What do you store?

Finally.

I accomplished something today that I’ve ignored for years. I knew it was there, just waiting to be gone through- used, packed away for good, or thrown away. The thing was, I couldn’t completely remember what was in there, and it scared the crap out of me to go down that road.

We’ve called it the baby closet. I’m sorry if that sounds creepy, weird, or otherwise, but that’s what it’s been. Over the years through our fertility journey – the highest of highs and lowest of lows – I’d created this cave where sweet little baby nothings go to rest. Things that once held joy but later caused intense pain to see. Well-wishes from loved ones in the form of greeting cards, hand-stitched gifts, hand-me-down gear, teddy bears, & onesies. Half-used pregnancy journals. These things all went to rest in totes & boxes behind a door that could be shut & forgotten. The space disabled me.

Today, I’m 35 weeks & 1 day. That closet just happens to be in the room we’re using as a nursery, and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. So I did it today… I pulled out each box, each item, & sat down in the living room alone to sort through it all. You can guess the mixture of emotions that flowed through my spirit, but I did it.

Last week, I got pretty frustrated with my doctor’s office & the hospital pre-admissions crew. Little things their staff members handle daily are new steps to me, & I’m often feeling left in the dark with insufficient explanation. While I work on finding my voice to ask the right questions, I’m really just trying to keep from crying at every unexpected turn.

When a friend reminded me this week that I have much for which to give thanks, I was a bit taken aback. Of course I’m thankful. Didn’t she remember where I’ve been?
My baby is healthy. Even considering my heart condition, I am healthy. In no way are these beautiful feats lost on me. I surrendered years to the seeming reality that giving birth would not be in my path.
But maybe, in my moments of frustration, fear, & anxiety, I had lost perspective. I know my heart, & my Savior knows my heart, but sometimes the human element takes over & I forget to praise instead of whine.

Thank you, Lord, for not giving up on me. Thank you for covering me in grace while I sort my way through & find your forgiveness & peace. Thank you for lending me your strength to face my demons in the closet.

It’s just a closet now; it holds no power over me.

Finally.

Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
-Psalm 139:7-10

My Angels

Five years ago today was one of the worst days of my life.
Miscarriage #1.

I thought I would die of heartache, and part of me wanted to. I wanted nothing to do with the world, for mine had been crushed – the wind was knocked out of me by a huge crashing wave, and I was drowning, suffocating.

I remember the doctor’s words, the image on the screen, the look on my husband’s face. Suddenly all I could hear was the loud thudding of my heartbeat and a woman wailing in the next room ..but that woman was me. Although they tried not to be seen, I remember the pitiful expressions on the nurses’ faces as my husband guided me out to the car. I do not remember the ride home.

Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home?

Two days later was my surgery. “Conflicted” doesn’t really cover it. I never wanted this surgery, yet it couldn’t happen soon enough. The most unimaginable heartache I’ve ever experienced was knowing I was carrying my child that I would never hold.

When Jesus is my fortress, a constant friend is He.
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me

It’s been an emotional zip line ever since, and I’d basically given up hope of carrying a child, feeling it move and stretch inside of me. Everything we’ve been through has impressed upon me how much if a miracle life truly is. I am grateful beyond words to be the mother of the child I’m carrying today. I am also acutely aware of how painful it feels to even see a baby bump or pacifier when your heart is broken.

Our marriage was strengthened, weakened, strengthened.. and so on for 2-3 years. He took great care of me after the surgery, and we moved forward as soon as possible. Intently trying to conceive, failing, testing and trying medicines wear on a marriage in a way for which you cannot prepare. The last few years we have just been ‘us’. Not trying on a schedule, no more medicine, just living our lives. We also began researching adoption options. Even though this time period included more heartache, we were better to each other- kinder, more patient people.

I sing because I’m happy!
I sing because I’m free!
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me

Thank you, Jesus, for carrying me when I couldn’t walk, for keeping our marriage intact through hell and back only to somehow come out stronger together on this side. In six short weeks, we will meet our miracle, our child of God. I pray we are better parents and spouses because of our journey. Thank you, Jesus!

For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me

Movie Night Birthday Bash

The summer after J & I were wed, we bought our first house. Unfortunately for him, we closed right before his 30th birthday. (And no, we’re not the same age. I’m much, much younger. ;) )  Because we were in boxes, I wasn’t able to pull off the whole turning-30-invite-everyone-you-know-to-throw-a-‘Pinterest-perfect’-party thing. Heck, I’m pretty sure Pinterest wasn’t even invented yet. J turned 35 this year, so what was I to do but run to Pinterest & start brainstorming? I’d like to share our fun movie night with you! With the help of his parents, this was the most fun ‘grown-up’ (kind of) birthday party I’ve ever attended, let alone thrown.

** Disclaimer:
A) You know those people who get every detail right, & it looks perfect when they post to Facebook or Pinterest? I’m not that girl. While I may strive to achieve such lofty goals, I fall short. Please check your judgment at the door, or in this case, the browser. B) No copyright infringement is intended. I had inspiration from things I found online, and I have included those websites at the bottom of this post. **

To get things rolling, I sent out invitations that looked like a vintage movie ticket.

Publication1

I’m seriously proud of this invite. Using my killer inspiration noted below & my mad Publisher skills, I got these finished & in the mail. Please forgive the tan boxes; I wanted to share it with you but had to first cover up personal information for privacy. The square on the left has his birthday. The rectangle in the upper right has the actual birthday date- abbreviated month, date, year.

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Signage on the front door. Opening the door, we walked onto the red carpet. Each star along the way had the name of a party guest. At the end of the carpet was the movie poster, draped until 9:00pm for the start of the movie showing. This drove J nuts! He asked constantly trying to figure out what was going to play later. The chalkboards were from Hobby Lobby. Meanwhile…

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We ate! The snacks included hot dogs with all the fixings, movie theater candy (chocolate covered almonds, hot tamales, junior mints, m&ms, mini peanut butter cups, pretzels, raisinets), cupcakes that looked like little popcorn cups, and nachos. The the movie reel was from Hobby Lobby. The ‘Admit One’ ticket stand & director clap board were from Kirkland’s.

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The cupcakes rocked! My mother-in-law made red velvet cupcakes (one of J’s favorites), iced them, and then painstakingly topped them with little marshmallows she’d snipped & dusted with edible yellow sparkly powder to look like buttered popcorn. *Her bag of marshmallows was funky. If you every try this, make sure that your marshmallows are dry, loose, fluffy, & fresh.* You MUST see the simple tutorial at the bottom of this post. Very cool.

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 Condiment station contains your typical toppings for hot dogs & nachos. The black & white straws at the beverage station are paper, & I found them at Michael’s. The hot dogs, bless their little hearts, look kind of sorry in this picture. However, the idea is pretty awesome. Check out my HOT DOG TUXEDOS post for the how-to, what I would differently next time, & the link to my inspiration. Use our suffering to your advantage by reading my tips!

We ate & played movie trivia games around the house. Here’s the dining room table all dressed up with little awards (from Party City) that we gave away to game winners:

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After much whining from the birthday boy, it was time to unveil the poster…

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If you’re like me & have never heard of this movie, it’s called Rad. It’s a lame ’80’s movie about a biking contest that J apparently watched over & over as a kid until his little brother ‘accidentally’ taped over the ending. (That’s right, in the ’80’s we watched movies on something called a VHS tape! lol) Because it was J’s birthday, we all suffered through watching this movie, for the first time for most of us. Our yummy popcorn bar eased the pain…

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Most of the popcorn seasonings were Kernel Season’s. We used cheesy jalapeño, sour cream & onion, cinnamon sugar, chili lime, ranch, nacho cheddar, & my personal favorite- kettle corn. The shakers were from Dollar Tree. The baskets & frame were purchased from Hobby Lobby.

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The sign in the frame above says “Snatch a bag, Scoop in some popcorn, Spritz on some butter, Sprinkle in seasonings & candy toppings, Shake it all together, Savor & maybe share a little”. (I did not come up with this clever little sign. Please see the popcorn bar inspiration link below. She gets all the credit!)

Here’s a shot of the garage, transformed into the most charming little theater:

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There are canned lights shooting up the garage walls, but the tiki torches were the perfect detail. My father-in-law did the techie garage set-up, and it looked amazing!

Finally, when the credits rolled, it was time to say goodbye. These favors were a sweet gesture to send home with our guests:

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I filled small Ball mason jars from Hobby Lobby with popcorn kernels, printed the labels for the top, & my MIL tied a ribbon. Easy peasy! Guests also took home their gold star that lined the red carpet.

This party absolutely couldn’t have been such a smashing hit without the help of my in-laws. I am so blessed to have married into a Godly, hilarious, tight-knit family.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this post, please share!

Here are the links for my inspiration behind this shindig, as promised:

Vintage movie ticket- http://www.zazzle.com/vintage_playbill_ticket_wedding_invitation-161456797066458198

“Presenting” welcome sign- http://www.thetomkatstudio.com/caitlins-backyard-movie-party-new-party-collection-supplies/

Red carpet (image only)- http://s7d5.scene7.com/is/image/PartyCity/RED_CARPET_1%20DSC_7519?op_sharpen=0&resMode=sharp2&op_usm=1.2,1,4,0&wid=486

Table decor (image only)- http://www.bedfordcountyplayers.com/theater_curtains_2.gif,

Table decor- http://catchmyparty.com/photos/647338

Hot dog tuxedoshttp://www.bhg.com/halloween/parties/hotdog-tuxedos/

Popcorn cupcakes (scroll down through blog to find)http://www.makeitandfakeit.com/search?updated-max=2012-04-28T13:18:00%2B02:00&max-results=20

Popcorn cupcakes (image only)http://media-cache-ak3.pinimg.com/originals/d9/14/22/d91422915d2b8f8b327ebfa4d5a2dfb1.jpg

Old fashioned popcorn bar- http://blog.hwtm.com/2011/12/olde-fashioned-rustic-popcorn-bar/

Spotlights- http://chictechnique.com/2011/08/how-to-make-a-spotlight/

Mason jar popcorn favors- http://blog.swankypress.com/2011/09/birthday-party-ideas-hollywood-movie-party/

 

Hot Dog Tuxedos

Good morning! Today I would like to share with you a project within a project. For my husband’s birthday last month, we threw him a ‘movie night’ themed party. You can see more pics from that party HERE. One element of our food table was hot dogs ‘dressed’ in tuxedos. His mother & I both worked on this for quite a while, because we couldn’t quite get it just right. Once I finally figured it out to my satisfaction, I decided I’d better take pictures to give a step-by-step for others. Thus, I bring to you,our sorry attempt at dressing hot dogs…

STEP 1: Buy your supplies:

  • 1 Pkg black cocktail napkins (or larger, depending on your buns & dogs of choice, etc)
  • 1 Pkg white cocktail napkins (or larger, depending on your buns & dogs of choice, etc)

**For your sanity, buy both napkin colors in the same size**

  • 1 Roll of double-stick tape
  • 1-2 Roll of thin red ribbon
  • Materials with which to practice- I sacrificed one of our buns and filled it with a glue stick.

Here’s the label of the napkins we used, so that you can see dimensions:

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STEP 2:

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When folding the napkin, keep in mind that you are looking at the INSIDE of the tux. The outside of the tux (which is what you’ll see when you’re finished) is facing your work table.

What’s important in the folding of the napkin here isn’t “an inch” here or there, it’s really the placement of the corners. The upper left corner is brought down about 3/4 from the top and about 1/3 from the side. The upper right corner is then folded down about 1/4 past the horizontal center fold and about 1/4 to the right of the vertical center fold. Again this is approximate. Play around with it until you get the tux to the correct height on your hot dog bun. Also, I’ve only taped them down for these example pics; I didn’t actually tape them down during the folding of each tux.

STEP 3:

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In the above picture, you can’t see the black napkin. That’s because it’s UNDERNEATH the white napkin. Line up the bottom edges of your napkins, so that the bottom corners are together. The white napkin corners are folded in the same direction, but you’ll notice that the corners are not brought down as far as the black napkin. This is to allow the white ‘shirt’ to be seen above the back. I tried to fold my white so that I could see about 1/2″ of the ‘shirt’ above the black ‘jacket’.

STEP 4: Rolling the napkins

Place your practice hot dog bun along the vertical center seam, an inch or two from the bottom edge of the napkins. Bring the left side up & over the bun. Then bring the right side up & over the bun, covering the excess from the left side.

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Tape the edge down with a small piece of tape.

STEP 5: Bowties!

My inspiration -http://www.bhg.com/halloween/parties/hotdog-tuxedos/- has a super bowtie pattern. However, we decided the less cutting we added to our “To-Do” list, the better. Sooo…. Ribbon! I tied a small bow at the end of a thin red ribbon & THEN cut the end loose from the spool. If you cut first, you can’t adjust the bow if necessary. I found the smaller the bow, the cuter. But also, the smaller the bow, the more difficult to tie! :)

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Ta-da! I fixed the bow to the tux with a small piece of double-stick tape. Try not to judge this picture too much, because my bun was drying out & starting to break.

As you may have figured out by now, I made all of my tuxes in advance so that we could move on & stuff them later after cooking the hot dogs. My mother- and father-in-law were cooking the things that needed to be made hot for the party, including the hot dogs. She graciously agreed to stuff the dogs in the tuxes while I went home to change clothes & pick up the birthday boy. Here’s what frustration & moist food looks like when put with paper napkins:

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The end result with the dogs on the completed table:

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*For credits/ inspirations for the projects in this pic, please see MOVIE NIGHT BIRTHDAY BASH.

If you do a big event like this and don’t learn anything, you’re doing something wrong. Here’s what I learned &/or would do differently if I were to make these hot dog tuxedos again:

  • Still do Steps 2 & 3 ahead of time, but don’t go to Step 4 until you have the hot dogs ready to go. Have someone else ready to help you at that time to get them done faster, since this would be done right before the party starts. This will eliminate rolling too tightly, making it difficult to stuff when the hot dogs were done, which is what happened to us.
  • Save time to use the bowtie pattern. I think they lend themselves to a cleaner, more unified look.

Don’t forget to check out more awesome details from this party by visiting MOVIE NIGHT BIRTHDAY BASH

Thanks for visiting!

One Year Without Internet :: Not all frisbies & dandelions

One Year Without Internet :: Not all frisbies & dandelions

This article by Paul Miller is an absolute must read. If you told me you were abandoning the internet for a year, (after I stopped laughing…) I would imagine your lifestyle changing dramatically.

My goal … would be to discover what the internet had done to me over the years.

Google has evolved from a noun to a verb. How many pieces of your day are done with an internet/ cellular connection? When’s the last time you used a paper map? How many pieces of your communication are done online vs. face-to-face? Yes, your life would change. But would you?

you don’t need to go on a yearlong internet fast to realize your sister has feelings.

On the news, in the paper, and in our conversations, we hear often of the ‘teenagers today’ having it so much harder than previous generations. I have always disagreed with this statement. The elements they deal with today may be more dangerous, but the pressures are all still the same. We are still horrible to each other, striving desperately to ‘fit in’. Nothing that we do to our peers today is different in perspective value from what we did to our peers in 1954. 

There will always be something to distract you, if you indeed wish to be distracted. The internet is our current scapegoat, but what came before it? Nintendo. Atari. Magazines. Cigarettes. Poker. Porn. Pick your crutch. 

When you returned from your virtual vacation, how different would your world be? Would you use the internet in the same ways as before? Will you use it at all? The answer to both questions, is likely a regretful & resounding ‘yes’. Paul’s article brings to light the resonating realization that our lives are forever changed. 

When we use a phone or a computer we’re still flesh-and-blood humans, occupying time and space. When we’re frolicking through a field somewhere, our gadgets stowed far away, the internet still impacts our thinking: “Will I tweet about this when I get back?”

www. is part of our permanent vernacular. Use it wisely. There’s a real live human on the other end of your size 12 Times New Roman.

Dining at the Dining Table

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This may not be anything new for you, but in my house, it’s rare. Partly because it’s usually covered in my junk- purses, papers, mail, craft supplies, you name it. Partly because the TV doesn’t face the dining room. Sad, I know. This is my first post, so I won’t bore you with statistics about kids doing better in school & life when they eat dinner around a table with a family, etc, but I do know those things are true. I recognize that it’s good for my digestion, my stress, & my marriage. I also know that since for now it’s just myself & my husband, we tend to care less.

Over the weekend, even while on pain killers after dental work, I managed to clear off that table & even vacuum the floor. The stage was set. What happened last night was odd. I got home in time to cook dinner before J got home from work. We had errands to run last night, so we needed to eat promptly when he arrived. Somehow, I pulled that one off. I got the idea when I was passing the table with my glass of milk. It occurred to me, ‘We could EAT on that!’ I set the table. We ate dinner at the table with the windows open & the television off. The cat & dog didn’t know what to think!

My second epiphany of the evening was, “We should do this at least once, no, make it TWICE, a week.” J agreed, so we will now be eating at the table as little family we are on Monday & Thursday evenings. Feel free to ask me how this is going two months from now. In the mean time… your turn!