of paper, colored paper plates, pom poms and tape. Your drawings are growing more and more complicated and colorful with delightful details like butterflies, flowers, sun, rain, and clouds. I can hardly decide which masterpieces to keep and which to recycle. All I know is that our gallery grows each day!

You are such a delight, sometimes frustrating, but most of the time absolutely lovable. I still am amazed that I get to be your Mama and to witness all the mystery and joy and creativity that is my Maddie girl. Love you so much, sweet thing. So glad you're my valentine.



Sunday, February 13, 2011

24 Hours in San Francisco

This past week, I was in the city four of five days. That fact alone is amazing. I am an early-to-bed stay at home mom with not much of a life beyond my family, house and local community. I am not a night owl or party animal, though I am up for an adventure. After spending one night in SF visiting our beloved PW, I ventured back (to the same part of the city, no less) for a training Thursday and Friday night and all of Saturday.

chandelier in the lobby at the opal

On a spur of the moment, with a babysitter all lined up for Friday night and Saturday, we decided to stay in the city overnight. We found a cute little hotel just a few blocks from the church that was hosting the event. And it was $79/night. Can't beat that!

tea leaf salad and samusa soup

Friday afternoon after dropping off the kiddos we headed to a Big Eat recommended restaurant called Burma Superstar. Oh my. Yum. We dined on tea leaf salad, samusa soup and pork and squash stew. Burmese cuisine is one of my new favorites. I can't even begin to describe how good the flavors were, but it it sort of a cross between thai and indian food. The salad was my favorite: romaine topped with fermented tea leaves, ground dried shrimp, peanuts, fried lentils, fried garlic chips, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and tomatoes. We'll definitely be going back!

In the afternoon we hooked up with some friends, old and new. We chatted it up through most of the hours until our second night of training. Soma, the group that put on the training, has been really formative in how we're doing ministry right now, specifically in how my sweet hubby wants to engage believers and nonbelievers in missional community. It was great to spend time with folks who feel like long-lost family, who just "get" it the way we do, and it was especially encouraging and inspiring to consider the ways God is calling us to do more for his glory.

philz is the bomb!

We may have visited a local joint to fill up on coffee and tea (the best we've tasted). One doesn't stay up past 11 three nights in a week without some chemical intervention. Just sayin'.

After a second night of awesome, awesome storytelling, we joined up with a bunch of guys at yet another delicious restaurant and broke bread together. Such a sweet time of celebration with our soma and lighthouse friends. Believe it or not, dear friends, we stayed at the restaurant until 12:30 A.M.!! And then we talked in bed until I eventually petered out, sometime after 1:30.

walking through the city in the early morning

You can well imagine that when our alarm sounded at 7 the same morning, our first stop would be someplace involving a steaming cup of tea and a hearty plate of eggs. Or english breakfast, fruit smoothie, and a mexicali frittata, to be exact.

Our buddies met up with us for the all-day training on gospel. So, so good. I don't think I'll ever tire of hearing what Jesus has done for me. And the fact that we got to experience this with some of our crazy, wonderful and unbelievable community, well, that's just the icing on the cake.

some of our crew on lunch break

About 3 that afternoon, we got a call about our little guy. Poor Sam, after sleeping 14 hours, woke up feverish. He shivered, vomited, and laid listless on the bed most of the day until his Tutu could take it no more and called us. Turns out his temperature was 105.6 and he hadn't talked or moved since 10 that morning. Needless to say, we hopped out of town early and headed to urgent care to meet up with our little fella.

Upon entering the exam room, my sweet baby acknowledged my presence and greeting with not much more than the slightest twitch of the corner of his mouth, the nearest a smile he could possibly muster. I lifted him into my arms and he settled onto my chest, not moving anything but his eyes which fluttered and drooped with exhaustion.

Within an hour, his temp had dropped to 102.4. He started moving more, playing with his feet, nodding (or moving his chin when nodding was just too much), eventually pointing to fish, vocalizing, and then signing for "hungry." We went straight to jamba juice.

Today the fever is way down, he's still a little clingy but laughing, talking, moving around and much more like himself. Praise the Lord!

Turns out that this adventurer ended up right back where she started, boy in arms, home at last. While the city has much to offer, this is where I am most at ease. Happy Sunday, friends!

Friday, February 11, 2011

10 on 10: February

10 on 10: 10 pictures on the 10th day of the month!
(Document a snapshot of your life and find beauty among the ordinary things in your day!)

7:30 Valentines ready to go!

8:30 Typical conversation in our house in the morning.
Mama: Put on your coat (sweater/sweatshirt). It's cold out there!
Maddie: (milling around, not really listening)
Mama: Don't forget your layer!
Maddie: Got it! (not putting it on)
Mama: Put it on! It's cold!
Maddie: (outside, holding sweater in hand, posing for picture, gives me this face) I'm sooo cold!

9:30 Mr. Rawr! at Sideboards joins Sam and Mama for a cup of tea

10:30 playdate with Barrett and Bridgette

11:30 Awesome post-preschool class play date and Valentine's party with Maddie's fun classmates and their Mamas

12:30 my homemade Valentine, courtesy of Maddie (wearing this like a Mama Badge Of Honor)

1:30 naptime with my friends the iPhone, comics, and pillow

2:30 Somebody sweet is up from his nap!

3:30 Afternoon sunshine and reading (with a bonus cuddle in the warm sun!)

4:30 cows on the hill near our home, driving back from picking up the sitter

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Pioneer Woman in SF

Last night Mel and I had the pleasure of attending The Pioneer Woman's book signing in San Francisco at Books, Inc. Fortunately Mel had called ahead to see when we should plan on arriving in order to get a good spot. They recommended 5:00 and we got there about 5:15. (We were such adventurers, we even rode in on BART).

We waltzed right up to the counter, purchased our books and picked up our handy-dandy bookmarks with our assigned letter group for signing. We entered the room where the talk would be held and were pleasantly surprised to see many unoccupied chairs. We picked two, dead center, only three rows back. Three rows back, from my most favorite blogger in all of the internet! Mel picked us up some caffeinated beverages from the attached Peet's Coffee and we were ready to rumble.

Here's Mel chatting it up with an Alamo gal while the room slowly fills. We were in group D, which means we were in the first 60-80 people to arrive. Eventually, according to Books, Inc. employees, 400 people showed up for the event. The temperature rose to over 80 sweltering degrees in the room, allowing me the pleasure of completely pitting out in my darling blouse. (Luckily for me, this is something Ree and I have in common: nervous intense perspiration. This could be a whole other post, but I digress.)

We grabbed a couple shots as we waited, patiently and with great jitters (thanks, Peet's, for a super glass of iced tea).

Our waiting was rewarded with not only the joy of meeting like-minded folks, bloggers and crafters and photographers (not to mention the line for the single-sex restroom in all of the store), but Ree Drummond herself, who arrived right on time with her posse in tow. We were introduced to her two daughters, Alex and Paige, her sister-in-law Missy, her niece Ally, and mother-in-law Nan (aka MMM, or Marlboro Man's Mama).

Pioneer Woman took the mic, confessed her nervousness and overperspiration, and started taking questions. She is as lovely, personable, delightful and funny in person as she is on her blog. She said that she loved book signings more than anything because it felt like meeting a bunch of old friends. (Good to know she feels about us the way I feel about her).

She entertained an entire room of 30-60 something (mostly) women with tales of cooking, blogging, parenting, homeschooling, keeping marriage alive, writing books and ranching. It was so, so fun. Mel and I are just thrilled that we could attend.

When they announced it was time for the D group to start lining up, we made our way to the back of the line, which quickly morphed into a large conglomeration of confused ladies, standing around, packed like sardines, hot, sweaty, and eager to meet Miss Ree. We didn't happen to glance at a clock to see how long we waited, but it was well worth it. Here I am, toes at the ready, next in line to have my books signed:

I joked with Ree about my nervous sweating and the fortunate choice to bring a cardigan which concealed the large wet rings. She laughed and was glad to know she isn't alone in this big world. We talked for a few minutes about San Francisco, blogging, and my determination to make it out to her lodge for a cooking demonstration. She assured me that next year she will be home for an extended period of time (no more visits to SF. Boo.) Ree acted like she had the entire evening to chat, like we were two old friends enjoying a cup of tea in her kitchen. So, so lovely and delightful.

Mel was next and offered to come to the ranch and give her kids soccer lessons. Ree informed Mel that her oldest daughter has her sights set on CU for college and Mel was beyond excited to know of another possible future Buff. They chatted about blogging and she signed Mel's books, one of which will be a giveaway on her blog, so be sure to head over there soon. (I considered sharing a book for a brief moment but decided to keep it for myself. Since most of my followers are my friends and family, I figured you can just borrow the books from me. Ha!)

Here they are! I read her love story in one day. It is a great, fun, romantic read. I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates a good love story, highlighted with food, life on the farm, disasters involving sweating and fashion, and good writing.

Thank you, Pioneer Woman, for a memorable night! Mel and I hope to see you soon at your lodge! :)