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Saturday, April 04, 2015

Easter Eve 2015

The girls went to the Easter Egg Hunt this morning and proceeded to watch Mary Poppins in the afternoon. I spent a couple of hours with my dear friend Maggie who celebrated a birthday this week, and then we went to the Easter Vigil. When we got home, we colored the eggs I had boiled before church. 

Last year we did not color eggs, and I cannot remember the reason why, but Jaden thought it had something to do with she and Alannah not listening to me so it was a negative consequence. It sounds like something I would do (mean mom that I am), so we'll go with it.  

I made the two Minion eggs, one for each girl. Alannah's has one eye and Jaden's has two.  I think they're fun, and the girls absolutely love them.  They loved mixing colors and dunking eggs in several different colors for a unique egg.  I loved watching them.

So the tablescape is different from last year.  First, we had a different table! Second, this year we didn't make our own chocolates.  Third, I bought many Easter decorations at an estate sale last year, and then Maggie bought me a large box of Easter decor at an auction.  Yay!

The girls put themselves to bed at 8:30 tonight, just like last year.  Before bed Jaden said, "I'm going to sleep with Alannah every night before Easter until she moves away."  I gasped a little and exclaimed, "Alannah, you are moving away?"  She quickly assured me it would be 10 years before she moved out, and I gently told her that when it was time for her to leave, she would be ready to go because dad and I would have trained her to be ready. I'm going to enjoy every moment until that becomes reality and not be sad now.

This year they think they know what to expect, and they are most likely correct.  I did buy them little gifts instead of loading them up with candy. They each got manicure supplies, mechanical pencils, and a ring. Alannah got mascara, and Jaden got Lip Smackers.  I think they will be surprised and pleased with their Easter gifts, and I feel blessed to make their day feel special.  

Easter is not about the bunny, the chocolate, the gifts.  Easter is about the eternal, life-changing event that happened when a dead Man came back to life because He had the power of God to triumph over sin and death.  For you.  For me.  And tomorrow we'll celebrate once again with this victory chant: He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Digi Dare #395

Wow, this was fun.  I haven't scrapped much lately with a wonky PC, but today I downloaded the trial version of PSPX7 and found it to be much more stable than X3 that I've been using for several years.  

I made this page for the Digi Dare 395.  I used the gorgeous paper and brush made by this month's sponsor, KimB

Saturday, February 28, 2015

First Place!

Our church holds an annual Cook-Off with categories for children and adults.  Last year Jaden did not want to make anything, but she was sure that Alannah would win for her ravioli recipe, and she was so proud of me winning first place for my Crock Pickles. 

This year when she heard the Cook-Off was happening, she poured through the Pampered Chef kids cook-book for a recipe.  She found one she liked, and she and Michael went shopping. 

Today she said that it wasn't fair that she took my trophy so she's giving it back, and she hoped to win her category, but she really just wanted people to like her dessert and doesn't care if she wins.

This morning at 9:15 she asked me, "Is it afternoon yet?" Later I learned that Michael told her she couldn't make the brownies until the afternoon. We made them at noon on the dot. At 2:15 she said, "I think I need to go to church now." I told her that worship was at 5 and the Cook-Off wasn't until 6:30, so she had four more hours before she needed to leave. 

At 3:15 she was sure it was time to leave! 

The event started around 6:15 with the appetizer round, then we sampled 6 crock pot recipes. We finally got to the dessert round, and Jaden proclaimed her dessert to be "phenomenal!" Then she asked, "Now everyone at this table is going to vote for me, right?"  I just laughed and laughed.

The woman who made all of the announcements saw that her son and Jaden were giddy while they waited to hear who won, so she started with the dessert winners. When she announced Jaden's name, my sweet daughter ran to get her trophy.  I took photos of the first and second place winners of each category, and you can see the first photo in this post has two super-happy kids in it. 

She made Brownie S'Mores, but the entry card read "Fudge Brownies." After she was announced the winner and given her trophy, she ran to me for a hug and whispered in my ear, "The fudge gets 'em every time!"

She did give me my trophy from last year back to me, and she named her trophy "Trophena." 

This is a day she will never forget.  Ever.  Oh, and the pictures of Alannah helping are posed.  The love you see between them is real.  :)

Monday, February 02, 2015

Snow Day!

Here's how I spent my snow day.  Jaden and I decorated the TV room with the canvases I ordered and the girls' school pictures, plus some canvases of Alannah I had done in the past.  Here's the result:

The vinyl wall art is something we talk about as a family.  Jaden also helped me dust the TV and stand.
This is a storm window I found in my mom and dad's basement.  Sanding and black paint made it look sleek and modern.
I added 12x12 scrapbook paper to the back of the window pane and then affixed the girls' school photos to the front. 
The two metal art images of Alannah were projects that I made and got printed when I won first place two times in a scrapbooking contest. I wish that they were in our budget, but I did find an awesome deal on the 8x8 canvases that I made of Jaden at
I made these projects about five years apart, and when Jaden got her
face painted, she posed for me based upon the image of Alannah.
I love my girls!
On Saturday my friend Maggie gave me a couple of bags of clothes, and I scored some beautiful sweaters. Such a bummer that they are too small for me and too big for Alannah, but I did make these beautiful leg warmers from two ivory sweaters that looked like they were brand new.  I added a bit of lace and some buttons.  Totally free and it only took me about an hour.  You could easily make this from one sweater, but the outside one had a loose weave and so I choose to use two coordinating sweaters. Here's how I did it with two sweaters:

Step 1. Fold down the outer sweater's sleeve to make a cuff and insert the inner sweater sleeve into it. Arrange how you like it (I left about an inch peeking over.
Step 2. Make sure the seams of both sweater sleeves line up and then cut in a straight line from the armpit.
Step 3. Carefully arrange the cuff and pin on the opposite side of the seam. Here is where you'll sew your button through both sweater sleeves.
Step 4. Stretch out the sleeves and then sew them together at the seam.
Step 5. Cut lace 1 1/2 times the width of the cuff. Sew to the cuff, making little folds about every inch or so to add dimension.
Step 6. Where the lace seams meet, gently sew the lace together and remove the leftover lace.
Step 7. Try on the leg warmer and trim the end as needed.

My Jaden

If I took 10 photos a day of Jaden, I would never catch up to the amount of photos I've taken of Alannah, but that doesn't stop me from trying! :)

Here are some recent photos I took of Jay, all dressed up for the cold.  She loved doing this photo shoot with the layers of clothes and the curly and crimped hair.
She posed herself and gave me this brilliant smile.
The wind and cold brought us in the house for this photo.  She again
posed herself although I suggested that she recline on the glass table
for a bit of a reflection.
Jaden says this is the best picture ever of her, and I love her sparkly eyes and
flower in her hair.  I took this photo on the way to our family vacation to the
Creation Museum in July 2014. We were at a rest area and she picked a flower.
I asked if I could take her picture with the flower in her hair, and she was
happy to oblige. When I made this canvas, she asked me to add more
sparkle to it, so I did!  I bought an 8x8 canvas of this image.

I had to work hard to edit this photo, as it was my first photo of the session and I had not
checked my aperture settings so it was extremely overexposed.  But Jaden's smile and her
pose was my favorite of the session, and I wanted this picture for a 16x20 canvas.  She
is very proud of this photo, too, and I am happy that she found her smile as a member
of our family.

From Thanksgiving to Christmas 2014

My favorite float was Super Grover, and I thought it was
awesome when the float handlers would spin the float.
The theme of the parade was "Walking on Sunshine"
based on the song by Katrina and the Waves

My PC was near death for about 6 months, and both my CD drive and camera card drives are still inoperable, so I've not taken many photos or done any scrapbooking in ages.  I finally found a fix for the issues I had and can now use my PC for more than I could a tablet.

Here's an all-inclusive update for the past few months, starting with Alannah's 13th birthday which we celebrated by going to the Thanksgiving Day parade in Detroit with my mom and dad.  The day was super cold, so we left a little before the parade ended, but I was so geeked to see a massive live parade for the first time.  We sat across from Comerica Park under the Fox Theater marquee. Alannah enjoyed her birthday, and she and Jaden spent a lot of time in the pool with Michael and my dad.  I joked that Bob Evans was making our turkey this year, and his lovely wife was doing the dishes, and that's exactly how it went! I loved spending time with my mom as we shopped on Thanksgiving evening.

My grandma turned 90 on December 12, 2014, and the following photos are from that special day.
My grandma and 8 of her 13 grandchildren.
My grandma and 20 of her 24 great-grandchildren
Jaden would not pose in the photo with the
great-grandchildren, but she wanted me to take
a picture of her and her Cookie Grandma
My grandma, my mom and dad, sister and brother-in-law,
my nieces, nephew and daughters.  Missing are my sister,
Erin, who lives in Chicago, and my husband, Michael, who
was officiating a wedding (on 12-13-14, a popular wedding date.)

Christmas was extra special this year because we've been a family of four for one year instead of a few days.  Jaden gave me a plaque that read, "Mother, your voice is soft and soothing, you have a tender touch; I thank God for you, Mother, I love you very much." Michael said when she saw it in the store she declared, "This is Stacey!"  On Christmas Eve after we had opened our presents, she ran to me and said, "Hey, mom!  Uh, I mean, Stacey."  I told her later that in her heart she calls me "mom" but her head isn't ready for that yet.  I think this was the best Christmas we've ever had!
Alannah directed our Cantata choir, sang two
solos and also had a recitation.  She was so nervous, but
did an outstanding job.  I was so proud of her!
Jaden was an angel in the Sunday School pageant, and
she was happy to participate but disgruntled because she
didn't have her own speaking part.  :)
Christmas Eve dinner was stuffed manicotti shells and
sparkling grape juice.  We ate between services.
Alannah's big gift was a touchscreen laptop.
The smile did not leave her face all night!
Jaden asked for and received a fish tank, and
was happy that it glows in the dark!  She also
got two fish and two snails. 

Send me to Alaska!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jaden!

Me: On a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest, how has this birthday been?

Let's recap:
1. Today at her violin lesson she learned how to play the bow over one string and is very proud of that fact.
2. She loved her new boots (the coolest boots ever!) and her dresses, and called her outfit today an "outfit." She thanked us profusely for her new clothes.
3. Her classmates loved the ice cream sandwiches she brought to share.
4. After school she was efficient in her routine: picked out clothes for the next three days (new dresses), cleaned her thermos, practiced her violin, practiced the piano and recorded the progress of her bean seeds for Science.
5. Pumpkin farm! The four of us explored the pumpkin farm on a beautiful feels-like-summer day.
We ate dinner late, but it was her favorite, spaghetti and salad.
Yes, I think today has been a FIFTEEN too!

Monday, September 22, 2014

My Heart Skips a Beat

Today is the day before Jaden's seventh birthday. We have a plan for tomorrow:  wake up early to take her to school for violin lessons, go to school, and go to the pumpkin farm at her request.  

We gave her a present tonight for her to wear to school: new black slouchy boots and a black and white houndstooth dress with fuchsia accents. She was open-mouthed when she opened the box of boots and was sad when we wouldn't let her wear them to bed.  

For the snack to give her classmates, she asked if she could bring ice cream sandwiches. After getting her teacher's approval, she will be sharing the ice cream sandwiches at lunch time. 

This is her first birthday with us. She's excited and happy.  

Bedtime was later than usual because it's Bible study night.  Alannah and Jaden "babysit" the kids whose parents come to the Defending Your Marriage study. 

After packing lunches and last-minute homework, I tucked them in, prayed over them and blessed them.  Then I called them by the pet names they gave each other; Alannah, "Sissy Boo" and Jaden, "Baby Boo." They giggled, and Jaden reached out to me and called me in a baby voice, "Mommy!"  

Alannah and I immediately responded, "You called her/me 'Mommy'!" 

She realized what she'd said she told me that she was "just teasing."  She's not ready to call me mom, and that's okay.

I comforted her by saying, "I know you were teasing, but it made my heart skip a beat."

Her eyes grew wide. "Really?"

You see, a couple of weeks ago she began winking at me when she was happy. After a couple of days of this new habit, I told Michael in front of her that she was doing this and that it "made my heart skip a beat."  

She's continued winking at me a couple of times a day, and Sunday she questioned me after winking at me, "Does that still make your heart skip a beat?"  I raised my eyebrows in surprised that she remembered my quote exactly and told her it did. She smiled at me and said in a satisfied tone, "Good."  

Hugs from Alannah, winks from Jaden, encouraging words from Michael - these are what makes my heart skip a beat.  God is good.  All the time.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tattoos and the Bride of Christ

Yesterday I met a young couple at an event at our church. They are not members, but are related to people who are. I asked them if they were married (I noticed a ring on his left hand) and he said that they were going to get married, and had plans to get married in May but they didn't.  He didn't offer an explanation, and I felt it wasn't my business. But I did ask these questions: Where do you live? Do you go to church?

He did all of the talking. They live close by. He doesn't go to church anymore because all they talk about there is money and politics.  

I mentioned that I hear many people don't come to church because of the hypocrites, and that everyone I know is a hypocrite. I continued by saying that no one stops going to the grocery store or bank because there are hypocrites there, but they stop going to church because of the hypocrites.  

Then the real conversation started.  He said, "I want to go to church, but when I do I am told I'm the son of satan (he doesn't deserve a capital letter) because of my piercings and tattoos, and I've actually been told that exact words!" 

I looked him in the eye and apologized on behalf of the people who told him that, telling him if that happens again that he should tell them the Bible makes no mention of satan having children.  That made him grimace a little, but he was not amused because of the painful memories.

Then I said, "I hope this doesn't offend you, but I didn't even notice your tattoos." Then I looked at his arms and realized he was covered in ink! I continued, "I did notice your earrings, but they don't bother me."  My ears are pierced, so why should it bother me that his are?  So I'm not a hypocrite about piercings, but I am about other things.

I told him that if he came to our church that no one would mind his tattoos or piercings, and that I hoped he would consider coming.  To my surprise, he immediately responded, "I would like to come here!"  

I then suggested that they get married at our church, and I offered to photograph the wedding and do the graphic design of their invitations and such. His fiancee asked for my contact information, and I gave her my phone number and e-mail address.  

I have been praying for them constantly since our meeting, and I hope they do come to our church, get married here, and I get the honor of photographing their wedding.  Most of all, I pray that our conversation has an eternal difference!  

Church, we have to stop thinking that people need to be a certain way or look a certain way before they come in the door!  No one would ever be able to cross the threshold if we had to be perfect.  Jesus died for us because we weren't perfect!