Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stuff heard 'round these parts

"Diaper cream is for bottoms not faces, Ainsley"

Addison: "Here you go Mom" as she hands me something...
Me: "What is that?"
Addison: "My booger"

"Ainsley is that poop on your hands?!?"
Ainsley: "yep!"

"Ainsley, plastic bags don't go on your head."

I would also like to announce that the kids singing "Sloppy Joes, sloppy sloppy Joes" from Billy Madison are mine. Can I help it if it comes to mind every time I make one? "I'll make them extra schloppy for ya!" ;)

Now if you'll excuse me I need to get downstairs. I do believe Ainsley could be walking around with that bag still on her head.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A good laugh at work...

A mom is shopping at Baby Gap with her 3 year old. Three year old picks up a pair of fleece pj's and says "This is sexy!"

Laughter ensues.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Priceless Gift

I have heard about Jesse trees for about a year now. They're a different kind of way to celebrate advent, but very visual and interesting for kids. It basically traces the lineage of Jesus back to Adam w/ really neat symbols and Bible verses.

I got an email awhile ago from a friend that said she was putting together a Jesse Tree ornament exchange. You pick your symbol, make 28 of the same ornament, and trade them amongst friends so everyone goes home with a completed tree. My first thought was "oh heck no. I don't do crafts and I don't do 28 crafts. And I don't do 28 crafts in the middle of all this morning sickness and busy-ness. I also don't do 28 crafts with Ainsley anywhere in the house." Can we say disaster? Then there was the money aspect: I know you can craft on the cheap, but I just didn't have any extra pennies to put toward this idea this year. To summarize: not the year for it. I found some neat Jesse Tree printouts and so my plan (for NEXT year!!) was to just hang those on a tree and eventually trade the printouts for ornaments as the years progressed.

At MOPS on Monday the presenter (who happened to be one of the ladies involved in the Jesse Tree exchange) had the finished tree on the stage to show off to give all the moms ideas for ways to introduce Spiritual things to our kiddos around the holidays. I sat there looking at that tree, wishing I had just summoned the energy to make the ornaments so I could have one to do with Addison and Ainsley. Again, it inspired me for next year (or let's be honest here....the next year after that!)

Tonight Devin and I were having dinner with my very wonderful friend Alicia and her husband John. At the end of dinner she came over with a shirt box and said "This is a Christmas present from the Hansens to the Rileys." I knew what was in there, and I started crying before I even opened the box. Inside were 28 ornaments from the Jesse Tree exchange. Alicia had taken part in the exchange and had given me all of her ornaments. The ornaments were all created by ladies from church that I love and admire. These ornaments will be in the Riley household for YEARS, and everytime I pull one out I will remember each of those ladies, and Alicia for so selflessfly giving me this special gift. I honestly can't think of a cooler way to kick off the Christmas season. I love you Alicia. Thank you so very much.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Taking 2 kids to your OB check ups

My mom has watched the girls for me the last couple times, but let's face it: there are lots of appointments and sometimes it just seems easier to bring them along. Here were the highlights:

-getting lost on the way even though I've already been there twice this pregnancy.
-having our name called quickly and getting my hopes up that our wait will be really short, only to end up waiting longer in the tiny exam room instead of out in the nice big open waiting room with a kids area. Next time we're going back out there to wait and the doc can come get us!
-peeing in a cup in a tiny bathroom with my two kids standing right in front of me and wondering what in the heck I am doing.
-bringing skittles for them to eat during the appointment. Ainsley managed to eat them neatly for the first half of the bag. The second half was smeared all over her face, shirt, and hands. That was a nice sticky mess.
-Addison saying "I have to go to the bathroom!" right in the middle of my time with the midwife.  She was super sweet about it and even offered to keep Ainsley entertained while I took Addison (even though I know she had other people waiting. My sincere apologies to those people who were waiting, but you gotta do what you gotta do). It helps when your midwife is a mom of two young kids too.

Really, in the grand scheme of things, this was a pretty easy breezy experience. No trantrums. No poopy diaper blowouts or accidents, etc. etc. etc. The best part was that my midwife plopped the girls up on the exam table with me and let them help "hear" the baby's heartbeat. She had to completely maneuver around both of them, but it was a really sweet moment.

I think we'll get to find out the sex in about 6 weeks!

Oh and yeah we stayed another 15 minutes so the kids could play in the play area. I got to read a magazine. They played. Win-win.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Plans

As a kid we went trick or treating and dressed up in normal costumes until my mom decided those days were over. Then it was the good 'ol Halloween Alternatives at the church! Yep biblical costumes and all! I was Queen Esther and Eric was Jonah (complete with a gigantic blow up whale). I think in middle school we started trick or treating again with friends and that was the end of that. I never went to another Halloween alternative celebration again and swore I would never do that to my kids. I mean, it's just so....dorky.

The idea of them just kinda bugs me. I mean, if you think it's that evil of a holiday than why are you still participating in the general idea? Is putting on a costume and going to church different than putting on a costume and walking around the neighborhood? In 9th or 10th grade my mom decided to put bible verses on all the candy we handed out and I was MORTIFIED at the time, but now I think that was a pretty stinking good idea!

As for me personally, I know my own boundaries. I can't step foot in a haunted house or watch a horror movie because I really can't handle scary things. I get images in my head that I can't get out and I have a difficult time sleeping without nightmares. At the same time,  I really don't feel convicted about putting Addison in a princess costume and walking around the neighborhood with her.

Our church never did the Halloween alternative thing. Ever (well in the 5 years we've lived here). And we're Baptist!!  All those years I was so proud.... Then I was at a MOPS steering team meeting and someone announced that we were having a trunk or treat. My heart kind of sank a little. I mean, not totally, but a little bit. REALLY? Our church is doing that?! Awww maaaaan!! What's next our own church gym or church yoga studio? Just kidding....

Then I thought about it for a couple of months. Hmmmm...this could be kind of fun. First we're going to have a big carnival with blow ups and rides and food and then the kids will go around and get candy from people we know. How fun is that?! To see so many friends and see their kids' costumes? You know I am a girl who loves to socialize. We'll all be in the same place! A couple in our life group has a vintage car from the 50s in great condition so we decided to use their car and do a soda shop theme. I mean, this is going to be really fun! I am totally on board now.

Ha! You should have seen the look on my mom's face when I told her the news about participating in this thing. Like my next move would be to dress the girls in denim jumpers, french braid their hair, and talk about homeschooling (not that I have anything against homeschooling. If someone else wants to homeschool my kids (for free) they're hired!!).

Yes I have changed. Who'd have thunk? What are you guys doing for Halloween?

Friday, October 8, 2010

New, Yummy Recipe

I made Italian Skillet Dinner last night and we all happily chowed it down. Addison even ate two bowls of it. It's really good, easy and really healthy. I thought I'd share it with you since I'm all about food these days.

1 lb turkey Italian Sausage
1/2 chopped green pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable juice
1 1/2 cups brown INSTANT rice (uncooked)
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook sausage w/ a small amount of olive oil so it doesn't stick to the pan for 4 minutes. Add peppers and onion and cook until softened.

Add tomatoes and vegetable juice. Cook and stir until mixture boils. Remove from heat and stir in rice (uncooked). Let simmer for about 5 minutes, stir, and remove from heat.  Cover and let stand for another 5 minutes or so until the rice is cooked. 

Add mozzarella cheese and serve.
Because the v8 juice cooks the rice, it is really flavorful.

Anyway things around here have been ok. I've still been dealing with my little friend called morning sickness and this friend is not treating me well.  I have tried everything under the sun and there have been a few things that help:

-Eating all the time. So much that I am totally dreading getting on the scale for my next appointment.
-Those preggie pops. Yes they actually work. I was a total skeptic, but I shelled out the $5 for that tiny little tin and they came through for me. They leave a horrible taste in my mouth so I have to keep peppermint gum around to help with that.
-Yogurt--not sure why, but it does help relieve the nausea a bit. 

Here are my latest cravings:
-Fish tacos (oh my gosh I want to go to On the Border or Houlihans or Cheesecake Factory SO BAD!!)
-Jamoca Shake from Arby's. I wouldn't recommend giving some to your 20 month old. She will dance and jump all over the place late in the evening and you will have to explain to your husband why she is so hyper. I really wish I had video taped this....
-grapes, yogurt (see there are some healthy things on the list)


Devin had a long work trip to California last week, so the girls and I drove to Manhattan with Heather and Noah and had a little sleepover with the lovely Leah Graves. Yes Leah hosted us and all of our crazy kids. We ate all her food and made a lot of noise and probably scarred her husband for life, but he was extremely sweet and welcoming too. He even made mac n cheese for all the kids. It was a great little getaway and I got to have all my favorite Manhattan things like Rock-A-Belly Deli and Call Hall Ice Cream combined with seeing wonderful friends. It was fun to show Addison where Dev and I went to college even though I'm not sure she totally understood. I need to buy one of those shirts that says "I Miss Manhattan" because it is certainly true.

This Wednesday I am going on another little adventure: the girls and I are flying to DC to see Devin's parents and for me to attend Dan Triman and Julia Golden's wedding. Dan and I went to high school together in Maryland. He was dating one of my best friends and we became friends. When they broke up she and I had kind of drifted apart, but Dan and I realized how good of friends we had become and stayed in touch all through college and beyond. Julia is wonderful and they are perfect for each other. I just need to find where the heck Woodstock, Maryland is and I'm all set to celebrate with them! I am also really excited to spend time with Devin's parents too. There's lots of celebrating to do with them: Roz's surgery went extremely well, Devin's dad got a new job and they are in contract on a new house. Then there's the whole baby thing. :)

I am sorry I don't have any pics to post. Our camera is a real piece of junk and barely works these days. We really need to get a new one, especially before baby comes along.

Love you guys!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's been awhile!

Hi blogging friends!

Sorry I've been out of commission for the last few weeks! There has been lots happening around the Riley house: some good, some not so good and to top it all off I've been really busy!

I'm pretty sure all of you know by now, but we are pregnant with Riley kid #3. I was so excited about this baby and the whole idea of having a 3rd just brings me so much joy. I am not sure how we are going to fit this baby in our house or in our Camry, but we have about 8 months or so to figure it out.

I wish I could figure out an easy way to get rid of this morning sickness. It is killing me! Oh man...I wake up each day feeling nauseous and go to bed every night feeling the same way. When I wake up in the middle of the night the nausea is still there. I have heard that morning sickness indicates a surge in hormones and that there is a less chance in miscarriage, so on one hand the nausea makes me feel a sense of relief, but WOW, it sure is hard to deal with this everyday. Praise the Lord for preschool!!! Addison goes to preschool for 2 1/2 hours 3 days a week and it's only 4 minutes away. We drop her off, Ainsley takes a nap, and I watch TV and nap and rest and do nothing (and feel kind of guilty) for  that whole time. It is worth every penny.

It helps that Addison loves preschool. She unbuckles herself, throws her backpack over her shoulder and runs up the steps to the door full speed ahead, always stopping to wave and say "Bye mommy!" I don't even have to get out of the car! It's even cuter when we pick her up. Ainsley and I come inside and Ainsley runs in front of all the parents who are waiting to catch a glimpse of Addison. She is always so happy to see her after those 2 hours. Then Addison hugs all of her new friends and gives me the "preschool scoop" on the way home. "Mom, Trent got in trouble because he was chewing with his mouth open" etc...

Because I can't seem to write a post without talking about car drama, I've got more for you! All summer long the Camry's been giving us trouble, but Devin's 97 4runner was holding strong. Then it started overheating and leaking coolant. Thinking it would probably be a quick fix, we took it in. Baaaaaad news awaited us at Midas: $3k Have you ever heard of such a thing? THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS to fix a car? What the heck? That is just crazy! Well considering:

-the radio doesn't work
-two of the doors are pink
-the back won't open because the bumper is dented

and all of this new stuff, Devin doesn't want to fix it. It's only worth $3k to begin with. So now it's up for sale on craigslist and we're trying to decide what we're going to do next. We are only a few months away from paying off our debt, so we have decided to try the one car thing, pay off the debt, and then start saving up for another car.

I know it is not the end of the world, but frankly, I am really frustrated and angry. We have been working so hard and staying on a budget for four years, the end is in site, and now any money that would be used for a fun "we're out of debt" trip has to go towards another car. The thing is, I know we could go out today and get a really nice car with probably a pretty low payment. It would be so easy and it's so tempting. I just know that is not the answer. If we did that, what will we have learned this whole time? I am not judging anyone who has a car payment, I just know how difficult paying off all this debt has been and I don't really want to jump back into round 2. We'd also like to start saving up for a down payment on a bigger house, but how can we do all of these things?

I was so furious this afternoon. Sure we won't have any debt, but I thought we were supposed to feel "richer" than this. But I don't. Things are just as tight around here as they were before and will be even tighter if we have to save up for another car.  Anyway I was pretty mad and felt like God was leading me to open up the Bible to get some perspective. Nope. Didn't want to. Too frustrated.  I watched Oprah instead. It was about this Colombian lady who was kidnapped for 6 and a half years. Now THAT is perspective. She talked about how she was brought to God during the ordeal and her favorite verse was from 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for thee."

Not a fun get out of debt trip, not a nicer car, not having the ease of two cars, but just Him. That should be enough. He will provide our needs; he always has. I feel like I am learning this lesson a whole bunch of times, and it's always hard to go through, but I am so thankful for a God who gives us second chances and a God who does care about our needs, trivial that they may be sometimes.

Thanks for listening!

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Mom

Link over to Brooke for more info on Mommy Guilt Monday.

Today we're all posting a little something about our moms.

I think the thing I should appreciate more about my mom is how firmly she believes in me. She accepts me for who I am and doesn't expect me to be like her, but she believes in me so much she won't let me believe lies. Whenever I start to act like a martyr or feel sorry for myself, she speaks truth. Sometimes it upsets me. Let's face it, when life sucks sometimes you just want to sit in a big ol' pitty pot for a little bit. Considering my spiritual gift is mercy, when people I love are hurting I like to jump in the pit with them and stay awhile. I believe this is good initially, but not for too long. That's where my mom comes in. She is just amazing at pushing her loved ones to be what God has in mind for them.

There's a quote that says "A friend loves you for who you are, understands where you've been, and still gently invites you to grow." She is just so wonderful at that. Whenever I throw out my dreams ( I have a lot of ideas) she is the one to say "Well what would the first step to that be?" When I got a grant writing position she believed in me and said "Yes I believe you can do that!" even though I had a lot of doubts.

Even though I say things like "let me be" or "leave me alone" or "quit pushing me" to her fairly often, I am so thankful for a mom who wants me to grow. It has nothing to do with measuring up. I know she loves me where I am; it's about her knowing what is best for me.

Love you mom.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mom of the Year

I volunteer at the church every Thursday. My job is to send out postcards and call all the parents of preschoolers who visit our church. I love it! It's so fun to meet with all these new people and get them plugged in.

Anyway, now that Addison has started preschool we have to bring a lunch to church and eat there because she has to go right to school when we're done at church. On this particular day I had little Lucy with me (one year old girl I nanny for twice a week). I manage to get all the kids outside to the playground at church, settled and eating lunch. Ainsley as usual wanders over to the playground to play, Addison's munching, and I'm spoonfeeding Lucy. All of a sudden I hear the words few parents enjoy hearing when they're in the middle of something:

"I have to go to the bathroom"


We are outside, on the opposite end of the church where the restrooms are. Our food is all laid out, the kids are all settled. There's no way I'm getting three kids inside in time. Not happening.

There was lots of nice grass around the playground. Hmmm....
No one is around right now.....the parking lot is dead....... Hmmmmmm

Plan B!

Addison and I walked over to the side of the playground, I maneuvered her in squatting position, and she went.

In the middle of the "going" I hear a car beep. Uh oh. I look up and there is Judy, the director of our Childrens' Ministry opening up her car door. Right next to us.

I was mortified. I started stammering something about having three kids with me...too hard...bla bla bla, but inside I was DYING. I mean, who lets their daughter pee in the grass right in front of church?!

She just chuckled and said "Ohh I'm just smiling." I take it she's been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. One can only hope.

P.S. Addison loves preschool
P.S.S. I love the delightful 2 1/2 hours I have to myself while Addison is in preschool.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I love to laugh.....HA HA HA!

(Mary Poppins)

but sometimes my sense of humor gets me into trouble. It's been this way since I was in jr. high. Even to this day, I can take it a touch too far. People who don't know me that well think I'm a weirdo or just completely inappropriate. It even messes up my witness as a Christian.

Like how at Spring Canyon (when I was 15) I got in trouble for my "I Never" statements, and I felt so terrible about it, telling my supervisor "I don't want people to think I'm nasty!!!!"

Or the time at 17 how my friend and I made up a fairy tale that involved trolls and dragons and one particular staffer that we didn't care for. It got in the wrong hands. Oops again.

Perhaps 25/30 facebook status updates? Oops.

Or my snarky comment about my co-worker at Baby Gap. I felt so bad about that one that I had to go back and tell him what I had said and ask if he'd forgive me. That was tough.

There are so many other instances. I'm 28 and sometimes I still do and say stuff that I wish I hadn't. I wish I had remembered the filter. I call it "foot in mouth" disease.

Gossip is right up there with that stuff. There is something about having a nice piece of juicy gossip--you just can't wait to tell it to someone. I am not sure if it is because you want to fit in or again, make people laugh. The thing is, once it's feel disgusting. You feel like a failure. You lose people's trust. It's really pretty awful. I am making a pledge to give that up forever. I know I will fail at this more times than not, but I was thinking how amazing it would be to never gossip again. To never say "have you heard about so and so?" What if you had that legacy? And you all know me well enough to know I don't think I'm better than anyone else. It's hard for us all. The thing is, I've seen what gossip can do to people when it gets bad. It destroys relationships. It's terrible.

Let's just be real for a quick sec: I'm not talking about celebrity gossip!! Like Jake and Vienna: will they get back together? and should the Duggars really have another baby?! That doesn't count!!

Anyway I'm still learning, and I'm trying to be honest about where the line is. Sometimes it's hard to find the balance between "real" and inappropriate. It's so wonderful to have a great laugh (a belly laugh) but not at someone else's expense. You know?

Like I said. I'm still learning. No this is not about that triathlon shirt comment on facebook. That shirt was hysterical. I want one, but my dad thinks it was only funny because the lady wearing it was well in her 50s and quite heavy. Then again Devin would be mortified. Or would he be proud?! See, here I go again....I CAN'T STOP!

This is actually referring to my wine picture on my facebook page. We are supposed to submit pictures for our first Mops meeting. I stumbled across that one of me drinking a glass of wine at Cheesecake Factory and thought about sending it to the girl collecting them to see what she'd say. Thinking she might not get the joke I instead posted it for all of my 700 friends to see......

That would be fine and good except for now I have a leadership position at MOPS and have 95 new friends. Some of them might not get that I only had one glass and not 6. :::sigh::::

Live and learn. And keep on laughing, but maybe I should try to take it down a notch.

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Yesterday afternoon was a little crazy. Devin took Addison for the afternoon to scope out Longview Lake, and I was home with Ainsley (18 months). I was putzing around on the internet and texting and basically not paying much attention to her. Our house is pretty childproof these days, and I saw her running back and forth so I wasn't too worried about her getting into anything.


I see her toss a big handful of something onto the couch next to me and realize what it is. Oh dear Lord it's cat litter. It's everywhere. She dumped it on both of our living room chairs, all over the kitchen floor, all over the living room floor, and all over the couch. It was a mess. It was disgusting. I wanted to cry thinking about cleaning/disinfecting all of this nastiness. Thank God almighty Devin had changed the box right before he left or it would have been even more disgusting.

It seriously took about 45 minutes to clean up in there. I had to empy the vacuum cleaner three times.

Normally Addison and Ainsley are together 24/7, so that means Ainsley has her own security detail all day long. Addison tells me EVERYTHING she is doing (or thinking about doing). But toddler-cop was out with Dad for the afternoon, and Ainsley was having some serious fun making that big (disgusting) mess.

I definitely learned a big lesson about watching that little munchkin. She's only in the 3rd percentile for weight, but she sure does know how to get into some big trouble.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A silly post...

I grew up an Army brat, so my mom mostly shopped at the commissary. Even when we lived a good hour or so from the closest commissary, my mom would take the cooler once a month and load up. The commissary doesn't (or didn't back in the day) carry generic items, so I grew up with Kraft singles, Yoplait yogurt, Teddy Grahams, Ritz crackers, Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Wheat Thins. The result of my upbringing, is that I turned into a total food snob. This lasted through college. I refused to shop at Aldi (when we should have been shopping there the most) because I heard they didn't carry any brand names. I thought about the one or two experiences I had at Food 4 Less when I literally saw a roach crawling in the produce section, and figured Aldi would be the same way.

Then we had to get on a budget and that included food. Oh and there's no more commissary (even though my mom still takes me sometimes and I have a grand 'ol time there with all my coupons). I love using coupons and combining them with rock bottom sales, so I haven't had to completely give up the good stuff. In fact, sometimes it's cheaper to buy name brand with a coupon and a good sale than generic stuff. Like with toothpaste. I haven't paid for toothpaste in four years.

Well sometimes there are no sales and no coupons, at least when it comes to stuff you need and I am here to tell you that in these past four years, I HAVE EMBRACED THE GENERICS! THEY ARE MY BFF'S.

$3.50 for a box of Ritz crackers? I think not. I'll go with the "Thin Wheat Crackers" for a $1.75 thank you very much.

My mom and my brother were arguing about who makes the best peanut butter, and while Peter Pan still remains my fave, I piped in "I like Midwest Country Fair!!!" They all looked me like I was a frugal freak. It's ok. A lot of people think that, including my Grandpa who said "She just might have a little Yiddish in her" to my dad.

We buy generic toilet paper (it's true; sometimes our bathroom is no different than a gas station--just cleaner), generic applesauce, generic pasta, generic brownies (those Aldi brownies are really good) and even Aldi's whole bean dark roast coffee. My pantry is a smorgasbord of generic goodness.

Let's be honest for a minute though: does anyone else cringe when they have to reach for the Always Save brand? I'd almost rather pay 10 cents more than reach for that disturbingly florescent yellow can. They should really look into changing their packaging.

Although I am no longer a food label snob, there are a few things I won't budge on:

-Tide (it's my favorite). I use it for the really dirty stuff and use whatever else is on sale for the dark stuff.

-Oscar Meyer lunchmeat. I am ok with Hillshire Farm or some fresh deli meat from the counter, but I can't choke down some of those other brands. Neither will the kids.

-Sliced Cheese. Have you ever noticed there are levels in quality with the sliced cheese? Even at Aldi. There's the good stuff and the plastic stuff. I've made this mistake. I go for the good stuff.

-Coffee creamer. I get that there's "bad stuff" in there, but it's my fave. It makes coffee drinking an experience. The generic brands have even more bad stuff than the name brands, so we go with the name brands.

-Nutrition stuff. We buy whole grain bread rather than white bread because it's better for you; same with whole wheat tortillas, low fat shredded cheese, whole grain pasta, etc. etc. I'm starting to see more and more versions of healthy generic stuff, but it's just worth it in the long run to pay a little more. You can buy 3 boxes of fruit snacks for the price of a pint or two of blueberries sometimes, but it's just worth it.

Soapbox moment: Does that really bother anyone else? I hate that about this country. No one should have to stand in the grocery aisle and debate a pint of blueberries vs. box of graham crackers for a snack. When our grocery envelope is really low, I have had to do that and frankly, it pisses me off! I tried growing my own strawberries but my lawn guy killed them all (he's no longer our lawn guy).

What are your favorite brands? What won't you budge on? How do you keep your grocery budget down?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Are you sure you want me on your leadership team?

Here's a tip for all you moms out there, and this is free advice:

Make sure when you get a text invite for a playdate that you know who the text is from.

Otherwise you will get your kids + little Lucy (nanny for her twice a week) packed up in the car (in the rain), unload them (in the rain) , get them up two flights of stairs, knock on the door only to be greeted by your friend's very confused four year old. You will realize very quickly that the playdate was actually 25 minutes away at a different friend's house. You will feel quite stupid, but this friend has been your friend for a long time and will just shake her head and chuckle at you.

Thankfully this friend was invited to the same playdate, and is running late too. Then, the two of you will somehow get all 6 kids down the stairs, back out to the car (still raining), buckled in, and to the correct location.

The friend of the correct playdate location might think you are totally crazy, but still lets you show up an hour late, serves you and your kids a delicious lunch, and all the kids have a great time together. The moms do too.

Her name is now programmed in my cell phone. :)

Good thing my kids are relatively flexible. Life with me is always an adventure.

Saturday, August 7, 2010



Hello, My name is Marie, and I am a Mommy Guilt-a-holic.....
But not anymore!

Here are some of the reasons why I think I am a pretty dang good mom:

-My heart swelled with pride when Devin showed me a "camera" Addison made out of duplo legos, complete with a "flash" and viewfinder.
-I may not use organic this or that, but I can make some pretty rad designs out of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and carrot sticks.
-I discovered my kids will eat blueberries like candy (and beg for them) if they are frozen.
-I let Addison crack the eggs even though I grimace seeing the bits of egg shells in the muffin and cookie batter
-I let my 18 month old fingerpaint even though it was the messiest disaster you've ever seen (see post below)
-I let Ainsley fall asleep in my lap last night instead of screaming in her bed. She is getting some molars and I can tell she's in a lot of pain. I had a lot of work to do on the computer for MOPS, but she needed me.
-Addison asks "Is this on sale?" instead of "Can I have this?" when she wants something from the store because she knows I'll say "No, it's not on sale" I guess this is more of a "good frugal mom, but it makes me laugh"
-Ainsley yells out "AMEN!" multiple times when we're praying because she's heard us say it.
-Both the girls will know how much God loves them.
-I have swirled many a poopy panty in the toilet and washed them (WITH BLEACH) instead of throwing them away because it's usually Addison's favorite pairs that get pooped in, and I try my best to salvage them.
-I let Addison wear a black, long sleeved, VELVET dress w/ mismatched socks and brown shoes in 98 degree heat because that was what she wanted to wear. Thank goodness we were only going to the goodwill store, and she played nicely with a little boy who wasn't wearing any shoes.
-We spend a lot of time with friends. I am hoping I'm teaching my girls the value of a good friendship, and that sometimes it's ok to let all the housework slide to develop a relationship.
-I love making up songs and singing them. Once we made up a song about being late for church. Another time we made up a song about how much Ainsley likes to eat bananas. Addison thinks my songs are the greatest thing ever, and Ainsley likes to dance to them.

Good idea Brooke. Moms need to do this kind of stuff more often!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Why we haven't fingerpainted in over a year

Someone gave us a whole bunch of finger paints, like, two years ago. I've let Addison use them a few times, but it really just stresses me out. I'd think I'd be the kind of person who would be fine with my kid making a big huge mess and well, I just really hate cleaning up all that paint.

Anyway, Addison was begging me to let her "hand paint" and Ainsley has never
had the chance to give it a try, so I let them go outside and paint.

Things started off ok: Ainsley started off by taking a big taste of the paint (of course), but then figured out what to do from watching Addison

Look of pure delight

Starting to get a little messier now. Hmmm...going off the table.

Oh dear....

Mmmk. Where's the hose?

See you next year fingerpaints.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Nag Alert, neeeeenerrrrrrr

Please don't let this silly post keep you from reading about my mother-in-law Roz and praying for her (see below).


I blogged awhile back about being a nag/ control freak. It hasn't been too pretty lately. I owe lots of people apologies. I nag my four year old about wearing weird pool shoes with a cream colored poofy party dress just in case someone at Hy-vee thinks I can't dress my kid.

I nag my poor friend about MOPs stuff instead of patiently waiting for her to get back to me.

Poor Devin. He's been the prey of the nagging; I've been the hawk. Before the words even come out of my mouth, I am prodded by what I'm almost certain is the Holy Spirit "Don't go there Marie. That's't say it! You'll regret it.....d'oh. Too late." I don't think the Holy Spirit channels Bart Simpson, but you get the idea.

So what is it with the controlling thing? Why do I want control so much? I guess there are lots of reasons:

So other people will perceive me as having it altogether or being dependable
Because I always think I'm right....
Because it feels good to get my way?

I don't know. I just know that I need some help. I reallllllllly don't want to be like this mom who called into Dave Ramsey today. Her adult daughter was in a lot of debt and the daughter was completely inept at handling any decision making. The mom was calling all the creditors, negotiating everything, etc. etc. When Dave asked where her husband was the mom said "Oh I've basically been in charge of this household for the past 23 years." I thought that was really sad. There wasn't any partnership. She was the helicopter mom who always saved the day but coddled her child. The dad basically ignored her and let her do whatever.

No one likes a micro-manager. There's no trust there. I need to do a better job of trusting those around me and having patience. I need to remember "apart from me you can do NOTHING" and that ultimately God is in control and it's not always about me me me all the time. I need to let my daughter feel some sense of pride in choosing her own clothes and brushing her own hair. I need to be more respectful of Devin.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Do you like being a control freak too?

Prayers appreciated

Hey Everyone,
Devin's mom (Roz) is in ICU at Walter Reed (Washington DC). She just had surgery to remove a benign tumor on her brain. This is something that we have known about for several months. The doctors aren't sure how long it has been there (could have been years), but it was starting to cause sinus problems, headaches and other problems. The surgery went great on Tuesday, and she is doing well now. The biggest prayer requests I believe we have at this point are

- That she'll continue to recover without any complications
-That the "taste and smell" nerve was not severed during surgery (I guess this happens 9 out of 10 times) Don (Devin's dad) said she ate some soup yesterday and liked it, so hopefully that is a good sign.

I apologize for my horrible lack of details, but God knows all that stuff. Just lift her up in prayer please!

She'll be in the ICU for one more night, then recovery room for 4-5 days, then she'll be home.

I just had to include an excerpt from Don's email, that nearly brought me to tears:

I will stay with her again tonight (recliner, pillow, and blanket) to just help keep watch on her -- I can help notice her symptoms, translate her moans, hold her hand, rub her arms, and pray. She enjoyed listening to Bible reading this morning (especially Psalm 91). Will also be able to wake up with her on our anniversary - and look out the window towards the Chapel (just a hundred yards away from her room) where we were married 32 years ago. A speciall treat!

He is such a loving husband.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blueberry Oat Muffins

I bought 5 lbs of blueberries at Hen House on Monday and have been thinking of ways to use them. I really like making these muffins because they are healthy and hearty enough to eat for breakfast along with a hard boiled egg or something. I craved hard boiled eggs when I was pregnant with Ainsley. Isn't that gross?

I found this recipe a long time ago on a blog, and I apologize that I don't remember which one. Please don't sue me for copyright infringement!

Blueberry Oat Muffins

1 c. oats
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 egg white (I just used two eggs)
1 c. milk (I used 1%)
2 T. butter, melted
1 tsp. grated lemon peel (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw before adding to batter)

1/2 c. oats
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. butter, softened

In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In another bowl combine the egg, egg white, milk, butter, lemon peel, and vanilla; mix well. Add to dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in berries. Pour batter in muffin tray. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until top is lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Cool five minutes.

Note: Last time my batter seemed overly thick, so I added in some unsweetened applesauce. It made these muffins a little sweeter and a little more moist. I have no idea how much I put in; just kind of threw some in there.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Two peas in a pod

I haven't done any laundry in, oh, two weeks. Addison had run out of clean underwear, so she was wearing bloomers today (which she apparently liked better than underwear because she refused to take them off), all of my shirts were dirty except for the ones that needed to be ironed, and I was down to the uncomfortable underwear in the drawer. We had a bbq to go to today so I ironed a shirt, threw on the horrible underwear and went to the party.

I see my wonderful friend Brenda and notice she looks adorable in a cute little top and jean skirt. When I told her she looked cute, she proceeds to tell me she really needs to do laundry and how she was down to nice shirts and that last pair of underwear, the ones you never really like to wear. I started laughing and said "um yes I do know because I'm wearing mine right now!"

Ahhh so nice to have someone you can relate to.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What IS that?!

So I'm looking at the Hy-vee ad trying to decide what to make for dinner (by the way when I told Devin about e-mealz he said "isn't that what you already do?" Um yes...that's whole point! I hate it!) and Addison says "Mom look at all this mess!!" I looked over to the carpet and there was a big pile of what looked like sand.

"Oh honey that is probably sand from the sandbox that is from one of your cups or something" I told her, and go back to what I'm doing. She was playing with her tea party set, and they take that outside a lot. It was a reasonable assumption.

All of a sudden Ainsley rounds the corner, out of the kitchen with a plastic measuring scoop filled...with something.

It is not sand. It is LITTER from the litterbox!

And a collective "ewwwwww" was heard from living rooms and offices around the country.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Devin's 30th and e-mealz???

I truly detest planning out meals. I know it is the best option for saving money and for avoiding the whole "oh dear Lord it's 5:00 and I have nothing for dinner" situation, but I hate it. I hate making decisions, I hate combing through the recipes, and going through the sales flyers. I hate trying to figure out if all of those meals is going to leave us with only $20 of grocery money for the next week. It all stinks. I wish I was Oprah and could just hire a healthy chef like Bob what's his face. No that's not right. Bob's her trainer. That Art guy was her chef. He was on Top Chef and had the cute southern accent...........I digress.....

Have any of you used E-mealz? Dave Ramsey always plays those commercials on his show, and it sounds kind of nice. They give you a list of ingredients and you go buy everything.

Here's my issue with that:
I kind of like to buy healthy stuff, not really kale and flaxseed healthy, but you know...decently healthy.

I don't really like being told what to do, even if I've chosen the person or program myself. Would I just have to deal with that? I am sure the answer is yes!! You'll have to comment and tell me what you think...

Anyway, Devin's 30th birthday was today. I have been trying for weeks to figure out what he'd like. Getting Devin to tell you his opinion on anything is very difficult (google "phlegmatic"), but he did say that he didn't want a party. Addison really couldn't figure that one out. "When's dad's birthday party going to be?" she kept asking me.

My mom and dad watched the girls for us overnight Saturday so we could go out. We started out with coffee and then went over to the plaza, but it was just so miserably hot out that we didn't stay there very long. We looked pretty ridiculous walking around in 100 degree weather holding coffee cups! Had some Houlihans for dinner and rented a movie. Before we went home I convinced Devin to participate in one of my all-time favorite activities: drive around cute neighborhoods and pretend like we can buy houses there! He objected at first because Devin is very practical and isn't much of a visionary, but I promised him that I would not go home and immediately beg him to move out of the Shawnee ghetto just yet. I think he got into it a little bit. He and I talked about what was an absolute must for our next place and what didn't really matter all that much.

Then we went home and watched Invictus, which I was positively dreading. It ended up being much better than I thought. Still would have preferred Valentine's Day but it was his birthday celebration not mine. Our original idea was to go out to the movie theater, but the only movie playing was Inception and neither of us thought we were intelligent enough for that one.

There's not really much money in the ol' budget for birthday gifts right now, but I was so excited when my boss handed me a check from Gap Inc for back pay that I was owed. Yippeee! I decided to use it to buy Dev a K-State cycling Jersey. I was so excited about my big surprise until he told me that he saw a deposit in our checking account and emails from the cycling store and put two and two together. :( At least he didn't know it was a K-State one, and it was really cute to see him take it out of the bag and try it on right away over his work clothes. My mom made him a cookies 'n cream ice cream cake complete with 30 candles. All in all, I think he felt special and that is what matters the most.

Happy Birthday Devin! I love you!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For Rach, From Ainsley

Dear Aunt Rachel,
Your life might change a lot when you have one of me.
I sure do like to get into stuff. I like to climb too.

I also make a big fat mess when I eat. My mom thinks cleaning spaghetti sauce out of the carpet is a real pain in know...

Your house might look a little different after you have one of me. My mom spent the whole day cleaning the house yesterday, but now it looks like this:

But my mom doesn't get too stressed. She knows a fun day of playing with my sister and me was worth it.

My mom wanted to me to tell you that she's sorry she had to cut your conversation short earlier this afternoon. My sister locked our keys in the car at the mall and my mom had to call roadside assistance. Sometimes those kinds of things happen when you have a couple of me. Don't tell her I told you, but these kinds of things happen to my mom more than other moms. She is a little scatterbrained...

I am really not trying to scare you, Aunt Rachel. I might make my mom a little crazy sometimes, but I make her laugh a lot too. In fact, I think I make her laugh and smile more than I make her crazy. My sister makes her smile too. My mom thinks we are worth the messes, roadside assistance, and the spaghetti sauce stains. She thinks having kids really does change everything, but it teaches you how to love in a way you never thought was possible.

I think you are going to be a very good mom too, Aunt Rachel, and my mom wanted me to tell you that you can call her whenever you need some encouragement along the journey.


Adventures in Triathlons

Ha! Me in a triathlon! That is funny! Really funny...I don't even know how to swim in a straight line.

Devin signed up for the Shawnee Mission Park Triathlon that was this past Sunday. Being the dutiful, ever-supportive wife that I am, I decided to bring the girls to cheer him on. I haven't had the best luck doing this in the past. Either parking is too complicated (KC Marathon) or the girls get bored and tired and fussy (Jackon County Triathlon last year) or my timing is way off (always). Then there's that whole Marie has no sense of direction and can't read a map thing. Anyway, since I've been on the receiving end of this and know firsthand how amazing it feels to see your family cheering you on when you're running, I really wanted to go. I thought we'd go cheer him on for a bit, and then head to church to help in the nursery.

I'm so good. I pack the girls some breakfast for on the go. I get their outfits ready THE NIGHT BEFORE and even pack a spare outfit for each of them in case they want to put their feet in the lake and get too wet. I even got up early instead of pretending like we can all be out the door in 15 minutes, which is unfortunately the norm for me.

Mishap #1 Woke up to cat puke all over the carpet. Lovely.
Mishap #2: Realized in the car that Addison never went to the bathroom that morning. There are porta potties there, but trying to keep Ainsley from touching everything while keeping Addison from falling in the freakishly deep poop ravine. No way. Quick stop at the gas station.

I pull in to Shawnee Mission Park thinking "Yipppeeee! We've got plenty of time! And it's not that hot out! Yes!"

Then I see that we have a good mile to walk, downhill. That means the return trip will be uphill with my piece of crap double stroller. I hate my double stroller. The tray fell off a long time ago and it's bulky and heavy. But it carries two kids. Oh well. We've got plenty of time.

We get to a place were we can see the cyclists go by and start to wait. It was cute to see Addison and Ainsley clapping for all the other competitors. It was also cute to see the man waiting next to me for his wife to ride by, pulling his kids in a wagon, obviously a very proud husband. We're all happily waiting and cheering.

Then we see some flashes of lightning and some staff come running in to announce that they're calling it all off. The proud husband and I start yelling at them. He yells "but she trained for months for this thing!" I yell, in typical Dave Ramsey fashion "but my husband paid eighty bucks for this thing!!!" We get some kind of lecture of safety....bla bla bla....have to keep all the contestant safe...bla bla bla....

Anyway just then Devin came riding up. He was pretty disappointed, but Devin never really gets that upset about anything for very long.

Then the skies opened and it started to POUR! He rides away to get his stuff and I am left to push that blasted stroller up that friggin' hill in the pouring rain. Everyone else starts to cut through the grass, so I do the same. I had to make Addison get out and walk. She started to cry (Ainsley's already whimpering). I said "let's pretend we're dancing in the rain!" That doesn't work. Then I promise her hot chocolate from Starbucks. BINGO! I am trying my best to maintain a positive "isn't this so fun?!" kind of attitude, but it's not easy with my clothes completely drenched and stuck to my body in a most unappealing way and mascara dripping down my face, pushing that stupid stroller up the dang hill. At least I was getting some exercise. Since they stagger the starting times, you usually have people leaving these things at different times as well, but since it got called off and since it was pouring, every single person was trying to get out of there at the same time. From the same road. It was crazy.

I managed to get the girls changed into their dry clothes, convince Addison that Ovaltine at Grammy's house is even better than Starbucks because it will have marshmallows, and we headed to my parents' house so I could throw my sopping clothes in the dryer before going over to church.

So now Devin is gearing up for the Kansas City Marathon in October. He did the half last year and is wanting to do all 26.2 miles this year. I have no doubt that he'll do well and you can bet that we'll be there to cheer him on. Shenanigans and all.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Oh my goodness it has been such a long time since I've blogged. I have been SO BUSY these last few months. Where do I even begin?!
Over Memorial Day weekend I went to St. Louis with some of the coffee talk girls. It was probably one of the best trips I've ever had in my whole life. First off, I didn't have to take care of the kids, so even if we had taken a trip to Carthage, MO to see Civil War reenactments (I tried to think of one of the most boring places you could go) it would have been a blast. The whole time I kept saying "This is so fun!" or "How fun is this right now?!" and got some stares like "Uhh you don't get out much do you Marie..." I know they all agreed with me; I just like to tell everyone when I'm having fun (or not). We drank lots of wine, ate frozen yogurt for dinner one night, went to the movies, did everything spontaneously, and enjoyed being together. Oh and 4 of us got nose piercings!

The next day I drove down to Wichita with Em and Kelly and threw a surprise baby shower for Rach with her sister-in-law Katie. I told Donita to tell Rach that it was just going to be family and maybe some ladies from church. She showed up and saw us! I wish we could have been together longer, but it was so good to catch up and see her cute little pregnant bump before she and Brandon headed off to Florida.

Then, the next day after that we went to D.C. to see Devin's dad retire from the ARMY after nearly 40 years of service. It was amazing to see all the Rileys' friends and family that traveled from really far away to be there for such an important day. Old high school buddies, an 89 year old Uncle, his mom and siblings, all his kids and grandchildren, etc. etc. I can't imagine how wonderful it must have felt for him to accomplish something so huge and then see all the faces of your support systems through the years congratulating you. It is almost like a little glimpse of heaven. Heyyyy...kinda like the LOST season finale (which I loved by the way)!! I digress....

We arrived home and then had a good visit from Aunt Shel. She and my mom threw a cute princess party for Addison's 4th birthday. Devin and I bought Addison her first bike. When we wheeled it out Ainsley was as excited as Addison was, and Addison was nice enough to let Ainsley try it out first.

Aunt Shel made the cake and did a great job. The girls decorated princess crowns and played princess games and had lots of fun. While she was here, we also shopped for a bridesmaid dress for me and flower girl dresses for Darren and Amanda's wedding in Colorado which was coming up that next weekend. These next pictures were taken at the Kansas City Toy and Miniature Museum near the plaza. I love being with my mom and aunt.

A couple days later we took off for Buena Vista, Colorado to be in Darren and Amanda's wedding at Spring Canyon. My camera is a real piece, so I didn't take any pictures, but I am hoping to steal my sister in law's from facebook when she gets around to posting them...hint...hint...

Ainsley is almost 17 months old and is SO DIFFERENT from Addison! It just blows me away. She doesn't like any of her toys and would much rather play with Addison's stuff, she loves entertaining people, she's LOUD and silly, and gets into everything, and I see lots and lots and lots of time outs in her future. I also see a lot of laughs.

I'll post more about our Colorado trip and our crazy adventure home another time, but I am so happy to be home. This week I did nothing but read Breaking Dawn (you can go ahead and add me to the list of Twi-moms who let their house and kids go so they can do nothing but read Twilight books). It was shameful, really. Instead of feeding Ainsley cereal, I stuck her in a high chair with a bowl of dry cheerios and a cup of milk so she could feed herself. Addison stayed in her pajamas all day (I did too). The girls weren't complaing though. They had a blast running through the sprinkler in the backyard, although I will admit that Ainsley was stark naked (except for her crocs) while I read my book. I also went to the Eclipse midnight showing with some friends and had such a fun time.

Well that's enough blogging for one day! More to come...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Life, Life, Life

I received this cute wreath in the mail from Abbe yesterday. Isn't it pretty? She sent it because I shared our debt story on her blog a week or so ago. You can read it here if you want. I would highly recommend adding her blog to your list. She is such a gifted writer and always encourages me and inspires me. I know Abbe because Rachel and Amanda used to go to her for haircuts. She did Amanda's wedding hair.

The last couple of days haven't been so easy. My close friend's mom just passed away yesterday of Pancreatic Cancer. I haven't experienced a death in many years and it was just very difficult to watch my friend lose her mom. I was torn between gratefulness that my mom is perfectly healthy and agony because I love my friend so much and hated to see her endure something so painful. It just blows. She was one of the people I wrote that poem for.

The last few weeks have kept me busy writing a portion of a grant for the College of Southern Idaho. After I turned in all 36ish pages, I was told that the college doesn't have enough of a match to be a good candidate. Even though it was a technical issue and had nothing to do with what I turned in, I still only got half the amount of money that I had been expecting. It was such a bummer to find out that the schools that I had become so familiar with won't be getting the equipment to help them out. I was still grateful to have a nice chunk of cash to throw at our debt snowball....WHICH IS ALMOST FINISHED until a nice visit to Meineke today, in which they told me that I will be using half that money to pay for car repairs.


So it looks like it's still going to be awhile on this debt payoff. It's ok. I'm disappointed, but I'm not angry. I'm not going to be defeated. Today I am choosing joy. There are so many good things in my life, so like Amanda just did, I will go ahead and list them:

1. We had the money to pay for the car repair and didn't have to use our emergency fund
2. My mom is healthy and we see each other all the time. In fact, she's going to pick up my car-less self and take me to her place tonight.
3. Ainsley can say "baaa" when you ask her what a lamb says. Yes she may say that for all the other animals as well, but that's alright.
4. It's a beautiful day outside today, so walking home from the car place wasn't all that terrible. Addison got tired of walking, so she held Ainsley in her lap in the umbrella stroller.
5. They didn't squeal and fight sitting together in the umbrella stroller!
6. Addison can make herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
7. I found an adorable dress at Target for only $10 w/ cute shoes to match for $20 (Next post: ridding yourself of unnecessary guilt for buying said shoes)
8. Devin's work sent him to VA for business the same weekend his brother is graduating from Virginia Tech. He'll get to see his dad as well as see his brother graduate! And his company paid the airfare!

Thanks God for all the good things in my life, and give me the strength to choose joy. Please wrap Your arms around my sweet friend Alicia, and comfort her. Help me to be a good friend to her and never take the time I have with my mom(s) forgranted again. Tell her mom to tell my grandmas hi up there, and that Addison and Ainsley win in the "cutest grandkid" argument that they're having.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day 5K

This was such a fun race. I have to say that I truly enjoyed participating in it. I was super nervous the night before, and right before the race. The unknown is always a scary thing, isn't it? There was also the coffee dilemma. Do I drink it for energy and risk having know..... or not? I had some. It was fine. Phew!

Some of my other friends signed up as well, but I accidentally ran into Kelly in the parking lot, so we started out together. We may or may not have snickered at a cheesy middle aged lady doing warm up aerobics to iTunes in the starting line. Kelly, my amazing single-mom friend, deserves some major shoutouts. She trained for the 5k on her lunch break every day because that was the only time she had to exercise. Is that amazing or what?

Devin was really sweet. He dragged the girls out of bed at the crack of dawn to come and watch me run. It was really fun to see him at different times during the race, and it helped encourage me to keep going.

Finished the race in 32:39, 10:31 minute mile. I was very pleased with these results. In all my practicing, the fastest I was ever able to go was 11 minutes per mile. My ultimate goal was to finish the darn thing without stopping, and I was able to do that. It was truly a great feeling. We got really cute little shirts and I wore mine proudly to church, like a big dork. My ultimate plan was to stop at Starbucks immediately after and get a dark cherry mocha, but I opted for one at Panera instead. Blagh. Not the same.

Thanks for all your encouragement! Before I even started running I thought "oh 3 miles. That's easy!" Then I started and that thinking changed to "there's no way I'll ever be able to do that" considering I could only go for 1 minute without getting tired and having to stop. Running for 30-40 minutes just seemed impossible.

I guess with my grant writing endeavor and this 5k, 2010 was the year for taking on some new challenges. For someone who only likes to do things that she knows she can do really, really well, this was a big deal. Totally worth it.

This last one has nothing to do with running; it's just Addison being so cute. I guess Roxie and Huck needed to be cozier. Roxy even has a beanie baby.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The friend of one who is hurting

Some of my friends and family are hurting right now. This was on my mind as I was driving home tonight...

I wish you knew that when you're hurting, I'm hurting too.
I wish you knew that when I don't know what to say, it's because I see the pain in your eyes or hear it in your voice, and no words seem right. I end up making a joke because that's what I do---I make jokes or say inappropriate things. In some weird way, I hope it helps ease the pain for a moment.
I want you to feel joy, not because I want you to pretend you're not hurting, but because I don't want you to have to feel sad anymore.
I want you to know that when I bring you food or watch your kids or offer to do some other trivial thing, it's me saying "I want your pain to go away, and I'd do anything to make that happen, even for a second."
I want you to know that you're on my mind all the time. Whenever I hear a song play on the radio that is fitting, I want you to hear it, but making you a mixed cd seems sort of cheesy. Besides, what if you don't like the same songs I like? What if you think it's weird to hear "Wonderful World" by James Morrison? I mean, it's not exactly insspirational. It just seems fitting for what you're going through.
Sometimes I think life just sucks, but I know that God is good. I know that God can take away your pain and give you hope, but I don't want to tell you that because I don't want to get all churchy and flowery on you. I don't want to, in any way, diminish the hurt. I don't want to placate you with pat answers.
Sometimes hearing "God is good. All the time!" when you're knee deep in a pile of "you know" is flat out condescending.
At the same time, I know the sovereignty and goodness of God is truth. He is going to get you through this. He is going to be your rock. He is going to show you that if you will let Him.
It's crippling to know that I can't do anything to make things easier.
In some strange way, God is showing me that there is one thing that I can do that is more important than any other thing: I can pray for you.
I know, I sounds trite. It's what we Christians say to each other, isn't it?
I want you to know that when I pray for you, my heart is pleading on your behalf that God will take some of the pain away; to give you some hope, even if it just means getting through the day.
I hope you know that.
In the meantime, I'm still here. I'm here if you want to talk about it. I'm here if you want to talk about something else--anything else. Lord knows I watch enough television. We can talk about that.
But in the silences that come in between talking about those other things, I hope you feel how much I love you. And I'm here through this whole journey.


P.S. As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joey
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord's renown,
for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.
Isaiah 55:8-13

Friday, April 9, 2010


Some of you are really into cooking. You love trying new, complicated recipes, spending hours in the kitchen and even plate the food with garnishes and stuff. You might even go as far as to call yourself a "foodie." I like cooking dinner for my family, and I am enjoying teaching Addison how to cook. I even think I do a halfway decent job, but I definitely wouldn't consider it a hobby of mine. Maybe it's because I have so much going on in my life right now, but there are times (nightly) where I just dread going in that kitchen to make dinner. It doesn't help that evening time is usually death hour in this household, and hearing Addison say "What are we having mom? I don't like that! I don't want that!" before she's even tasted it certainly doesn't help. Then there's Ainsley, and the endless task of keeping her out of the pantry. or the litterbox. or the toilet, or trying to get in and out of the fridge before she can get her grubby little fingers around the salad dressings. All that to say cooking is not my most favorite thing right now.

Having said that, the thing that makes cooking worth it, besides hearing Addison say "I LOVE THIS DINNER, MOM!", is thinking of all of you guys when I'm looking through my recipe book, getting ready to make something you posted, emailed, or made for me when we were together. Whenever I make spice pancakes, I think of Brenda. Whenever I make white chili I think of Roz, chicken divan casserole aka "heaven in a 9x13", I think of my mom. We've been eating those sweet potato fries for years, but Em changed my whole world when she posted a recipe for them with coriander. Tonight for dinner I made Chicken Succotash and it made me think of Keri. I could go on...and on...and on.

So next time you post a recipe, thinking no one really cares, know that I might be trying it out and thinking of you and appreciating having you in my life while I do, even if I accidentally burn it to a crisp, or in the case of Amanda's peasant bread, leave it raw on the inside. ;)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Poor Jamie

I watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last night. It was a great show. You can google it if you want more info about what the show's about, but his basic idea was to change what public school students in West Virginia are being fed for breakfast and lunch and make it HEALTHY!

The students were served pizza and chocolate or strawberry milk for BREAKFAST! Then, for lunch, they had chicken nuggets, some fruit cocktail, more flavored milk, some bread and some fake mashed potatoes. It was all frozen, pre-cooked, loaded with chemicals and preservatives, and oils and sugars.

Jamie only had three days to prepare his own meals. On the first day the kids were to choose between what he prepared (a marinated roasted chicken leg, salad, and brown rice) and the frozen pizza option that had been served before. Part of his success was measured by if the kids liked the food or not.

As much as we all hoped the kids would salivate for that roasted chicken leg and salad, SURPRISE! they picked the pizza.

"Hey Addison would you rather have some steamed asparagus or some chicken nuggets from McDonalds?"


This stuff takes time. Kids have to get used to eating healthy. It's not going to happen in three days. These kids are accustomed to only eating foods jam packed with fats and sugars. Their little bodies probably don't even know what to do with a fresh vegetable. You should have seen how upset they were when he only gave them white milk to drink.

This show is pretty fascinating. I'm intrigued!

Friday, March 19, 2010

My own redemption story

DISCLAIMER: This is a novel. I'm sorry, but not that sorry because I feel a thousand times better after writing it. Thanks!

I'm so sorry I've been absent for so long blog friends! Honestly, the past few weeks have been kind of...weird for me. I've been going through a lot, but it's all been internal. I've basically been taking a internal journey back to the past; not to my happy childhood or wonderful college years, but to the years that stunk the worst: high school. I don't really know what started it. Maybe it was going to Natasha's dad's funeral and thinking about my relationships with my mom and dad. Maybe it was the women's retreat which was extremely emotional. I think most of it has to do with this book called Boundaries that I've been reading.

Boundaries is an outstanding book. It's jam packed with really, really helpful information about protecting yourself and your heart from hurtful people and circumstances in a healthy way. I would strongly recommend it. Anyway, there was a chapter about how your boundaries are influenced by how you were brought up. My mom is reading the book too, so we were discussing those years. I told her that I honestly only had good memories of my childhood, and I thought they did a great job raising me. Then we started talking about the two really, really hard years of my life: 16 and 17.

I knew that those were hard years for me, and I vaguely remember my mom going through depression, but I had no idea how bad she was struggling with it until we talked a few weeks ago. So those years have been on my mind a lot lately. Most of you were friends with me back then, and if you weren't, a lot of you have heard me share my stories from those years. Lots of rebellion, unhealthy relationships with boys, pot, smoking, drinking, skipping class, getting fired from Target for shoplifting, car accidents, just really shitty stuff. I'm sorry. It was. It was just a really bad time. One year was in Kansas and the other year was in Maryland. It didn't help that both of my beloved grandmothers died in the same year. Anyway I honestly don't remember a lot about those years. I have sort of blocked them out. Whenever I think about them I just see black in my mind. I remember that I never wanted to be at home. I spent a lot of time at friends' houses or just out and about. I always attributed that to normal teenage angst and hormones, but maybe it had a lot to do with my mom's depression. I don't really know, and honestly, it doesn't really matter. I guess it just helps because all this time I had thought of myself as bad, and maybe I wasn't so bad--I was just running away from painful circumstances. Part of my sanguine personality is that I don't like to dwell on sad things, so that would explain some of my "activities" as well.

Again, I don't know why all of these feelings are coming back. It could also do with good ol' facebook. Along with friends that I am thrilled to reconnect with, I have also (mistakenly) befriended people that, along with their pictures and new, changed (some not so changed) lives, bring old hurts and bad memories to the surface. I thought that it was all done and in the past, but maybe I still haven't dealt with some of this. Obviously I haven't because here I am at 28 still thinking about it again. The Bible says to guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life, so I also think it would be wise to re-think the facebook thing.


The beauty in all of this is that God redeemed my life. I am so blessed because I knew God that whole time. In between sophomore and junior year was a summer at Spring Canyon where tears fell down my face as I sang Power of Your Love (which was the COOLEST song at the time; that and Lord I Lift Your Name on High), and renewed my relationship with God. Unfortunately I forgot all about Him as I stepped back into reality, and into old habits and not so great choices.

There were so many saving graces through those two hard years. God brought people in my life who knew me and loved me both for me and in spite of me. This isn't some kind roll call, but Amanda is the first person that comes to mind. We bonded over band camp freshman year, and were not the most healthy influences for each other sophomore year. I won't go into detail embarassing her, but let's just say we got into a lot of trouble together. Some of it actually makes me smile. Through all of that, though, she was my closest confidant and very, very best friend. Moving away from her after sophomore year was gut wrenchingly (is that a word?) hard. I decided to move back to Kansas and go to K-State mostly because I wanted to be near her again. :) Even though I was behaving myself quite a bit more senior year, I still enjoyed a good party (again, I'm a sanguine. We love to have a good time!). I'll never forget a conversation I had with her over the phone the summer before our first year at K-State where I was talking to her about all the fun college parties we'd go to together, and she said "Marie, I don't think I really want to do all that stuff anymore." I (think I) replied "You know what? Me either." That's a whole other post in and of itself..........
There are other wonderful friends from Leavenworth and amazing influences that year: Joey, Bill Springston, ANGELA!!! (who told me about Spring Canyon in the first place and is thus responsible for my amazing marriage to Devin), Mr. and Mrs. Dolinger (Joel's parents) etc. etc. etc. Please don't be hurt if I left you out. This is a lot to type! But very therapeautic.....

Leigh Ayn was definitely my saving grace in Maryland junior year. Leaving Amanda was SO HARD, and I was so worried I wouldn't have another kindred spirit in this new place. I met her at youth group. She was listening to the Beastie Boys and dancing around. She was kind of quirky, not in a creepy, smelly way, but like me! Cute and weird! Shortly thereafter we started making up nicknames for each other and were basically inseparable for the next two years. We were very silly, but we were also there for each other during some really dark times.

My senior year of high school was so. much. better. My friend Melissa (from middle school) moved to the area and we reconnected. I started hanging out with friends at school who were less interested in skipping class and hanging out to smoke and drink, and more interested in doing slightly more productive activites. I started working at Baby Gap and singing in madrigals. Through Melissa, I met her boyfriend Dan (the boy version of Leigh Ayn). Dan and Melissa ended up breaking up, but he and I stayed really good friends. He was such a strong influence. I am so thankful for him.

Then there's Spring Canyon. Just google it. It was my second home. I spent 6 summers there. I have amazing friendships with people that I met there (Keri, Micah, Betsy, Edi, Nat). No matter how bad things were during the school year, Spring Canyon was a clean slate. You didn't have to worry about fitting in. You were loved, except for the times you got in trouble for not helping to clean enough or for too much flirting with a certain boy named Devin Riley.

What started as a camp fling continued as a relationship. One night I was laying next to Devin (against camp rules. You know me and rules) and I shared with him about the relationships I'd had with other guys and basically just laid it all for him. Instead of saying "No thanks! I think I'll find someone better" he said "None of what you just said changes how I feel about you." I went to visit him, I mean K-State, my senior year and got to see his dorm and meet a bunch of his friends, who were in total shock that shy, introverted Devin had a high school. We were all sitting in his dorm hanging out when Jeremy Krause and Mark Mittenmayer started playing guitar and Laurie Loomis (now Larson) started singing Power of Your Love.

Praise music?! In your dorm?! With your friends?! In your free time? This is amazing! I knew at that moment that I would go to questions asked. Through Devin I met Brooke, his very hip and sophisticated friend,who was a senior willing to live in the dorms with freshmen girls to reach out to them. My very first Sunday at K-State I went to church with them, as well as a couple of girls named Marisa Spear and Heather Thomas. Brooke (along with Katie and Lindsey) decided to start a bible study in Ford Hall called coffee talk. Amanda and I lived in Moore hall. At our first "floor meeting" either Amanda or I (I can't remember) announced that we would be watching Dawson's Creek in our room every week and anyone else that wanted to, was welcome to come. A cute little blonde named Rachel Noll showed up the first time and the rest is history. A couple years later Keri decided to move to Kansas for her own Spring Canyon man, and we became roommates and best friends. I grew by leaps and bounds in my relationship with God during college years. I read the Ragamuffin Gospel and learned that God really will redeem our lives from the pit. He put so many beautiful people in my life those years. I am so truly humbled when I think about it. My wedding was such a beautiful day. All of these people that I told you about, my saving graces, were there...together. In one place! Even Jeremy, who played guitar that night in the dorms, was there playing his guitar at the ceremony.
We've seen each other through marriages, babies, exciting job ventures, but also through depression, miscarriage, divorce, infertility, death, cancer, and other really terrible tragedies. Plus the day to day, just plain hard stuff. I can't say enough how thankful I am for these friendships. It is truly how I see God's hand on me in my life.

Then there's the fam. My parents are wonderful. When I started at K-State, my dad was transferred to Italy (ARMY) and then DC, so I didn't have them around for four years. I think this time away from them really made me appreciate how much I loved them. If that didn't do the trick, having babies really makes you appreciate your parents! My mom's been in Arkansas for the last week, and it's killing me because I am used to talking to her every day. I am thankful that she open to sharing her heart with me. I love watching my dad with my girls. He is so loving and affectionate with them. It's very precious to me. I love that we talk about heart-related things now, and that our relationship is headed in a deeper direction. Same is true for me and my brother. Another family member that I've connected with by leaps and bounds is my Aunt Shel, my mom's sister. It started with her calling me when I was in the pit of dispair about being pregnant with Addison (whom I couldn't imagine life without should you learn to read anytime soon!!!! I love you my sweet girl!!!) because she understood where I was coming from when no one else did. Now we text about 13 times each day. Plus she is the only one who gets why I think it would be fun to go to Starbucks...every day.

So what's happening with me right now? I guess I am learning to "live forgiven"

Micah 7:19
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

I don't have to feel guilt or fear when those memories come creeping up, or when I see a blast from the past on facebook or when I'm at work. God has redeemed my life. I can be Devin's wife and raise my girls with confidence that I am God's precious child, whom He loves dearly. Sometimes I live in fear because my life has been so calm (as calm as it can be with a 1 and a 3 year old running around), and relatively trouble free. I worry that God has some awful test for me right around the corner that I will have to endure. I know those are lies, and ignoring the truth and believing them is a sin, but sometimes it's hard not to think those things when you see the people you love going through such awful things. You can't help but think "when's my turn?"

(As a sidenote every time I think that I think about the scene from The Sex and the City movie where Charlotte is thinking the same thing and Carrie says "Charlotte you shit your pants this year. I think you're done." That basically has nothing to do with this except that I think that is one of the best movie lines of all time. BTW is it ok to mention Sex and the City in your testimony? I hope so. )

Honestly, though, I know that is not the way to live life. Worrying about losing my kids or my husband will rob me of the all the joy I have with them. Giving up the fears when they pop in my head is something I'm working on. That and finishing this blasted Boundaries book! I always get so excited about starting a new book and then get bored halfway through. Let's face it: The Twilight Series is a lot more fun to read. :)

Thank you for reading my story. If you finished it, you deserve a prize. Honestly, I could go on and on about God's grace in my life. I could do a whole post on Devin's family, or my first couple years of marriage. Or how hard parenting is sometimes (oh wait...I post about that all the time!), or how awesome Westside Church has been in our lives. Can the people pleasing/approval seeking/not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings side of me just say one more time please don't be upset if I didn't outright mention your name. If you're my friend or family member, you've impacted my life. Period.

Love you all. Now, no more complaining about my absence!

Next up: Blog totally devoted to my love for all things television!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

So sweet

I was wondering what kind of "lovie" Ainsley might become attached to as separation anxiety set in. When she was about 5 or 6 months old she went to sleep much easier with my t-shirts, but that was short lived. She does take a pacifier, but she doesn't have a favorite stuffed animal or blanket. Ainsley's "soother" is the threads that have unraveled from her Ikea crib bumper. Every time we lay her down in the crib, she strokes her crib bumper until she finds the two loose threads and then grabs them. It calms her down right away. It's so weird, but so adorable. I don't think we'll ever be able to get rid of that thing.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Addison was digging around in her kitchen tonight and coming into the living room with her special sandwich concoctions made with her plastic bread. Ainsley had been watching her and following her, and the next thing we saw was Ainsley crawling in with two plastic breads stuck together. She pulled up to the couch and handed it to me with a big smile and some baby gibberish. I mean, c'mon. Is that cute or what? She was trying to be like her big sis! Totally made my day, and made up for the fact that she was playing in the toilet (which Addison had forgotten to flush...beautiful) while I was trying to shower earlier that afternoon. And a resounding "ewwww" was heard across the country....

Anyway I have some pics from her bday to post. You'll just have to stay tuned!

Monday, February 15, 2010

artichokey goodness

I asked my mom what I should make for dinner with chicken and she gave me some new recipes she wrote down awhile back. One of them was for Chicken and Artichoke Quesadillas. I'm not going to lie: they sounded completely disgusting. Mozzarella cheese? On a tortilla? Blagh! As I was writing the recipe down, though, it started to sound alright. Whatever. It's good to branch out, right?

THEY WERE SO GOOD! SOOOO GOOD! Even Devin, who is normally very apathetic about what he is eating, said "Hey, this is good!" That translates into "this is the most delicious thing I have ever eaten in my life!! I can hardly stand it!!" in case you were wondering.

Try some.
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1 can artichokes (14 oz), drained and chopped. I chopped them up pretty small. I don't like big chunks of artichoke on anything.
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated. (or my friend: the green can)
1 clove garlic, minced
tortillas (I used the whole wheat kind, and I think it must have canceled out the fat in the cheese and mayo. I'm sure it did.)
mozzarella cheese

Mix the chicken, artichokes, mayo, parmesan and garlic together. Spray some pam in a skillet, throw a tortilla in there and let it warm up a bit, flip it and let it get warmed up on that side. Spread the mixture on the tortilla, add some mozzarella cheese and cover with another tortilla. Cook for about two minutes on each side, until the cheese is melted.

I burned the first two and yelled for Devin to come make them because he is the quesadilla master in this family. His were perfect. It made about 4 fajita size quesadillas for us.

The recipe says to serve them with salsa, but we didn't really need anything extra.

I've been buying bone in split chicken breasts when they go on sale. I buy about 4 or 5 pounds and throw them in the slow cooker for about 3 hours on high. After they're cooked I shred up the chicken and measure about 3 cups into ziplock freezer bags and throw them in the freezer for whenever I need shredded chicken. I have loved doing this because the meat ends up tasting like rotisserie chicken meat like you get at the store, much more flavorful than boiled chicken. Split breasts go on sale for really cheap too.