Tuesday, September 29, 2009

bon voyage

we are off. to california. leaving behind an empty house we pray is soon filled with a very responsible, on-time-paying renter.

we are headed to our temporary residence until we find our next somewhat permanent residence.

i recently learned our month long residence may, in fact, not have wi-fi.

what?!?! no internet?

whatever will we do!

truthfully, it actually sounds kinda nice to be completely free the compulsion to check emails and blogs every single time i pass the computer.

because there is just so much more to life. too many books to read, memories to be made with the children, sleep to catch up on...

so, should this rumor of a month without internet access be true, i'll provide a couple of reading recommendations to get you through the dry spell and month long torture of possibly no blog entries from yours truly. oh, how will you every make it?

well, at some point, i'll be back to share my life with you.

until then...

first, i'll direct you to my sister's blog. personally, i think she's a genius. but i'm a little biased. you might enjoy her adoption story. but mostly, i tell you about her because she threatens (or maybe i should just say "mentions") she is thinking of no longer blogging. you know, because of priorities in life such as children, husband, etc... this would be a tragedy to lose such a witty and wise blogger and so i encourage you to go comment on her blog about how devastated you would be if she left us and how the world is so much better because of her blog. because, it is. (and if you don't believe me, you maybe haven't read my favorite blog post in the whole wide world.)

second, allow me to direct you to the journey.

not too long ago (thanks to my dear friend sara for completely rocking my world), i started at the beginning of the journey blog and followed an 18 year old girl (now 20) as she ventured to uganda, became overwhelmed by the orphan crisis and need for Jesus and completely committed her life to God's work. she now lives there, has 14 precious orphans as her own, and is doing wonderful things to share God's love with those around her. not only are her stories seriously amazing, but she has wisdom well beyond her years to share with the rest of us.

and since i know you may not decide to commit hours of your life to reading the entire story, allow me to at least direct you to one in particular. (and trust me, its hard to pick just one.)

so if you read the journey and don't find yourself totally challenged, moved, crying, or somewhat fascinated, you might just want to check and see if you still have a pulse. its good stuff, people. and now i'm seriously considering moving to uganda. there are a lot of orphans out there in need of lots of love.

but until then, california beaches await. big love to all my dear friends in the blogging world.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


so, its been a brutal week.

trying to pack up your house and move with 3 little kids is exhausting and overwhelming enough. (lets just say, the last year of my life hasn't exactly provided much opportunity for organization.)

throwing in the shocking death of a dear friend makes it much tougher (and by far the roughest part of this week).

and then, on top of the physical and emotional exhaustion...

why not discover your home builder didn't install a pipe correctly and water has been slowly leaking in your walls since you moved in (over 3 years ago). so lets rip out some walls and stick some serious fans and one gi-normous dehumidifier in your house for the week, causing some very irritating noise, heat and serious dryness.

its only estimated to cost about $5,000. hopefully our home owner's insurance will cover it and we'll only have to pay our moderately high deductible.

oh, and then maybe your renters, scheduled to move in this week, might just go ahead and back out leaving you with a mostly packed, completely disorganized house and an already signed contract for a place in california.

needless to say, i'm a little tired.

water damage,
er bills, car repair drama (don't even get me started on what my poor husband has been through), rent expenses and such lead me to suggest the following to anthony:

"hey, maybe tomorrow we can just go ahead and flush a bunch of cash down the toilet."

he, in all his calm wisdom responds, "the way i look at it, its the Lord's money. we are just stewards of it."

something i already knew, but certainly needed a reminder of. he's in control. he knows whats coming and what we need. our money, our time, our lives. its all His.

a perspective that provides some much needed peace.

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


(if you came looking for my typical sarcasm and stories of my clever little children, sorry, but today's not the day. check back soon.)

its funny how quickly my mind can rewind 15 or so years... back to high school. fun, carefree times. good friends, great memories.

if only time itself could actually rewind. just a few days.

i lost a very dear high school friend this past weekend. yeah, i haven't even seen him in years, but i still feel a void at his loss. there are some people who make an impression on your life, who touch your heart, who will always be dear to you. he was one of them.

the whirlwind of emotions has been everything from shock to anger, from disbelief to sadness, frustration to confusion... all spinning around and eventually settling back to sorrow. deep, heart breaking sorrow.

grief. its been a hard couple of days. some news is just never, ever welcome.

his death is so tragic and so... well... just not right. its hard to wrap my mind around it. (please forgive me for being slightly cryptic. its not that i'm trying to be. its just that some details don't matter when mourning the loss of someone who made your life a little better just by being in it.)

i think of his family. and i pray earnestly for God to hold them tight in the palm of his hand.

i think of his 2 little kids. to say it really just isn't fair is a vast understatement. and quite truthfully, it isn't simply enough to "think" about them, and "wish them well" and "hope" for the best. (and actually, pardon the boldness here, people, but the same is true for eternity.)

their future has been forever altered. unfortunately, they'll have to heal from this for their entire lives. and amidst my sorrow over the loss of jared, a renewed focus emerges. precious children with their whole lives ahead of them. lives God can use. and i pray earnestly on their behalf that He will do great things in them and through them. and what better way to honor Jared's memory than by focusing my energy on my knees for his children. because God can, and does, do immeasurably more than all we ask or even imagine.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

praying big things for you, kids.

miss you, jared.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

the most expensive bracelet, INDEED

i know you've been dying to know.

remember this:

bennett's fun ER experience?

the bill came.

grand total: $1402

yeah, all for sticking a raisin up his nose. allow me to break it down for you:

$805 just for walking through the door of the hospital. i'm guessing we figure in the following things here: the paper we had to sign, salary for the 4 minutes we spent with the nurse, the cost of flushing the toilet when bennett had to use the bathroom, two paper towels used as kleenex because his nose was running (there was, after all, something stuck up there), laundering the clean white sheet his dirty feet rested on. oh, and i guess our portion of electricity and the cleaning bill. and, of course, the cute plastic bracelet. so yeah, i think 805 is excessive, but i also realize that it's pretty typical. i was sorta expecting/dreading it.

a bit surprised though, by the additional bill.

the one for the PA.

i'm not sure why the bills have to be separate. i'm not sure she spent more than 5 minutes with us. i'm not sure why such a brief period of time spent with a skilled medical professional can't be included in $805. i'm not sure why its an additional $597!!!

one thing i am sure of, though:

i chose the wrong profession.

a little math here.

if i start with the 5 minutes she spent with us... and i'll go ahead and figure in charting (because i'm sure it took "awhile" to type in "teach your child not to put objects up his nose"), walking down the hallway to our room, and the time she had to spend retelling the story... and generously round up to 30 minutes.

"emergency department visit" is $176. this is the doctor fee. so at this rate, she's making $352 an hour. and that's before figuring in her skills.

skills for this particular night:

$421 "removal of foreign body" seriously? an additional $421 dollars to pull out a pair of child size pliers and pull a raisin out. makes me wonder if the medical professionals out there have a secret deal with SunMaid or something.

well, fortunately, my husband turned on the charm and they were willing to give us a discount. yep, they took a whole 5% off our bill.

good news, bennett. looks like you can still go to college.

Friday, September 18, 2009

at least the floor's clean

not exactly what i had in mind when i said, "clean your room."

but he's proud of himself. what more could you ask for? "no one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed. i have known mothers who remake the bed after their children do it because there is wrinkle in the spread or the blanket is on crooked. this is sick." -erma bombeck

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

and you thought your life was crazy...

when feeling overwhelmed, and a tad stressed with the upcoming move...

when your kids are feeling it too and need extra attention...

when the piles
of clutter are threatening to topple over and bury you...

when you need perspective and peace...

when you really need to get organized and get moving with things...

what do you do?

why, have a play date with 2 year-old sextuplets of course.
ella organized all sorts of crafts and furniture jumping activities...
bennett participated in the water fun...

...until he told jenny it was just a little too crazy for him and then wanted to go lay down.and then, of course, mason was slightly overstimulated... but it was a great time.

and i most certainly have a new appreciation for jenny. talk about an amazing, positive, happy woman. God chose correctly when passing out sextuplets.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

moving thoughts

seeing my house in boxes and recognizing the officialness of this move and all, brings about a jumble of emotions. i'm very excited for the next chapter of our life, which includes summers outside, great work opportunities for anthony and proximity to dear friends and family in california.

i'm also sad about leaving dear friends and family here. i know california isn't that far, but it won't be long until everyone moves on and forgets all about us and won't even want to come visit.

"stephanie who?" they'll say to each other.

random thoughts circle through my stressed out, sleep deprived mind.

and then mornings like this happen and i suddenly have wonderful clarity:

"mommy? i need some help." said very calmly by bennett.

"you can put your choneys on by yourself, bud." i'm reading his mind here. because he is currently in the bathroom and this is almost a script. its what he asks help for about 40 times a day. its not that he can't do it. but why do something for yourself when someone else can do it for you?

"actually, mommy... i think there is something that looks like a sort of scorpion."

a few times a week, my kids think they see a scorpion. it could have something to do with my paranoia that i can't help but communicate. but regardless, every speck on the floor, every tiny ant, every crumb... is somehow a scorpion. but even though they constantly "cry wolf," i always come running, because what if? this is probably why the game is so much fun for them.

(why do i care? because they are indeed actually very dangerous to small children. just ask rachael whose daughter was air evaced to the hospital when venom attacked her central nervous system.)

but this time, i find bennett in the bathroom, staring eye to eye with a scorpion.

"what are we going to DO??? daddy isn't home!!!" ella says, slightly panicked.

"i'll kill it." i assure her.

"YOU?!?!" yes, ella, believe it or not, i can step up when needed and kill creepy bugs. and i'll only cry about it just a little bit when i tell daddy.

yes, i used to keep track. but i've lost count lately. there have been SO many. like, maybe 7 in the last couple of months. yeah, its like we are infested over here.

high time to get out of the desert and over to the beach, i tell ya.

so, please, arizona desert friends, come visit me there. because i will, indeed, miss you very much.

*note: should you actually live in california and have seen a scorpion in your home, please keep it to yourself.

Monday, September 14, 2009

a childhood equation

one 3 year-old boy:


one ridiculously large container of bubbles (yes, thats 3.9 liters):


adult supervision:

a whole lot of fun

they aren't kidding

Saturday, September 12, 2009


yes, its official. we are outta here.

to those of you i'm leaving behind: i promise not to rub it in when i'm actually outdoors during the months of april through october. (well, not too much anyway.)

we are moving to southern california for anthony's work the end of the month. and yes, i will miss certain things about living in phoenix:

1. my dear family and wonderful friends.

2. pizzeria bianco.

3. wearing flip-flops 350 days out of the year.

Friday, September 11, 2009

the curse of the good girl

so i got this email from trish of tlc book tours asking me if i would review a book she sent me.

so... what you are saying is, you'll send me a book for free and then you want my opinion?

well... sure! i love giving my opinion. all you need to do is ask.

so i completed book #17 on my personal book list this year. The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence

bottom line, for those of you who don't feel like reading any further (as in everyone but my mom):

a good read. interesting, thought provoking, and very well written. rachel is thoroughly researched and gives numerous examples to explain the good girl "curse" as well as very practical advice for raising and equipping teenage girls in the midst of the drama that is teenage girl-dom.

so what is the "good girl"?:

by outward appearances, the "good girl" is polite, selfless, caring, compliant and non-confrontational. she fits the mold and meets the pressure to be perfect and proper.

the "curse" of it all involves that fact that the good girl is obsessed with other’s perception of her. she’ll avoid conflict, compromise morals and values, all to maintain an appearance that keeps everyone happy. she won’t speak her mind and often, as a result, looses the ability to even think for herself which ultimately just cripples her abilities in life. she is fixated on acceptance and approval at the expense of herself, her integrity and convictions.

rachel paints a very good picture of this "good girl" curse. her subject is the junior high/high school age girl basically programmed to be good... acting a certain way, trying to meet unrealistic expectations, insecure, terrified of failure and conflict and doesn't have the proper tools to handle it when it arises. leading of course to the wonderful world of teenage girl drama.

we all are insecure to some extent, but this curse of the good girl cripples young girls into compromising who they are and what they believe to maintain an image.

i mean, really ladies, can you just picture yourself back in middle school? the peer pressure, the insecurity...

oh, is a knot forming in your stomach too?

what we do about it:
in part 2 of her book, rachel gives very precise, very practical advice in how to help your daughter overcome these pressures to move from the "good girl" to the "real girl."

and surprisingly enough, the best advice of all starts with the mom herself. she talks of emotional intelligence and evaluating yourself to determine which unhealthy habits are you unknowingly passing on to your daughter. for instance, do you avoid conflict with your spouse/ boss/children in order just to keep the peace at all costs? how do you handle stress, disagreement, emotions, anger, etc...? daughters learn how to navigate life especially from their mothers.

rachel offers very insightful perspectives on the workings of girls minds. i appreciate the real life examples she gives, such as "she made fun of my cell phone," the complaint of one girl. these are the scenarios that devastate the worlds of precarious girls and rachel shows the importance of empathizing and validating emotions that although may seem ridiculous to us, are very real to them. we then help our girls learn how to maneuver through life by dealing reasonably with emotions and conflict.

some (of the many) points she details include

  • helping your daughter not to be a constant people pleaser which will result in causing her to stifle valid emotions and feelings
  • teaching your daughter how to handle peer conflict
  • teaching your daughter the importance of risk
  • helping your daughter accept her limits with a sense of humor. celebrate failure.

rachel goes point by point through ways that help your daughter mature, recognize insecurities, address conflict in a healthy way and prepare her for the "real world."

my thoughts:

admittedly, i seldom... well, actually never... read a psychology/parenting/personal furtherment book that isn't intentionally Christian. simply because if i want an opinion on the how-to of it all, i want it from the perspective of our purpose and the design of our Creator. because along with understanding culture and how it influences our kids, i also want to understand how my child has been uniquely designed by God and how i can best direct my child to accomplish what He created her to be.

rachel makes numerous references to helping our daughters determine who they are and be their "true" self so they can reach their full potential. i believe that this is impossible until we recognize God and his design for our life. until then, it is an exhausting race of chasing ourselves and our inconsistent and constantly changing feelings.

so, that being said, i'm glad i had the opportunity to read The Curse of the Good Girl. rachel offers some very specific, very practical advice that applies not only to parenting, but relationships in general. she is very to the point and even includes exercises parents of teenage girls may find very useful.

and still more thoughts... on empowerment:

while i’m all for ella reaching her full potential, i fear that society’s idea of “full potential” may not necessarily be what God’s idea of full potential is. she may have the tenacity, will power, leadership abilities and strength to be president of the united states, but maybe God has a different, and far more important plan for her life. maybe she’ll fight injustice and rescue orphans in a 3rd world country. maybe she’ll teach in an inner city junior high school, or maybe she’ll be a stay at home mom who nurtures her children and forms them to be leaders of the next generation. i don’t want ella to be hindered because of her gender, but I also don’t want her to think she has something she needs to prove either.

the challenge, i think, is finding the line between assertiveness and selfishness. i’m all about teaching my daughter to assert herself (and modeling that myself). its important to not become a doormat in life. its important to demand respect and expect people to treat you a certain way, especially children, spouses, and co-workers.

however, there is the other side of things. we can take this too far where we reach an entitlement stage: this is what i deserve. this is what i’m worth. i can do whatever i want.

i just don't think this is a healthy mindset. because we (not just girls, of course) are supposed to sacrifice. we are supposed to put others needs before our own. we have been created to reflect Christ.

so basically, i'm saying its a very thin line to walk. and rachel gives very practical advice on how to help equip our girls to be assertive and strong.

initially, i feared this book would be all about women's liberation (don't get me wrong, i'm all for equality, but let's chill out a bit with the bitterness and agenda pushing). but it really isn't. rachel makes references to empowering our girls, but its more in the sense of equipping them for life, not forcing them to prove something. although there may be a few subtleties i tend to disagree with, overall, rachel's message rings true for girls today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

why... sure!

if you make an A.MA.ZING spinach, garlic and tomato calzone,

and... if you give me a free shirt for my baby:why, sure! i will tell the whole wide world about you.

should you be in the phoenix area, you must try out spinato's pizza.

and they are very child friendly. and by child friendly, i don't just mean they have high chairs. they are actually friendly to children and don't mind when your baby throws a lollipop across the restaurant. and also by child friendly, i don't mean chuck e. cheese. (no offense chuck) but you could still enjoy a meal here without children.

*and no, they aren't paying me to tell you this. well, not yet, anyway... not until you all start telling them i sent you over. then, hmm... i don't know... maybe a free pizza? (wink, wink)

Monday, September 7, 2009

its my party

and i'll cry if i want to...
cry if i want to...
cry if i want to...
you would cry too
if it happened to you.
and that pretty much sums up the first year of mason's life.
i know, i know, what kind of mother takes pictures of her baby while he is so visibly upset?

this one. i think its called something along the lines of "desensitization." i've been dealing with this for a year. that's ONE WHOLE year, people.
so we had a little early birthday party for mason this weekend with family. good times. even for mason.

amidst the drama, he did actually have a great time too. before the tears even dry, he's laughing. don't feel too sorry for him. he's just a little on the manic side.
but we still love him.
and he loves us.
happy birthday, mason. may this next year not be nearly as exhausting as the first.
go get 'em.

Friday, September 4, 2009

almost one...

mason will be one next week.
he's a funny little guy. developing a personality all his own, absorbing the world all around him, climbing on everything he can...

he is curious about so many things.

one thing in particular: what goes on every night between 9:30 pm and 12:30 am? ditto from 4 am to 5:30.

he decided to find out last night. hopefully the crawling in and out of the toy basket in the dark while exhausted parents desperately attempt sleep on the floor nearby isn't exciting enough to try all over again tonight.

one thing i'm curious about: how does an almost one year old manage on 5 1/2 hours of sleep?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

be careful little eyes...

while trying to get us ready and out the door yesterday morning, i parked ella and bennett in front of sesame street while i rushed to put the finishing touches on my mommy ensemble. (i looked so hot, by the way. greasy hair, bags under my eyes, wrinkled shirt. be checking people magazine. you just might see me there.)

so ella yells for me from the family room, "mom, they aren't sharing! (referring to elmo and other such "questionable" characters) should we turn the tv off?"

the "not sharing" was all part of the object lesson in the episode, which i explained to ella. meanwhile, my heart is all warm inside over my very mature little girl.
where did she learn this discernment? unfortunately, i hate to admit, probably not from me. (i mean, i did have my moment of conviction this past tv season and finally said goodbye to 24 and jack bauer and the extremely graphic (and of course totally realistic) way he saves the world each week. it was hard, i must say. and i pray that he will meet jesus during his next 24 hour adventure and then they'll have to dial down the torture and then i can watch again.) but i certainly have my fair share of partaking in things not exactly edifying.

don't freak out. i don't do drugs or participate in seances or anything. i'm just talking about your day to day, i don't know, "innocent" chatter (that may or not be similar to gossip), tv shows that waste my time and don't exactly point me in the direction of God's plans for my life... you know, stuff like that. (don't judge me. chances are you have your own plank.)

i talked to ella about it later in the day. she said, "well, i just didn't think we should watch it if it would make us, like, not be nice to other people."


yeah, that's my girl.

nice reminder (conviction) for me.

"whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." philippians 4:8

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

it does a body good

i've heard that we humans are the only animals that still drink milk past infancy.

this must be because we are the only species that knows how to make homemade chocolate chip cookies.
"think what a better world it would be if we all, ­the whole world,­ had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap." -robert fulghum