The last of the new holiday traditions...
Monday, December 31, 2007

...will be dusting all the tree ornaments before storing them for the year! I guess that's what happens when you live in a city surrounded on all sides by plowed up fields. But I wasn't expecting the inch of dust that had built up on all the Christmas decorations in less than one month!

Lubbock is indeed dry and dusty. Really dusty. But I still love it here! We had a great first holiday season "staying home" instead of "going home". Christmas 2007 was chock-full-o-memories. Looking forward to next year!


I was given some gift certificates to clothing stores as Christmas gifts, so I get to do some clothes shopping in the near future. It's high time! My closet has been suffering for a few months now.

This is always the great debate:

Should I buy some clothes for church and for those other rare
occasions I require "dressy" clothes?
Should I buy things that I wear in my everyday life as a mom of three?

This post at Melissa the Mouth has inspired me to work on my everyday wardrobe. I think I'll work on developing my own "mom uniform." I already bought two new pairs of cute I just need to go through the dreaded process of shopping for some new jeans. Unfortunately the ultra low-cut jean seems to have taken over the planet, and I for one don't enjoy the upper half of my lower half being exposed every time I lean over to pick up a toy off the floor. Know what I mean?

Edit: At the request of Paige, here are pictures of my two new pairs of shoes.

The Men in my Life
Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Haircut Heard Across the World
Friday, December 28, 2007

Lauryn got a haircut today. Just a trim. She started screaming "NO HAIRCUT!" from the minute we walked in the salon. She continued to scream without so much as a 5 second pause during the entire haircut. Even a lollipop in each hand could not silence her. However, she was screaming while remaining perfectly and absolutely still. Not even a slight twitch of the head. A statue. So the screaming really didn't bother me! I did feel kinda sorry for the other people in the salon. Luckily our stylist worked quickly, and appeared completely un-phased by Lauryn's loud protesting.

Clean Toy Boxes! Clean Closets!
Thursday, December 27, 2007

A rare and beautiful happening: My children have clean and orderly toy boxes and closets, with even a little space to spare. The "space to spare" was my goal in this endeavor, since Papaw and Mo are arriving from Oklahoma today, bringing with them lots of love in the form of hugs, kisses, and of course tons of Christmas gifts.

So in preparation, I boxed up clothes that don't fit, and bagged up toys the kids no longer play with. (Shhhh...that bag full of toys had to be carried out quietly in the dead of the night.)

Does anyone else get a little neurotic after cleaning and organizing kids' toys?

"Don't put the legos in the megablock container!"...."That piece of train track goes with the green train set, not the Thomas train set!".... "Okay, are you finished playing tea? We need to color code the dishes before putting them away."...."Can you please put the books on the bookshelf facing spine out, according to height?"

I know for some people being this organized is a way of life. I however was not made this way. Usually after about a week of stressing myself out, I decide I should just let them play with the toys however they want to, let them do the best they can at keeping them semi-organized, and then I just dive back into the toy choas about every two months to re-organize it all. We all seem much happier that way.

Merry Christmas. Please pass the Tylenol.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Jonathan and I have a deep and abiding love for his brother Michael, and Michael's wife Stephanie. However, after the boys opened their Christmas present from them today, I question whether or not they feel the same about us.

(Just kidding Michael and Stephanie. We know you love us, and the drumset is very cool. I plan to introduce the boys to the music of some garage bands, to convince them how cool it is to play IN THE GARAGE.)

Multiply both the length and volume of that little jazz number by about 2000
and you have some idea of what our house sounded like all morning.

Lauryn is rockin' in her snazzy new shoes and matching outfit. Thanks guys!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A rare picture of all five Cliff's looking in the general direction of the camera. With a lovely chain link fence as a backdrop. Oh well!

Merry Christmas from Lubbock!

Bah. Humbug.
Sunday, December 23, 2007

As I left to do some last minute Christmas Shopping Last Night, Jonathan says:

"Be careful. Make sure you have your phone and I'll call and check on you in a while. It's Christmas. People are angry."

Sad, but true! I saw many scowls and few smiles at the local mall [warzone]. But my Christmas Spirit will not be snuffed out! I smiled, opened doors for people, said please and thank you, and was just cheerful enough to irritate the Scrooges.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

"You have a lifetime of memories. We have the soundtrack."
-ad ran by SIRIUS Prime Country

The quote above was an ad I heard on SIRIUS Prime Country this morning. (Yes, as a matter of fact, I do routinely listen to country music of the 80's. I'm just that cool.) As soon as I heard this ad, my mind started filling up with the lyrics that could be the soundtrack for my life. (Let me remind you of my coolness once again.) A handful of these are great songs...the rest, not so much. There are hundreds of songs that have meaning to me, but these were the ones that flooded my brain first. Those of you who who grew up with me, meaning you also owned Rocky Mountain Jeans and five different colors of Roper boots in Jr. High, will get a good laugh out of this.

1978 - 2007

Blowin' in the Wind - Bob Dylan
This song always makes me think of my mom. I'm pretty sure I can remember her singing it when I was small.

Grandpa, Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days - The Judds
I was around 8 years old, riding in the car with my Grandpa, and I was singing along passionately to this song. He started laughing hysterically and said, "Oh my Love, these are the good old days!"

Candle in the Wind - Elton John
I have distinct memories of being 9 or 10, and listening to the radio as I fell asleep, trying to figure out exactly what this song meant.

You Look So Good in Love - George Strait
I was in Elementary School, when this song began an infatuation with George Strait that lasted well into high school. (Okay, maybe a little later than High School.)

Wake me Up before you Go-Go - Wham!
Elementary School. I thought this was The. Coolest. Song. Ever. I taught myself to play the melody on the keyboard. Did I mention I didn't even know how to play the keyboard?

(Everything I Do) I Do It For You - Bryan Adams
I was 13 years old, and it was the first time a boy told me that this was "our song." Seventh grade was the time of boys asking "Will you go with me?", and that being pretty much the extent of the relationship, so I honestly don't even remember the boy. I just remember being so excited I could tell my girlfriends that we had "a song."

Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks
For a period of about three years, from about age 13 to age 15, my friends and I attended every country music concert that came to Tulsa. My mom had to have spent a small fortune buying concert tickets. In 9th grade a bunch of us girls camped out to get tickets to a Garth Brooks concert and got a couple of really close seats. When the big concert day arrived, we made a huge sign that read "Party On Garth!" (Wayne's World anyone?), and we were convinced he pointed to our sign and smiled. I don't know if I can adequately describe how awesome we thought we were. Thought being the key word. Funny, funny stuff.

Redneck Girls - Bellamy Brothers
From the time we were maybe 10 years old, my friend Amy and I always said that when she got her driver's license, we would drive around together in a truck, singing this song, the key lyrics being "Redneck Girls like to cruise in Daddy's pickup truck..." Six years later when she got her license, my house was her first stop. We didn't have our "names on the back of our belts" as the song says, like we did when we were ten, but we still drove around belting out this song, laughing and having a great time.

Music Box - Mariah Carey
This was my favorite album when Jonathan and I started dating. I think it might have also been my first CD purchase. I wore it out.

She is His Only Need - Wynonna Judd
A cool Sr. in High School once told me this song made him think of us.

You are my All in All - Dennis Jernigan
I visited Israel when I was 17 years old and a Jr. in High School. I heard this song for the first time on that trip. While I sang it, I remember being so certain that I would follow God for as long as I lived.

Something in the Way She Moves - James Taylor
For that same trip to Israel, Jonathan made me a "mix tape." That's right kids, a cassette tape. Remember those? This song was on the tape and I think it was the first time I heard it. Jonathan introduced me to the music of James Taylor and The Eagles, so any of their songs make me think of him.

I Will Be Free - Cindy Morgan
My best friend Lisa has an amazing voice, and sang this song at church when we were in High School. She was really not "free" at the time, but she is so amazingly, beautifully free now. I will always think of Lisa and of God's amazing grace and love when I hear this song.

One of Two - Gary Chapman and Amy Grant
The song that played at our wedding. Luckily we are faring better so far than Gary and Amy did.

You Move Me - Garth Brooks
I rediscovered these lyrics when we moved from Oklahoma to Texas:
You give me courage I didn't know I had
And you move me
And I can't go with you and stay where I am
So you move me
As I was struggling about leaving Oklahoma and being far from my family, those lyrics reminded me that I couldn't go with Jonathan and stay where I was. I didn't want to be left behind. I wasn't scared of being left behind physically, but of being left behind spiritually. I knew he was going to follow God whole-heartedly and seek His will regardless of where that took him. And Jonathan's faith really did give me courage I didn't know I had.

You Said - Hillsong
When we sang this song in chapel at Christ for the Nations, I felt like God literally took His hands and stretched the boundaries of my heart, giving me a desire for all the Nations of the World to know Him.

One Pure and Holy Passion - Passion
I sang this song to Ryan night after night when he was a baby. "Give me one pure and holy passion, to know and follow hard after you."

Jesus, Lover of my Soul (It's all about you) - Paul Oakley
I sang this song to Dylan night after night when he was a baby. "You alone are God and I surrender."

Made to Worship - Chris Tomlin
I sang this song to Lauryn night after night when she was a baby. "You and I were made to worship, You and I are called to love."

Well....if I could erase half those songs from my brain I might have room in there for something more useful! What about you? Anyone else up for posting their soundtrack? If I can bare the nerdiness of my soul, so can you my friend. So can you.

Please read this book. Please.
Friday, December 21, 2007

We got a surprise Christmas package in the mail today from some dear friends of ours in Tulsa. Among other goodies was a book:

This is a must read, regardless of your age or whether or not you have children. I have been moved by many books....but never so deeply in so few pages. Yes indeed, a tale of two pigs named Sidney and Norman moved me.

I am not overstating how much this little book inspired and challenged me. Read it.

(If you've already read it, I'd love to hear your comments. Are you a Sidney? A Norman? Both?)

Nutty Yummy Goodness
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I make these Sugared Pecans every year at Christmastime. They are made with cinnamon and allspice and make the house smell awesome.

The recipe was originally from my Grandma JoAnn. She passed away in December of 1998, the first year Jonathan and I were married. Making the pecans is always a nice time of reflection and remembering.

Christmas Program for the Wee Ones

Last Thursday evening, Dylan and Lauryn participated in a Christmas Program with their Parent's Day Out Program. Anytime I attend a program with children age four and under, I expect hilarity to ensue. I was not disappointed. My mom was at the program with us, and we spent the entire time unsuccessfully holding in our laughter until Jonathan finally shoosh-ed us. Just the variety of some kids looking completely spaced out, some looking terrified, some picking their nose or doing similar things to embarrass their parents, and some singing their little hearts out struck us as funny.

Dylan did an awesome job. My mom reminded me that last year when we were watching Ryan's preschool program I said, "Dylan is way too shy. I don't think there is any way he'll ever go up on stage in front of this many people. Not even a year from now." I was happily proven wrong! He marched out on stage by himself wearing a crown for his part in the Nativity Story, and sang along with all the songs. What a big guy.

Peeking out from behind a cardboard angel wing.

Lauryn's class of young two year olds sang "Wheels on the Bus." During the rehearsal I watched earlier in the day she remained frozen like a statue. I don't even think she blinked. But for the performance she turned on the charm and sang and did all the motions. Her class was adorable. Jonathan welcomed everyone and prayed to begin the program, so we sat on the very front row. I worried that Lauryn would see us and want to come sit with us rather than stay on stage, but she just waved and yelled out "HI DADDY!!" a few times. Cutie.

Lauryn's nose had a small drip the entire program. I was sitting in the
front row and it took all my willpower not to get up and wipe it.
I did look at her once and wipe my nose on my sleeve
hoping she would imitate me. She didn't.

More Misheard Christmas Lyrics

Ryan last night:

"Deck the halls with Bowls of Jelly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la!"

White Christmas, a few days early
Saturday, December 15, 2007

On Thursday this week, my mom arrived in Lubbock for a quick Christmas visit. She had to head back to Arkansas this afternoon, so we planned all weekend to let the kids open their gifts from her this morning before she had to leave for the airport. So we woke up bright and early ready to open gifts, and lo and behold, when we peeked out the window - SNOW! So, we had a "White Christmas" for our "Granny Christmas"! Fun, fun, fun. Only about an inch, and it melted by lunch, but it was fun while it lasted. And great timing!

Snowball fight! My mom is firing at Jonathan while Dylan prepares to launch one at her.

Snow Angel
(Did you know that angels wear socks on their hands in lieu of gloves?)

He had great fun making tracks in the snow with his lawnmower.

I was unsure how to keep the boys hands warm and dry given that I couldn't find their gloves. Parenting during snow play is new to me. So, I stuck plastic baggies over their hands then put the socks over the baggies. Then it hit me that engineering my own weird water-proof gloves was something very much like my grandparents would have done for me when I was little, (just last summer I was in quick need of a ski rope, so my grandpa fashioned one out of a broom handle and nylon cord) and I suddenly felt quirky and old. And happy. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dylan had been given a bite size Hershey's chocolate bar. He likes chocolate so this was a treat. He bit it in half and said "Here Mom, you can have the other bite." My first thought wasn't "Oh, how sweet that he's sharing!", my first thought was "How could any child of mine have the self-control to only eat half a bite size chocolate? Was there a mix up at the hospital?"

I once had a roommate in college who would eat half a Snickers bar and leave the other half in the fridge. What?? It would last as long as it took for me to see that it was there and I would promptly eat it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This picture was emailed to me from a friend. It was taken in Sapulpa, OK.

The Tulsa area has been hit hard with a heavy ice storm. My grandparents, in-laws, and friends all across the area are without power.

My Grandma said it's the worst ice storm she's ever seen, and with the amount of trees that have fallen it looks like damage a tornado would have caused. Apparently almost every tree in the region has either fallen or sustained serious damage.

I have a whole new appreciation for trees after living in treeless West Texas. The Tulsa area is called "Green Country" for a reason - it's sad that all those big beautiful trees have been damaged.

The Tulsa World has coverage and slideshows.

Planning Ahead

When I picked up Ryan from school this afternoon:

"Mom, today I invited all my friends to my birthday party. I'm going to have it at McDonald's."

"Um...Ryan...that's great but your birthday isn't until May."

"I just wanted to be sure they knew about it."

Celebrating the Season
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tonight we made some Carmel Apple Cider, a huge hit with the kids. Ryan said he liked it better than hot chocolate, which is a rave review indeed.

Trying to mimic the Starbucks version!

Experiencing the goodness that is whipped cream.

After we finished our cider, we made a Jesse Tree, a project suggested by the Advent Calendar we've been using.

"The Jesse Tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: "A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots." It is a vehicle to tell the Story of God in the Old Testament, and to connect the Advent Season with the faithfulness of God across 4,000 years of history."

We included an Ark to represent Noah, a staff for Jesse, a crown for David, and a cross for Jesus. It was fun to let Ryan and Dylan guess what each symbol stood for.

Our tree is on the skinny side but it gets the job done!

I need about two hours of gracefulness

I agreed to be a hostess on Friday at a "Grandparents' Coffee" at Ryan's school. Grandparents have been invited to come enjoy coffee and cider while they eat finger foods and listen to the kids sing Christmas songs.

In addition to welcoming the guests, I will be responsible for making sure the grandparents at my table have a full hot cup of coffee or cider. (I'm also supposed to wear a Christmas apron, but I don't own an apron of any variety. I'm working on borrowing one but I'm unsure which of my friends could possibly own a Christmas apron.) I am approaching this event with much fear and trembling. There is a reason I have never considered waitressing as a profession. I can barely walk across a room without tripping. I rarely pour myself a cup of coffee without dripping more than a few drops on the counter. I will be so pleased with myself if I get through the morning without scolding some sweet little Granny by splashing hot coffee in her lap.

Piggy Pudding
Monday, December 10, 2007

Conversation between Ryan and Jonathan:

"Daddy, I heard some people singing "
Merry Christmas, and bring me some piggy pudding!"

"I think it's 'figgy pudding' Ryan."

"Oh...well, if they're singing about pudding maybe they don't know that Jesus was born."

Donkey Drama
Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ryan and I have been participating in our church Christmas program this week. Ryan is in the Bethlehem scene, and he enters the sanctuary directly in front of Mary and Joseph, with Mary entering riding a live donkey. Oh how I wish I had some video of Ryan's grand entrance. He takes about two hurried steps....looks behind him to see how close the donkey is....takes two more steps....looks behind him to see how close the donkey is...and on and on it goes until he reaches the stage. He has to turn his head almost completely around because he's wearing a typical shepherd boy costume, and the head covering cuts down his peripheral vision. No one else probably notices him, but to me it's high comedy because I know how cautious and somewhat wary he is of animals. I'm singing in an ensemble during his entrance, so I can't watch him for too long or I start to get tickled. Funny kid.

Pushing His Buttons
Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lauryn is getting really good at aggravating Dylan. She seems to relish it a bit too much.

Dylan: Okay Lauryn, lets put your baby to bed. I'm the Daddy, you're the Mommy.

Lauryn: No! I'm the Daddy!

Dylan: No Lauryn, you can't be the're a girl.

I'm the Daddy.

Dylan: I'm. The. Daddy. You ARE A GIRL!

Lauryn: No. I'm the Daddy.

Dylan then runs off to his room, upset at his inability to convince her of her gender role. Lauryn watches him go, and grins. Grins a big, happy grin.

Okay, so sometimes cheaper isn't better
Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I admit I am the queen of buying generic products. There are some products I make an exception for and always buy the name brand, but if you look through my pantry probably 50% of the stuff in there is the store brand. (Sugar, flour, salt, chicken broth, crackers, etc....I always get the cheapie brand.) I'm not sure where I picked up this habit, since my mother has NEVER purchased a generic food product in her life. She's not a big spender or anything like that; I guess she's just convinced that if a can of corn cost .50 cents more it must taste .50 cents better. Maybe she's right.

Anyway, my frugality has not paid off this week. I picked up some RoseArt brand "washable" markers for the kids to use to make some homemade Christmas cards. I saved a whopping .75 cents over the Crayola brand. Washable? NOT SO MUCH. The kids got a few marks on the kitchen table, and every liquid cleaning product I had in the house was unsuccessful at washing it off. Luckily, I remembered a comment someone had left on this post, and tried a Magic Eraser. Whaddya know? It really is magic!

Green was the color of the offending marker. Lauryn got a bit expressive while decorating her Christmas tree!

Ryan wanted to make a manger.
I helped Lauryn decide on making a Christmas tree.
Dylan (after a lot of consideration) decided he wanted a star.
Merry Christmas from the Cliff kids!

Re-Subscribe (If Needed)
Monday, December 3, 2007

If you subscribe to my blog through a feedreader, please re-subscribe. (I've changed my feed address.)

If the above sentence means nothing to you, then don't worry about it! (I am making this change under the tutelage of my husband, and don't even fully understand it myself.)


Jonathan is watching "Pardon the Interruption", a show on ESPN where these two guys argue with each over about sports topics I care little to nothing about. I express my displeasure in his choice of entertainment and he looks at me and calmly says:

"You watched a top 10 countdown of the best episodes of Masterpiece Theater on PBS last night. "

Guess he told me. (Although he only lasted about 2 minutes in the same room with me before my choice of viewing drove him to bed at 9:30.)

It's so nice to be thought of

I've been a little bit under the weather health-wise. Nothing all that bad...just a cough and a touch of laryngitis. However, since I am participating in my church's Christmas Program this week, I went to the Dr. as soon as I started losing my voice. Normally, I would have just waited for the cough to pass and my voice to come back, but I need to be able to sing and say my lines by Thursday! So, the Dr. prescribed some medicine and I already feel better. I should be back full force by tomorrow.

I missed church and rehearsal for the program on Sunday because of not feeling well. Today, a friend of mine who is also singing in the program called to ask if she could bring my family dinner. Isn't that sweet? I had already thrown some stuff in the crock pot to make potato soup, so I had to graciously decline her offer, but I was so touched she thought of me.

The Lord is so good and faithful, and I am continually grateful to have friends who are a reflection of Him. For any of you who are going through a bit of loneliness or just wishing for closer friendships, continue to pray and ask the Lord! Early in my marriage, I went through a season of feeling like Jonathan was the only intimate friend I had (that wasn't miles and miles away), but now I see that God had me in that place for a reason. I was learning to trust Him and make Him my very best friend, the one I would turn to first in times of heartache or happiness. It was easier for me to pick up the phone and call a friend than hit my knees and call out to God. So I think for a season He just put me in a place where there was no one to call but Him. In His wisdom and love He helped me seek Him for my every need. At the time I was lonely, but now I'm grateful. And I feel like that time in my life helps remind me to be continually grateful for the awesome women of God I have met over the last months and years! (Geesh, this was just going to be a simple paragraph about a phone call from a friend....)


December is here! December is here!
Sunday, December 2, 2007

For the very first time in the history of my life I will not be in Sand Springs, OK on December 25th. Our family is staying in Lubbock through the holidays. To celebrate this momentous occasion of being in our own home for Christmas, we've been thinking of new traditions we want to start with our kids.

So far.....

The Christmas Plate

Every night at dinner someone gets the special "Christmas plate." Everyone else in the family tells the lucky recipient reasons they are special and loved.


This will be the first time our family has celebrated Advent. I've learned in my online searches that there are several ways to create an Advent candleholder - we chose to go with three purple candles, one rose, and one white. Purple representing preparation, and rose representing joy. We will light the white candle on Christmas Eve in celebration of Jesus' birth! (Traditionally, the Advent candles are in an evergreen wreath, but I decided to just work with what I already had.) Tomorrow, Sunday, we'll light the first candle and read Isaiah 2:1-5.

The Calendar

This Nativity Calendar was a gift from Mo, and the kids have been looking forward to December 1st since she gave it to them at Thanksgiving. I let Lauryn move the first piece today. She placed the wise man very nicely. He's not upside down or even crooked. :-)

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I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)



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