Throwing a Surprise Party!

Cody had this crazy idea a few months ago of throwing his mom a surprise birthday party.  These kind of things tend to happen on the “big” birthdays and since his mom was turning 65, he thought this would be a great time to do it.  Cody’s brother and his wife were in on it, too, but since they don’t live around here most of the planning fell to me.  And I am just about the least experienced person who has ever tried to organize a party like this.  Thankfully, the entire thing went off without a hitch!

It was such a magnificent and memorable evening!  We invited family and friends from all different walks of Carol’s life.  The people assembled were so happy to be there to celebrate her birthday.  And we managed to get her to the city community center completely unaware!  She thought she was picking up Ava from a party and going on to meet us at a restaurant for a fancy birthday dinner with family.

When she walked into the party room and we yelled surprise, there was utter shock and disbelief all over her face.  What followed was a beautiful evening of visiting with friends, dining on delicious food, blowing out candles on THE best lemon-flavored cake I’ve ever tasted, and celebrating a wonderful woman who has impacted so many lives with her love and beautiful Spirit.

Here are some pictures from the party!

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One of the most fun parts was making the centerpieces for the tables.  I bought a ton of flowers from Kroger and arranged them in watering cans and small vases in bird cages.  I kept it simple with a theme of yellow and white.

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There were about 50 people at the party.  We rented a room at a local community center.  They had tables and chairs.  I needed tablecloths for enormous 6 foot round tables.  It actually turned out to be better to buy rather than rent them!  Amazon has some great options if you ever find yourself in need of tablecloths.  Or you can borrow mine!

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Ava looked so grown up at the party.  She’s almost as tall as her Granna now!  I think Carol’s friends enjoyed seeing her grandkids in person.  Many of them had only seen photos of them.

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The first decision we made when planning this party was the caterer.  We have a friend who happens to be one of the best caterers in Dallas.  He creates the most beautiful and creative flavors from fresh local ingredients.  My two favorite dishes of the evening were the pork tenderloin with peaches and chipotle BBQ sauce and the poblano creamed corn.  Every single dish was amazing, though.  The guests raved about the food!  I totally recommend Vestals Foods to anyone needing a caterer.

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Lucas got to help his Granna blow out her candles.

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I know I’ve already said this, but when did she get so grown up?

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Might as well include a picture of Cody and me.  We aren’t always dressed up and able to hand the camera over to someone for a snapshot.

The day after the party I made a photo book at Mixbook.com using the pictures from the evening.  That way Carol will have a token of the party and we can all look through it and remember the fun evening!  I included a picture of the invitation we secretly sent to everyone.

Why I Shouldn’t Try Stitch Fix

I’ve been eyeing that service called Stitch Fix.  You know, the one where you answer a billion questions about your body, style, likes, and dislikes, and a personal shopper chooses 5 items of clothing or accessories just for you and sends them in the mail.  When you get the package (which can come monthly or much less often, it’s up to you), you try on the items in the comfort of your home and decide which to keep and which to send back.  There is free shipping both ways.  Then you give additional feedback to your personal shopper about why you did or didn’t like the items to help them choose your next “fix.”  It’s all the rage.

There is every reason in the world why I should NOT sign up for this.  But let me go ahead and end the suspense and tell you I’m signing up anyway.  I’m in the process of filling out forms explaining to Stitch Fix my hatred of skinny jeans and the color yellow.  I guess curiosity and optimism won out over my better judgement.  I can’t wait to get my first “fix” and post photos of the items here and fill you in on my experience.  But until then…here are all the reasons why this is a stupid idea:

1.  I’m cheap.  The average price point of each item Stitch Fix sends is $55.  I typically spend $20 or less on each item of clothing I buy.  Some of you are probably shocked, I know.  And it could explain why nothing fits that great and why I don’t love my clothes.  I feel like a horrible cheapskate for even admitting it, but it’s just the way it’s always been.  I feel bad buying new clothes for myself, unless I can spend a teeny tiny little amount on them.  IF you buy all 5 items from your fix, you do get a 25% discount on the entire purchase, but that’s probably not going to happen.  (see # 3.)

2.  I’m picky.  No, not “picky”…super freaking crazy PICKY in all caps.  In anticipation for signing up for Stitch Fix, I’ve been working on my clothing Pinterest board.  My personal shopper can get a sense of my “style”  (see # 4) by looking at what I pin.  I can search the internet for ages and only find one measly thing to add to my board.  That’s because nothing looks good to me!  Nothing is just right.  I have a higher chance of being struck by lightening than finding a item of clothing that meets all my rigid ideas about what looks good.

3.  My body.  I’ve gained some weight over the past year.  When I was a size 6 everything seemed to fit well and look decent on my body.  These days only a small percent of what I try on actually looks decent.  I’m not depressed about it, it’s just a fact.  I can take 20 items into the dressing room and only 1 will fit right.  Based on those percentages, when Stitch Fix sends me 5 items to try on, how likely is it that any of them will fit well and look good?

4. I have no style.  For me, choosing clothing can be compared to drifting aimlessly at sea.  One day this shirt seems like a good idea, another day it’s something different.  I buy tons of solid colors in the most simple clothing available.  When I do go out on a limb and buy something with an unusual cut or design I almost always regret it.  Choosing which shoes to wear is almost more difficult than choosing clothing.  I have no clear picture of what kind of wardrobe or style I want to build, therefore my closet is full of pieces that don’t mix or match well.  I’m not upset about this because my life is about way more than trying to look like a runway model every time I leave the house.  The main problem I have with it is that I end up wasting money on clothing that doesn’t get worn.

Example A: My short sleeve options:

photo 1 NOT to be confused with Example B: My long sleeve options:

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Having too many ill-fitting solid color shirts is a first world problem, I get that.  I’m just going to give this new way of buying clothes a try…not because I think I’ll be happier or drop dead gorgeous, but because I’m tired of doing the same things over and over with mediocre results.

I plan to let you know how it goes, so stay tuned!  There will be a post within the next month detailing my first “Fix” including lots of photos and information about the experience.

Kindle Lending Library- A Few Good Books to Borrow

If you have a Kindle (an actual device, not the Kindle app on an iPhone) and an Amazon Prime account, you can borrow one book per month from the Amazon Kindle Lending Library.

The Lending Library contains zillions of books, of which only about 15 are decent and worth your time at all.  It’s really quite sad.  The idea of borrowing a book every month for free is fabulous until you realize there’s only crap to choose from.  I’m serious- the crappiest books ever.

BUT, there are a few books worth borrowing.  I’ve compiled a list of books I read and loved that are available to borrow.  Just borrow them through your Kindle (there’s a tab on it which takes you to the lending library where you can search for books by title and download.)

Just remember it’s per calendar month.  If you borrow a book any time in June, you aren’t eligible to borrow a different book until July.  Any book you borrow stays on your device until you turn it back in or borrow a different book.  So you can keep a title as long as you want once borrowed.

  1. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
  2. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  3.  Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
  4. What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes
  5. Slaughter-house 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
  6. The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts
  7. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  8. Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano

 

A Visit to Perini Ranch

photoOur visit this weekend to Perini Ranch was the perfect escape.  We were dropping 2/3 kids at camp in Abilene, so we decided to eat at the famous restaurant in nearby Buffalo Gap, TX and spend the night in one of their 2 guest houses.

We were celebrating our anniversary AND Father’s Day.  And the fact that we still had 1 kid with us didn’t put a damper on the occasion.  In fact, it was kind of fun having Luc along!  And the Camp House where we stayed had 2 rooms: one with a King bed and one with a twin bed so it fit our family well.

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First of all, I have to gush about the food.  It was crazy good.  The margarita (called mesquite-a-rita), jalapeño poppers, ribeye, filet, green chili hominy, cowboy potatoes, and whiskey bread pudding were all fabulous.  I can’t wait to make that hominy here at home.  We have most of the recipes in Cody’s Perini Ranch cookbook.  We also had a delicious wine from McPherson winery in Lubbock.  It was served a bit cold at first, but opened up as it warmed.

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After dinner we drove a mile or so to the guest house.  It’s beautiful.  It’s located in a picturesque area of trees and fields full of deer.  We could watch the deer from our windows as we lay in bed.  The house was stocked with snacks, drinks, and breakfast food.  It felt so homey and cozy.  The best part was the sheets!  They were the softest, most luxurious sheets I’ve ever felt.  I looked up the brand: Comphy Co. and plan to add them to my Christmas list!!

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I could spend several days in this hidden getaway (and eat every meal there, too) but we had to get back to the daily grind.  I can’t wait to go back!

Mega Update June 2014

So lots has been going on around here..as usual.  Most of the time we are at the ball field at one of the boys games.  They are both playing excellent baseball this Spring.  I am so proud of the skills and confidence they have acquired.  Both are hitting well and learning so much about fielding.  I love cheering for them!

photo copy 6That’s Lucas in the above photo.  Here’s a pic of Nate and his broken tooth…a saga that continues.  His adult tooth got broken a little over a week ago and we return to the dentist soon to see if she will build it up with a filling or need to do a crown.

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I’ve learned that broken teeth are fairly common.  He seems to be doing ok and I am certain it will be all back to normal soon.  Meanwhile, Ava performed on piano at the school talent show and totally rocked it!  I am delighted at how she has been teaching herself to play songs on the piano.  She seems to have a love and talent for it.

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Lucas has a gift for drawing and art.  I have to show this latest picture he drew of “two guys who stayed up too late.”  I just love it!

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Meanwhile, my preschool class ended a week ago and I’ve gotten caught up on some reading.  Here are two books that I loved and highly recommend:

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The kids’ last day of school is TODAY, so starting tomorrow we’ll almost always be found at the pool.  We got a sneak peak of summer fun Monday afternoon:

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And lastly, if you missed my blog post this week for Dallas Moms Blog- go check it out.  I shared 8 ways I’ve turned Instagram photos into cute and unique gift items.

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That’s all for now!

Bee Inspection: Ava’s Perspective!

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Hey guys! Ava here, you know, Becky’s daughter? My mom agreed to let me be a guest blogger, since what I did today, she has never done and I don’t have a blog but have always wanted one! Today, I dressed up in a beekeeper suit, threw on my mom’s camera, and went to work photographing bees.

My dad was going to do an inspection of our honeybees, and since my mom has gotten stung, I was chosen to be the one to take pictures of the bees. I put on a inside-out lifeguard shirt from our local Thrift City, jeans, black boots, and my brother’s too-small John Deere gloves. Hooray. An extremely hot outfit, considering that the lifeguard shirt was long-sleeved. After tying my hair into a sloppy bun and shoving on a beekeeper’s mask, my dad and I headed out to meet some angry bees.

I didn’t know what to expect. I was a little nervous, because I have never handled bees before today. However, after being face-to-face with several bees today and not getting stung, this was definitely an experience I will never forget. At first, my dad started up the smoker to get it ready to smoke the bees. This doesn’t harm them at all. It just makes them calmer, kind of like laughing gas at the dentist’s office. This was a great chance to snap some pictures of the smoker, which, surprisingly, makes for some awesome pictures.

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By the way, these are all my pictures. After a couple failed attempts at getting the smoker ready, we managed to haul it out to the hive. Our hive is moderate size, I think, with several  rows of little, hexagonal beeswax.

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Then, my dad Took off the lid and added the smoke. This is where the bees get the sugar water. There’s a little cage in the middle. Soon after, he took off THAT layer and smoked inside the rows. This gave me some time to relax, sit back, and take pictures. This one is my favorite.DSC02214

Just look at that bee’s face. You can really see the detail and read his/her expression.

Ok, so, after that, we began taking it apart, row by row, and inspecting each one to see if our hive was growing healthily. This was interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bee community in my life before today. Here are a few pictures.DSC02217

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Some bees would hold onto the bottom, as seen above. How they defy gravity like this, I really have no idea. Most rows had tons of bees attached to them.  Some rows had fewer bees.  Some had only like 3.

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There was one specific time when my dad dropped a frame. This just about scared the daylights out of me! I backed away slowly, hoping no furious honeybees would slip silently inside my heavy mask and sting me! After the bees calmed down a bit (thanks to my dad spraying the smoker automatically as a first-defense), I came back to watch the bees a little more.DSC02203

The whole experience was so amazing, it felt like I WAS  a honeybee, going on with my daily life, not a trespasser. I am sure to do it again soon and get some more pics for my mommy! Love yah mom :)

Bye,

Ava

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15 Seconds of Fame

I had the coolest experience this morning as the DMB contributors and readers were invited to join WFAA’s Good Morning Texas as part of the studio audience.  This is a live 1 hour show that highlights all sorts of topics, but today they focused on Mother’s Day.

I drove to the AA Center and found the WFAA studio.  Other DMB writers were there along with a few lucky readers who won a spot in the audience.  There was excitement in the air and a few butterflies in my stomach.  I had no reason to be nervous, but just knowing it’s live TV does something to a person I guess.

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We were ushered into the tiny studio and the countdown began.  The show was on!  It was fun watching the hosts in action and all the background crew that run the cameras, teleprompters, and set changes.  When we went to commercial break we could all chat a bit and relax, but once the show came back on we quieted down and tried to look cute/interested in case the camera fell on us.

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There was one very long drink making segment where I am visible for ages and watching it on the DVR was kind of funny.  I had no idea the kinds of facial expressions I was doing at the time.  The kids all got a kick out of seeing me on TV.  Here’s a link to that part of the show.

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An hour flew by.  We received a tote of goodies from the Galleria, my friend that owns DMB got some perfume and a chance to tell a little about dallasmomsblog.org, and there were a few other giveaways that I didn’t win.  Right at the end they handed a fellow contributor near me a bag of hair product for curly hair.  Her hair doesn’t even have a wave, so she just looked at it and handed it over to me.  Too funny!  I actually can’t wait to try it out and see how it works reducing the frizz on these humid days we’ve been having.  That was so sweet of her!

At the end of the show I ran out of there and drove like crazy to get to work for our special Mother’s Day Tea program.  I arrived with time to spare and was so glad I got a chance to experience live television.  It really was a fun thing to do!  My kids thought it was pretty cool when they got to see me after school.  Will I ever be able to delete it from the DVR?  Maybe not…

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MomGyver?

I asked a friend recently if she knew who MacGyver was and she said no, but she had heard of MacGruber.

That (sometimes funny) MacGruber skit on SNL is based on the show MacGyver that I watched as a kid in the 80′s.  Best.  Show.  Ever.

MacGyver was always getting out of tricky situations using nothing but his wits and random supplies.  That’s what inspired me to write a Mother’s Day blog post for the Dallas Moms Blog about how moms are always DOING THE SAME THING.

Go check out my post…it even has a little quiz you can take to see where you fall on the MomGyver scale.

Are you a MomGyver?  Take the Quiz!