Friday, July 31, 2009

Saying Goodbye

I had never met Jenn and Chris Hawn before today. And today is a day I wish could be erased from their lives.

About three weeks ago, I started reading their blog after hearing their story from my friend, Danielle. Their son, Ryan, died just three days ago. He was only six months old. Six months. At his funeral today, I met him for the first time. A hello and a goodbye in the same breath.

My heart aches for this family. It split right open when I saw Ryan in his casket, which reminded me of a cradle. He was nestled inside, peaceful and painless. I hoped that he would wake up and smile, because he looked like he could at any moment. I'm sure that in heaven, he's smiling despite all the sadness over his loss here. Hold him close, Jesus. And his family too.

Please keep the Hawns in your prayers. Their loss is tremendous, and so is ours.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tonight's Dinner Conversation

Daddy to Katie: "What's that sticker on your shirt?"
Katie: "It's Troy Efron. I mean Zac Efron."
Daddy: "Where'd you get that sticker?"
Katie: "Someone gave it to me on the bus."
Daddy (in a gooey, syrupy voice): "Do you love him?"
Katie: "No. I just like him."
Daddy: "Do you think he's cute?"
Katie: "No. He's hot!"
(Dan and I both visibly shudder and our eyes flick to each other. She's never used the word "hot" like that!)
Daddy: "But Daddy is still the cutest ever."
Mommy: "Yes! Your daddy is the most handsome."
Katie: "No."
Daddy: "What?!!!"
Katie: "No! I mean, yes! Yes!" (Too late...)

And so, let the record show that today - July 30, 2009 - Dan has been knocked off his perch in little Katie's life. It's all downhill from here. Hooney, you'll always be the hottest in my book. Zac Effron is too shaggy anyway!

Vote for Us!

I need your help! Go to Jodie's blog here and help us win a great prize. Just leave a comment that you LOVE photo #7, and hopefully we'll win an album of all the photos from our Love Light session two weeks ago. Ask all your friends to go vote for us too.

Thank you!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Guess What I Did Yesterday?

I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane for the second time in my life. And THIS time I didn't crash land. Hallelujah!This is the after photo: me, my cousin Laura, my sister Mary and my brother-in-law Wally.

My aunt, another cousin and his girlfriend jumped on the first pass, and my group went on the second pass... even after my aunt's parachute had a malfunction. We STILL went. Crazy!!! This is how we do reunions in my family. What a blast! I'll recap my adventures after Katie and return from Camp Grandma.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Love Now

I started my day by watching this video this morning. It is inspiring! It makes me want to live fully and deeply and wildly. Note: You'll need to pause the music player on my blog sidebar before you watch this video.

Today, Katie and I are headed to my family reunion. Tomorrow would have been my grandmother's 95th birthday, so my family is celebrating together. I'll post details when I return!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Baptism Photos

I just got an email from my church with a link to all the photos that were taken on baptism day. I already posted a video here on my blog after that weekend, but these new photos just make my heart sing. How could I not post them for you?

This is the Before shot. The pastor was telling me to look around and acknowledge all the people there to witness this step in my faith journey. And I look pained, don't I? Uh... did I mention my fear of public scrutiny? That would explain the look on my face. My heart was flopping around in my chest, so my reflex was to shut out all those fears clamoring around. I ended up closing my eyes and just listening to the pastor. I was filled with peace instead of fear.

And this is the After shot. Happiness. Can you see it? And I love the three church leaders surrounding me, and the joy on their faces too.

Immediately after, I hugged Dan. Bliss!

What an amazing day. And I'm so happy to have these photos to remind me of it! Want to see more? Go to this link here and look at all the photos from the day's festivities. Be forewarned: there were almost 300 people baptized, so there are lots of photos. But it is worth looking at to see all the joy on so many faces.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Macro Monday

I took these photos last night. My plan was to get a close-up of this stalk of grass/wheat thingy, then I noticed a tiny spiderweb built right on it in the curve of the stem and the grass head. This is the last shot of it before Katie so nicely tried to help by holding the stalk straight... and put her hand right in the web. Oh, well.
Then I looked down and a skeeter was getting my ankle! I shot this photo quickly, then killed him. So this is his memorial photo. RIP, skeeter! Good riddance. As Jackson would say, "Go away!" (That's become his catch phrase lately, so I have told him he can say it only to bugs. When he says it to Katie or me or whomever, I ask, "Is Katie a bug?" He says, "No. Sorry, Katie.")

Good News for Lupus Patients!

I heard some encouraging news today. Back in November, I wrote about the lack of lupus drugs on the market, and how it's been FIFTY years since any new drugs have been released to specificially treat lupus.

Did you know that the main lupus drug I am taking is actually an anti-malarial drug? It isn't even FOR lupus. And it has some nasty side effects - one of which is possible blindness. Yay.

Anyway, the good news today is that there is a new drug that is successful in clinical trials. This drug is specifically used to treat lupus. That is quite a medical advancement! You can go here or here to read about it.

This, my friends, makes my heart happy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekend Recap

After Friday's fun day with Jackson, we had dinner plans with friends. My friend in real life, AbFab Geek, invited us over for dinner with her family. We used to go to the same church, and her two youngest geeks boys have been enamored with Jackson since he was an infant. They used to beg me to let them hold Baby Jackson, and it took me a while to trust these two boys (Who were ages 11 and 9!) with my baby. Eventually I caved, and they have adored him ever since. We went to AbFab's and got to hang out, and they fed us some GOOD food! Yum.

Saturday morning, I hauled myself out of bed at the CRACK of dawn to go weigh in at Weight Watchers and then meet my half-marathon team for a training session at 7:30 in the morning. Ugh! We did the longest walk of our training so far - nine miles in 2.5 hours. Yeeow! It felt good to push my body and accomplish something I have never done, but I will admit I'm a tiny bit sore in a few odd places today, like my abs and shoulders. This could be related to my lupus flare, or just from abusing my body.

While I walked, Dan took the kids to a nearby lake and walked the trail around the entire lake while Katie biked. I met them at the playground later and brought a picnic lunch to share. The playground had a water feature, so we broke open the "emergency kit" I keep in the car for occasions like this and dressed Katie in her swimsuit and let Jackson run in a diaper. It was a fun morning, and the weather has been fantastic these past few days. Even chilly enough for me to wear a jacket! Katie and I monkeyed around on the playground.

Then Jackson showed me an acorn he found.

Saturday after Jackson's nap, we had a special night planned. We took the kids to Grandma's house and had a date night. With Jodie. Yes! We had dinner by ourselves, then met Jodie in University City for our Love Light photography session. I have to admit that Jodie is a bit of a girl crush for me, so I was really excited to finally meet her in person after reading her blog for so long. And, of course, I was excited to "make out on a street corner" (as she phrased it) and have her take photos of it. It was a good time with Jodie. She is so good at what she does - and I can say that before I even saw any of the photos. She just knows her stuff and has an eye for things. It was a good date night, although next time we agreed NOT to buy the large pizza at Cicero's, because it was way too much food and our stomachs were hurting by the time we headed for home.

This morning, we sacrificed sleeping in so we could go to church before picking the kids up at Grandma and Poppy's. We ate lunch there, then got Jackson home for a nap. Katie and Dan went out on an adventure bike while I communed with my computer.

Tonight, we went to Dan's brother's house and got to see our good friends on their once-a-year trip back home (they live in Seattle now). The men in these families that gathered are guys who grew up together, so it's nice to see how they and their families have changed and grown. Here are the mommies from the group:

It was a very busy weekend, but also fulfilling and enjoyable too. We are so blessed to have good health, good friends, good photographers, good church, and good weather in our lives!

Fun with Jackson

Now that school is back in session, Jackson and I are back to our routine. There are days that I have to physically restrain myself from giving myself a pat on the back. I can't tell you how relieved I am that the 2005 version of myself decided to wait another year to have a second baby. Because that is paying off in spades now. Katie goes to school, and Jackson and I have our own time together. She got four years of being an only child, and now Jackson is getting a version of that same luxury. I am so pleased about it because it gives me time to spend with him and gives me a chance to get to know him as a person, one-on-one. Way to go, 2005 Elizabeth! Thanks for thinking ahead and for knowing your limits!

I digress. Anyhoo...

Friday was one of those fun days for me and Jackson. We went to the library to have a Clifford storytime and then meet a life-sized version of The Big Red Dog. When Clifford first walked into the room, Jackson wasn't too excited about it. Some other kids were hesitant about him, and then there were the ones who wanted to physically smother him with love and hugs. As long as Clifford stayed at the front of the room, Jackson was comfortable. When it came time for everyone to get photos with Clifford, a long line formed and Jackson contented himself by plopping in front of the TV and watching a Clifford show. The line was almost gone and I finally coaxed him to go visit Clifford and take a photo with him. He was pretty darn cute, hugging the dog and trying to show him the Clifford book he was holding. By the way, it was an odd flashback kind of day too. The shirt Jackson is wearing is the one Grandma bought for Katie to wear at her third birthday party. It is technically a boy's outfit because we couldn't find a girl's Clifford outfit. She loved it, regardless of who it was made for. So, yes, I dressed my daughter in boy's clothes. And now her brother is wearing the same thing. It's kind of weird for me to see him in her clothes!

We left the library and met my mom's group at a nearby park. I brought Rice Krispies for the kids to throw to the fish in the pond. (I got a clean on last week when I couldn't find my muffin tin in the pantry. I decided to save the stale Krispies for a fish trip just like this.) The kids enjoyed throwing the Krispies into the wind and watching the fish nibble them. We looked for turtles in the pond, and Jackson took about two years off my life by hopping and "gumping" (his pronunciation of "jumping") near the very edge of the pond. I was sucking my breath in with huge gasps, just convinced that he would end up IN the pond.

Luckily, he stayed dry and I convinced him to sit down and take some photos. (I told him if he didn't, then he couldn't play on the playground.) He cooperated, and this is the face he gave me when I said, "Show me your smile."

I could just eat him up!

Back to School, Part 2

I wrote about our back to school morning last Thursday. Yes, we already have two days of school under our belts by the time I'm posting this update about the end of the day, but I wanted to make sure the details got entered in the record anyway!

If this photo of the triumphant return is any proof, then it was a successful day.

I invited the kids on our street over for rainbow cake. You'll recall that last year's cake had only a "K" on it. The "K" stood for Kindergarten, even though the other kids on our street were not Kindergarteners. So this year, I decorated the cake with a "K" and also a 1 and a 2, to honor all the kids on our street - Kindergarteners, first graders and second graders.

We cut into that cake, and it was gloriously colorful on the inside. And no one was the wiser that it was a complete wreck just a half day before. Sweet!

The kids begged for seconds, but I wouldn't let them because there wasn't enough to go around twice. Besides, I wanted to save one last piece for Dan to enjoy when he got home from work. It's not often that you have rainbow cake around our house!

After the kids were bathed and watching their evening show, I escaped to Wal-Mart to search for a new lunch box. This is what I saw when I walked out of the store:

Beautiful, isn't it? Almost as good as the sunsets in Jamaica... but not quite.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I Won!

I am stunned. Overjoyed. So excited! Remember the Work-Your-Camera contest that I wrote about here? Michelle picked me as the winner. !!! I am flabbergasted. Truly! You can see the other entries here. See why I'm stunned that I won? There were some great finalists!

Stay tuned because when I receive my prize, I'm gonna be stepping up the photo quality around this little shop. (I hope!)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back To School, Part 1

It's a happy day! Tinged with a little sadness that my baby keeps growing and time keeps passing, but I think I'm more happy than sad this time around.

School is back in session! Katie started first grade today. She was obviously excited, because she came bursting in to our room while Dan and I were still getting dressed this morning. She didn't even wait for me to wake her up! We got her dressed in the outfit she picked out for her big day, and headed downstairs. She excitedly reminded me that she needed to do her "chores" before school.

Last night I wrote a list of her jobs to do every morning, afternoon and evening. The morning consists of packing her own lunch and then eating breakfast. Afternoon is the coming-home-from-school routine of giving me her folder, washing hands, eating snack, etc. The bedtime jobs are brushing and flossing teeth, the bathroom routine, and setting the table for breakfast the next morning. We did a dry run through all the routines last night before bed, so she knows what to do. I hyped it by telling her now that she's a first grader, she has more responsibility. And I also told her that if she doesn't do her jobs and I have to do them for her, it'll cost marbles from her marble jar.

So back to this morning. Katie raced downstairs and packed her lunch with pride on her face from getting to do a job by herself. Then the three of us (Jackson was still in his crib) went to the bus stop for breakfast with the neighbors. We brought the muffins Katie and I made together yesterday.

Everyone ate, chatted about the new school year and took the obligatory photos. We have a new Kindergartener on our street, who was a little nervous about her first day. But the other kids were pretty excited to get the school year started.

Dan and I took photos with our big girl. Don't you just love that in every picture of her lately, she is baring her teeth and showing the missing tooth in front? She loves that.

The next thing we knew, the bus rounded the corner and the kids were off to school.

A new year full of new beginnings. A new journey, just one step closer to graduation day. Ouch. My heart just seized in my chest!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I Bruised My Coccyx, Broke My Cake and Burned My Muffins

All in a day's work!

My mishaps started after my exuberant post today on "jumping in there" and "acting like a kid." Since it was the last day of summer before school starts tomorrow, I took my kids to a local play area. I decided to enter the fun myself. That ended badly when I went down the slide a little too fast and landed straight on my tailbone. No, not the fat on my bottom which would have protected me well, but I landed right on the base of my coccyx. (Yeah, I spell checked that one too!) The thud on my bones was an audible sound to bystanders. Ouch! Enough sliding for me, thanks.

During Jackson's nap, Katie and I had a long To Do List. First I had to fight an unnecessary battle with my doctor's office about getting my medications. That was annoying and delayed our To Do List. But we finally got down to business and started making a Rainbow Cake. Go check that link out - isn't that the coolest thing?

First we mixed the batter (using the Weight Watchers recipe that has just the cake mix and a can of Diet Sprite or Diet 7Up). Then we added the food coloring, which I bought especially at Michael's because they had the intense gel colors. We separated the batter into six equal portions, then dyed them the colors of the rainbow.

Next, we poured the batter into the cake pans in the Roy G Biv order. It looked pretty cool so far!

But, of course, there was a big mess to clean up afterwards, while the cake was cooking. Katie helped by licking the six spoons clean.

While the cake cooked, we moved on to making mini blueberry muffins for the breakfast on the first day of school.

Then it was time to pull the cakes out of the oven. So far, so good!

After a little bit of cooling, I got a little overzealous shaking the cake out of the pan and THIS is what happened. Ugh!

Oh, well. I wasn't wasting all that effort, so I salvaged the broken cake and I don't think it turned out too badly. A little lopsided and crumbly looking, but I think it'll still taste like cake. Yummy!

Time for the muffins to come out. And, yes, half of them were a little burnt and crispy. Man! While everything cooled, I had yet another item to go into the oven. Katie painted her own tea set on Tuesday, so it was time to bake it. Here you can see our three finished items.

Lastly, my dinner strike is officially over and I ACTUALLY cooked turkey tenderloins for dinner. It wasn't the best meal I've ever made, so that was a little discouraging. But after being on dinner strike for almost four months, I'm proud of myself just for cooking the darn thing!

I have one more photo for you, just because I have to show you how cute Jackson is. I made him an "astronaut helmet" from a milk jug, and he had fun running around with it on. He says, "It's so cutie." Yes, he is so cutie, isn't he?

It was a busy day, and my bottom really hurts tonight. But I'm excited for tomorrow, and can't wait to see what the Rainbow Cake looks like inside!

The Mom I Want to Be

We had our block party back in June. The firefighters came and turned on their pumper so the kids could play in the water on our street. When Katie was two, the firefighters did the same thing at that year's block party. Katie wouldn't go in the water alone, so I took her myself. These are my favorite photos from that day. (Yes, that's her - the little one in the green hula skirt. Can you believe she was ever that little?!)

Before Katie entered my life, there were so many times I was a bystander to the world. I didn't want to impose myself on others by getting in their business, so I stood on the sidelines and tried not to "bother" others. Let me clarify that: I've never been a shrinking violet, but I also knew that people had boundaries and I tried not to overstep them and be rude. Being a mom has blurred those boundaries somewhat. My friend Mary and I were just talking and I told her I'd rather err on the side of being nosy and imposing on people, instead of just sitting by and watching someone who might need help and not doing anything to help them for fear of offending them. Does that make sense?

Being a mom has changed my way of thinking, and made me more empathetic and maybe more impulsive in some ways. I don't want to sit on the sidelines anymore. I want to jump in to the thick of things and truly live. It helps that I have two kids who haven't put on the yoke of self-consciousness yet. On a daily basis, they invite me to dive in and get WET. And that's why I love those photos so much. Most adults don't get too wet anymore. We're too "mature" for that, I guess. But once in a while, it's fun to act like a kid and join with the kids and be silly.

I did it again at this year's block party. With BOTH of my kids this time. And even better? Dan joined us too.
This is the kind of mom I want to be. When my kids are old and think back on their childhood, I hope it's moments like this that stick out in their memories.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Macro Monday

This is a photo of Jackson's favorite toy right now. Countless times every day he says, "Where's my bouncy bouncy ball?" I have no idea how two "bouncys" got into the name, but that's what he calls it. The fact that I was able to use macro mode AND that he didn't move for this shot is amazing. I love that I can even see the ridges and whorls of his prints on the skin of his palm.
Go check Donna's blog for her Macro Monday shot.

I'm a Finalist!

Woo hoo! I just saw that I am one of four finalists in Michelle's Work-Your-Camera Contest. Go to this post on Michelle's blog and check out the finalists. And feel free to leave a comment telling her which of the four photos you like best. Maybe it'll help the judges with the deliberation process. You don't have to pick mine, really. I won't be mad if you don't. But I'll be so happy if you do!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Work-Your-Camera, Last Day

Today's the deadline for Michelle's Work Your Camera Contest. I experimented one last time during a trip to the mall with Katie's Daisy troop. They earned a Build-A-Bear party with their troop cookie money, then lunch at Chick-fil-A. (Yes, I am feeding my child CHICKEN all week long!)

I think I got some decent shots. The last one is of Zoltar, the mechanic fortune teller at the mall. (Just like in the movie "Big.") There is a little reflection on the glass I was shooting through, though.

Now the question is, which photo will I enter in the contest? Dan's choice is the photo of Katie's eyelashes from Day 1. (He says it reminds him of a Jodified photo. That's quite a compliment!) I like that one too, but I'm also tempted to enter the nail polish or gumball machine ones from above. Or if we're going strictly on how well I worked the depth of field issue, then I should enter the mailbox photo or train photo from Day 2/3. Those show a sharp focal point, but the mailbox one definitely isn't as visually appealing as I'd like.
Ugh. I just can't decide! Too bad I can't just enter a portfolio of work. Ha!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cow Appreciation Day

I am a GRITS - Girl Raised in the South. Therefore, I love Coca-Cola (not Pepsi). And I say "y'all." And I call a grocery cart a "buggy." And all my midwestern friends know how much I love Chick-fil-A. Even though I'm a White Castle Craver Hall of Famer, my true passion lies with CFA.

When we got our first free-standing CFA in the St. Louis area in mid-2007, I was overjoyed. I heard that when a new CFA opens, the first 100 customers get a year's supply of free CFA. My friend Beth (also a diehard CFA fan) and I were trying to coordinate how we could camp out overnight to be one of the first 100. I was even considering taking a 3-month-old Jackson with me at one point. Turns out the entire metro area was WAY ahead of us. The parking lot was packed more than 15 hours before the store's opening. So we didn't get our free CFA food.

Until today.

Today is Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A. That means anyone who shows up in a cow costume gets a free value meal. And guess what I have in our Halloween costume box? Yep! A full cow costume! Complete with rubber udders. My mom's group planned to meet up at CFA and make costumes for our kids so they could earn a free meal too. My friend Michelle cut out felt spots, made cow tails and brought masks for the kids to color. We thought we were the only freaks in town to go to this length. But when lunchtime rolled around, you should have SEEN the crazies start walking in the door! I loved the groups of adults who showed up (obviously on their lunch breaks) with spots on their suits or cow ears pinned into their hair. It was very entertaining.

However, my favorite part of the day was when we were in the kids' play area and someone else's little boy walked up and started squeezing my udders. The mom was so embarrassed. I just laughed.

Jackson has been talking about the big cow all day. My kids are being raised with a deep appreciation of the world's finer food. What else would you expect from a GRITS?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


It took six and a half months to make an appearance, and only three weeks for the final curtain call.

Katie lost her first tooth today!

She was at Steak & Shake with Grandma and Poppy when she took a bite of her chicken and then felt her tooth in her cheek. She spit the tooth out, put a napkin to her mouth, and started freaking out when she saw blood. She asked for a Band-Aid for her mouth. Grandma calmed her down and they wrapped the tooth in a napkin and got a plastic baggie from the waitress. The waitress was so excited for Katie that she gave her a dollar. Isn't that sweet? When they got to the car, Grandma let Katie look in the passenger vanity mirror and see the big hole in her mouth.

The bad news is I wasn't there to witness this. The good news is I wasn't there to witness this. Loose teeth give me the heebie jeebies. Make me wanna gag. All shivery. Yuck. So I wouldn't have enjoyed seeing the wiggly tooth fall out of her mouth with blood. It was bad enough seeing the tooth in the napkin when they brought it home. I had to do some deep breathing in order to even touch the thing. But it got better with time.

Of course, I wish I had been there to share this milestone with Katie, regardless of the heebie jeebies. I was there to see the tooth arrive, but not its departure. Oh, well. There are lots more to lose, and I'm hoping to see them all! Guess the heebie jeebies will just have to get used to it.

Tooth Fairy, don't forget to stop at our house tonight!


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