Saturday, December 25

*Christmas Gifts* (the best little ones ever)

I truly didn't need even one gift under the tree.
*even though Dan surprised me a new Anthropologie purse! Yay!*
But seriously,
I really don't need anything.
I have been given more than I could ever have dreamed of.

God answered our prayers for a baby
by giving us two.

And that makes this the merriest Christmas of all Christmases...
knowing there are two sweet little lives growing inside of me.

Last Christmas, we were in our fifth month of praying for a baby.
But God's plan for us didn't yet include a baby.
We did trust His plan
but wondered why it was the way it was.

And now we can see.

And it's beautiful.

And we are so thankful.

God is such an amazing author.
He wrote our little Stephens' family story
in a way that was better
than we could ever have thought up ourselves.

And I am so thankful for the precious little gifts
that God has given us.
I can't wait for them to be born
so I can tell them about our amazing God
who sent His Son to die for us.

who loves us. 
who answers prayer.



Thursday, December 23

Sick with Worry

I've been thinking a lot lately about worrying.

Partially, because I've been swept up in the actual act of worrying....

and because I've been feeling guilty about worrying...

and also because I really have been struggling with where the balance lies
between being a careful, informed person and being a worrier.

So whether I've been worrying or thinking about worrying,
there has been a lot of the "w' word in my house.
poor Dan.

These are the questions I've been struggling with:
Where is the balance?
When do I take something that I'm thinking about
and do something about it, read about it, get informed about it,
and when do I take that thought
and completely surrender it to God?

And can I do both?

I wanted to bring up something today at my doctor's appointment
that had been (and still is) bothering me since Monday.
Pain in my right calf.
The worrier/hypochondriac/compulsive googler in me said
that I probably had a blood clot.

The calm and rational part of me
(which had seemed to be dwindling the past few days)
said it was probably calf pain.
Period.
No dvt. No hospitalization needed. Just some rest and a heating pad.

And so the thinking started..
Those two parts of me were duking it out
and the worrier seemed to be throwing the best punches.

The funny thing is,
the past day or so,
I hadn't even been too worried about the actual pain.
but more worried about what to do about it.

Could I surrender it completely to the Lord
and still go to the doctor with my little notepad of worries
whipping it out and telling him my possible horrible news
and asking what he thinks?

Possibly.
but only if done appropriately and rationally.
(which is hard for me).

But still, even if appropriateness was achieved,
I couldn't help but feel guilty as I contemplated what to do.
I knew everything was probably fine.
And I knew it was the crazed googler monster
whose first love is webmd
that lives in the shadows of my heart
that even allowed me to google "calf pain"
and discover the world of blood clots.

And my mind then wandered. Which was true?
A. Did I find out all about this in sin because I knew it would only make me worry?
B. Or did God allow me to read this on webmd to save my life?

It was probably A.
I knew that.

But these questions
about thinking/proactivity/being informed versus worrying
brought on
a lot of thinking and reading and praying this week.

It's truly hard to know where the balance lies.
When does being proactive in my life...
wanting to be informed...
and take care of myself stop


and worrying begin?

I decided that because I had been having pain,
it was okay to talk to the doctor about it.
I felt like I could still honor the Lord if I asked about it the right way.
Not in a "panicked, high pitch, fast talking, begging for every test under the sun" manner.
but in a calm and rational, trusting the doctor, sort of way.
So that is what I attempted to do.

In the end,
what happened at the doctors could possibly
make a worrier's matters possibly worse...
The doctor that I saw today
may not have been my favorite doctor ever
and didn't really say anything about my leg pain except
"Oh well you know, the leg bone is connected to the knee bone and well, however that song goes. It's probably just pain. I'm not worried."


Well, thank you Doctor Sing-A-Long. 

But still,
because of the time I had committed to prayer about this,
I decided to leave it in the Lord's hands.
I knew it was the right thing to do and I feel peace about it.
He knew the doctor I was going to see
and He knew what the doctor was going to say.
And so, I will trust Him.

And that's my episode with worry this week.

And let me tell you, worry is certainly a constant battle for me,
especially being pregnant.
And when I let myself start,
it becomes a giant creature that eats me.
Scary stuff.

I can think of times in my life
when I surrendered what was going on at that time to the Lord
and I felt so free. so at peace.
and that's where I want to consistently get back to.

It doesn't mean I don't call the doctor when I have a 103.9 fever.
But it does mean I don't call the doctor
because I thought about the flu for too long.

So I think the thing the Doctor prescribes
when I am sick with worry
is to take my stock out of webmd
and put it into God's word and His promises.
And prayerfully ask God to help me get back
into a 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 lifestyle.

It's definitely the healthiest place to be.

Friday, December 17

Happily Ever After

Dan and I celebrate five years of marriage today.

Five years ago,
at 2pm on December 17, 2005,
I walked down the aisle
kissed my dad as he gave me away
and married my best friend.

When I got married,
I was well aware that life isn't always a fairy tale....
though I firmly believed (and still do)
that since I was marrying my best friend,
even the hard times spent together
would be better
than any amount of good times without each other.

And they are.

Because when I go to bed at night,
I know I have a husband who loves me.
cares for me.
loves Jesus more than me.

God did not have to give me
such a wonderful man.

But He did.

And now, five years later,
Dan and I are 16 weeks pregnant
with two sweet babies.

I'm not saying that every day feels like a fairy tale
or that I'm living in a dream world...

I'm just saying...
that when I lay my head down at night
and see my husband laying next to me,
and look at my little belly bump that is holding our two sweet little ones,
and think about how we have a God who loves us
who promises to carry our little family
through life's ups and downs,
I can't help but be overwhelmed with thankfulness
and feel like I'm living in a real live fairy tale.

Sunday, December 5

Baby A and Baby B and Dan and Me....one big happy family.

We saw our babies on Wednesday!
They were so cute with their little arms and legs and baby brains and hearts.

I'm not sure how much personality information
you can honestly get from an ultrasound,
especially a 13 week ultrasound,
but we have already come up with
what we think were some characteristics of our babies
based on our 45 minute time watching them.
(yes, 45 minutes. Thank you, Baby A!).

Baby B:
A big mover.
That baby was moving and grooving all over.
Hands all over the place.
Body bouncing everywhere.
Just like my sweet husband has been since birth...
and possibly before.

Let me give you some wonderful examples
of my husband's busy personality...
you know...
just to explain better...
and because I never really get to talk about Dan's qualities on my blog
and this is the perfect opportunity!

Dan used to get in trouble when he was little
because he would be found taking apart
oscillating fans, clocks, remote controls, stereos,
or building a pulley system for his bunk bed.
all true stories.

I hold Dan's hand in must-sit-still settings
(sometimes both hands)
partially because I love him
and partially because he could be found
taking apart things, tapping on the seat, or doing a dance.
ok. mayyybe not a dance.
but not sure what all the moving is about sometimes!!

Dan can't sleep.
When he is trying to sleep,
he moves and moves and moves
and I get to be a part of feeling like I am on a trampoline
instead of my bed.
Sometimes I yell about this.
Sometimes.

Not to sound like I am spilling out frustrations or anything.... honest!
His can't-stop-must-always-be-playing-with-something part of him
is not something I love him in spite of,
but it's something that I honestly love him because of.
I really love that about him!
He is a very diligent and hard worker
because of his moving and grooving drive.

*example- I slept for two hours this afternoon.
I woke up and he told me he had cleaned the entire upstairs.
and he really had. and better than I could have*

Baby A:
Stubborn.
Would. not. move.
While the ultrasound tech would poke and prod
for 45 minutes,
that baby just arched it's back.
The tech kept calling Baby A stubborn.
as Baby B would try to get his/her little hands in the picture
as the tech would try to get Baby A to move just 10 degrees.

My mom cracked up when I told her about Baby A
because she said it sounded like me.
Me? Stubborn?
I think not.
I'm pretty easy going.
I like change.
I'm chill.
Baby A takes after me because we both like chilling.
Not because we possibly might both be stubborn.

Even after relieving half of my bladder,
(yes. I was instructed to relieve half.
Have you ever done that? It's kind of fancy.)
Baby A didn't really move,
but instead flipped completely over
making it just as tricky to see...
but our wonderful tech did her best and finally got a good shot
by shoving the probe deep underneath my pelvic bone
with no help at all to Baby A.

Which I really loved
because Baby A cracks me up
and I totally get being stubborn.
I confess.

Again,
I'm not saying that what we saw today
defines our baby's personalities
but I believe in a mixture of nuture and nature
so I think these sweet babies already have character traits
that maybe even an ultrasound could show.

Ok. Ready for pictures?





We are so in love. 
I can't even express it.

Wednesday, December 1

It's going to be a Shutterfly Christmas!

Dan and I have never given out Christmas cards before.
There really was no rhyme or reason
but I decided a couple years ago that
we would start sending them out
when we started having children
to plaster the front of the card with.

So.....
since there are two babies in my belly
(yay!!!)
I am doing Christmas cards this year
with our sweet little babies on them!
It's a surprise as to how exactly they will be done...
you'll just have to wait and see.
But I'll let you know...
they involve their ultrasound pictures
because I still haven't invented that little window into my belly
to take my own pictures of them yet.

This year, I am totally using Shutterfly photo cards for my Christmas cards.
They have so many options
and I've been having a hard time picking which I want to use!
Here are some of the ones I am really loving on:



PHOTOCARD-103-4220-MERCHLARGE_FRONT-v1282092130000102204.jpg



Totally cute, right??

They are giving out 50 free photo cards this year
for bloggers!
If you are a blogger and want to take part of this promotion,
here is where you can get started!
This came at the perfect time
since it is the very first year our family is sending out cards!
Our family of *four*!
(Screaming with happiness!!)


I think I will come up with a way to frame our Christmas card 
and frame every year after
hanging them underneath the year before 
and using them as a Christmas decoration.
It will be super fun to see how our children have grown
when we pull out all the framed Christmas cards from years past
out of the Christmas decoration box.


I think a really fun tradition to start
would be to take a picture from each month
and create a Shutterfly photo calendar
to start the year with.
That will be totally exciting to plan next year!
I love photo calendars because every month
you get to look at fun pictures of familiar family faces.
Love.

I also love Shutterfly holiday cards.
They are beautiful!
This one is my absolute favorite.
Hands down.



So have fun with shutterfly this year
in making your holiday cards. 
I know I will! 
Super excited!
It will be super fun. 
Super shutterfly fun.

Monday, November 29

Grow Grow Baby

I started my 2nd trimester today!
It is going so fast
and my sweet babies are growing so quickly and so big!

Here is the next month's edition of "What size are they?"
Yes. I made a game show title.
I picture the audience screaming it with emphasis on the word "are".
You just tried it in your brain, didn't you?
It's pretty fun to scream in your brain.

Alright, anyway, here we go.....

9 weeks, our sweet babies were little green olives at just under an inch long.











10 weeks, they were little baby prunes. I found the cutest prune picture I could find...and find it, I did.












At week 11, they were cute little limes. I went to Shop Rite that week and saw limes and they looked huge to me. I almost took two and put them on my belly and did a little dance, but feared that people would start laughing at me or Big Foot's Brother from another mother would come and get me. You know, because he's real.














Week 12, the babies were plums. That's right. Just two weeks ago, they were the size of dried up plums and today, they are already the size of soft and loveable plums. You all call your plums soft and loveable right? 2.1 inches long too!













And today, week 13. The coveted beginning of the 2nd trimester. 2.9 inches long and the size of peaches. (yes, I felt my belly grow this week- I wasn't sure if it was Thanskgiving or the babies, but considering how much they grew in one week (.8 inch!), I'll just believe it was the babies and not the ninety-one helpings of mashed potatoes I ate).
















Ok...are you all waiting for the candy comparison?
Well then, let's all say it...
"What size ARE they?"

I'm corny, I know.

Speaking of corn, I was 9 weeks around Halloween and those babies were just about the size of candy corn. The sweetest candy corn around. The kind that doesn't make you sick after you compulsively eat an entire bag of it in one sitting.
















10 weeks- a piece of bubblegum...you know, the delicious kind from the 25 cent machine you all still put your quarters in every time you see a good one.





11 weeks- A mini cupcake. Yum. That's all I can say about that.












12 weeks- A nice round scoop of ice-cream. The perfect scoop that only a professional scooper can do. And I thought this picture was perfect- with it's pink and blue stripes.... totally baby blog post appropriate.

















13 weeks- The candy comparison starts to get hard here. I did one time have a giant everlasting gobstopper that was almost as exciting as my sweet babies. Especially because I was 10 years old and it lasted me a good few weeks. I wanted to marry Mr. Bulky that day. (P.S... this picture looks like a dinosaur egg from outer space, but I promise you, it's a giant gobstopper. And if you have never had one, I would recommend you run immediately to your neighborhood candy store.)




















So there we have it.
(and yes, I've noticed the font size change...I guess my font wanted to grow like my babies...I tried to make it "normal" and that made it tinier than the normal of above, and the next option was "large" which is what you are viewing...) 

Again, I cannot believe how fast they are growing!
(the babies, not the font)
They grow faster than that friendship bread 
that used to get past around
that I secretly ate dough out of when my mom wasn't looking.


Really, the miracle of life is such a miracle. 
amazing.

I have an appointment on Wednesday that I am so excited about! 
I get an ultrasound
and will finally get to post another in-the-womb photo shoot. 
I haven't seen them in 5 weeks
and I am sure Dan and I will be blown away 
by how different they look
and I can. not. wait. 

So until then, have a good week.
Eat some candy. 
Gobstopper preferred. 

Saturday, November 27

Heartburn Hurts my Heart (and my Esophagus)

Dear Heartburn,

I love what you signify-
that there are two sweet babies in my belly.
But other than that,
I strongly dislike you.

You welcome yourself around the hour of six p.m. nightly...
Setting small matches off in my esophagus
making me wonder if it's heartburn
or if someone possibly lit a small fire in my stomach
or poured acid in my beverage
without telling me.

I have tried everything to get rid of you....
eating smaller meals.
sitting up after eating.
doing the heartburn dance.
eating Tums like they were M&M's.
and eating actual M&M's.
(ok...eating M&M's was more of a means of consoling myself).

Again,
I am not complaining
because having you is a reminder of my sweet babies...
but if I could choose my reminder,
I would probably choose another one...
like using my heartbeat monitor
or looking at my sweet babies' picture.
I probably wouldn't choose the reminder entitled
"Esophagus fire nightly"

But until I figure out
where the magical beans or broom are
that will help get rid of you,
(because at this point it seems like magic is the only thing left to try)
I will just be thankful for the babies you remind me of.

From my heart to yours,
Ashley

Tuesday, November 2

Time for Bed! (a lot of the time)

"The thought of a nap later gets me out of bed in the morning".

I read this quote today.
Cracked up.
Loved it.

My major pregnancy symptom has been sleepiness.
Which, secretly (or not so secretly now),
is a symptom I certainly don't mind...
I actually am in love with it.

I love sleeping.
on the couch or in my bed.
possibly in the car on the way to Schroon Lake (I'm coming Nov 22!)
sweatpants.
and socks.

Possibly I sleep a double digit number of hours at night...
and then take a nice nap most afternoons...
and still find myself in disbelief when the clock reads 9:30
and it feels like midnight or later.

I just tried to make a rap about naps.
I got as far as "Boom chicka. This is the nap rap".
but then I got too tired.
So I have to go to bed.

Hey, it's what the babies want!

Saturday, October 23

First Photo Shoot in the Womb

Two posts in one day!

On Tuesday, we had a photo shoot with our babies via ultrasound.
The quality of these photos are a bit fuzzy
because they are scanned photocopies the nurse gave me
of the actual ultrasound pictures.

I can't wait until I can have 
photograph these sweet babies!


Baby A
Measuring in at 6.9mm

Baby A's Heartbeat
130.43 beats per minute
The Old Wives' Tale has this baby as a boy with a heart rate under 140 bpm.


                                          
Baby B
Measuring in at 7 mm


Baby B's Heartbeat
136.38 beats per minute
Again, the Old Wives' Tale has this baby as a boy.
I guess we'll see!


Family Portrait
Look how much they love each other.
Aren't they the cutest little *almost the size of* kidney beans you have ever seen?


Back to Blogging! (Alternately Titled: My First Babies in Belly Post!!)

If an award could be given for "Blogger Slacker",
I would win all the prizes.

I have had a lot to write about in the past month,
but nothing I could share yet on this blog.
But now that the word is out that
Baby A Stephens and Baby B Stephens
are in my belly growing, 
***THANK YOU JESUS!!!!***
I'm ready to jump back on the blog wagon.

But that's about all the jumping I will do.
These babies like me to lay on the couch and nap.
A lot. 
So I do.
Got to make those sacrifices.

Speaking of Baby A and Baby B,
I am so proud of them because on Monday,
they will be the size of kidney beans!
They are so big already!

In case you are not aware of what I'm talking about,
someone had the amazing idea
to compare the baby to an actual object each week
so that people can picture their baby's (or in this case babies') size better.

So far, Baby A and Baby B have surpassed the size of
a poppyseed (week 4),

a sesame seed (week 5),

a lentil (week 6),

a blueberry (week 7),

and by Monday, they will be cute little kidney beans.


Dan downloaded a guy app for pregnancy
that compare to objects too.
There aren't new objects every week, but every four weeks.
and the baby is shown growing to the same object for those weeks.

My sweet babies are compared to the following:
a beer cap, a matchstick, a cigaret, a beer bottle,
a football, a pizza, a car tire, and a fire extinguisher.

Now, I have a few issues with this.
These include:
1. Picturing myself birthing a fire extinguisher.
Actually, birthing two.
This is not the picture I think of
when I dream about the day our sweet babies enter this world.
Even if a fire was in the building,
that hospital better be up to code
because I will not be birthing fire extinguishers for them to use.
2. The thought of "sweet" cigarets and beer bottles
growing in my belly.
Um. Yuck.
Clearly, this app is not our favorite.
Why would someone assume a guy would only understand a baby's size if compared to these things?
I'm pretty sure Dan knows what a blueberry is.

The one good thing this app did
was give me a good idea.
So now, it is my personal goal
to come up with a snack comparison for each week.
How come no one has done this?

The ironic thing is Baby A and Baby B love applesauce and salad a lot lately!
Crazy, I know!
But don't you worry.
I've had my share of donuts (shout out to Deluxe) and ice-cream cake as well.

Anyway....back to my comparisons
I won four votes for awesome for my comparisons already-
Three from me since I get three votes now,
and one from Dan.
I automatically counted him as an "Yes for awesome"
by his boisterous laugh he gave
when I read these to him.
Though quite possibly, Dan always thinks I'm awesome.
Even when I'm not.

Week 4: Chocolate Shaving (the littlest of little ones)

Week 5: One Sprinkle

Week 6: A Mini M&M

Week 7: A Smartie

Week 8 (Monday): A Pez
Now, these are not scientific,
nor are they exact comparisons.
But since Baby A and Baby B are already so sweet
and I love them so much,
I wanted to compare them to my sweet candy loving.

Stay tuned for Baby A's and Baby B's first ultrasound photo shoot!

Wednesday, September 22

I just wrote to say I love you and I mean it from the bottom of my heart...

Dear Makers of the Sleeve Blanket,

First of all, God bless you.
A blanket that caters to my computer addiction
is most appreciated and most desired and most needed.

Prior to owning a sleeve blanket
which I now lovingly call my "Sleevey Wonder"
I had to either have cold arms
or give up some computer time.

I would try to weasel and maneuver my way around the keys
trying to type with a few brave fingers peeking out of the blanket.
but lo and behold, the blanket would always find a way to disappoint me
and leave me shivering in sadness for a blanket wonder with sleeves.

I look like a monk
and I like it.
A very important monk I might add,
who has lots of business on blogger and facebook and deal sites
and likes to eat cheese and apples and chocolate and ice-cream in her monk-wear.

And so, makers of the sleeve blanket,
thank you ever so much.
my Sleevey Wonder is now a lifelong love
the one who keeps me warm
the one who keeps me looking foolish important
and the one who has stole my heart.

I will be eternally grateful for you
(and my husband's work, who gifted us with this blanket)
for bringing us together.

And now this letter must end,
for I have some very important eating and facebook stalking business
to attend to...

Thanks for my Sleevey-Wonder,
who is the sunshine blanket of my life,
and the apple of my eye,
Ashley


Friday, August 20

No More Crying Over Spilled Milk

Sometimes I feel like I'm living life on the edge.
Now make no mistake...
I'm not talking about the edge
where I am jumping out of airplanes, doing flips,
and eating vegetables every day....
I'm slightly too much of a frightened freddy to do that.

I'm talking about living life
on the edge of my emotions.

The day is going great. The Lord is good. 
and then Boom with a capital B. 

I get a frustrating phone call...
an unexpected bill comes in the mail...
the milk spills...
and the day seems ruined.

I am instantly frustrated. 
I feel stressed and irritated. 
I am grumpy as all get out.

And then the next day, I hear good news...
a sample comes in the mail...
and the milk's on sale!

and Boom (with a capital B), 
life feels great again.

I hate living like that. 
I want to consistently live my life content with what the Lord has given me.
I don't want my joy to be based on the day's circumstances.
I want to be thankful for the blessings of today
yet trusting that the "spilled milk moments"
have a purpose in my growth as God's child
and being truly thankful for those moments as well.

It's easy to be cheerful when things go right... 
when the land flows with coupons and candy,
and the day goes perfectly perfect.

But what about when the day does not go right?
Can I stand firm on the Foundation
and not waver
when the wind and rain comes?

It's a daily struggle to stop living life "on the edge"
but I certainly want to...
and I want to replace the life on the edge
with a life filled with unlimited joy and contentedness
with the life God has set before me,
even when that plan includes spilled milk.

Thursday, August 5

The Tattoo Tale



We walked into the tattoo parlor.

I wasn't expecting it to look like a preschool
but I can't say I was prepared for the pictures of poison skulls and dragons
and the assortment of large belly button rings
that could be mistaken for water buoys.

Make no mistake.
The place was extremely clean
and the artist was great.
So of course we stayed there...
though I did consider asking to rent a belly button ring for my water adventures.

Biff went first.
She's so brave.
She did awesome and her tattoo looked great.

I sat down in the chair
ready to giggle my way through the pain free process.
 

Really, I was not that naive.
I did not think it was going to feel like kisses
or a spa treatment at Verde.

But I wasn't expecting it to feel like
a bunch of small bumblebees
stabbing me with their stingers
and then diving under my skin to make honey.

And it did.


If you like it when people scrape you to your innards with pointy things,
you will love getting a tattoo.

If you hate it,
quite honestly,
you probably still will like getting a tattoo.
The pain is totally worth it for a cute piece of permanency.

But let me tell you, it definitely hurt.

I was sweating profusely
and my heart was pounding.
I was working harder than I do in my spinning class
and I wasn't even moving.
I almost needed a 5 minute break
during my 5 minute tattoo.



















To my defense, the foot is an extremely painful place to get a tattoo...
but even though my biff will agree it hurt a lot,
possibly she did not sweat
nor did she feel the need to take a break.
Like I said, she's my hero.

Finally, the process was over.
My tattoo was covered with ointment and plastic wrap
and the pain went away.

And now I'm left with a beautiful star.
And it's size may be close to that of a Smartie,
but what it means to me is the size of the world.




Wednesday, July 28

A Word of Wisdom...

Before you put your sunglasses on your head,
make sure you do not already have a pair there.

especially before you walk around an entire hotel's property...

because then you will have two pairs of sunglasses on your head.
and they might possibly stay there for a good 30 minutes
before they come off...
allowing all the fancy hotel guests to see the double trouble.

I tried to google afterwards
for any saving face material, like...
"New Trend- It's All the Rage! Jayma Mays is seen wearing two pairs of sunglasses on her head!"
or "This Just in: Wearing Two Pairs of Sunglasses on Your Head Saves Brain Cells"
but no luck.

I was just a Four-Lensed-Fool in a Fancy-Shmancy Hotel.

so learn from me friends.
and for the love...
check ahead before you sunglass your head.

Saturday, July 17

Stealing Seagulls

Sitting on the sand.
With a hoagie in my hand.

The waves were crashing.
My Italian hoagie was smashing.

My hand held the hoagie near my face.
With my mouth open ready to embrace.

I felt two claws on my head.
And I soon realized a seagull stole my bread!

He was around and there he did linger.
He stole my hoagie and almost my finger!

I did not act like a grown-up at all.
I did not maturely brush off my finger-losing close-call.

I started screaming to the birds in the sky.
Children were scared and possibly I nearly cried.

The birds were quite rude; they didn't even say please.
And now I am as afraid of them as I am of spiders and bees.

This story is true- your own hoagies are at stake!
So eat your hoagie at home or at a seagull-free lake.




Friday, July 9

Why You Should (or should not) Wear Spray Sunscreen

Only wear spray sunscreen if you want to look like the striped ninja ranger.

"What are the colors of a striped ninja ranger?" you ask.
Swollen Red and Pasty White
I know- you're absolutely jealous.

I'll totally be participating in shorts-wearing all summer.
I am the striped ninja ranger after all.
And this look is awesome:





Ok- the truth is spilling out:
Summer Goal #4 (1, 2, and 3 listed here):
Lose my title as the Striped Ninja Ranger. 
A ninja ranger has too many jobs and responsibilities
and I'm way too busy applying aloe to my burn ninja stripes.

Any interested applicants can apply below.

Tuesday, June 29

Tips for Buying a Bathing Suit

You should never ever wait
until one and one quarter hours until a party
to buy a bathing suit.

You should never tack on the challenge
of bathing suit season already beginning
with all the early birds getting the suits.
Because guaranteed, whatever size you are, they will not have.

You rush from store to store
in such a frantic sweaty mess
that you can't remember if you just had swam
or are just swimming in sweat.

You get a crazed look in your eye
and start screaming in your brain
as you look for something in your size
that has more fabric than a candy wrapper.

You, who are usually all decked out sale conscientious,
act like your doppelganger, Jayma Mays,
pretending you make the big bucks shooting Glee,
and don't even look at the prices
but just grab frantically like you a child in a candy store closing sale.

You throw your hands up to the bathing suit heavens
and shout for some help down here in the Macys.

You do a chlorine pool dance to the makers of bathing suits
summoning a bathing suit just for you.

You even offer to buy the sales associate a present if she has your size.

Sometimes, the story ends sad.
You go home empty handed and have to swim in your rain jacket
since it's the next best thing.

Sometimes, the story ends happy
like it did for me that day.
I found something with no time to spare
that I actually liked.

I did pay the big smacks for it however...
but I bandaged that credit card purchase up
by asking for a coupon and getting 20% off

soooo it was only a little bit horrible amount of money.

But dear friends, for the love,
do not follow my example.
Buy a bathing suit bright and early
and give yourself enough time.

But if that fails and you are in my shoes,
then by all means,
throw up your arms,
do a little chlorine pool dance to the maker of bathing suits,
and offer sales associates presents for helping you.

It will work every time
with no guarantee from me
because actually, 
no studies have been shown to see how affective chlorine pool dances are.

but it's worth a shot for sure.

Friday, June 25

Rest in Peace Cute Nicknames....Rest in Peace

Apparently the term "brace boy" must come to an end.

No, the brace is still occasionally worn. It's not officially over yet.

"So why would this adorable and loving nickname have to end?" you ask.

Well, my sweet brace bo...oh wait....can't say that anymore....
ahem

my sweet husband said the nickname must end.
it's not manly enough.

and even though my husband is certainly very manly and strong and handsome....
to me calling someone "Brace Manly-Man" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

In my defense, I have 5 reasons on why this nickname came to be:

1. Dan wears a brace.
2. He is male.
3. I like alliteration.
4. Nicknames are fun.
5. I am helping him get from brace to better.

But sadly, 
though I have helped my husband get better,
have enjoyed many fun snacks with him during his time of need,
and have had lots of face-time with the brace,
the nickname apparently is banished from our home.

And so dear friends, you will not hear me utter the words "brace boy" again.
It is a chapter of the book that is sadly shut.
And it makes me sad.
But apparently, according to Dan & Company, 
I was not going to get my new iPhone
if I used my loving, wonderful, and creative nickname again.

So farewell "brace boy nickname".
Your two words were sweet to say
with your smooth sounds and alliteration...
and your meaning was even sweeter
since they were in reference to my
usually-sweet-but-is-now-bribing-me-and-hating-on-my-endearing-nickname-that-I-endearingly-gave-to-him-while-i-helped-him-get-brace-to-better-husband.

It was hard to choose between the nickname and my iPhone
and I wish I didn't have to.
Farewell loving nickname.
You will be forever in my heart
and secretly in my head at all times because no one can stop me from thinking it.


The. End.



Wednesday, June 23

Flipper's New BFF

I don't want to be famous.
I just want to get in on the magic.
The magic of diving.

People who dive act as though it is as easy as walking.
People, like me, who can't dive, feel as if they are trying to be taught how to fly.

I want to fly.

I know all the directions:
"Tell your feet to go in last."
"Aim for a certain spot in the pool."
"Just fall in."
"Let your body fall head first."

Somewhere in between aiming for a certain spot with my head
while commanding my feet to stay put or else
and being shocked when gravity pulls my entire body down,
I always end in watery failure.

I start out the dive with great hope
but always end up looking like a drowned rat
instead of the dolphin I was aspiring to be.

And so dear friends,
I am determined to crawl out of my rat hole
and swim with the mammals of the sea.

Summer 2010, you haven't seen me yet.
But I'm coming.
Oh, I'm coming.
Dolphin style.




that's future me on the left. 



for the love of flipper i hope so.

Sunday, June 20

An Essay: My Summer Vacation, 2010 Style

In approximately 3 days...(maybe 4, maybe 5, most likely 3)
I will be on summer vacation!!! (Screams of happiness!!!) 

I have 3 goals this summer:
1. Learn how to dive
2. Eat one vegetable a day
3. Read one book a week

I will probably fail at number 2.
But mistakes aren't monsters and I'm okay with failing at that one.

And I am considering selling tickets to my diving attempts.
I have attempted diving in the past.
And royally failed.
Miserably failed.
Belly flops.
Water in my nose.
Drowned rat look.
The whole bit.

Is this impossible for anyone else?
How does someone force their head to go before their body into the water?
How do you defy gravity in your feet while letting your head feel the force?

Anyway, I am marveled by the act of diving.
And I'm determined to be a part of the magic.

Alright...back to the lists...

I have 5 things on my to-do list:
1. Sew. Sew. Sew. Crayon and car rolls. Clothing. Pillows. I'm even going to attempt sewing a brand new C2 vertebrae for brace boy.
2. Cook. Cook. Cook. and eat. eat. eat. (favorite)
3. Wear sweatpants and other various comfy outfits as much as possible.
4. Figure out how to transform my bedroom from a white-walled-monster to a chic and beautiful place of rest.
5. Have play-dates with my friends. Beach. Talking. Snacks. Possible Singing. Dance. Eat cookie dough. Make sand angels. Synchronized swimming.

Mmm....
Summer is as sweet as if I dived into a pool full of sugar.
Which actually sounds wonderful...
6. Make and swim in a pool full of sugar.


And,
as my 2009 blog entry about summer prompted,
I feel a poem coming on...

Summer summer 2010
I can't believe it's summer again.
Time to sit under sun beams
New adventures with ice-cream.
Summer feels like a piece of heaven.
This poem's over until 2011.

Tuesday, June 8

Cupcake Confession

We had a Grace Group cook-out on Sunday.

Brace boy (the name lovingly given to my brace-wearing-for-a-little-while-longer-trust-me-he-doesn't-mind-the-nickname-ok-possibly-he-hates-it-but-it's-too-catchy-and-i-can't-stop-saying-it husband)
had a big day the next day
(first day back to work!!)
so we left early.
before dessert.

I guess there is a first time for everything.
And heavens to betsy 
that better have been the last leave-the-party-pre-dessert-time.

However, I did ask if I could take my dessert to-go
in the most polite way possible one can say
"I'm leaving this party early but I still want cake".
yes I know, politeness was lost in this situation before it started.

Fortunately, the host totally knows me.
we possibly share the same conviction on the importance of dessert.
she knows my complete obsession with sweetness throwing parties in my mouth.

So I took two cupcakes to-go.
planning on eating them the minute I got home.

But the temptation was too great
as I drove into the gas station
to fill up my almost-as-hungry-as-me gas tank.

So I gave the gas attendant my credit card.
And without thinking twice
grabbed and opened up the saran wrap that was holding my cupcake.
And started licking.

my oh my.
sweet frosting from sugar land itself.

more licking.
i got chocolate on my lips. fingers. cheek. it was wonderful.
i completely checked out of real life.
it was just me and my chocolate.
and brace boy who had his brace on
and so possibly had no idea what was going on
since he couldn't turn his poor head.

*knock* on the window.
the gas attendant was done and wanted to give me my receipt.

a normal person would have snapped back to reality
and shoved that cupcake away somewhere shamefully
or never started licking while gas was being pumped in the first place.

well, normal is as long gone as my attempts at liking vegetables.
And so...I kept on licking!


He stood at the window.
I gave him shifty eyes out of the corner of my eye.
took my receipt in one hand.
and loved the cupcake in the other...
why did I do that?
who keeps on licking the frosting even after getting caught?


I was ashamed for about one milli-moment after I pulled out of the gas station.
but then I remembered the chocolatey goodness
that threw a big party in my mouth
and was currently coating my belly with happiness.
and I didn't care anymore.

because really, there is no shame in loving your dessert
at every moment.
even while paying at the gas station.

Tuesday, June 1

And My Personal Pulitzer Prize Goes To....

If it was up to me...
If I was given the pen and paper before I was even born...
and told to write out my life story,
I would probably write out a lot of good times.

easy times.
breezy living.
cookie eating while fingernail painting.
friends and family with connecting backyards.
my very own underground candy factory.

It could probably have been stamped as a fairytale.
no tears.
or pain.
or fear.
or questions allowed.

However, in this easy breezy fairytale cookie eating version
where everything goes "right",
there are moments that would have been unintentionally missed.
moments that come during and after hard times...
after those times that are not in fairytales.


Moments where the rug is pulled from under me
and all I can do is fall to my knees and pray and feel God.
Moments where my faith is tested and strengthened
and I learn what's important and what's not.
Moments where I grow up
and appreciate what the Lord has written for me.

My easy breezy version would have mistakenly left out...
the chapters where I cry and hurt and learn and grow.
the paragraphs where prayers are answered...
sometimes with an answer that seems right.
sometimes with an answer that seems hard.
but always with an answer that is part of the great plan God has for my life.
and always with an answer that allows me to grow to become more like Him.

It's these hard chapters that help us grow...
and if we wrote our own story,
we would probably never have written those chapters
and in doing so, we would have left out all of that real, beautiful growth.

Sometimes
when I'm in the thick of something hard
I beg God to edit the story...
to throw this main character a piece of pie
but sometimes instead,
He gently gives me a piece of peace
and a whole lot of growing up.
and when I finish living the chapter
I am always so glad He wrote it the way He did.

I'm very thankful God is writing my story.
He's a much better writer than I am.

Sunday, May 23

Desires

The song below has been...mmm...sort of the song of the week for me.
I love these lyrics...
They recognize the human part...
the desire to want things to be easy.
to have no more pain, suffering, or hurt.
But,
there is a greater desire
to be the person God wants me to be.
So even if God's plan for my life
includes tough times,
that's where I want to be...
because it's there that I will grow to be the person He has called me to be.




these lyrics are from Laura Story's album...


I admit there is a yearning for the hurting to subside. 
but not at the risk of losing what you're doing in my life. 

all I know to do is lift my hands to you.
take all of my life and make something beautiful.
open my hands.
trusting your plan to make something beautiful.

so that all will see
your work in me
as you make something beautiful.

Tuesday, May 18

Sometimes...

when the hustle and bustle slows down
and my mind is tired of thinking

i am just quiet.

i have so many questions
but i'm too tired to ask "why".

sometimes
i stay busy
so the pain is forgotten.
so the longings
leave the forefront of my heart.

but sometimes
i am tired of staying busy.

and instead i am quiet.

and the pain comes flooding back in.

and i want to pray.
but i have no words.
so am just quiet.

longing for the Lord to take my pain away
and wishing He would do so by giving me
my heart's desire
but knowing He may quiet my pain
by saying "No. Find your desire in me."

and i'm sad to say
that the reason i cry
is because sometimes I want more than God.

sometimes it's hard to find contentment in Him.

sometimes i want to shout and yell and scream
"It's not fair. You never make things fair."

but I know
in my deepest of hearts
that a "fair" is where you ride rides and eat cotton candy.

that God doesn't have us all on a balance scale...
playing games to make all sides even.

can you imagine?
"a little pain for her... a little joy for him...whoops...too much joy- it's not fair now. i'll throw his life a curveball. now a drop of happiness for her and we're good to go. fairness for all!"


no.
He has a special plan for each person.
and He is carrying it out just as it should be.
It's not measured by our version of fairness.
We don't all get the same scoop of life.
God gives us exactly what we need.
And sometimes more.
But never less.

Because really, none of us deserve anything.
And yet, God sent His Son to die for us.
He gave us grace and all we have to do is believe.
That's all we need.
And it's ours.
It can never be taken from us.

so why in the world does that sometimes not feel like enough?

so i sit here.
i am just quiet.
waiting on Him
to quiet my heart
to restore me.
to help me find full contentment in Him.

because although sometimes God doesn't feel like enough...
I know He is.
And I am want to live my life based on what I know.


Do you ever struggle with God being enough?

Saturday, May 15

"Good-Looking" Looking

You google shop for a chandelier.

You want something that is
inexpensive
yet charming
with a little bit of classic style built in.

And then
by accident
you stumble across this
beauty.

And your search. just. stops.

you find your heart's desire.

but then you see the price tag.

so instead of buying it...
you just post it on your blog.

because it's free to decorate your blog with this
whole lot of gorgeousness...
which is a lot cheaper than it would have cost
to put it in your dining room.


When I win the lottery (except I don't play)
this is number four on my list to buy. 
Right after...
making Dave Ramsey proud by paying off my school loans, 
splurging on spa days for all my friends, 
and buying a house in zip code 08035.

But for now, 
since that might be awhile (considering I don't play the lottery)
this gorgeousness can sit pretty on my blog.

it's doing a gorgeous job.

Thursday, May 13

Wednesday, May 12

The Solid Rock

The rocks on which I stand:

1. God is good.
2. God is in control.
3. God has a perfect plan for me.

If those three things are true
which.i.beyond.a.shadow.of.a.doubt.know.they.are
then I have no reason to be afraid.
question God's plan.
or worry about the details.

and there is such freedom in that.

but i am a sinner.
and sometimes i forget.
i crawl off the rocks.
i wander.
and get lost.
and scared.
and hurt.

and the only way back
is to pray and ask God to help me
find those solid rocks.
and He always does.

He forgives me.
He comforts me.
He helps me stand.

I will never understand why He loves this "broken jar of clay"
but I am so thankful He does.