Saturday, October 31, 2015

Great Pumpkins

Carving pumpkins gives us a chance to use our creativity. I don't thing we've ever chosen just the basic face. Every year we choose things that are fun and reflect who we are. This year we had been rather busy and almost didn't carve pumpkins.



To simplify a bit, several of us shared pumpkins. My wrist was happy about this!





Rebecca made the 11th Doctor from Doctor Who. The rest of us haven't met him yet, but we will soon.


Abigail and Elisabeth chose the S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem from Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.




Paul made Captain America's shield. 



And Hannah and I did Tigger!

We made a party of it listening and dancing to the Wicked soundtrack and some Tangled songs. I'm really glad we did not let tiredness or busy-ness keep us from our fun Halloween tradition.

More Waffling

After our great waffle experience last Friday, we went ahead and ordered a new Belgian waffle maker. Our research showed that this one would cook great waffles and would cook more of them at once.

We tried out our new appliance tonight, and we were not disappointed! The waffles were crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. I've never really been all that excited about waffles. Now I know that was just because I'd only had average waffles. They were often either soggy or too dense. This recipe (and our new waffle maker) has made me a fan of waffles!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pinterest for the Win

Yesterday we had a family celebration. Dinner* was done in stages because of church and ballet, but we shared this dessert. The celebratee it!

This is a picture from the recipe website. My spiraling skills were not this good! 

Mine wasn't quite so pretty, but it tasted really good! We used to often get the refrigerated Pillsbury sticky buns. This cake tasted like a giant, fresh sticky bun. Much better than the Pillsbury kind! I already had requests to make it again.

Pinterest for the win!

*Dinner was a Pinterest favorite: brown sugar garlic chicken.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cattitude


One of my favorite things about today was holding Patches for a good ten minutes. She usually spends most of her time in the girls' rooms, so this is always a special treat!


I can't get up because there's a cat on my lap is one of the best reasons not to do something.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Story Worth Watching

I love stories. Particularly those that are either utterly beautiful or those that are intriguing and intricate and complicated.

Last night Elisabeth felt bad and stayed home from ballet. Since the others were either at ballet or Bible study, she and I watched an episode I hadn't seen from the first season of Doctor Who. (Three of my girls and I are watching season three together.) When I started watching Doctor Who, I did not realize how much I would like it. The creativity of the writers is amazing. And the character of the Doctor is compelling. And the show does a wonderful job of affirming life and humanity and the sacredness of the ordinary.

Then Hannah, Rebecca, Paul, and I watched Blind Spot. I love the mystery and complexity of this show. It has a similar feel to Alias (my favorite) and The Black List. The twists and turns are fun, and I really like Jane's character. She manages to be both tough and vulnerable.

I am thankful for the opportunity to immerse myself in stories that entertain, inspire, and challenge me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Nap

I normally am a huge night owl. And the concert Saturday night made it even harder to fall asleep. So today I so appreciated a good nap! It may not seem like much, but it really was a blessing.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Saturday Night Worship

Paul, 3 of the girls and I drove to a nearby town yesterday to worship Jesus with Chris Tomlin and Rend Collective. Even though the event was billed as a concert, the hearts of the musicians made it a time of worship.

I hadn't listened to much Rend Collective, but I really enjoyed their music. We liked it enough to buy 3 CDs. (Plus some Tomlin shirts and his new Christmas CD!) And getting to worship with a kilt-wearing bagpipe player made me so happy!




And Chris Tomlin was terrific as always. He said that after his first time to publicly lead music, a godly man said he would become the psalmist for his generation. And I think that is an apt description of Chris' music and his heart for worship.


And, since our generation likes a party, our time ended with a celebration as we sang "God's Great Dance Floor."



Let the future begin!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Waffles and a Movie

We made our first recipe from Pioneer Woman's newest cookbook last night: waffles. We like them so much we are now researching buying a second Belgian waffle maker! These weren't quite as good as the Mickey waffles at Disney World, but they were certainly cheaper!

And my youngest were super thrilled to watch our new blu-ray of Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Since we all love complex stories, the aspect of a big overarching story appeals to all of us. And I feel like the writers and actors did a terrific job of giving these characters based on comic books depth and dimension.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Witty Banter Must Cost Extra

I remember watching Gilmore Girls when it first aired and wanting to have a Christian version of Lorelei and Rory's relationship. I loved their friendship and communication. Of course, our family would add a great dad, some siblings, and parental authority, but I wanted my girls to be able to talk with me and have fun with me.

And now that they are teens, I'm seeing some of this. Minus the super fast witty banter. Yesterday one of my girls came to me when she was troubled. I love that she and her sisters feel comfortable confiding in me!

And I was able to go shopping with my girl who doesn't always like to shop. She found shirts, sweaters, skirts, and even a pair of boots. And because we shopped at Target, we didn't even break the bank. We both enjoyed finding new fall clothes for her to wear. (And for me to borrow!)

The season of parenting teen girls can be challenging. (Hormones are real!) But I have found it to be so rewarding as my girls are becoming not only my daughters, but some of my best friends!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Valley Days

Some days are hard. Misunderstandings occur. Feelings run amok. Bodies tire or ache. Those are the days I feel like I'm walking in the valley, far from the sun.

Yesterday was one of those days. And finding blessings and grace took more work.

Some days, like yesterday, blessings look like a quesadilla made with homemade tortillas. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dinnertime

Food. I so often take it for granted, but having enough food, let alone having food I truly enjoy eating is a blessing I don't stop often enough to count or savor.

Yesterday my new Pioneer Woman cookbook, Dinnertime arrived. We plan on making our first recipe from it tomorrow, but I already know our family will eat some delicious meals because of this book. Several of her recipes are already family favorites. This week we've been enjoying Ree's malted milk chocolate chip cookies from one of her previous cookbooks.

Sometimes I can view cooking dinner as a chore or even a burden, but I would like to start seeing it as a blessing as I provide (always) tasty and (usually) nutritious meals for us to enjoy together. I look forward to enjoying new favorites at our family's Dinnertime.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Simple Joys

This blogging every day thing can be a challenge. Somewhere during the month I missed a day, and I know I forgot yesterday. That doesn't mean my small moments of joy don't happen, I'm just too busy living them to chronicle them here.

Sunday I was able to be a part of joy. Paul and I had stopped to talk to some neighbors during an afternoon walk. Our dog, Callie, discovered a sprinkler in a nearby yard and gleefully began to try chasing the roving drops of water and drinking out of this unorthodox fountain. She ran. She chased. She shook her wet fur.

And the neighbors' daughter delighted in the show and added her own giggles when she got too near the range of the sprinkler and was showered with a drop or two. 

Even when I pulled a reluctant Callie away from her fun, she continued to entertain us by rolling in the grass to dry herself off. 

Such a simple thing. But full of joy.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Saturdays Are for Relaxing

Saturdays are often more of a Sabbath for me than Sundays are. Because I am such a night owl, and since homeschooling means we don't have to begin our weekdays particularly early, I often go to bed at my normal (late) time on Saturday and am tired on Sunday.

Saturdays I can sleep in. (And I usually do.) And I can often avoid going anywhere! I like having a day not to leave the house.

Even though I exercised and washed sheets and even popped in for a quick visit to a friend, I still felt rested today. 

I'm thankful for days of rest, whether they come on Saturday or Sunday or any other day.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Winning Game

Hannah and Rebecca had a friend over yesterday. We all went to see Pan and came home to eat some fabulous burgers and pork loin Paul had grilled. After dinner, the older girls and their friend invited Paul and me to play Scattergories with them. I won the game, but that wasn't the best part. The real win was that the girls want to include their parents in their friendships.

I am so glad that my girls like spending time with Paul and me. Even when they have friends over. I know that isn't always the case with teenagers, and I don't want to take that for granted.

Girls' Night Out

Last night I was able to check out the new Starbucks with my friends. The store was too echo-y to hear well, but the weather had cooled down enough (from 93 degrees earlier!) to be quite pleasant. I don't like coffee, but I really enjoy their hot chocolate, which was good.

The best part was the company. We shared about children and family. About extended family. About pets. We laughed. And we shared some things that had been troubling us.

Even though my week had already been rather full, taking this time with girlfriends was good for my soul!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Houston Means That I'm One Step Closer to Great Tex-Mex (and Blue Bell)


Paul & I went to Houston yesterday. So, of course, we had to go to Chuy's. The Elvis Memorial Platter did not disappoint. Neither did the thin chips and jalapeƱo ranch salsa. 





And we only had to go to two grocery stores to find some Blue Bell to bring home. 




Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Bunny!

This post is a little late because the past two days have been so full. 

Yesterday after I got home from bringing Elisabeth to ballet and running a couple of errands and was preparing dinner, Rebecca came to tell me she saw a bunny out her window. We went outside for a better look, and it was still in our yard. It saw us and hopped a couple of feet and then stayed still, hoping we couldn't see it.

We enjoyed watching it and then went back inside to watch it from the window. Since it could no longer see us, it relaxed and began nibbling grass. I used to often see bunnies in our neighborhood but haven't seen any for months. I so enjoyed watching our furry visitor.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Great Deal

Today has been such a full day. Monday's school is always longer because of math videos. Rebecca had a meeting. Elisabeth felt bad. And I tried to get a day or two ahead in my daily cleaning schedule because I know the next two days will be even busier. 

In the midst of the business, I did make time for a brief visit to the mall after bringing Rebecca to her meeting. I was able to use a $10 off coupon and get two head bands for $.88! And I found a couple of really good-smelling fall candles  (which were on sale, but cost a lot more than $.88). I know these are small things in the grand scheme of things, but I also know they will bring me pleasure.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Playing with Fire

Since the Cleaning Fairy seems to have lost my address, all the housework is up to me to do or assign. And, since I'm not one of those people who appear to be effortlessly tidy, our house is usually in some degree of disarray.

Sometimes the best way for us to make ourselves do what needs to be done is to invite people over. A very real deadline can motivate me far more than my internal goals for my home. I spread out the cleaning I wanted to do all week, and by the time the youth group came over this evening, our house looked pretty good. (And the messy rooms stayed behind closed doors.)

I was able to enjoy my evening without stressing about clutter.

We ended the evening outside by the fire pit making s'mores and having a great time. Even after the others left, Paul, my 3 younger girls, and I stayed around the fire. (Hannah was at college Bible Study.)









The girls enjoyed lighting pine cones and sticks, and, for some reason, decided that we should sing Christmas songs. Our family easily falls into the rut of just watching TV, so this was a refreshing change that everyone enjoyed.






Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lessons from an Unusual Play

This made me so happy today.


Baylor's TE LaQuan McGowan caught a touchdown pass.

We loved seeing his joy and his teammates' celebrating with him. 

I want to be the kind of person who helps my friends to shine and who sets them to look good.

And I want to be unafraid to do things that are outside my usual role. To not be so focused on my job that I miss the chance to seize unexpected joy.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

TGIF

Friday! The only weekday we have no standing commitments. I don't have to drive anyone anywhere on Friday. 

Friday! The only weeknight no one has church or ballet. We can have dinner together as a family and then spend time together playing a game or watching a movie.

Friday! After school is finished I get a weekend of just being Mom, instead of being Mom and teacher.

Friday!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Donation Day

I finally made time today to drop off several bags of outgrown clothes and shoes to a local thrift store. I feel so much better not to have to see those bags of items we no longer need just sitting in my house. 

I was also able to donate some books the girls no longer wanted to a church book sale.

And my car is loaded with a box of toys and a bag of stuffed animals to bring to a friend's garage sale. 

I am by no means a minimalist. We have bookcases filled with books. (And more books in boxes!) My closet is still rather full. And my kitchen shelves hold dishes and gadgets galore. And I plan on keeping many of these things.

But it did feel good to send some of our stuff on its way to having a new home. 

I often think of God's graces and blessings as things He adds to my life, but when I limit my view of grace that way, I miss so much. Because grace also can be things God is getting rid of in my life. I want to see this as the healthy growth and the blessing that God intends it to be!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Reading Is Fundamental

Today I was able to spend a few minutes in a place that makes my soul happy. I went to the library. So often, I have other errands to run, so I just drop off what is due and pick up anything on hold. But today I gave myself the gift of browsing the aisles for just a few minutes to find my next read.

I love being among so many books. Some I recognize as old friends. Others hold the promise of new adventures. I almost think reading is one of my basic needs. I know I my soul would wither at least a little if I were not able to regularly spend time reading. 

I try to vary my fiction reading. Now I am reading a Christian YA book that my daughters checked out. When I finish it, I will pick back up with a L.M. Montgomery book on my Kindle. (I was enjoying the book, but one of my girls was tragically bookless, and needed to borrow my Kindle.) And I brought home two books from the library to add to my queue. 

I'm so glad I was able to spend time in a place that makes me feel peaceful and happy even when life is busy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Delayed Date Night

Tuesday night is Date Night.! Three of the girls are at ballet, and the fourth relishes having the house to herself for a couple of hours. It brings joy to her introverted heart to watch Netflix or sing loudly or whatever else it is she does. So Date Night is win/win.

Tonight had to stop by the Target pharmacy before dinner because Abigail's sinus infection did not heal after the first round of antibiotics,and the doctor had called in a new prescription. And, since we were at Target, we had to buy another $100 worth of stuff. (This is a common occurrence. And this time the only thing I purchased that wasn't on my list was milk!) By the time we got the prescription and found what was on my list and smelled fall candles, I was hungry and had wished we had not spent so long at the store.

We went to a local Mexican restaurant, and while we were eating our fajitas, we saw one of our favorite couple friends. They joined us at our table, and we had a fun dinner. We caught up on our girls and her new puppies and life in general. If we had not gone to Target, we probably would have been finished before they got there and would have missed out. 

I can often see delays as troublesome or hindrances to my plans, but today I saw how God used what I saw as a delay to enable us to spend time enjoying our friends. I want to learn how to view delays, interruptions, and changes of plans as opportunities for God to work in new ways.

Working at Working Out

I was the kid picked last for kickball. My one and only year of softball was a total failure, since I was scared of the ball. I tried team sports in junior high, and was not good. At all. 

Even so, I enjoy working out. Or, more accurately, I enjoy the way working out makes me feel. And I like to eat food with carbs and sugar. So I work out.

When my girls were younger, I realized that going somewhere to workout would cost me more time and money than working out at home. So I bought videos and weights. We even bought an exercise bike. 

We recently decided that an elliptical machine would be better for working out than the old exercise bike. It was delivered today, and Paul put it together! If I'm sore tomorrow, I'll know why!

So my glimpse of grace today is a way become healthier. (And eat more carbs!)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Freedom to Speak

Since today is a day of rest, I will keep this one short. 

I am so glad today to have daughters that share what's going on in their hearts and minds with me. I know that not all daughters feel comfortable sharing with their moms, so I do not ever want to take that for granted. I had a great conversation with one of my girls about how to deal with people with differing convictions. I am so glad she feels I am a safe place to work out these difficult issues.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fall and Football

For many people, fall means football and cool weather. While we on the Gulf Coast have certainly been enjoying some football, summer has been hanging on tightly. Today fall paid us a little visit. I know it won't stay permanently yet, but I am sure enjoying it while it is here.

Even after a late start to my day, I was able to go running. And then I brought my Bible and my Seamless Bible study book outside for my time with God. I feel a little closer to God when I spend time in the Word in the midst of God's creation (even if it's a suburban neighborhood).

And to top it off, Baylor won a decisive victory over Tech. And while watching my alma mater win a game may not be in the same category as the beauty of the changing seasons, it was still a lot of fun. Sic 'em Bears!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Road Trip!

Of course, the day after I begin a blog series about seeing grace and beauty in the dailiness of life, I get an extraordinary day!

Yesterday Paul and I took 3 of our girls to a concert in Houston. The day was filled with fun and glimpses of God. 

*Stopping at Buc-ees, the Disney World of convenience stores. The store is huge and clean with friendly staff and the cleanest public bathrooms I've ever seen! And they have yummy but pricey snacks! And they both have rodents as mascots!

*Finding an amazing dancewear store, where two of my dancers had the best point shoe fitting ever. 

*Sometimes memories will be more fun as stories than they were when we experienced them. We discovered The Worst Walmart We've Ever Seen last night. After the concert we decided to replenish our stock of Blue Bell and get a cold snack to soothe our throats. (The Great Blue Bell Famine of 2015 hit our household hard!) We even brought a cooler to be filled with the yummy goodness that is Homemade Vanilla. We found a single half gallon of ice cream. And a line that would have taken at least 15 minutes. (At 12:30!! A.M.!!) After discovering the McDonald's in the Walmart had no ice cream, a closed convenience store, and a second McDonald's with a long wait, Buc-ees came to the rescue! We found pints of Blue Bell!!



The highlight of the day, however, was Toby Mac!



He raised the banner of Jesus high with a concert filled with worship, fun, showmanship, and funkiness!






We worshiped. We danced. We had a great time! I'm so glad Jesus is fun!



Friday, October 2, 2015

Everyday Grace: Taking the Time to Notice

Welcome to 31 Days of Everyday Grace. Please scroll down to view the post from Day 1.

















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When the weather is cool enough for a morning walk/run, I like to run/walk down this long sidewalk near our home. I like not having to worry about traffic, and Callie is free to smell all the smells. Part of the sidewalk borders fields, a wooded area fringes the rest. From a distance the trees and plants all look varying shades of green.



But as I passed by the greenery, I noticed colors I never saw from a distance. White flowers bloom near the sidewalk.




Clusters of red berries adorn the green leaves.


Yellow flowers bestow their pollen on the world.


My life so often looks like that monotonous row of trees I pass on cool mornings. In my car, I would never notice anything but green. But when I pass by on foot, I am able to see the colorful details that add so much beauty and interest to the scene. My days so often look the same, one big swath of ordinary. And if I pass by too quickly or don't take time to notice, I will miss the loveliness that is already there. 

This month, I want to document to lovely and interesting bits of my days that I so often overlook. I want to see the everyday grace that God bestows upon me.














Thursday, October 1, 2015

You Don't Have to Be in School to Learn in September

September has flown by.  Having such a late Labor Day made the month seem about a week shorter. But it was still plenty of time to learn new things. Here are some of the things September has taught me:

1.  I still don't like my hair unless I flat iron it. We spent Labor Day weekend at the beach, so I just let my hair air dry (after using some of Hannah's mousse for curly hair). It still curled funny and was frizzy. And I didn't like the way my head felt! My love for the flat iron was proven once again.

2.  Blindspot lived up to my expectations. The first two episodes have been gripping and intriguing. It may become my new favorite!

3.  I love my new FitBit. The external motivation of seeing how many steps I take makes me walk more. (No more trying to bring in all the groceries in the house in one trips because more trips = MORE STEPS!) I even started tracking my food, which is helping me make better decisions about what I eat.  

4.  Simply Tuesday is beautiful and amazing and true. I'm only on chapter 4, because I am savoring it. It feels restful and lovely when I read it.

5. I like whole wheat hamburger buns.  I've been eating whole wheat bread since college, but the time or two I had tried whole wheat buns, I was not a fan. I don't know if my tastes changed or I found a better tasting brand of buns, but I like them now.

6. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker is fun and funny and simply a great read!

7. Some people bring cats on leashes to the pet store.



Excuse the picture quality, but I was trying to sneak a picture when I was returning my cart.