28 March 2012

Letter to a Friend

Dear friend,
It's hard not to wonder who you are or why you would choose to bless our family in such an amazing, generous way.  We have prayed quite a bit since the bank called with your good news the other day, and we know now that the "who" and the "why" are not important.  It's the "what" you've done that has already blessed us beyond imagining.  Your generosity is staggering, and our prayer for you is that you will be blessed greatly for your kindness (actually, we believe that to be true already...God's amazing that way!).  We pray this brings you great joy each time you remember this kind act.  I doubt you will let us repay you, but know that we will do the same someday in your honor.  We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.
James, Kristi, Kayci & Noble Pharaon

Two days ago, almost to the hour, I was sitting in this very same spot, working on this very same computer.  The phone rang.

It was a local bank (we don't currently bank there).  I was very confused, and the sweet lady very happily told me that someone who would like to remain anonymous would like to open up a savings account for each of our children.  Just because he (or she!) thinks so highly of them, she said.

We have prayed quite a bit about whether or not to share this.  It's crazy, right?

But think of all the crazy, wonderful, generous people we know.  You are all capable of this...we are blessed with wonderful friends and family.  My gut says it's someone we know here in Brenham, and my heart hopes that it's someone I get to hug on a regular basis and that I will have the opportunity to serve you again and again.  Then again, I could be wrong.  It really doesn't matter who you are...that's what my mind keeps circling around to.

You know I wished I could write a quick, elegant and eloquent thank you...that didn't happen.  It's a mess.  I could write PAGES and PAGES of thankful thoughts to you, dear friend, and I hope to be able to put this down on paper someday when my brain is not spinning quite so much.  I finally quit trying, and just wrote what was in my heart.  Well, what I could fit on the page.  I totally threw in a PS page, too, because I'm me.

As for me, I pray you're someone who's reading this, and who knows that we do not take this lightly.  I pray that you'll be blessed beyond imagining for what you're doing for our children...but I suspect you already have been.  I hope this brings you endless joy and delight.  And I hope that anyone who's reading this will follow your example and give...and then give some more.  I hope our friends and family will continue to give freely, generously, often...and remember you as they do.  

And of course, to remember the One who gave all.  

As for us, we'll keep spreading the word that amazing people do exist, and we know at least one.  

Thank you, dear friend.  

26 March 2012

Texas Spring

Spring is here! For our family, that means tons of time outside...


...and crawfish!

What does spring mean to you?

22 March 2012


There are clean surfaces in our house again!!

Noble's birthday party was March 9th.
Before that, Mom was in the hospital unexpectedly for several days.  Before that, I had piles of stuff that were FOR the party, so things were starting to get a little crowded.
After the party, it was spring break.
It took 2 days to even bring the party stuff in from the cars...and then it sat in the office, right where I put it.  I kept thinking I'd get to it, but you know how that goes--I would rather play with the kids than clean (I'm totally mellowing in my old age, I know).
And so, it sat.
And as is so often the case around here, that mess grew.  It spread all across the office, through the kitchen, and all through the house.
Our room?  Ugh.  I made the fabric garland and left the stuff on the dresser thinking I'd make a second one.  There went the dresser.  My desk was covered in work and stuff and scraps from t-shirt projects and whatnot...I haven't sat at my desk in well over a week.  Then came the laundry.  Last Wednesday I decided to sort the laundry and get it done, so I had piles of dirty clothes in our room and the hallway (like, some touched and you had to step on dirty clothes piles--it was so "Hoarders").  Of course, once I got the laundry out our spring break kicked into high gear and the laundry. continued. to. sit.
And grow.
You know what happened next, right?  Since the laundry was on the floor in here and his party was on the floor in there, I didn't sweep.  Blech. And there was no point in dusting, since you couldn't see most of the surfaces, anyway, right?
And why clean the bathroom when all 4 of us were home for 5 days, just messing it up again?
Oh, our house.
It was August/December/May dirty--the kind of messy AND dirty that makes it hard to get things done.
It was the kind of dirty that drove me out of our bedroom every morning in search of a calm, uncluttered place to do my quiet time (have been hit or miss with it!) and work.
It was the kind of dirty that made me irritable and unfocused and anxious.

Once we got to the end of spring break, I was counting the days until I'd be able to take a couple of hours and tackle the mess.  Yesterday, thank God!, was the day.

I had some pictures at the end of this post, but you know what my house looks like when it's clean.  I *should* have taken pictures of the dirty!

Why did I write this?  Because I know I'm not the only one with messes who grow.  And I absolutely HATE the feeling of being crowded and discouraged and overwhelmed by my mess.  And I know that some of you struggle with this, too...and it can affect everything.  My kids got to the point where they would get toys out in the office and just leave them on the floor--why not, I had a big mess in there!

This is why everything in our home needs a place, and when we get something out or bring something in, we take a second to put it in its place.  It's a little work to get to that point, but being there can be the difference between a house that's usually company-ready and a house that would embarrass me if someone popped in.  This is what works for us (okay, for me...my family enjoys being messy in small doses!).

*Big thanks to Heather for picking up Kayci AGAIN so I could have extra time to work!  :)

21 March 2012

Remembering Why

Last night, James came home from work and said he'd like to take a drive after dinner.
Homework was done and we were just hanging out after piano lessons, so I said, "sure."
While the kids played, my Boy and I chopped fresh veggies for salsa, 
smashed some avocados for guacamole 
and made quesadillas out of leftover chicken fajitas he grilled this weekend.  
And we talked about his birthday, and family, and our days, 
and his Grandma's birthday (it was yesterday, even though she's no longer here to celebrate with us).  

Then we sat down at the table (covered in my Grandma's green-checked tablecloth) together, 
gave thanks for our many blessings, 
ate a healthy dinner on paper plates (no time for dishes, we had a drive to get to), 
and talked about our days.  
Our kids are tired after spring break, so there was some whining at the table--and 
more than a few reminders to eat their salsa or guacamole, not just quesadillas and Julio's.  :)

After dinner, everyone pottied and grabbed shoes and we hit the road.  
Of course Daddy grabbed his camera, "just in case."  Uh huh.
And then we drove.
And we talked.
And we looked at all of the gorgeous wildflowers.
And we listened to the kids talking and reading in the backseat 
(and answered more than we cared to, "where are we GOING?" or "how much longer??").

And we were reminded of why:

Why we gave up my steady job and paycheck.
Why we moved away from everything familiar, including our family.
Why we live the way we live.
Why we believe what we believe.
Why it's important to be so intentional about these kids we're building.  
Why we're HERE.

It was just a Tuesday evening.

But oh, what a Tuesday evening it was.  

20 March 2012

hello, doormat!

Our doormat is old. Really old. When I saw the spray painted mats going around the Internet a few months ago, I figured I'd give it a shot. So, I tried spray painting ours in candy corn-colored stripes. Fail.

So, it's been sitting out there all sad and old and poorly painted all this time. When we were working in the yard last week, I cleaned off the front porch and decided to give it another shot.

It's off-center and I dropped the h (we'll pretend that was me being cool and emulating an old typewriter, ok?)...but, I like it. And I'm grateful I did NOT attempt to stencil "keep calm and come on in" like I planned!

19 March 2012

Make a Wish!

I think he wished for a burger and a shake... :)

Happy Birthday...

...to the leader of our family!

18 March 2012

Happy Spring!

I'm funny about decorating for holidays/seasons...in my head, there's a certain order in which we celebrate, and I can't decorate for the next one until we've celebrated this one.  Does that make any sense?

Let's take March.  After Valentine's Day, I put my Texas quilt back out and bring out the bluebonnet runner--Texas Independence Day (and Sam Houston's birthday!) are on March 2nd.  (I know that's also Dr. Seuss' birthday, but this is one of Daddy's favorite days of the year so Texas comes first!)  Things stay pretty simple until Noble's birthday on the 8th (he wakes up to a decorated dining room & banners)...and that stays up until his party...then spring stuff starts to come out (St. Patrick's day before Easter, unless the calendar says otherwise...see, I think I might be crazy).

The truth is, you can't walk in our office right now because Noble's Angry Birds party is still sitting there in bags and bins.  I didn't get to cleaning it up over spring break because I was too busy enjoying my family.  Oh, and my room?  It's chaos from making a garland (and leaving it out in case I decide to make a 2nd!) and dirty laundry that's sorted and waiting and winter clothes waiting to go into storage and clothes waiting to go to the Mission...piles, piles, everywhere!

But amidst the piles, there are happy little pops of color.  I'm not full-Easter, yet, but we are enjoying spring color around the house.  This year, I've spent less than $5 on spring decorating.

Best $1.09 I've spent?  This fun little "welcome spring" that Noble found at King Dollar.  It's cute, right?!

And of course a spring-y quilt on the couch...not sure about the pastels on the red, BUT this reproduction quilt has a random red square in the middle so I can make it work.  :)

This is something new...I cleaned out some work stuff, and none of my teachers picked up my old handmade juggling scarves from my preschool days.  The squares of polka dot polyester chiffon were great for juggling, but too small to really use for much.  I couldn't bring myself to throw them away, so I decided to use them to experiment with a fabric banner.  I didn't like just one pattern, so I spent less than $4 on tulle (white, yellow, orange, purple, hot pink, turquoise, lime) and filled it in.  Then I used my Silhouette to make little ovals that spell out "happy spring" on either side.  If you guys want, I'll use the real camera (HA!  I crack myself up...I'll ask my BOY to use the real camera...) to take better pictures--the garland/banner is really cute!

A simple spring table...that's my Grandma's tablecloth.  When I originally received it I was like, ugh--green?!  But now I realize just how well the green goes in our little house.  And it's happy!  The kids chose a plant rather than cut flowers last week, which works great for me.  Less work!

This is a close-up of the little plaque my Mom gave us recently.  It says bless our home, and has all of my favorite colors.  Isn't it sweet?  Thanks, Mom!

A spring-y garland on the piano, which is crazy because I NEVER take off the red star garland...it just feels wrong to have this up there.  But, the colors do go so nicely with the ducks and the fun watercolor-y picture of Kayci playing.  I can roll for 3 more weeks, right?

And I can't show my whole room because I don't even like being in it right now, but here's a fun pop of color--since we've started keeping our quilt on the white side (as opposed to the hill country toile side that my Mom intended!), I'll throw a seasonal quilt on the foot of the bed to add a little fun to the room. This is a quilt Mom made for Kayci when she was 4 (if you've ever stayed here, you've probably slept on the matching shams!), and I love the spring colors.

I love it when people come over and ask if I sew because of the quilts...I give all the credit to the person who deserves it, my Mom!  I have nothing to do with them--I just enjoy them!

Tomorrow is one of my most favorite days in March...Daddyboy's birthday!  Don't tell him, but the kids made him a silly banner that he'll see when he gets up to make the coffee in the morning.  I can't wait--Kayci's side says, "Daddy is 37!" and then I had Noble write on his side, "Daddy is old."  Hee hee.  My Boy's been picking on me about being 37 and old since December...for the next 9 months, he can't say a word!

I'm bummed that I have to go in to work tomorrow and can't spend the day spoiling him, but, I'm also grateful that I'll get my commute over with on Monday and be able to spend the week working and getting the house put back together after a great family-time spring break.   I know I'm mellowing in my old age because there are Friday crumbs on the dining room floor...and I'm going to leave them there and go to sleep.


17 March 2012

Easter Shirts!

We've worn green today (including green hair, for Noble!) and had fun with St. Patrick's Day.  Now I feel like I can share what I've had fun creating recently--Easter shirts!

Let's backtrack a bit:  it was the spring of 2010, and I saw these AWESOME $28 shirts in a catalog and thought, hmm...I'm married to a graphic artist, we could MAKE those!  So, we bought the shirts and collaborated on the design, then took them to Creatively Yours to do the vinyl.  Here's a picture from my blog that Easter week:

Oh, my--look how young they were!!  You can't really see it in the shirt, but Noble's bunny has sharp hair and Kayci's has a hair bow.  We were so proud of these shirts, and if I'd had time or money then, we would have started cranking out shirts--I was hooked!  The kids wore these shirts again last year (and still wear them for PJs, if we're being real here), but they both needed a new one for this year.  I came up with an idea--the good egg--and tossed it around a bit before trying it out on Jackson and Piper (and of course, I didn't take a picture of hers before I mailed it.  It's like Jackson's, but with pink!).  I love the name on the sleeve of his onesie here...it makes me smile.

We had two birthday parties today, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do for them.  But...when it came time to do the shirts, I had trouble with the original designs so I had to recreate them in the Silhouette software.  I actually like this year's better, and I like that I was able to personalize these even more with the fun font for Ruthanne.

And the sweet lady who does all of the hard work on the shirts for us (Debbie with her press!) is going to meet a new grandbaby this week.  I wanted to send a gift with her, so I made these for the big brother and the soon-to-be baby sister.  I love the cornflower blue shirt Debbie chose for big brother, and the onesie with the ruffled sleeves is just too cute!  You can really see the designs here, and I switched the font again for the little kids.

And then there's my kiddos!  Noble is digging the soft, vintage-looking tees right now, so i put his design on an Old Navy shirt I bought to do for St. Patrick's day...but didn't get around to it.  :)  This is the first time I've vinyled a design over the pocket of a shirt, and it was really fun--James and I are already talking about ways to have fun with pockets and designs.  Kayci's shirt is one I bought for something months ago and she informed me she was too big for shirts with her name on them (WHAT??!!), so that's why their colors don't coordinate.  At all.  For my Bitty, I did a variation of good egg--with black glasses and a cute cursive font.  I love it!

I wish I had my own press and more space and money to have tons of vinyl on hand...I could seriously do this every day.  I love making shirts, and I love giving one-of-a-kind gifts.

16 March 2012

The possibilities....

--out & about :)

Fishing & Kite Flying

We have had a very laid-back Spring Break...like, when people ask Kayci what she did this week she'll probably say, "nothing."

We've done a bit more than nothing, and a whole lot of hanging out together.  One of the things we really wanted to do was go fishing, so we planned a trip yesterday after nap.

But...we forgot James' ID at the gun range on Wednesday, so we had to go back to Snook to get that...and we put Noble down for nap late since we were busy working in the yard yesterday all morning so he woke up late...and we got to the lake 10 minutes before sunset.

Technically, I guess, the sun was setting as we arrived.  It was beautiful, though!

While the boys fished, I tried to get Noble's new kite in the air.  It's a mini-kite, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you.

I had lots of fun, and the kids each took a turn.  I had the most fun, truth be told.

And of course we had a picnic...in the dark.  I'm not sure what I was doing or looking at, but I promise I was a happy Mommygirl.  :)

Now back to today's adventure...

Name that shot!

We took Kayci to the gun range on Wednesday for her first shooting "lesson." She's as good with a rifle as she is with her bb gun, it turns out! It was really cool for James to teach her how to shoot with the same gun GrandDaddy used to teach him almost 30 years ago. We shot Dad's squirrel gun, as well--it was the first time I've ever shot Dad's gun. The targets below are from Kayci, DaddyBoy & me. Guess whose target is whose!

15 March 2012

Great? Outdoors

We set aside a few hours today to do some spring cleaning in the yard. The kids soon tired of raking and pulling weeds...

...but Noble is more than happy to hang out outside with us.

Happy vacation day!

13 March 2012

Noble's 4th Bird-Day Party

Noble's 4th birthday party was last Friday.  We did something very different this year--we only invited his school friends.  It was a hard decision, but our parties get SO big between our family & friends & you know, the birthday kid's friends...this seemed like the right thing to do so we could focus on Noble.  We still had 34 people at the party with the rain and all, so I'm glad we cut down the guest list.  :)  The important thing?  The birthday boy had a blast...and really, nothing else matters!

I don't have a lot of words...we've been actively planning since December, and prepping stuff for weeks.  Ironically, the things we started longest ago were the things we finished up just hours before the party--the pig cans.  :)  Would I do it all over again?  You betcha--this was FUN!

This was the idea that started it all...pig cans and angry bird playground balls.  Check it out:  http://craftsbyamanda.com/2011/04/angry-birds-from-cardboard-tubes.html!

When he opened presents the day after the party, Noble unwrapped a couple of the Angry Birds balls that WalMart put out recently...we had to laugh.  The ones Daddy made are pretty awesome, though!

I resisted the urge to make banners for every window and fill the room with balloons (although these 15 went a long way!)...we left the windows open and just put a pig on each window sill.  Easy peasy!

I can't share this enough:  the balloon printables are from an awesome blogger--http://www.thepartyanimal-blog.org/angry-birds-balloons-free-templates/...thanks!

Favors were easy:  golden eggs filled with one of Noble's favorite treats, fruit snacks.  I was pretty proud of my restraint, actually!

I saw awesome cupcakes online, but we didn't want to do fondant.  Kathy took this idea:  http://johnsonslifeonline.blogspot.com/2011/06/slightly-obsessed-with-angry-birds.html
and turned it into...

I was so proud of Bubby:  we went to a party a few weeks ago and as we walked in he said, "I hope (birthday boy) hugs me!"  I don't know where he got that idea, and the birthday boy didn't come up and hug him, but I told Bubby if he would like to be treated that way, I bet his friends would, too.  Over the past couple of weeks we revisited this several times, and sure enough, Noble welcomed his guests and took them around and showed them the games as they arrived.  I was so proud!

I put the art activity (adapted from this awesome blog:  http://craftsbyamanda.com/2011/04/angry-birds-from-cardboard-tubes.html) in as a throw-down in case a bunch of his girl classmates showed up...but I think everyone made at least one bird.  I was surprised!  Now, I don't know how many birds actually made it home with kids...

Think he's happy?  :)

Things got a little messy as the party went on...but wasn't that the point?

I loved, loved the banners this year--I saw several online and intended to do a typical triangle pennant banner...then I saw this blog http://www.livingmividaloca.com/2012/01/angry-birds-4th-birthday-party-part-4.html and fell in love with the simplicity and the POP! of color.  Thanks for the idea!

I had a blast playing with Noble's friends, and it turns out, for most of the games a high-five was all the prize they needed.  Man, I love preschoolers!

Picking the perfect cupcake...

And blowing out the "4" candle!

Kathy Ford gets full credit for the cupcakes--she did a great job!  We kept some of them plain because there's always someone who doesn't like icing...and we had the idea to throw eggs on the chocolate ones so the kids could easily identify chocolate and vanilla.  And they ate the HECK out of the leftover eggs...I didn't know kids like Cadbury Mini Eggs that much!

Things got a little rowdy...

We pulled out some group games a couple of times to calm down the rowdy kiddos.

The aftermath.  :)

At the end of the night, I think it's safe to say:  a good time was had by all.  Happy 4, Bubby!

*Note:  I have tried to credit everyone from my Pinterest with ideas and links to blogs, etc.--if I have missed you, please e-mail me and let me know.  And thanks for the great ideas!