Sunday, July 27, 2008

We Made the News!

Last month I met a nice lady at the pool. She wanted to know how Matt and I met. Turns out she was a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, and she decided to do a story about us! We had interviews with her, and our story was published in today's newspaper!

Here's the photo they put in, followed by the link (cut and paste it) to the story if you want to read it. Fun stuff!

A-Camping We Shall Go

Tomorrow morning our family is embarking on a great adventure--we're going to church camp with the 3rd-6th graders from our church. Matt is packing his suitcase with everything he will need to be the boys' counselor in a cabin full of stinky, little boys. Lucky Matt! The kids and I will be staying in a family cabin. Ours will have air conditioning! Lucky us! Snapper keeps flipping out with excitement (in true Snapper style), even though she hasn't a clue in the world what goes on at camp. Pepper could care less. He's too little to know. So we are off, very much looking forward to the time we get to hang out with the seriously awesome kids from our church. We are looking forward to swimming, playing games, singing, Bible study, and just chillin'. So adios friends, I'll be back to the world of blogging next weekend.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


After I posted my blog about the Sears sale this morning, I headed over to Sears with a budget of $100 to see how much I could buy for the kids for next summer. I came home with 6 shirts and 3 pairs of shorts, and a cute one-piece outfit for Pepper, 3 shirts, 2 pairs of shorts, and a pair of capris for Snapper, 2 pairs of Bermuda shorts and 2 shirts for me, a shirt for Deb-Deb, a shirt for my nephew Christopher, and a one-piece outfit for my nephew Braeden. The grand total including tax: $96.71.

Just for fun, I added up the regular ticket prices of everything I bought, plus tax: $380.55!

Money saved: $283.84! That's 75% off of the regular price!

Okay, how does this make you feel about the mark-up of the retail world? Hmm...

I Found A Bargain!

To all you friends out there who are fellow coupon clippers and bargain hunters, I found a deal for you! Yesterday Sears put all of their freshly loaded clearance racks on an additional 40% off! That means take 40% off of items that are already anywhere from 30-75% off! I got a 3-piece Spiderman pajama set for Pepper for $4, regular price $24! I got a Carter's dress for Snapper for $2.79, regular price $19! When I left the store yesterday, I had bought 2 jammie sets, a dress, a skirt, and a shirt for a grand total of $17! You can't beat that by shopping at the Goodwill! I'm going back up there this morning to stock up on summer clothes for the kids for next summer while the prices are so good. I thought I'd get the word out before everything is picked over. Happy bargain hunting!

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm A...What?

I spent much of today up at LifeChange doing inventory of our childcare materials and supplies that we use at staff meetings. Big job. Sweaty job involving the moving of large totes off of high shelves and then putting them back up. Snapper and Pepper enjoyed some time at Daddy's desk...eating snacks, drinking soda, being spoiled by the guys in Matt's department. On the way home, Snapper wanted to ride with Daddy. So I hit the road with Pepper in my van, and Snapper and Daddy went in his car. Matt called me about 5 minutes into the drive to share Snapper's observations with me.

"Daddy, you are a fast, speedy-quick driver. But Mommy, she drives like a sleepy old bear."

I'm a...sleepy old bear!?! least this sleepy old bear has never received a speeding ticket!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Addendum: I Love Summer in the South

A few days back I was feeling so thankful for so many things that I love about living in Arkansas in the summer. I got a few raised eyebrows at that sentiment I'm sure...but anyhoo, I really do like it here. And today added to that sense of "like."
First of all, we enjoyed a beautiful thunderstorm this afternoon. I stood out on the porch and watched the clouds roll and billow to the west as an amazing thunderhead grew out of nothing. It reminded me of those little capsules I used to put in the tub when I was little, you know, the ones that magically turned into sponges shaped like animals. Yeah. Anyway, I watched those spectacular clouds and thanked God for the opportunity to live here. I never saw anything like that in my 26 years of life in California. Then as I was standing there in the 96 degree afternoon, I was met with a sudden blast of cool air which preceded the storm, and by the time I had walked inside and up the stairs, the temperature had dropped 16 degrees. In 3 minutes. Wild!
By dinnertime the storm had blown over and disappeared to the east. Debbie came home from work and announced that she had received an invitation to go downtown for a movie in the park. She invited us to go along. So we finished up our taco casserole (yummy!), packed up some cookies and the bug spray (not to be eaten together...) and headed downtown.
While much of downtown is old and, well, ugly, the River Market District is beautiful. Besides all the great restaurants, museums, and Farmer's Market, there is an amphitheater by the Arkansas River, two pedestrian briges, and a wonderful new park with fountains for the kids to play in.
The big, blue tent in this picture is covering the amphitheater.

Tonight we saw "The Wizard of Oz" in the amphitheater. There were at least 2,000 people there strecthed out on blankets on the lawn, or seated in the theater-style chairs. There is something so charming about watching the sun setting over the river, and waiting for the movie to start. It was a bit muggy (my glasses kept steaming up from the humidity in the air), but we didn't care. The occasional firefly passing by only added to the ambience. Snapper was spellbound. Even Pepper sat enraptured through the entire movie, a first for him. The movie ended at 10:30 with an enthusiastic round of applause from the crowd. Now it is 11:40. The kids both crawled straight into bed when we got home and closed their eyes without protest. I'm wiped out myself, but thankful for another sweet, family evening to tuck into my treasure box of memories.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Webcam

Hooray!!! We got a webcam! Now we can send video messages and do video chat with our friends and family. If you have a webcam, please let me know so I can add you to my list of techie buddies.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I love having children. They keep my life interesting and full of comedy. Whether it is listening to Snapper comment on the number of gray hairs she sees on her grandma's head, or watching Pepper stick a pencil in the cat's butt, there really is seldom a dull moment in our home.

Today Matt was shuffling furniture in our guest room/school room and I was working on lesson plans on the computer. Snapper was contentedly rotting her brain out playing on the X-Box and Debbie was at work. After a few peaceful moments, it occurred to Matt to wonder where Pepper could be. A quick search found him in the master bathroom.

Now Pepper has quite a history with the bathroom. Like most true-blue little boys, he thoroughly enjoys finding out how things work, pushing buttons, flipping levers, and generally getting into mischief. A few months ago Pepper went on a "let's see what I can flush down the potty" kick. Within a few weeks, he attempted to flush a few rolls of toilet paper, my slippers, the cat, and my nice digital camera (I caught him on the way into the bathroom that time). He successfully flushed all of his socks--all 15 pairs clean out of the laundry--down the toilet one pair at a time. He received a sound spank on his little bottom after that last shenanigan, and I have had no trouble with him since. Phew! I'm glad that phase is over.

Or so I thought. Matt peeked into the master bathroom to find Pepper bending over the toilet. Pepper jumped and sheepishly said, "Hi Daddy." Mr. Innocent, with that sweet little cherub grin. Matt could read the little cartoon thought bubble over Pepper's head: "Oh crud, I'm in for it now!" Silence from the bathroom, and then Matt summoned me to hurry. I grabbed my camera and headed for the bathroom.

I walked in the door and Pepper announced, "Look, Mama! I flush Mama's bandaids!" For a moment I was speechless. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll let my camera do the talking from here on out. Mama's bandaids...sheesh!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Love...

One of the blogs I follow is the FamilyLife Mom Blog today (check my blogroll) and was encouraged by Barbara Rainey's post on Summer in the South. Since I also live in the South, it was easy to relate to this blog! While I'm often tempted to gripe about the heat and humidity, there are things that I truly love about living in Arkansas in the summer. Just for fun, I'll list those things.

6. I can wear shorts and tank tops on the porch at midnight and not get cold.

5. Swimming is VERY refreshing when it is so hot outside.

4. The Little Rock Farmer's Market is in full swing, with lots of wonderful local produce. We love to drive in on weekends and load up on fresh produce and flowers.

3. I can get the perfect, most refreshing drink--sweet tea--just about anywhere!

2. Spectacular thunderstorms frequently roll through, providing amazing entertainment and cooling the air.

1. Fireflies add sparkle to every evening. They are my favorite part of living in Arkansas in the summer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Welcome Addition

Congrats to my sister-in-law Crystal and her boyfriend Bryan on the birth of their daughter Bijou! In case you're wondering about the unusual name, it means "kisses" in French (and is pronounced Bee-zhoo). I love that! Bijou was born at 7:15 this morning and weighed in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces. I'll post some pictures as soon as I have some. Hooray for a new, little niece to love!

Just for Fun

I love modern's a way to share memories across the miles. I got back in contact with my friend Brian the other night, and I prepared a slideshow for him of some of my favorite pictures of our family over the last 4 years. I would have pics from before then too, but I didn't get my digital camera until 2004. I liked the slideshow so much that I decided I'll post it on here for you, too. Here's the URL. I couldn't get the link feature to work, so you'll have to cut and paste it. Sorry!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Check This Out!

I have posted a slideshow of highlights from Pepper's first two years. It is at the very bottom of this page. So scroll on down and enjoy. =)

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Coolest Evening

Summer here in Arkansas is typically too hot for outdoor activities. This year has been the exception to that rule. The summer Pepper was born, we had a heat spell that began in late June and lasted all the way into early August where we broke 98 degrees every day. 20 days in a row it was over 102 every day. This year we haven't even hit 100 yet! Our high today was 91, so we packed up a picnic dinner (egg salad sandwiches, potato chips, and cherries), and made the drive to Burns Park for a picnic and some disc golf. It was warm and pretty humid, but it wasn't hot. We enjoyed a round of disc golf with Grandma, Deb-Deb, and the kids before heading home at bedtime. As if that wasn't cool enough...

Way back in my freshman year of college (12 years I feel old!), I met this really great guy, Brian, in my Algebra class. We ended up having Music Appreciation together that semester, too. We studied together a lot, and had fun just hanging out. The next year we worked together at Staples. Then we both transferred to San Jose State. We didn't see each other as often, but still met up from time to time for coffee or lunch. He and his fiancee came to our wedding. That was the last time I saw Brian. We were supposed to go to his wedding, but I was on bed rest, pregnant Snapper. And after that we completely lost touch with Brian and Allison. I haven't talked to him at all in 7 years. Then my BFF Noel was at a housewarming party, and who should she meet but Brian! Somehow they made the connection that they both knew me, and awesome Noel got us back in contact. I just spent an hour of most satisfying conversation on the phone with Brian! We had a lot to talk about after 7 years. I told him about our kiddos, and he told me he's going to be a first-time daddy next week! How cool is that?!? So thanks Noel! And Brian, I'm very glad to revive this friendship.

Yup, this was the coolest evening!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Fastest Two Years of My Life

Okay. Two years ago right now (8:34 p.m.) I was peacefully sleeping through an obnoxiously slow labor in my room at the hospital. My epidural had taken effect and I dozed right off, free from pain for the first time in 20 hours. At 9:45 I was rudely awakened by a burning sensation deep within my pelvis. I called the nurse and asked to be checked. At 10:25 p.m. Pepper made his grand entrance into the world and was placed directly into my waiting arms. I made the oath right then to savor every precious moment of his babyhood. Time is indeed fleeting. It seems like I have barely blinked and now he is two, or as he says, "I turn 2." I am so thankful for the amazing little boy God gave Matt and me 2 years ago. He is such a delight, so full of fun, and an overflowing fountain of contagious laughter. His expressive little face communicates his emotions as clearly as print. Each day I look at him and marvel at the workmanship of God. Pepper is a beautiful miracle. Oh, how I love my little man. Here are a few pictures from today.

The birthday portrait, taken on our front porch. Pepper is 2!

Balloons and birthday signs, traditions of both Matt's and my families.

A new sandbox, birthday gift from Mommy and Daddy.

This sweet face is so precious to me. I love the unposed pictues like this most of all.

A baseball centerpiece for a baseball themed party.

Sunglasses purchsed by Snapper for Pepper. A true gift of love.

Blowing out the candles on the baseball cap cake made by Mommy.

No doubt about it, the boy loved his cake!

Jackson love the S family: Brian, Carol, V, S, and A.

Grandma Lia and Auntie Deb-Deb were here to share the fun, too!

W is Pepper's boy buddy. His mommy and daddy (Lauren and Jonathan) are pretty cool, too.

We had a wonderful day of celebrating Pepper--a special expression of God's goodness and creativity. Happy Birthday, Little Buddy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Teachable Moments

I have successfully completed the household cleaning tasks on my list for this weekend! Snapper was cheerful and helpful slave labor due to the fact that she chewed a hole in the neckline of her shirt this morning. I think my daughter was a squirrel in a past life...she puts everything in her mouth and chews on the most random things: fingernails, her sheets, the old drinking straw she found on the ground at the ballpark...ugh! I shudder! I determined that if she was so bored that she had to chew her shirt for entertainment, I would give her something productive to occupy her time. So Snapper cleaned baseboards this morning. She folded laundry and delivered it to the appropriate rooms. She cleaned out the dishwasher. She wiped down the edges of the bathtubs. She cleaned her room. She put away all the toys and books that have been accumulating in the living room. She emptied trashcans. And guess what? I never once saw her shirt--or anything else for that matter--enter her mouth.

The coolest part of all was that she cheerfully helped the whole 3 hours without a word of complaint. Having her there with me made my tasks so much more enjoyable, and the morning of hard work flew by. We laughed and talked. I gave her instruction in thorough cleaning. She loved the time with me, even if it was cleaning. And we talked about doing our best because we are doing it for the Lord. A sweet and unexpected teachable moment. That totally jived with her, and she seemed amazed to discover that even emptying the trash with a cheerful heart matters to Jesus. We are rewarding ourselves with cheese souffle (Snapper's favorite meal) and popsicles for lunch. Hooray for a completed checklist! Hooray for a clean house! And Hooray to God for giving me such a cool daughter to share life with!

Milk It!

Snapper regularly entertains us with the wacky, off-the-wall things that she says. Some are cute, some are embarrassing. She said something this morning that was just plain funny. Matt was sitting at the computer. He had just gotten out of bed so he wasn't wearing a shirt yet. Snapper came over to him, squeezed his manly chest and said,

"Daddy, you must have been drinking a lot of milk!"

Never a dull moment!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just Because She's Cute

I love my sweet daughter. Even though I don't understand her most of the time (she does and says things that boggle my mind), she is still a ton of fun and a very compassionate and delightful little person. I had to post a 4th of July picture of her. No specific reason behind this post. It's just because she's so darn cute!

Many Plates

It seems life is a cycle in so many areas. There are biological cycles, spiritual cycles, emotional cycles, workload cycles, parenting cycles, you name it. Sometimes life is so hectic there is no room to breathe. As a general rule, I try to not let my life get that way. When I was growing up, there was a period of a few years where we were always running on that hamster wheel. I don't want to slide into that as a mom. There are also cycles where nothing is going on and I go bored out of my mind from the monotony of days on end at home with nothing to do but clean and cook.

I am on the spin cycle right now. So much to do and not enough time in which to do it! But you know what's cool? Everything...well, almost something that is of great value in my life and the lives of others. And for once I'm actually looking forward to a few weeks in the fast lane. So here's my list. And this is more for me than for you, simply because I need to verbalize it all so it will seem more manageable.

1. Clean the house. Doesn't this one always need to be done? I have 4 baskets of unfolded clean laundry, 3 baskets of dirty laundry, and house-wide unvacuumed floors needing my attention. Add to that 2 bathrooms that haven't been cleaned since mid-June and sheets on 3 beds that need to be changed and I have a full plate for tomorrow.

2. Prepare the 2 extra bedrooms. Matt's mom and youngest sister, Debbie, are arriving from Spokane tomorrow night. Mom is staying for a week, give or take a few days, and Debbie is the new permanent resident of our household! She's starting nursing school here in Arkansas in a few weeks! We're super excited that she's moving in with us, and very much looking forward to Grandma's visit. But their bedrooms, especially Deb's, need to be readied. That includes packing up Pepper's nursery (sob sob), and painting over the bright pink walls in Snapper's old room. And no, it can't wait. When Grandma goes home, that room will be used for guests and school.

3. Schedule my volunteers for Life Change's staff conference at the end of this month. I'm in charge of set-up and clean-up for the childcare at this 2-day event. I have about 20 volunteers to work with so we're sure all shifts are covered. This really needed to be finished like 2 weeks ago, so I'm behind on that. Bad me.

4. It's our monthly prayer letter time again. Matt will do all the printing, envelope stuffing, stamping, and mailing. I just need to write the newsletter. Piece of cake, right?

5. During the summer our church does a monthly night out for the ladies of the church. It is an opportunity to build and maintain friendships in a quickly-growing church, as well as a chance for ladies to bring their unchurched friends to a non-threatening event. I'm on the leadership committee for women's ministry. My part of these summer get-togethers is preparing the invitations. I have 3 wonderful ladies who I work with on this. I need to have the August invitations ready to go in 3 weeks. There are 300 to make.

6. And here's the biggie--Snapper starts 1st grade in 5 weeks. I have done some planning, but not enough. I have ordered her curriculum and expect it within a few days. The Language Arts curriculum we are using is pretty involved and will require a lot of prep on my part. I am REALLY EXCITED! Snapper is so bright and eager to learn. I can hardly wait to see her take off with the amazing launguage skills that this curriculum will give her. It will be entirely worth the effort I will have to put in. But just a reminder, school starts in 5 weeks. So much to do, so much to do.

Okay, I have put each task in its own little box. Now I can relax and tackle each one without feeling overwhelmed. I hope you're having a good day, and that your hamster wheel is not spinning faster than you can run.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Our New Team

When Matt and I moved to Arkansas 2 1/2 years ago, we atarted a whole new career at LifeChange. Matt thoroughly enjoyed his work with volunteers. But then a few months ago, he was approached by a friend from a different department. He wanted Matt to come work with him on a new, innovative project that will greatly benefit LifeChange as a whole, and equip others to make a difference in their friends' lives and marriages. All the doors swung wide open for us to make this transition. Last week Matt moved to his new desk and new job at LifeChange.

Yesterday and today we got to participate in off-site team meetings with our new team. It was wonderful to conenct with them, to brainstorm, dream, and get creative, and to really feel like part of a team. We had a great team before this transition, so we feel twice blessed. Matt is really excited about getting to develop and e-coaching strategy for people who coordinate groups to bring to our events. He is going to get to use his creative and skills as an innovator, as well as working with some people who can bring him along and help fuel his passion for the family even more! I'm excited because I am going to be able to work from home on special projects for the department. It will be great for me to be a contributing member of this team.

Here is a picture of our new team.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Congrats to Matt!

This is the third year Matt has played on our church's softball team. Today was the last day of his season. I am proud to report that the team finished the season with a record of 16 wins and 2 losses! Way to go, Parkway Place, and congrats to my amazing third baseman husband!

Monday, July 7, 2008

I Think You Meant "Swimmin'"

What would a child's summer be without a swimming lesson or two? Snapper and Pepper got to take two weeks of swimming lessons at our community pool. For Snapper it was instant water love. For Pepper, not so much. He cried pitifully at each "Ready-Ready-Under," but obediently did every task the teacher asked of him. And he was proud of himself at the conclusion of each lesson. So after the third day of swimming lessons, I asked Pepper a question: Do you like swimming lessons?

His classic reply: "Yup, I can do 'wimmin'!"

I think you meant "swimmin'."

Bliss in a Blog

So I'm really excited! I love to journal, love to write, love to find creative outlets for myself. In the often monotonous routine of life and parenting, writing keeps my perspective right. I love to read other people's blogs. They are good reminders to me that I'm not doing this life alone, and that many others face the same issues that I face.

My hopes for this blog:

5. Help my friends to know me better. I plan to talk a lot about the happenings of my daily life, as well as the thoughts that run crazy through my head.

4. Remember that creative outlet I was talking about? I hope this blog gives me one more way to express myself and maintain my individuality. I am a unique person APART from my husband and kids. Not that I mind being identified with them, it's just nice to be just me sometimes.

3. Furnish some good laughs. I am blessed with two hilarious children. The funny things they say and do make me laugh every day. I hope my readers enjoy these funny tidbits as much as I do.

2. Provide encouragement for other through my more sober musings. Maybe cause others to ask some deep questions of themselves, maybe even provoke some healing tears.

1. Direct people back to Jesus, my source of life, hope, healing, grace, and love.

So happy reading, my friends! I hope you enjoy my secret cupboard!