Today is my 14th wedding anniversary! Not necessarily a milestone number, but we have learned to take every year seriously. We kind of see our marriage in 3 parts: 1 - the stage when we had tons of time and availability for each other, but took each other for granted and wasted times arguing about petty, petty things. 2 - The stage where we fell in love with each other in our new roles as parents. It was fun to be on the same team, but it was definitely new to have issues like sleep deprivation and discipline work its way into our everyday tango. 3 - the stage where we have seen heartbreak in the form of death, divorce, and disease and it plays a role in our marriage every day. We try to really enjoy each other and our life together. It's not a perfect marriage, but we make sure that we are a priority to each other every day. And that is really difficult with 3 kids.
I'm sure there are many more stages to come (parenting teens is right around the corner - YIKES!), but we are so blessed to have each other. I am truly married to my best friend. We are currently attending a marriage class through our church and Tuesday night we had to each list what our biggest hope, dream, and fear was to each other. I was not surprised at all to see that our biggest hopes were exactly the same. To raise our children to have a relationship with Christ and to send them on their way so that we can enjoy our time with each other. As much as I love my children (which is a lot), I love their dad even more. We don't want to rush through these years with our kids, but we really are looking forward to one day enjoying the years of just him and me again.
We celebrated the night by going out to eat and buying a new shredder. Woo Hoo! We are ROMANTICS, I tell you.
Today was sad. I attended the services for sweet little Tucker last night and this morning. The services were beautiful and a complete celebration of his short life. His parents are such a testimony to the love of Christ. I am linking to his mother Amy's blog post where she shared in her own words what happened to Tucker and how God is working through their grief. Please keep Nathan and Amy and their families in your prayers.
My husband and I spent the day together going to a new local museum, Crystal Bridges.
This was built by the Walton family and it is entirely free. The building is beautiful and a work of art itself. The art is fun to look at and the restaurant, Eleven, is first class. I wish I would have thought to take a picture of our lunch, but this is a pic of the restaurant itself. It truly is beautiful!
This piece was one of my favorites. It depicts the famous Lord's Supper painting, but it constructed upside down using only spools of thread. Each row is suspended individually (you can barely see this in the picture) and you can't really see this painting until you step far back. Amazing!
This one was another favorite just because we thought this bust (made entirely of silicone!) looks just like my husband in about 30 years.
We had a great date-day and if you live in the area you should go check out the museum while it is still free!
Today was a great day:
breakfast with the family at a local joint
made St. Patrick's day necklaces with the girls
caught up on my magazine reading and Top Chef
caught up on laundry
enjoyed a movie with the whole family (the Lorax - don't ask for a review, not my favorite)
had a big laugh watching the kids play Top Chef out in the yard - there were some very unique "meals" created
Yes, my girls are wearing matching shirts. It was a standoff to see who would change clothes, and I guess they are both pretty stubborn. The 11 year old was mortified. And yes, my boy is holding a tub of popcorn almost as big as himself.
It really was the perfect kind of weekend day with nothing but fun on the agenda!
Lately I have splurged on a little new makeup and I have 2 new absolute favorites. Pricey? Yes! Aren't the best things always more expensive? Sigh...
Nars blush and bronzer duo. I've heard great things about this product and they are all true! It is by far the softest, longest lasting, most natural blush I have ever used.
This one is Urban Decay's Naked eyeshadow palette. I saw this on another girl's blog and picked it up at our local Ulta store. Now I am slightly obsessed with watching YouTube tutorials on "how to do a smoky eye" or "how to apply an everyday look using NAKED" or "eyeliner: tight lining vs. water lining". Yes, it's kind of an obsession. Before I realize it, an hour has gone by and I've done nothing but watch the same girl apply her makeup 6 different ways. YouTube is great, right? Pinterest too. You can type in a hairstyle, (messy up-do anyone?) or (perfect ponytail with volume?) and you are instantly connected to hundreds of websites and videos showing you how to have the best natural curls and volume using only a toothbrush and a can of hairspray. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating about the toothbrush. But I'm just warning you, be careful because you can really lose a few good hours of your life. Not that I would know... As for me? I'm staying far away from Sephora and Ulta for a while! And YouTube....and Pinterest. Well, probably not Pinterest. :)
Well, the month of February was all about skipping dates here on the "joyful" blog. We were either busy, or not busy and boring, or maybe just not all that joyful. The middle to end of February brought some devastating events to people we love.
One of our favorite teachers and people has been battling lymphoma for a couple of years and received the news on Valentine's Day that she is out of treatment options. They have given her 6 months to live. She has a daughter in high school and another daughter getting married in September. Her name is Jackie and she has shown nothing but amazing faith and courage. We pray for her every day.
A childhood friend of mine lost her grandfather in December. Then, very suddenly, she lost her father in January. And now in February, her grandmother has also passed away. The waves of grief her family is experiencing is relentless. We are especially praying for my friend's mother, Hope, who lost her mother, father and husband all within 3 months.
And then this weekend we celebrated a new marriage at a beautiful wedding for a family that is dear to us in so many ways. The star of the show by far was the sweet little 15 month old Tucker. So full of joy and life and dancing up a storm. Tuesday night, Tucker met Jesus face to face. We are so broken hearted for their family. Tucker's parents are Nathan and Amy and they need prayers for the days ahead for them. I simply cannot imagine what they are going through.
The good news is that we serve a risen Savior, not one who is still in the tomb. Which means we grieve and pray with a hope and a promise that God is in control of all situations. We know that this world is only our temporary home and we are promised one day to live in a place where there will be no more sadness, no more death and disease. A place where we will be reunited with grandparents, mothers, fathers, and yes, even our babies. A place where there is no sadness, only joy everlasting. Hallelujah, praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Being originally from the awesome city of New Orleans, Mardi Gras is a celebration that is near and dear to my heart. I grew up having a week off school for Mardi Gras, not spring break. We had king cake Fridays in my class from January through Mardi Gras. If you got the piece with the baby, your mom had to bring the class king cake for the next Friday. I grew up going to all of the fun family parades (yes, there is such a thing as family friendly Mardi Gras) and even had the opportunity to be in a parade one year. We were on a Sesame Street float with my cousin and uncle. My cousin and I were Bert and Ernie and we were in charge of throwing the beads and goodies to everyone. Fun times.
My girls have been to Mardi Gras once, but they were much younger and I am not sure they remember much of it. I would love to take them again. Every February my mom and my aunt work together to send us a little treat from New Orleans - a Randazzo king cake! It's the real deal - no Walmart imitation - and people wait in lines at the bakery just to buy one. My kids love fighting over the piece with the baby and the whole thing is usually gone in a day!
I take a lot of pictures of my son sleeping. I just love his eyelashes. They are to die for and as a girl, I am a wee bit jealous. I also have an 8 year old who loves to do cartwheels. Nonstop. Probably 100's a day. I'm always telling her, be careful, watch your feet. And then one day little brother walked into the path of a cartwheel. Her heel came down on his eye, pulled the eyelid down, cutting it and pulling out almost all of his upper eyelashes. There is nothing like the sight of your child running to you holding his eye with blood on his face. Eyeballs kind of gross me out. Thankfully, the cut was minor. But the lashes! Oh my, my heart breaks every time I look at him. I know, it's not a big deal. They will grow back and all will be fine. But I've been in love with those eyelashes since the doctor put him in my arms almost 4 years ago. I can't help it if I miss them! Anyone know what the growth cycle is for eyelashes?
I am a drinker. I always feel like I need a drink in the car with me, a drink on the table beside me, I like the feel of a cup in my hand. Of course, not alcoholic drinks, but just about anything else, really. A quick list of my favorites:
Coffee (including anything and everything from Starbucks)
Unsweet Tea (cold and hot)
Diet Dr. Pepper
Do you see what is not on that list? Water. Yuck and yuck. I wish I was a water drinker, but I just feel like it's missing something. Calories can add up really fast when you drink them and I try to stay away from too much caffeine, so I came up with another option. A pomegranate spritzer.
I just love this drink and must have it stocked at all times now. Crushed ice, sparkling water (any kind) and a splash or two of pure pomegranate juice. Low calorie, no caffeine, tart, and good for me too!
Tonight at our Wednesday night church activities, the 5th graders had the opportunity to climb on our rock wall that is normally reserved for the older students. MJ is extremely afraid of heights. She has attempted this wall many times before, but her fear just takes over. Tonight I was so proud to see her get back up and try again. I saw the look in her eyes and knew she wanted to escape and be anywhere but in front of her friends facing that wall. Everyone encouraged her and even though she only made it 1/3 of the way up, she still made her mom proud. We all have fears, but I was glad to see that her fear did not immobilize her, cause her to sit on the couch up against the wall. She is so brave and I wish I was more like her. A lot of days, I think the times when our children teach US are my most favorite parenting moments.
I made it through my first month of daily blogging! I can't say it has been anything life changing, but I have been forced to stop during my day and think, "this is a fun moment, this is experiencing joy" and make a note of it for a post. There are so many everyday moments that I want to remember, so I am so quite pleased to have accomplished the first month! Now on to February - the month of love! Here's a quick pick of my sweethearts from a local pizza joint on a quick night out. Don't they have the sweetest smiles?
Today was a rare day when the organizing bug hit in full force. A year or so ago, I read an article about Jamie Lee Curtis in a magazine and her organizing system. I don't practice her methods to the extremes like she does, but I was already doing a lot of similar things like removing items from their packaging when they come home from the grocery store. A few years ago I started buying the nice BPA free plastic storage containers for bulk items. These are not cheap, so I would just purchase a few here and there. My next step was to store items in Mason jars or glass containers. I love that you can see items like nuts and tea bags without seeing the branding and packaging instead.
My pantry is one of my favorite parts of my kitchen. However, it's usually always a mess. So today I tackled organizing it by category and getting rid of the excess. Even if it won't last this way for long, I love the result! Even the kids were amazed, so I'll say it was worth the time investment!
Pinterest is a great thing. It stimulates the creative and inspiring parts of my brain. But there always comes a point where you have to step away from the computer and actually make something that you saw on Pinterest. I have made a wreath, some crafts for the kids, and countless recipes. They have mostly been tasty and well received by the family. Until today.
Like everyone else in January, we are trying to eat healthier and be a little more weight conscious around here. So when I saw this brownie concoction on Pinterest, I went straight to the pantry to test it out.
Here are the ingredients:
That's it. A box of brownie mix and black beans. You actually puree the black beans and use them as a substitute for the eggs and oil in the recipe, eliminating the saturated fat and adding fiber. They smelled good. They looked good. They tasted HORRIBLE. I said nothing when the kids came home, but it didn't take them long to find the plate of special brownies. They were too nice to call them horrible, but they did tell me they were dry and kind of like cardboard. You should have seen their faces when they found out they had beans in them! I wish I had video taped it. (Yes, I'm a child of the 80's, I will always use the phrase video taped.) Just goes to show you that you can't always believe the Pinterest recipes, even when they state - best no fat brownies EVER! Who else has a bad Pinterest experience? I can't be the only one!
I apologize in advance - this is a picture heavy post. I forced myself to leave my iPhone and it's fun Instagram app at home and take my real camera to the park with the kids and I'm so glad I did! The weather has been perfect and it made for some great pics of the kids.
She is such a great big sister. Always willing to help out and show her little brother the ropes.
Is there anything cuter than watching a 3 year old boy navigate a playground? No fear, only determination and speed. It's probably the only time he ignores his mom and wants to be on his own. He did stop long enough to tell me to stop taking pictures of him. Sigh.
Sparkles is all about the swings and flying high. It's the reason she loves cartwheels and round-offs and why she's working so hard on a back hand spring. She loves to feel like she's flying.
One handsome dad. Enough said.
Sweet sisters that are not too old for the park. Not yet.
We have a new amphitheater in our town that over looks the city. At the right time of day, it is beautiful!
This picture is one of my all time favorites. I love the strong arms of my husband. I love the little hand of my baby. I love the purple stamps all over his hand (and his room, and his face, and his tummy. But that's a post for a different day) and his blond hair in the sun light. I pray they will always be close and they will have years of making memories together just like this.