happy new year {2009}

Happiest of new year wishes to everyone!  May God's blessings cover you all ...


"it's a bee test!!!"

See this?

See her?

Yeah ... it stung her.  But she has got to be the bravest girl I know.

For some reason, there are a lot of bees hanging around us at the pool.  Curt, ever the naturalist, has been instructing the girls on proper bee behavior {which surprisingly doesn't involve petting them ... well actually, he did pet one, but at least he didn't encourage the girls to do the same}.  And then he tests them when they come around.

So much so that now when Hunter sees a bee she doesn't just alert us of the bee ... instead she screams, "it's a bee test!!!"

So this morning, the bees are flying around and being pretty aggressive.  Curt decides to destroy the ones that come our way, but plummeting them with the newspaper.  Piper yells that she doesn't like it when he kills them.

One lands on her chin.  She sits so still and quiet until it flies away.  Then it lands on a soda can she's drinking from {hmmm, maybe that's why we have bees around?}.  Curt decides to swat it, while she's holding it.

He hits it ... it falls ... right onto Piper's hand and stings her.  She starts screaming, crying, screaming ... and then proceeds to pull the stinger out of her own hand!

We ice it, she's crying, but lunch comes and she finally feels better ... poor little Piper!!

{jonas brothers} superstition

I am being subjected to this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again ... thought I would share the love and let you have it stuck in your heads too!

that's how we roll ...


great beach+great lighting = fun photos

We had a great walk on the beach and the lighting was perfect for me to capture it all on film.  We're having a great time!  The weather's a tad cool {it's all relative, right?}, but the girls are loving the pool anyway ... and there's always the hot tub to warm us up.  The girls even made a couple of friends which is pretty cute to watch.

Taylor finished up the second book in the Twilight series, and downloaded the third onto Curt's kindle.  I don't think she's read so much in her entire life!

A while back, I decided to put God's fourth commandment as a priority in my life ... "remember the Sabbath and keep it holy."  I failed pretty miserably.  I wasn't going to email, or check my computer, etc., etc.  I did decide to close the store on Sunday's, so I feel good about that.

Anyway, I brought the {cartoon version} movie Ten Commandments down to watch with the girls ... they loved it!  Piper loved that it was a 'true' story.  When God was giving Moses the commandments, and came to the verse above, it struck me again.

So yesterday, I gave up the computer {and asked Taylor to too} and spent the day fully immersed in my family.  I put work out of my mind as we played games, ran, laughed, swam ... it was awesome.

And I can't wait to do it more ...


it's all relative

I went to bed last night and felt led by God to share these thoughts:

I know.  I know that my stresses and the things I've complained about are all relative.

I didn't just bring my {still very sick} daughter home after being in the hospital for 68 days.

I didn't just get released from the hospital after having surgery to remove fluid from around my heart ... knowing that I still have fluid around my lungs, but have decided not to have it removed.  Meanwhile, I'm released to go home and fight an incurable cancer ... praying that it's God's will to touch me and make me whole.

I haven't lost my oldest child and am trying to make it through the holidays without him.

I don't go to bed at night wondering if my cancer will resurface, praying God will keep his healing hand on me {okay, maybe that's just me wondering and praying for my friend ... but still}.

I don't go to bed in fear ... I don't wake up in fear.

I haven't just lost my wife.  And am trying to hold up the holidays for my 2 young girls.

And these are just people I know.  There are countless others.  Homeless, hungry, mourning, missing, hurting, dying.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:10-12

God gave us this promise, and as hard as it is, we need to remember it. is. his promise to us.  What's even harder, is trusting what that 'plan' is.  It doesn't mean it's our plan.  Did we want our wife to die?  Did we want our daughter in the hospital?  Of course not!  But we have to trust he does have a plan for us ... and as painful as that plan may be, he promises not to harm us, but to give us hope and a future.

I know and firmly believe that we all go through things on our own levels.  We all hurt on our own level.  Every miscarriage is different, we understand the pain and we can bond over it, mourn the loss.  But one may 'feel' it differently than the next.

When my husband was 'traveling' for a month ... I felt so alone.  I would hear someone complain about a bad day, and think "really?"  And then I'd have to stop myself.  Because a pain is a pain.  A stress is a stress.  And what we go through is important to us ... and that should make it important to others.  We need to 'feel' each other.  It's what connects us.  The empathy we have for each other, no matter the problem or situation.

What got me through that time was knowing there were others that didn't have their husbands around at all.  The first time Curt was 'traveling' wasn't too long after 911, and I remember thinking of all the women whose husbands wouldn't return at all, they wouldn't be coming home.  They had to get through their pregnancies alone.  The birth ... alone.  Raising the children ... alone.

I am blessed.  I am more than blessed.  I realize this.  No matter what my stress, no matter what my situation ... God has his hand on me and my family.

I am blessed.  In fact, I have a new motto {think 'stressed, but blessed'} and can't wait to reveal it in the next few weeks ... how's that for a cliffhanger?

God bless you everyone ... truly ... I pray God's blessings over you ...

{Note:  I was looking up the bible verse quoted above and found this as the verse of the day (I use BibleGateway):  "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Psalm 103:1-2}


me ... in mexico

I took this photo of myself today.  You know how if you're the one taking the photos, you're usually never in them?

When I was snapping a few of the kids, I noticed myself in the mirror and thought, "this may be the only proof I have that I was on this trip."



I pray this post finds you all with warm Christmas memories in your hearts!  {Should I try my hand at writing greeting cards?}  :)

We had a great Christmas, we really did.  As always, Skye & Odinn come over early Christmas morning to open presents with us.  The girls were up late Christmas eve, so the baby was sleeping in big time and we had to wake her.  Even Miss Teenager was up before her!

Everyone loved their gifts.  I was especially proud of the shadowbox I worked on for Taylor.  Her {early} Christmas present was the Jonas Brothers concert and meeting them.  I knew she wasn't getting much else for Christmas and saved {and took from her} some memorabilia from the concert {our wrist bands, tickets, etc.}.  I mounted the memorabilia and some photos into the shadowbox and wrapped it for Christmas.  I think at first she thought it was a tad lame, but I think she realized how hard I had worked on it {and how happy I was to give it to her} and she came around to the appreciation side.  :)

The little girls got Leapster's for Christmas and they have been the ultimate hit!  Well, those and the praying mantis eggs that Curt got them.

I loved the girls matching jammies so much that we had a jammie day ... as we went to my mom's for lunch and then later to GrandGene's house for Christmas dinner with Curt's family.  Everyone complimented the outfits and I had fun telling them the girls slept in them the night before {cuz their pj's and all}.

This morning had us up early packing {yeah, I never got my packing done}, taking baths, retiring the Christmas jammies ... and heading to Mexico!

The hotel we're at is pretty cool.  I was uncertain when we got here, as the lobby was a little shady looking ... I truly felt horrible for being "spoiled" and even scarier was when Piper asked what our room was going to look like.  :(

I asked God for forgiveness and Curt too.

The girls love vacation!  The weather is nice, windy and cooler at night, but no snow!

I love comparing our vacation photos {when we go somewhere warm} from the beginning of the trip {white wisconsin family} to the end of the trip {we belong in warm weather}!

As I mentioned, the Leapster thing ... brilliant!  The girls played with them for almost the whole 4 plus hour flight!

Gotta love Hunter ham-it-up {in the photo above} with her sad face.  She had some major tears in a few of the photos taken before this one.  I was snapping away and she stopped.  So I asked her to give me her sad face again.

Well, off to bed for us ... we've been pulling some late nighters and I've got some sleep to catch up on!  Now I just gotta get Tay off Facebook.


thankful ...

I'm so sorry for the 'debbie downer' post!  Thank you so much everyone though, for your calls, notes, and concerns ... and hey! I even got some extras prayers out of it!

Today, I thought I would mention a few things I'm thankful for ... but first let me tell you about my yesterday.

Curt's work program was at 1:30, so I needed to leave work by 11:30 {bad roads!} to get home, change, get the girls ready and head out.  So I got at the store about 7ish in the morning so I could accomplish the things I needed to and then get outta there for the holidays at hand!  Christmas Spirit ... here I come!

Hold that thought ... it'll be a while before the ol' CS comes to town ...

I won't bore y'all with details, but I got caught up at the store making heads or tails of a lot of things and therefore wasn't able to accomplish the ordering, etc. I intended to get done.  I slowly started realizing I would need to come back to work after Curt's program, so I called him in tears to explain {I'm a woman and I cry a lot, what can I say?} ... 

Anyway, 11:30 came and I had to go.  Nellie was a rockstar taking over while I was gone and with some help, managed to get 27 packages out the door to UPS ... thank you awesome Nellie!!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ... I got home in record time {seriously, I don't get home that fast when the roads are clear.  And I promise I was driving carefully}!  I thanked the Lord and ran inside to get some kiddies ready for a Christmas program.

My mom was at the house with the girls and she and my dad were going to the program too, so she and I started getting ourselves ready.  I whip on a dress {quite literally}, slap on a little more make up and try to tame my crazy hair.

Off to get the little ones ready!  But not before miss teenager steps in with a potential wardrobe malfunction that needed to be taken care of.  With Taylor's outfit under control, I'm back to get the little ones ready.

I hadn't shown them their outfits before and couldn't wait to see how they loved them!  And love they did ... twirls, excitement, spelling {spelling?!?} ... their shirts spelled out the word 'joy' and it was cute watching them figure that out.

I was able to quickly snap one photo {okay a few, but one that turned out decent.  okay, decent after a little retouching in photoshop ...}.  I wish I had gotten a photo of Taylor, she looked beautiful and way too grown up!  But of course she was putting some last minute touches on her awesome self!  :)

So we all scramble to the car ... seriously, the stuff reality TV is made of!  We get to the program and walk in the door, start greeting people, saying our hellos when Wynter breaks down into a crying fit.  "I don't want my skirt on!"

Blagh!!!!  Things were going so well.

I start by telling her she doesn't have a choice, it's beautiful, it's spinny, it's fun, it's ... it's ... {and in my head I'm thinking, "but you match your sisters and everyone will love it and you look so cute, and, and, and ..."} ... "okay Wynt, you can take it off if you really want to."

And she did.  :(

When Piper sees that Wynt doesn't have her skirt on, she wants hers off too.  I realize I'm going to lose that battle, so don't even embark ... and I let her take hers off.  :(

The thing is, the girls had leggings on under the skirts, that are basically made of tissue paper ... point being, you can see through tissue paper ... get it?  We're talking my pretty pony undies on one and bright pink on the other.

Still working on my CS here, so I'm not going to worry about an innocent little peep show!

The program starts.  My awesome husband does an amazing job {am I gushing?}.  Okay, time-out here ... I do want to say how proud I am of him.  He does such a good job with his speeches.  He works so hard to practice and make them just right and he did a great job!  I love him ...

Then it's time to introduce the girls ... he does this every year.  The girls have been practicing their songs for a few weeks now and are excited to bust 'em out!

The following ensued ...

{I downloaded this late last night and didn't have time to 'pretty it up' so it's just the raw footage, bear with me and enjoy!}

Cute, no?  Wynter didn't sing a word ... she just hummed it.  And Hunter started singing "O Christmas Tree" ... that's the one she'd been practicing.  How cute was she holding that mic?  And judging by the death grip in which she clinged to me, I think hearing her voice through the speakers freaked her out a little.

Back to my day {are you still reading?} ... we stay after the program to mingle a bit and the girls were heavy on the chocolate fountain!  Marta got a great photo of Wynter ... I'll share when she forwards it to me {hint, hint Marta}.

We head out a tad after 3 ... get home, I run like the wind to change my clothes {did I just write 'run like the wind?' what is with my dorkiness these days?}, I grab a couple pretzel rods and coke for lunch and run out the door.

This time traffic wasn't on my side and it took almost an hour to get back to the store.  I'm super happy things are out the door {the 27 packages}, but somehow I still managed to stay at the store until 11:30 last night organizing, shipping more orders, and doing the ordering I wanted to get done earlier in the day.  I know I stayed late, but that also meant I didn't need to go to work today!  Score one for CS!

Once again, thank you Heather for helping, thank you Nellie for staying and helping ... and thank you surprise visitor for rockin' the UPS side of things for us!!  Terrie was dropping the girls off at dance and stopped in for a visit ... no time for visiting, we put her to work!  :)

I roll into the garage around midnight and am thoroughly exhausted ... as I snuggle into bed, I smile and realize how blessed I am, and suddenly ... wait ... is that the CS coming upon me?

I am thankful.  I have much to be thankful for.
  • God, who loves me and does take care of me!  Yes Jenny, that was our Christmas miracle from Him!  :)
  • My husband.  I do. not. give him enough credit.  And on top of it, the poor man has to put up with my b_ _ _ _ iness and tears when I'm stressed out.  He is an amazing father.  A patient husband.  And I love him dearly.
  • My children.  To hear "I wub you too mommy" as Hunter is running down the hallway in her new tennies to make them light up ... ahhhhh ... it's what this life is suppose to be about.
  • I am thankful for friends.  I have amazing friends ... thank you for loving me everyday, in the good and the bad.
  • I am thankful I didn't have to go into work today.
  • I thankful for my new office.
  • I am thankful I got my 250 {hand-addressed!} Christmas cards out.
  • I am thankful God gave me the courage to sign the broker agreement yesterday.
  • I am thankful for my health.
  • I am thankful for my gifts God gave me ... I ran a darn good paper store.  I can take a pretty good photo.  Sometimes I can sing on key.
  • I am thankful for my family.  My mom has been amazing being here to watch the girls for us.  And my sister loves them to death!
  • I am thankful Christ was born.
  • I am thankful I hear God speaking to me.
  • I am thankful I am loved.
Merry Christmas everyone!  May your Christmas Spirit flow abundantly ...


are you there God? it's me ... tracie

A friend {ever so wisely} recently reminded me that God wouldn't give me more than I can handle.  She also mentioned that she's pretty sure I'm close to my limit ... true dat!  :)

I hate that my spirit is sagging.

I hate that I can't seem to lift above it.

I hate that I'm feeling this way and complaining when I should be gearing up to celebrate our Savior's birth {and some presents too!}.

I hate that the kids are off of school now, and I'm having to go into work.  I said my "good-bye's and Merry Christmases" on Thursday, with every intention of fully immersing myself into my kids lives {while finishing up with wrapping, etc. when I could}.

I hate that I still have myself and 3 kids to pack {but thankful I'm blessed to be going on vacation and thank God Taylor packs herself!}.

I hate that I have a zillion web orders coming into the store {how sad is that?} because I don't want to have to go into the store right now.

I hate that I have to ask my mom to come over and watch the girls and that I can't be with them myself.

I hate that I'll most likely be working Christmas Eve too.

I hate that I had to go back to work tonight and just got home.

I hate that things are in such disarray at work.

I hate that I'm hating so many things.

I want a joyful spirit.  I want a holiday spirit.  I want a restful spirit.

I hate that I'm saying "I want."

Okay, so back to apparently how much the Lord thinks I can handle.  So the store had a mention in Real Simple magazine ... awesome right?  It should be ... totally.  Except that, we weren't prepared for the outpouring of love the product would receive.  And that the store's product manager is gearing up for vacation.  And I was planning on being home with the kids.

When I saw the web orders flying in last weekend {71 orders!  a normal busy weekend is around 30ish}, I quickly sent a note to LobotoME to see if she could ship things out right away on Monday.  Sure, no problem ... except she wasn't planning on a snowstorm in Denver.  And I wasn't planning on a snowstorm here.

So here's the stress overload today:
1. I had to go to work.
2. Things pretty unorganized, but I can't stay to help because we have a program at Curt's work to be at.
3. After being home a short time {after the program}, I realize chaos is the state of bwp and I'll need to go back into work that evening.
4. I desperately want to go to dinner and a movie with Curt and the girls ... so I know it's going to be way late before I can get to the store.
5. I order chicken fajitas at dinner, and receive chicken quesadillas.
6. Get a call as the movie starts that the LobotoME order is lost.  UPS is really surprised, as the woman has never heard of this happening before.  But there I am with unfulfilled web orders up the wazoo and a lost shipment.
7. This is really awesome ... are you ready?  I dropped my iphone in the itoilet and now it's inop!
8. Lastly ... the car's out of gas.

I'm in the car {clocked over 2 hours of driving today} and trying to get into a worshipful, praiseful spirit.  Let it all go ... let the Lord take care of it.  And the midst of the crease in my brow getting so deep it hurts ... the Lord gave me peace.  He promised he will take care of it.

Over and over ... I'd start thinking about this and that, and he would say, "I'll take care of you."

What an awesome God.  I thank you Lord for reminding me that you're there.  You haven't forgotten me.  You will take care of me and you'll never give me more than I can handle.  One question though ... will my tank be full tomorrow morning?  :)

Heather, I love you more than words ... thank you for also 'saving' me tonight.  You are a blessing my friend.


this just in ...

SoooooPer girls ... and dog!  Curt and I were in my office discussing important matters at hand, while the girls were running amuck {did I just say 'amuck?'}.  At one point, they came bounding into the office complete with superdog in tow.

Here they are striking a fierce superpose {awesome watching dad demonstrate to superbaby how to pose!}.  And not that anyone will judge me {right?}, but the blurry photo of superdog, is blurry because I had to crop it out of a different image.

And as fast as they came in ... they ran out.

Superbaby came bouncing in a bit later on supercaterpillar.  Apparently she had important matters to discuss as well.  And we couldn't resist a few poses with supersophie!

so worth watching {with kleenex}

This video makes me feel strong, empowered ... and reminds me of what women all over the country are doing everyday to take care of each other and our families.  Here's to women and friendship ...


snow day

Hurray for snow days!!  It was a blizzard here yesterday.  We had planned to keep the girls home from school for the company's profit sharing program, and drop them off afterwards for their school holiday program.  And I was planning on taking the day off of work so I could go to both programs.

Seems that God took things into his own hands and kept us home for the day with a blizzard outside.  I closed the store and school was obviously closed too.  The company kept the profit sharing program as scheduled, so only Curt and Odinn {who spoke at it} went.

Odinn made a joke that his sisters couldn't be there because they were at home waiting for the Jonas Brothers to show up for Christmas {or something like that ... I forget ... but it was cute}.

I thought it would be fun to document our snow day, so kept the camera handy.  I think this blog is turning into my new photo album.  I'm horrible at printing photos and doing something with them.

So our morning started out all white Christmasy and blizzardy outside.  We were in the nursery showing the girls, when Curt noticed the bird feeders were covered with snow.  He went running outside {with no coat or covering} and wiped them off ... he started running back to the house, when he suddenly turned around and ran back towards us and nose-dived into the snow and began rolling around.  Oh my word!  The girls loved it!

Next was snow-with-sprinkles time ...

Wynter's been telling me she wants her hair cut, so while Curt was at the profit sharing program, I cut Wynter's hair ...
Then it was time for a movie {Space Chimps ... awesome!} and popcorn in the theater.  Big treat since it was only 10:00 in the morning!
When daddy got home, he took the kids out to play ... even Ariel got in on the action ...
Lunch and hot chocolate after snow-time ...
While the baby was napping, I worked on some wrapping ...
The afternoon is a blur to me now ... but I took this sweet photo of Piper and Puddles all cuddled up.
We finished the night putting a puzzle together {no photo}, got the girls to bed, finished up some more wrapping while Taylor was at a movie and went to bed early.

It was a nice cozy day ... I wish I were a bear and could hibernate all winter.  Only I suppose, I'd like to hibernate on a beach somewhere instead.  :)


praise report ...

Remember this post?  I'm always asking for prayers, I thought I should post a praise report as well!

I'm happy to tell you that after 68 days in the hospital, Stephanie went home today.  Thank you for any prayers you sent her way.

Thank you God for being an awesome God ...

prayer request

Here I am ... up to my knees in tears over trying to decide what's best for the store {long story ...} and I get a prayer request for my dear friend Lori.  Puts things into perspective real fast, doesn't it?

This is my friend Lori.  I've asked for prayer for her before and I'm at it again ... she's being admitted to the ICU at St. Luke's for fluid around her heart.  She's been having trouble breathing ...

As you can imagine, the last place she wants to be right before Christmas is the ICU.  She's the mommy to 4 young children and wants to be with them now more than ever.

Please pray that the procedure goes well.  A quick recovery.  Home before Christmas.  And a Christmas miracle to heal her of her cancer.


so excited ...

I don't know if these photos will do it justice, but delivered today was a canvas I ordered as a Christmas gift for my friend Tracie.  I posted photos I took of her children here and here.

She doesn't read my blog, so I think I'm safe posting these ... and I think it turned out so awesome I wanted to share asap!  Think she'll love it?

Tay saw the photos {below} and I asked why I had it on our wall.  I tried to muster an answer and all that came out was "cuz I'm queer."  And I am ... but an excited queer.  {not that there's anything wrong with that ... right?}  :)

while visions of ...

Things yet to be done, danced in my head.

Quite literally last night's dreams were all about the projects I have yet to complete before Christmas.  Is anyone else freaking out?  I'm trying my best to remain calm, while my apparent stresses are playing themselves out in my dreams.

I was awakened by the sound of a screeching coyote at 2:30 am.  When I woke, I realized I had just been dreaming about the following project, along with a few other images of what I need to get done rolling around in there.

So sad, but I quite literally thought of this post's title at 2:30 in the morning ... I thought it was clever and glad I remembered it.

Okay, before I get to the photos at hand ... I must tell you about these annoying coyotes!  Really?  At 2:30 in the morning?  I woke with a start because I thought it was the baby {and Curt's out of town, so I couldn't feign ignorance}.

One coyote starts screeching {is that what they do?}, then I hear another ... and slowly I realize I've got a couple of coyotes out there gettin' it on!  Yikes!  I can not be responsible for the procreation of coyotes ... not to mention that they're not exactly modest about their happenings and I didn't want them to wake the kids.

So I get up and try opening my sliding door to ... what?  I'm not quite sure ... ask them to keep it down?

Anyway, it's frozen shut {basically, so are my eyes!}.  I didn't give up ... I couldn't.  They seemed to be getting louder.

Ever the spoil-sport, I finally get it open ... {realize people, it's 2:30 in the morning here} ... but once it's open, I'm not quite sure what my intent was.  How do you ask coyotes to keep it down?  I settle for a quiet shout out the door {for some reason, I thought if I was too loud I'd wake the kids} ... and they stopped!

Back to dreamland for me ...

Okay, so I was working on teacher gifts last night.  For Christmas, I usually give a Barnes & Noble gift card, along with a photo of the girls and some kind of little quote.  This year's quote was:

The best teachers teach
from the heart,
not from the book.

As I'm 'designing' {term used very loosely here}, the card and type in the quote and leave some space for the gift card ... I suddenly realize the irony of my quote and gift!  But it's late, I'm tired and need to get the project done, so I just go for it ...

So here's Wynter's ...

Here's Piper's ...

And here are the hundreds of photos I printed and mounted that I didn't need.  I needed two each {they each have a teacher and an assistant}, so four total.  But in my messed up head, I thought they needed 4 photos each, 8 total.  Like I said ... it was late and I was tired ...

Here's the finished product ...

And here's what I did with two of the extra photos {sorry, I cut off Piper's photo}.  And have I mentioned how much I love my new office and especially this wallpaper?  Perfect for a photo freak!

Merry Christmas to all ... and to all a good-night!  {even though it's morning ... roll me with, won't cha?}


happens every time ...

It all goes down, when Curt's out of town ... guaranteed!  Why is that?

I was talking to a friend this morning, and she says the same thing ... when our husband's go out of town, you can guarantee something's going to go down at home.

Piper has strep {she's so miserable!}, Wynter's somewhere between faking a stomach ache and being severely constipated.  I don't keep track of when she goes or doesn't and obviously can't rely on her to tell me when she's gone.  But as far as I know, it's been a bit too long since she's gone.  The doctor put her on a laxative yesterday, when Piper got her antibiotic.

Since Wynter tends mention her stomach ache when I'm tending to Piper.  And since she tries to lose her voice when Piper can barely talk ... kind makes me think she may be trying a little to hard to be sick.

But then you never know, right?  Like the time Taylor said she had a stomach ache and I thought she was faking and she puked everywhere ...

Piper came in my bed in the middle of the night and Wynter was there slapping my bum at 5:30 ... what's with 5:30 am in this house?

At least the baby slept through the night!

Anyway ... I've also been meaning to post these pictures of Curt and the girls from the Princess Ball.  Racine has this event every year, but this is the first time the girls {and Curt} went.  It's a dinner and dance for only dad's and their daughters.

Once again, Curt was determined to break the rules ... mine, and the event rules.  The girls were supposed to be between the ages of 3 and 6 {or 8?}.  I was already breaking my rule by letting the girls go and be up past bedtime.  But not the baby.  Curt was determined to take her too.  I figured they would all have a better time if the baby didn't go.  She'd get crabby, they'd have to come home, etc., etc.

Loosen up mom, will you?

I did.

And they had a blast!  Aren't they adorable?

Big brother, Odinn jumped in on the action too ... he's such a good brother and they love him so much!


great gift idea

Stumped on what to give to the person who needs nothing? Or maybe even a good teachers gift? How about these Kits for Kidz? A primary school supply kits costs only $12.00. And you can purchase in honor of whomever you choose.

Their goal is to provide less fortunate kids with the necessary supplies to receive the education they so desperately deserve. Along with these school supply kits, they also offer backpacks, child hygiene kits, baby care kits, children's clothing and child activity kits.

Through a link on the website, you can pick an organization that speaks to your heart and donate directly.

scratch that ...

You know the post I wrote last night? Forget it ... we've got 71 web orders at the store this morning and I'm all kinds of freaking out!


"who threw up last night?"

That's what Taylor asked me this morning on our way to church.

"Wynter.  How'd you know?" I replied.

"The bowl in your bed."

Yeah, that's my MO ... when the kids are sick {and old enough to aim}, I give them a bowl and send them back to bed.  So it was this morning {5:30am} with Wynter.

Piper comes running into my room, yelling that Wynter threw up.  I'm out of bed in a flash, but stumbling all over the place.  And come on!  It's Sunday ... I planned to go to the late service, and sleep in at least until 6:30!

So I'm out in the family room and there's Wynter standing above a pile of puke about to do it again.  My eyes are barely functioning, so I sort of stand there, rub her back and just let her go at it.  After all ... dad's the master-of-puke-pee-poo-cleanerupper!

Then I give her a bowl and send them both back to bed.  Mother of the year award?  :)

When she wakes up, I have her come into my bed and I make sure she brings her bowl with her.  I'm happy to report no more incidences {knock on wood!}.

The last couple of nights have been rough.  Piper's throat is so sore, she can barely talk.  Not in a losing your voice, kind of way.  But in the 'my throat's closing in on me, I can't talk' kind of way.

Hunter has been up a minimum of 3 times each night.  I think it was 4 on Friday night.  I did my best 'I'm sleeping so soundly, I can't hear her' impression and got out of a couple of them!

And yeah, Wynt's been complaining of a stomach ache since Thanksgiving {honest!}.  Problem is, sometimes I don't know if it's real or not with her.  Like when Piper can't talk, Wynter does her best 'I can't talk' impression.  Or when Piper came home from school early a few weeks ago, because she had a fever ... Wynter asked on the car ride home, "what's the worse thing you can have ... a fever?"

Anyway ... when the baby woke up this morning, I put her in my bed {so she could catch what Wynter had}, and as I tucked her in ... I wanted to savor every moment, every sight.  All cuddled in with her plethora of nukies and her little stuffed animal.

We tuck them into our bed every morning to watch TV while we get ready for the day.  I know the day is coming when they aren't going to be doing that anymore.  Tay used to climb into our bed too ... and now she's too busy showering her mornings away!

On to another matter.  I've been praying {literally} and praying about the 'busyness' of my life.  I'm a slow, slow learner ... but I finally gave it to God.  Here God, take it.  Take my busyness ... wash it, dry it, iron it ... and give it back to me all pressed, cleaned and most importantly ... organized.

And guess what?  He did!

I have gotten so much done, and really without doing anything at all.  Somehow the weight is lifted.  Somehow I feel extremely organized.  And please, if I steer out of control again ... slap me!

Anyway ... we had a lounging kind of day today ... what, with everyone being sick and all.  I got a bit of things done while the baby napped and the girls watched TV.  Then we had a fire and movie afternoon while I addressed Christmas cards.  And then ...

This is actually the reason for my post ...

We had a game night tonight!  Woo-hoo!  We ordered in pizza, ate on the floor and played games.  That might not sound like rocket science.  But here's the thing ... I was not looking at the clock.  I was not rushing things along.  I was fully immersed in the moment.  Enjoying my time with the girls.

It was heaven.  Thank you Lord {thank you for slapping me!}


prayer request

I'm sitting here not even sure where to begin this post.

This is Angie ... her husband, Chris ... and their daughters.  Angie died today.  She suffered from triple negative breast cancer.  It's the same cancer my friend Marta was diagnosed with.

Unfortunately, Angie's cancer wasn't found as early as Marta's and had already spread significantly.  I met Angie at Marta's hattitude party ... she was feisty and strong.  She was also treasured by Marta.

I have been praying for Angie, but it seems the Lord had different plans for her.  Funny that I came across this verse today, "...The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."  {Job 1:21} 

Please pray for peace, strength, and faith for this family over the next day, weeks and months.

teenagers!!! {sigh of frustration}

How is it, that I can wake Taylor up in the morning, get myself in the shower, dressed and completely ready ... then go to her room only to find out she's still in the shower?  Was I ever that frustrating?  :)

This is my little girl.  Taylor Rio Stier.  Named after the Duran Duran song, "Rio."  The best baby ever.  Sweet, easy, loving ...

And this is my teenage girl.  She frustrates me, she challenges me, she questions me, she drives me crazy, and she makes me question my skills as a mother on a daily basis.  But ...

She loves me.  And I love her ... dearly.

We were having a conversation the other day about moms.  She asked if I thought so & so, or so & so were good mothers.  I told her I couldn't answer that, and that I could only answer for myself.  Because one day, I would stand before God and have to answer to the 'calls' I made while raising her.  And that I'm doing the best I know how.

She got all wide-eyed and incredulous looking ... she said, "You're doing a great job mom."  And she meant it ...

She sent me a text last night saying that she loves me {she was staying at a friends house}.  We text each other 143 {how many letters spell out each word in 'I love you'}.  I text back that her note meant the world to me and I love her too. 

Her text back?  "I really do mom ..."  {sigh ... and tears}

I realize she may not always feel this way.  And I realize that I frustrate her, I challenge her, I question her, and I drive her crazy on a daily basis.  But I also realize she loves me this way right now, and I'll take it for all it's worth.

When Taylor was younger, I had so many expectations of her.  Unfair expectations, really.  I remember sitting in an introduction to Kindergarten {only parents}, and we had to go around the room saying what we are proud of our child for.  I started sweating bullets, because I honestly couldn't think of something I was proud of.

Taylor has dealt with a lot in her short life.  I won't go into the details, but I believe some of these things make up who she is today ... which is sort of a sullen, quiet, shy, withdrawn {in a sense} kind of girl.

I would see friends that were outgoing, cheerful, not bashful and think, "why can't Taylor be like that?"

I remember once she had on a pair of pants that were far too short.  I wanted her to change into something more presentable {in my opinion}.  She started crying as she went to her room and yelled, "you just want me to be perfect."  Oh, how that struck me!  I listened.

My girls now wear pretty much what they please.  Even if that means they wear pj's to church!  :)

There were two other turning points in my relationship with Taylor ...

1) I saw a video sermon in Sunday school that talked about parenting.  He was listing 10 important facts in parenting.  The last one was:  Believe the best in your children.  Simple as that.

Unfortunately, I've grown a bit untrusting as I've gotten older.  And in my need of not wanting Taylor to ever 'pull a fast one on me,' I didn't trust her.  I didn't take her at face value.  I believed the worst before I believed the best.

I've tried to change that.  Not completely ... I'm not naive enough to think she's never going to lie {Lord knows I've already been proven wrong}.  But I believe our children need to know we've 'got their backs.'  When no one else in this world believes them, they can trust that we do.

And number 2) I also had a deep desire for Taylor to respect me.  Not talk back to me.  Not sass, etc.  And I was very uptight about it.  She asked me once, "why can't you just joke around a little?"  She gave me some examples.  And I listened.

I still don't tolerate straight out disrespect.  But I try to have a little fun in our relationship.  Loosen up a bit, if you will.

Most importantly ... I believe in parenting, we need to listen to our children.  Really listen.  Not be distracted, busy, rushed.

But focused, directed, engaged.  When I can look into my child's eyes and know exactly what's going on in there ... then I'll know I'm the parent God wants me to be.  And that I listened ...


a year in review

Every year, I put together a sort of year-in-review of our family for Curt's company's 'Employee Appreciation Day' event.  I worked pretty much on this all day, and I'm happy to say, "it's a wrap!"  Enjoy ...

newborn portrait session

{Not that I blame her}, but I've got one impatient mother on my hands!  I first mentioned their photos here.

Well ... I've finished with her photos in record time and you can find the rest of them here.  Enjoy!


the wonder & joy in christmas

I'd like to invite you to attend "Wonder & Joy," a Christmas play given at my church this weekend. I promise you, it won't disappoint.

Check out more info here. I'm going Saturday at 3:30 ... hope to see you there!


o christmas tree, o christmas tree ...

We picked up our tree last week at Borzynski's ... pretty cold and uneventful.  The highlight was guacamole at Jose's!  {As I'm writing, I can't believe it's been a whole year since I wrote this.}

And here are some photos of us decorating the tree.  Some highlights:

1. Taylor began the night posing with dogs {while Curt was quickly losing patience over our photoshoot}.
2. Hunter had no interest and was zoned out with Max & Ruby {although she joined us later}.
3. Wynter and Piper patiently took turns on the ladder {um, yeah ... didn't go quite like that}.
4. Somehow a photo clip thing got hung on our tree {it's holiday themed, but still ... really?!?}.
5. We played Christmas music while decorating the tree ... brings back memories of my mom's 8 track player every time I decorate the tree. 
6. I hope I'm creating lifelong memories for my girls.
7. It warms my heart to look at these photos.  Christmas is my favorite holiday ... and these are my favorite girls.

newborn baby twins!!

I realize that title might be a bit redundant, but how else was I going to convey my excitement?  I've been dying to get my camera on these little sweeties!

Born 10ish{?} weeks early, Marley & Murphy entered the world on August 28.  They were itty bitty and on lots of machinery.  They slowly gained weight and strength and were able to finally come home.

I had offered mom, right after their birth, to let me know when I could come take photos ... and I finally got the call!  Taylor and I went over on Sunday after church and were blessed to see a little 'twin action' first hand ... yikes!  I thought I had my hands full ...

Their parents seem to have things down to an art {'cept sleeping}, and big sis' Avery is a huge help too ... so sweet to see her loving on her babies!

This is just a sampling of what I'm working on.  I'll post a link when I have them ready.

{note:  i've heard that a photographer should never post the 'best' images from a session ... so just wait 'til you see what i have up my sleeve!  i even managed an action shot ... baby marley in mid-spitup!}


portraits in mexico

Just a quick post before I head to bed to post the Becker's finished photos.  Take a look here.

I sure wish all my shoots were in Mexico ... :)

ten four love ...

Signed, sealed, delivered!  This project is officially in the hands of this beautiful bride.  Can I hear a resounding ... yay!!!

I've posted just the 'artistic edits' on my website, the rest you can view on Pictage, by entering 'ten four' in the search field.

I feel so blessed to have been at this wedding, let alone take photos of it.  Taylor came with me to assist {thank you so much Tay ... and I should mention I still owe her a pair of Converse from the deal!}, so the fact she was with me for the entire day was a blessing in itself.

Kris was my original BFF, and that was back in the day where we coined the phrase BFF.  Man, we had some awesome, awesome good times together.  Some she remembers and I don't.  Some I remember and she doesn't.

We met in fifth grade when I moved to Oak Creek.  By sixth grade, we were at BFF status.  She even left her original, original BFF for me.  It was everything I wanted a friendship to be.  We even went to homecoming together one year.  Um yeah, losers ...

Kris and I went our ways after high school.  We kept in touch a little, but our lives seemed to have brought us different roads to travel.  She had a baby, I had my awesome barber degree to pursue.  :)

We shared a few emails here and there, saw each other a few times and then seemed to reconnect a little better a couple of years ago for our high school reunion {I refuse to say what one we were celebrating}.  We were total Romy & Michelle's, and I'll leave it at that!  And needless to say, the girls that were drunk and dancing on tables in high school, are now women that are drunk and dancing on tables.  Not cool.

Okay, back to the wedding ... Kris and Mark have been 'dating' for 18 years.  Neither have ever been married and they never married each other.  They were content doing the "Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell" thing.

Mark is an incredible man.  I never really had a chance to get to know him, and I regret that.  He's a quiet, gentle spirit.  A very caring man.  He raised Bethany with Kris, from the time Bethany was just a few years old {threeish?}.

This was the first wedding for them both and it was special.  Kris never expected to get married.  Mark asked her to marry him last Christmas ... in the same spot her parents got engaged {goose bumps yet?}.

They met when they both worked at a trucking company.  Kris in the office, Mark as a driver.  They would flirt over the phone and he'd end the conversation with "ten-four."

When she told me they'd gotten engaged and were contemplating a date, I wasn't sure why she kept saying she was going to try for this October 4th.  If it wasn't then, she wasn't sure when it would be.

Come to find out the significance in that, is that October 4th, is also translated as "ten-four!"  {goose bumps?}.

Kris has 3 sisters and a brother.  They were always so close ... and still are.  An incredible family and love.  As I'm typing this and remembering our childhoods together ... I almost feel as if somewhere deep inside me, I loved being in the midst of her family and the craziness of everyone all around ... I'm realizing this as I'm typing, but I'm almost thinking that her family is the reason I have a large family myself.

As crazy as things get, I love it.  I love the madness and love that lives in my house.

Back to the wedding ... I loved watching this wedding and their love, from behind the lens.  As I said, I felt truly blessed.  Blessed to witness such a deep commitment to each other.  Blessed to see her family together again.

But I also felt a twinge of regret.  Regret that I missed so many years.

And then blessed again that we've been able to stay in touch and connected after so many years.

Kris, Mark, Bethany, Dale, Sandy, Kathy, Kelly, Kerri, and Jason ... thank you for allowing me to capture this special day and be with you in such a special way.


exuma mama's {revisited}

I finally have our Exuma photos posted ... what fun looking through them and remembering all over again!

We had an absolute blast!  I so look forward to this trip every year.  Thank you friends for joining me this year.  And I love, love, love the book you put together.  Every special memory and detail for me to look at whenever I wish.

Karaoke, eating, sun, birthday dinner, sermon, giant spider, mad gab, trivial pursuit, baptism, deep discussions, chick flicks, mimosa's, friendship, water aerobics, midnight chats, "ride terrie, ride" ... ahhhh ...

Outrageous, contagious joy!  I love you ladies ... enjoy the photos and let me know if you'd like them on a disk.


crazy or desperate?

Am I crazy, or just desperate, that I believed my 13 year old daughter when she told me St. Nick was supposed to come Thursday night, not Friday?  And now that she knows it really was Friday night and he came Thursday ... do I need to do any explaining?

Except that I'm crazy.  And, well ... desperate.

Desperate to get my head back in the game.  Desperate to give focus and attention to my family that they deserve.

My head is in not quite a million places ... I don't want to be all drama diva on you, so realistically, let's say my head is in about 50 places right now.  Proof?

WARNING:  TMI {in a major way}, continue reading at your own risk ... I have my period {yeah, that's tmi, but it gets worse}.  The other night we were decorating our tree and I was having the worst ickyish feeling cramps.  When we were done with the tree, I went to take my tampon out {I warned you!!} and realized I had two in.  Two!!  When I had come home from work, I went to change it, but instead just put another one in.  Crazy!

When I tried to explain to my husband that I'm overloaded and not thinking clearly and gave him this very clear example of where my head is at ... he couldn't get past, "are you really that big in there?"  MEN!!

And then there was Friday night.  Curt had the girls out for dinner so I could 'catch up on things' {I'm so tired of my husband having to carry the load so that I can 'catch up on things!' ... but thank you Lord for my awesome husband}.  The store is featured this month {January's issue} in Lucky magazine.

Friday night, I get an email from a woman at the mag that I've been working with, saying that the promo code isn't working.  I freaked out!  Full-on freak out mode!  Problem number one?  I don't recall even entering a promo code!  I'm desperately looking through my contract like a crazy woman for a promo code.  There it is ... luckybreaks6.  Okay, no prob ... I'll just get the code on my website.  Fortunately, it's a web based program, so I have access from home.

Problem number two?  As I'm desperately trying to sort through this all, I'm slowly realizing that my system won't take more than 8 characters.  The code, I must remind you, that is now. in. print., absolutely won't fit with my system.

I immediately call my trusty bwp consultant, Heather {I'm pretty much sobbing at this point ... oh! and close to hyper-ventilating} for advice.  She walks through it with me and we settle for 'luckybre' and make a notation on the shopping cart page what the new code is.

The problem with this?  Now anyone going to our website has a 25% discount.

I can. not. do this anymore.  I can't be the woman who 'does it all.'  And I don't want to be the woman that does it all.  I want to be the mom and wife that my children & husband want me to be.

And I want to be what God designed me to be.  He has blessed me with four amazing children.  And an amazing husband.  I took the long road to get here, and sometimes the wrong road.

But I know God had it mapped out for me for a reason.  And now I am listening.  When I stand before him some day, is he going to tell me how proud he is of me for all I've done with a paper store?  And how I glorified him through all I did with it?

I don't think so.

I want him to tell me what an awesome job I did in raising my children {his children} the way he wanted me to.  And {I'm still praying for this one to happen but,} that through my example, I brought my husband to Christ.

That's what I want to focus on.  And the thing is ... for me ... I'm blessed enough to do this.  I realize not everyone can.  But again, this is the path that God has laid out for me.  I am able.  And so I need to take advantage of that.

I have decided to sell the store.  I have truly decided.  If you know me, you know that I have always said I was going to sell the store.  Seriously, a broken record over here.  But the bottom line is, I never meant it.  I would never sell the store.  It was {and is} my pride and joy.

This time I mean it.

I announced the news to my staff last week.  Everyone seems supportive.  I know it's scary and uncertain, but they understand the many directions I'm being stretched and seem pretty supportive.  Now I just need to find a buyer!  I've talked a bit to Paper Source and am waiting to hear back from them.  And we'll also be listing with a broker soon.

Now that I have made my decision, I absolutely can not wait to get started on this new chapter of my life.

I give thanks to God for holding my hand through all of this.  For talking to me, guiding me, loving me, and for giving me the wisdom and courage I need.

God is good and I am crazydesperately in love with him.


uh-oh ...

Hey Pipes, what's going on?  Who're you talking to?
What?!  Wynter is locked in the bathroom?!
Um, yeah ... good times at the Stier-Johnson house.  Never a dull moment ...
Piper is an amazing sister.  She cares for and takes care of her little sisters so amazingly.  Wynter did, in fact get trapped in the bathroom {toilet room} the other night.  Take a look at the door handle in the second photo.  They were installed wrong, and poor Wyntie was the victim.

Piper kept telling her, "I'm here Wynt, can you feel my hand?  I'm right here."

Unfortunately, I had to leave for an event at work, so left this little project in the capable hands of Odinn and Curt.  Masters of the screwdriver they are and Wynter escaped unharmed.