Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bike Gang

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thanks Ladies

After a long night at the Clothing Exchange some of my closest friends in NJ joined me for some late night indulgences to recover from the long evening and celebrate my birthday. Last time I celebrated my birthday in NJ with this group I was turning 30 and Brad threw me a surprise birthday party. So I guess that means I'll be back when I'm 38!

I had a great time. Thanks girls...hope nobody went home sick. Sorry I spilled your drink, Melissa, I guess we'll just have to go out again and I'll buy you another one!

Steal This Idea!

Our church's Mom's Time Out group (essentially MOPS) has an annual Clothing Exchange. This is the best idea that I'm always telling friends who are involved with MOPS programs or something similar at their churches about it so they can do the same thing at their church. A benefit to moving all the time is that I see a lot of neat concepts at various churches and I can take them with me to my next church and fool everyone into thinking I'm brilliant and have a ton of creative ideas in my head!

Here is how it works. On the designated evening donations are dropped off at the church from 5:30-7:30. Everything is asked to be clean and in working order and paired together (i.e...a 2 piece outfitted safety pinned together so it doesn't get separated, or toys with many pieces/parts in a bag together etc.). It doesn't aways happen but it makes it a lot easier when people follow the guidelines. We also ask that when you drop off your donation it is already separated, so a bag of girls size 2T and a separate bag of boys size 4T etc. This makes sorting go much more quickly.

Sorting donations....tables are marked with pink or blue balloons that also have the size/gender hanging from is really helpful when 50 women are swarming one table.

With me so far? So donations arrive during those 2 hours and are sorted by tons of volunteers. Tables are arranged according to boy/girl as well as size. We take sizes from newborn to size 14/16 kids as well as maternity clothes, kids shoes, coats, toys, books, and baby items like car seats, strollers, large toys, pack-n-plays etc. You wouldn't believe the amount of donations we receive, as well as the amount of people that attend.

This has gone on at our church twice a year since for at least 8 years that I know of and probably more. A ton of people from the community have learned about it and now attend. It's a great outreach and a good chance to tell families about our church as well as meet their needs. I don't know exact numbers that were there last night, but I would guess somewhere around 300.

Donated baby items

The doors open at 7:30 and people literally run! It is like those wedding dress sales where the crazy brides run inside the store and start grabbing things. A lot of people drop off their donations at 5:30 and then wait for 2 hours so they can be at the front of the line and the first to get to a specific size table. People also come with teams...women with their sisters and mother in laws with lists shopping for various children throughout the sanctuary. I'm not kidding when I say that it is chaos and insanity, yet organized and well run if that makes sense. I saw women leaving with several garbage bags full of things last night. Some people bring wagons to load their goods man was in the hallway with a wheelbarrow watching over their loot.

The shoppers invade!

The stage in the sanctuary was covered in shoes and winter clothing.

Book table, in the back are tables filled with toys, stuffed animals, games, videos, etc.

This is a garage sale junkies paradise. Like an alcoholic in a bar. I can only imagine what my friend Amy would think! (She is a garage sale junkie...not an alcoholic, fyi). I felt a little claustrophobic and in need of fresh air. Sorry, Amy.

It's not a kid friendly environment so we tell people not to bring their children or strollers but there are still a lot of people who don't seem to get the memo! People have one hour to shop. At 8:30 we begin to pack up any leftovers. The coordinators organize pick-up with various organizations in the area and they were there last night with vans that we filled with the remaining donations.

Best part. Everything is FREE!

This same thing is possible at any church...there are no expenses other then maybe some advertising. It really just takes a lot of time to coordinate, spread the word, talk with local organizations and then get people excited so that you get a lot of donations in order to make it a big success. When this first began it started in the lobby of our church. Then it moved into the chapel. Now we fill the sanctuary. So if you start the same idea at your church don't be disappointed if it starts small.

We have a 1 minute DVD that was put together that shoes the entire evening in time lapse...front the sanctuary being broken down to the set up tables, the drop of off clothing, the organization of books, shoes, etc. and then the shoppers and eventually the tear down. I know a lot of my readers are in MOPS groups...I highly encourage you to present this idea to your steering committee. If you are seriously considering it maybe I could get you a copy of the DVD.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Today I am another year older! Awaking to the commotion of 3 young children and two hungry dogs whom I all moderately ignore until my first cup of coffee makes me feel every day of my age.

But that is okay. I don't mind being 34. Or the chaos I awake to most mornings. In fact, I know it is truly a least after a cup of coffee. 35 may be another story. But I'll enjoy my last year being in the 30-34 bracket on surveys.

We had a quick double celebration last night, Baileigh had her AWANA awards program and completed her first book in sparks so cupcakes were in order for her accomplishment as well as my birthday. It was a good opportunity to wear the official family birthday hat in the privacy of our own home instead of out in public. Tonight I have something at church to attend so we're going out for dinner but then I'll head to church while Brad takes the girls home and puts them to bed...which is a gift in and of itself!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rash Update

Not long after my last post and within about an hour of giving Brooke benedryl and using benedryl cream there were absolutely no signs of any type of rash! Her rash doubled after I took those pictures and as quickly as I was alarmed by this sudden outbreak I was startled by it's complete disappearance only an hour later!

I've gone through everything in my mind...her health throughout the previous week, possible exposure to something outside, change in detergents, new clothes, different soaps, medicines, lotions etc. I couldn't think of anything outside of our norm that would have caused her outbreak.

Go figure! At least now I know if it ever happens again how to effectively treat it...I just don't know how to prevent it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mystery Rash

Can anyone identify this rash? Cash prizes awarded to the winner.
Brooke's skin went from fine to rash covered in about 30 minutes. She has big red hot blotches of bumps that looked similar to a bad blistered sun rash. It started on both her arms, in the triceps region and then she started showing blotches on her legs but nothing on her torso.
I gave her a bath and then she took some benedryl about an hour ago and I put benedryl cream on the rash...she doesn't seem bothered by it and is already acting sleepy!

This picture doesn't show her rash at all...but as I was taking pictures she said "see, Mommy...see my belly. No ash!" (rash) For the past hour she has come up to me several times and asked with a concerned voice, "Mommy? Booke ash me awm?" Translation, "Mommy, Brooke rash me arm?" Then she lifts up her shirt and says reminds me that there is no ash on her belly!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


On Monday Mckenna's school had a trike-a-thon to raise money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Mckenna kept calling it a trikeathalon, which made me smile! The weather was cool compared to the 80 degree temps we have 2 days later!
She was very excited because she was riding her "new bike"...which is Baileigh's old bike but since Baileigh got a new bike this past weekend Mckenna has upgraded from her little bike to her big sister's bike and she is thrilled!
Nice form, huh! She was pretty serious about this and was focused...ever turn she leaned way into the corner and stayed as close to the cones as possible. She rode a total of 50 laps which was the highest girl in the class and the 3rd highest overall! I don't know where she gets her competitive spirit?!
Brooke had fun cheering on all the kids and saying "BIKES" at least 1,000 times.
Eventually the novelty of all the kids riding bikes wore off and Brooke decided to explore.
This post seemed like a good place to post a few pictures of Baileigh on her new bike...this is what she did with Daddy while I was away for the weekend. She is very proud of her looks so big but it was the next size up from the one she was outgrowing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I don't know what it is...but I have always found arranging flowers to be therapeutic. Perhaps its the rather instant gratification of creating something beautiful to enjoy. I love any excuse to feel justified to buy and arrange some flowers. I'm really not that great at it, but it's fun anyway.

On Thursday my Mom's group at our church is having their annual cooking contest. While I should be putting my efforts into a recipe I've been busy distracting myself with ideas for decorating our table. We decided on the theme of a "spring brunch" which means we wanted to leave it fairly open to interpretation. I thought some spring flowers would be nice on the table. While talking to a friend this morning she mentioned an idea for an arrangement that she saw in a magazine. That is where this idea began but based upon her description I think mine probably looks very different...I like it though. I originally envisioned the arrangement to be lower and more rounded, but once I began this is where I ended up and I think it's not too shabby. Especially when I tell you that the entire thing cost $17.00 and that includes 3 smaller vases as well! I already had the huge vase...but that is still a good deal for the fruit and flowers.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Training Herself

Recently Brooke has started coming up to me and turns around, backs up, bends over and points to her bottom and says "I'm poopy, Mommy! See!?" Then she runs around gathering her diaper and wipes and proceeds to open the diaper, pull out a wipe and lay down with her feet in the air. Then she calls me, "MOMMY!"
I think we're ready to potty train!

TU Girl's Weekend

I spent this weekend in Upland, Indiana reliving my college days with some of my closest friends from those years. Nine of us were able to get together this year for the annual girl's weekend. This was only my second time being able to attend but it still felt completely natural to be around that group.

Friday night some of us met in Indianapolis for dinner while a few other girls were still on their way.
A trip to Ivanhoe's is a must for any TU reunion weekend. 100 shakes and 100 sundae's on their menu. That explains the Freshman 15! They also have seasonal strawberry shortcakes that are amazing...I learned that they fry their shortcakes...that explains why they are so good!
This is (was) the smurf house...this was my off campus home for my senior year with 4 other girls.
The bell tower in the center of campus.
The gang...Jen, Heather, Jodi, Becky, Traci, Me, Suzi, Amy and Jana.
I'm hoping its not another 10 years before I get to go to my next girl's weekend. We talked about a big trip for our 40th birthday's in 6 years...hopefully I'll make it to that trip at the least. I figure if I just show up every 5 to 10 years they won't be tired of seeing me!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Needed Distraction

Tomorrow I'm flying to Indiana to join a crazy group of girls for a fun weekend. One of the greatest privileges and opportunities in my life had to be attending college at Taylor University. I credit a lot of who I am today to the four years I spent in the middle of a corn field cultivating my individuality and growing spiritually. Ever since graduating from Taylor University, a group of us have gathered annually for a fun girl's weekend. Although I make it sound like I've been a part of the festivities, I've only made it once! Most of the girls (I guess technically women) live in the Midwest and usually get to attend. Between our moving around, Brad's deployments, pregnancies, etc I haven't been in at least 8 years!

When they started talking about this years get together I grabbed Brad's class schedule to see if he would be away on a trip. Since he is home and I'm not pregnant or caring for a small baby I decided it was time for me to go, too. Each year they meet somewhere different depending on who lives where. This year we're actually going back to Taylor since one of my friends recently moved to the booming metropolis of Upland, Indiana after her husband accepted a job on campus. I'm excited to see this special group of women as well as get a chance to see the campus and visit our old hang outs. It will be an unofficial Homecoming!

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to flying after my recent flight experience solo with the 3 girls. I'm charging the kids DVD player to use myself and I rented two movies I've been wanting to see. I know exactly where the Starbucks is on the way to my gate and since I won't have my hands full and don't have to worry about scalding the kids I'll pick up a tall skinny caramel latte and hide it in my purse as I board. I'm almost disappointed my flight isn't longer!

I'll definitely have some pictures to post on Sunday. I feel bad for the timing of this trip as Brad has a ton on his plate. I appreciate him making it work for me to get away...hopefully the fog will have lifted a little upon my return.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A fog

I seriously feel like I've been in a fog for the past few weeks. Initially I thought it was due to all the craziness with our 10 day trip to the west coast. When I wasn't feeling different after a week I attributed it to the stressful weekend we just had driving to DC to look for a house. Thankfully, a friend kept the girls for us, but looking at 30 houses in 36 hours is stressful, kids or no kids. Especially when you don't find anything you're willing to make an offer on so essentially you're back where you started...with 30 houses you can cross off the list.

The stress remains in regards to finding a house, but so does the fog. I want to get out of it, to feel sharp and clear and alive. But I feel sluggish, and tired and unmotivated. The beautiful weather and sunny spring afternoons help, but when the sun sets and the sky darkens it seems my mood changes as well. Heck, I'm depressing myself just writing this!

So, reaching back into the cobwebbed filled crevices of my brain where tidbits of insight and knowledge remain from my graduate school days of counseling I think I've diagnosed myself.

I think I'm depressed.

Perhaps not in the clinical Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders type of way...but more in a 'I'm having an ongoing pity party because I don't want to move and leave friends (friends I had to leave 3 years ago when we lived here before) and the thought of starting over makes me sad and compounding that is the fact that we haven't found a new home which makes it hard for me to envision this next phase of life which currently consists of a job for my husband but no house, no friends, no church, no school, no neighborhood, etc.'

That kind of way.

Ironically, in the midst of my funk, I'm completely cognisant of the fact that my mind is telling my heart that I've been here before and that God was/is good and faithful and that I survived and relationships were strengthened and in the end the next chapter of our life was just as fulfilling and exciting as the previous chapter and that the same will probably be true with this next chapter.

But for now I'm stuck in the disconnect of misfiring neurons somewhere between my brain and my heart because the message isn't getting there...must be the fog.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Wedding

I've finally had a few minutes to download pictures from my sister-in-law's wedding. There are probably more pictures here then the average person may want to see...but I'm posting several at the bride's request and for the family who weren't able to attend. If you click on the bottom of my flickr badge to the right where it says "What is this" and then click on "myweethree" it will take you to my'll see a box to the right that says "Alesha's Wedding." If you view it that way it will display the pictures in chronological order of the day. You can view hundreds of photos from the wedding weekend. Knock yourself out!

Our best family photo...I took several but this is as good as it got.

My uncooperative, but very adorable flower girl.One of my favorite photos.

Taking time to stop and smell the roses.

Mckenna with Aunt Alesha.

Brad's family, his parents, Alesha, and his brother, Jacob.
The girls with their soon to be "Uncle Hugo." Helping Aunt Alesha with her dress.Baileigh and Brooke began to lift their dresses and walk like the bride. Minutes before the wedding I realized I couldn't find Baileigh's tights. My solution was to give her Mckenna's tights, and make Mckenna wear one of the two pairs of size 2T tights I had in a new package for Brooke. This was the result...tights that wouldn't stay up, very funny! Awaiting the guests.

Their big moment...all the kids did great walking down the isle.

The first dance.

I'm glad one of my girls didn't catch the bouquet, we need a few more years to save for those weddings.

The money dance...I wish we would have had this tradition at our wedding!

Baileigh doing the waltz with Hayden, or something similar.When they were getting ready to cut the cake my sister-in-law asked what exactly she was supposed to do...I may have encouraged this and instigated...I told him to go first, I learned that the hard way at our wedding.

I love Baileigh in the corner holding my flowers and watching them dance.
After a few crazy days and a lot of stress...everything went off without a hitch. I think the bride and groom enjoyed themselves, which is the most important thing... congratulations Alesha and Hugo.