I've Lost My Head

I assume you know the song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

Well, it appears I left my head in San Antonio.

Or, more correctly, Annie left my head in San Antonio. (Although I don't blame her, seeing as I can barely keep track of my head most days, and it's attached to my neck.)

But it looks like I had a fun time before I was sucked into the vortex known as the Alamodome.

Look! It's me (and Teyla, naturally; I'm a nursing mama, so we're almost always attached) with Lisa The Preacher's Wife and Missy @ It's Almost Naptime, my fellow conspirator, evil twin-in-spirit and official head transporter.

Oh! And hey, look! I had Mexican with Sophie and Melanie.

And I got to meet Cindy @ Still His Girl.

Somehow, I even managed to end up about four feet from Beth Moore's shoe. ("Security! SECURITY!")

You better believe these shots are going in Teyla's baby book.

I'm pretty sure I have the coolest and funnest Internet friends in the whole stinkin' world.


It's midnight, and I'm still laughing.

What do you say I get really crazy and send my whole body next year?!?

We Interupt This Break with A Dirty Story

I'm half-way through my self-imposed two-week break, and I'm starting to get the shakes.

So I'm just popping in to get a quick hit share this story.

Last Friday, after a massive run to the grocery store, I stationed Teyla in the kitchen next to some toys so I could run down to the garage and load up with more bags than a bag lady at a Kroger convention.

(I just made that up off the top of my head. Could you tell?)

I returned to the kitchen, nigh 15 seconds later, to find my baby thusly.

Please note: That is not chocolate ringing her rosebud lips.

Are the troubling toddler years coming on faster than usual, or is it me?

Two Weeks

Two weeks. And then summer will be over.

The realization of that hit my stomach last night with a thud. It was a gut punch of shock.

“But, but, but….” my soul stammered. “I’m not ready! I haven’t relaxed. I haven’t really enjoyed my kids. I haven’t soaked up enough sun. It can’t happen yet.”

And it’s true. True summer delight has eluded me this year. (More on that at my 5 Minutes for Parenting post today.) I’m the worse for it.

To try and plug the dam of regret, I’m going to take the next two weeks and let the blog go dark. (Unless I have something incredibly blog-worth to share. And that might happen. After all, I have plans to go to the Minnesota State Fair next week, and I'm certain that all fairs are blogging gold.)

I have all sorts of writing I need to do; my brain needs a reboot, it seems. And I think I need to do that writing in private. It may get posted on my blog eventually, but the process of the writing needs to be done away from outside pressures.

Also, my parents are coming for a visit next week. (Read: to see the grandchildren). I only get to see G-Dog and J (not their real names) (as if) a few days each year. As much as I love you all – and truly, my favorite thing about blogging is the community that develops – I need to be able to focus the next few weeks on the people in front of me.

That also includes these three.

(Notice how I stealthily snuck in my new favorite picture?)

I’m ashamed to say how often I’ve resisted those sweet smiles this summer. It makes me feel a bit frantic.

But I have the next two weeks. I intend to make them the best two weeks of summer.

See you in September.

Hospitality, Martha Style

I was reading through the June issue of Martha Stewart Living last week (I'm a little behind) when I stumbled across this gem from Martha's personal column:
I was recently at a spectacular home in Nassau, in the Bahamas. While the host was showing us around, I observed that every guest room -- there were five of them -- had a kitchen fitted with a small refrigerator, a coffee machine and a pantry sink.

I have noticed that this has become an increasingly common fixture in the homes of many of my friends.
Me too, Martha. Me too.

P.S. Just to be clear: I love Martha. And I'm not being sarcastic. But that paragraph was too rich not to share.

Afternoon Linkage

I know. Two posts in one day. Stop the insanity. But that's what happens when Corey heads to New York for the week, and the kids get sick. (Connor's doing better this afternoon, by the way. I think we're over the hump.)

I forgot to mention in this morning's post that my weekly post at 5 Minutes for Parenting is up today. It's all about potty training and grossness. How's that for a plug? But it's hard to separate the two subjects, isn't it? Potty training is just messy. No way to get around that.

Which is why I'm hoping to put off the eventual adoption of a puppy into our family. I'm dealing with enough poop at this stage of my life, thank you very much.

In other blog news, I'm terribly behind on acknowledging a few blog awards graciously given to me by some sweet Internet friends.

Way back in June, Becca at Fresh Fruit gave me the Arte Y Pico award. Becca's blog is full of beautiful photography, and she's a military wife, which I love. I have a special place in my heart for military families after our time in San Diego.

My Spanish is a little rusty. (Read: We don't watch "Dora" much anymore.) But I'm told the phrase Arte Y Pico translates loosely as "the best art." Quite the compliment, coming from a talent like Becca.

Lizz at Yes, and So Is My Heart gave me the I Love You This Much Award, which is pretty much the cutest button I've ever seen.

Lizz has a baby girl just a few weeks younger than Teyla, and that baby also brought her children total to three. So we have a lot in common. It's fun to read her blog and relate to her day-to-day struggles and joys.

And Beachy Mimi, who tries to live at the beach as much as possible, and thus, is my hero, gave me the Brilliante Weblog award.

I'm not sure I'd call my blog brilliant, even on the best of days. Maybe just above average, which is befitting a Minnesota girl who grew up listening to Garrison Keillor spin tales about Lake Wobegon. ("Where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." For those of you not up on your Minnesota lore.) But it tickled me, nonetheless.

I also have a few links to pass on. (These will end up over in my Check It Out section in a few days.) (I have no idea why I felt the need to tell you that.)

My Dad sent my husband a link to this video. Corey sent it to me. I laughed and laughed and laughed.

I present: Why Women Need Catalogs.

Interesting article with a self-explanatory title: There are old people and fat people but few old, fat people. (HT Instapundit)

As soon as I finish this post, I'm going over to Lifeway to sign up for the Bible study Sophie introduced on the All Access blog. It's a study by Priscilla Shirer, who is a powerful Bible teacher, called Going Beyond -- and the really innovative part is, they are looking for people to do the study online right now and give them feedback before they release the study to the public next spring. (Code name: Open Access.) That's fascinating to me, and it sounds like a great time in God's word. (Plus, I really need some Bible study right now. I wasn't involved in a study all last year, thanks to the move and the baby and all the stuff that comes with that. And I feel it. In a HUGE way.) If you plan to sign up for the study, leave me a comment so I know who I can talk to about my homework.

And finally, I got this e-devotional from Chuck Swindoll yesterday, and I swear I'll be thinking about it all year. He has a word for wives. Check it out, and take it to heart. We are more powerful than we think in the lives of our husbands. It's good to remember that.

Good News, Bad News

Good news: The baby and I slept until 8:30 this morning, which is a new Love Well record.

Bad news: I was supposed to be leaving the house at 8:30 this morning for a workout class at 9:00. Whoops.

Good news: Connor, who had a fever yesterday, slept through the night without waking once.

Bad news: The sound that woke the baby and me up this morning was Connor moaning, "Ow! OW!"

Good news: He wasn't injured.

Bad news: But "his tummy hurt."

Good news: I managed to direct him to a waste basket before he threw up on the carpet.

Bad news: Even as Connor was wiping his mouth, the phone rang. The work crews that were coming today at 10:30 to fix a few items in the townhouse were sitting in our driveway. "Do you mind if we're early?"

Good news: They agreed to give me 30 minutes to take a shower and dispose of the "waste" before they came in.

Bad news: Connor threw up again while they were here.

Good news: He hit the waste basket again. Score!

Even better news: The baby is napping. The workmen were compassionate and expedient. I just poured myself some coffee. Connor has kept down the apple juice he so desperately wanted. (For now, anyway.)

Best news: His mercies are new every morning.
"God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!"
- Lamentations 3:22-24


I can scarcely comprehend what I'm about to type, but that doesn't make it less true.

My firstborn is now seven years old.

In many ways, life before Natalie -- my pre-Mommy, pre-baby life -- seems as distant and cold as the moon. Yes, I had an exciting job. Yes, we lived in paradise. Yes, we had great friends.

But until Natalie came along, we didn't function as a family. We didn't stop to see beauty in the everyday.

We didn't love well.

Natalie changed everything.

Viewed through that lens, my life didn't really start until Natalie was born. Maybe that's why each birthday she celebrates feels like a huge milestone to me. "Hey, look at us, world! We're seven now!"

Plus, she has a summer birthday, and I can't think of a season that lends itself better to birthday parties. Summer is happy and delightful and sweet and fun. Just like Natalie.

Her party this year was at an indoor water park at a nearby community center. Originally, we thought about hosting a gathering at our favorite lake. Natalie loves to swim, and she would be at the lake every day if given the chance. (Like daughter, like mother.) But we live in the Midwest, and the weather here is fickle. I didn't want to risk a party at the lake only to have it storm at the last minute.

The party's theme was Flip Flop Flun Fun. (You try to say it without saying "flun.")

Of course, a flip flop party needs a flip flop cake. I copied this design, and since I promised via Twitter to post pictures of the results, here you go:

Not perfect, but I don't seek perfection for my kids' birthday cakes. I seek yumminess. Boxed cake mixes are not allowed. Nor is frosting from a can. Cakes at my house are made from scratch and topped with homemade buttercream. As it should be.

This year, we also made homemade ice cream to go with the cake -- chocolate ice cream with leftover cake, sprinkles, marshmallow cream and pieces of Reese's peanut butter cups thrown in. Because a birthday isn't a birthday if you don't have 2,000 calories at dessert.

At the party, we decorated flip flops...

...ate snacks and cake...

...dodged the baby who was swooping around the room, drooling in people's hair, courtesy of Dad.

And the pool. Oh my goodness. The shrieking. The laughing. The shrieking. (Seriously. Seven-year-old girls have some ear-splitting shriek potential.)

I believe Natalie had a memorable time. Something about how she kept saying, "This is the best day ever!" all afternoon.

Of course, for Corey and me, the best part was celebrating the gift of her. Natalie is kind and adventurous and creative and sweet. She's a terrific big sister, always eager to play with Teyla and do something special for Connor. Thanks to her, my walls are decorated with drawings and paintings and projects that are as beautiful as she is.

She's the best reason to love well. Happy seven, sweet-pea.

Veggie Tales

Yesterday, there was some chat on Twitter about sweet potatoes – mainly because Amy Beth said she’d never eaten one.

Her status as a true Southerner is now in question.

Both BooMama and I expressed shock and dismay that Amy Beth had lived her life thus deprived. Veronica commented that no other food can claim to be a side dish, a pie, soup and fries. (I’d add biscuit to that list. I saw Paula Deen make sweet potato biscuits on TV once, and my mental taste buds have never recovered.)

Sweet potatoes are truly sublime.

When we went to South Carolina this past winter, I almost fainted from ecstasy when the little seafood restaurant we visited one night had baked sweet potatoes as a possible side dish. And when the server asked me if I wanted my sweet potato with the usual toppings, those being butter, brown sugar and a little cinnamon? I died right on the spot.

The funny thing is, I didn’t grow up eating sweet potatoes (which is acceptable, since I’m a Yankee). We ate syrupy sweet potatoes covered with a blanket of toasted marshmallows each Thanksgiving and Christmas. But that was it.

I had no idea what I was missing. I now say, with conviction, that a life without oven-roasted sweet potato fries is hardly worth living.

An epiphany like that makes me wonder: What other undiscovered gems are out there?

Which brings me to my point.

At the farmer’s market last Friday, I passed a booth selling gorgeous multi-colored beets -- crimson and golden jewels piled high on the table. I’ve never cooked a beet, myself, and the only beets I've ever eaten have been the pickled variety, which are vile. But I’ve been hearing some positive buzz about beets lately, especially roasted beets. And since I’ve recently become a strong believer in the roasting of vegetables, I decided to take the plunge. Thus, two bunches of beets are now sitting in my fridge.

But, between you and me, the beets, they scare me a little. I've read stories of mass staining, burgundy hands and "a meaty, earthy flavor."

What have I done?

Anyone out there want to reassure me?

Amy Beth?


Pizza: The Food That Redeems

Today started out well enough. It was a beautiful summer morning -- warm sun, blue sky, temp around 80 -- so I turned off the air conditioning and made the beds accompanied by bird song. The kids and I took a class at a local nature center then shopped a nearby farmer's market. (Sugar snap peas are done this year, unfortunately, but the tomatoes are starting to come in.) We made it home in time to put Teyla down for a nap.

But then the clouds gathered and messed up the sky. The breeze died down and the air turned stale and muggy. The kids laid on the couch, exhausted after a week of "too much fun," whiny and petulant. I wasn't fairing much better. I couldn't seem to focus on anything. My brain was in as thick and heavy as the air outside.

So I ordered a pizza for dinner, and Corey got home from his business trip, and we played with the kids on the floor until bedtime.

I love pizza. It can bring a day full circle.

Confessions of a Sometimes Scrapbooker

I have a new post up over at 5 Minutes for Parenting today. It begins with me finishing Connor's baby scrapbook(s), which makes me want to clarify that, the scrapbooking? It's a love-hate thing with me.

Ten years ago, I had multiple close friends who were Creative Memories consultants. They were full of scrapbooking zeal, and they were desperate to convert me. I resisted their attempts.

It wasn't that I didn't enjoy photography or "memory capturing." It's just that, at that point in my life, I rarely took pictures. I didn't have kids, I worked full-time, I rarely traveled. Plus, 80% of the pictures I did take were photographs of trees and leaves and other green things I would swoon over on our annual trek back to the Midwest each summer. (California is wonderful, but it is not green.)

Eventually, I had a baby, and drunk on new mommy love, I joined the throngs of scrapbookers. "Look! Another picture of her smiling!" "Look! She's taking a bath in this picture! Isn't she amazing?" "Oh my word. Look at those cheeks!"

But by the time Connor came along, two years later, the passion was starting to wane. Not only was scrapbooking expensive (conservative estimate: $300 per book), but my mental boat was being swamped by the enormity of the task. I had just finished Natalie's baby book, and now I had Connor's to tackle. I had little time and little space and little patience.

Then, the final blow: I got a digital camera for Christmas, and I started to take 200 pictures a week. Being an OCD sort who previously scrapbooked every picture I ever took (unless it was extremely blurry or dark, but those were the only acceptable excuses), I almost wept the first time I realized I would have to scrapbook all those photos.

So, five years later, here's where I stand. I've invested a lot of money into scrapbooking supplies, so I'll continue to real-paper-and-stickers scrapbook the first year of my children's lives. (Natalie, done. Connor, done. Teyla, in the works.) They change so fast that first year, and the pictures are so precious. I don't mind pouring over them continually as I marvel over the miracle of them.

But after that, the pictures are going to end up in digital scrapbooks, which are far less expensive and time-consuming. (Example: It takes me about a month to make a photo book at Shutterfly, and the finished product costs about $60.)

And they might not even end up there. They may just stay on my computer. I haven't ordered prints of any of my photos since July 2005, unless you count the photos printed in books.

And truthfully? I look at my pictures far more on my computer than I look at my scrapbooks -- especially since my screensaver is set to the My Pictures Slideshow. Everyday, I'm treated to a scrolling display of the last seven years. It almost hurts to watch my screen sometimes. The memories are so sweet, and time seems to be moving so fast.

So I'm looking at my pictures and treasuring the memories and giving thanks for the people I love. Isn't that the whole point of scrapbooking anyway?

Heart Relief

Teyla saw the pediatric cardiologist this morning for the strange sound her pediatrician heard back at her six-month appointment.

Bottom line: Everything is healthy. Her heart is perfectly fine. The cardiologist attributed the swooshing noise to Teyla's heart stretching, due to uber-fast growth all babies experience the first 12 months.

To get to that diagnosis, Teyla underwent an echo cardiogram -- which was VERY unpopular since it meant she had to lay still on her back for 15 minutes. (You might remember -- this is a child that does not like to lay on her back.) She also had an EKG -- a 10-second test that required 10 minutes of prep work. (Try putting 12 small stickers on a baby's chest while she grabs for each one and/or your hair and/or the blood pressure machine next to you -- and then attach 12 tiny wires to each tiny sticker. It would be easier to give an octopus a manicure.)

But it was all worth it to see the cardiologist smile as she said, "Your beautiful little girl has nothing more than an innocent heart murmur."

Thank you all for your prayers, your e-mails, your words of encouragement. I'm daily amazed at the support and camaraderie I feel from all my "imaginary Internet friends."

And now, I have to go. I have a baby wrapped around my ankle, and she's desperate to get my toes in her mouth.

Which would introduce a whole different set of medical concerns.

Summer Makes Me Forgetful

Yesterday was so unbelievably beautiful here in the suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul, that I completely forgot to tell you guys (that's Northern for y'all) that I have a post up at 5 Minutes for Parenting.

Here's a teaser: If you've been around these parts long enough to know my husband -- and to know that he has a few karmic paybacks coming -- you'll love this one.