family matters

We're at the lake this weekend and this visit has a particularly special meaning to me ... you see, Curt planned this visit with the little girls. He often brings them up here, because I'm 'busy' doing this-or-that {or, in my own defense, have something going on with Taylor}.

Well ... enough of that! This weekend I am doing away with my 'busyness' and I am here! Present and accounted for. Shout with me ... amen and hallelujah!

Big sigh ...

I had a bible study on Wednesday night. We're studying a book from Max Lucado, Facing Your Giants {awesome read if you haven't already} and this past week we studied Chapter 17, Family Matters.

I've talked about it many times before, but it's something I really, really struggle with. Finding the balance between work, busyness, and family. I think if we're honest, most of us struggle with that balance.

This weeks bible study really hit home with a lot of people ... thank you all for letting me know.

As a side note, I've started feeling discouraged with the bible study ... feeling that people weren't interested anymore, or getting anything out of it. I started looking at other 'studies' we could do {which we will move on eventually} that might be more interesting. But after praying about it and not finding another 'study', I feel the Lord is telling me he isn't finished teaching us what we're studying right now.

I've come to realize Satan is putting these thoughts into my head, and just when I needed it most, the Lord has given me encouragement through you.

So back to 'Family Matters' ... we're studying the life of King David {of David & Goliath fame}. Did you know this great man, who masterminded military conquests, founded the capital city of Jerusalem, who wrote the book of Psalms, and killed the giant Goliath ... failed his family?

I think we can learn a lot from his failure ...

There isn't an account in the bible where David prayed for his family. Out of all the scripture he's written and all the prayers he's said ... we can't find that he's prayed over his family or written scripture for them.

He prayed for his army, his friends, and even his enemy ... why then is he silent about his family?

To paraphrase Max Lucado ... Was he too busy to notice them? Maybe. Too important to care for them? Too guilty to direct or discipline them?

Too busy, too important, too guilty ... and now? Too late. David's son had overthrown the city and exiled David. David was destined to die alone, in a stranger's arms.

But it's not too late for us. I realize chances are we won't be overthrown or exiled. And we most likely will not die alone. And our children and families will most likely be there for us.

But here's a thought ... will they be there out of duty, or because they want to.

Our homes are our giant-sized privilege. We need to make it our towering priority.

A privilege? Yes, a privilege. God has given us our families. He has given us our husbands, wives and children.

For those of us in happy marriages ... thank God. If it were not in his plan, we would be roaming from marriage to marriage. Relationship to relationship.

I realize I've made, and apologize {deeply} for the mistakes I've made along the way. But after many guilt-filled prayers ... I know, without a doubt, this is where God wants me to be.

How about those of us with children? Having children isn't 'a given' ... there are many that can't have children. And for those that have adopted children ... those little souls have been given to you.

We need to honor our families, our spouses, our children. By honoring them, we are glorifying and pleasing the One who allowed us to have them in the first place.

"Your children are not your hobby, they are your calling."

"Your spouse is not your trophy, but your treasure."

Some of us {guilty here!}, put value on what we do. We measure our worth by our accomplishments.

I meet someone at a dinner party and am asked, "What do you do?" And I try my best to list off all my 'busyness' and accomplishments. It somehow doesn't seem justifiable that I stay home with my kids ... or maybe work a desk job part-time so I can make the most of my family time.

I saw Soledad O'Brien speak once {and I know I've posted about this before ... see? I'm still struggling with the same ol' issues!}, and she said something that hit me:

"As women, we feel some sort of pleasure in 'one-uping' each other in our busyness." I think, to some extent, that it's true. But the most important part of her message? "It's not a competition."

Get that? It's not a competition. God hasn't designed us for busyness ... which is maybe why we can't handle it? There's no glory in it. And does it really make us feel better letting someone know how much busier we are?

It used to make me feel better. Honestly it did. I somehow felt justified as a woman, mother, wife. Lord knows I didn't want anyone thinking I sat around watching Oprah and eating bon-bons all day! :)


It's taken me a long time, {and if I'm honest here, a part of me will probably struggle with it forever} but I'm finally ready to give up the busyness. And I truly, truly can't wait.

It was so hard to decide to sell the store. And now that I have, I can't get rid of it fast enough {quite literally ... I'm not getting rid of it fast enough!}.

I have a list of things that I can't wait for ... top of the list being my family. I can't wait to be 'present' for my family.

My broker has said that the potential buyer I met with should be writing on Monday with an answer. I am praying {oh Lord, where are these tears coming from?!?} the Lord 'answers' with an offer.

I've come across a couple of links through twitter this morning, and I urge you to check them out ... both are very inspirational {I promise!}. You can find them here and here.

I believe there's a balance to be had in all of this. As I've written before, I don't want my kids to remember "in a minute" ... "I'll be right there" ... "let me finish this up first."

I started this post last night, but instead of {as I would've in the past} staying up late and finishing it up, I decided to spend some time with the hubs reading in bed. Today has been a mixture of writing, watching a dance show, writing, playing backgammon, writing, piano playing ... well, you get the idea.

The kids call me or ask me to do something, so I put the computer down and go play. And when I'm done with this post, I'll put it away.

I'm a work in progress, and I'm thankful I have a God who works on me a little bit every day.

It's not too late for me {or for you}.

"Make your wife the object of your highest devotion. Make your husband the recipient of your deepest passion. Love the one who wears your ring.

And cherish the children who share your name.

Succeed at home first."


empty bowls

Mark your calendar and bring the family! This is a great organization, fundraiser and family event. Monday, March 2 {11-2 for lunch and 4-7 for dinner} at the Masonic Center in Racine.

We went last year, brought the kids and loved it!

Empty Bowls is a hunger-fighting event to remind us there is always an empty bowl ... somewhere. Choose a handmade ceramic bowl that have been made from area schools and other organizations. Then choose from a variety of delicious soups prepared by local chefs ... find a seat and enjoy music performed by local musicians.

$15 per meal {you pick out and keep the bowl}. $5 for children under 10 {styrofoam bowl}. And $7 for soup to go. Bring in a canned good donation and/or an empty bowl from a previous year and earn an additional chance to win a special bowl set.

See ya there!

calling all newborns ...

Anyone got a new peanut I can put in here and photograph?


rain, rain go away

{via a little sussy}

It's the rainy season ... dreary, cold, damp and wet. But there's something about this bubble that brightens my dreary-day blues.

Best of all? It's only $16.99 at Target!


yummy recipe

I had a bible study tonight. Great subject ... family matters. Thanks ladies for coming and opening your hearts tonight ... I really enjoyed the discussions. Be careful what you wish for ... I was wrong ... you ladies can talk! :)

Anyway, I made this yummy dish for the ladies and it's super easy so thought I'd share it with y'all.

It's the most amazing little party snack! Why? Cuz it's tasty {duh!}, but more importantly ... super, duper easy! Yes ... I did, in fact, just say super duper.

Here's what you'll need:
2 cups swiss cheese {which you can purchase shredded}
2 cups coursely chopped sweet onion {very important it's sweet}
2 cups of mayo {real mayo, not the reduced fat stuff!}

Mix, bake at 350 for 40ish minutes and 'ta-da' {Hunter's been saying 'ta-da' about almost everything lately ... warms a mommy's heart} ... you've got yourself a party!

another maternity shoot

Isn't this an awesome photo? One of my favs from yesterday's shoot ... know why? Cuz it reminds me not to be an idiot next time I'm shooting someone's photos!

Check your settings, check your settings, check your settings. I may need to write this on the board 100 times ...

I was SO excited to get this particular pose {I promise to post the real thing as soon as I'm done going through them all ... Miss Aime was patient enough to pose for them all over again} ... that I just started shooting away!

They were beautiful shots ... at least through my lens. I didn't even check my images to see what I was shooting. About 10 photos in, I decided to check and realized ...

D'oh! I'm an idiot! Bear with me world ... I have not yet blossomed.


do something good!

Okay folks ... this is a no brainer!

We're all starting to use recyclable bags, right? {and come on ... if you're not, you should be!} Well, FEED has designed a product that not only helps the earth ... it feeds the world! Genius!

Purchase one of these reusable bags and you'll help feed anywhere from one child to one hundred children in school for one year ... that's incredible! And a must-do if you ask me.

The FEED 100 bag costs only $30.00 ... a very small investment to feed 100 children.

Don't need one for yourself? Give it as a gift ...


my first maternity shoot

Thank you, thank you Ben & Lisa for being so patient and open with me!

Lisa was up for my suggestions and 'just wanted to help me get my portfolio built.' Thank you ... I think these will be perfect for my portfolio.

I ran into some difficulties in Lightroom {like losing all my post-processed files!}, so it took me longer than I had anticipated ... but I'm done ... and ready for bed! Just wanted to quickly post a few of these.

I also posted a few more on my facebook page ... enjoy!


This, my friends, is what you call an Oscar "don't."

Harry, did you see your wife before she left the house? And more importantly, were you okay with it? Seriously?

let's force spring

{via my mom shops}

Maybe if we sprinkle our lawns with lemonade stands, spring will come early?



I'm so in love with this outfit.

winner, winner ... chicken dinner!

Have you heard that before? I hadn't til I saw the movie '21' ... have you seen it? Not a bad flick. It about Vegas and card dealing. And apparently "winner, winner, chicken dinner" is a standard saying in Vegas.

That, of course, is according to the movie. As I've been there a few times and have done my share of gambling and have never heard the words uttered.

But for some reason, whenever I'm announcing a winner {cuz I do it a lot you know!} ... those words instantly come to mind.

Oh! And it sounds even better if you say it with a bit of a chinese accent. "Wiener, wiener ... cheeken deener ..."

{I know you just said it ...}

So who's the winner of my fabulous giveaway? Why it's none other than the amazing, incredible, fun-loving, splits-doing, hip-replacing ... Lisa Mahnke! YAY Lisa!

I used random.org to pick a 'wiener' ... why didn't I know about this site before?

Thanks everyone for 'playing' ... I'm thinking I may need to have another giveaway ... that was fun, no?


all is right with the world

I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. Again.

It happens every so often. I try to keep stress at bay, but somehow, someway ... when I'm least expecting it ... it creeps in on me.

Evident by the sudden onset of tears when I saw an email that CJ's out of town next week. He has a tendency to keep his stress at bay by not going over his calendar with me. Smart guy ...


I'm not complaining {I promise!}, but it's difficult when we're gone so much, cuz there's just so much catching up to do when we get home. I am blessed to be able to travel and have great experiences with my kids and family ... so I promise I'm not complaining ... I just wish I could lighten the work load a little.

Oh! Wait! I am ... as soon as the store sells! :)

I'm filling in at work for some vacant positions. It's sort of a weird transition I'm in, because I don't necessarily want to fill positions a new owner might not want filled. Not to mention it may be difficult to find someone who's willing to start, only to be let go? Hmmm ...

Did you miss rambling Tracie? Cuz I think she's back ...

So. I worked late tonight while CJ got the girls from school and got them settled in at home til the babysitter came over ... and then met me at the store. We went to dinner and had a good time. Thank you Curtis.

But when I got home and dropped my purse and stuff in my office, this is what I found ...

Yuck! Our mail comes in by the truckload {it seems} and I just haven't been able to get to mine since we've got home ... and now I'm suffering the consequences! So if you've sent me something and I haven't replied ... I'm so sorry!

Oh! And this is just my mail ... CJ has his own. Ay yi yi!

But wait!

I walk down the hall to the girls room and am greeted with this image {okay, I ran back to get my camera ... but this is what I saw}! My girls.

Somehow it makes the world right, doesn't it?

This girl is getting too big. She's trying so hard to be like her big sisters. And now she's even asking when she can sleep in her big girl bed ... uh-oh! Mama so ain't ready for that!

Moral of this post? Even though stress is starting to ooze a bit out of my pores, I take one look at these little creatures ... these miracles God's blessed me with, and all is right with the world.

celebrating the holidays

Because we were out of town, I was late on the whole valentine thing this year. Actually, I'm going to give myself a bit of kudos action ... because I've actually had the girls valentine's gifts since early January {I know, right?}.

I got the cute little dolls from Chasing Fireflies {can't find the product anymore, but my-oh-my there is some serious eye candy going on at that website!}, and the baskets I use every year {thank you Pottery Barn Kids}. I also found some cute little trinkets at PBK that I added to their baskets.


After we got home from Aspen and I got their baskets together, they looked so cute all lined up that I needed to take a photo and felt the urge to share. :)

And since I was sharing ... I was reminded that I had taken a photo of their St. Nick's gifts and forgot to share!

I decided to start a tradition, and although they may be too young to appreciate it now ... I really like the idea! They each got a 'date' with mom & dad. We gave them gift cards to their favorite restaurant and toy store. Miss teenager got a gift card to the mall.

I'd like to try to start more traditions and things that the girls can 'count' on and look forward to. We haven't taken them on their dates yet ... but with spring right around the corner {dream with me, will ya?} ... I'm thinking we're going to get those on the schedule soon!

I think one-on-one time with children is so important. Don't you?


giveaway anyone?

I often receive sample products at the store from new designers. Some I decide to carry, some I don't.

In years past, I've saved all the products 'til year end for the BWP Christmas dinner and our infamous white elephant exchange. I box and wrap up all the treasures I've received through the year and put it in the pile with everyone else's ... needless to say, a box full of stationery treasure in a roomful of stationery junkies is ... dangerous!

Since I'm not going to be at the BWP Christmas dinner this year ... since I'm still receiving samples ... and since I have more stationery than I know what to do with ...

I thought it would be fun to give something away. Whadda ya think?

These samples are from Ann Kelle ... they're pretty cute! There's a calendar mouse pad, two list pads {each a different color}, a doodle pad, 8 notecards {different styles}, and it all comes in a cute little box! Anyone want them?

Just leave a comment and I'm going to do a random draw ... so no need to worry about being clever with your response {I sweat when I have to do that!!} ... just a random comment is good enough.

Good luck!



I just saw this soap from LoveLeeSoaps on Etsy!  Yes folks ... it's really soap!  Fun, no?

I'm thinking my MIL would like this one ...

And shhhh ... I got this for Curt's birthday {it's not 'til May, but I gotta stock up when I find something!}.  Oh, and sorry folks, I bought the last one.  :)


last thoughts from aspen

Amazing. Breathtaking. Exhausting? :)

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon skiing with the girls and it was amazing, breathtaking and exhausting!

It completely amazes me that my little peanuts, who started out on the magic carpet only a few short years ago, are now able to take the lift all the way to the top of the mountain and ski down to the bottom.

At one point, Wynter was leading Piper, two instructors and me! Crazy!

Taylor and Ana spent the day on a different mountain ... and there too, just seems so surreal that they're old enough to go to a different mountain without us. They had an instructor with them, but there takes a certain amount of 'letting go' to allow it to happen.

I love these girls so much. They are all so precious to me in their own individual ways. I thank God for them every morning.

I am blessed.

greetings from aspen

The girls are having a great time!

Piper is a skiing machine ... she doesn't want to come in at the end of the day and is aching to get out again the next morning. And little Huntie's been a trouper ... she looks forward to seeing her 'snow instructor' each morning. Wynter seems to be having fun too, she's picked it up again quickly and isn't complaining ... she's dragging by the end of the day, but enjoys it.

I was walking the girls down the mountain this morning, while taking some pictures and Wynter was skiing around me ... weird, surreal and cute all at the same time.

For skiing once a year, I honestly can't believe how well they're doing. This afternoon is my turn to ski with them {while Curt stays in with Hunter for her nap} and I'm looking forward to it.

I'm going to leave my camera in the room, so I can just soak up being with them. Here's some shots I took while going down with them this morning ...

Wynter and Piper hamming it up ...

Taylor on her board ...

And the little girls going down ... I was having a hard time keeping up with them. Granted, I was in boots ... but still!


valentine prayer needed ...

My sweet friend Lori, is struggling and I'd like to ask for prayer for her. It hurts me so much to know she's in so much pain and to realize what her family is going through.

I urge you, beg you really ... please pray for this family. You can visit her site here to see what specific prayer is needed ... but for sure they need to be surrounded in prayer.

Hug your family tighter, let the little things go ... most of what we are 'dealing' with could be so much more. Speaking for myself here as I realized this just moments ago when I got Lori's latest update.

I apologized to my husband, gave him a big hug, had a little cry ... and will count my blessings. I will name them one by one.

happy valentine's day

Yeah, the subject's been brought up once or twice. {you may have to click the image to view it larger}

Isn't this card cute? Thanks to Kate Spade, you can find tons more here. It isn't too late to send one to your sweetie!


kids on skis

I can't believe it's been a year already! The girls get 2 days off of school for 'long winter weekend' ... and we always head to Aspen. We've been coming here since Taylor was four or five? Unbelievable!

This is the first year Hunter's come with and I'm so glad she did. Honestly, I didn't want her to come along ... I thought everyone would have a better trip without her. Just in the fact that she's so little and still needs a nap and wouldn't be able to ski all day.

We typically get instructors for the girls, meet up for lunch and then ski with them in the afternoon. If Hunt was along, one of us would have to go in with her for her nap.

Curt talked me into bringing her along {and then forgot he did that, and couldn't believe we were bringing her .. men!} ... but I'm SO glad he talked me into it. She is beyond precious!

She did a great job this morning and had a lot of fun doing it. My heart was swelling with mom-pride! And beware, I have just a few photos from our day ... mostly of Hunter, but I just couldn't narrow it down.

Here's Tay on her board. Ana's with us too, but somehow managed to stay out of the way of my lens!

A little collage of Hunter. Love the nukie on the magic carpet! She ended her lesson with a goldfish/gatorade snack ... precious!

Taylor and Wynter before we took off this morning.

And another shot of them I liked.

Daddy and Hunter.
Hunter's first time going down without the instructor holding on to her.

Piper ... gotta love that awkward 'my teeth are growing in stage!'

Piper skiing down.

Wynter skiing down.

And there you have it! I'm having a little bit of a hard time out in the brightness {sun and snow} with my eye. My contrast vision is off and it's hard to look and see. It's putting some strain on it, but I'm getting through okay.

We all seem to be getting better and I think it's going to be a great weekend!

Funny dad story:

The girls are all on meds right now and Piper is having a very difficult time taking hers. Poor thing has been taking antibiotics for what seems like the last couple of months and is over it! She can't stand the taste and we have this whole proceedure for her.

We line up her medication, glass of water, and chocolate of some sort {at home it's a mini chocolate donut, here's it's a hotel pillow chocolate}. I plug her nose and give her the medication, she drinks the water afterwards and it's not until she's eating the chocolate that I can unplug her nose.

All of this is proceeded by mucho crying and whining that she won't take her medicine.

So this morning, dad's got a brilliant scenario for her explaining why she needs to take her meds. Ready?

"You're not always going to like everything you eat. Sometimes you'll be in situations where you're not going to like what someone's serving. Say you're visiting the president of China someday {say what?!?}, and maybe he's serving boiled jellyfish ... you're probably not going to like it, but it would be very rude not to eat it."

Piper suddenly had an epiphany and took her meds without another complaint! Um, yeah ... not so much.

{and FYI, he's ROFL right now at SpongeBob SquarePants ... yeah, that's the guy I'm married to ... and I love him anyway}


a little fun with bacon

Got a lot of packing to do?  Need to take a shower?  Kids to feed?  Get easily distracted with mindless entertainment?  Yep, yep, yep and affirmative!

Look what I found!  A link that adds a slab of bacon to your website!

Does anyone else see the mindless entertainment factor here?  Or am I that desperate to procrastinate all the tasks at hand?

All you do is add a website after this link http://bacolicio.us/ and ... presto!  Bacon!

Follow the links below ...

A little Stier-Johnson grease ...

Some stationery grease ...

Fooling with my friends grease ...

No one's immune to grease ...

If you need to waste a little time today ... try it out!


sigh ...

Seems like it's been a long day.  Well ... I guess ... cuz it has been a long day.

We just got in from a retirement party for a great man that Curt worked with.  The company surprised him by flying his children in to be there tonight ... so amazing!  I love this man and it was so incredible to hear the wonderful things everyone had to say about him.  He definitely deserved it!

His children got up and spoke and I loved something they said, that they only knew him as dad.  He came home and was just dad.  Didn't bring business home, didn't seem 'busy' ... he was just dad.  What an accomplishment in my view.

We were going to be leaving mid-day tomorrow for Aspen, but with some weather moving in, we need to leave in the morning.  I have no one packed and much to do.  I had tried to get ahead of the game and started making a pile of their snowsuits, boots, helmets ... but it all got put away.  Blagh!


I'm about to join the hubs in bed and am going to put any stresses behind me {wish me luck with that?}.  ;)



what does a sick day look like?

The ladies in our house all have strep ... mama included!  Curt got home last night and is pretty sick too ... not sure strep has got him yet.

Then Taylor texted mid-day to say that she visited the nurse and has strep too. Unfortunately, the baby was sleeping and I couldn't go get poor Tay.  She said she'd stick it out and I called for meds.

Yesterday, I woke with a sore throat and hoped against all hope that it wouldn't turn into more.  But it did {self-diagnosis, but still ...}.  My glands are so swollen, I look like Mr. Thick Neck.  And they hurt.  And my throat hurts.  And my body aches all over.  And I have a fever.  And I have a headache.  And I don't want to go to work today.  But I have to.


The three little girls were home with me yesterday and we had a pretty nice time.  Besides the fact I could've fallen asleep in the middle of lunch!

And why is it when kids are sick they still ooze energy from every pore?  Not fair.

The girls and I worked on goodie bags for their class parties tomorrow {of which they'll miss because we're heading out of town}.  We had a great little production line going, and even the baby helped.  We packed up some 45 favor bags ... whew!

One of the 'goodies' was a miniature connect four game.  So Piper and I played a quick game between filling bags.  I get all my favor bag stuff from Oriental Trading ... super inexpensive and they have everything under the sun!

Before lunch we went outside for some fresh air ... it was gorgeous out!

And lastly, we did do this!  I should admit ... I did it, but the girls seemed impressed with my creative abilities ... okay, so really they were sitting on the couch and could've cared less what I was creating ... but Curt seemed impressed {honest}.

I told the girls we were going to make an apple pie for dad and showed them the cute little boxes and thought they'd be all over the project.  I was wrong.

Piper:  But dad doesn't like apple pie.
Mom:  He doesn't?
Piper:  No one in our family likes apple pie.
Mom:  Really?
Piper:  Do you?
Mom:  No.
Piper:  See? No one in our family likes apple pie.

I sure hope the girls teachers like apple pie, cuz they've got some coming their way.  Didn't these turn out cute?