Sunday, March 30, 2008

10 Things I Love About My Sister Beckie:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

{circa early 1980's}{circa early this month}

Yesterday was my sister Beckie's birthday, and a great deal of fun was had by all who attended, namely most of our family. It was Beckster's request that Mom make homemade BBQ chicken pizza and Dad make homemade chocolate chip cookies decorated with frosting, so had some good eats during the evening of fun. My baby sisters (well, not babies at ALL anymore, at ages 17 & 20 11/12ths) came too, as well as the lone brother, Steve. Missing from the festivities were Julina, Elise, Steve's wife Tamara ( livin' it up in sunny Mexico with a gaggle of middle-school students-- YIKES!), and my sweet hubby Joe, stuck at work.
Those of us who did make it enjoyed a night of games, stories, jokes, yummy food, and great company. I loved It, and I think Beckie should have birthdays more often. ...wait...hmm.

So, in honor of this great girl's big day, here are the
top ten things I love about Beezo
, my kid sis:

1. her finely-honed sense of humor... she makes me laugh like nobody's business!

2. her selflessness-- especially in watching our baby Noah twice a week for 2 hours each time, no payment accepted (though I try to buy her a cupcake or a cute pair of earrings and sneak payment that way as often as I can)

3. getting into psychoanalysis mode together-- analyzing everybody we've ever known and prescribing solutions (though we'd NEVER really offer them to the actual people!)

4. our mutual love of movies... Oscar season is especially invigorating when shared with Beezo

5. the feeling I get that every new cool thing I discover is something I want her to know about too... I love feeling that connection with her

6. her fabulous thick, shiny hair. I will never have hair like hers. *sigh*

7. Her need to make the world a better place somehow... She is considering the Peace Corps, but if not that, she'll be a social worker or some other really cool, life-changing, people-helping type of person. She really aims to make a difference somehow, somewhere. That impresses me.

8. Her music taste. I can always guarantee I'll find new music to love and classics to get nostalgic over when she gives me her latest mix CD.

9. Her devotion to our family... the great siblings we have, the remarkable parents we have.. her newer in-law types, and lately-- watching her fall in love with my Noah... She is so loyal and sweet and devoted.

10. The fact that she is one of the best friends I have ever had. Period. She is one of the first people I will call if I need to cry, and in my book, that's the top criteria for a best friend. She is the greatest.

So... Happy birthday, Beck... I love you. Thanks for being my cupcake eating/making, thrift store exploring partner in crime. Here's to a million more years of it!

I Promised you Cupcakes...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

and since I can't give them to you in person, we'll just have to settle for the pictures. Here's what I've been baking in the last month.

1. Spring Cupcakes: yellow cake mix with Mom's buttercream frosting in vanilla and chocolate. Peanut M&Ms for accents.

{the cake stand I gave Mom for her birthday. I kind of want it back now.}

2. Spice Cakes: Spice cake mix and three different icings! The white icing is coconut cream cheese, the light pink icing is my sis-in-law Mary's strawberry cream cheese glaze, and r=the carrots and pumpkins are traditional buttercream. (I went with the carrot and pumpkin motif because spice cake is similar to pumpkin bread and carrot cake... And I didn't know how to easily illustrate "spice" atop these lil' cakes.)

3. Cloud Cakes: a strawberry swirled butter cake from scratch with a funky fluffy frosting made from egg whites, vanilla, and sugar. Hand-colored light pink sugar dust. (Fun to make, but kinda boring to eat. The cake tasted more like a muffin--which is good, but NOT a cupcake-type experience-- and the frosting was a bit bland and hardened into a shell by day two. Well, it was worth a try!)

4. Sassy Cupcakes: Made with my friend Kimra while both of us neared the end of our maternity leaves, we both needed the cheerful comfort of cupcakes to get us through. Angel food cake with buttercream. (Note: this sounded tasty in theory, but the reality of heavy buttercream on light angel food was a bit too sweet and overpowering. Lesson learned. And they LOOK fun!)

...and there you have it. In between buying the amazing cuppys from our neighborhood shop, I've managed to make (and eat...oops.) a LOT of yummy cupcakes. I am pretty tickled with my new hobby, and don't plan on putting up the apron anytime soon. Come on over and we'll make another fun batch!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

(a bit early... but who's counting??)


~Noah, 4 months old~

Hope your Easter weekend has been lovely and full of family, spirit, and love.

Who I Am, Who I Was, & Who I Will Be

Friday, March 21, 2008

I don't know if it's the extra sleep I got last night, or the shift in the seasons, or the endorphins from working out today, but my mind is a BLUR of thoughts and memories and wishes and epiphanies and ideas today. I want to try to sort them out here.
(feel free to just enjoy the pictures and move on... I get a bit wordy here.)

I like the person I am today. I really do. I am optimistic, educated, and healthy. I enjoy friends, laughing, and creativity. I have an amazing family, both here in the Attic and surrounding me in my extended circle. I love being inspired, learning new things, and being good at what I love.
having said that, I feel that for the past few years, I have been drifting, ever-so-slightly, to a different part of the ocean than I intended to go. I feel much the same, and probably haven't changed ALL that much, but I have lost a bit of the passionate richness of direction I used to feel quite a bit.
Now, this ISN'T a crisis. I am not unhappy with this realization. But it has been good to ponder it, because I am realizing that there are pieces of me that have begun to atrophy and that I want to try to strengthen.

Specifically, here are a few of those pieces of who I was that I want to recapture:

{emily, circa 2000}
1. I miss being spiritually in-tune. I used to feel deep stirrings of the Spirit more regularly than I do now. I miss feeling choked up at a scripture, feeling connected to a speaker in church... Feeling overpoweringly compelled to get on my knees and pray. This feeling isn't lost forever. I know that. All it would take is a little more effort on my part. More sincere asking.

2. I miss reading inspiring and powerful books. I read this quote yesterday on SouleMama's blog:

"Listen! The air is alive with flight. Robins descend and descend and descend. Wasps scrape away wood to build new hives. The wind stirs new leaves and transparent light shines through the green energy. Sap flows fast. Hearts pound. Colors explode in yellows, pinks, purples and reds. Petals open wide to all you bring. Everyone participates in the pollination. Honeybees welcome each pea blossom and every day there is a new birth to celebrate. Feel the pulsing life in every tree, in every heart. Release the stirring energy. Sing your own songs to wake up the birds."

-- Nikki McClure, from the beautiful Collect Raindrops: The Seasons Gathered it, was moved by it, and realized that I used to find these kinds of beautiful words all the time in the books I was reading. I used to read with a pen in hand so I could underline all the really cool, inspiring quotes I came across. It's been awhile since I've made time for books like this. Easier to read dime store novels. US Magazine. Play games on my new cell phone. Sad.

3. I miss music. I miss singing. REALLY singing, with a beautiful choir or in a performance opportunity. I miss the harmonies, the precision, the being enveloped in exquisite sound. I miss my banjo. Shocked? Yep-- another facet of me that has dwindled far more than I ever thought it would. It breaks my heart. And singing to my son has given me new opportunity and brought back some of the joy. I'd like a little more of it back, though. (I still dream of singing in a bluegrass band before I die)...

4. I miss really SEEING the natural would around me. Really comprehending the changes in seasons... really noticing the details. It's easy to lose this when I make my life more harried and frenzied than it needs to be.

5. I miss writing. I miss the frequency of journaling I used to do. I miss my "morning pages"-- 2 pages of freeflow mind-dribbling every morning. Got my mind awake and going. Easier now to just sleep a bit longer.

{some of my past journals...}

So much of this is simply the loss of creative effort. And what has contributed to the loss of creative effort in the first place? Time, maturity, real-life jobs, making ends meet, focusing on other people instead of just myself-- so many excuses. But I think I can boil it down to two things. Two very wonderful things: Marriage and money. (I know, I know...But stay with me.)

I love being married more than anything else in this world. For most of my twenties I yearned for an eternal best friend and partner-in-crime. I worked hard to be the kind of person that could thrive in a marriage and give something back to it. I feel that Joe and I are succeeding so well in our life together. So why point fingers at it? Well, haven't you ever experienced a satisfaction so strong that it cures all your wants? Sometimes I think that in finding my happily ever after, I lost the hunger for other things. I worry about my complacency. In being so happy, maybe I'm TOO content. I'm not wishing my marriage away, I'm just realizing that perhaps when I am content, it takes MORE work to pursue inspiration and passion.

Which brings me to money. While we are in no way rich, I have experienced a level of financial security in my recent life that I have never had before. My teaching brings in a steady, comfortable salary. Joe and I worked hard to get our cars and credit cards paid off. And our living situation is pretty sweet. Needless to say, we don't have much to argue about in terms of bills and financial woes. You'd think that this would make creativity and inspiration easier-- having enough money to be able to buy art supplies, take a day off of work, go on a vacation, buy a new book. But funny enough, I think there is more to be gained in the feeling of WANT than in the feeling of HAVING ENOUGH. I think that when I was forced to work around money issues creatively, it fueled my other creative endeavors. I think that money dulls the senses.

As I spend this afternoon looking back and reflecting on all of this, I try not to lose myself too deeply in wistful nostalgia. I try not to yearn for a different time. Because the past is always colored a bit more rosy than it actually was, and my life today is far deeper and richer in ways that matter more. I would never trade my place here to be back in that 23-year-old Emily. So instead of wishing and yearning, I want to reflect...then plan.

I know who I used to be. I have a pretty good idea of who I am right now. So if I help those two parts of me work together, I can work on who I want to be in the future. I don't think it is EVER too late to find old joys and bring them back. And I have ALWAYS believed that it is not too late to learn something new. If it takes the symphony violinist twenty years to perfect his art, why can't we begin something today and be a master in twenty years? There's still time.

So I am going to focus on bringing inspiration back into my daily efforts. I am going to try to let go of the world a bit... and try to get deeper. For myself, yes... But in the long run, won't it also benefit Noah? And the other children we want? Isn't it important to be authentic in order to be the best mom/wife/friend/human being I can be?

I think so. And I hope I can find a bit of my former self in order to make my current self better. And Future Self will be proud of us.

{Grandma Moses: She began painting at age 74... a self-taught Master. You're never too old. This is a nice image of someone I wouldn't mind becoming someday.}
(if you read all of this, thanks for sticking with me.)

Please Send Your Prayers...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Mom emailed me this morning to ask me to fast and pray for my sweet cousin Jami's even sweeter husband Kameron.
A few weeks ago he had gall bladder surgery and everything seemed to be okay. Yesterday, though, at his checkup, the doctors were alarmed at the significant weight he'd lost in a short time--going from 134 lbs. to 119 lbs.. Now they are talking about him being in the early stages of liver failure, and if things don't get better, his life is at risk. I am emotional just typing this. This sweet little family is barely beginning-- I can't fathom the worst-case scenario here.

{2004: I got to take their wedding photos... What a lovely couple on a lovely day!}

{sorry for the bad scan... I was a film photographer back then}


And the happy family last year, with the arrival of their new son Kason.
(I pirated this pic from your website, Jami... Sorry!)

So... Please. If you get a moment today-- say a little prayer for my cousin and her beloved family. Pray that the unthinkable doesn't have to happen. Pray that he'll get out of this.

Thank you.

Don't You HATE Getting Wrinkles?

Monday, March 17, 2008

...except when they come from being in the tub too long, right? Tee-hee!
How can you resist baby bathtime feet? Truly?

...and this next one shows his lil' mohawk/Kewpie hair:

...Yep-- these kind of wrinkles, I'll take anyday.

To Make You Smile:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Our weekend here is pretty grey... so to brighten it up a bit, I have something almost too adorable to watch.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

(to see another take of this laughing session, visit Noah's Blog!)

We're Still Here!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

and we took advantage of the first truly AMAZING day of 2008 by going for a stroller walk and a restaurant for dinner.

It got up to 70+ degrees today-- breezy, sunny, warm, serene... And I believe it probably restored a portion of everyone's soul here in St. Louis, after such a draggy, up-and-down, grey grey grey winter. So when I got home, I begged Joe to let us get OUT and get MOVING and treat ourselves to a restaurant meal. Our nearly-4-month-old baby boy is getting more interested in the world around him, which has helped make him more portable, and though we haven't risked a long social outing with him in quite some time, I've been feeling like he's getting to the point where he can handle it. And handle it he did! He was MARVELOUS during our dinner, and I was able to enjoy my lovely steak dinner without holding him or feeding him or popping pacifiers/toys/accessories into his hands and mouth! It was great!

So we are still here. Still standing. Still managing our recently-hectic life.

My spring break starts in less than 48 hours, and I plan to get a LOT of my recent photos edited and posted for all to see. I have some fun ones! I also plan to take some good naps, make some cupcakes, get out on a date with my husband, spend a TON of playtime with my baby boy (since being back at work, I tend to only see his end-of-the-day mellow time, not his silly time, and that makes me sad...), and just try to relax and enjoy the breather from my current real life.

I still scan through all of your blogs... I often do it while feeding my son or pumping at work... It's just become difficult to make the time to give out the comment love. I'll get better again. I promise. Okay. Enough explanation/excuse/apology. It's been a LOVELY evening. I'm going to stretch it out a bit longer by snuggling with my hubby for a while.

Hugs and kisses to all!


Weekend Ramblings...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Joe, Noah and I went to Columbia, MO for the night last night... My baby sis is in the play Damn Yankees and we wanted to get there to see it, so we attempted our first road trip since Christmas. It all went pretty smoothly, actually! I got to see every sibling except for Beckie (who lives 4 blocks from me, so I guess I can cope)... Including the Indiana ones. That was really fun! I took several wacky candids, which will get on here eventually, and a few of the actual play, also coming soon.

Coming home, it's been nice to just RECOVER- not unpack, not clean, not cook.... Just throw the pile of stuff in the middle of the living room floor, play with my baby for a while, let my husband sleep before his night shift, and just relax.

Now all is quiet, the house is dark, and I am ready to crash and sleep for the 2.5 hours my baby lets me sleep between feedings. I am a bit unsettled about Daylight Savings coming up... A bit sad that the weekend has already rushed by so quickly... A bit bored by this blog post... Thirsty... Heartburn-y...

Um. I feel a bit out of touch since going back to work... Less balanced, less able to find time to care for ME... And you can tell that the blog posting has suffered a bit. I just need to keep myself in survival mode while I get through the rest of this school year. Then maybe I'll have more of me to spread around again. Maybe cook some meals again. Make some more cupcakes. (Which reminds me-- I DO have about three different batches of previously-made cupcakes I have pictures of. I will do another cupcake post soon.)

So. Boring to everyone else, but an update nonetheless. Helped me get a bit more centered.
To conclude, as a reward for reading this entire ridiculous rambler, I present to you a few shots from my current favorite set of Noah photos. Enjoy my handsome son:

{age: 3 months * hat: gift from Kate S. * facial expressions: obtained by making ridiculous noises for his amusement}

Package Time!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

There is always a huge giddy rush of joy when a fun package turns up on your doorstep... Especially in the midst of a lingering, gloomy winter.
This particular package came from one of my dearest friends, Sarah, and contained treats for my handsome son.
She is a fantastic card maker-- check out the cute card she included:

The package itself contained a perfect striped footie sleeper for when Noah is 6-12 months... (I LOVE the stripes. I'm pretty much a striped baby boy clothes junkie.) and some ridiculously cute flannel "pee-pee tee-pees"... Little handmade tents that are used for little boy diaper changes. SO handy!! And the fabrics are really fun, too!

...and just to give you a face for the sender, here is Sarah... With me... Oh, about SEVEN YEARS AGO.
(remember, Sarah, Katie? The lame Tiffany concert in the middle of the day in the middle of the BYU campus? We ate at the museum cafe afterwards?)

Aren't we CUTE?


...And let me go off on an unplanned tangent while I'm typing away here. Sarah, Katie, Rochelle, Melody, Alison, Kate: You all might just agree with me here... But does it REALLY feel like SEVEN years ago we all worked together at that Macaroni Grill?? Oh, I know so much has happened since then... marriages, kids, houses, moves, etc... But don't you FEEL like the same person? Maybe it's just me, but the girl who moved from Utah six years ago and left all her fantastic friends, well... that's still me. I'm still her. I have learned a lot since then, made new friends and found new interests... But the old friends and interests are still there. I don't FEEL any different.

Hmm... Then how is it possible to LOOK different? Why do we have to change so much on the outside? Can't I go back to fitting in those jeans again, please?

(and dear heaven, I SOUND old and fat just TYPING that. I've turned into that quintessential 48-year-old high school secretary with a wide butt and a jar of chocolates and pictures of my grandkids on my desk, with little magnets on my file cabinet that say,



...And it's not entirely about the growing wider... Just growing OLDER. I'm only 30. I'm still spunky and hot and fun. Right?
So why is it bittersweet to look at photos of my friends and I that FEEL recent, and see so much change?


...Okay. This tangent has no REAL point. So I'll conclude. I loved my package, Sarah, I love that we are still friends, after the distance and time that has transpired.

Katie, Kate, Rochelle, Melody, Alison, Stacy: Ditto. So cool that we are still friends after so much life has occurred between visits.

...And finding and scanning old pictures has been rather fun. So look out girls. You might be next. I have a zillion of EACH of you.

Snow Day? Sure, I'll Take It.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

And yes, this picture is from last year's snow day, but so what? Isn't the point of snow days to take it easy and not make too much work for yourself??
So, Noah had a bit of a rougher night last night, and I knew I'd be feeling it today at school. Knowing that the forecast called for snow, and lots of it, every time I'd go back to bed after a session with Noah, I'd invoke the gods and pray for a snow day. Lo, 'round 5:39a.m., the call, against all odds (remember when YOU'D pray for a snow day? Never happened when you tried to predict it.) came and filled my heart with the most profound relief and joy.
Now, after "sleeping in" 'til 7 and using a precious bottle of pumped milk to get a 2 hour nap in the later morning, I feel pretty nearly human, and the snow is still coming down heavily outside our windows.
I was supposed to give a test to my students today, so you KNOW they're enjoying their snow day, too.
In the long run, this lovely break in the week will make the school year just that much longer in June, but during this time of transition with going back to work, I'd rather my random days off happen now.
So... that's really all I have to say right now. Not too profound. Not too interesting. Just a content, happy girl in her Mason attic with her two boys, snowed in for the duration of the day.
Happy Tuesday to you!
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