Category Archives: For Fun

This is the place I file all my just for fun connections for you; whether it be books, blogs, music, fashion, Church, etc.!

Thursday Picks Edition #4

Summer is in full swing, kids are sleeping in late, but not that late, breakfast happens sometime between 6:30 and 10 am, and there is a bit of unrest among the tribal harmony in our home. Sound familiar?

We are in the part of summer where we spend tons of time in the mountains and are perpetually packing and unpacking suitcases. This is the part of summer I absolutely LOVE because it is filled with lots of extended family, friends, and adventure!

So here’s a few snap shots of what that looks like for us!

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Hiking every chance we get!  This day Max did 2 of our 3 mile hike and then I packed his 36 lb little wiggly body into the backpack for the last mile!

4th of July Fun

Traditionally this includes an incredible small mountain town parade including getting to see the Deer Valley Ranch Wranglers (including this stud –my nephew– in the photo below) on horseback, candy, flags, and freeze pops being thrown at children; and (my favorite) Aunt Sharon and Uncle Bob’s annual (33 years running) 4th of July Picnic. The picnic is full of great grilling, incredible side dishes, pie, homemade ice cream, and lots of all-American games like the egg-and-spoon race, softball, and (my personal favorite) the cherry seed spitting contest.

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Here (photo below) you can see how proud my parents are that they raised two 1st place champion cherry seed-spitters! Hey, when you grow up as the only girl among three boys, one skill you learn to master is spitting. I knew all that practice would pay off someday! Look at those beaming parents over my “little” brother and me; they couldn’t be prouder, I’m sure.

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That’s been the excitement here lately and before I head off to our day’s adventure (which today includes shopping with three children) here are this week’s Thursday picks! To see previous weeks picks, simply either click the recommended link or the “tags” link under Thursday Picks at the bottom of this post.

Happy Thursday! Hope you get to practice your cherry seed spitting today, the cherries are in season and so yummy!!

BOOKS

ANYTHING by Jennie Allen

ANYTHING is  a book I read for the first time four years ago and it rocked me to the core.  Jennie has just released Anything in an updated version with an 8-week book/bible study included in the back section and I could not be more excited to be journeying once again through this book, this time with several other friends at 5am on Wednesday mornings!

I would attempt to wrap words around this book, but Jennie has provided a trailer that will give you a better picture than I could ever paint as to what Anything is all about.

If you choose to pick this up and read it, you can read it alone, but could I encourage you to find a friend, or two, or 12 and read and discuss it together?  This has been on my top 5 all-time favorite non-fiction reads since the first time I laid eyes on it and it is new every time I re-read it based on where I’m at in my journey of life on this planet.

FOR THE LOVE, Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards                    by Jen Hatmaker

for the love book

For the Love is a compilation of essays by a woman who is both deep and hilarious! Here is a great description of what the book is about by and advanced copy reader:

Reading this book is like sitting down to coffee with a friend. Jen pulls you close and whispers in your ear, “You are not failing. You’re doing great!” And because of Jen’s authenticity and her gift with words and with people, you actually believe her, breathe a sigh of relief, and feel empowered to go out and be a little gentler with everybody else, too. Jen moves effortlessly (and hilariously!) between the profound and the practical, sharing everything from how God shook up her neatly-tied-up theology to helpful advice on how to restore sanity to your schedule, build lasting friendships around your table (recipes included!), and make Jesus’ love real enough to your kids that they won’t walk away from the church. For The Love helps us set aside the impossible standards we use to evaluate ourselves so that we can breathe in Love, and breathe it out again.                                                                            Jennifer; Writer, Counselor, and Community-Builder. Chicago, IL

The book is not even out in real print yet, but Jen and her publishing team are doing something that is just awesome!  You can pre-order For the Love here  and while you wait for your hardcover book, you can read it in free downloadable pdf form!!!  If you order by July 15, there are a bunch of other freebies they are offering as well!  I just ordered mine last night and can not wait for a quiet moment to begin reading!

Podcast

Shauna Niequiest- Episode 318

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m slightly obsessed with Shauna Niequist words (both written and spoken) right now. Since her newest book Savor has come out, she’s been a guest on several podcasts I love, but I think my favorite interview was the one she did with the Catalyst Podcast and you can listen here or via iTunes on the Catalyst podcast.  There you will find it under Episode 318.

Shauna shares about her new book, new convictions, and a bit of her journey to where she is today as a writer, wife, mom, cook/hostess, and partner in a ministry called The Practice alongside her husband.

Music

There are some weeks you just need some new tunes. This is pretty much every week for me. I’m that girl who loves a song and plays it until the shiny wears off (6 months later).  There are some you may know in this list, but I’m hoping you find a new tune to carry with you from this list this week!

& More…

In the spirit of helping you save money, eat healthy(ish), and simple preparation I bring you the most yummy breakfast (or dessert, if you’re one of those who “splurge” on yogurt for dessert).

Chocolate Dust Vanilla Greek Yogurt
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My kids LOVE the Chobani Greek Vanilla with chocolate dust yogurt that only comes in the individual sized servings (more trash/waste) that typically cost $1.25 each so I decided to come up with my own more economical/less landfill waste version.

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I know, it looks so complicated, doesn’t it?

Vanilla yogurt + Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips + (optional) Raspberries (or whatever is on sale–these were 10 for $10) + (optional) Mint Garnish = Yummy

Pulverize 1 cup of chocolate chips in a food processor and store in a mason jar or other air-tight container.
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Add to bowl of Greek Vanilla Yogurt or yogurt of your choosing. Add berries (optional).

Complicated, right?  This has been such a great breakfast go-to for us both for the ability for the kids to make it themselves, as well as a great quick on-the-go breakfast if we’re heading out for a day of adventure.

Personally, I believe every breakfast should contain chocolate in some form, so this meets that criteria for me!


Happy Thursday to you! Would love to hear what it is you’re loving this Thursday!!

Thursday Picks Edition #3 (on Friday)

Thursday picks

Lessons I’ve learned in the past few weeks:

1. Never post a raffle-copter drawing when heading into a busy two weeks. I’m so sorry to all four of you that entered!
PS Winner announced below!!!

2. If you get a buddy pass and have to get up at 3 am to catch a flight that you may or (more likely) may not get on, be sure to have a bff who rises at that crazy hour to make you coffee and hug you goodbye.
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3. If a 5-year old asks you to play basketball in the driveway right after you roll out of bed, you should always say yes. You never know when he might be in need of fresh daily writing and art material for the school morning work. Also, he’ll make you look real lean in his rendering.

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“My Mom’s friend, Aunt Brenda, came to our house today. We played basketball.”

4. Slip-n-slides are really one of the best parts of summer

We kicked off summer old-school style with neighbors and the simultaneous triple and double (not see in photo) Slip-n-Slides! It was a perfectly hot afternoon for cold water and lots of crazy Slip-n-Slide maneuvers!
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Needless to say, I know that many of you are also experiencing the crazy joy that is known as the end of the school year. For us, besides the non-stop rain that just won’t quit, the end of school year festivities and the stubborn active 2 1/2 year old have owned any shred of focus I might have had at this stage in the end of school year/early summer.

So here we are at Thursday picks again and there is so much I’m loving right now, especially in books and music!  It’s going to be a short and sweet list this week due to reasons stated above.

So here are the top picks for this week!

BOOKS

I have been reading like it is the last day I have sight. Somehow we create space for things in different seasons of life that in other seasons we couldn’t find space for. I love books and I love reading bunches of them simultaneously.

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Lately I have become obsessed with Shauna Niequist’s writing.

I started reading Cold Tangerines nearly 5 weeks ago and found it to be such a great night time read. Shauna writes each chapter as a sort of stand-alone essay, which is good for this book-addicted mamma who tends to let children eat cookies for breakfast (not the worst thing, but not the best either) when caught up in a continuous chapter book. So this week’s book pick is Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Trust me, this is a great easy summer read by the pool or in the evening with a glass of wine on the back patio.

You can read more description about Cold Tangerines here and links to order are there as well.

Podcast

I know we’ve talked about Jamie Ivey’s podcast before and how I love to listen to it while cooking dinner. This is by far one of my favorites combining two of my favorite people Jamie Ivey + Melanie Shankle (author of Sparkly Green Earrings, The Antelope in the Living Room, and her latest memoir on friendship Nobody’s Cuter Than You) in one hilarious hour of podcasting.

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Click here to listen

Music

I am always looking for new workout music that is lyrically clean and has a great beat. So here are a few from my newest list

& More…

In lieu of my favorite blog this week, I wanted to share with you these shoes that I have had my eye on and cannot stop looking at! I actually bought a pair of the generic Bass Pro brand that are similar to these Sanuk brand (and 1/4 the price) but I’m thinking I still may need to go back and get me a pair of these!

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or these

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These are called the Boardwalk and look like they have a bit more cushion inside of them, which is always a plus, as far as I’m concerned!

If you are interested in either, simply click here to order.

*None of the above listed are not affiliate or promotional links. I simply want to share things I love in hopes to expedite your search for things YOU love!

What are you loving as we head into summer? Comment to share the love of the things and books, and music you love!

& the WINNER of Every Bitter Thing is Sweet book Giveaway is:

summer deals!

 

CONGRATULATIONS, Meredith!  I will email you to set up shipping! 🙂

Happy Thursday, everyone!

 

 

While It’s Still Thursday (Thursday picks continued…)

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Because when I wrote this week’s abbreviated Thursday picks it was late and I was tired.

Because I feel like there is so much more in the world I want to connect you to.

Because it’s rain-snowing outside and I have an air-pot full of Dunkin Donuts Coconut flavored coffee beside me in my new favorite writing spot.

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Because I’m trying to avoid more significant writing.

Because inquiring minds need to know.
I honestly don’t know who is inquiring.  Really, I just made that part up.

Because I’m learning CSS code through an online course and am dying to try it out on you. Ok, so truth. It’s a 6th grade code-writing course that my oldest is enrolled in that I found myself doing helping with homework the other night. I’m fascinated.  It’s like when you first learn how to do bubble-writing in middle school and you want to write everything (not just your name alongside you’re boyfriend’s name) in bubble words everywhere. Rachel is so tickled that i am learning so much from her class and actually asked me last night if I wanted to sit and do Code Academy (her course) together last night.

Fancy colored fonts or none, there are simply a few more picks I’m dying to share with you!

*If you missed today’s earlier Thursday Picks, there is a giveaway there you can enter to win Sarah Haggerty’s new, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet book.  Trust me, you need to read this book.  Even if you don’t need to read it, you absolutely need to run your hands over the beautiful honeycomb texture on the honey jar on the jacket cover. Don’t ask me how I know. Ok, since you asked, it’s because I love the cover so much I practically want to just keep it by my side and run my fingers over it on a regular basis. It’s that rich and beautiful and the words inside live up to all the beauty of the cover.

PODCASTS

jamie ivey podcast

This is a go-to podcast for me while I’m prepping food for dinner.  Jamie is an incredible communicator with a great sense of humor. Each episode is a conversation where Jamie talks with one of her friends (who happen to also be super interesting women) and you feel like you’re just getting to listen in.  This one here is where she talks with one of my favorite bloggers and authors, Melanie Shankle. Melanie writes at TheBigMamaBlog.com and has authored three books: Sparkly Green EarringsThe Antelope in the Living Room, and her brand new book Nobody’s Cuter Than You.  You will laugh hysterically while listening to this podcast as these two talk about everything from the new book, to talking to your kids and pre-teens about sex. Trust me.  It’s funny. You can also listen on iTunes here and it is episode #35, although once you listen to the Happy hour once, you’ll want to go back through the archives and listen to so many more!

MUSIC

needtobreathe livefromthewoods

I have not yet met a NeedtoBreathe song or album I didn’t want to play on repeat for months on end, and the latest Live From the Woods at Fonatel is no exception. It’s like sitting in a NeedtoBreathe show while still in the comfort of your living room, or car, or wherever it may be that you love to turn up the tunes! Reid and I are so excited to see their show live at Red Rocks this summer (tickets still available here) and this album is like an taste of what we look so forward to from this brother-band when they come to Colorado in July.

BLOGS

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If you like great writing, if you like free books, if you are a woman in the trenches of motherhood and ministry you need to go check out my sweet friend, Melissa Blair’s blog. This month she is giving away a free copy of Breathing Room by Leeana Tanersly and you can read about the book and enter to win here.

& MORE…

Because you NEED to know this.

If you forget everything else I’ve written, this you must know.

It’s better than a one day tax day deal. This deal is good until April 30th and it is from my favorite favorite coffee shop: Dunkin Donuts!
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The only thing you need is a Dunkin Perks Card, which is a re-loadable mobile Dunkin Donuts Card).

So follow these instructions:
Get a DD Perks card.
Load card with money.
Order hot coffee.
Pay with the card.
Get .99 ANY SIZE hot coffee all day long!
Repeat.

And that’s all.

You’re welcome!

Thursday Picks 2015 Edition #1

Thursday picksWinter in many parts of Colorado looks a whole lot like a hormonal pre-teenager.  I would know since I am simultaneously experiencing both first-hand.  Three days ago it was t-shirts and jeans, no jacket.  Today, snow flakes as large as the down filling in my comforter.  The snow melts on the street that is still warm enough to make it disappear and catches only on the grass, making it perfect for an afternoon walk with mittens and medium-weight coat.  Maybe I’ll venture out later…at least to meet my youngest at the bus stop.

Aren’t you glad you’ve been enlightened into my weather world today?!  Seriously, you came here to see what the Thursday picks are, not to hear about mood-swinging weather and pre-teens.  Ok, so let me grab my coffee and let’s get on with it!

Book

Wherever the River Runs: How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel  -     By: Kelly Minter<br /><br />

Wherever the River Runs by Kelly Minter is a powerful memoir style book that tells the story of how the people of the Amazon and her time spent ministering alongside them has shaped Kelly’s faith, life story, and ministry.  It is so well-written, captivating, and challenging as to what our faith looks like everyday in our own local context!

Podcast

It is often a season of prayer and fasting during this first part of the year, and whether that’s something that you are doing at this time or not, this message from Dawn Jackson, one of the pastors at Faith Community Church in West Covina, CA  will challenge and encourage you.  As a marathon and trail runner, Dawn brings a physical training perspective and applies it to spiritual training in a tangible and practical way.  You can listen to and watch her message via the Faith Community app in iTunes titled Preparing for 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting  or watch online here.

Music

So we started a new Beach Body Workout program and I’ve been in desperate need for some new FAST and CLEAN workout music.  If you have any recommendations, please, please, please leave them in them in the comments below.  As you can tell, my list is still so far from complete.

Here are two of my current favorites that have been added to my list and get me moving faster when I’d prefer to fall on the floor and pass out.

Made New- Lincoln Brewster

Edge of My Life- Manafest

Blogs

if-journal photo                                                                         This past week I purchased a journal through May Designs and it just came today!  I love a new journal and I love creatives who design and create hand-stitched, customizable journals!

if-journal 1                                                                                                       The one I ordered has Luke 1:45 on it and is this style. May Designs is printing journals that are customized for those planning to attend the IF: Gathering and has session sections as well as note sections.  You can also order the  blank ones. The link to May Designs to check ou their blog and product is here.

More…

And last but certainly not least, a random super simple recipe that I loved this week!  I always get boring with my side dishes and veggies, so this was a fun change from boring steamed broccoli.

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

from The Dashing Dish blog                                                                         The direct link to her site recipe can be found here

Here’s the Dish

Finally a way to enjoy broccoli, and the best part is that it is quick and easy! You can make this recipe with fresh or frozen broccoli. The broccoli comes out warm, salty, and the cheese gets crispy, making them the perfect alternative to french fries! I even like to dip them in ketchup!

Method

THE ESTIMATED TOTAL TIME TO MAKE THIS RECIPE IS 10-15 MINUTES.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil, sprayed with cooking spray, or a Silpat. Cut broccoli into small/bite size florets, was and lightly pat dry. Spread broccoli out evenly over pan, and lightly spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle parmesan and seasonings over the broccoli. Roast for 10-15 minutes, or until it is roasted to your liking. (If using frozen broccoli, simply increase the baking time to 25-30 minutes, or until broccoli is roasted to your liking.

Fish Hooks and Full Moons

It’s not what you think.  I know you’re thinking lakes and calm waters and the beauty of nature.  This is not nearly that serene or beautiful.  And before I even get started, I want to apologize to the older gentleman that was in Goodwill on Wednesday evening last week, minding his own business, patiently waiting for his wife to try on her selections in the fitting room.  I’d also like to apologize to any other passers-by in the general vicinity of the ladies fitting room around 7:45 p.m.

And while we’re making apologies and disclaimers, it’s important to make note that my children’s main source of safety and protection from inanimate objects is found in their Dad.  I have been known to both knowingly and (mostly) unknowingly allow my children to have lids to those squeezy fruit pouches that fit nicely inside their mouth, but have more difficult time finding their way out of their mouth.  I’ve been known to let them eat things off the floor, suck on grocery cart child restraint straps, and perhaps eat larger than safe pieces of hot dogs.  Which is why I attribute much of what happened last Wednesday night to the fact that I was out there in the world alone with my kids without their Dad’s eye for safety.  Poor things.

I mean, I’m all for safety–well maybe not completely– but let’s face it, there comes a time as a mom when a child is bored and so you allow them to be entertained with the closest thing (safe or unsafe) to squeeze 10 more minutes of time out of whatever it is that you are so bent on accomplishing.  And since it appears to be my day of confession, while I’m at it I might as well confess that I let my kids ride down the street sans helmet on their bike.  I know, it’s appalling.  I didn’t even realize it was a big deal until I started getting awful looks from the bike helmet police (read here: other more safety cautious mothers).  What has this world come to?!  But I digress in my need to confess and clearly establish that it’s not always “safety first.”  Sometimes it’s “Let’s see what this does..” first.  And sometimes it’s “Oooh this looks fun” first.  And every now and then it’s “I just need a few more minutes, so sure you can play with that” first.  The latter was the case in this most current uncalculated safety risk.

The other night, Reid had a meeting and it was AWANA night for the kids.  If you’re not familiar with AWANA, it’s an incredible Bible-based program for kids where they play games, memorize scripture, and have a larger group Bible story time.  They probably also teach kids skills on how to survive the mishaps of their parents– if not, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to add to the curriculum.  AWANA is church-sponsored program that happens to be inflation-proof.  It still only costs $.50 per child and I’m pretty sure that was the going rate when I was a child in AWANA programs more than a handful of years ago.  Reid and I have been known to refer to Wednesday nights as dollar date-night.  I know, it’s really super spiritual of us to take this perspective on it.  But for just a meager $1.00 we get an hour and a half of alone time out on the town.  Woot woot!  This was a great bargain date until Max came into our world and totally put the kibosh on dollar date night.  These days it’s the two of us and our trusty side-kick who would rather be scaling walls than sitting in a restaurant or screaming in the quiet zone at the library instead of quietly reading by the library fireplace baby boy…because we’re too cheap to hire a babysitter and because the kid is The Cuteness that neither one of us likes to be apart from unnecessarily.

Which brings me to the horrifying events of last Wednesday night.  Did I mention I was alone with above mentioned child?  I want to be sure to clearly establish that Reid bears no responsibility in this–which I feel I have successfully accomplished.  

Those of you who know me, know that I do nearly all of my clothing shopping at thrift stores.  If I have a free hour and I’m near a thrift store, then I’m going to go ahead and see what’s there.  Last Wednesday night I decided I would spend the free 1 1/2 hours at Goodwill with Max.  I was looking for a new top–you know one of those flowy blousy poet tops that’s gathered at the waist but hangs down.  I’ve seen so many women I know wearing them and they’re adorable on them, so I thought I’d see what I could find.  Now I realize that some of you are appalled that I went to Goodwill looking for something specific that is currently on-trend.  I know it seems crazy, but I typically go with specific things in mind and about 75% of the time I find what I’m looking for, or something pretty close.  You should try this sometime.

I looked for nearly 45 minutes and found a few things I thought were cute, including a pair of Nike workout shorts, while Max remained (mostly happy) in the stroller .  I headed to the fitting room with high hopes that one of the tops I had found would work on me.  There was an elderly gentleman sitting outside the handicapped fitting room waiting for his wife who was trying on her finds.  The fitting rooms at this particular store (I like to call it a recycled clothing boutique) were the kind with the slatted doors that have approx. a 1 1/2′ gap between the door and the floor.  

I squeezed Max, his stroller, and all my hopeful poet blouse candidates and other treasure finds into a standard sized fitting room.  For reasons I still can not explain, I hated every one of those cute tops on me.  I had loved them so on everyone else and hated them on myself.  I was so shocked that I think I tried each one on three times hoping to see if maybe I could warm up to them.  

So now Max and I have been in this standard sized (read here, super tiny/size of a shoe box) fitting room for approximately 10 minutes and (of course) he is still strapped into his stroller.  He begins to melt down and in an effort to appease him I handed him one of my hangers to play with.  You know the plastic kind with the swivel metal hanger part because —clearly— this is the wisest solution to pacify and entertain a fidgety baby in a tight spot whose strapped into a stroller.  No, of course it’s not the wisest thing!  I wasn’t thinking, “What’s the smartest thing to entertain him with?”  or “What’s the BEST solution to this situation?”  I was thinking, “Buddy, I’ve still got 6 more things to try on cause Mama needs a new outfit.  Here!  Look!  Doesn’t this look like fun?  It’s a hanger!”  

Now I know that some of you are dying a little inside right now.  The fact that I just handed my son a germy Goodwill hanger to play with is making you have an internal melt-down and some of you are shaking your head and experiencing the shivers of utter disgust.  If it’s any consolation (likely it isn’t) he had already had a snack cup full of Kix which he had removed the lid from and dumped onto the floor.  I was able to “rescue”  some of them from the “clean section” of the floor and put them back into the snack container to try to appease him.  Pretty much what you’re thinking right now is what I’m sure he was thinking too.  He didn’t want the dirty Kix back.  He didn’t want anything to do with those germ-filled balls of cereal.  And then he began to increase in voicing his displeasure with greater volume. This is the point at which, I handed him the hanger.  

It was somewhere after trying on the workout shorts and before getting my pants back on that Max began to scream.  Not the “I’m tired of being here” scream, this was more the “I’m in trouble, need help, and am terrified” scream that can be heard throughout the entire store drawing all attention to my particular fitting room.  I looked down at him and found that he had somehow decided to suck on the hanger part (I know–with the germs already–I know).  Somehow the hanger hook had worked it’s way into his mouth; more specifically toward the back of his mouth and he had fish-hooked himself.  Trying not to panic while standing in my undies, I attempted to remove the hanger.  It wouldn’t budge– not forward, not backward, not up, or down.  Insert full-on panic where I lost all sense of reason and crouched down to his level to try to calmly, without freaking out, remove the hanger.  

As seconds passed, and the screaming got louder the following thoughts passed through my mind:                                                                                                                                What will I do if I can’t get it out?  How do you take a baby all the way to the ER (alone) with a hanger stuck in his mouth?  How do you explain how the hanger got stuck in his mouth?

Then I noticed another obstacle to my speed in being able to get to the ER.  I didn’t have any pants on.  My next thoughts were:

How do I stand up and get my pants on with this hanger stuck in him?  What if it gets worse while I’m getting my pants on?

And as I’m gently, ever so gently still trying to find the right angle to get the hanger to give way and come loose I thought:

Oh goodness.  How am I going to explain this to Reid?  “Hi Reid, ummmm… so Max and I are at the ER because….well…. we were at Goodwill and I was in the fitting room and I handed him a hanger…”  

No.  There was no way I was going to be able to bring myself to tell my husband I had allowed our son to get fish-hooked by a hanger.  Meanwhile poor Max is looking at me desperately like, Uh, Mom.  This is freaking me out!  Help!!!”

I saw the fear in his eyes, set the panic aside, and prayed, “Jesus, help.”  Right then, the hook came loose and I got the hanger out without any injury at all.  Poor Max was relieved momentarily and then suddenly terrified all over again at the fact that the whole event had happened at all.  He looked at me as if to say, Why did you give me that hanger?  If Dad was here, he never would’ve given me a hanger.  He wouldn’t even have kept me in this fitting room so long as to need entertainment from a hanger!

This all happened in just moments.  And as I looked in his eyes I felt this sense of guilt wash over me.  What kind of mother gives her child a hanger with a swivel hook on the end?  What kind of mother keeps her child in a tiny fitting room so long that he should even need a swivel hooked hanger for entertainment?  And right as I was about to have another disparaging, guilt-ridden thought, I had a realization…

When I went into panic mode and crouched down, I had crouched down with my back to the door.  When your back is to the door and you’re in crouch position in between outfit changes, in a fitting room that has a 1 1/2 foot gap between the door and the floor, what happens is this: part of your body (namely your backside) appears in plain view for all to see.  Where people would normally only be able to view your feet in that gap if you were standing; in crouch position, that 1 1/2 foot gap is the ideal size for the greater part– if not all– of a rumpus to hang out.  Which is exactly where I found myself in that very moment.  There in crouch position, my guilt over being the worst mother ever was superseded by images of the poor old gentleman who had been subjected to being inadvertently mooned by me as he innocently waited on his bride in her fitting room.  And then my imagination went to all the blood curdling screaming that had likely attracted some onlookers who were wondering what in the world was going on in there with that poor child, only to come by and see my backside hanging out of the fitting room.

And so…as I stood up, unstrapped Max, and held the poor terrified child in my arms I thought, “Max, I’m so sorry that due to the fact that many people just saw my bottom, you are going to have to endure at least another 5 minutes in here hiding out with me until they have all left and moved on.”

The moral of the story is: Hangers are not toys for babies and if you’re going to have to crouch down in a fitting room, just be sure your backside isn’t facing the door-side.

You’re welcome for the wisdom that probably comes to you without experience.  Clearly I’ve only managed to gain it the hard way.   And you’re welcome for the laugh at Max’s and my expense.

Happy Wednesday!

*This is a re-post off of my previous blog site and since I needed a chuckle today, I thought maybe you could too!  

Thursday Picks 2014 Annual Edition

Thursday picks

There have been so many favorite things this year, and I thought it might be fun to give you a year-end Thursday picks Edition sharing my favorites in each category from this past year!  So without further adieu, here are some of my favorites that I pray you find as favorites soon too!

Books:

kisses from katie

Kisses From Katie, by Katie Davis. This book has the power of incredible story-telling of the incredible journey and mission of one young woman.  At the same time, you will find yourself challenged at every corner with the call that is specific to you laying down your very own life, right where you are.  There are books you read and love and there are books you read that change you.  This book will change you.  Here, see for yourself, a glimpse into the story in the book trailer:

Love Does by Robert Goff

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I connected so instantaneously to Bob’s story.  The theme of: Love looks like action and not just words echoes through every page of this book. The way Bob finds Jesus through a Young Life leader who simply radically loved him and stood by him spoke volumes to this heart.  I’m someone who’s life and faith has been radically changed both by being a part of and by leading as a part of Young Life.  This book will leave you challenged and encouraged to re-think the moments and relationships of this short life.  I listened to most of the book on audio-book (which is read by Bob) and really enjoyed processing it in part in print and wholly in audio as well.  If you pick up this book, you might as well order two.  You’ll want to keep one and mark it up, and give another away immediately!

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

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I always prefer to read the book before I see the movie.  Hence the reason I’ve never yet seen The Help since I’ve yet to make it through the book.  And this story is no exception.  The movie is out and the trailer below (to the movie) will give you a small glimpse into the powerful story of survival, tenacity, and redemption that Laura Hillenbrand has captured between these pages. If you are a read the book first kind of person, this is one you will want to devour before seeing it on screen.

Podcasts

I love podcasts and dream of one day having my very own where I feature all the fascinating people I get to do life with and those that God brings along my journey.  For now, I am enjoying the podcasts of others.  Both of these podcasts are available to subscribtion on iTunes.  My top two go-to podcasts this year have been:

Coffee with Chris                                                                                                              (Podcast with Christine Caine, founder of the A21 Campaign and Propel Women–which launches here in January 2015!!)

Elevation Church Podcast                                                                                             Weekly sermons from Pastor Steven Furtick are deeply rooted in Biblical truth and so incredibly challenging to grow deeper in relationship with Jesus and in the action to love others the way Jesus does.  This podcast is a weekly download listen for me.

Music

This band, Judah and the Lion is my favorite new band discovery of 2014 and I just realized that they will be here in Denver with Matt Kearney in March!!  Woot!  I think they’re very much a sweet blend of Needtobreathe, Mumford and Sons, & Rend Collective.  Here’s one of my favorites for your listening pleasure:

Speaking of Needtobreathe, they released a new album this year that is phenomenal called Rivers in the Wasteland.  I rarely ever purchase entire albums anymore, but if Needtobreathe creates an album, we own it–the whole thing.  It’s one band that Reid and I both just absolutely love.  So here is a song off the new album that’s a favorite called, Multiplied and then below that video is another of their songs that is (perhaps) my very favorite of all called Keep Your Eyes Open

 Blogs

Jennie Allen Blog

While I admire, adore, and just generally respect Jennie Allen normally I particularly fell in love with this post she posted with the Dream Guide for 2015.  Check it out here.

jennie allen photo

Mascara

This has been one of my favorite finds in blogging this past year!  Kara is an incredible writer and even more phenomenal instructor in all things beauty (make up, hair, fashion, and heart).  Nearly each week she offers some kind of video tutorial (which is where I renewed my love for cheek color and highlighter) or product recommendation.  She is a girl who uses (mostly) over-the-counter drug store products with the occasional higher-end product she feels is significantly superior.  Ever since my 7 year journey into the world of skin care and cosmetics with Mary Kay, I’ve become a make-up and skin care snob, however, I love that she offers options to those that may not be product loyal to a particular line or brand.  Here is one of my favorite tutorials on 4 Minute Make Up (for busy ladies and/or mamas on the go)

4 minute makeup

 

Recipe

Chicken Scallopine

Ok, this (by far) has been my favorite recipe find of 2014.  Great for a yummy meal for family, or awesome for a company meal!  Tastes fancy and is easy-peasy!  I have yet to make anything from the Pioneer Woman‘s Collection of Recipes that is not just to-die-for!

chicken scalopini                                                                        Prep Time:15 Minutes  Cook Time:15 Minutes  Difficulty:Easy  Servings:6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Linguine
  • 6 whole Boneless, Skinless, Trimmed Chicken Breasts
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 12 ounces, weight White Mushrooms, Sliced Thin
  • 1 cup Dry White Wine
  • Chicken Broth (optional)
  • 1 whole Lemon
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (can Use Half-and-Half)
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Capers
  • Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley
  • Parmesan Cheese, For Topping

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Flatten chicken breasts to uniform thickness. Salt and pepper both sides, then dredge in flour. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry chicken breasts until golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Throw mushrooms into the pan and stir. Immediately pour in wine and chicken broth (optional), and then squeeze juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon. Stir to deglaze the pan, and then cook vigorously for 1 minute, until sauce reduces.

Pour in cream and stir, then add capers and parsley and stir. Turn off heat. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Don’t under salt!

Place pasta and chicken on a platter and top with every last drop of sauce. Generously sprinkle Parmesan Cheese over the top.


So that’s the re-cap of just a few of my favorites from 2014!  I love to hear from you!  What have been your favorites this year?  Favorite recipes? Events? Moments? Books?  — Please tell me about your books!!!  Praying you all are full of gratitude for our abundant blessings.  I know I am today!

Christmas Expectations and Yoga Pants

and

So the other night after tucking the girls into bed and singing, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus….there’s just something about that Name…” for the 40th time to Max, Reid and I sprawled out on the couch to chill out and watch one of the very few shows we enjoy watching.  It’s this show called The Middle with Patricia Heaton (from Everybody Loves Raymond) and Neil Flynn (the beloved/hated janitor from Scrubs–one of our all-time favorite shows for a good laugh).

We settled in on the couch amidst a living room and downstairs level that looked like Christmas had thrown up in it.  We didn’t care.  There were boxes everywhere, a disheveled looking Christmas tree (more on that later), and a half assembled Nativity.  This year’s episode echoed my sentiments as a wife and mom (the one responsible for making Christmas happen) perfectly.  Here’s a clip–tell me you can’t relate to this!

So now having watched this, you may have a little insight and perspective into how I’m handling Christmas this year.

While I’m not donning an over-sized tee-shirt and taking off my pants, I just may not change out of yoga pants until the New Year.  I want to invite you to join me in this if you’re a chic.  If you’re a dude reading this, yoga pants for you might be awkward…but hey, if you’re reading this you may just feel led to join in.  I say go for it!  In fact, there’s a funny Tim Hawkins video about that.

In all seriousness (actually, I’m serious about the yoga pants) this year I have been really thinking through the stress around the holidays for women in particular.  Let’s face it, if we didn’t decorate, bake, write cards, arrange for a family photo shoot, and on and on…Christmas, as we’ve known it, wouldn’t happen.  And so what would happen if we just put on an over-sized shirt, took off our pants, and sat on the couch eating Grandma’s fudge while watching Christmas specials for two weeks??

What would happen?

Christmas would still happen.

This is what has been stirring in my heart this year.  Life has been full and we’ve been running at an accelerated pace the past 6 months.  As we’ve headed into Christmas this year I’ve been really leaning into and praying about what kind of Christmas is important to MY family?  What are the things that are important for centering our hearts on Jesus and the anticipation of celebrating His birth?  What do I hope my children remember about this season of so much wonder?

The other day I had a conversation with a sweet friend who has spent the past 7 Christmas seasons as a Pastor’s Wife and this is her first Christmas season in several years, where they are not in ministry.  Therefore, they are not under the same time-constraints and expectations that had previously come along with being in ministry during the holidays. Our conversation turned toward the question, “If there are no outside expectations upon us and our families, how does that make Christmas look different for us?”

See, I truly believe that most of the expectations which lead to stress around this beautiful time of the year are self-imposed or society-set expectations we have voluntarily taken upon ourselves.  When I stopped to evaluate some of the things I do around this time of the year, I began to also pay attention to how those things I feel I must do to “make Christmas happen” impact my attitude and the atmosphere in my home and relationships.

I found there were a few things and standards I just needed to lay down this year.  Not forever, just this year.  I made some cuts.  Here’s what made the cut:

  • Christmas decorations mostly up before Christmas day

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  • Take the kids on our traditional Christmas weekend staycation

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  • Shop with the big kids to pick out presents for each other and for their Dad

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  • Make some kind of Christmas Cookie
  • Attempt to do advent devotions with the kids after dinner
  • Send out Christmas cards (no Christmas letter this year)
  • Spend Christmas Eve with friends (but not at my house this year)

There may be a few more things, but this is basically it.  The list was really really slim this year so that we could really be intentional not only with our time, but with our hearts.

And so far, it’s been incredible.  There are still boxes of Christmas decorations in my dining room that need to have the lids put back on them and be taken back downstairs.  There are messes in every room in my house.

The Christmas tree lights completely went out almost as soon as I had nearly completed stringing them on the tree.

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This photo is taken after I had partially solved the lighting problem

This year’s tree also found itself tipped over by a small Paul Bunyan (see little boy hiding in sofa pillows) and landing squarely on top of me.

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Nonetheless, this year there is also a lot more patience and grace and time together.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have my house look photo-perfect like so many of yours that I see and one day I plan for it to look that way.  Just not today.

What are the expectations that you have placed on this time of the year?  What are the expectations that you have allowed others to place on you during this season?

I want to invite you into this conversation of intentional living.  What if we set about our lives to build legacy and not to simply get by?  What if we began asking the Lord about what His priorities are for our lives and our minutes before we allow other input in?

This is my heart as we draw near to the scene where a baby was about to be born over 2000 years ago.  Are we being still enough to smell the straw mixed with manure?

Are we wide-eyed enough to bask in the wonder of the God who is not confined to space or time, confining Himself to space and time?  

Can we simply sit in yoga pants and release the expectations?  I know this is my hope and my goal this Christmas.  What about you?  What expectations of yourself and others regarding the holidays are crowding out the intentional living and legacy building you desire?

Merry Merry Christmas to you all.  Please excuse me now as I go grab another piece of fudge…