Monday, June 10, 2019


I spent at least eight solid hours pulling weeds in the garden last week and a few more this week. Praise the Lord for those willing to help do the dirty work, watch the baby, etc. to help complete this task.  Pretty sure as I've stepped further into adulthood, my top love language has become "acts of service," and a few people in my life sure love me extra-well in this way.

I'm telling you this not to get you to come help out, too (although, if you or someone you know needs a lesson in manual labor, you know who to call...), but rather, I have some introspective thoughts to share about it (surprise, surprise - for those long-time readers/followers, out there - haha).  I'm confident I'm not the first person to draw these parallels, and I know I won't be the last, but I don't know that I've seen/read an analogy like this in my own circles/studies, so that's why I thought I'd share these thoughts that keep surfacing as I think more about it all.

First, let me explain these weeds:
I pulled up a few baby oak and maple trees, a few stray blades of crabgrass, and a dandelion or two (though only in the flowerbeds), but the bulk of my time was spent pulling Bermudagrass.  This stuff is simply insane.  According to that website I just linked to, "it spreads by both above-ground stems known as stolons and below-ground stems called rhizomes."  This means you can't just pull up the blade, get a couple inches of root, and call it a day.  Rather, to be most effective, you must dig down and find the root the blade is connected to and try to follow/pull it up as far as you can in hopes of reaching the end and/or original root.  The most satisfying results of these efforts are roots a few feet in length.

I realize some people grow this grass on purpose, so may not consider it a weed.  After "letting it go" in our garden last year, though, it has established itself in a way that is not conducive to our otherwise weed-free Back to Eden gardening system.  So, in an effort to eliminate it and not let it get out of control again, we've been trying to nip every glimpse of green we see in the bud and get as many of the already-established roots out of the garden area as we can.  (Yes, we've gone around the edge and severed those coming in from the outside...and will likely do so again as time goes on.  Yes, we could spray it, but we're trying to go chemical-free in this area, and also, trying to eliminate the root systems, altogether.  If you have suggestions you think we could try within these parameters, we'd be open to them!)

Now for the introspective, spiritual parallels I've been drawing between pulling weeds and doing work on yourself/your soul/your mental health, presented in the form of some tips for both:

Eliminating the weeds allows other plants to thrive.
  • We started some of the plants in our garden from plants and some from seeds.  Both require space, nutrients, and moisture to live and grow.  If we didn't rid the ground around them of the weeds, they would not be able to acquire the necessary things to live, or at least, to grow to their fullest potential.
    I feel like this is fairly obvious, but allowing the "weeds" in your heart to grow will overpower and potentially kill the "fruitful plants."  Whether it's practicing having positive thoughts, rather than negative ones, or perhaps working on assuming the best of people, rather than the worst, or maybe making healthy choices over more convenient ones - what comes naturally and "grows easiest" isn't always best for us.  We must recognize and address these things.

It's going to be messy.
  • I usually do this work bare-handed, but even when I wore gloves, I still got lots of dirt under my nails. (It was dark when I finished this the first time, so didn't get a good picture, but this gives you an idea...kinda.) 
    You can try to protect yourself from the residual "mess" that comes with soul-searching, counseling/therapy, hard conversations, etc., but you're not likely to come out completely "clean"/unscathed.  Bringing things to the surface that would rather be thriving "underground" is not an easy job, but it can be so necessary and beneficial.  The "dirt under your nails" that surfaces, as well, is nothing a little extra scrubbing can't fix.

You can't do it alone.

  • At this time in my life, to be able to devote time to this task and be truly effective, I needed help.  I couldn't devote the necessary time and attention to it when Jacob was with me, and it got dark too quickly for me to be able to do it only when he was in bed.  In order to keep the weeds at bay, I really needed to get them all pulled up in a few day's time (between stormy days, really).  So, help from others was a must.  Like I mentioned earlier, this help came both in the form of weed-pulling and childcare while I did so.
    When you're doing some "weeding" of your heart and soul, you'll likely need help.  Whether it comes in the form of a book, a mental health professional, a trusted loved one, or a podcast - there are tools, people, and resources that can help you reach your goals much quicker than you could alone.  The Lord is always on your side, as well, and though He can't watch the baby while you go to a session/take a walk/"pull the weeds," He's sure rooting for you and can/will provide in ways you might not even know you need.

Wear sunscreen.

  • ...especially on the back of your neck.
    I don't have a parallel for this one, but I guess if you're doing any self-reflection outside or taking a mental health day at the pool, it absolutely applies.  

Track your progress and reward yourself.
Day 1: One hour's worth.
Day 2: Three hours' worth.
Day ?...some(?) hours' worth.

  • I realize it's hard to know what you're seeing here, especially since I don't have any sort of "before" picture, but basically, it's just a bunch of dead roots.  My "reward" is listed in today's favorites...☺
    I don't really know how to best recommend you do this when you're working on yourself, but I think it's pretty subjective, anyway.  Figure out how to measure/track your progress and don't be afraid to share it publicly.  Celebrate (alone or with others) your victories - big and small.  You're absolutely worth it.  

You can't just cover them up and expect them to go away.

  • The dead weeds pictured above are laying on top of some bags of leaves from this fall.  We put the bags on the spots in the garden that were most grassy last year in hopes of killing off the plants.  No such luck - the roots found their way out and up from under these and just kept growing.
    You can try to bury memories, habits, etc., but most likely, they'll find a way to surface.  In order to truly be your best self, you must address and tend to these things in your life/mind/heart.
Be careful not to pull something that isn't a weed.
  • ...or isn't a weed in the area you're gardening, at least (for example, baby oak trees are considered weeds in our garden, but wouldn't be in a forest).  I noticed something growing among the crabgrass and baby trees in the pot on our front step, so I transplanted it to the middle of the pot and decided to see what came of it.  As it turns out, it's a petunia!  These flowers are usually considered annuals (you have to replant them each year), but apparently, this one decided to be a perennial - what a lovely surprise!
    There may be a trait you don't love about yourself, a memory/experience you'd rather forget, or perhaps, an incident you regret.  Often, it's good to purge these "weeds," but sometimes, they may actually be valuable and "grow" into something beautiful.  Closely inspect these things.  Be careful not to rid yourself of something that may enhance your life and future experiences.  Be on the lookout for beauty among the "weeds."   

I hope this spoke to you, in one way or another.  Please know I am not condemning anyone or commanding you do any of this.  I'm simply explaining some parallels that made themselves extremely clear to me during this process.  Would love to hear any others you think of!

Looking forward to garden-fresh produce,

Favorites of the day:
how well my husband and my dad work together
Tiramisu Cone from one of the vendors at Festa Italiana.
I call it "Walking Tiramisu," and it was as good as it looks!
Hard to capture, but Jacob always shares the things he "cooks/bakes" with the animals, in addition to the humans.
He does a great job making sure EVERYone takes turns and gets "bites," and I just think it's precious. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Opus 76 - art inspired by art

There are probably 6,372 other things I should be doing, now, but I really wanted to get this out while it's (somewhat) fresh.

First, some context (without meaning to sound braggy):

I am a musician.  I took piano lessons from ages five to eighteen.  I started playing the trumpet in the fifth grade and began lessons a few years later.  My degree is in instrumental music education, and trumpet was my main instrument.  I was part of jazz ensemble, symphonic band, brass ensemble, orchestra, pep band, and various weddings and church gigs over the course of my jr. high, high school, and college career (all of the above in college).  I've taught private piano and trumpet lessons since I was in junior high (out of my home, then at a private studio, and now, out of my home, again).  I've toured both domestically and internationally with performing groups.  I have and do accompany soloists.  I currently play trumpet in a community band and keyboard for our church praise team. 

All that said, I have never really been the type of musician who has a great, true appreciation for music.  As I read that back, it seems like an extreme statement.  It's not as it may seem, but I don't know any other way to say it, at this point.  I'll try to explain, though...hear me out:  I've always been so involved in music that I've had a hard time making/finding time to enjoy it outside of my own performances.  Of course, I have taken advantage of opportunities to attend various special concerts and have always supported musician friends by attending their performances, but to truly seek out and strive to take in as much live music as possible has always seemed out of my reach, mostly due to my schedule and the other things I wanted to spend time doing.  During my post-college time in Lincoln, I was able to attend several amazing performances through the non-profit management office I worked for (still one of the most unique work experiences I've had...or heard of - haha.  I wrote a post about it early on in my time there...and added lots of duties to the list in the years following.), but I usually had some sort of duty at these events, so wasn't able to focus 100% on the music, necessarily.  I often have music playing as I go about my day, but it has often been required listening to prepare for my own performance, something I've listened to several times, or simply something I'm not consciously listening to.  I have and do come across new music when people share it, but haven't always sought it out on my own.

Additionally, my brain doesn't work in a way that easily remembers/comprehends/connects performers, composers, bands to their specific sounds, songs, and pieces of music.  Same goes for movie quotes.  I often recognize melodies (or lines, if we're still talking about movie quotes), but I'm only just beginning to have enough history with some of them to recall the name of the piece, recognize the style of the performer/band, or be able to name the composer (or movie/character/scene). 

Of course, as a music major, I spent hours and hours in classes (and lessons) where I was asked to do just this.  I memorized birth and death dates.  I attached names to melodies.  I learned traits associated with different musical periods.  I was able to do all this in small batches, but it was mostly for the sake of the grade, and not as much for the sake of my own musical appreciation/knowledge.  To this day, I'm embarrassed to not be able to really "talk shop" with other musicians (esp. trumpet players), because I can't always speak to my favorite player, group, piece in a particular genre, etc. (Sorry, Dean...)  I can't always hear a song and say, "Oh, that sounds like so-and-so," whether or not it's a cover.  Unless I've seen a musical several times, I don't always remember what songs go with which (unless it's Wicked, in which case I can probably sing the entire soundtrack from memory...and that's just because I've listened to it so, so many times.).  This isn't to say I'm never able to draw these connections, recognize a composer/performing group, or remember the name of a particular song.  I am obviously able to do so on some level, just not the level I would like or think I should be able to.

I've found I'm much better able to recall/comprehend music if I have something personal to attach to it, and even more-so if it's a deep emotional attachment.  I'll always remember the first time I actually cried (rather than just tearing up) during worship ("Here I Am to Worship" at CIY).  I haven't yet forgotten the exact musical moments when I was moved to tears while performing a couple band pieces in college (near the end of the fifth movement, "Hobbits," of the Lord of the Rings Symphony and the climax of our NMEA perfornamce of "O Magnum Mysterium").  I was too emotional to participate in the a capella verse of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" at our wedding.  It was so beautiful and meaningful to hear all our friends and loved ones' voices blending together in harmony and worship.  There's a Christian lullaby CD we were given before Jacob was born that was on repeat during many late-night feedings early in his life.  Those songs will always take me back to those sweet, emotional moments.  I could probably list more examples here, but those give you an idea.  Again - I'm not sure why my brain doesn't better retain this sort of information, but it is what it is.

Now, to bring it to the original subject of this post:

A few months ago, Bryant heard a local musician interviewed on a local radio station to promote his string quartet's free concerts.  My husband, as usual, knows me better than I know myself and acted on the opportunity to hear live music on the cheap, because he thought I'd enjoy it.  So, he told me about the group, and we planned to attend a concert.

If I'm being honest, I wouldn't say I'm really "into" string music (no offense intended, at all...just hasn't always been my thing.  Maybe it's because I'm a brass player...?).  This concert, however, was so refreshing and enjoyable, and apparently, necessary for me.  For one thing, the respite of sitting still for an hour was a treat.  Being able to simply listen to other people perform was also just so nice.  I think part of the reason I enjoyed the listening aspect so much was a control thing; someone else was in control of that situation - worrying about having enough programs, directing people to the restrooms, setting out the reception treats, etc.  For me, being able to sit back and listen to other people perform music (that I had no preconceived notions about - it was Haydn and Beethoven, but I did not recognize the particular pieces/movements to know exactly what they would/should sound like) was very calming and refreshing.  If I'm being poetic about it, I was able to be still and let the music wash over me.  I was able to focus on the musical lines and motives, and at some point while doing so, I realized my mind wasn't wandering.  For my brain to not have 53 tabs open at once is such a rare occurrence.  Yes, as a musician, I was listening critically (though I don't know that I heard (or picked up on) any mistakes) and analytically, but it was surprising and wonderful to truly be able to have a singular focus for several moments.  It was so peaceful, and not just because they were playing classical music.  My mind needed the break as much as my body did.

I've heard (esp. recently) that art inspires art.  I listen to a couple authors' podcasts, and they often talk about how much they do or don't read in order to be inspired.  They also discuss seeking out other mediums to fill their creative souls.  I couldn't help but think about how the quartet performance (art) was inspiring me, both in the moment and afterward.  During the performance, I was able to appreciate the immense skill and talent it took to perform those pieces at the level they did.  I was inspired by their passion for the music (enough to perform it free of charge) and the words they shared about why they do what they do.  Afterward, I was able to reflect to the point of wanting to get it all out "on paper" and am so glad to have a (small) platform to do so (which I don't often think of as a form of art, but I believe it is).  I have also been inspired to strive to play more of the (piano) music in my collection.  I've inherited and been given so, so much music - of all genres and from all time periods.  This inspiration to take time to play more was affirmed by Jacob wanting to bring his musical instruments (a jingle bell stick and harmonica, in this instance) downstairs when he heard me practicing.  We rarely have a silent home, but it's often podcasts or that week's worship set filling our ears.  There's nothing wrong with either of those, but I feel I need to do a better job of exposing him to a variety of music, both live and recorded.

On another note (pun not originally intended), we made a date night out of the concert and happened to drive by the original KC Joe's on our way to the place we'd planned to dine that evening.  Like a bear to honey (I was going to use the "moth to the flame" analogy, but it didn't feel right in this get the idea), we turned around and took advantage of the time we had to stand in line (though it was short on a Tuesday night) and the fact that they weren't sold out of burnt ends (speaking of art...).  It wasn't the fancy night out we'd originally planned, but it was just as (perhaps even more) delicious.  There were also homemade treats after the concert, so we were glad we hadn't stopped for dessert, beforehand.

The concert took place in a beautiful church sanctuary, which of course, just added to the appeal and wonder of it all.
The quartet we heard is called Opus 76.  You should definitely check out their Facebook page and website.  They're doing some really amazing things for the KC community.  If you're in the area, be sure to attend a concert - whether or not you're "into" string music. ;)  Their musicianship and talent is truly inspiring, and their mission and purpose is admirable and worth supporting.  We didn't get to stick around after the concert to visit with them, so please consider this my public display of admiration and appreciation.  ☺

I feel like I bore a piece of my soul that hasn't been brought to light, before.  Thank you for being gracious and kind readers and allowing me to feel safe in doing so.  I don't know that I adequately explained the points I was trying to make here, but I know it was a lot of words, already, so thanks for bearing with me.  ♥    


P.S. I edited this post in a trendy coffee shop in downtown KC on my 10(?)-yr.-old-17-inch-screen-Toshiba laptop.  It didn't fit on one of the bar-top ledges they had set up for people like me who've come to work there.  I don't think I've ever felt so old so unexpectedly...

Favorites of the day:
flip-flop season (you saw that one coming)
Kouign Amann (a planned indulgence) and this beautiful pineapple twist (a surprise treat)
an unexpected family photo at a recent alumni event
TBH - we just went for the free food...and for the perfect opportunity for J to wear the shirt the university sent us when he was born. ☺

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

J the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, V Bad Day

Happy spring!  Isn't it amazing what coming out of "hibernation" can do for the body and soul?  And relationships?  It felt like we hadn't seen our neighbors in months, and now, we see them nearly every day!

Coming to you today to expand on what I originally intended to be a short Instagram post.  Not the first time I've had more words to share than I thought we appropriate for a caption.  

If you're familiar with the book the title of this post references, I'll tell you that Jacob's day on Monday may not have went down exactly like Alexander's, but I'm fairly certain he'd use the same adjectives to describe it.  It was truly the worst day of his my memory, at least.  To be fair, there may have been worse days very early on that I've either forgotten due to the he-can-do-no-wrong newborn phase or due to mom-brain.  

Either way, Monday was a day like no other, for him (and therefore, me).  For at least 50% of his awake, non-eating time, he was whining/crying/lamenting and inconsolable.  Usually, if I ask him what's wrong (Are you hurt?  Are you sad we left the park?  Did you want that toy instead of this one?), he'll stop crying at least long enough to say "Yes," if not longer, to hear me out and make a plan to make it better.  On this terrible day, though, everything was wrong and nothing was fixable.  We even ran and errand and went to the park, and while these outings provided a bit of reprieve, it was short-lived.  (For example, while we were are the park, he simultaneously wanted to stay there and go home...)

This unexplained behavior/emotional roller coaster of a day left me feeling baffled and exhausted.  I didn't say as much to anyone while it was happening (mostly because I was trying to appease the unappeasable kiddo and/or trying to get anything else done), but I'd filled Bryant in a bit.  When he came home and saw things hadn't gotten better after naptime, he promptly sent me out of the house.  I had planned to run some errands after he got home that evening, but he told me to be sure to get supper while I was out doing those, and generally, take some time to myself.

I enjoyed a lovely meal - outside!
SPIN Pizza had sent a triple-points promotion I didn't think I'd be able to take advantage of, but I did!  You know how I love to take advantage of a deal. 
It was delicious and wonderful.

While I didn't think my time away was necessarily necessary, Bryant (once again) knew me better than I knew myself.  I needed quiet and peace and stillness.  I needed be able to relax and know someone else was in charge of J for a bit.  I needed to receive their videos where both said they loved me (J's was unprompted and included a blown kiss).  I needed to come home to find a tiny garbage truck, which I knew was requested (because they're currently J's favorite vehicle), drawn complete with details I would've never thought to include.
Driving down the road to pick up those two trash bags, of course.

As usual, I do not intend to brag, though my amazing hubby deserves to be bragged about. Rather, I just want to be transparent share this "low" among so many "highs" that come across our feeds.  Jacob really has been a pretty easy kiddo thus far, and people often comment on how happy and easy-going he is, and he IS.  He has his not-so-happy moments, though, and apparently, days, as well.

(While we're on the subject of transparency: Jacob has also developed a grabbing/pinching habit...both at home and at library storytime.  At home, I can react and correct, as needed, but it's so hard to know how to break him of this habit in public.  He doesn't do it hard enough to hurt anyone at the library, so those kiddos just look at him like, "Hey, man - what are you doing?!"  By the time I notice and get to him to tell him "No," the moment has passed, and he doesn't necessarily have any visible remorse.  We practice gentle touches both in and out of context (immediately after an incident, as well as unrelated to one), and we talk through how we should treat people (even by name) SO often.  I'm having a hard time not being self-conscious about it, and I struggle to remember this behavior is not a reflection on me or our parenting.  Of course, we're not telling him to grab people and/or pull hair - quite the opposite, in fact.  It's just his way of acting out/testing boundaries, at the moment, and I feel bad it is sometimes at the expense/discomfort of others.)

Anyway, the next day, he was almost completely back to his normal, mostly-agreeable, happy self (which I quickly realized I often take for granted).  We went to CFA for some free breakfast, and even saw a (green!) garbage truck in action while we were there.  The day was not without some tears and whines, but it was definitely more normal for us both, and for that, I was very grateful.

My CFA date. ♥
He was up for taking a picture, but apparently, was going for the "16-yr.-old after mom's already taken 473 pictures" look.
I showed him the picture and asked where his smile was... 
...and he voluntarily went back and tried again.

I just couldn't pass up this jacket for $3 at a consignment sale last season.
Also, he chose to wear his church shoes, rather than his every-day tennies. ♥

Thanks for letting me safely share all of this.  I realize this kind of day may be the norm for some kiddos (with or without behavioral diagnoses) and probably seems trivial for those who are dealing with children's health issues, etc.  Some of you may be thinking "He's almost two - this is just the beginning of the "Terrible Two's," of course."  For us, though, this was an uncharacteristically bad day, and again, I wanted to share about it out of appreciation for my husband AND in an effort to keep it real up in here.  😉

With greater distance from the end of my rope than two days ago,

Favorites of the day:
open windows
new friends
...especially ones who bring you little tiny cinnamon rolls...
...and sweet primrose plants...because she knows you love little things.
This face.
(Brought to you by a fun egg decorating contraption Bryant's family brought on their recent (super fun) visit).

Thursday, February 21, 2019


Happy mid-(late) February!  

For as excruciatingly long as January seemed, February is flying by - over here, at least.  Anyone else?

In the case that you're sitting at home on yet another snow(y) day, here's a lengthy blog post for ya!  In the case that you were hoping this would be a quick read, I do apologize.  I probably should've split this into two posts, but you'll see how the topics are related and can just read it in pieces, if necessary.  Or just skim.  Or just look at the pictures.  Or stop reading right here.  You do you.

For those still reading...

I recently listened to a podcast interview during which they discussed, among other things, the importance of Sabbath.  I'm not going to get into it all here (for now, at least), but the main idea questioned why we don't seem to place as much weight on this commandment as the others.  I doubt I'm the only one who sometimes forgets this is a true commandment, and though it's not punishable by law, it is right up there with "thou shalt not commit murder."  Not too long ago, I wrote about our fairly-new "margin" practices (here), and I think those relate to Sabbath, or count for something, at least.  But this interview also reminded me of a couple "bigger" life-giving "things" (for lack of a better word) I've been a part of in the recent past.

The first: stamping weekend.  I know I've mentioned this regularly-occurring event in my "favorites" several times, but I don't think I've ever explained it!  So, in a nutshell: stamping weekend is a long weekend dedicated to making cards using rubber stamps and many, many other card-making supplies.  It has also been designated as time to work on scrapbooks, though I've never done so, and many do not use it for this, anymore.  My aunt and uncle host the weekend three to four times a year and guests include a couple close friends, my mom, and whatever corresponding spouses and kids are able to be there, including myself.  (Whenever I attend, guests also include any of my friends who are able to stop by for a visit! ☺)  The ladies take over the kitchen counters, dining room, and extra tables with gobs of stamps, paper, special gadgets and tools, paper cutters, embellishments, etc., etc.  They take turns making meals, so only one person steps away from their progress at a time (though they usually all help each other out, anyway).  Everyone brings snacks and yummy treats to share.  Meanwhile, the men either work on outside projects (including, but not limited to, building a deck, cutting down trees, and mowing), watch sports, or watch movies.

This weekend has always been life-giving to me, because of the amount of quality time we're all able to spend together, the productivity that takes place, the creativity I'm able to unleash, the delicious food, and the lack of other obligations over the course of a few days.  It was especially life-giving this time around, because it served as a brief retreat from motherhood, some important uninterrupted conversation time, and a couple mornings to stay in bed as long as I pleased (I almost wrote "sleep in," but I wasn't that far removed from my "mommy schedule" - haha)!

I have next to no pictures of this most-recent stamping weekend, because we truly had our noses to the grindstone making cards!  Here are a couple, though!

One of my favorite Lincoln restaurants closed a few years ago, but they just reopened in a new location (closer to my aunt and uncle's), so you'd better believe we went for lunch...which included their amazing Brussels sprouts!)!
I made over 60 cards over the course of the weekend! 
Many were fairly simple or just assembling pieces I'd already created, but still - was well worth the trip/time!
Here's one of them - made for a sweet friend's second birthday!
All credit/props/kudos goes to my sis-in-law who designed Elmo and Cookie Monster. 
You know, of course, I just couldn't handle the tiny little cookie!  Haha.  Needless to say, we mass-produced some of these guys, so if you have a little one, you may be seeing them on a future card...

The second life-giving "thing" I was involved in recently was IF:Northside - a livestream of the IF:Gathering at our church!  There are several reasons this was life-giving for me:

-The "duties."  I was the first to say "yes" to helping organize this, so ended up sort-of heading it up.  This meant I was able to dust off some of my previous event-planning experience and administrative skills, and I have to say, it felt really good!  I haven't had (or maybe just haven't taken advantage of) a lot of opportunities to show these "colors" since living in KC, so I think my leadership may have come as a surprise to some, and perhaps a bit of a surprise even to me - haha.  I was really glad to be able to help out in this way and am looking forward to future events!

-The fellowship.  This was the first opportunity we'd had in several months for the women of our congregation to gather and spend quality, intentional time getting to know each other.  You know how I feel about building relationships, so this was absolutely life-giving for that reason.  It was especially sweet to not only build relationships with others, myself, but also to witness others doing so with each other.

-The snack pot-luck. ☺

-The (donated, so FREE) Scooter's coffee!

-The content.  I won't attempt to share everything that was meaningful, interesting, and important, because it ALL was!  There were speakers I'd heard from before (and looked forward to seeing, again!), as well as new faces and fresh messages.

-The worship.  Because I play keys on our worship team most Sunday's, I don't often have the opportunity to partake in corporate worship as a non-performer, if you will (please don't read into this term and think I see leading worship as just a performance, or anything like that - don't need to go down that rabbit hole...simply couldn't think of a better way to describe it in this instance).  It was also extra-wonderful to stop singing, myself, and listen to the other women's beautiful voices lifted together in praise.  ♥
I did a science experiment in the 4th grade that used flowers and colored water. 
Imagine my surprise when I ran across this as a decor idea!
(They didn't change quite as much as I'd expected by the next day, but were still pretty!)
Put my Cricut to good use cutting lots of circles!
(Special thanks to Joann's for having the perfect colors of paper on sale for 70% off at just the right time!)
The theme was celebratory and bright colors, so thanks to Dollar Tree party supplies and a little time, we created a corresponding photo backdrop.
Fun pens and journals for everyone!
We had close to 50 ladies in these seats over the course of the weekend!
So thankful my mom and BFF (who was mistaken as my sister a couple times just this weekend) were able to attend the whole conference!

Obviously, there are other "things," both bigger and smaller than these two, that give me life and bring me joy, but these are the ones I'm sharing with you, today.  Perhaps you can relate.  What's "life-giving" in your life, right now?  Is there something you'd like to do that you could, but haven't, for some reason?  Do it.  Totally worth it.


P.S. After working on this post for a couple weeks, I'm starting to second-guess using the term "life-giving," but don't want to go back and change it all.  So, just know that by "life-giving" I simply mean these things have brought me great joy...or "sparked joy," if you want to get trendy.  ;)

Favorites of the day:
dark chocolate
"Snow days" that mean no morning library storytime, and instead, watching some of "The Price is Right" with a snack and a kitty lapwarmer.  ☺

Monday, January 14, 2019

At-Home Spa Night

I just realized this is my first post of 2019, so Happy (belated) New Year!

Once again, I wanted to write more than is appropriate for an Instagram caption, so here are a few pictures and even more words about something my hubby did for me this past weekend:

After getting home from work, Bryant sent me out the door to grab a light supper and “start relaxing.”  For me, that meant CFA and a couple errands (including the grocery store, of course, because who would I be if I didn’t take a relaxing pre-snowstorm trip to Hy-Vee...?). 

Upon my return (and after helping me put away groceries), he surprised me with an at-home spa night!  In true Enneagram 5 fashion, he had done extensive research on massage, fancy snacks and drinks, face and hair masks, and pedicure techniques.  He did a ton of prep work and made it all such an authentic, relaxing, wonderful experience. I. felt. so. spoiled.  That man seriously thought of everything, including but not limited to, warm towels, fun magazines, and taking the rubber duck faucet protector off the bathtub faucet before my bubble bath.  
Crackers with fancy cheeses, chocolate-covered strawberries, bruschetta (one of my most favorite things), and fancy strawberry water ("Agua de Fresa").
Candles everywhere - so cozy and ambient!
The containers pictured between the sinks contained homemade, all-natural hair and face masks!
These are a few of my favorite things...
I was so impressed by his first-ever pedicure "performance!"
This was one of the most thoughtful, generous, thorough, kind acts of service I’ve experienced (or heard of, for that matter).  He planned it all so intentionally, and what made it even more meaningful to me was the frugal-ness and the effort to truly serve me.  He could've easily sent me away to spend hundreds of dollars at a salon/spa, but instead, he did an amazing DIY version, which meant we also got to spend some quality time together! 

I realize sharing it all may come across as a bit braggy, and honestly, I’m ok with that - my sweet husband deserves alllll the credit and bragging and gold stars.  I’m only sorry it took something like this for me to make such a big deal about him publicly.  There are so many everyday things he does that I appreciate, and in the spirit of bragging on him, I’ll share a few:
-daily preps breakfast for J and I
-turns on my electric blanket before bed
-maintains our vehicles 
-plans date nights 
-voluntarily helps prep and/or fully prepare meals
-takes care of J while I teach lessons, attend rehearsals, and/or just have a couple minutes to myself

In a nutshell, Bryant is wonderful and treats me better than I deserve. ♥


Favorites of the day:
that fancy strawberry water - it was so good!
this beautiful snow that's still around
Jacob's excitement about the snow - it's so precious!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Living the Dream

As you may already know, Bryant works one weekend every couple months.  To compensate for working the weekend days, he gets two days off the week prior.  While working the weekend isn't awesome, it is convenient to be able to schedule various appointments and get things done on those weekdays.  He and Jacob also usually have a boys' day, giving me a whole weekday to myself!  You'd better believe I make the most of it, and this time around was no exception.

After having breakfast and some playtime with the boys before they headed out on their own adventures, I took some time to work on a couple things for church (I haven't shared about it here, yet, but I started a weekly mom's group and was also asked to help host a women's conference next year).  

Then, I headed to my haircut appointment at The Glam Room.  I don't usually give unsolicited recommendations, but you guys - if you're in KC, you need to check them out.  (If you're not into knowing alllll the details about finding a new salon you love, feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph...)  The first time I walked into The Glam Room was after my stylist of three years moved out of state and I was looking for a close, affordable-yet-reputable salon that could get me in that same day.  I happened upon The Glam Room and took the only appointment available, which was with a stylist named Cassandra.  I know I've already written too many words about this, but it was seriously unlike any haircut I've had before.  Before doing anything besides shake my hand, she sat down with me and asked several questions about my lifestyle, my "beauty" routine, my hair, my feelings about my hair, good hair days, bad hair days, etc., etc.  It was not at all intrusive, but rather, refreshingly introspective and considerate.  She proceeded to follow the normal wash/cut/style routine, but included a complimentary deep-conditioning treatment and lovely conversation all the way through.  She also gave me several tips/facts/insights about hair in general and my specific hair/style that served me well in my routine and hair care between haircut appointments.  This week's visit was only my second, but it was just as good as the first.  After finding out my thumbs were cracked from the dry weather, she suggested doing a paraffin dip.  I told her it probably wasn't in the budget, but then, she got permission to do a complimentary dip!  Ya'll know how I love "freebies," and this one was just so thoughtful and practical; I (obviously) really appreciated it.  She also sent me out the door with a little bit of an upgraded style, since I was accompanying Christmas carols for the Fab 50's group at church that evening.

I know that was a lot, but I just wanted to give credit where credit was due.  I sure hope you're still reading, though, because I have some more really amazing things to share with you.

My next "appointment" that day was lunch with my BFF.  I've told you before, but I'm going to tell you again: we're living our dream living in the same town as adults.  I know I'm so blessed to have a best friend from childhood, in general, but it is just beyond that we get to continue to do life in such close proximity.  *all the praise hands and heart eye emojis*

Anyway, we met at Succotash for lunch.  They serve breakfast food all day, so of course, that's what we had.  It was delish.  I will be back.
Our next stop was ScrapsKC.  I can't possibly explain everything about this place, but in short, it's a craft supply thrift store the benefits the homeless community.  Just writing that sentence knowing you're going to know about it, now, seriously makes me excited.  They call themselves a "Creative Reuse Center," and say of themselves, "ScrapsKC inspires creativity in art and education, positively impacts the environment, and provides hope for the homeless."  Not only do they have an overwhelming inventory of all sorts of craft/building/creating supplies, but they provide several services for the homeless AND they serve teachers in the area by allowing them to shop for their classroom for free.
This is how we felt about ScrapsKC.
The picture doesn't do our feelings justice, though.
We found soooo many treasures, and we didn't even feel like we saw everything in the hour and a half we were able to spend there.  We resisted purchasing some of these treasures, but there were several we couldn't resist.  I won't list them all, but wanted to share one thing in particular:

I was on the look-out for some scrap leather to try my hand at making earrings with my Cricut.  I found several beautiful pieces, including one I was extra excited about.  I also found one little package of earring hardware, so was able to put these together: 
The reason I was so excited to find the buffalo plaid pattern was because I'd just finished making a Christmas shirt with the same pattern!  The K-Mart down the street is going out of business, so I scoured the store for some plain shirts to personalize with some iron-on vinyl, and I was so excited to find a couple and be able to make this shirt for just a couple dollars:
Neither projects turned out perfectly, but they're good enough for me
(and surely good enough for the couple times I'll wear them each year - haha).

The fun continued the next evening with a Favorite Things party with Kansas City friends!  While I was sad to miss out on the one in NE this year, I was so glad to be part of this gathering with sweet friends.  We had delicious appetizers and desserts, good conversation, and a fun time sharing some of our most favorite (and practical!) things.  (If I haven't shared with you about "Favorite Things" parties, yet, please ask.  They're the best.)

I came home to a sleeping baby, folded clean laundry, and a husband meal-prepping in the kitchen, pulling freshly baked biscuits out of the oven. 

Please know that I realize how incredibly lucky/blessed/fortunate I am to not only have the time and resources to spend a day like this, but also a husband who encourages me to do so.  I do not share this to brag, to evoke any sort of jealousy, or to put myself above anyone else.  I'm simply grateful and thought I'd share.  Also, I wanted to spread the word about all the awesome places I've been discovering!

A word to the mamas reading this: if you're in need of a day like this, but for whatever reason, are unable to get it, please reach out to someone and try to make it happen.  If you're in KC, I'd be glad to watch your kiddos, pay for a ScrapsKC shopping spree, do your laundry, bake you something, whatever - seriously.  You deserve it. 


Favorites of the day:
Favorite Things parties
holiday goodies, both sweet and savory
new friendships (I know I've listed this more than once, recently, but it's just something I'm really glad about, lately.)

Friday, December 7, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

I know we're well into December, by now (how did that happen?!), but at least I'm getting this up before Christmas, right?  I considered just posting these pictures in a Facebook album, but like I've said before, I consider this blog a place to curate our life, and in case I get it printed someday (hoping that's a thing...?), I'm going to put them here.  Plus, I can give a little better commentary in this format.

So, before I get to Thanksgiving festivities, a little background:
Have I ever told you my mom grew up on a farm in the middle of Nebraska?  She did, and her brother and his wife and my grandpa still live there (Grandma is with Jesus)!  There are two separate houses on the property, as well as a barn, harvestore(s), lots of out buildings with equipment, corrals, etc., etc.  There are pastures surrounding and across the street (and train tracks) where the horses and cattle live.  There have been other animals on the farm over the years, as well, but a staple is the herd of barn cats that come from all directions every morning when my grandpa walks across the farm to feed them, singing, "Hello, my babies!" ( You know how I feel about cats, so you can imagine how I felt about having so many of them (and usually a litter or two of kittens) around at once any time we'd visit.

I grew up spending every-other Thanksgiving/Christmas on the farm, as well as a solid week each summer.  There was the occasional wedding/funeral/reunion trip, as well, but since it was six hours away, if we were going, we were going for several days.  I have more memories than space/time to share here, but this post about our most recent trip will allow me to share a few.

When we go to the farm, we're there to stay, which means the days are pretty much as follows:
wake up
eat breakfast
do the dishes
feed the cats
walk around the farm
eat lunch
do the dishes
take a nap (or work outside)
eat supper
do the dishes
play games
go to bed

Sometimes, there's a football game on.  Sometimes, we might run to town on an errand.  If it's Saturday night, we eat popcorn and make shakes.  But mostly, we spend quality time together, whether it's helping with a project, putting together a puzzle, or reminiscing through the coffee table photo album.  There's always food and laughter and memories made, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say it is so special to be able to begin sharing all this with the next generation.

Speaking of those they are pre-Thanksgiving meal:
You may recall a similar picture from several months ago...
These were my first Cricut HTV projects, and it was so fun to make them for our sweet babies!

My grandma (and her cousin) used to make these for our Thanksgiving place settings, so I made sure we had some again this year.

I think we probably have a picture of EVERY cousin as a toddler squatting down to pet the barn kitties.  Jacob was so excited to see them all!

Instead of sleeping off the turkey after our Thanksgiving meal, the guys went to "the hills" to help my cousins work cattle.  After the little boys woke up from nap, we mamas took them to see the operation, and they could've stayed alllll day! 

Those mama cows were constantly calling for their babies, and Jacob just kept smiling and laughing and saying, "Moo." in his tiny little voice.
Bryant can tell you way more about the process they helped with if you care to know.
Second cousins!

The "traditional" picture in (great)grandma's tub. ♥

"Stair-step" cousins (just missing one, so we included him "virtually")...
...and spouses (babies were in bed)!

The (little) boys loved walking around and seeing all the tractors/equipment. They just kept pointing and making their various tractor/truck noises.

The (big) boys spent an afternoon cutting down trees and smoking meat - living the dream, in their opinion!
*insert Home Improvement man sound here*

Snacktime with Grandma!
The kiddos got along and played together so well!

Great-Grandpa Jim ♥
That's all the pictures I have, so I'll leave it at that!  We're so thankful to have had good traveling weather, time to spend together (schedules are hard!),

Hoping you all had a lovely Thanksgiving gathering, as well, and are enjoying a blessed holiday season, thus far.


Favorites of the day:
the Relevant podcast
new friends
Jacob's love of watching/looking for snow