Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wedding Season!

And here I thought my wedding days were over! As it turns out, I have back-to-back matron of honor duties in 38 days, there are two gorgeous spring dresses hanging in my closet, and I am up to my eyeballs in planning showers, parties, and all the fun details! Although I'm going to wait until these events are past to share the fun details, I can share some pictures from the fun we had at my best friend's Chinese wedding reception in January. Her fiance's family immigrated from Cambodia, so not only will they have a traditional American wedding in April, but they had a party up in New York City complete with all of the Chinese food, family, and traditions. According to that side of the family, they are already married, but they are counting April when they will file the paperwork and make it legal. Either way, it was such a fun experience, and I loved seeing a glimpse into their rich culture. And what's a party without a little food? They had TEN courses! And they were as traditional as they came, so while I did not try all of them, my mom would have been proud by how many bites of unfamiliar foods I did sample. My words can't do it justice, and my pictures probably can't either, but the least I can do is try, so here goes:

The reception took place in a restaurant in Brooklyn's Chinatown. What? You didn't know there was another Chinatown in NYC? Neither did I! I found it interesting that we had the entire middle section of the restaurant, complete with head tables, floral centerpieces, fine linens and chair covers, and yet there were regular diners seated on the outer walls of the restaurant (unlike most places that have separate private rooms). This is pretty common I later learned, and I kind of think it would be cool to go out to dinner and get to witness all sorts of traditional culture happening around you! They even had the back wall decorated to honor the couple:

As part of the ceremony, Elizabeth and her fiancé served tea to the elders. If they drank the tea, that meant that they accepted the union. Thankfully they all did! Here they are serving his parents... doesn't she look gorgeous in her traditional dress?

After drinking the tea, some family members placed jewelry on her or handed them red envelopes. Red envelopes = money... not a bad deal! She was all blinged out when all was said and done, with some beautiful pieces of jewelry!

Even though I had known about serving the tea to the elders, for some reason I just assumed it only meant his family, but apparently it was everyone, including her parents, which was really sweet. Then, so my surprise (and I think hers!), anyone older than the couple could go accept the tea. It ended up being a lot of people, which I found kind of humorous, just because I was only expecting them to have to do this a few times. Technically, I could have had them serve tea to me, too, but I thought they had enough people to serve as it was!

Mind you, all of the above happened before dinner started. I think the party started around 6pm (sad that I can't remember and it was only two months ago) and dinner started around 8pm. But as I mentioned, once it came out there were ten courses. Maybe more. And they were very traditional... check out some of the fare below:

You'd probably never guess, but this was actually a dessert course. Yep, dessert soup, made from all kinds of fruits and other sweet things.

This course was definitely my favorite though. In all honesty, I did try it and it was good. I am not a fan of meals that stare back at you though!

After dinner, there were a series of traditional games, which were highly entertaining (albeit embarrassing to the bride and groom!). Below, Elizabeth is blindfolded and trying to find her fiancé by only feeling the guys' faces! I decided to be nice and not post the video of her trying to roll a raw egg up and down Dara's pant leg... you can just imagine how that goes! It was certainly the hardest I have laughed in a long time and the highlight of the evening!

And of course... there was cake! I guess some traditions cross all cultures, and I'm glad cake was one of them!  Oh, and if you hadn't noticed, she changed dresses in the middle of the party... traditional garb for serving tea and them something more "her" for the rest of the reception. I wish I had better pictures of both dresses because they were stunning!

And finally, a picture to prove I was there... and I'm so glad that I was! Josh had to miss out on the weekend, and was very missed, but he'll definitely be there in April. I'm so honored to share this time with such a special gal.

Hope you enjoyed a little bit of culture as much as I did! It's probably the only Chinese wedding I'll ever attend, and I must say, it was a good time!

Monday, February 25, 2013

February Photo Dump

How is it already the 25th of February? This one went by quickly, didn't it? And with it we saw our church plant turn one (yay!), had some friends and family visit from out of state, saw some snow, and spent quite a bit of time indoors going a bit stir crazy. This mama is ready for spring... these kids are dying to be outside, and I could use a little sunshine myself! And since I did not find too much time to post anything on my personal site now that I'm posting on other sites (which I'm loving, but I need to figure out how to still love on my blog home here), here is a photo dump from this month... and just to warn you in advance, they are all from my phone, so sorry about the quality:

The kids are pretty good about playing with each other these days. They are also pretty great at fighting over toys. Oh boy.

Jake's new favorite thing is sunglasses. He has his own pair, but prefers mine. I think we're still figuring out how to properly wear them also.

Our sweet Lil is getting too big too fast. She's decided that she wants to use "big girl" things and gets upset when we try to use silly things like high chairs and cribs. This is her brother's old bed. She's not quite ready for it, but will be soon!

Jake had a pet parade at school for letter "P" week. I was actually thankful that he was too focused on marching in the parade that he didn't notice I was there! It was cute to see him in action with his class.

And here he is with his float for Bolt that he made. Uh yeah, sure he did.

In our quest to complete part two of potty training, we've been doing quite a bit of light reading.

Apparently the kids have been doing some deeper reading, too, as I found The Purpose Driven Life in their bookshelf the other day. It's never too early to start understanding your purpose. Oh, and if you've never read it, they just came out with a new and improved version... you should check it out!

 Josh and I actually got away for a Valentine's date! No picture of us, of course, but I did snap one of this beauty before she was gone. We also had a good laugh as we just so happened to end up at a restaurant where we were the youngest couple there by about 40 years. I've decided that 40 years from now I hope that my Valentine's days are spent going out with about 6 or 8 other couples, dressed to the nines in pink and red attire, and laughing a lot. That seems to be the thing to do in the senior citizen community around here anyway.

We've only had two or three warm-ish days this month, so we took one of them as an opportunity to finally try out the kids' Christmas presents. Jake apparently would rather push Lilly than ride. She loved every minute of it!

Being cold outside also means that training for my 13 in 13 limits me to this sucker. Me and the treadmill have some issues. I can't wait to get back outside on some pavement!

And even though my nephews will kill me for this (be nice to me boys or I'll post 'em on Facebook!), these videos are too funny not to share. My kids love to dance... and the only thing better than having dance parties in the living room? Having dance parties with the cousins of course!

Those boys are such good sports anyway... and surprisingly pretty darn good at Just Dance! My kids clearly march to the beat of a different drummer for now.

I think that about catches me up. I'm hoping this will kick start my consistency on the blog again... we shall see. But in the meantime, if you just can't get enough, you can find me over on the ARC Women blog again today! Happy Monday!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ten Years Later

Recently I traveled to Atlanta for my best friend's bridal shower (post to come eventually) and was reunited with a couple of other closest friends from my college years. I am connected to several girls from college, mainy through "friendships" on Facebook, but the girls at this party are ones that call, email, swap pictures, but just never get to see. As I uploaded the pictures from the shower, one of my favorites was this snapshot of me and my two roommates from back in the day:

As I was looking at it, a picture in a frame that sits on my desk caught my eye... one of my very favorites from nine or ten years ago:

I know I just dated myself, BUT... seeing this picture next to that picture made me realize just how special life-long friends can be. So much has changed in these last few years- marriages, children, careers, and many ups and downs and bumps in the road, but if anything, it's just gotten better and better. I also had to laugh at myself when I realized how even though we may be a bit more fresh faced in the second photo, we still look pretty dang good for being in our thirties! When we were that age I think we probably thought that thirty was old, and it was all downhill from there, but I think we've proven our old selves wrong. Sure, when I look in the mirror these days my eyes immediately see the wrinkles that are more obvious to me than anyone else, as well as other "signs" of aging, but I think sometimes I focus on those too much. At the end of the day, it's those smiles on our faces, the joy in our lives, and the testament of how far we've all come that matters. I think the "older" girls would unanimously say that we're happier now, more at peace, more sure of who we are and what we stand for, more confident, and more beautiful than ever. I praise God for frienships like this... not just for the memories, the good times, and the person you can always count on, but also as a benchmark as to where we've been, who we are today, and how much potential we still have for what's to come. In ten more years, I would not be surprised if I have yet another picture to post of us three, that one more beautiful than the last two.  Friendships are definitely one of God's most precious gifts.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Last Minute Love Day

While this family isn't one that really does much for Valentine's Day, this was the first year that I happened to notice just how many cute (and free!) things you can find on the web for decorating, making cards, etc. So if you forgot all about it and still want to do something sweet for your honey-bunny, check out some of these free printables:
I used this as a card, but I bet it would look really cute framed, too! Found at Guess How Much I Love You:

And if you forgot to get them for the whole class, try printing these right at home, brought to you by The Rubber Punkin:

And how cute is this from the site, Flamingo Toes? This would be cute at a wedding, too!

I've actually hand-written this sign for my family before, just on a random morning. I feel like these cute surprises almost mean more on a random morning... why just save them all for one day of the year? Dave's Wife has a cuter version than the one I made... and according to her blog, she also made her own donuts!

This just might be my favorite... found over at the Bonjour Blog:

There are tons more out there... I love when bloggers create something and then decide to share it with the rest of the world... that's what it's all about! All of these sites have more than just these prints, so they are worth checking out for more fun stuff. And as a common courtesy, whenever you use something that someone else created, you should always thank them with either a comment, or even better, by following their blog. We bloggers love followers... not really sure what it is about it, but it lets us know that our words are being read by at least a few people out there!

Enjoy your day and spread some love and kindness today (and everyday). I'm off to go make my love-bugs some heart-shaped pancakes. Hmmm... maybe we kinda do celebrate this day afterall!

What are some of your favorite free finds?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blog Contributor

Happy Monday, everyone!
Okay, so it's Monday and it's super dreary here, so I'm trying my best to sound positive... but honestly, it was pretty tough to get out of bed this morning. Poor Mondays. They are nobody's favorite day of the week. But anyway...
Today you can find me over at the blog, The Everyday Windshield. This is a blog that was born out of a company that a friend of ours started, and they are committed to running debt-free families and business, as well as giving away a product to someone in need for every product they sell.  I love that missional mind-set. She asked me to contribute over there a few times a month, so make sure you check it out today and see what you think! You can also "Like" the Everyday Windshield on Facebook where they have some give-aways and other fun stuff each month.  I hope you'll stop by, and then tomorrow (or let's be realistic... probably Wednesday or Thursday) I'll be back over here, talking about my kiddos, our church plant, and life in general.  Thanks!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Kiddo Update: Sweet Lil

16 months

I lost the piece of paper that has her stats from her 15-month check-up (oh the woes of the second child, right?), but she was in the 95+ percentile for height and weight and the 75th for head circumfrence.  She's wearing 24-month clothes (where did my baby go??) and size 5 diapers. She's our little "round mound of pound." I'm sure she'll love knowing that someday.

Where to begin? This girl does so much these days. We've mastered walking, but Lilly pretty much runs wherever she goes. She is also quite the climber and loves to go up and down the stairs, which she's pretty good at, but I still stay near her just in case.

Lil is very polite. She says "peas" and "ta-too" (please and thank-you) regularly

Can wave hi and bye (and says it, too), blows and gives kisses, and also gives great hugs.

She follows directions incredibly well. You can tell her to "bring it to Daddy" or "go see Gramma" or even "go to your chair" and she usually does it. She's our cooperative one for sure!

Knows a lot of her body parts (and can repeat them, too). She can point to her hair, eyes, ears, nose, teeth, mouth, belly, fingers, hands, feet, toes, sticks out her tongue, and shakes her little booty when you ask "Where's your bottom?"

It will still be awhile before we really work on potty-training with her, but she already wants to sit on it now that brother does. It's not uncommon for her to sit up there for a few minutes at least once a day, and she is currently potty training all of her toys, which is amusing.  She'll also bring us a diaper on occassion when she needs to be changed.

Loves to:
Dance - any time she hears a song, whether it's a dance song or a nursery rhyme

Wear beads, purses, shoes, sunglasses, or any other accessory (we have a diva in the making on our hands... oh boy)


Try to do whatever Jake is doing and/or taking whatever it is he's playing with out of his hands and running away, which is hilarious to me.

She is just now getting into books, but only gets through about three pages before getting up to go get me another one.

Play with her hair... it's a "tell" that she's ready for bed when she twirls her bangs. Oh yeah, she has bangs now. We had to cut the front part of her hair short since it was always in her face.

Play with babies and baby dolls.

Food: strawberries, cherry tomatoes, apples, macaroni and cheese, yogurt, string cheese, pasta, cous cous or rice, dry Cheerios (honey-nut are preferred), strawberry Kashi-brand fruit bars, waffles

Shows: She does not like TV near as much as Jake did early on (and still), which is fine with me, but she does love the opening song of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, likes Finding Nemo, and is probably most captivated by Barney.

Toys: baby dolls, Jake's stuffed "Bolt" dog, anything with a lid, shape sorters, and those toys that have you push, turn, or switch something and a character pops up... I have no idea what those are called.

Her vocabulary is huge.. much larger than Jake's was at this age. Plus, she'll repeat just about any word, clear as a bell, that you ask her to say.  I'll list out what I can think of, but I'm sure I'll miss a ton.  These are the ones she says and uses regularly:

Mama, Dada, Jakie, puppy, bobby (bottle or pacifier), book, boots (which are all types of shoes), apple, cat, duck, MeMo (which is Nemo and Mickey Mouse, depending on the day), please and thank-you, bye bye, uh-oh, hi, night night, baby, happy, cake, cracker, cupcake (all three of those sound pretty much the same), eat, more, hot, mine, milk,

The extended family: Pawpaw, Grampa, Gramma, Gigi (Angie), Mimmy (Mindy), Adam, and if you ask her to say Sam, she'll say "Baby." Sam is my newest nephew and is two-months old.  She's actually really good with names... if she learns to say a person's name she'll use it when she sees that person, even if it's been several days since she's seen him or her. She has two Sara's that watch her from time to time and she asks for "Ri-rah" about once every day.

One night we had friends over and she picked up a drink on the coffee table and dumped it on the floor. We all watched in a amazement as she ran to the kitchen, grabbed the towel that hangs from the stove handle, ran back to the spill, and wiped it up. That's my girl! She also tries to wipe people down with baby wipes from time to time. Oh, and she loves to eat baby wipes.... just a random tidbit.

The other day I was prompting Jake to sing his alphabet so I sang "A, B, C." and before Jake could jump in, Lilly yelled "D"! She then smiles so big because she's so proud of herself! She can also sing along to the song we sing with Jake, "A is for apple, B is for boat," etc. and knows most of the words that the letters are for.

We have to keep a close eye on her because she likes to hide things and put things in things. We find pacifiers in shoes, her cup in Jake's boots, and today I found a small saucepan in the dryer!

She loves to get some toilet paper off the roll and says "nose, nose, nose," meaning that she wants either her nose wiped, or she wants to wipe yours!

She has zero interest in learning animal sounds, and if you ask her what any animal says, her answer is "ffff fffff fffff." I think she feels like she's above it!

I seriously cannot get enough of this little thing... and neither can anyone else! As a mom you always wonder if you just think your kid is the cutest, sweetest, etc. because she's your kid, but I know of several friends that want to adopt Miss Lil, and I can't blame them. Watching the relationship between my two little ones, however, is what makes me the happiest of all. It's truly something special to witness! Now if they'd just slow it down a little bit, that would be wonderful!