Turns out, astrology is dumb. And I love my husband.
Monday, August 30, 2010

I heard someone mention their horoscope recently.  I was reminded that when I was in college, I worked one summer at a Clothing Consignment Store.  It was owned and operated by an older lady, who one day asked about mine and Jonathan's birth dates.  When I told her she replied:

"Oh.  Oh no.  That is not good.  That's a very, very bad combination.  Your astrological signs do NOT make a good match.  You are a terrible pairing!  You should get out of this relationship immediately."

I can't overstate the level of passion with which she implored me to break off my engagement.  It's comical, while simultaneously offensive. Obviously, I did not heed her advice.

I reassured her that I was in fact marrying Jonathan, assured that he was the one for me, even given the "ominous alignment of stars and planets."  [Yes, she really did say ominous.] I'm even more assured 12 years and some months later that Jonathan and I are indeed a good match.  A great match even.  

So in celebration of overcoming our astrological odds [insert eye roll], here are just a few things for which I've thanked my husband recently:

Thank you for saving the best of your creativity, passion, and love for your family.

Thank for your driving a 12 year old car, and teaching your children that giving lavishly is more important that having lavish stuff. (thank you also for working hard and budgeting diligently, so someday we can do both)

Thank for relentlessly telling me I'm beautiful, even after I roll my eyes and disagree heartily.


Thanks for spending both quality and quantity time with your kids.

Thanks for choosing us above anything and anyone else.


Who knew that a Pisces could be so wonderful?  [to be read with a heavy hint of sarcasm]













Blue Cheese and Bacon Burgers
Thursday, August 26, 2010

I thought I hated blue cheese.  I was convinced of that fact, actually. (The list of foods I don't like is very, very short, so there's little chance for confusion.)

Then last year on a girlfriend road-trip to Dallas, said girlfriends ordered some cheese fondue, heavily featuring blue cheese.  And I liked it.  But I thought, "Nah.  It's just the good time I'm having with my friends, increasing my tolerance and transferring these good time feelings to my taste buds, making this smelly stuff bearable."

But this week Jonathan prepared some blue cheese and bacon crumble hamburgers, and wow they were good. Delightful, delectable, and delicious.

I still think blue cheese still smells like dirty feet.  And yet....it's so tasty.  A culinary mystery. 

 








Reusable Snack Bag
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lauryn goes to Trinity Learning Center's four-year-old class two days a week. I send her with a lunch, as well as a separately packed afternoon snack.

Today I made her this little bag, to use in place of brown paper bags for her afternoon snack.

I modified this pattern to make it the dimensions I wanted (tall enough for her water bottle), and it took me less than an hour or so!

(Disclaimer: An hour after my first failed attempt.)  (You can add that statement "after my first failed attempt" to any sewing project I've ever completed.)


After completing it according to the pattern directions, I decided it needed  handle.  Here's the finished project, packed up and ready with her water bottle and granola bar:


And just like that, my need to make something crafty every month or so is satisfied.  Now on to the laundry pile.....



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Obligatory back to school photo.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ryan:  3rd grade  Lauryn: 2 day a wk preschool  Dylan: 1st grade


Yep.  It's already that time again! (Goodbye sweet summer of 2010.  You were very, very good to us.) 

School has been good times all around so far! Noticed in these pictures that little brother is quickly, quickly catching big brother in the height department:

 

I am blogging on Prize31.com today, sharing the scriptures and promises that Jonathan and I are praying for our boys as they attend school this year.  Any favorite Bible verses you're reading and re-reading during this "back to school" season?  I've love to hear them!  Hop on over to Prize31.com and join the conversation.








Call Me Ishmael
Friday, August 20, 2010

"Lauryn, please find a place for your whale!"  

(The unspoken sentiment is actually "Lauryn, for the love, right now this minute get this huge inflatable whale out of the middle of the living room and put it away!  I've picked it up and put it in the playroom 17 times today!")

So after being told "find a place for your whale", here's where she put it:



The bathtub in the master bathroom.  Did she think this was an appropriate habitat?  That the whale might need some water?

I've left it there for a few days now.  Makes me smile.



I feel I should admit that I know the phrase "Call me Ishmael" from pop culture references only.  I've never actually read Moby Dick.  But it's about a whale, right?








They really are ugly.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We got a new king size mattress, but we haven't bought bedding yet.

My grandmother no longer has a king size bed, but still had some sheet sets, so she graciously mailed them to us.

They are hideously floral.

But I stuck them on the bed anyway and I'm calling them "vintage."








Not freshly squeezed, but nearly as good!
Monday, August 16, 2010


Desperate for something sweet to drink one day, I remembered I saw my friend Sara in Austin make lemonade from bottled lemon juice.

Perhaps not a new idea for some of you, this was revolutionary to me, as I had only previously made lemonade from powdered mix.  Or...err...a pouch of "lemonade flavored" kool-aid.  I'm not proud.

Much easier than squeezing your own lemons....much tastier than the powdered stuff.  Give it a try on a hot day! 



Here's how:

Put one cup of sugar, and 3/4 cup of bottled lemon juice in your pitcher.
Pour in one cup of boiling water.
Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add 4-5 cups of cold water to dilute.  
Serve cold over ice.

Feeling ambitious?  Fancy it up by throwing in some lemon slices!



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Did Betty Crocker ever yell at her kids?
Friday, August 13, 2010

We all have those things about us that we wish were different.  Mine is this:  I yell at my kids sometimes.

I hate it.  I wish I didn't do it.  I wish I could snap my fingers and I would never, ever raise my voice at them again. I wish I could just say one simple prayer and the "quiet and gentle spirit" that I so long for would just magically attach itself to my tongue. But alas - the yelling stems from other things that take time and daily repentance to deal with.  (Lack of patience, unrealistic expectations, and control issues are some of the "things" come to mind.)

So most of the time I can reign in my yelling tendencies. But one activity gets me every time:  COOKING TOGETHER

 My kids love to help me cook. 

I do not enjoy my kids helping me cook.  There. I said it.  I DO NOT ENJOY IT. It's one of those activities that moms and children are supposed to enjoy together - featured in magazine spreads, commercials, and mommy blogs across the globe. Moms and their children with cute streaks of flour across their noses, laughing and having a grand ol' time. 

Attention:  This picture is not real.
That smiling mother is not me.
That happy child does not belong to me.


The cooking together.  It never ends well in our house.  Someone gets mad because she didn't get to dump the brownie mix in the mixing bowl.  Nevermind that she got to crack the egg.  One gets mad because he didn't get to pour the milk.  Nevermind that he gets to be the first one to stir.  Soon someone is crying because they wanted to pour the batter into the baking dish.  Nevermind that they should all just be grateful we are making brownies!  Not crying about every little thing!  This is supposed to be fun!  Now out of the kitchen and I'll finish by myself! 

So obviously....it's not really "cooking together" that triggers my frustration. Cooking together just happens to be an activity in which all my insecurities as a mom are tested and put on display.

I feel insecure when my kids whine, or are ungrateful, because I know those are two behaviors I haven't been very good at correcting. And honestly, we can generally get through our days without much whining or complaining (My kid really are great kids! I promise!) - so when an activity like this brings it out, it makes me feel out of control.   
 

I get stressed when they are all whining and complaining, because it's so obvious to me that they should be having fun. Instead of stopping, taking time to deal with each of them individually, and giving them a chance to correct their behavior - it's easier for me to just send them all to their rooms. Away from me and away from each other.

I get upset when I think they should be grateful and instead they are ungrateful.  In hindsight I think, "I should have just calmly put all the ingredients away, and explained we could try to make brownies again another day, when everyone could chose to have a pleasant and cooperative attitude."  But in the moment I get flustered and frustrated and just send them all away in anger.  Then in my guilt over yelling at them, I usually go ahead and let them eat a brownie.  Dumb. 


So I'm praying for wisdom.  Wisdom to know how to consistently and lovingly correct whining and ungratefulness in my children.  Wisdom to chose a better path than yelling and separation.  And I'm thanking the Lord that my children are very, very forgiving.  Because sometimes I also yell at them when I've told them to put on their shoes and socks and it's time to get in the van and we are going to be late and they are still sitting and playing with toys and have no shoes or socks on their feet and I feel like my head might explode.  The end.


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Here is a FABULOUS article detailing one mother's journey through prayer and scripture as she battles to overcome the behavior of yelling at her children:  Yelling at My Kids

Many thanks to my friend Allison for linking to this article from her facebook page! 

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Faith Without Works is Dead
Wednesday, August 11, 2010



Back on July 30th, my 20 year old brother-in-law posted this as his facebook update:


Thus began his 9 day journey as a medical-missionary to Bolivia.  It was an amazing trip that brought more opportunities than he could have imagined.  He has started to chronicle the trip here:  Stephen in College

Stephen's aspiration to become a Doctor comes from a desire to use his skills and credentials as an avenue to minister to hurting people, offering them hope and healing both physical and spiritual. I don't think the trappings of this world - the big house and nice car and right neighborhood - play a big role in his desire to have the letters M.D. following his name. (Although come on, "Dr. Stephen Cliff" does have a nice ring to it, am I right?)

I personally hope he someday has all those things - the big house, nice car, and beautiful neighborhood - because I know he'll use those things to bless others and reflect God's goodness.  But I'm glad he took this trip to solidify that those things, all that "stuff", aren't the real reason God has called him on this journey.  I'm going to pray that the purpose and calling he felt while in Bolivia remain the compelling force to make it through medical school! I know he can do it.

(Have I mentioned he earned, like, the highest grade EVER on his Chemistry final at Oklahoma State University? I didn't?  Oh.  I was sure I had mentioned it....)



 Stephen, I'm not sure when you morphed from the cute little boy who amused and entertained me, to the young man who inspires me.  It happened fast.  I'm proud of you.




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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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