Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

Headed to a Christmas party

A little apple, a little tape dispenser. Sampling the gift-wrapping supplies...what a helper she is!

Ahh...this is a whole blog post in an of itself! As much as this pains me to admit it, I caved and bought a leash...I just couldn't bear the thought of navigating with her through the airport by myself without a tether.

And this, my friends, is why we need a leash. This is the cat door she's crawling through...with a set of downward steps on the other side!

Natalie and Kate (her cousin)

Yeah for Christmas Eve celebrations at my in-laws house!

It's a rare thing that she sits still long enough to sit in your lap. Did I mention I am nervous about flying with her by myself??? Heaven help the people sitting around us!

Kevin's still a big kid at heart.

She's into things that she can push around the house right now. Hey... do they make kid-sized vacuum cleaners that actually work?????

Monday, December 15, 2008

Crazy, but true.

Ever since I had true Chicago-style pizza on a trip through Chicago when I was 14 I've loved the taste of it. The deep dish pie has a tall crust and loads and loads of cheese with sauce on top. Now, that much cheese isn't for everyone, but this is coming from a girl who once ordered triple cheese on a pizza when she was 8 years old at a Pizza Hut. I just remember chewing gobs and gobs of cheese... and loving every minute of it.

Last week when I was heading home from Arizona, I was flying through Chicago and decided that I absolutely HAD TO HAVE a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. I had it all set up. Since Midway airport didn't have a deep-dish pizza place on the premises, Kevin would call in the order to the nearest pizza place outside of the airport while I was in flight and have a pizza delivered there during my layover. I know he spent a long time on the phone going back and forth with the pizza place about what time to deliver, where I'd be waiting, etc, etc. And I was a little concerned I wouldnt be able to pull it off. But to my exitement, as I ran through security to the ticketing counter and out the door, there was the pizza delivery man, waiting for me with a fresh, hot deep dish Chicago pie. Folks... this is a happy moment in a foodie's life. Yes, yes it is.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

And I'm Back!

I'm SO glad to be done traveling for work. I just got back from an 8 day trip to AZ for work and I'm so done with being away from home. Nothing like a cute little dirty face to kiss on you and a bleary-eyed husband to wrap his arms around you and tell you that he missed you...REALLY missed you. *sigh* I love family.
This past week has been a whirlwind. It's been work, eat, sleep...REPEAT for 8 full days. I did score a fun car to drive. I didnt know the 2009 Taurus' were so nice: leather heated seats, a sunroof, SIRIUS radio. I really enjoyed it over the 98 no-power-anything Saturn I drove to the airport.

So if you're like me, you're way behind on the shopping aspect of Christmas. I'm not sure why I wait until the last minute, but this year I COULD say it was because I was busy frolicking throught the desert and working 7 days a week right around the start of the season. But really, it seems like it creeps up on me every year. I've started THINKING about sending out my Christmas cards but as you all know, the past two years those have turned into New Years cards because I've just been too lazy to get them in the mail in time for Christmas. We'll see this year...we'll see.

I've started to worry a bit about my trip to KC right after Christmas. It's not being KC that I'm worried about. It's the actual getting there and getting home part. Kevin's not going with me so that will mean I'll have a very ACTIVE (that's the nice word everyone's been using to describe Natalie's endless stream of energy lately) one-year-old and a large carseat to contend with both in the airport and on the plane. I just bought this after seeing a woman with 4 kids in the airport and I thought, if SHE and her husband can do it with four kids, I can surely do it with one.

But then I thought about Natalie wanting to get down and run around everywhere and how she was NOT going to want to sit still on my lap for 2 hours. So then I bought this so she'd be strapped to me. All of this may be well and good, but I don't think it's going to keep her from having a meltdown because she's not allowed to get down and do what she wants to do (independence is her thing these days).

So then I've considered Benadryl. Is this a bad idea? Can you give it to a 15 month old? I've got to do something or else I'm going to be THAT woman on the plane who everyone tries to sit VERY FAR AWAY from.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bed Head

I went to get Natalie out of bed after her nap today and this is what I found...

Definitely takes after her father! =)

While I Was Gone...

Natalie developed a lot of new tricks while I was gone. She's apparently able to say "all gone" and can blow kisses now. She also roars like a lion when you ask her what a lion says and makes elephant and bird noises too. Next trip I'll take she'll probably start dating while I'm away.

Jody (our nanny) has been an AWESOME god-send while I've been gone. She has taken care of baths and taken Natalie to story time and practially narrates every activity of the day to Natalie. I've really noticed the devleopmental changes in her with all of the verbal and creative interaction. In many respects I think Jody is a better playmate than I could be for Natalie since I've got my nose in my work. We love her and are so thankful God provided someone so reliable for this busy time in our lives.

Arizona was nice as far as the weather and scenery goes. It was sunny there the whole time, reaching 70 every afternoon. It was hard being away from Kevin and Natalie, though and I'm looking forward to wrapping things up there. I fly out again next week for a week and then I'm done. Christmas is going to fly by this year - I know it. I'm debating on whether I should go to the trouble of putting up all 3 of my Christmas trees this year or not since it will be for all of 2-3 weeks and I'll be fighting a toddler off of the ornaments during her every waking moment.
Here are a few pics from my trip to Arizona. Pretty - but brown. I like snow covered mountains. Apparently they DO get snow - just not yet.

Grand Canyon view from the plane on the way to my Las Vegas layover. Did you know they have slot machines in the airport there? Weird!

Some pretty scenery pictures around Ft. Huachuca (in Southern Arizona)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twilight (the movie) ... such a disappointment!

I just got back from seeing Twilight while out here in Arizona. (Because you know I don't get time to get out of the house much at night when I'm at home!) I was horribly disappointed... the movie completely sucked. It was full of so much overacting and lacked plot elements needed to build up the characters and make us "believe" the story... The movie was a complete cheezification of the whole romantic story told in the books! I thought the casting was terrible; Edward and Jacob were totally wrong and Bella wasn't right. The audience was laughing out loud when we should have been drawn in by the story. I'm glad I only paid $6.25 to go see it (a bonus of rural Arizona). What a waste of two hours!!

Its 11pm and I've got to start in on the first couple chapters of the 4th book before I go to bed so I can rid my mind of this pitiful attempt at a portrayal of a great story.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Work, work and more work.

I've been working this week in Sierra Vista, Arizona (at the southern tip of the state). It's a been a 7 day a week ordeal and I have to say I'm SO glad this aren't my normal hours. I head home next Sunday (23rd) and I'm counting down the days. I hate what I've been missing with Natalie and Kevin and am anxious to get back. Apparently she said "thank you" while I was away and Kevin said the other night when we were chatting on the phone that she was blowing kisses to me. *sigh* Bout made my little heart break right in half!

So my sister recommended a book to me and I've literally devoured all 498 pages of it and 563 pages of the sequel within the past few days. There's two more books in the series that are out and I plan to read them before I go home. They are SO good. The book is called Twilight and there's a movie coming out this Friday that I plan on going to see.

This book isn't my normal reading fare - although I haven't had much time when I'm home to read much of anything recently. It's a vampire book and has an incredible love story in it. I (like many other girls who have read this book) find myself totally crushing on the guy character for all of his perfect characteristics. I can't wait to read more and envy the heroine and then I remember... this book was written by a WOMAN. And the guy she's created does not exist in real life. Do you ever notice how "fairy tale" love stories in books/tv/movies are? Do you ever think it's unfair? Because when you have to live the day-to-day life with a crying baby, tugging at your leg while you're trying to make dinner after a day's work and your lovely darling husband is super tired from sitting in a hour of traffic and maybe a little bit grumpy (as you tend to be YOURSELF from time to time) stories like these make you a tad bit unsatisfied with life for a split second. Ok, let me just spell out that I'm very happy in my marriage and very blessed to have such a loving, wonderful and involved husband.

Don't get me wrong...I just think that we (as women) have to watch ourselves in what we allow books/tv/movies to tell us is "normal" in regards to relationships. I remember (when Kevin and I were first married) thinking that he should comfort me and try to console me right after I ripped into him about something because he should see that "maybe there was something else bothing me". This is what I had seen modeled in all of the romantic movies I had seen. The guy had always had an unnaturally soft spot for the girl no matter if she had just tried to run him over with her car. But the natural human response isn't to cuddle up to something that just tore into you and ate you for lunch. And love stories don't exactly show that. There's always a happy ending (well, except for Romeo and Juliet).

I really think that all of this fraudulent representation of real love and our society's mantra of "if it feels good it must be right" leads people to a lot of unhappiness in their pursuit for fulfilment in that "perfect relationship". Let's face it folks, no relationship is perfect - like on the movies. And although Edward Cullen (Twilight) and Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) are dashing and seemingly perfect, they were created BY women and FOR women. Real relationships take grit, tears and hard work to get the seemingly effortless love that happens in a 2 hour movie. But I tend to think that all that hard work is what makes the love that much stronger in the end. That's my story...and I'm sticking to it.

Update: I was listening to my iPod tonight and this song struck me as fairly appropriate for this blog entry...especially the chorus. Fast forward to the 53 second mark if you're impatient.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I've Been Tagged

I'm really slow at blogging sometimes, so I'm just now responding to a tag I got on Nov 4th from my friend Heather.

Okay, here are the rules:
Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their name as well as links to their blog.
Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

  1. I ALSO wear socks to bed all year round.

  2. I've had laser eye surgery twice and I still wear glasses. Thank you, pregnancy.

  3. I'm addicted to panini sandwiches. I bought a panini maker off of Craigslist and I make them all the time. Fresh mozz, pesto, roasted red peppers, turkey and a little Tuscan Sunset seasoning blend from Penzeys all on a rosemary olive oil bread... I'm in heaven.

  4. I'm not big into movies. I generally feel they're a waste of time and generally have to be doing something else during them. This drives my husband crazy.

  5. I can't stand heart jewelry. If my husband would have proposed with a heart-shaped diamond I would have said no. =)

  6. I can't curl my tounge or roll it or flip it over or any fun tricks. It's very boring.

  7. I moved to Baltimore from Springfield, MO with 11 boxes to my name about 7 years ago. That's the cheapest move I'll ever make.

I now tag....

Katie (have you had that baby yet?)

This Weekend and the End of the World.

Well, it was a packed weekend - but I got a lot accomplished. You know that list that you have in the back of your mind of all the projects you'd like to finish but you really keep putting off? I always have a list of say 10 or so things on that list. This weekend I actually finished some of them and its a huge sigh of relief.

Totally Exciting List of Things Lauren Did This Weekend...

  • Painted the living room - the same color. It kinda sucks because no one (including my husband) really will notice, but I did get rid of the many nail holes and smudge marks that were driving me crazy.

  • Hemmed and hung new curtains in the living room. We've really had none the past year and our living room was a total fishbowl.

  • Finished Natalie's baby scrapbook, chronicling the first year. I already am anticipating the next kids' book is going to be a slide-the-pictures-in-the-slots album. I mean, I aspire for more, but shall I just be honest with myself???

  • I got started on painting some furniture I bought for Natalie (a little table and chairs). Granted it's not done, but I started.

I HATE painting. So these projects are ones that I've been putting off for some time.

What do you put off???

So if you're still with me and not asleep about my to-do lists... yeah for you! I'll switch gears now and get some of you fired up and may lose the rest.

What do you think about the end of the world?

Do you think it's coming? Do you think it will happen in our lifetime? Do you WANT to think about it? I don't. I try not to. I'd rather just not think about it and live my life now because, seriously, what am I going to do about it? I mean if something happens where the whole world goes to war and is obliterated by nukes, then what good is it really going to do me to think/worry/fret about that now?

And if you're a Christian, what do you think about this? This has come under recent scrutiny in our house. Do you think it's a sign of the world government in which the anti-Christ will rise up? I don't like these discussions. I feel like some things are just inevitable. And if I'm alive to see them, then I'll deal with them as they come. But surmising whether something IS a sign or ISN'T a sign is just that to me... surmising. I know that seems to some like just "sticking your head in the sand" but maybe that's just how I deal with the thought of potential death, destruction and mayhem.

How do you deal with stuff like this???

So I'll leave you with a few pictures of Natalie and me this weekend. While I feel like I'm constantly attempting to keep her from killing herself (falling down the stairs, grabbing knives out of the dishwasher, flushing herself down the toilet, etc), this is a really fun age.

Here's a picture of Natalie "reading" Good Night Moon...upside down. She's SO serious sometimes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Well, it's FINALLY done.

The house is finally painted and we're happy with the color. It's just our FIFTH choice. Seriously, we went through that many quarts to pick a color. I definitely don't have an eye for color when it comes to looking at a little swatch - but this you already know.

So here's the final result. We have both resolved to never paint this house again. It will either mean us moving before the house needs it again or it will mean we'll just cave and buy vinyl siding.

Oh, and see that sign in our yard? No, we did NOT have a very good night last night. Grrrr.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Natalie was a bunny for Halloween this year. We sat out in our neighbors driveway, as we have the past few years, passing out candy and enjoying a cozy fire. It was a bit more hectic this year, though, as Natalie was insistent on getting down and running down the driveway toward the street. I ended up taking her to a few neighbors' doors to trick or treat as she was VERY interested in walking around. At one neighbors house she stepped through the open door and trotted into their kitchen - making herself right at home!

If you can't tell by the picture, Natalie LOVES shoes. She'll carry anyone's shoes around and loves putting them in and out of baskets. There seems to be a popularity with shoes among little ones. What is the draw???

Oh... and on the paint front, we repainted the house ourselves this week (what back-breaking work!). Kevin's parents graciously offered to help so we tackled the whole thing and knocked it out in the span of a day. We still have a second coat to do, but it shouldn't take as long as the first coat did since we won't be cutting in again. I'll post pictures tomorrow of the new color. It's much better and NOT pink. =)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Paint, oh Paint, I Hate You.

Who knew painting a house would be such a headache?

Last week when Kevin was gone for business the painters started painting our house. Here's a before picture:

I confidently picked a tan color for the house that I thought would be nice and neutral.

However, when the new color started going up, I realized that our house would STILL look yellow as the new color had yellow under-tones. I knew this would be a huge problem as we were both trying to steer clear of yellow.

So I picked another color.

I should have stopped right there. I should have taken the time after work, with a fussy Natalie in tow right before dinnner, and picked up a quart of paint. Then I should have painted a spot myself on the side of the house in the dark that night so at least I could have seen what it was going to look like.

But I didn't do that.

No, I thought that from a 1 inch by 2 inch swatch I could tell what a color would look like on my house.

And I was wrong.

The painters weren't able to match the exact color I had picked because they were taking the already-mixed tan and trying to "make" it this new darker tan I had picked. I thought they had gotten pretty close, though, and I was confident that things were going to be better.

Hmmm.. maybe I shouldn't be so confident?

Well, Kevin got home on Friday night to a flesh-colored house. The tan I had picked had enough pinky undertones that "flesh" is probably the best word to describe it. No one in the history of man would knowingly paint his house this color and like it. Our house is 3/4 done and its the most hideous color on the face of the planet.
I spent the whole weekend completely beside myself because of this hugely expensive mistake I'd made and the humiliation of having ok'd a pink paint-job.

So now back to square one, we're thinking maybe more brown? Or more gray? We've painted both on the side of the house before we make a decision. Here are the swatches:

This is SO much harder than I thought it would be. Grrrr..


We've seen a lot of tears the past few days as Natalie gets the hang of maneuving objects in the way of her feet. Last Wednesday Natalie tripped over my purse before breakfast and did a head-dive into the closet door. This was not even 24 hours after I scheduled a photo shoot at Penneys for her. She had a nice goose-egg on the top of her head for a couple days and needless to say we did NOT get her picture taken at Penneys. I did get this one in the bath though.

Then, this weekend we were playing on the floor and Natalie was sitting on my stomach and bouncing up and down. Without warning she catapulted forward and her tooth had a close encounter with my forehead. We were both dazed on that one and I have a nice gouge in my forehead for cocktail party fodder.

And finally, in an effort to make sure she really did a bang-up job, yesterday she tripped over a toy in the living room and landed face first on the wood floor. Poor thing's mouth was gushing blood and her gums were all torn up.

Hopefully three is the magic number and we are done with the accidents for now!

Halloween Thanks

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


There is certain stress that just sends me over the edge. Like the stress of realizing the house color the painters are painting your house RIGHT NOW is SO not what you wanted. But it's all your fault because YOU picked it from a 1 in by 1 in square yourself and told them it was fine just yesterday. And that quote? It will now be another $200 to fix it... do you realize what you could have BOUGHT with $200?

Or the stress of paying for your meal at Pizza Hut only to find that the price you were quoted for the special is NOT the price the cashier is ringing up for the pizza you JUST ATE and now it will be another $5 please. And your husband (then boyfriend) is NOT ok with the sudden price hike and determined to go toe-to-toe with the 16-year-old cashier to make it right.

Or the stress of a movie that you're watching in YOUR OWN HOME when the main character realizes his whole life is falling apart and he's being framed for something he didn't do. I mean, you COULD just pause it an go to the bathroom OR you could realize that it's JUST a movie... but you have to turn it off because its JUST TOO STRESSFUL!

Ok, I know I'm strange. But all of these things make my heart start racing and my throat constrict.

On an interesting (and more serious) note, I don't remember being stressed out by the news that our unborn baby boy wasn't going to make it as a functioning human being in this world. Devastated and heartsick? Yes. But not stressed. I guess maybe that's where God's peace comes in. He gave me an extra dose of it because He knew I needed it right then. That's one of those situations where you can't just pay a little extra $$ or turn off the television to end the nightmare. So maybe I should be thankful for the small stress... and give that to Him as well since He's obviously so capable at handling things.

Random, I know. But that's my food-for-thought for the day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Blogger Template Help, Please

So, I hate to admit it, but I'm having a bit of trouble implementing a template I built for blogger. It seems to be pretty difficult to implement a design other than one that's available in the free ready-made templates out there. I'm going to post my design I did and see if I have anybody that can offer some advice. I've read a number of posts online and I'm still hacking away at it. But the actual XML file doesn't seem to be as customizable as I'd like. So frustrating - and this is coming from a web developer!

Getting So Big

Natalie is getting so big these days - it's hard to believe she was ever as little as the newborn pictures tell me she was. She's been walking for a little over a month now and it's almost as if she's been doing this forever. She can practically run now and is not content to be held. I'm flying to KC with her between Christmas and New Years and it should be one interesting flight!

Her official first word (or at least the one that she can't stop repeating) is "uh-oh". Kevin mentioned that it's the perfect first word for life. I mean - there are just SO many opportunities to say it! She's cute in that she says it at the right times and even to herself when she's playing and drops something.

I've just loved watching her develop. It's amazing to me that little ones pick up on things you may not have thought they'd get. Holding a phone up to her ear, holding a baby up to her ear and saying "awwww", leaning in for a hug. Such precious moments I hope I never forget!

Here are a couple pictures of her right after her nap yesterday. I think she might be ready to take the car around the block!

The Yard... an update.

I never took pictures of our yard now that the patio has been put in and all of the work has been done. I was waiting for us to get everything planted and the stair railing put up, but I think it might be next spring before that happens now. So I thought I would post our before/after pictures of the backyard. The pink stars I put on the pictures are where the plants will be. And the blue ovals marks where the vegetable garden will be. It's a marked improvement already!
Our house gets painted next week and that should help even more - yeah!





Here's a closeup of our patio now...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Look Nana, it fits!

This post is for my mother who bought this cute little purple number last Christmas thinking it would fit in March. Granted it IS a 6 month outfit (3 month sweater) but it's Carter's which runs big and this is also my child we're talking about - skinny little thing.
Ah well.. at least it fits now!

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's Been Crazy Round Here

Life has been hectic around here. And I guess that's why the posts have been far and few between. It's a season - not a waning of interest. I want to post, but finding time has been hard to do. As it is, it's almost midnight.

I seem to catch myself coming and going these days. Do you do that? I tend to demand more and more of myself the more I do. Tidy up, stay on top of picture taking, work, make list after list of chores or things to buy or journal new discoveries of Natalie's, read, pray, workout, and the list goes on. And yet, my laundry is un-done, my floors have not been scrubbed, my bathrooms are in desperate need of a cleaning and I haven't worked out in who knows how long. And yet I WANT to accomplish these things. It's as if I'll get all the to-do's scratched off for one single moment, breathe a sigh of "ahhhh" and then the dishes will start piling up in the sink yet again. Does it ever go away?

I fear becoming a slave to the "grown-up stuff" in life. The stuff that will always be there: the need to pay bills, clean the house, make dinner, work, yada yada. I LIKE that stuff. Doing it makes me feel better about myself. (Isn't that silly?) And what does it really add up to? Will they say at my funeral, "she really kept a clean house"? Or, "she always had a healthy dinner on the table"? Seriously. I KNOW that what life's about is really WHO I am at the core. It's about finding time to let God transform me. Because I'm learning, that transformation isn't something that just happens without me allowing it to happen.

I've been reading lately an excerpt from Henri Nouwen's writings regarding solitude. He says that it's the only time that we may hear God's voice in the midst of our daily storm. He talks about shutting out the flood of attention grabbing thoughts that come charging in when we just try to sit silently before the Lord - without motive but to listen. I've found that it's incredibly hard to do. My mind wanders to a task list within 10 seconds of having cleared it. A five minute stretch seems to be an eternity. And yet, I think Henri is on to something. If I find my identity in the "grownup stuff", where is there room for God? How am I to become what He wants? I don't think it means I stop paying the bills, making dinner or cleaning my house. But it does mean that I stop to focus (even if for 5-10 minutes) and clear my mind to hear the Lord and then meditate on His Word. I think eventually that I'll be able to silence the "task lists" during that time and just be in His presence.

So that's what I'm mulling over these day. Other than that, Kevin and I both are traveling a lot this fall. Kevin is away this week, and then again in a few weeks. I leave the end of the month and then am basically gone for all of November. It's going to really be hard to be away from the family for so long, but I absolutely LOVE my normal 30 hr/wk schedule and the ability to work from home so I guess this intermittent travel is a good tradeoff.

We got a new nanny for Natalie. She's a DELIGHT and a total and complete God-send (especially with all this travel coming up for me). We had to fire the nanny before her for having a criminal record and not alerting us. She had been arrested for stealing three weeks prior to starting with us and when confronted told us that she "kinda forgot about that". Nice. The new lady (J), is a Christian woman who attends a nearby church and drops her kids off at the school there every day. She is SO patient with Natalie and does so many creative things with her. We feel so blessed.

Well its after midnight, I ought to be off to bed. Here's a toothy grin to send you on your way. Look at that gap between the front two teeth. You could fit a straw in there - poor kid!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This Week in Pictures

The nighttime news was just too much to handle.

"Why is she naked?", you ask. Hmmm... you'd need your clothes changed (and a bath) if you were playing in the toilet water too!

Notice the painted toenails. I did it while she was asleep. She LOVED it! I know I'm nuts and that I'm setting my daughter up to be high maintenance and perhaps too "girly" but was fun.

Yeah for warmer clothes! I was actually shocked she let me put this hat on. She only really would leave it on if I put it on her and distracted her.

Home-grown watermelon from the neighbors garden.

She "chases" now and says "uh oh", wave "bye bye" and understands what it means to "pick up your cup", "change your diaper", etc. She also loves carrying around her shoes. I'm trying to write everything down but it's all happening so fast. I know we'll be out of this stage and on to the next before you know it. I love this kid.
Alright, enough shameless posting of my kid's pictures. I'm off to soak up a little "me" time. What will that look like? Probably playing this game while sitting in my pjs in bed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Let Her Eat Cake!

So I know it's been a while since her birthday - but at least I'm still in the same month! We had two birthday parties for her - a family birthday party (before everyone left on vacation) and then a friend birthday party. Up until a couple weeks prior to the event, Kevin was adamantly opposed to Natalie having as she "didn't need the sugar" and "she wouldn't know any difference". But after a little coaxing (and probably some peer pressure) he finally conceded to allowing a mini-cupcake. She LOVED it (both times)!
Here are some pictures from the two parties.