the secret keeper
Sunday, March 28, 2010

I asked Lauryn on Friday,

"What did you and Daddy do today?"

She replied with an emphatic,

"We bought you a birthday cake, but I am NOT going to tell you about it!"


I had a great day today celebrating 32 years on the planet!   

I can say with certainty that I feel more confident than I did at 22.  Birthdays being a time of self-reflection....

I can say that I'm a great mom, a loving wife, and a good friend, and feel confident all those things are true.   I  can also say I could be a better mom, a better wife, and a better friend, and know those things are also true.  

Maybe getting older and wiser means accepting both of those statements as being simultaneously true.

Or maybe I've been doing too much self-reflecting, and should get off the computer and spend this birthday evening with my handsome husband.  (Good thinkin' old wise one!)    

Directed by Ryan
Thursday, March 25, 2010

Uncle Michael and Aunt Stephanie bought the kids a vtech kidizoom camera for Christmas.  It does all kinds of fun stuff, like morph your images, or add a mustache to your photo subject.  Big laughs all around for adding a mustache on Mom or giving Dad a teeny squished forehead.

Ryan came home from school today and announced his computer teacher taught him to use to make short videos.

Then he preceded to upload pictures from the camera onto the computer, log into animoto, and create a video he named "Cliff Clips".  Pretty cute.  And I guess his computer teacher really did teach him, because the very, very little amount of help he required from me was nearly offending.    Ha! 

I'm playing favorites with my crafting.

I like to make stuff.  I'm learning to sew and crochet and be otherwise creative. "Learning" be the key word, but you gotta start somewhere! 

If I dig deep and explore my motivations, I do these things because when I'm sewing or painting or otherwise crafting....I'm NOT doing laundry.  It's partly an escape mechanism.

But also, I just like to make stuff.  It's a stress relieving outlet.  When I'm stressed or have had my feelings hurt, I have like 18 projects going at once.  (Sadly, 17 of those will probably never get finished.)

Here's some stuff I've made recently:

A shamrock shirt for St. Patty's Day.  (A one day a year shirt is so unpractical, but pretty cute.)

A scarf I crocheted for Lauryn that she refuses to pose in for a picture this morning.  She is very busy watching Big Bird at the moment.  I just noticed Big Bird is being serenaded by Waylon Jennings.  Weird. 

And I appliqued fabric letters for Lauryn's room, and painted some Dollar Tree frames to hang them up in:

The main point here is that these, and any other crafty endeavor I could show you, have been made for Lauryn.  I have yet to make anything for the boys.  I am playing favorites with my crafting. And the boys' have started calling me out on it.

They've started asking when I'm going to make something for them. "Every time you make something it's for Lauryn!"  I'm stumped.  Dylan requested that I crochet him a hat....but it turns out my crochet ability does not extend beyond scarves at this time.  Not for lack of trying, it's just the skill level where I'm stuck.  I could make a scarf and wrap it around his head turban style, but he wasn't interested.

I find some cute things online, but they verge on the edge of being too baby-ish for my big 7 and 6 year olds who want to wear shirts with skateboarders and pirate skulls (school mascot is a pirate).  

But how CUTE is this robot shirt:

ADORABLE, right?  Directions can be found by clicking here. [corrected link] Oh, one of you with a 2 or 3 or 4 year old, please, please make this shirt.  Please?  I think it's so fun!!! 

And if you have ideas about what I could make for my handsome young men, send me an email!  Maybe I could applique a pirate skull......



a word fitly spoken
Saturday, March 20, 2010

My grandfather has a sister, my Great-Aunt Betty, to whom I wrote occasional letters as I was growing up.  I don't know when I stopped...I do know the pace slowed considerably when I discovered boys.

Anyhow, she kept all the letters I wrote her, and recently gave them back to my mom, who then gave them back to me.

I found this one of particular interest:

"To Aunt Betty,

Thank you for sending me a note every now and then.  I have a music class at school.  My teacher thinks I sing very pretty.  I like school a lot and I like my teachers.  Coe [my little brother] is going to school too. 

Love Starr"

This note was written right after I started first grade. I was six years old, and my music teacher Mrs. Bautista had sent a note home to my mom that read, "I have noticed that Starr has a very pretty singing voice.  I think it's solo quality!" 

I remember that the note was written in cursive and I couldn't completely read it.  So after school I ran off the school bus and down our hill as fast as my little legs could go, furiously waving that note in the air.  "I don't know what this says, but I know it's good!!!"  (I've heard mom tell that story a time or two; I probably don't remember the event as much as her retelling of the event.)

I wonder if that music teacher had any idea how much that little handwritten note would mean to me?  Truly, it was "defining moment".  With her encouragement, I tried out for a small solo part in a school production.  It set me on a course of singing in elementary school plays, then talent shows, musicals...and through my fearless Jr. High years, any other stage I could find.  (Up to and including pageants.  It's true.  Photographic evidence exists but it's hidden away in dark corners.)   And most of my favorite memories from High School revolve around plays and musicals.

Singing doesn't define me anymore.  Not like it used to.  I still get to sing in the occasional wedding or Christmas program, and relish those opportunities.   ("Use it or lose it" certainly holds true though - definitely can't belt out those musical numbers like I used to!)  

But I'm so grateful Mrs. Bautista took the time to write that little note!  She gave me courage to try out for that first little elementary school solo, and set me on such a fun course.   Who knows if I would have discovered singing talent without her encouragement.  Maybe, maybe not.  Regardless, I was happy for the reminder this week of how powerful an encouraging word can be.  Call me cheesy, but I hope to be someone's Mrs. Bautista.  

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Proverbs 25:11

Self: You are convincing. But don't believe you.
Thursday, March 18, 2010

This the the conversation I have with myself once every four or five months:

A cup of coffee this fine evening sure would be nice.  Jonathan's not home...the kids are in would be ever so lovely to sit and enjoy this television programming with a hot cup of coffee.

[Walks happily to kitchen.  Lovingly gets out the french press and coffee grinder.]

Hmm....out of  decaf.  Okay.  Better not have any.  It's after 8:00 and it might keep me awake.

But then again..... [conversation with self takes a nasty turn at this point]

"Self, in college you drank pots and pots of coffee!  And still managed to drift off to dreamland the minute your head hit the pillow!  Self - don't you remember!?!  Caffeine had NO effect on you!  If you could drink a whole pot at 22, surely you can drink one cup at 32, right?  Right? Right?!?  Come on!  Just do it." 

And then I stupidly agree with self, and just to prove to self my infinite trust in her, I drink not one, but two cups of coffee.

Then I lay awake at 4:00am cursing self for being so presumptuous.

Oh the things you think about from midnight to 4:00am.

I quiz myself, seeing if I can remember the names of all my Elementary School teachers.  (RichardsonHooperMendenhallAndersonStephensMcAlister.  I can.)

I try and remember every address I've ever had.  (Can't.)

I try and remember my first private phone number.  (245-1500.  Can.)

I try to pray for everyone I love, but oh my is the caffeine is making it difficult to concentrate.  (Sorta can.)

I think about waking up Jonathan to discuss politics.  (Don't.  But find it difficult to resist.)

I try to figure out the plot to LOST.  (Can't.  Get mad at self for continuing to watch that show.)

After a long night of tossing and turning and mind racing, I promise self that I will not listen to self again when it comes to coffee consumption.

But self can be so darn convincing.

coffee bean photo via refracted moments on flickr

Looking for "Family Night" inspiration?
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I've taken a bit of a bloggy break from posting about our Family Nights, but I wanted to direct you to some other great sources!  The following sites have some great ideas for creating memories with your wee ones.  Don't think you're creative enough to organize an activity-filled Family Night?  Simply do exactly what these ladies do.  Think "copy and paste" for real life.  Your kiddos and hubby will never know the difference. [smiles] 

My friend Valerie at Posts on the Path has great ideas, including a "race car" night that I plan to copy at our house soon.

If you haven't checked out Whittaker Woman, you must! She's a family night veteran with tons of great ideas, and her site was my original inspiration for trying to do something similar at our house.

Birthday Party Ideas is another great site for helping out your creativity.  Just enter any "theme" in the search box, and you'll find tons of activity and food ideas.  

One easy way to plan a Family Night is around a movie that's just been released on DVD.  We recently had a "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" night, and I let the kids paint wadded up balls of foil red and brown to look like meatballs. Then they used yarn to hang them from the light fixture over the table.  Huge hit.  Whoulda thought?  We also made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, of course, and then watched the movie.

Just do a Google search for "(your movie title) + birthday party" and you're off and running.

You can also let your kids do the planning! Dylan planned this oddly unique and fun Family Night, and Ryan recently contrived a weather-themed night  that had us all making our own rain sticks.  

So click away! Plan some deliberate "just for fun" and "just cause I wanna be with you" nights with your kiddos.  They'll love the special time with mom and dad. And if you can get Dad to dress up like a pirate, all the better!  


Newborns hold a particular kind of delight.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I tell my first born that he's special, because he's the one that made me a Mommy.

Going from "Non-Mommy" to "Mommy" is a life-changing event that we're thrust into in an instant.

Those first few moments of holding our first born children really are beyond description, aren't they?   

Indulge me while I try to articulate part of the magic....

When Ryan was born, I remember being struck as I held this mere seconds-old child, that none of his story was known to me yet. His entire future - his entire story - known by a loving God, was yet completely unknown to me. Would he be healthy? Would he be funny? Would he make many friends or only have a close few? Would he follow hard after God from an early age, or would his path take him down a different and more difficult route to the Father? Would he love easily? Would he break hearts, or have his heart broken?

Anything was possible for him. And to this day, a fierce and unyielding mother-love rises up in me, praying I will succeed at impressing upon my children that they can do or be anything. There are no limits. No dream is too big.

My newborn delighted me, and I could daydream about his future with a heart filled with promise, because ANYTHING WAS POSSIBLE for his future.

Friends.......anything is possible for my future, too.

I've been born again. Born again! And every day God offers His mercy and renewal. My life story has yet to be written! My Father God, the same one who made me a new creation, looks at me with eyes full of delight. He wants me to know that with Him, I can do anything. I have a vision of the woman of God I want to become, and my Father tells me all those dreams are possible.

He longs to be the voice I give ear to...the voice telling me that "anything is possible to him who believes!" (Mark 9:23)

But just like my children, I have a choice to make. My children will have to decide as they grow, whose voice they will listen to. There will be dissenting voices that sound nothing like mine. Telling them they're not smart enough. Not fast enough. Not cool enough.

And you and I, although we may have outgrown playground bullies, we still have those voices too. Lies that too often come from our own mouths. Not pretty enough. Not thin enough. Not good enough.

God's voice says those are lies. God's voice says nothing is impossible for you. Listen for His voice. Ask Him to talk louder than the lies. He will.

So...that's why I love the name of the Trinity Women's conference this year: POSSIBILITIES.

I pray you'll be there, and I pray that God will impress upon you that your story is yet to be written. Your future is what you'll make it. His mercies are new each morning, and with those mercies come a chance to live big for His glory, no matter what your today or yesterday may have looked like. Anything is possible for those that believe. 

this post originally written for

I enjoy being a girl too, Doris!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You may have deduced from my heartsick post yesterday, that I've been suffering from the blahs a wee little bit.

Nothing too bad mind you.  Just a little downcast for some reason.

Well....good news!!!  Let me tell you!! [cue light and airy "all is right with the world" music]

Today I got a haircut and my eyebrows waxed.

A haircut and eyebrow wax!!  And that was enough to lift my spirits right up out of the muck!

I love being a girl.  A man could never be so delighted and uplifted by a great haircut and pretty, shapely eyebrows.

Sing it with me all you Doris Day fans -- "When I have a brand new hairdo, with my eyelashes all in curls..."

Ahhh....but then....but then....[cue low-toned "impending disaster" music]

I went clothes shopping.  I hate clothes shopping.

Nothing fit.  Nothing looked good.  The mirror and lighting in that dressing room were downright cruel.  Cruel I tell you!  So then I was downcast again.

I despise being a girl.  A man would never be so depressed over one little bad shopping experience.

But then don't get to change their minds and moods quite so quickly now do they???

I love being a girl!!!! 



Something Like Homesickness
Monday, March 1, 2010

I've been feeling that peculiar "I know that I definitely miss/long for/want something but I'm not quite sure what...." kinda feeling lately. 

I've narrowed the "something" down to a few things.

1.  Lakes and Rivers

photos by Melynda 

Oh how I love you West Texas - truly I do! - but your shortage of water leaves a girl with no place to simply sit and contemplate life. 

It sounds melodramatic, but I love to stand at the edge of a river.  Let the water flow over my feet. Throw sticks and leaves in and watch them float downstream.

I love lakes as much or more than rivers.  If I have my husband, a picnic lunch, and a blanket to lay down on, I'm happy for hours on a lakeshore. 

I miss water.  

2.  Lisa 

My friend Lisa (A true kindred spirit!)  (Yes, I'm reading Anne of Green Gables.) lives in Japan.  She comes home for the summer every two years with her husband and four kids.  Kids who are two years older each time I see them. I miss her.  I love that we can keep up via email and blogs (hers is great), but I've been missing her lately.

Our lives are busy, and we can find ourselves in a rhythm of only connecting with each other when we really need to talk  - which means some kind of crisis or heartache is happening.   Granted, a kindred spirit is indeed a treasure in times of crisis or heartache. 

But still....I miss just spending downtime and doing nothing with her.  Talking about nothing.  Although I admit that's is a luxury hard to find even with close, dear friends that live in Lubbock.  Downtime to talk about nothing is a rare treasure for gals in their 30's, huh?  

I miss Lisa.

 Lisa gave me this glass-bead bracelet this summer.  I wear it a lot.  
I say a little prayer for her when I do.

3. Nephew

I miss our little Nephew who resides 8 hours away.  He's such a character.   

I wish I could go to his school events and eventual soccer games. I wish he could play with his cousins.  I wish he could have sleepovers at our house.  

It's made worse at this current juncture because he is soon to have a little sister make her grand entrance into the world, and I wish I could be there to meet her when she's born.

 Connor - age three

I miss Connor.  I miss Elizabeth and she's not even been born yet.

So those are the things.  The things giving me that peculiar not-quite-heartache-but-almost kind of a feeling.

This feeling and I are old friends.  It will make it's way back to the subconscious part of my brain and emotions in a few days and contentment will reign once more.  And truly, I don't want to be anywhere else but Lubbock.  If I were to leave this place now, I know I'd have a heartsick feeling every single day.  This is where my family belongs for now.  I'm quite assured we are right where we need to be, doing just what we need to be doing....I just wish I could merge the best of West Texas with the best of Northeastern Oklahoma with a little best friend thrown in for good measure.  Maybe that's what eternity will be like....


Cliff Familyt

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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