Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Boot Camp

Emily goes to a fabulous school based on Outward Bound Expeditionary Learning style.  She just got back from 5th grade camp where they packed in and set up their own tents, dug their own latrine, and drank filtered water from a mountain stream.

In addition to base camp set-up, they did high ropes, made their own meals, built relationships, and had a blast, too.  The only thing they didn't do was shower...the grime on my shower floor when she was finished was, well, grimy.

She has flourished at her school and applied her love of learning she regained from homeschool back into the classroom.  I wish it went through 12th Grade!  Before Em started school I asked her what some of her spiritual, personal, and academic goals were for the upcoming year.

One thing she said was, "I would like to be done with Reading Plus.  My goal is to never have to do it again!"

I said, "What if that means you have to do it this year but by the end of 5th Grade you would be done with it?"

She said, "That's fine!  Whatever it takes!  I love reading I just don't love being outside of the classroom in that program anymore..."

On the first day of school her Reading Plus teacher from 4th Grade told her she had graduated from the program and did not need to return.  She was ecstatic!  And we were, and are, so very proud of her and the time she has put into developing her reading skills!

Way to go, Em!

All this to say, her school is doing a Boot Camp and each student is encouraged to seek pledges or one time donations to support funding for continued education outside the classroom walls, as well as science and technology.  They are also collecting non-perishable food items to stock a local food pantry at Douglas County Task Force.

The kid who raises $1000 in donations gets a Kindle.  You should have seen Em's eyes light up when she knew a Kindle was the prize!  "You mean it's GREEN and for reading?!"

We understand times are tight, but Em asked me to please post on here to raise awareness and support in case anyone was interested in sponsoring her.  Thanks, in advance, for reading and for supporting your local schools, wherever you may live!

Here is the link to Emily's Boot Camp Page.

Ryan's Translation

Thanks to everyone who tried to translate Ryan's language!  It was good for me to read through them and have a laugh, for sure :)

The girl you'd want to have on hand if it were just you and Ryan alone in a room is.....

Karen Hochstedler

Congratulations, lady!  You got 16 correct!  

Heather Gieske and Annie Shoberg came in with 15 answers right, or as Annie said, about 30%...which, if I should have to point out to any of you, would not take you to the next grade level :)

Here's the official KEY as translated by this guy:

Moo, moo = Cow (freebie)
Pay noun =  Penguin
Moe neen = Morning
Hail puh = Help
Honey = Sunny
Jiss = Juice
Obble bus = Applesauce
Moody = Smoothie
Icky = Snake
Eeb rah = Zebra
Hop hop = Kangaroo
Eebitt = Ribbit
Nay nay = Horse
Cow = Moo Moo
Boof = Bruce (Dog next door…)
Me Oh Me = Emily
Yay dee = Lady
Deet = Deer
Oonie = Ernie
Beet boot = Big Bird
Boot = Burt
Sue = Zoo
Rarrrr = Tiger
Boat Ee Goo = Bald Eagle
Dough Ghee = Doggie
Oat shyed = Outside
Bay oh = Bear
How whoooo = Coyote
Bieber = Beaver
Hoo hoo, ha ha = Monkey
Pwffft = Elephant
Maah tee =Manatee
Booty = Birdie
Poopie = Pee
Boobie = Boobie
Dood doy = Good Boy!
Mook = Milk
Dood nye moon = Goodnight Moon
Num num = Vitamin, or yummy
Cuckoo = Goldfish, as in the creature

Thanks, again!  That was good for my heart :)  

*Karen, email me your address :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Some Friday FUN!

Below you will find a quiz.  It's a language quiz.  And by "language quiz" I mean, it's the language of my 2 year old son, Ryan.  A language I am expected to interpret and act upon every day.

Let's be honest, it's more like a game of MadGab, but I want to remember his sweet words at this stage in his life, so thought it would be fun to make it into a test for everyone else.  Don't worry, I'm recording some of this, too, and will post those later next week so you can hear how sweet it is.

In the comments section, answer as many of the questions you can with one guess/translation per question.  I will keep this open until Tuesday, September 25th at midnight Mountain time.  The person with the most correct answers wins a pair of sterling and freshwater pearl earrings from bebe&boo.   *Hint:  "moo moo" does not translate = moo moo, it actually means something...

Welcome to my life...please translate the following words in your comment (I'll go easy on you, to start...because I'm nice like that...)

  1. Moo, moo = Cow (freebie)
  2. Pay noun = 
  3. Moe neen =
  4. Hail puh = 
  5. Honey =
  6. Jiss =
  7. Obble bus =
  8. Moody =
  9. Icky =
  10. Eeb rah =
  11. Hop hop =
  12. Eebitt =
  13. Nay nay =
  14. Cow =
  15. Boof =
  16. Me Oh Me =
  17. Yay dee =
  18. Deet =
  19. Oonie = 
  20. Beet boot =
  21. Boot =
  22. Sue =
  23. Rarrrr =
  24. Boat Ee Goo =
  25. Dough Ghee =
  26. Oat shyed =
  27. Bay oh =
  28. How whoooo =
  29. Bieber =
  30. Hoo hoo, ha ha =
  31. Pwffft =
  32. Maah tee =
  33. Booty =
  34. Poopie =
  35. Boobie =
  36. Dood doy =
  37. Mook =
  38. Dood nye moon =
  39. Num num =
  40. Cuckoo =
Have fun and have a fantastic weekend!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Girlfriends, part 3

And then I met them...

Women from coast to coast.  Beautiful women with beautiful stories.  And, by “beautiful” I mean, real, candid, authentic, raw, not watered down, genuine, broken, not shattered, but broken wide open to reveal true heart and true grit.  My kind of real.  No sunshine blowing, yet tons of laughter and joy.  No competition amongst us, yet damn strong fighters.  Beautiful, beautiful women.  New girlfriends.  I am humbled I had the opportunity I did to be there with them all in that space and time.

On Saturday my friend Jessica introduced Kristin Armstrong to the group.  In her intro she shared a bit about her own love of girlfriend-time and a time in her life when she was really feeling drained without it.  This is the counsel a minister gave to her:  

He said, “Girlfriends are sacred.  They are part of your spiritual formation.” 

I wrote that down in ink and on my heart.  Wow!  The retreat could have ended right there for me!

Then, when Kristin shared with us, in her fabulous young 41-derful years, she spoke as a peer, unassuming and so candid, yet her wisdom was that of a true and faithful friend of 100 years.  She set the tone for authenticity.  It was a safe place for all of us to share, and that we did. 

Each one of us went around and shared our hearts.

And then she said it... 

…the hook, line, and sinker of the whole weekend for me, driving home what Jessica had stated earlier…

Kristin said, “Having girlfriends is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.  It’s mandatory.” 

(She wrote it out more thoroughly here on her blog...)

She also told us how she has recently boycotted the word, “Busy,” from her vocabulary, as well as not allowing her friends to use it around her, either.  Of course we’ll ALWAYS have stuff to do, places to go, blah, blah, blah, but the truth is, since deep heart friendships with women are sacred, we need to make the time.

This year God’s been teaching me to love myself.  As I mature, if you will, each year, I will say I am more and more self aware of my needs or desires, here on earth.  Clearly I need water, some food, shelter, a pair of jeans and comfy flip-flops.  But in order to be a better me, I also need:  time to quietly sit with God’s word each morning, hot mug in hand; date nights out with my husband; and couch-time snuggling with my 10 year old daughter as we dig into a great book.  And, I need to kiss my son on his neck and cheek, smell him and then tickle him so I can hear laughter from deep in his belly, a laughter I’m not able to conjure up on my own most days because I’ve seen too much.  I need solitude, too.  

And I need time with girlfriends.  It’s not always going to look like a weekend away without any responsibilities.  I know that.  But time with friends is something I long for and something from which I walk away refreshed.  I’ve loved it ever since I was a little girl and still cherish it as a grown-up. 

So here’s our takeaway:
  • ·       Girlfriends are sacred. 
  • ·       They are part of our spiritual formation. 
  • ·       Girlfriends are NOT a luxury.
  • ·       Time with girlfriends is a necessity. 

If the word "Busy" were deleted from your vocabulary, is there something else that is holding you back from spending time with life-giving friends?  It doesn't have to be hours on end...even just a half hour is a step in the right direction.

It's time for women to start building bridges for friendships to be nurtured and grow.  Imagine a world where healthy, beautiful friendships were everywhere we looked because they were established on trust and authenticity.
We all have stories...What is yours?

The world doesn't need more superficial relationships based on mistrust and name brand jeans.  The world needs women who are willing to go deep, women who are willing to cherish one another.

Yep.  That's what it needs...

Now, let's go carve out some time for the relationships in our lives which matter most!

Ready:  GO!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More On: Girlfriends!

NOT "Moron Girlfriends!"  Just to clarify...

There are many titles I could have gone with concerning this post:

"Modern Day Miracle!"

"Man Uncovers Ancient Secret!"

"Husband Found His Wife's Sweet Spot..."

"Mars Finally Moves to Venus to Form a Planetary Merger"

"Jesus Can Come On Back Now...All the Problems in the World are Solved."

Or, my favorite:

"My Husband is a Better Girlfriend than Me."

I know what you were thinking when you read the one about the "sweet spot", but that's not what I'm talking about here today.  Maybe another day?  Nah.  This isn't that kind of blog...

Anyway, here's a snippet of the conversation which took place in the corner of our kitchen the day before I left for my girlfriends' retreat earlier this month in Austin.  I must preface this to say, anyone who knows my husband knows he barely meets the minimum word requirements that a man may speak in one day...if I'm lucky, the guy spreads his 7,000 words a day out over the course of a when he talks, I listen...

Part II:  Girls Gone Wild in Texas

Jason:  Why are you so stressed out?

Me:  When you ask me that it makes me feel like I’m not allowed to have stress…like, what could be so stressful about my life???

Jason:  No, that’s not it, I just want to know because you are visibly stressed…

Me:  First off, you know how I get when I’m packing and preparing for a trip, but also, I just feel so jumbled right now…I don’t feel like I’ve gotten into the swing of things, like I haven’t had a routine since last school year.  I do well with routine.  Everything is spinning…I feel like I am emotionally ON one-hundred percent of the time…I love, love, love being a wife and mom, I just don’t ever have other adult interaction.  A 2-year old talks at me all day.  Sometimes that gets emotionally draining...

Jason:  Maybe you should get a baby-sitter one day every week and spend some time with your friends.

Me:  That’s awesome in theory, but everyone is busy, plus we’re taking Financial Peace University!  What would Dave Ramsey say about this?  We need to budget in a babysitter…and if we do that, I’d want to use that time to go on a date with you…

Jason:  Adrienne, I cannot give you what time with your girlfriends provides.  Emily and Ryan cannot give you what they can give you.  I am willing to sacrifice one night a week with you where you spend time with friends so that you aren’t stressed…you need time for yourself.

And so there you go.  

My husband is a better girlfriend than I am.  

Let me just go ahead and have you read that again:

"Adrienne, I cannot give you what time with your girlfriends provides.  Emily and Ryan cannot give you what they can give you.  I am willing to sacrifice one night a week with you where you spend time with friends so that you aren’t stressed…you need time for yourself." - Jason Graves, brilliant genius husband, stellar dad, overall great guy...

Sitting in a Cambridge coffee shop, looking all business-like, holding secret knowledge about women tightly locked up in his brain...WHAT ELSE DO YOU KNOW, JASON?!

He’s, like, IN TUNE or something.  

Who knew?  I MEAN, I knew he was awesome, but for him to see that my heart truly needs, longs for, and thrives on time spent with my girlfriends, well, that’s like “Husband of the Year” material, you know what I’m sayin’!  Maybe even Nobel Prize stuff…

So, ladies, I'm not sure what to tell you at this point...maybe print this off and put it on the fridge, or above his bathroom sink, or in the garage on his workbench.  Print off a copy for his briefcase.  I don't suggest taping it to his new flat screen, but perhaps erecting an easel just off to the side or somewhere in his man-cave?  Maybe insert your name into the statement, record it, and then play it softly while your husband sleeps?  

Of course, praying that your husband would have his eyes opened and his heart in tune with God's design for women and friendship is likely the most life-changing route, but do what you gotta do :)  

The point is this:  My husband isn't insecure with the truth.  The truth is that I'm madly in love with him and he is my very best friend and I'd choose him any day over my girlfriends, but that doesn't mean I don't NEED or LIKE or LOVE being WITH my girlfriends on a regular basis because it's good for my heart.

*What will it take for you to understand what, quite possibly, your husband already knows about you?  And, whether you are married or not, what will it take for you to realize that solitude is good for a season, but God made girlfriends for a reason?

Get on the phone and set up a date with some of your friends...ready:  GO!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Girlfriends are MANDATORY!

I just got back from Austin, Texas, where I took part in a girls weekend.  Two friends from college, one from the East Coast, another from the West, dreamed it up and decided to invite their friends from around the country to meet in the middle.  Those friends invited friends, and so on, and so forth…

When I originally received the “Save the Date” I thought, “Man, this sounds like so much fun, but: I only know two of the women, I can’t technically afford to go, and what do I do with the kids?”  

I will say this; only knowing two of the women wasn’t enough of a roadblock.  I love women and love meeting new women and hearing their stories…it’s what makes my heart beat, it’s the whole emphasis of my non-profit, Bevy…but, I am a tight wad when it comes to money.  

Okay, so I’m not a tight wad.  I love to share and I think it’s fun to treat others to meals and such, but I don’t like to be a financial burden to my family.  As a wife and mom who stays at home, it’s important to me to financially steward our cash flow (Doing FPU right now...more on that later...).  So yeah, not to sound like a martyr or burden, but I’m not a huge fan of spending moo-lah on myself when I think of all the other ways it could be spent.  Whah, whah.
Anyway…I have to say, the “what do I do with the kids?” question left my mind about as quickly as it entered.  I’m not bragging in the sense of, “In YO FACE!” but my husband really does indeed ROCK.  I knew if I talked to him about this retreat and told him I really wanted to go and felt like I was supposed to be there, he would work with me to make it happen, which would include him making some sacrifices and working from home for at least part of my weekend away.  He knows how much I love to be with girlfriends.

The necessary self-portrait

Where cowboy boots are king...and girls night out mandatory!

With Kim and Jessica, the two friends with "Insane Courage!"

After our time with Kristin

Meeting another bereaved momma-friend
I can’t really explain why I felt like I was supposed to go to this girls’ weekend away, but I knew I wasn’t invited on accident and that whomever God would introduce me to over the course of the time away would fill my heart and inspire me to keep pressing on with the dreams God has put upon my heart for years now.

I can’t even begin to put into words all the things the Lord did in my heart over the course of one hot, but beautiful weekend in Austin.  I’m still processing much of it.  One thing that blessed my heart was the fact that I got to just show up.  I feel like a bit of a slacker writing that previous sentence, but I’ve been a leader among my peers and in women’s groups for as long as I can remember.  I’ve only been to one other retreat that I didn’t plan…and that was 8 years ago.  Ironically, I received the “Save the Date” from my friends, Kim and Jessica, the week after I cancelled a Midwest Bevy Retreat.  It seems I was due for a retreat, but not one I would have to plan or organize. 

I showed up with expectations.  Not expectations of people or that I’d be entertained all weekend, but anticipation of God’s hand in our time together, and for what each of us would take away.  I prayed a lot during the months leading up to September 6-9.  Prayers for my friends who were coordinating the weekend, prayers for Kristin Armstrong who shared with us on Saturday, prayers for all the women whom I had never met but whose stories I would get to hear throughout the weekend, prayers for my girlfriend living in Austin who would join me in the adventure, and prayers for my own heart to take it all in, hear God’s direction and purpose for my life, and to JUST BE!

The weekend exceeded my expectations!  It was a little tough to transition back into my "day to day extraordinary life", but not without hope or a course of action to move forward with dreams He has placed on my heart.

I'm just thankful to Kim and Jessica who took Matt Damon's advice and went for it!

I'm so grateful God knew what my heart needed even more than I did...He's BIG that way!

*What will it take for you and your girlfriends to realize time together isn't a luxury but rather mandatory for your heart?!

The night before I left for my trip, Jason and I had a heart to heart in the corner of the kitchen.  I will share more on that tomorrow…

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dave Ramsey is Dreamy

I am so totally in love with you, Dave Ramsey, in a strictly platonic and financial sort of way…

Today I did something I have not done in 19 years of marriage.  It may seem like no big deal to some, but for me, it was epic.  For reals.

I went to the grocery store with cash.

Crazy times here in suburbia.

No, but really, for the first time in 19 years, I grocery shopped without my debit card and used cold hard cash, instead.  Yes, my debit card equals cash in that we don’t spend more than we have, however, the act of using cash weighs more heavily as it leaves your hand and is placed into the hand of another.  Jason and I are doing "Financial Peace University" and I'd say we're on our way!

I spent $88.56 at the first store, handing the girl five 20-dollar bills.  At the second store I spent $20.09, handing the guy a twenty-spot and a dime.  I was even kind of giddy.  My friend, who I’ve told you about before, was at the next register.  I said, “Hi Friend!  Guess what I have in my wallet?!”  She said, “Cash?!”  We squealed and the guy checking out my groceries just thought I was a desperate housewife.  As if!

I have to tell you what all I got for $20.09 at Natural Grocers.  I was going in there for two loaves of egg free gluten free bread from "Outside the Breadbox", however, you know how that works, even when Dave Ramsey is sitting on your shoulder…the almond milk was a dollar off and I remembered I needed corn for popping.  And on my way to the check out, there it was!  The DOLLAR BIN!  And by “dollar bin” at an organic grocery store, I mean, they put as much borderline produce in a bag with a tie and call it a deal.  Here’s what I got out of 3 bags, aka, THREE BUCKS!!!!
  • ·       9 avocados
  • ·       13 Roma tomatoes
  • ·       1 lime
  • ·       1 small bunch kale
  • ·       2 yams
  • ·       1 butternut squash
  • ·       1 Pink Lady apple
  • ·       1 peach
  • ·       3 heads Romaine lettuce
  • ·       1 bunch dandelion greens
  • ·       1 bunch Swiss chard

I got home, whipped up some guacamole with 4 of the avocados, 3 of the tomatoes, and the lime (plus stuff I had already).  After peeling the yams, I threw them in the steamer so they’d be ready for Ryan tomorrow for lunch.  The butternut squash joined the one I had already in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour while I went with my friend to a free Zumba class.  Then, when I got home, I chopped up the apple from the BARGAIN BAG, an onion, some celery, and spices and sautéed them with the squash in chicken broth while Jason cleaned the heads of Romaine and threw them in the salad spinner.  After I pureed the soup ingredients in the Ninja, we sat down to a VERY CHEAP AND DELICIOUS BOWL OF SOUP AND PLATEFUL OF SALAD.

And guess what?  I came in WAY under budget!  We'll have money for groceries next week ;)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Goodnight Moon!"

On August 28th, our son Ryan turned 2 years old.

Dad was out of town so we celebrated officially once he was home that following weekend with family and friends and sort of allergen-friendly cupcakes...and balloons.  Lots and lots of balloons.

When Emily was 6 months old, we chucked her pacifier to the curb.  Not literally since that's littering, but you know what I mean.  But at 6 months, she didn't remember a thing, so it was a non-issue.

Well, fast forward and enter baby brother and mom's "Advanced Gestation," aka, mid-life pregnancy/crisis, and let's just say, I threw other things to the curb, like, say, rules on pacifiers and rigid sleep training and all the modern rules, like giving a rip what any book might say!  Yes, I "sleep trained" Ryan, but not quite as militantly as I had Emily.  And I've fed him very clean, which I didn't do as well with Em, but all of these things are partially a knee-jerk result of the 8 year gap, which is really only a 4 year gap, if you know what I mean...

What I'm sayin' is:  when your big brother dies, it both works in your favor and detriment as to how on earth your parents may "wing it" and raise you, accordingly.

So, ANYWAY, as far as a pacifier goes, I chose not to get my panties in a wad about it and let Ryan suck, suck, suck away.  At least until Daddy returned shortly after his 2nd birthday.

A reader here a while back, but I don't recall who, gave me the idea in the first place!  (Thank *you*!)

I prepped Ryan for about a month...

Me:  Ry, you are almost 2 years old and so that means you'll be BIG.  This also means you won't be sucking your pacifier any longer.

Ry:  (blank stare...while sucking...)

Me:  And, so, on your 2nd birthday, we are going to tie your pacifier to some balloons and send it to the Moon.  Every night when we go to bed you can look out the window and tell the Moon and your pacifier, "Goodnight!"

Ry:  (sucking voraciously...staring with possible, no, probable, comprehension...)

Me:  So, it'll be so great, Ry!  We'll wave bye-bye as it goes up, up, up to the Moon and you'll be BIG and won't need it anymore!

Ry:  (eyes wide as saucers now...)

Now, let me preface this to say that one of my dear, dear friends who also lost a child encouraged me as I let Ry suck away for 2 years, "OH!  Don't take away the one thing that brings him comfort!"  And that's exactly what I did.  I didn't lose sleep or worry about it, because, of course, there's always braces, right?!

But there's more to the story...

You see, Ryan, our son, is named after his Daddy's good friend, Dr. Ryan Arnold.  And Dr. Ryan Arnold was an exceptional orthodontist.  And Dr. Ryan Arnold would have been our kids' orthodontist, but he passed away living selflessly.  The week before Dr. Ryan Arnold passed away, he examined Emily's teeth and gave us a loose plan of how we'd move forward with her bite and such...and, since I was pregnant and he never actually SAW our Ryan's mouth, he left me with these words, "Ade, don't let your kid suck a pacifier...but if you do, I'll fix it later..."

And then he smiled his great smile, which, incidentally, was straight and white...


Nice, except Jason and I are taking "Financial Peace University" right now and let's just say several thousand dollars for Ryan's braces could, indeed, be used for his education one day, or towards a vacation for me and the hubster, or supporting a hospital in Ethiopia, or, or, or, I don't know, maybe getting out of debt!?  But that's another post...

So, anyway, back to "My Mom Rocks," and whatever it was I was saying...

Oh yeah.  So, here are some pics of the day Ryan's pacifier went to the Moon...the day he became a BIG boy...the day he saved us a few thousand dollars, or at least, the day his mom had peace in her heart that she was honoring a dear friend and finally taking the expert opinion of a professional.

RIP Pacifier.

Prepping Ryan that sending his pacifier to the Moon is going to be fantastic!  AKA, tickles with Daddy.

Running around at his birthday picnic, oblivious to what is to come...

Sharing a second birthday with his cousin, just days apart....

Daddy wearing his hat always in memory of Dr. Ryan Arnold...

The birthday picnic went a little late so the next morning we gathered what balloons remained...

Ryan willingly giving over his pacifier...

...sorta...let's just say he wanted one last suck...

...a suck that lasted a while...until the release.

The reality set in as he watched his pacifier set soar into the western skies.

It's been a week and a half now.  Naps on day one and two were a bit rough, but he has adjusted beautifully.  His teeth haven't straightened out, and he does point to his teeth and tongue when I put him down to sleep, but then he says, "Goodnight Moon!" and all is well.

So, let's face it:  we all have "pacifiers."  If you were to take to heart the sentiments of a selfless man, who was saying more to me than just the obvious, what "pacifier" would you give up?

* We miss you, Dr. Ryan Arnold, and think of you and your beautiful family, every. single. day.  xoxox