Almost Better Than Photo Booth

My kids love the iPad. And they love to take pictures out of iPhoto and turn them into works of art. Nobody is safe from their masterpieces and I mean nobody:

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It's pretty funny, but I'm still trying to figure out what's with the red blob on my forehead. And the green unibrow. Some questions are better left unasked, I think.

Then there's Pirate Peaches:

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She's a menacing captain, that one. Better do what she says or walk the plank!

Traveling Light

I was searching for another song on YouTube yesterday and found this one quite by accident. It’s Traveling Light as sung by Joel Hanson and Sara Groves:


Honestly, I find the graphics in this video to be quite distracting (I couldn’t find another version of it anywhere), but I absolutely LOVE the song. I tried find it on iTunes so I could just download that one, but instead ended up ordering the entire album from Amazon. I’m really looking forward to its coming. I’m not surprised I like it so much. I was a PFR fan before being a PFR fan was cool and I have two of Joel Hanson’s solo albums. Sara Groves is a more recent addition to my library (as in within the past couple of years) but I really like her too. This song is a win!

I’ve had the lyrics of this song playing over and over in my head all day. Down by the riverside/I laid my burdens down/Now I’m traveling light/My spirit lifted high/I found my freedom now/And I’m traveling light

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Speaking of laying my burdens down, I wrote about prayer today for WORLDMag.com. In this case it’s more of a lifting up rather than a laying down, but the point, I believe, is exactly the same.

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A few weeks ago at the weekly homeschool group I direct, one of the families shared a creative way they make prayer “real” for their little kids. They take a piece of paper, write their request on it, and attach it to a helium-filled balloon. As they release the balloon into the sky, they say a prayer for that need.

Over the lunch break, this family passed out balloons to all of the other families so we could offer our own “visual prayer” to the Lord. Now lunch for our group is an understatedly busy time for me, so I took the balloon they offered and proceeded to carry it around for about an hour-and-a-half before I even realized I had a balloon following me.

Eventually, I started to get asked if I planned to do anything with the balloon. My response: “I’m going to get to it later.” It was then that I realized I was doing with the balloon what I do with most of my prayers-carry them around thinking I’ll eventually do something with them.

How much easier would it have been had I just gone outside and released the balloon on the spot? How much easier might some of my burdens be if I would just let them go?

Psalm 141:1-2 says:

“I call to you, LORD, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.”

I say I am dependent on the power of prayer, but the truth is I’m dependent on the power of me most of the time. I eventually turn to God in prayer only when I prove to myself that I really can’t do it. Thankfully, God’s faithfulness isn’t dependent upon my verbal requests; He knows my heart and meets the needs I don’t even know I have.

It was about 3 p.m. before I (along with my kids) actually took the balloon outside to offer up a request. By then the balloon was no longer floating as high as it was at noon, and I was mildly concerned it wasn’t even going to make it up in the sky at all. Still, we prayed and lifted the balloon up as high as we could, even giving it a punch to send it up a little higher. Imagine our surprise when it continued to lift-slowly, steadily, surely.

Did we need the balloon to make sure God heard us? No. But the visual reminder that God can take a half-deflated request and receive it as an expression of desperate dependence on Him was not lost on me.

I’m thinking about buying my own helium tank so I won’t forget.

A few other interesting tidbits to our story

Last fall I was given a video blogging offer from KSDK's St. Louis Moms Like Me website. The job was going to be to post two videos per month and it was supposed to begin about the end of October. I was given a Flip camera to use (not keep, but use) and was on hold for KSDK to be able to host the video uploads on their own site as opposed to YouTube or Vimeo or some such.

I waited and waited and waited. I was eventually told that the budget they set aside to cover this gig was no longer in place and could I bring the camera back. I said I was happy to wait a while and see if they were able to reinstate it. They were fine with that.

But here we are in April. That job never came around and I need to get them the camera back, stat!

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Another opportunity that arose at the end of the year involved another sponsored blogging gig. This one had some decent pay potential and I thought I had a decent shot at it. The job was very specific to St. Louis. They were looking for a St. Louis blogger to represent them for one year. In January I got an email saying that this program was also on hold for the time being and they would contact me when they opened it back up again.

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Then a third option came, also in January. This one involved working for one of the many city group deal buying sites. I don't think I had a good understanding of what all they wanted me do when I sent the inquiry in, but by the end of that process, had I decided to take the job it would have been mine to take. In the end, we were the ones to say no to that one – too much time and too much outside of what I'm comfortable doing.

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Bam, bam, bam! Three jobs, three opportunities to help boost our family income, and three closed doors. All three were specific to St. Louis. The very next month our long term plans to stay in St. Louis changed.

I've just added these to the ever-growing list of things God did to pave the way for this move to happen. Because had thing one or thing two ever come open, I would have taken them and then been stuck trying to figure out how to get out of them come June.

Mid-April

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It looks like snow because it feels like snow. No, we didn’t actually get any snow today (surprise) but it sure felt like we could have. Brrrrrr. Millie apparently thought so as well as she crafted this family of 6 plus doggie out of play-dough.

I wish I could have captured the amount of detail she put in these snow people; it really was amazing.

Happy mid-April to you!

Some Pretty Big News

Earlier today I mentioned somewhere online that I had some big news but no time to share it. Now I have some time. And I still have some news. Some big news. You ready for it?

We. Sold. Our. House.

Okay, so we didn’t exactly sell our house, I’m pretty sure it was God who sold our house because we never even listed it on the market and aren’t having to use a realtor. Has anyone taken a peek at the housing market lately? Known anyone who has had a house on the market for months or even years? Yep, that’s pretty much what I was gearing up for here once we decided to make the move to Oklahoma after browsing family homes we liked there. I never in a zillion years dreamed that it would happen this fast.

So, let’s recap:

  • November 2010 – I get this weird feeling that something major is going to change for us and that we’ll know something about it by February of 2011.
  • December 2010 – *crickets*
  • January 2011Craig begins fasting for the 40 days leading up to his 40th birthday to pray for and prepare for what God might have in store for the next 40 years should He so grant them.
  • February 4, 2011 – Craig gets an email asking him to consider applying for a new job.
  • February 17, 2011 – Craig and I fly to Oklahoma City for weekend of interviews (for him…weekend of HGTV for me.)
  • First week of March, 2011 – Official invitation to accept the new position is given.
  • Second week of March, 2011 – Official acceptance of said position is made.
  • Fourth week of March, 2011 – We go house hunting in Oklahoma City and fail miserably the first day, but discover Closet Heaven on the second.
  • End of March, 2011 – Beginning conversations with our neighbors about possibly buying our house to use as a rental turn into serious conversations.
  • Middle of April, 2011 (today) – We sign paperwork with said neighbors to sell our house.

Yowza, that’s crazy fast. All this time, as everything has continued to speed along the way it has I’ve felt somewhat like Gideon who had all these signs from God and yet…can I have another please? And more have been given.

We are in the process of beginning paperwork to purchase Closet Heaven and if things continue the way they have been, all the turnovers will happen the first week of June.

This house is pretty amazing and I’ve had a hard time not mentally moving into it already. Here are a few reasons why:

1) This awesome bonus room:

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2) This sweet black and white tiled kitchen floor:

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3) This honkin’ big back yard:

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Oh, and have I mentioned all the closets???

If you’ve been with us for very long on our journey, you might remember that we have yet to live in one housing structure for longer than three years. Ever. I’m really really REALLY hoping to break that streak with this next move. I’m really really REALLY tired of packing and schlepping.

Anyway, there you have it – our big news. And possibly the sweetest thing of all? That I don’t have to stress about keeping a show-worthy house while in the midst of finishing up homeschooling AND packing. That is indeed a blessing.

Here’s to Coke, My Parents, and 45 Years of Marriage

I think I may have had Coca-Cola poured into my bottle as an infant. No, not really, but it was a family staple and please don’t judge my parents for it. We all loved it and we all still love it, though in the various forms it has since taken since 1984 (all various forms save “New Coke” – never really cared for that one much…).

Five years ago my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. For the math whizzes among you that means they will soon be approaching their 45th and in 5 more years they will have been married for 50. Wowza, that’s a long time. (And thanks for staying married so long, Mom and Dad). Anyway, for their 45th anniversary, we had a Coke Classic theme and I took photos of two Coke bottles to use on the invitation. Here’s the one we ended up using:

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Aren’t they cute? Two little Coke bottles in love? I also made cola-scented votive candles. They were red with a diagonal white stripe and I was so proud of those babies. My sister brought all her Coke decor to use for the party:

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And then check out this sign my sister had designed just for the event:

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Isn’t that awesome? It really is. There is something about that red and white that brings back a need to dig into the past and figure some things out. Whenever I see vintage Coke bottles I long to snatch them all up and do something with them. I have no idea what it is in me that desires to save them all, but I do.

These days we’re more of a Coke Zero drinking family. My kids don’t have as liberal access to it that I did as a kid, but I know it’s just a matter of time because when I drink as much of it as I do and don’t let them do the same…I’m a hypocrite. But I’ll let them grow up a little more before making those choices I’ve modeled so diligently for them all these years (ahem).

Here’s to you, Coke Classic, for being a family staple for me for all these years. And here’s to you, Mom and Dad, for making it another five. I love you and am looking forward to celebrating again in five more.

Today’s Post Brought to You by Adam Sandler and I-170

http://ecdn2.hark.com/swfs/player.swf?1297555814
(Link) View more Adam Sandler Sound Clips and The Wedding Singer Sound Clips

Maddie and Chloe are in the school play. Maddie has a major role and Chloe has a solo, so they are both involved, though Maddie has had more after school rehearsals because she has a bigger role.

The play is actually tomorrow so there was a dress rehearsal today at the church where it is going to be. I thought…well all of us in our family thought that Chloe had to be at this dress rehearsal as well as Maddie, so as I dropped them off this morning I made a point of saying, “I’ll see you both at 5 tonight in Florrisant!”

Imagine my shock at walking into the church in Florissant, which would have been a 25-minute drive in decent traffic, but considering the time of day it took us longer, when I walked in and didn’t see Chloe anywhere.

Imagine how long it took me to realize that if she wasn’t there, she had to be…at school still. Imagine how fast I tried to drive from Florissant back to the school all in insanely heavy traffic between 5-5:38, because…it took 38 minutes to slog our way back through that traffic.

Imagine how frustrating it is to know that after care is $4.50/hour and you think it officially ends at 5:30 at which point the school charges $1/minute for every minute you are late.

I get there and they call her up and she grins as she sees me and says, “Where were you? I called!”

This, the child we call Captain Obvious, forgets 1) I don’t have a cell phone and 2) I’m not home at all on Tuesdays and 3) If she leaves a message on our home phone it rolls over to Craig’s email and I never know about it until he hears it and forwards it to me and 4) he had a baseball game so he never got her message either.

She informed me at that point that she didn’t have to go after all. My response to this? “Once again, things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!!”

Ah well, we’re home now. I have no idea how much that little mistake is actually going to cost me, but at the very least I’m glad the school has that service because if I’d thought she’d been waiting for me on the curb for 2+ hours my little conniption would have definitely been about five times worse.

 

Looking for a Cure for Bieber Fever?

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I’m offering up an alternative cure for Bieber Fever today at WORLDMag. You know you love me. I know you care. *giggle*

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My oldest daughter was one of many recipients of a mass email this week that said this:

90% of girls all around America would cry if Justin Bieber were about to jump off of a 20-story building. If you are a part of the 10% who would be sitting in a dual reclining loveseat with popcorn yelling, “Do a backflip!!!” send this to as many people as possible!

As various responses either in favor of or against Justin Bieber started popping back, my 12-year-old daughter felt compelled to send something a little different. Here’s what she wrote:

Everybody,I do not like Justin Bieber, but we must remember that he is a human being too! He is also created in God’s image. And even though he is a bad role model, we don’t have to say that we wouldn’t cry when he jumps off a building. We need to know that he was born on this earth just like everyone else (even if some people think he is a weird alien.) We don’t need to hate him, but please, we also don’t need to go ga-ga over him like everyone else does.

Oh, and Tracy, I don’t really like his music, but I’m okay that you do!

Before sending the message, she asked me to come in and take a look at it. I read it over her shoulder, offered one spelling correction, and said, “Send it!” So she did.

I walked away from the computer smiling because this email exchange is a turning point in the way this particular daughter expresses her thinking on all things tweeny-bopper. For better or for worse, we, as her parents, have worked to give her a sense of what we believe to be truly good music and encouraged her to not just follow hard after what all her peers say is good music.

Granted, the definition of good music is up for grabs these days and probably varies for every single one of us, but just like Hannah Montana and the entire repertoire of High School Musical, Justin Bieber hasn’t made our family’s list of quality music.

Initially, our encouragement instilled a sarcastic vibe in our daughter regarding said pop stars, which resulted in an almost hyper-hate-alternative response to her friends with Bieber Fever. Out of her need to make sure everyone around her knew she didn’t obsess over the boy, she tended the other way, making sure everyone knew how much she disliked him.

We’ve had to backpedal on more than one occasion on things like this as she went off on one of her “that music is sooooo stupid” rants. We’ve had to remind her that while we may not enjoy his music or agree with the direction his life is taking, we can still find ways to treat him with the respect he is due simply for being another human being made in the image of God. In short, we’ve asked her to stop talking about him all together if she can’t think of anything kind to say at all.

It had been several weeks since our last Justin Bieber talk, so when she called me over to the computer to take a look at what she was going to say, I was really surprised to read it. And as the emails that followed after her were along the lines of, “You know, you’re right,” I’m thankful for her newly found sensitivity to put an end to the potential slander she once would have otherwise pursued.

Discernment is often more caught than taught. And yes, sometimes our kids are listening.

Yep. I’m gonna miss this.

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For the past several years I’ve been buying group tickets for Cardinals games in order to go to the most possible games at the least possible prices.

I didn’t do that this year.

I’m a little sad about that.

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We toured Busch Stadium on Sunday, so that was fun, but not as much fun as an actual baseball game. Lucky for me, I have my choice of games this month, courtesy of the Westminster Junior Varsity team.

Ah, St. Louis. I will miss you. I really will.