Friday, September 6, 2013

Clocked 43 Years

I turned 43 on Wednesday.

I was very blessed by several people on that day.

I bought myself my first fall-ish thing at Hobby Lobby as usual which was a delightfully autumn spicy scented candle.

I posted on Instagram that I was born at 5:34AM in 1970.

I was given the cutie bundt cake from our regular server whom PandaPop and I have become friends with over the last year or so of frequenting the place so much for our breakfast dates.

I was blessed with a dinner of Chick-fil-A at church that night from a sweet friend. The rest of my family was jealous to watch me as they ate the regular Wednesday night meal at church.

I had an incredibly blessed day and ended it with more chocolate cake, a happy birthday song from my family and the chance to blow out my candle. PandaJoy insisted I have a candle to blow out. It was only the right thing to do.

I am clearly not in a writing mood, hence the short and sweet albeit late birthday post.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Little Sun & Surf

Yesterday at church we were asked to go out on the boat of some friends' of ours. We did this two summers ago with them and had a blast! We've tried at least three other times, but schedules messed up the plans. One of those times being the first Friday night of summer when I sliced the top of my thumb off with a mandolin slicer. OH! I haven't even posted about that. Ewww. Maybe I will. I do have pictures, ya know.  Hey, I'm a photographer.....there's a photo opp in everything. Miss Thumbkin had quite a summer of healing.

We were all good to go yesterday, packed up some drinks, snacks, our towels and sunscreen (for me, of course!) and headed for the lake.


My birthday is coming in the middle of this week. I have always considered the Labor Day weekend "my birthday weekend"milking it for all it's worth. In that vein, my family took me to Red Lobster for lunch yesterday to get myself my favorite coconut shrimp with their yummy pineapple sauce. Mmm. So worth it.

Again with the calorie intake! Ugh!! I swear last week was supposed to get me back on track with my healthy eating choices, but PandaPop and I ended up going out to lunch three times plus those divine strawberry limeade cupcakes I whipped up from my last've gotten myself back on the bad choice track of thinking that the foods I pop in my mouth don't really "count" at all.


Get it together, PandaMom.

As I type this we are headed out the door to breakfast of our most favorite things to do as a family....and will more than likely eat a pancake with syrup. The upside is I'm hopefully coming home with new workout shoes since I've worn mine down to little tread and a hole in the side. I'll use those this week to work off the gain.....and make better food choices. Tomorrow.

Happy Labor Day (and PandaMom's Birthday) Weekend!!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Once in a Blue Moon--Domestic Diva Day

I'm a little bit in love with these cupcakes.

Little bit.

The plan this morning was to quickly hop on to Pinterest to find a cookie recipe that I could whip up later in the day to have warm and ready for the girls when they got home from school since we seemed to have successfully made it through the first week of 5th grade and Kindergarten without too much drama. Some drama, but not toooooo much. Hey....I gotta celebrate the positive.

If you've ever jumped off the boat and into the ocean of photos on Pinterest then you know full well that the quick minute turned into about 20 minutes before I could even blink! The cookie pins then led me to the cupcake pins where I saw several variations of cherry limeade cupcakes. I prefer to have a strawberry limeade when at Sonic where they are known for their great cherry limeades (at least in Texas they are) so I decided to make strawberry limeade cupcakes.

But not just any old cupcake would do after oohing and ahhing over all the cuteness on Pinterest. My prior attempts at cupcake making and frosting the things haven't gone so well making me just downright giddy over these cuties this afternoon.


Could these be any cuter?

Nope. Pretty much nailed it on this one.

Somehow I even managed to get an amazing BBQ pulled pork from my crock pot that cooked all day along with homemade coleslaw. Thank you again, Pinterest. It's about time something I print off from you actually worked.

Every now and then I somehow pull out the Domestic Diva card and appear to be doing wonderful things in my home. I love it when this happens. It's not often.

I mean, I'm creative and have a million ideas and lists lists lists lists lists lists and more lists of things I want to accomplish........

but you know how that goes.

Nothing gets done.

Today, all came together and I am one happy little diva. It was super fun to bless my girls and hubby with this labor of love. We had some friends pop by for a little taste, too. Awesome.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, though that it's not me.

It's the sufficient grace extended to me from my Maker. He's so good like that. I needed this. Needed it. You have no idea how much I needed this in my heart.

I am just super glad that I worked out this morning because I've eaten two and a half cupcakes.


With milk.

And maybe a little bit of the icing.

That accidentally was left in the bowl.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Third Day's a Charm

The first day of school was Monday. I have a pic of the same crosswalk with the morning sun shining down on PandaGirl when she started Kindergarten, 1st grade, maybe 2nd grade, not sure about 3rd grade, 4th grade....uh...., 5th grade she appears to be darting away. PandaJoy has gone to this school for the two years prior in the pre-school program for half days so it wasn't totally shocking for her to be heading off to school as she started Kindergarten.

I snapped their pics and practically skipped out the school's double doors with not one single glance back.



No way.

I love those girls dearly, but I was and am ecstatic over having six and a half hours in a day to accomplish something of value.....or not without interruption from little voices. The voices that are constantly in need of something. (I'm saying only 6 1/2 because the drop-off and pick-up carlines do not count as time off. Those have been known to bring out the worst in me because of selfish, oblivious parents who cannot follow directions. Or use their brain.)

Thank you, Lord for allowing me to become a mommy. Yes, THANK YOU!!!! I begged for years and years traveling down a very broken road to get these two in my arms. YOU delivered!!! 

Though I'm not alone in my age bracket with young children, I feel so old while having a five year old!! Had things gone the way I'd wanted way back when, we would be having kids in college now and be empty nesters. Some days that sounds amazing. I know, I know......don't rush it. I'm just coming from the perspective of seeing all the years I spent trying to actually get the children which now makes me so much older than many of my peer parents with children of the same age. Maybe they keep us young? Yeah. I'll go with that one.

No matter the how's and why's of my family, it is what it is therefore I want to make the most of it.

After leaving my babies in the care of the professional educators I bolted for my favorite breakfast spot: Corner Bakery. Love the rich bold colors of brown wood and hearty brick with a lofty-like feel. Great coffee and so love the tasty crispy-chewy sweet crisps.

As for the book....I read a few chapters. Delightful. I rarely get to read because I just don't during the day when I have children around and by the time I get to it at night I'm too tired and my eyes begin to close after a page or two. I hate that. I so want to be one of those readers who start and just can't put the thing down. That's PandaPop and several of my friends. Not me. Eyes close. Goodnight.

Cannot wait to actually have daytime segments of uninterrupted time to read a book. And finish it.

After a bit of time in the Bakery Loft I headed to meet Reckless for a pedicure.  I may have had five in my whole life. I paint my own toe nails all the time so the thought of paying someone to do it makes me ill. I even have exfoliating brushes in my tub to get the yucky skin off, but there's something great about those little clipper/tweezer tools they use at the salon with the precision of a surgeon to get to places on my little piggies that escape my skills. That's worth it every now and then.  The camaraderie is certainly worth it.

Left there with sparkly candy apple red toenails then purchased new shoes for PJ then met PandaPop for lunch.

I was astounded how fast the six little hours of freedom were vanishing.

Once the girls got home, had a snack, a little TV and filled me in on all the details of the day we ended up ordering pizza for dinner. My day got away from me and it was the easiest way out.

Gotta plan better. The next day slipped away just as quickly since I started it out with a trip to the gym then grocery shopping. Whew!! Who knew those six hours could fly by so dang quickly?!! Even now on day three as I type I have a long to-do list that is screaming my name.

So thankful for this season of my life. Getting organized in several areas is top priority. Otherwise I'll be a jumbled mess with no excuse since I now have time to get things done.

Time that slips away too fast! 

***side note question: today I noticed that the pic on the sidebar of PandaJoy is all of a sudden smaller then the rest. I changed it with a brand new pic, but it remains smaller on my screen. What does it look like on your screen? Thanks!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer 2013 Wrapped Up with a Bow---or Three

I was not looking forward to summer vacation. That sounds negative at best, but it's the truth. Due to myriad of reasons motherhood has been a bear for me. My woes are not worse than someone else's. I have been greatly blessed with two very healthy, beautiful daughters.

Perspective is reality.

Even if our perspective is skewed or completely is still our own lens through which we see circumstances therefore making every single decision in our day reflective of our view of things. Please say that made some sort of sense. I know I'm right on this one. Our actions and reactions are a direct relation to our own foundation.

Everyone knows that the foundation of any building must be strong, secure and done right or else it cracks, crumbles and can even implode. PandaPop built houses for a bit during our seminary years. He was the construction manager overseeing the workers, making sure all the tiny details were attended to or else the beautiful end result of a very expensive house would be compromised later on by faulty work making that house even more expensive and heads were on the chopping block.

Foundations are vital.

I'm getting the vibe as I type that I'm not really ready to expound on all of this quite yet. Let's just say that me and the girls alone at home everyday was not something I was excited about. The past year had PandaGirl in a new place with the beginnings of some hormone changes that escalated her disrespectful attitude while PandaJoy is the bossiest, stater-of-the-obvious child I know. Add both of those along with my own parenting issues and some other personal struggles with which I've dealt the past couple of years and the sum was looking like the aftermath from the perfect storm.

Lightening things up....... At the end of May I knew I had to steel myself for the coming dog-days of summer so I made sure to first ask God for help then I set some boundaries, made plans for outings and home projects, etc. In the middle of summer I found an idea on Pinterest for making technology tickets that were for the girls to use with blocks of time they could choose to use for video games, Wii, TV, computer and movies. Too much screen time makes both of my girls brain dead or even sassier and disrespectful. I was astounded as to how this ticket system really changed both of them which in turn made for happier momma and more peaceful home. Nice.

As school is starting on Monday and we wrap up this Friday as the last official day of summer vacation sans the weekend, I look back on our dog-days realizing it really was a great summer. Certainly there were bumps and potholes along the way, but we made it. Not only did we make it, but I feel that my girls and I are each closer in our bonds. Sweet. Since my babies did not come from my womb and both were at least 15 months old before I met them, our bonding has been intentional and difficult.

We've had a great summer.

Don't be fooled, though. I still can't wait for Monday to arrive as I wave goodbye with a huge smile on my face while they are walking into the school building. Only three more sleeps. Three tiny sleeps!!

The pic below of PG and I was yesterday. The girl is surely going to be taller than me, but I'm thinking she may be eye-to-eye with my by Christmas at the rate she is growing. We already wear the same shoe size and she's just going into the 5th grade!!  This girl has read more books this summer than maybe I have in my whole adult life! She is a voracious reader and story writer. She's also the queen of funny one-liners. She just has to learn when to use them and when to keep them to herself. She's fabulous.

I adore the pic of PJ at the bottom. A random shot on the swing so carefree and innocent. That baby girl went through things at such a young age that cause her to still freak out in panic and fear laced eyes that I cringe wondering what exactly her subconscious remembers. Sweet little bitty. She drives me bonkers with her incessant chatter and bossiness, but she is tender, loving, observant and genuinely joyful. Has a gorgeous voice and the ability to sing along with any song even if it's the first time she's ever heard it. Precious.

I am so thankful for these beautiful girls. God chose me to be their mom and I literally question that choice every single day. He really must have better plans for me and them that I cannot comprehend. There's no valid reason I can find as to why he'd pick me for them except that there are some issues I will one day be able to share with them that we all three have in common. That's it. Otherwise it baffles me as to this road we three girls (and PandaPop, too!!!!) are on together.

As I finish up this post we are headed up to church to visit PandaPop at his office. We have done this many times this summer. Gets us out of the house and blesses him with his girls.

All three of us.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Light Gets Brighter

With each passing year I wonder 'how have the years added up so quickly?'. PandaPop and I are celebrating twenty-one years of marriage today.

How blessed we are.

How incredibly blessed I am.

Our meeting and engagement was 100% God orchestrated. Neither of us could have planned it the way it all panned out. I've blogged so long that I have forgotten if I've written out the story of how it all came about back in the fall of 1991.

At the perky age of  21 that I'd just turned in September, I was in my junior year at Baylor University having finished my first two college years at our local community college when my cousin who was in 8th grade told me about her youth pastor saying that I should meet him. He happened to be the part-time guy at a tiny country church where I had previously attended for a few years and the place I met Jesus when I was eleven and was dunked in the waters. She was also playing match-maker by telling her youth pastor that he should meet her cousin. This went on for about a month or so with both the youth pastor and I telling my cousin the time wasn't right and not interested.

Around mid-November she asked permission to show him a photo of me. I reluctantly gave in out of curiosity. My past was painted with brushstrokes from a previous two year relationship and a few other dating attempts that had me leery of getting involved with anyone else for awhile even though I really couldn't wait to be married.

If memory serves me correctly, the next week I was attending the funeral of a distant older cousin of mine. After the funeral we were eating at our church with our family which included the mother of my 8th grade match-making cousin, my aunt. It happened to be a late Wednesday afternoon. My aunt would soon be headed to the other church to pick up my cousin from the youth group activities that evening. Thinking I would be nonchalant, I graciously "offered" to go with my aunt to pick up my cousin thereby allowing myself to get a peek at this youth pastor guy without actually disclosing my identity. I thought it was only fair since this guy had seen my picture, but I had no idea what he looked like.  For Pete's sake.....I didn't want to go out with an ugly guy. Admit it, ugly guy with a stellar personality who could be fabulously wealthy would still be an ugly guy.  I wanted to know if he was cute!

My aunt was all for it. We hopped in the well-known-around-the-community red Suburban of my aunt and headed to "pick up my cousin". That was my story and I was sticking to it. We pull into the parking lot making our way back to the youth building when all of a sudden a hoard of teenagers come running out to the Suburban surrounding the windows with huge smiles and giggles. I'm wondering what the heck is going on while my aunt is giggling, too.  As her window is down I hear from my aunt's side of the red bus several teens saying, "she's here! she's here!!!!" I'm dying. Up to my passenger window strolls the youth pastor donning a baseball cap and a nervous smile. I push down the little button to roll down the window where my whole life changed.

The youth pastor and I meet.

We exchange names and some sort of nice surface words. I didn't even re-do my make-up or hair from the funeral earlier that day. The youth pastor claims that I looked like I'd been crying, but that cannot be true since I didn't know the older cousin who'd passed very well so crying wouldn't have been part of the day. What did happen, however was that in trying to wrap up an awkward first time meet-up the youth pastor fumbles in his pocket for his business card, passes it through the open window to me to take hold of and says, "you can call me and maybe we can get lunch or something."

Uh-----No. You can call me, youth pastor.

Cute youth pastor.

I really like your gorgeous smile, youth pastor.

I'm thinking I like your stature, too, youth pastor.

Oooo, I hope you call me, youth pastor.

Long story short:

The youth pastor was intrigued with me as well, but due to his past experience of a relationship where his girl he'd dated off & on was just about to get super serious with her after Christmas in 1990 when she was killed in a car accident December 21. Devastated him. That's the main reason he had no interest in meeting anyone when my cousin was trying back in October to get us to meet. He told God that if he wanted him to pursue me then he (God) would have to put my phone number in his hand. Lo and behold, the next day my cousin went to the church to see the youth pastor only the door was locked on the little country church causing her to go knock on his office window. He opens the window to greet her where she proceeded to place a slip of paper printed with my phone number on it in his hand.

Yeah. I know.

The youth pastor called me that Thursday night. We talked for six hours straight. He asked me out for that Saturday.

I said yes, for as long as we both shall live. (lol....not really. That's one of our favorite lines from You've Got Mail when Tom Hanks' character says that to Meg Ryan's character).  After our long and easy conversation we both knew that there would be more than one date.

We went to see Disney's Beauty and the Beast at the movies then to Wendy's for a burger and fries. The six months prior to meeting I had been working out consistently at the gym 4-5 days a week and had given up Dr. Pepper for a year. I knew I looked good and felt great. That night I drank a Dr. P as well as my gym contract was up. Dang this guy! There went my no soda phase. (I'm trying to remember everything correctly and as I think of the Dr. P I'm wondering how accurate it is because Wendy's always offered Mr. Pibb in place of Dr. Pepper which is so not even close to the same taste. Hmmm. Irrelevant.)

I dipped my french fry into his ketchup.

On the first date.

He was astounded.

I was hooked.

After that night which did include a wonderful kiss under a gorgeous autumn moon out in the country under the stars, we went out pretty much every night sans a few days at Christmas until he asked me to marry him on January 23, 1992.

Calculate that math on the calendar.

Two months.

TWO MONTHS later he surprised me with a proposal and we got hitched seven months after that. If either of my daughters come to me saying they are getting engaged to a guy after only meeting two months prior? There may be some serious double-standards going on. Our story makes sense to us because of how we saw God's hand all the way through it.

Don't glamorize us, though. Please. Once we got engaged all hell broke loose in other areas of our lives and I was miserable. He was miserable. We were fabulous together. Outside forces made things hellish. That is a long story that would ruin the beauty of all the words above so I'll stop here.

We are best friends. I could not have asked God for a better man to be my husband. He so knew who I needed better than I did. I just couldn't have thought up all the ways I have needed him. No doubt in my mind that God orchestrated our meeting and marriage. I have failed on so many levels and am so thankful for true unconditional love from God and from my husband. Twenty one years is a long time to share an intimate life with another person. Of course, there have been ugly hard moments. There have been countless wonderful ones. The good ones far outweigh the bad.

In ways I didn't even know existed back at age 21, God has used my husband to truly help me see the light....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Tiny Details

This poor little cicada met his Maker the other day in PandaJoy's kiddie pool in the backyard. Not sure how long his (or her, I guess) life lasted. All I know is that PJ would not share her pool with him so he had to go.

Texas heat can be scorching in the summer. The past two summers left us wanting to move to Alaska with most temps resting around 105-114 degrees. Fahrenheit. That's the kind of hot that makes your eyelids burn a little when you blink upon stepping outside. There is no use for make-up of any kind since that kind of heat instantly melts it off your skin. Sitting on a leather seat in a pair of shorts in a vehicle that's been locked up for a bit...even with cracked sure to burn the back of your thighs bad enough for a skin graph. Then just try touching the steering wheel. Might as well stick your fingers right on the bacon in a frying pan to hold it down. 'Bout the same.

That was for two summers in a row. 

This year has been relatively mild in comparison with us only logging a few days just over 100 degrees. We've even had several rainy days. Glory. Our church camp had us wearing rain boots and toting umbrellas for the first three days. Kept the temps down to what seemed fall-like. I took a pic with my phone of the temperature showing on the rearview mirror in the Tahoe on the way to camp the Sunday before all the campers arrived the next day and it was literally sitting at a nice and cool 67 degrees at 3:00 in the afternoon!! Even more glorious. Except for afternoon rec time when the pool was closed or the kids just opted to swim in the rain sprinkles sans any lighting, of course. Safety first.

Every year about the end of July through the end of August I always swear that I want to move from Texas to somewhere else. This is my 42nd summer here. No plans to move yet. I still love Texas. Maybe because it's all I've ever known. I've traveled here and there, but this is home. Hot summers and all.

There hasn't been a summer that has passed that I haven't seen a dead cicada or locust or grasshopper or beetle or june bug just like the one in the pic laying somewhere on the ground, feet up, no movement left. When I picked up this particular little guy I was intrigued by the attention to detail on his wings. It made me think of how intricately he was formed and how God made him.

God made every single detail of that cicada.


I have NO idea.

When I start thinking about how God chose to do things or make things or allow things to happen in this world my brain starts to hurt. I get all wonky trying to figure out how dinosaurs really fit into the mix. I think about all the different skin colors and facial distinctions between races. My mind gets super-blown when thinking about infinite space, planets, stars, galaxies, etc. Then when I contemplate how everything in my body works and how our thumbprints are all unique (how He did THAT one is just beyond comprehension) I just sit dumbfounded.

When I'm driving down the highway and happen to look up at a billboard at some word at the exact same time as someone on the radio is saying that very word. Or having learned a new word then SEEING it the very same day in a bizarre random way. Makes my head hurt.

Don't even get me started on my 11:11 occurrences. Nuh-uh. I could have a whole different post about that. Googling it made me wonder why in the world I have my own set of stories about it when it seems that the New Age people have a stake in it. Weird. Made me think outside my bubble.

Anyone who knows me in real life and has seen me not be able to handle something because of how random it is can vouch that I'm telling the truth. I have been known to fall off my chair, lay down on the floor, fling my arms aimlessly around in awe and maybe a few other over-the-top reactions when my brain cannot handle the random incident. Things that appear to be coincidences such as seeing a person I haven't seen in years, but just had a random dream about them the night before seeing them in person. Crossing paths with someone one day then having them pop up unexpectedly shortly after that in a completely different way. Or someone you knew in 2nd grade is somehow fb friends with someone you know currently that lives on the other side of the world....and you see you are mutual friends. (one of my college BFFs had a guy comment on her page and it popped up that he was friends with my BROTHER---none of us live anywhere near each other!!) So random. So detailed.

Here's what really makes me freak: deja vu. I don't even know how to get the little marking above the e, j, a and u on here much less how it works. PandaGirl and I were talking about it just yesterday. She's experienced it already so I was telling her how it sizzles my brain cells trying to figure it out. I love the music artist Chris Rice. His lyrical tales are fabulous. He has one song called Questions for Heaven where he wants to ask God some things once in heaven and one of those is "and what about deja vu?". Like he's saying, "What's up with that, God?".  My sentiments exactly. Probably won't matter an inkling once we're there, but man I'd love to know what the heck it is and what its purpose is. I'm thinking it's God's sense of humor. I am aware scientists or psychologists think they have it figured out with some kind of brain glitch, but then I'm not a robot so that theory holds no merit with me. It has to be more detailed than that.

Mentioning a glitch leads my train of thought to computers. Talk about detail!! Only how is it even possible that all the teeny tiny details of pixels and computers' abilities for details are solely based on zeros and ones?

0011000000010001000000111000111.......<<<<< I just wrote the Declaration of Independence right there. In ones and zeros. I don't think I can buy that logic for one binary minute.

One more thing that bakes my noodle: dreams.

I mean, really. What in the world happens during REM sleep that can stir up such musings? Everyone dreams differently, I'm sure, but we can all attest to the weirdness of them, right? One dream will be about something from the day before and make some sort of sense while another can be made up of ethereal, surreal, bizarre, non-sensical images and happenings. At least in mine. Dreaming of someone from my past that hasn't entered my mind in many many years? Stressful dreams that twist a bit of truth into something that just makes no sense at all? Exhilarating dreams that you don't want to end? Flying dreams? Terrifying dreams where you are screaming but no sound comes out?

Oh. ya dreams.
That one.
Oh my word.
Those are w-e-i-r-d.

Maybe I'm revealing too much about my dreams. Never mind.

Well, whatever dreams' purpose are whether we ever find out or not it can be said they are detailed.

Should I mention how thinking of angels and demons in the spiritual realm constantly duking it out over me totally freaks me out, but in a good way? Nah. I won't even go there.

Wow. I chased a rabbit. One thought leads to another.

The details. I am so astounded as to how God has painstakingly paid attention to the minute details of me. Me. He knows me better than I know myself.

Maybe with the same precision that he made that cicada's wings he orchestrated how our two daughters would come to us. That took some serious attention to details in many people's lives in order to make those two adoptions happen.

Countless details every single nano-second. Intricacies we never see happen all around us. We are so mindless to how important these details matter in who we each are.

When I get to the places where I doubt God I must remind myself of the details woven together that make up who I am. They just cannot be random. Cannot be. When my experiences cause me to feel ignored by God, forgotten by him, tricked by him, left out from his great plan, betrayed by him.....I have to trust his Word to be true and his attention to the details of who I am and what roads lie before me is for my benefit. God loves me. He detailed every single piece of me. The seen and unseen.

So really, the details of Mr. Cicada's wings and the very core of who I am aren't really all that different. Neither had anything to do with it's own creation yet every detail is precisely how its designed to be.

Ending with this detail from Romans 8:28 brings me great satisfaction and peace......

And we know that in all things God works 
for the good of those who love him, 
who have been called according to his purpose.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Six Little Sleeps

Do I love my daughters?

Of course!!

Do I enjoy their cuteness and laughter and one-liners and creativity and giggles and beautiful naturally tanned brown skin in summer swimsuits and taking a few thousand pics of them and reading together and coloring together and watching movies together and eating popcorn and riding in the Jeep and.... list goes on???

Sure I do!

Did I long to be a mommy for years and years and years and lost so many tears over that deep longing for children to be in my care begging God for my own?

You better believe it!

Am I the kind of mom who gets all weepy and sad at the thought of her children going off to school leaving her alone through the school day?

Heck NO!!!!!!

I cannot wait until next Monday.

School starts. Fifth grade for PandaGirl, Kindergarten for PandaJoy.

Really and truly. I am beside myself with excitement as to how my life will open up to a whole new world. One that I haven't really known. I have been a stay at home mom since PandaGirl came along. She was with me the whole time. A few mother's day out jaunts then on to pre-school a couple of days a week, but I worked at the pre-school along with her in the same building for two years. Her Kindergarten year I worked full-time as a speech therapist in public school and got the taste of that kind of full-time working mom routine which gave me an appreciation for being a SAHM. Then I started being so focused on trying to get child number two through adoption that it was like a dang job. So really, come next Monday when both girls are in school from 7:45-2:45 I can actually discover me on a whole new level.

That excites me. 

I'm hoping my extra time will allow me to focus on the many things I need learn about my camera, my photography business and editing software along with a whole slew of other things I've been putting off while having a child underfoot for the past oh-so-many-years.

Though we are always on a tight budget (and blow the budget) with PandaPop being a children's minister I have been blessed to be a stay at home mom.

My dream.

Dreams tend to not work out in real life as fantastically as they appear in one's imagination, now do they?

I think all jobs are challenging at some level no matter what you do. Even scooping ice cream can be stressful. I know. I asked the 16 year old girl scooping up my fat-filled ice cream at Ben & Jerry's this summer if her arm hurts from all that scooping and she replied with a slight disgust in her tone how only her one arm was getting the scooping work-out.  So, there ya go. Any job can bring its own set of obstacles to the table. Who wants one arm muscle to be firm and the other flabby? No one.

Being a stay at home mom is challenging. Let's say it's hard. Not working-for-the-FBI hard or holding-a-scalpel-steady-in-someone's-brain hard or frontline-military-work hard but more like the old Chinese torture of dripping water on one's forehead in the same spot over and over until the person breaks kind of hard.

Unless you are the kind of mom who genuinely adores being around your kids day in day out all day then you understand exactly what I'm saying. I know I'm not alone due to the amount of fb posts with begs, vents and pleas for school to start so that life can go on without the slaying (pretend, of course) of all the little children in the homes of my friends.

Clearly we are not the first to be elated when school resumes as I recall Bing Crosby singing the whimsical lyrics to It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas with...

A pair of Hop along boots and a pistol that shoots

Is the wish of Barney and Ben
Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk
Is the hope of Janice and Jen
And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again

And that song has been around forever.

So as I have enjoyed many moments with my beautiful daughters and have bonded with them even more (quite important in our family of adoption) I must say that the thought of making it through the next six sleeps is invigorating. 

The pic above is me last night as I hopped in our Jeep with the doors off and top down, ear buds blaring away some tunes in my ears and wind blowing my ponytail all over creation and zoomed away to the store via the long scenic route. 



Monday, August 19, 2013

We enjoyed taking the girls to the hot air balloon festival this weekend in our area. The weather this summer has been mild for Texas so into the Jeep we hopped at 7:30am, even needing light jackets, and headed towards the balloons in the sky. Swinging through Waterburger for some healthy breakfast options, ahem, we then made our way toward the kick-off of the weekend festivities.

Back in college I made it to one of the hot air balloon events and it was just as beautiful and over-the-top then as it was now. Those things are just incredibly HUGE when up close to them. We hung around the kiddie games for a bit then went home for the rest of a busy Saturday, but made our way back at sunset for the "glow".

All the balloons light up the night sky in a glorious twinkle of fiery lights as the ginormous glowing poofs fill the space in front of us at the park. They don't actually lift off at night so my dreams of seeing them like the floating lanterns scene in Tangled didn't come to fruition, but it was quite spectacular none the less. It was a great experience for the girls. Frankly, I am amazed that my phone and a tiny little filter from Instagram makes that first pic above look very professional.....even if I did take it myself. ; )

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 16, 2013

I Live With Cinderella

Not really sure how this child's foot didn't get smashed in the door of the Tahoe. Can't imagine how this even happened. Figuring the odds of catching the yellow flip flop in the door that nano-seconds before the close of the metal housed a human foot while not getting cut off are beyond my 4th grade math skills.

All I heard from inside was, "My shoe!! My shoe!!" followed by {giggle...giggle...giggle} and "Mom! I'm just like Cinderella!"

Why, yes, Little Bitty I guess you are just like Cinderella.

Her 5th birthday was celebrated a couple of weeks ago with a full blown princess party. So cute. PandaJoy's actual birthday was in the middle of children's camp last month so we had to party down at a later date.

*I have to make a disclaimer on the collage below for the sparkly pink and purple Jello shots princess putty. Borax, glitter glue and water made for some gooey fun for the girls as they made their own putty to take home. Little did I know that the containers that I used (just like the Pinterest post I copied) are the same ones used for distributing Jello shots at parties or the beach or your back yard until several friends told me so from posting pics on fb and Instagram. My bad. Rest assured, I did not give out Jello shots as party favors to five year olds. The moms might have snagged them if I did.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Cringe I Feel When I Bring It On Home

The girls and I were about to approach the Tahoe in the library parking lot. We'd just spent a good hour or so doing our thing inside the children's wing of the library. It rained while we were inside. No, it poured buckets of rain while we were inside. There was a ginormous deep water puddle blocking part of the way to our vehicle. Two feet to the left and we'd keep our feet dry. 

I'm the kind of mom that loves spontaneity. I have pictures (of course!) of both my girls playing outside in a summer rainfall. I don't care if PandaJoy's feet get wet while wearing her flip flops. Really no big deal. What I have a problem with is when I tell her quite articulately to not walk through the water, but rather..........walk around the water, yet she decides to do her own thing. My words and example were loud and clear. 

I watched as she put one yellow flip flop in front of the other and proceeded like Moses straight through the Red Sea. His feet were dry as I recall my Old Testament Bible story. Hers were wet. 

With a stunned look on my face, I'm sure.....I bent down to her eye-level and said, "Did you hear my words? Did you just hear what I said about the water and not walking through it?" 

Her big brown-eyed response, "Yes."

"You heard me say, 'don't walk through the water', but you did it anyway?"


"Why? Why would you walk through the water if you heard me say to not do it?"

"Because it looked fun," said the sometimes honest little girl.

Oh. Well in that case, please keep walking. Go back and do it again. This time JUMP up and down and give me your little middle finger at the same time.

Countless times with this little bitty girl have I almost instantaneously closed my eyes, turn my head to the side and felt my insides cringe as the disciplinary (sometimes said sarcastically in disbelief and frustration) words were released from my mouth. Parenting is a direct reflection of our relationship with our Maker. God. God made us. 

Some people I know differ with me on how we were created or what kind of God/god we serve or the manner in which we return to the Maker.  That is a completely different post all together. For the purposes of this post I'm sticking with God being my loving heavenly Father who really does want the best for me, his child. 

PandaGirl has afforded a few moments in time where I reflected inwardly on my own depravity and how childlike I am when wanting my way instead of God's.  PandaJoy on the other hand has brought me to my knees in tears while I look straight into a bright crystal clear mirror reflecting parts of me that I didn't even know could exist. None of it is her fault, per se. She is just the conch shell that God has used to let me hear his voice over and over........and over again. I knew I should have been writing down the words that fell from my lips every time I spoke them to PandaJoy because there have been so many and they each have been profound when I hear them from God to me and not just from me to her.

I do not even want to revisit the many times I have clearly heard God's instruction which he articulately conveyed to me but I continued on my own will, did it anyway.......because it looked fun. Fun. Fun that was indeed self-satisfying. Fun that was a rush. Fun that could destroy me from the inside out. Fun that lasts only a moment then is not fun anymore.  The fun is no longer enticing. The fun is blurry, twisted and ugly. What once made my eyes sparkle, my blood pump faster and promised a pay-off then turns on itself in acidic decay eating me along with it. 

But it was so fun. 

It was

I'm sure PandaJoy thought the lure of that water puddle looked fun. She heard my words of instruction. She knows my voice. She knows I love her with all my heart. I am out for her good. I direct her paths that will benefit her. My perspective is beyond her comprehension so she has to trust that I know more than her and that I give her direction for a greater purpose. Purpose she cannot even fathom at age five. 

I'm sure PandaMom thought the lure of that [water puddle] looked fun. She heard My words of instruction. She knows My voice. She knows I love her with all my heart. I am out for her good. I direct her paths that will benefit her. My perspective is beyond her comprehension so she has to trust that I know more than her and that I give her direction for a greater purpose. Purpose she cannot even fathom at age forty-two.

Romans 7 from the Bible describes this wretched tug-o-war we battle from Paul's perspective. This pic is from the pages of my Bible. Words so very accurate. 

How I wish I had a list of all the things I've said to PandaJoy that have made me cringe. The beauty in it all is that God my Maker is always for me and not against me. He instructs and disciplines me for my good. 

I can ignore him and have the free will to do my own thing, because...... it may be fun.  

I can listen and have the free will to do what he says. Because ultimately with's sure to be fun.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's Sort of Like Fuel

I am late.

I am always late to the cool things. Like by about a year or two.....or five.

I have never been one to keep up with trends or name brands. Ask Reckless. She is always the one in the know while I am baffled as to how she always....always is on top of things that are hip, new or the latest couture. I think I'm all cool and hip when I finally dive into whatever the thing is that everyone else has the t-shirt for while they are on to something else.


A few years ago I opened an Instagram account. I loaded a few pics, some of which were PandaJoy and at the time she was still in the foster system, not officially ours. Her pics were not allowed online. If you've been around you remember because I would take keenly angled pics of her with her face cut out that were posted on this blog. I stopped instantly with Instagram and forgot all about it.

Last week I got the bug to check out the hype which really isn't hype anymore. Most teens have gone to it or other online media sites and have ditched the facebook playground due to too many mommies and daddies having accounts alongside the teens and that's just not cool. And a bit disturbing sometimes. On both sides. Side note: Almost a year ago I dropped 99% of any "friends" on fb that have not yet graduated high school. That was on account of someone graciously emailing me and informing that my new tattoo (the first one......they didn't know three more were on their way within the year) was a bad influence on the children and teens at church. So I dropped 'em all like flies. I keep a few that are like family and who live in areas other than our current place of service. Blah, blah, blah.....back on task >>>>>> When seeing a cyber friend's post about how the cutie little perfectly square Instagram pics can be made into a cutie little spiral bound book I about fell off my rocker. Way too cute. Must have them.

So started the Instagram Binge.

I'm on a mission to upload as many as I can because I think it takes 100 photos for one mini-book or something like that. I am addicted!!! LOVE the filters and the perfectly square photos. Love.  Because of my love of photography anyway, this little hobby is right up my alley. With every click of my phone camera button from taking the pic to editing to posting to......uhhhh. Just love it. It delights me greatly and fuels me on to see the good in life.

To feel the good in life.

It's a fresh breath that whisks me away from the not-so-good in life even if for just a moment.

Each little pic is a reminder of how very much God has blessed me.

Count your many blessings, name them one inch by one inch [square].

Monday, August 12, 2013

Why Do We Fight It with Everything in Us?


That's the topic at the very front of my brain at the moment.

Last night PandaPop and I sat on our back patio under my multi-colored garden lights that bring me much joy. I just adore those iridescent jewel-toned rainbow lights gently swinging between the huge oak tree and our house. I would sit under them more, but Texas in July and August is still hotter than hell even at 9pm and the mosquitos like to drink the citronella instead of flying away from it making what could be a delightful sitting under the summer night sky into a sweat bath with pin pricks all over your skin. No so fun.

Somehow the mosquitos stayed away last night and there was a tiny breeze that allowed us to enjoy our time with a newlywed couple for a few hours. We were enchanted by the beautiful lightning storm brewing around us at the same time while not a drop of rain came down. Interesting. Anyway, this darling couple has dated forever and ever. They finally got hitched a couple of weeks ago in Jackson Hole, Wyoming then celebrated here at home with a reception for family and friends this past Saturday night. Yours truly took the photos for the reception. Fun.

Back on track.... these two kids are basically the age PandaPop and I were when we got married. He and I will be clocking 21 years of marital bliss later this month. Twenty one years. YEARS? 21.

Blink, blink.

Twenty one years just went by.

That makes me less than a month shy of age 43. PandaPop just notched 44 years onto his belt last month. We are twenty years older than this couple. Married 21 years longer than them. Age wise, we could totally be their parents. That blows my mind. We sat in red chairs around a glass pub table with our beautiful orange umbrella popped open above and chatted as if we were all the same age.

There was so much I wanted to reveal along the yellow brick road that lies ahead of them, but why spoil the fun of them getting to discover life things themselves? Each of us have to live and experience "life" for ourselves in order to really get it. For one thing I didn't want to burst their brand new bubble of hope and delight. I mean they did just enter into a wonderful time!! I LOVE being married and have loved it 99% of the time. That's saying a lot for a 21 year period with the same person. I adore my man. And he's put up with more than any one person should have to in a lifetime from me. I pray they enjoy each other as much as PandaPop and I have. I am so incredibly blessed by my husband. It was pretty challenging to bite my tongue and not spew out how life throws fireballs right in your face when you least expect it. Why let them know that they really know nothing right now even though they think they do? Do they really need to be given a heads up that having kids, while being a great blessing, is what paints a simultaneously ugly and beautiful picture of our own relationship with God? What benefit is it for them to know that their lovely tight skin will loosen, sag and wrinkle? And that along the way they could encounter people who don't have their best interests at heart? Why tell them that built up stress from multiple areas of life at the same time can be the relentless pounding of a hammer to the temples and chest? Bleh. Those things are too much to hear at a precious time like this. Certainly I did not want to tell them that dreams die. God can and does redeem lost dreams.....YES!!! Yes, He does. Before that, though.....comes the painful death of a dream. Or multiple dreams. God redeems the broken parts of our lives. That's hopeful!!

The acid above was not anything our precious little couple needed to hear. We had so much fun talking about their wedding and new things that lie ahead for them. I have no desire to be back at that age. The thing that gets me is why we middle-aged folk fight aging so much? Why do my friends and I hate wrinkles with a passion? Why do we care if our faces fall and look less like our twenty-something selves? When I am so blessed with a husband who wants to grow old with me,  why can't that be enough? Why do we go "ugh" at the reflection in the mirror or at just the thought of getting older?

Anyone have any thoughts or comments about this? I'm not saying that I am down in the dumps over any of this or that I don't like myself. I do like myself. Most days. Just like other women I know. Some days life is great and others lend themselves to just thanking God for the next breath.

I can't wait to hang out with our newlyweds again soon. It was fun and despite the fact that I used Monistat anti-chaffing cream on my face under my make-up as an alternative to a very expensive cosmetic brand of make-up primer to decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles because someone on Pinterest said it would work wonders, there was a sweetness to being the older couple with whom these young guns wanted to hang.

In the back yard.

Under the rainbow garden lights.

We are the older ones. I went with it last night.

No fight needed.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Holy Guacamole, I Have Seen the Light

I had so much fun last night.

We went out with some of our best friends who are a tiny bit older than us, like big sister and big brother plus another couple who are quickly becoming some of our besties who are like our little sister and little brother. We mix well.

Tried out Tacos & Avocados. (Yes, they play on the whole T&A thing. I'm not naive. The taste over powers the play on words)


Who knew that one restaurant could have on hand enough perfectly ripe avocados to meet the daily requirements of customers ordering them for lunch and dinner......on everything. That's a lot of perfectly ripe avocados. Ever had fried avocado fingers? Dipped in a ranch-ish sauce? Made me want to fall all over myself. So flippin' yummy!!

Loved the food, the camaraderie and the atmosphere. The live band put me over the top. Having no kids around was pretty sweet as well. I am blessed to be a mom, but date night with just grown ups is SAH-WEEEEEEET!!!

I didn't want to leave.

I've been working out consistently since September. I've lost 45 pounds, still have 40 to go. I feel so great!!! However, I do not like it when a picture is taken and I look like I haven't lost a stinkin' pound! Hence.....the cropped photo up there at the top with my two friends that originally was an almost full length shot. Who wants to post a pic of themselves looking gross? Not I. I swear that pictures DO LIE sometimes.

The pic below is the epitome of getting older. Turning 43 this coming September seems a bit surreal until moments like these occur reassuring me that I am, indeed, aging. One year ago my optometrist informed me that in a year bifocals would certainly be needed for my eyesight to be optimal. I laughed thinking of how far off that year deadline was and how I wouldn't not be doing the bifocal thing.

Well, well, well. Darn that optometrist and her stupid degrees. She did know what she was talking about. The past several months have proven that the prophecy spoken over me one year ago is coming to fruition. I am going to need bifocals. Or trifocals. Or quadfocals. Looking at the print on my phone has become so bothersome. All the letters are so furry and fuzzy that no moving back and forth of the smart phone helps me to see any better.

I need to SEE better!!

Then my big brother friend jokingly offered me his glasses. I make fun of him for having to wear reading glasses. When I put them on top of my own prescription lenses........I could actually SEE the words clearly and life was good again. The "friends" sitting across from me took great joy in snapping a pic of old 4 eyes. I posted on fb that I'd used his reading glasses. About 15 minutes later when I needed to borrow his glasses again he corrected me by saying that those were his REAL prescription glasses and not just cheapie reading glasses!! What the?!!!!

Guess I'll be making an appointment with my smarty pants optometrist soon.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Tears

Where in the world do I begin typing words to relay the depth of what's happened to me, around me, because of me and within me?

It almost seems impossible.

Overwhelming amounts of posts are bubbling around in my brain just percolating beneath a thin surface of what little decorum I have left. I have always been so careful as to what I write in my blog posts because my husband's career as a minister in a Southern Baptist church hovers over my hands and keyboard reminding me that one faulty, misunderstood or non-appreciated sentence could greatly change the course of our life. I've been blogging since about 2005, I think (not enough time to even look that up at the moment) and have found satisfaction in doing so. It's been fun and therapeutic.

Taking a year break from here was completely unintentional. No plan was made that I would stop writing or posting photos. One day led to the next with no motivation to post. An attempt was made at the beginning of the year to update the header, but still my fingers were not able to type.

Oh my mind was full of the words that were screaming in my ears.

The barriers within held them at bay.

Even now as I type and I have so much to say I am wondering just how much will actually be put in digitized print. Only a tiny handful of people know bits and pieces of the off-course jagged journey I have traveled over the last twelve months. As with any person's story, only THAT person knows the entire walk. Some things never to be shared. Exposed. Known.

It's our very own personal stories that make up who we are.

I've said before how I would love to have the unlimited and uninterrupted time to sit with each of you.....and hear your story. What makes you, you? Why do you act the way you do? Why do you REact the way you do? How have you come so far from such a terrible beginning? How have you messed up in life when everything started out so easy for you? Do you love God? Do you hate God? Do you know who you are? Are you holding something inside of you that would curl the toes of even your dearest friends if they ever found out about whatever that thing is? Do you love your life or secretly hate it? Are you willing to admit that life sucks, then you die? Are you filled with unexplainable joy and want to share it with everyone with whom you come in contact? What secrets do you have buried way.down.deep.? What gets in your gut and makes you want to throw up at the mere thought of it? What is it that truly makes you feel peaceful? What makes you smile.....and mean it?

My gosh, I'd love to sit down with you and ask these questions over a cup of whatever tickles my fancy at the moment and buy yours for you just to get a kick out of watching you giggle and roll your eyes that I insist on buying it.

I am looking forward to getting back to my love of blogging. I have missed it, but the break has been very nice. Between Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Blogs, emails, daily texting, working out, listening to music, photography, raising two girls, being a wife, taking care of two pets, friends, life happenings, blah, blah, blah.......I have a lot to say and little time to do it. Please, please come back for more. I am so excited to get rolling again. Have dialogue as much as the web will allow. Speak about things near and dear to me. Connect with people.

I have made several great cyber friends over the years and it all started with this blog. My very first cyber "friend" was Jennifer Olsen from New York. I thought I was so worldly and techy because I was on the web and talked to someone so far from Texas. Now because of the interwebs.....I have made "friends" with MANY people whom I would never have known existed without first getting started through this little blog.

I have zero desire to be a DIY blogger or one who needs or wants any sponsors or advertising or anything fancy. I just want to share my photos, my life's ups & downs and my two cents in this great big world.

The photo collage above really is worth 1000 tears. Or many more. I've lost countless tears in the past year. Though extremely painful, I am at a place to say that I am thankful for every single one of them. It is who I am now that matters. God is personal. His attention to detail is uncanny.

What keeps Him around me is an enigma.

I don't get it. I don't get how He WANTS to see me at my best even when I ignore Him.

Or point my finger right at Him as I say, "YOU allowed this. YOU tricked me. YOU betrayed me." Then He still wants me. For His own. Literally blows my mind.

Check often.

I have a lot to say.

It's great to be back!!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I Should Really Get Back to Blogging!

It's been almost one full year since my last entry. I'm thinking it just may be time for a re-vamp of the look and a full-on comeback of PandaMom. So much has happened in the last year, of course, but to say the least.....I am pretty much a new and different person. More to come.......