Thursday, April 28, 2011

Runner Girl

So I'm running my first half marathon since 2008. Let me explain.

2009-prego with Darby all year...basically.

2010-began running again in January after I had healed from my C-section. I ran our town's 4th of July 5K in 28 minutes (I was happy with my time...AND...I'm determined to beat it this year). And then I broke my ankle and my foot. 8 weeks on crutches with three kids (Darby wasn't even walking at the time) ISN'T FUN, friends! Thank God for my friend, Kristin, who held us over for two weeks until Grandma Hills could make it up and stay for-A MONTH! Woohoo! In all seriousness, we would NOT HAVE MADE IT without those two lovely ladies. And, Dallas's mom has such a servant's heart and is SO good with the kiddos, it was truly a blessing having her here! OH! Back to running...So, I was finally cleared to give the "boot" THE BOOT, and RUN! Seriously? I was just told to bear absolutely NO weight on this foot at all- only crutches and a cast-to, "YEAH! Go ahead and run on it! You're healed! VOILA!" Well, running didn't exactly work for quite some time! And, so I signed up for a half marathon with my besties, Elizabeth and Stewart, in May. I finally feel my ankle is getting stronger again. And, hey! It's not swelling and bruising after I run anymore! So, we're on our way! Only, I haven't been able to commit to this training schedule with my family and Young Life schedule, so I'm basically hosed. I was supposed to run 9 or 10 miles tonight. Instead, I baked LEMON POPPYSEED SCONES and then went to pick up a friend from college. So, I guess it's another two run week. Twelve miles Saturday, and the race is NEXT WEEKEND!

My last half marathon time? 2hrs 8 minutes.

This half marathon goal? a) hoping just to finish b) hoping that IF-I mean, WHEN-I finish, I do it in less than two and a half hours.

So, Elizabeth calls me and tells me she's signing her children up for the 1 mile kids run. I think they call that a "FUN RUN." So, we're signing Tate and Naomi up for it, too. I'm actually fairly certain Darby could finish, but I don't think she'd stick to the course, so we'll just let her run circles around usual. !)

Getting to the point of this post:We've been making our kids know, to train! So, I told Naomi to go up and change into running clothes, and what she came up with:

(I love how she posed like she was ready to kick butt!)

For the record: I did make her put running shoes on.

Kelly's Teacup!

Hi, Friends! Most of you know I was up in New York City a couple weekends ago to see my deary, Leann, who took me to the most delicious experience of my life! So many things stood out to me on this day, but I could have eaten their pumpkin scones ALL DAY LONG! I left there with UNbuyers remorse because I didn't get their cookbook! So, sweet Leann brought me a copy home on Easter Break! YAY! So, since I live in this little town, I had to go to three different stores to get all the necessary ingredients to make them. I know, convenient, right? !)

Here's more info on Alice's Teacup New York City, in case you ever decide to swing by:

So, I went to work making my scones...Here they are before baking!

And, while I was up to my elbows in doughy delight...Darby was also hard at work...
Glad I caught her before she began helping me clean the toilet...again. Or, before she threw and entire roll of toilet paper in the toilet...again.

Yep. She was also pulling trash out of the trashcan.

That white stuff on the floor? Cottonballs.

And, despite the, um, "setbacks," They turned out!

So, here I sit with my tea and my scone, happy as can be!

And, I know some of y'all are sick to death of the Royal Wedding stuff, but I'm a sucker for a Cinderella story. So tomorrow morning, I will be up at the crack BEFORE dawn with my tea and scones to watch the couple tie the knot! On second thoughts...maybe I shoulda made crumpets.

Now, excuse me while I go clean up the cottonballs...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Word on Wednesday

Hi, Friends! Since "exciting" things only come around so often, I have decided to take the opportunities on Wednesdays to give you a quick little devotional read. I'm hoping that I can keep them brief, and that it will be something (especially for busy moms) that you can ponder as you go about the busyness of your day. God's word is alive and active-sharper than any two-edged sword, and I'm convinced that if I read the same passage 50 times, I'd get 49 new lessons than I got the first time. So, feel free to leave comments on what YOU get out of the same passage!

Last week, in our Young Life group, I led a lesson on all of John Chapter 13. WHEW! Yep. We're going through John, and we've been shooting for a chapter a WEEK! I won't go through all of 13 today, but just verses 33-38, so pick up your Bible, and let's GO!

Jesus just gave His disciples their Passover meal. They're still sitting at the table, and Jesus tells them He's only going to be with them for a little bit longer, and He lets them know that they can't come where He's going. What?! Can't come? But, we've been with you for three years, straight, and WE LIKE YOU!

Ever stop and think that Jesus NEVER tells us that? He never says, "Where I'm going, you CAN'T GO"! He promises us, "I am with you always, even to the ends of the earth"! But, at that time, the disciples COULD NOT follow Jesus. Although, we know that each of His disciples except John eventually would be martyred for their faith.

Instead, Jesus replied that they must "love one another." That, "all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." That's a pretty powerful message. That, if we want the whole world to KNOW Jesus, that we have to LOVE ONE ANOTHER! How HARD that is to carry out, too! Why would anyone want to have anything to do with Jesus if, in following Him, their relationships and their lives are no different?! I see people come to Jesus through other people. For example, I came to Jesus through my relationship with my dear friend, Elizabeth! My husband, Dallas, through his relationship with Elizabeth's husband, Stewart. We began to know God as a loving God because THEY LOVED US!

Notice Peter's next comment immediately following is this: "Lord, where are you going?" Um, PETER! Did you just MISS all that stuff about Loving one another?! I think about Tate. I'm talking to him at dinner last night. He's looking at his Easter basket...dreaming of the goodies that he can have for dessert. He heard NOTHING I said. I wonder if Peter was off in la-la land wondering what Jesus was talking about when He said, "Where I am going, you cannot come" instead of listening to the wisdom that would follow.

So, Jesus tells Peter that he can't come NOW, but that he WILL follow later, and later Peter DID end up dying on a cross as well, although he was cruxified upside down because he did not consider himself worthy of dying like the Messiah.

Peter's reply: "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Peter meant what he said. After all, he had already left his family, his job, his boat, his livelihood!

Jesus then drops the BOMB! "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!" OUCH! Imagine your BEST FRIEND telling you this! Jesus didn't tell Peter he'd disown Him once or twice, but THREE times! This, right after Peter told Jesus he'd lay down his life for Him! So, I ask, what would you lay down for Jesus? Would you give of your time, your money, your resources? Would you lay down your very life? Where would you draw the line? Are you "too busy," like the rest of the world, to serve reach out to your have that young couple over for mentor that young mom? Would you boldly claim to the Almighty that you would "lay down your life"?

So, after Jesus tells Peter that he would disown Him, we find from Matthew's account of this story, that Peter does a little "talking back." Matt 26: 35-"But Peter declared,'Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.' And all the other disciples said the same."

I'm asking us ALL to do a gut check here! We call ourselves Christians. We say we love Jesus, but when push comes to shove, will we REALLY FOLLOW HIM? Will we obey? After all, Jesus said, "If you love me, you will OBEY WHAT I COMMAND"!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Water Wars

Two days ago, the high was maybe 65. Yesterday, however, the high was 80-WHOA! Did someone say, "EIGHTY"?!! Let's break out the swimsuits! Naomi has been begging to play in the sprinkler for weeks. So, today, I finally gave her the go ahead. Plus, we got these super easy-to-use water "guns" for Easter! So, I filled up buckets and she went to town. A lady, a bucket, and a water shooter. All alone=no problems!

Enter Tate. Tate arrived home from school to a fresh blast of ice cold water. Tate's happy-go-lucky enough to think that was AWESOME. He came inside, half laughing, and told me Naomi shot him and he was soaking wet. I said, "HURRY! Go put your swimsuit on!" I filled Tate a bucket, got his water shooter, and told him to swing around the other side of the house for a covert retaliation.
Naomi got blasted. Thus began the first (of hopefully many) water wars of the season. Aha! Time to myself! Darby's napping upstairs, kids are outside playing. WRONG! Commence the tattling.

Naomi: "Tate shot me when I was reloading!!!"

My answer: "Okay, (quickly whipping out our newly purchased sidewalk chalk) THIS is the 'LOADING ZONE.' No one can shoot from the loading zone or into the loading zone."

Then I quickly realized that I needed a "PENALTY BOX" if I was going to initiate a "LOADING ZONE." Right? Because there MUST be a PENALTY for BREAKING THE RULES!

Then I realized they'd pelt each other in the eyes if I didn't make a "SHOT BOX," but that, too, had to come with one rule: "NO SHOOTING IN THE EYES!"

So, now, with rules and boundary lines set, and consequences for breaking those rules or stepping across those boundary lines set, they are happily battling it out, and have even invited friends over, taught THEM they rules/boundaries, and now THEY are happily playing!

After a little while of playing, Naomi came inside shivering-remember, it's only 80, and it's only been that temperature for about 5 hours. She had given her brother and her brother's friend towels. One of the towels was her own. They were warm. She was not. How sweet is she to sacrifice her own comfort for her friends?!

So, go out and have yourself a WATER WAR---and let me know how it goes!!

The Grotto of Lourdes-Easter 2011

We visited The Grotto of Lourdes at Mt. Saint Mary's University the day before Easter. Dallas got his MBA here a couple of years ago, and if you're nearby, you should stop by. It's a beautiful place to contemplate the cross. I hope you find inspiration in some of these pictures!

"Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them. For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53: 4-5
"Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Matthew 27: 37

We lit a candle for our brother(s) and/or sister(s) in Ethiopia

"Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord." Psalm 4: 6

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1: 10

I often breeze through Matthew 11:28, but if we truly stop and consider these words. What does it mean to "Come to (Jesus)"? What does the rest that only He can give feel like?! I hope that if you're weary or burdened today, that you can stop, and go to Jesus. If he can take up our sin and shame and carry them on the cross, then he can take up our pain and burdens, too. Amen?!

Easter 2011

Easter weekend at our house was full of family, Easter fun and remembrance! Naomi and I had the fireplace decked out with all sorts of crafts that we began weeks ago!

We made these flowers, painted these birdhouses, and I got this cute idea for the Easter eggs from a blog I follow! We did not have quite enough eggs since they have to be blown out, and I was about to pass out after doing 15!

Tate turned into an expert egg finder somewhere between last Easter and this Easter!

Tate and Naomi both showed Darby how to hunt for eggs, and she caught on really quickly-she's a third child...'nuff said.

Next, we tried our hardest to stain our Easter outfits! I mean, we tried to snap a few pictures of the kids all spiffied up. If you have more than one kid, you know how THAT went! But, we managed to get a couple somewhat decent pics!

We hope everyone had a very HAPPY EASTER and that you would remember the sacrifice that was made to present you holy and blameless to a Holy God everyday!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

DC on Good Friday

We made a daytrip down to DC yesterday (We believe it was Darby's first trip to DC!). Yes, the weather was horrible. Rain, albeit not quite torrential, came down all day. People! Yes, people swarm to DC on Good Friday-go figure! We went to the Air and Space Museum first. Maybe it's because every man in my family was (or is)a pilot in the Air Force, or is currently an airline pilot, but that museum just doesn't impress me. OR, maybe it was the fact that two of their women's rooms were under construction so I had to stand in a line literally 40 women long to use the restroom. There were so many people in that museum, I didn't bother taking pictures. Then we made the short walk to the Museum of Natural History. We almost had a Mary Poppins moment here, as you can see!

We stumbled upon this sculpture garden. This house was 3 Dimensional in a very 2 Dimensional way. Thank goodness Disney just invented the FOUR-D, right? What would we do without it?!

I can't get enough of this little one!

And...a metal tree. Try makin' paper outta THIS thing!

We learned a little bit about the history of Ethiopia while we were there! Emperor Menelik II defeated the Italians as they tried to invade Ethiopia to take it over in the late 1800s. European countries were overtaking African countries at that point in history, and Ethiopia was one of only two African countries which were not overtaken. If you look at this artwork, Emperor Menelik is at the top left on the white horse. The princess is at the bottom left, being carried with the umbrella over her head. The Italians are all depicted by side profiles, and the Ethiopians are beating the snot outta them.

And, in case you didn't know where Ethiopia IS:

The magical underwater world as displayed through the art of crochetting! I'm not a knitter or crochetter, but THIS was impressive!

We saw dinosaurs, rocks, and gems...even the HOPE DIAMOND! And, so did a million and a half other people that day. In fact, at points, I was wondering if we were breaking fire code. So, that's all the pictures I have for now! After a fun family day, we hit up PF Changs for dinner and headed home. In hindsight, we totally should have hit up an Ethiopian restaurant! From what I understand, DC has a large Ethiopian population, so that will wait for another trip!

Happy Easter weekend, Everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mom of the Year-2011

Ever have those "Mom of the Year" moments? Yeah...had one of those last night. Tate came down around 11:30pm with an earache. I cleaned his ears, gave him allergy medicine, some warm tea, water, and Tylenol. After I pumped him full of anything I could get my hands on, I looked at the Tylenol bottle: EXP 9/2009. Wonderful. So, I took Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 in college! No biggie, right? I just figured the half life of the meds in the Tylenol probably made the chemicals inactive at this point ( The Tylenol would be simple syrup). So, I began digging through my medicine basket again. SCORE! MOTRIN! Even better. This time, I looked at the expiration date first: EXP 4/2010. Well, that's getting better, right? And, since I used the expertise I gained at Texas A&M, I knew that I could give him MORE since I deemed the Tylenol null-and-void. So, I gave him maybe 1/2 of his dose in expired Motrin. (Atleast I'm making HIM feel better now that I've essentially given him a placebo, right?)

The problem is that I switched my major to Psychology after a couple years in Science, and so I know that giving someone expired meds is against the law and is considered drug abuse. So, now I'm torn. What's a mom to do in the middle of the night with nothing but expired meds?!

So, since my car's at the shop, I was thinking I'd keep Tate home from school today and take him to the doctor when my car gets back, but he woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed...ready for school! So, I sent him off to school! I think the moral to the story is this: Expired meds fix ANYTHING! haha! We'll see. I'm still going to try to get him in to the doctor since it's Easter weekend and I still think he might have an ear infection. Oh! And, I might go swing by CVS to get some fresh meds while I'm at it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Life Is GOOD!

Grammy bought Darby the cutest little "Life is Good" romper. So supercute, and it was warm enough (barely) for her to wear it the other day. The front looks like this. Darby was hamming it up during our little photo shoot here. See? Cute, huh! It says, "Buttercup"!

And, check the back out! In case you can't really see that, it says, "Life is Good"! So, it's supercute, as you can see. But, later in the day, as I was changing a 'Tinky Poo, I wondered, "Was this some sick joke?" Who would put "Life is Good" on the bottom?! Whoever designed this obviously is not in the diaper changing stage of life! Because when you're in the middle of changing a 'Tinky Poo, Life isn't so good! But, when you consider that they wrote "Life IS Good," and not "Life SMELLS Good," I can understand where they're coming from.

And, really, with our fiesty little redhead, Life IS good!

Small Setback

Hi Friends!

We had a minor setback to our adoption process this week. Our Immigration paperwork was all sent back to us because of the letter "A." It took me 20 minutes on the phone with our adoption agency before we figured out that I mistakenly printed out the first page of the I-600 and the 2nd and 3rd pages of the I-600A. Sounds like a minor mistake, AND, for the record, the first two pages are almost identical (except for the letter "A," of course). But to our detail oriented government, and thankfully so, there are no "almost okays"...only perfection! Glad that THEY know what they're doing, because I obviously DO NOT!

SO! I retyped our cover letter explaining my mistake (A very humbling thing to do. Normally, you can call someone, or tell them to their face, but when you have to type out a letter telling someone that you are a dummy, that's a whole 'nother thing!). Then, I had to make copies of the "official notices" of the plethera of mistakes I made in this application. Then, I had to remove all the pages in the document that said, "MISSING PAGE!" and our previous application. Finally, I had to re-print and re-fill out the I-600A. After all that was said and done, then I called USCIS to make sure I was doing everything correctly this time. After I was reassured that I did everything right, I went to the post office and forked out the $18 more dollars to RE-overnight this packet to Immigration.

The good news? We were given this "GREEN PAGE" to put on top of the document. This green page is a notice to process all the dummies with special care and attention! Actually, I think it expedites it slightly, although I don't know WHY they would do that. It was totally my fault, so why would they put mine in front of someone who actually did it right the first time?!

How far did this set us back? Time will tell, but from the time that I overnighted our first attempt to the time I received the packet back from USCIS was 7 days, so I'm hoping the green page will work it's "magic!"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Big Apple-Leann style!

I was recently blessed to be able to spend two days with my dear friend, Leann. She was one of "my Young Life girls" until she graduated last year, and now I call her "friend." I'm so proud of her! She is a wonderfully amazing dancer, and she's studying dance in New York City now. I miss her friendship and her childlike faith terribly, and I am amazed at how much she's growing as a person and as my sister in Christ now that she's not tucked safely under my wing! I just love this girl to death!

I took Leann and her roommate to my favorite Italian restaurant in Little Italy, La Mela, where we chowed down. Leann and I then mad rushed to The Met and oogled over the famous artwork we saw! The next morning, I was so excited to worship with Leann at her new church home, C3 Manhattan! WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! God's Church was alive in New York City-right in the New York Times building! Listening to their Australian pastor was such a sweet treat for me! He preached from the book of Matthew (Matthew's theme being how Jesus was KING and LORD!). A little peek into the sermon from Matthew 7:21-23 reminds us of how God defines salvation: 1) We must recognize Jesus is LORD! He is KING! And we must, therefore, allow him to be LORD and KING in our lives. That's not all! 2) We must do the WILL of God to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! And, 3) We must have a friendship with Jesus! Check out how, in vs 23, Jesus would say to them, "I never knew you." HE-LORD AND KING-wants to KNOW---US! Team that message up with hearing "BRILLIANT and ELECTRIC" with this oh so Australian accent and some MAGNIFYING worship, and you get where I'm coming from! So, to put the LORD in the place where He belongs, a place HIGH UP, a place where we can ESTEEM HIM and MAGNIFY His name! To put Him in a place where we will bow down in worship and humble ourselves before Him, is His very desire!

After church, Leann and I went to Alice's Teacup! (Big, very serious pause) Next time you are in New York City. DO! NOT! LEAVE! without eating here! Teatime with Leann was so great! And, the scones, cookies, cake and tea were so VERY, VERY delicious! I took a bit of a cookie, and pondered to myself that "This must be a magic cookie straight out of Alice and Wonderland" before I gave Leann "The look." The "I could never eat anything for the rest of my life just to savor this flavor" look. And, just to top off the cookies, when I tasted the cake, I actually got goosebumps! HAHA!

After teatime, we went to The Cathedral of St. John the Apostle. Amazing. The outside of the cathedral was beautiful. No detail was left undone. I was touched when I saw this detail in one of the pillars outside. I can hardly believe it's been almost 10 years. It was a very somber reminder that I was in NYC. After spending some time outside marveling over the details of the cathedral, we entered to the angelic voices of a children's choir preparing for mass. My breath was taken away. The inside of this structure was nothing short of magnificent! I wanted to drop to my knees in worship. I felt SO small inside this building that must have had 50 foot ceilings or better. Every detail was amazing! And, I thought back on the sermon we had just all came together! God is even bigger than that cathedral, and the power and majestic-ness inside that cathedral was a drop in the BUCKET compared to the power and majesty of MY KING! Here are a few more pictures from inside the cathedral

If you walk around the cathedral to the back, there is a quiet garden (yes---it's quiet! In the middle of the city!) with PEACOCKS! What a fun suprise!

After spending time in the garden, we meandered through Central Park chatting on our way back to pick my stuff up, and the time I had with her was over. I used to see this girl three times a week (or more), so my 24 hours with her were not enough, but it was precious! Thank you, sweet Leann, for hosting me and showing me YOUR New York City! I can't wait to come back for another taste of Wonderland! :)