Friday, August 31, 2012

As we Gently Slip into Autumn

So here we are at the end of August and it seems like we were just getting ready to celebrate Mary Catherine's 8th birthday!

Speaking of which, we totally surprised our ballerina-girl with a birthday gift from the American Girl Doll store...the ballerina outfit for her "Just Like Me" doll. She loved it...and I have to admit that the accoutrements for the ensemble are quite adorable!



I find the little leg warmers to be too much!  Of course, my 2004 baby did not understand the proper way to scrunch those puppies...she had them pulled all the way up to Suzanne's knees (yes, she named her American Girl doll "Suzanne") sort of in knee sock fashion! Mama, being a tween and teen of the 1980's showed her the proper way to wear leg warmers!  ;)

And since I'm sharing ballet photos, I will share a couple more of my girl.  Last night was her first night of ballet at her new dance academy.  She loved it...and I loved it even more when we discovered that Miss Amanda (of Miss Amanda's Dance Academy) goes to our parish!  Mary is already counting the days until Sunday to scout her out in the crowd!  

Anyway, I decided to try out a new "Pinterest" hair do that I pinned for Mary.  It is a "messy bun" and quite adorable.  The tutorial was simple to follow and I love how it turned out.  I especially love all the beautiful high lights that you can see in her hair.  She may have fine, limp, fairy-like hair, but her color is truly amazing...she is my flaxen-haired beauty!





And we couldn't let "Suzanne" attend ballet class without a bun in her hair, too...

Yes, I really did do the exact same "Pinterest" hair do on Suzanne!

 
But back to today...again, I can't hardly believe it is August 31st!  This month seemed to fly by so quickly with beginning of the month birthdays...

It's GREAT to be EIGHT!!!

Guess WHO turned TWO???!!!

And end of month birthdays...

I was so blessed to celebrate with some very special friends last Friday night! These women all belong to my Catholic Women's Group through our parish.  They amaze and inspire me!  And although I am about 10-years older than most of them...they never make me feel that way.  Possibly because we all have children the exact same ages???!!!!

At 43, I think I look pretty good...right???!!!  (Please say, yes!)



Meet the Teacher night at St. Paul...

Mary with her 2nd Grade Teacher

Benjamin with his KINDERGARTEN teacher...who told Ben he could grow up???!!!

Followed up by Open House...

Did you see the sweet little Cross necklace that she always wears?

Notice her wrists...she loves to wear her rosary bracelet!

And finally, to end the month...and maybe the drought...

RAIN...beautiful, gentle, soaking, rains compliments of Tropical Depression Isaac.  And while we certainly keep all of those in the path of destruction from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac in our prayers, we here in the Midwest are so very grateful for these showers!  (Our farmers have experienced devastating crop losses here in the Heartland.)

View from our Front Porch

After 10 years,  these lots across the street have never sold.  There's a deep ravine behind those trees.
The overcast/rainy weather inspired me to do some Spring cleaning...or should I say Fall nesting?  I took down all the leftover summer decor...beach bags, flip flops, birthday cards, summery-scented candles, seashell collections, etc. and packed them away for future's next summer.  

Having a clean slate, I washed windows, mopped hardwoods, dusted in the high spots, and am beginning to prepare for Autumn's glory...probably my most favorite season of the four!  And although September 1st/Labor Day weekend does not technically start the season of Fall, it does for me!

Wishing you a delightful Labor Day weekend full of good food, good friends/family, and good times!


 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Living a Life of Integrity

Integrity.

It can be defined as having an adherence to moral and ethical principles; having soundness of moral character, honesty.

But it can also be defined as the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.

In recent months, I have felt an urging...a prompting...to live my faith life with greater integrity.  To allow those on the outside to see (or should I say, read if in blogland) what I am thinking, feeling, living on the inside of these four walls we call our home.

For me, my faith in God has always been front and center in my life...but always in my private life.  I have become quite adept at compartmentalizing my faith.  Not necessarily relegating it only to Sundays (goodness, no!), but not quite allowing the Holy Spirit to work through me, either.

Now, I am feeling that I am called to live out my faith through my daily life...

...with how we speak to one another inside our home (and out),
...with how we educate our children in this family,
...with how we celebrate and honor God's natural goodness,
...with how we care and maintain those gifts He has given us,

...with how and what I choose to share on this blog.

I no longer wish to live my faith life separated from the rest of my life.

I wish to live a life of integrity...

...being whole, entire, and undiminished.

Recently, I saw this quote on Pinterest, and it gave me pause to consider...






Regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof, do you live a life of integrity?  Do you feel whole, entire, or undiminished?  Could Christ...or your grandmother...listen in to your daily conversations between you and your children...drop in on a moment's notice at your house without feeling ashamed by (ahem) total chaos...pull up a chair at dinner time?  Would there be a dinner time???

For me, it is a bold and courageous direction to travel...working towards a deeper and more authentic family life. 

After all, our God is a God of Relationship. 

Shouldn't we strive to be more Christ-like in all we say and do?

Monday, August 27, 2012

What We've Been Up To...Sewing, Pinning, Breaking, Dancing!


Wow, it's been a couple of weeks since I last posted! Wanna know what's been happening around our house... 

I sewed curtains for a dear friend's classroom. (Our friendship goes way back. We met teaching preschool while finishing up our elementary teaching certificates.) Jenny recently got a new job with a local suburban school district after spending over ten years in the trenches of the Kansas City Missouri Public School District...a district constantly embroiled in the politics of urban desegregation. She taught some of the toughest kids around...and loved them with all she had to give.

Jenny is a dedicated, creative, and fun-loving teacher...you can see that just in the choice of fabric she purchased for her new classroom. That is going to be one lucky bunch of 2nd graders!




 Next up...we celebrated the last day of summer vacation (August 15th) with a trip to the park for a picnic lunch.  I even loaded up the bikes in the back of the mini van along with my jog stroller.  Gosh it was hot and humid that day, but we still had fun making memories and exploring nature.









Later that night, we celebrated Chris' official pinning ceremony at the Lenexa Fire Department.  Pinning ceremonies are a long standing tradition among fire service organizations.  It is a way for a department to honor those that so bravely and often heroically dedicate their lives to the fire service.

It is also a way for the department to say thank you to mothers/fathers, wives, and children for supporting the men and women who have answered that call to service.  Each promoted officer or newbie fire fighter picks one family member to do the "official" pinning on their uniform.  Chris was very torn over his decision on who to ask to do his pinning.  While I wanted to jump up and down and say, "Me, me, me; pick me...my life is so very hard without you home every night to help me raise our three children...I want to do the pinning," I knew that was not the right thing to do.

You see, I have come to the realization that this life is the life I am called to live.  It is not an easy one...but nobody's life is. We are all met with life's challenges...and it is how we respond to those challenges that determines our happiness.  We can be stretched and grow...or we can be stretched and fail.  It is all in our attitude...and I believe our prayer life in how we respond.  So, I suggested that Chris ask his father, the very man who modeled a life dedicated to the fire service and encouraged his own son to pursue that same career.








School got off to a fantastic start and since I have two kiddos in school all day, I took the opportunity to follow-up with my orthopaedic doctor (foot and ankle specialist) concerning my nagging plantar fasciitis foot.  Yes, it still bothers me.  Yes, I limped my way through July and August basically experiencing pain all day, every day.  And yes, I have a high threshold for pain!  (Okay, so maybe it wasn't my idea, exactly, to follow up with my doctor...it might have been at the instance of my spouse!)

Here's how the appointment went...



This is my last ditch effort at avoiding a calf-lengthening surgery.  I get to wear this air cast for the next several weeks to see if we can heal up the plantar fascia muscle and stretch/loosen the calf muscle which is straining the plantar fascia.  Our bodies are wonderfully, creatively made...but oh how we can injure God's masterpiece!

Finally,  we enrolled Mary Catherine at a brand new dance studio.  She is so very excited to begin attending Miss Amanda's Dance Academy where she will have the opportunity to dance/perform publicly for small town fairs, nursing homes, non-profit organizations, etc.  It was a really hard decision to leave her current dance studio, especially as she had a true fondness for her dance teacher, but she also wanted to dance publicly, but not competitively, and more frequently than just at an annual dance recital.  (But, I am going to miss seeing her perform in future performances of the Nutcracker!)  :(

Here is our dancer girl in her first pair of "grown up" tap shoes!  She graduated to tan tap shoes with the tiniest of heel...gone are the sweet black patent leathers with grosgrain ribbons!

(I just noticed chunky toddler legs in these pics. Oh my...so sweet!)





So, that's a quick recap of the past couple of weeks.  I've got some more pictures to share of how I recently celebrated my 43rd birthday and the kids "Back to School" pictures.

Blessings,

Valerie

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I Was Interviewed as a "Health Hero"!!!

Yes, it's really true...I was interviewed by a health/nutrition supplement company as a "Health Hero"! 

Initially, I thought their email contact was spam and so I deleted the original message! But then, while on vacation, I was contacted via email a second time...only with an actual post title of mine in the subject line. So, I took a chance and opened it up. 

At first, I declined their offer to be interviewed. 

I mean, really, 10 weeks of eating healthy does not a "health hero" make! But, their PR/Marketing guy said that I was a perfect candidate for their blog which focuses on real people, making real decisions, that positively impacts their health. 

So, I agreed to the interview.

Pam, the writer I worked with, did an incredible job researching my blog and asking me pointed questions that were specific to me and how I live (or try to live!) life. It especially touched my heart that she recognized the significant role that my faith plays in my everyday living. Thank you, Pam! 

If you are interested in reading my responses to questions about children's developing body images and the media or how I balance the occasional sweet treat with healthy meals, click here.

Thank you so much to ReBody Weight Loss Nutrition for featuring me as one of their "health heroes"!  This was such an incredible confidence-boosting experience.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Journey to a Healthier Me: Weight Loss Update (Pictures)

Face Shot (May 29, 2012)


Body Shot (May 29, 2012)



Face Shot (August 7, 2012)

Full-Length Body Shot (August 7, 2012)

 I've lost nearly 40 pounds and feeling better than ever.  
Just a little over halfway to my ultimate weight loss goal of 70 pounds.