Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. Justin and I went to a Whitecaps game for our May date last Saturday. It was an abysmal game, but we enjoyed ice cream and people watching. The best part was the drunk guy two rows in front of us. He was already drunk when he arrived and kept hitting on two girls sitting directly in front of me. One of them was discreetly snapchatting him and sending pics to her friends with captions like "This guy is so annoying" and "such a creeper." Lol. He thought he was such hot stuff, and the girls were totally annoyed by him. Halfway through the game, he fell asleep sitting up. Being drunk looks like so much fun . . .

2. For Memorial Day, we spent a day at the cottage again. It wasn't the best weather, but that didn't deter Justin. He fished for three hours in the rain. Haha. We did have a little bit of sunshine. Lena adores riding in the kayak:

We actually went to the cottage on Sunday. On Monday, Niki and the boys came over and we spent the day stuffing our faces and playing games - pretty much my ideal day. We played Wizard, Spades, Scattegories, Telestrations, and Speed Scrabble (they gave me a handicap and I still won, thank you very much).

3. I'm starting to wonder if Lena could be color blind. She knows all of her colors except red and green. She can not tell them apart - or even identify them at all. It's the weirdest thing. I know color-blindness is much more common in boys and is usually hereditary. No one in our family is color blind. Maybe I should just be patient and she'll eventually figure it out.

4. Justin went camping with some friends this weekend. He left Thursday evening, so we filled up a few days with playdates. On Thursday my friend Becky came over with her kids. She finally moved home after 3 years in Pennsylvania, and  Lucy is so thrilled (as am I!). She has 3 kids with L names so they fit right in. :-) And we spent all day Friday at Kelly's house with more friends. I spent both evenings Justin was gone eating chocolate in bed and watching TV. The first night, I watched 6 episodes of Friends on Netflix. Glorious. Although we were all happy when Justin came home! (And now I'm sitting in bed next to him watching some horrible re-enactment about a guy who got trapped in a silo full of corn and almost died.)

5. Most of my reading time this week was spent on Lonesome Dove. I realized on Thursday that I only had 7 hours left before it would disappear from my Kindle (because I borrowed it from the library), so I powered through to finish it. And the reason this entry is so late is because I spent all day today reading Becky Wade's newest book A Love Like Ours. (Loved it.)

6. Ugh. This is another boring entry. I know everyone hates when I just recap my boring week. So here are some deep thoughts for you: That book I just finished is a perfect example of something I struggle with. In all my reading of inspirational fiction, I read this all the time: a character is angry and distant and carrying some kind of load. They eventually hit rock bottom and have a "come to Jesus" moment - which comes with an immediate "lightening" of their load. They experience a wash of peace, they feel their burdens being lifted from their shoulders, they feel the presence of Jesus. Now I know it's fiction. But it's written by actual Christians who know other Christians. Do people really have those moments? Is it just for hardened sinners who have dramatic conversions? I feel like there have been times in my life when I've hit "rock bottom," when I've cried out to Jesus. But I never feel my burden lifted or that wave of peace. Am I not hitting rock bottom enough? Am I not doing it right? Am I putting too much stock in emotions?

7. I've got nothing else. So here are a few pictures from my phone that never made it on facebook this week:

These are the kind of snapchats my sisters get on a regular basis. Lol.
She takes them herself and uses the "talk to text" function to write captions. (Look at those eyelashes!) 
We went to see my cousin Esther's new baby last week. Lena loooooved him . . .
Such a sweet picture . . .
And then there's Lucy:

Book #21: Lonesome Dove

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I decided to read a book that was a bestseller the year I was born. So I googled "Bestselling Books in 1985." This one was on every list and had rave reviews across the board - goodreads, amazon, etc. Multiple people said it was the best book they've ever read. I've never read a true Western, so I decided to take the plunge. I had no idea when I started that it's been made into a movie/TV miniseries. But everyone else I've mentioned it to is familiar with the show. I also wasn't aware how incredibly long the book is. 945 pages!

Maybe I shouldn't have gone into it with such high expectations, but I wasn't that impressed. I think it's just not my kind of book. It got so tedious at times. They're on this country-wide cattle drive and everything possible happens to them. Snake and bear attacks. Stampedes. Storms. Indians (that's when the book got particularly gruesome). And I'm pretty sure it referred to whores at least 500 times in the 945 pages. There was plenty of sex, although it was more crude than explicit.

It was kind of depressing. I hate how half the characters died. I told my mom, "I guess the book will end once all the characters are dead." And it felt unfinished (which hardly seems possible in such a long book). Things didn't wrap up as nicely as I like. I know there's a sequel, but I won't be reading it.

I started watching the mini-series on Netflix last night. It was actually kind of fun to watch after so recently reading the book. I was surprised how closely the movie stuck to the book. It had the same opening scene and some of the dialogue is word for word from the book. I've only watched the first episode, but I'm looking forward to watching the rest.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. I think Lena hit the terrible twos this week. She has been testing me at every chance she gets. And she is so ridiculously persistent. Every time I tell her no, she continues to beg and plead and cry "pleeeeeeeease" on and on and on. It's driving me crazy! I know I just need to be firm and consistent, but it is so exhausting. At least there are still these moments. She's my snuggler . . .

2. I forgot to mention that at Lucy's friend party last week, the kids were all playing upstairs being incredibly wild. They were screaming like banshees and running back and forth, and jumping all over the place. All of a sudden, they all started running downstairs shouting, "Lucy's puking!" And I realized then that my poor child has the Pitch Perfect Puking Syndrome. Anytime she gets excited, she pukes. We're going to have to strongly discourage a future in acapella singing . . .
Nik and I went to Pitch Perfect 2 last night. It was awesome. Loved it every bit as much as the first.

3. I had a startling thought this week: I met my husband in my Kindergarten class. My best friends to this day are the people I grew up with at school. The kids that Lucy starts school with in the fall could be her future husband/lifelong friends. Whoa. Of course, that isn't true for most people. I don't think either of my siblings (who were also lifers at our tiny Christian school) are very close with any of their classmates. But Justin and I are deplorable at making new friends, so we stuck with our old ones. Haha. And God blessed us with an amazing class. I better start praying that He blesses Lucy the same way. (Even though it's pretty unlikely we'll ever be able to afford to send her there K-12. Boo. Money.)

4. Speaking of school . . . I found a set of BOB books at the library this week and checked them out in the hopes that they might interest Lucy. I was shocked when she actually took to them! They're the basic, level two - just CVC words, so it's easy enough that she can read them without much trouble, which gives her confidence. She read a couple to me one day before her rest time, then I heard her reading them upstairs all by herself! It's so awesome to hear her reading!

5. I only read two books this week. (Although one of them was over 600 pages, so it should count as two. Haha.) Of Moths and Butterflies and 60 Acres and a Bride. I enjoyed them both, although the first could have benefited from some editing. No book needs to be 600 pages. (That said, the next one on my "to read" shelf is over 900 pages. Stay tuned to hear how that turns out.)

6. I came across a couple different pins on Pinterest this week that I wanted to share.

I really pinned the second one for the caption that came with it:
If love dwells in your home, there will be kindness and patience with other's faults. When we love others more than we love ourselves, kindness and patience are our natural response. We say "Please" and "Thank you," appreciating anything kind someone does for us. We don't demand our way but give way to others.
I've been thinking lately that one of the biggest things I want to impart to my girls is the importance of kindness. Few things make me angrier than when they're mean to each other. The verse I find myself quoting to them more than any other is "Be kind and compassionate to one another." [Side-note: I saw another Pinterest pin recently that emphasized the importance of quoting the whole verse ("Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Eph. 4:32) It's important that we don't just demand kindness for kindess' sake, but because Jesus showed the ultimate kindness. So I've been working on that.]  

I think kindness was also really important to my parents, because it's been drilled into me since I was little. And it's a characteristic I'm so glad was instilled in my siblings and me. I see so many families - even Christian families - that are so rude and nasty to each other. They're constantly getting in embarrassing facebook fights with each other and tearing down their relationships. My siblings, parents, and I always try to be genuinely kind to each other, and we have an incredible relationship as a result.

It goes beyond familial relationships, though. I try to be kind to everyone - cashiers, waiters, annoying people (ha), even people I can't stand. It is after all a fruit of the spirit. How's that for a segue into . . .

7. I started reading the "She Reads Truth" devotionals about the Fruit of the Spirit this week. Honestly, I didn't read all of them. But the last one touched on something I've been so confused about. The author says that we can't achieve these fruits on our own. We can't work hard to attain them or conjure them on our own effort. They grow as a result of abiding in Christ. That's the part I just can't wrap my head around. So often lately, I've been hearing, "You don't have to do anything. Just abide. Just be still. Just be present with Jesus." I don't understand. My natural bent is toward laziness. If I don't do something, then I'm going to do nothing. I'm going to read mindless fiction and watch frivolous TV and sleep and eat more than any one person should. It comes back to my eternal question: how do I cultivate a relationship with Jesus? Read my Bible and pray? Is that what it means to abide? Sit cross-legged and empty my mind of everything but Jesus? There still has to be some effort on my part. I still have to try to be kind and loving and patient and have a little self-control. Or can I just start stuffing my face full of donuts and say, "Not my fault. I'm just abiding and waiting for my self-control to kick in."?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book #20: Enchantment [my first foray into fantasy/science fiction]

You guys are going to be so proud of me. I stepped outside of my box and read a genre I never would've previously considered. The library sticker labels this book "science fiction," but I'd really call it fantasy. Either way, it was incredibly different than what I usually read.

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I just finished the book at 11:47 at night and Lena will be up in 6 hours, but I have to write this all down now while it's still swirling around in my brain.

Orson Scott Card is perhaps best known for Ender's Game. I've heard of it, even read the synopsis, but just didn't get the appeal. But then a friend who knows my reading style well insisted that I would like this version of Orson Scott Card, and I vowed to give it a try.

At first, I was not impressed. It was slow and confusing and written from the perspective of a 10 year old boy - not my cup of tea. But in the space of a few pages, he grows up and things become much more interesting.

It was an exciting story. Some of the time travel elements confused me, but then it would get into relationships and events that transcend genres and kept me flipping pages. There were times when I felt that I didn't like it. But I eventually realized it was just because it made me feel stupid. Haha. Seriously. I had to think while I read. It's not written in a difficult or archaic tone. I was actually surprised by some of the humor. But the subject matter can be confusing. It's science fiction. It doesn't make sense to my rational brain. I had to remember which rules don't apply in the fantasy kingdom, how they moved between present day and history, and of course, I felt like there was a constant symbolism that I wasn't quite grasping. I'm still not quite sure I totally grasp it.

Is the story meant to be an allegory? Is Card a Christian? The book was peppered with profanity and sexual inferences, but much of it was set in 900 A.D. when Christianity was spreading like crazy throughout the world and accepted as truth most of the time. So the book is full of references to God and Jesus and the Bible.

But . . . there are other gods - immortals. And a heavy presence of witchcraft and magic. At times, it felt Narnia-esque. There was a witch in Narnia, but she represented evil/the Devil. Unfortunately, my pathetic little brain can't quite grasp if the witch in this book is supposed to represent evil and the "good" witchcraft is supposed to represent Christians . . . and the power of the Holy Spirit . . . in a kind of twisted way?

The moral of the story is this: I'm too dumb to really understand the symbolism, but I appreciated the story. That said, it has not convinced me to jump headlong into science fiction/fantasy. I don't like thinking that much . . .

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Saturday 7

Did y'all miss me last Saturday? I was too exhausted after a weekend of birthday parties to type up a blog entry. I'm sure you were all devastated. That should mean I have two weeks' worth of excitement to share, right? Ha. We'll see . . .

1. Last Saturday was our annual day at the lake. Justin's parents have friends who own a cottage on Cowden Lake. Every year Justin, his dad, and brother help put the dock in and they repay us with a day of relaxation and dinner. It was a beautiful sunny day, and while I thought the lake was quite freezing, Lucy loved it and jumped right in without hesitation!

Lena took a good nap, Justin's parents entertained Lucy, Justin got to spend the afternoon fishing, and I got to sit in the sun and read a book. It was glorious!

2. Before we left for the cottage, we were at home getting ready. Justin and Lucy were in the kitchen, and I was changing Lena's diaper in the living room, when everything started to shake. It was a subtle shake, but enough to rattle the dishes. I thought it was just a semi-truck going by, but when I looked outside, there was no truck. Justin said, "What was that?" and I jokingly replied, "earthquake." We later found out it really was an earthquake! This is old news, obviously, but I need to record it here. Apparently we got an earthquake that actually registered on the Richter scale. If that doesn't mean the end times are upon us, I don't know what does . . . (kidding. calm yourselves.)

3. I actually haven't done much reading over the past two weeks. I was crazy busy getting things ready for all Lucy's parties, Lucy's been sick, and new episodes of one of my favorite shows (Royal Pains) just came out on Netflix. I read The Outlaw Takes a Bride at the cottage, and the sequels to that Janet Evanovich book I liked so much (The Chase and The Job). I liked them both and hope she continues to add to the series.

4. Last Friday, Justin took Lucy on a birthday date. I used to do the same thing with my dad when I was a kid and I love that Justin is starting this tradition with Lucy. She was so excited.

They went to a movie and gave me time to wrap all her presents. I let Lena help me and then realized that she's getting too old and smart to see everything. I bought Lucy new My Little Pony undies and Lena commented on them as I was wrapping. When Lucy got home that night, Lena said, "Mommy got you new undies!" Haha. Fortunately, Lucy just thought she was spouting gibberish and didn't think anything of it.

5. Saturday kicked off birthday weekend. We had Lucy's friend party that evening. I read an article a few days ago about a mom who lets her son plan his own birthday party. She gives him a budget and lets him choose the food, activities, etc. After a couple years of doing it, she came to the conclusion that kids don't care about Pinterest-worthy parties. I really tried to embrace that idea this year as well. Lucy told me a month ago that she wanted a "My Little Pony" party. I started searching for ideas on Pinterest and was overwhelmed by the options. Eventually, I decided just to keep it simple - for the sake of my sanity as much as my budget. We just invite our closest friends. We see these people all the time. They know us. They don't care if our water bottles have cutesy labels on them. And Lucy doesn't either. So I took her to Party City with $20 and let her pick out a few decorations. I printed out my own "food labels" by giving fun names to normal, easy food. (Rainbow Dash Jell-O, Pinky Pie pink lemonade, Apple Jack apple sauce cups)
Recipe for a super-easy fun rainbow colored Jell-o. You only layer 3 colors, but when light shines through, it looks like 5!
We did buy a pinata which doubled our $20 decoration budget, but then I didn't have to think up a game or activity. And the kids loved it. Who wouldn't love hitting something until candy falls out??

The candy doubled as the goody bag, so I didn't have to buy cheap toys that are going to get broken/lost in a day or two anyway. Oh, and the cake? I couldn't bring myself to spend $20 on a cake from the bakery. I let Lucy pick out a box mix, we made it together, and then I let her decorate it herself. She loved it.

Lucy and her friends had a blast, and I didn't break the bank. Win/win!

6. Sunday was Mothers' Day. Lucy slept 'til 9:30 and woke up sick as a dog. But Lena ran to me, shouting "Happy Mothers' Day!" when I woke up. Justin made me breakfast in bed, and then we were off for another day of partying. Lucy stayed home from church with Justin (who also had a bad cold all week and was feeling like death), but I came back to pick her up (and found her sleeping again!) to go to the VanderKoddes'. We celebrated Mothers' Day and Lucy's birthday with them. (Although Lucy laid on the couch moaning most of the time.) Then we came home, all had a nice long nap, and had our family over that evening to celebrate Mothers' Day and my brother Luke's birthday.

7. Monday was Lucy's actual birthday. She was still sick and miserable. Her stomach hurt and she was lethargic and weak. She would lay on the couch for an hour, sit up and say, "I feel good as long as I lay down, but as soon as I stand up, I feel sick again." Poor kid. My family came over again that night to celebrate her, and she opened her presents lying on the floor.
Not her best birthday ever. Haha.
She finally started to perk up by Thursday. She started to eat (and keep her food down) and get off the couch for more than 10 minutes at a time. She's made a full recovery now and is back to herself.

So that was a pretty boring recap of the past two weeks. I'm sure you've seen most of it on facebook already, but I record these things more for myself than anyone, so I'm sorry to disappoint. Have a great week, and hopefully next week I'll have more thoughtful, witty writing material.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Lucy's 5 Year Interview

We've done this for the past few years. I love to see the answers she comes up with. This year, I had to work to get anything out of her. She mostly just said, "I don't know."

What do you and Mommy do together?
Play, read

What do you and Daddy do together?
Do the same thing, except we be a little more wild than Mommy does

What makes you happy?
I don’t know

What is something scary?

What are you really good at?
Seeing [??]

Who is your best friend?
Abby, Jackson, Presley

Who’s the prettiest person you know?
Me [lol]

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A scientist, mom, or doctor

What do you think about before you fall asleep?
I don’t know


Lavender and white

Junie B. Jones



Macaroni and cheese

Popcorn (the kernel kind that we pop in the microwave)

Favorite drink

TV Show
My Little Pony

I don’t know

I guess it’s Pingu . . . [giggles] . . . a penguin!

The Sleepytime Song from Psalty

Probably . . . party days

I don’t know

Breakfast Food
I don’t know

The party store or Grandma’s store

Where’s your favorite place to go?
Niki’s house . . . well apartment, right now . . . her house used to be my favorite place in the world

What’s your favorite story in the Bible?
I can’t tell – I like Michael and Emily (from a book we read from the real Bible story during church)

Favorite way to wear your hair
Down or in a braid

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. I was looking at my blog stats this week to see what my most viewed posts are. The second-most-viewed is my stomach picture. It has over 1,000 views! How does it get so many? Are y'all sharing it or something? Is it on Pinterest? I did a search on Pinterest for the title/my blog name and didn't find anything. I'm puzzled.

2. Good news! Lucy got into Kindergarten! I forgot to tell you about her social readiness test last week. It was such a fail. She did exactly what I was worried she'd do. She was totally fine until we walked in the door and they asked her to take off her coat. She completely refused. I dragged her into the classroom where they had name tags with the kids' names on them. The teacher asked her to find her name and Lucy fell in a heap on the floor. I tried to tell her it was just for a couple hours and she'd have fun and make new friends and all the other dumb things you tell kids, but she wouldn't get off the floor. I finally told her I had to go to the parents' meeting and left her on the floor despairing that they'd ever accept her. When I went back to pick her up 2 hours later, she still had her coat on, but she also had a folder full of completed crafts and coloring pages. The teacher said she warmed up and participated, so that gave me hope. On Tuesday, we got the word that she was accepted into kindergarten! Woohoo! We got to see her evaluation form. She tested at 61 months for almost everything. Whew. My lack of homeschooling the past few months hasn't totally ruined her.

3. I'm still concerned about her social skills, though. Yesterday, we went to my friend Kristy's house. I see Kristy about twice a year and usually we meet at a restaurant for moms' night, so Lucy doesn't know her or her kids. We were there from 10-1 and Lucy spent the first two hours completely glued to me. The only reason she eventually got off my lap is because Kristy turned on Doc McStuffins and made her macaroni. Ugh. How is this kid ever going to survive school?

4. I had bad luck with books this week. I started and abandoned 3 books in one day! I almost never give up on books without finishing them, but these were really bad. I did read one good one: The Heist by Janet Evanovich. And in my quest to try books by popular authors, I tried a Nora Roberts novel: Unfinished Business. Blech. Too much sex, not enough storyline. I need there to be more of a plot than "will they get together?" because we know that they will. I also checked out a physical book from the library this week, but Lena was playing with it and seems to have misplaced it. I have no clue where it went . . . Oh boy. Another reason to stick to Kindle reading. Haha.

5. I had a rough Thursday again this week. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, the girls were being particularly belligerent, and I was so done. I begged God to help me get through the day, to change my attitude, to give me an idea of something we could do. A few minutes later I realized it was a sunny spring Thursday, which means . . . . garage sales! I did a craigslist search and found a neighborhood sale, texted Kelly to join us, and headed on down to Rockford. I didn't actually buy that much, but it was a beautiful day, and my depression melted away like a snowman in summer. (Haha. I couldn't resist.) The one thing I bought was a $12 bookshelf. I'm in love with it and have already packed it to the gills with books.

6. Speaking of books . . . I hosted an online Usborne books party last night. I was introduced to Usborne a few years ago, and they have largely contributed to my need for more bookshelves. Haha. Last night, I was browsing through the catalog, and laughed out loud at the cover page:

My party is open through tonight, so I'm going to share some of my favorites with you and entice you to check it out for yourselves. :-)

I'm planning on getting this one for Lucy:
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The sticker books are one of my favorite Usborne products. Lucy absolutely loves them and will spend hours dressing up the characters. This is the "fashion design" edition, so she can decorate the clothes herself before she puts them on the girls. She's going to love it.

I'm also getting this one to save for Christmas. It'll be a good activity for both of my girls for our Advent countdown. (I'm buying 2. They don't share that well.)
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They have a huge selection of non-fiction and phonics books that would be great for homeschooling. I'm getting this one because it's a combined volume, so you get more for your money. :-)
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I'm also getting this one to hopefully start alleviating some of Lucy's school anxiety:
This is the "mini" version, so it's only $1.99! 
Here is the shopping link if you wanna check it out yourself. The party closes tonight, so don't procrastinate! :-)

7. As has become custom, my last point is a silly picture from this week. One day, I was making dinner and happened to look out the window to the front porch. This is what greeted me:
I'm watching you . . .
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