Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lyla's First Birthday

Happy Birthday Lyla Anne!

Okay, yes.  This post is almost a month overdue.  Oh well.  You know how it is.

We had the best time with Lyla's party.  I spent the entire week before making foofs (more to follow on that), party hats, cake and, of course, cleaning the house.  I had

This is all the stuff that went into the preparation process:
That is our kitchen table.  Pretty much what it looked like all week long.  

Note:  Let me say now that I know I went a tad overboard, I know Lyla will not remember this.  I know  that this was mostly about me, etc.  I still had a ton of fun.  And, won't she feel special when she sees all these photos?

So.  The night before, Simon, who is much more artistic than I, helped me to carry out my vision.  He is so totally awesome.  I say, "Honey, I want it to look, you know, hangey and drapey and celebrationey, but not too cluttered or overdone or tacky.  You know?"  And he says, "Yeah, I think we can do that."  And he does.

Isn't he cute with his concentrated thoughtfulness?
That's yarn in his hand.  Before you see the rest, I can't take credit for it all.  My artsy sister, Hannah, made Lyla this amazing branch-thing, at least five feet long, totally wrapped with yarn, that had these plastic flowers hanging from it.  It was like rainbow Spanish moss.  It hung in Lyla's room until, being an actual branch, it started to die.  First it wilted, then it started to break.  I painstakingly unwrapped the whole thing and saved the yarn and the flowers.  That's why the yarn is curly.  I did not curl it.  Hannah did. :-)

We hung the flowers first.  They are made from--get this--the tops of water bottles.  No kidding.  Hannah is the coolest.  This, by the way, is our "back" door, which is really on the side of our house.  The window looks into our sideyard, but looked weird open.  All this is in our kitchen.  FYI.  :-)
Next the foofs.  Foofs are not my invention, though I did make these.  The white ones are made by attaching coffee filters to a small Styrofoam ball for seventy two hours.  The pink and red are tissue paper, cut and attached similarly.  If you want to know how to actually make them, check out this amazing blog:

She has a tutorial on "foofs."  Her name for them.  I wish I had thought of it.  

The final product.

Aren't they gorgeous?  And c'mon.  Wouldn't you LOVE this if you were one?
You can see, here, the bottle top flowers.  I also used white ribbon and cheap, dollar store bead necklaces to hang the foofs.  Okay, Simon used them.  I supervised.

I made a (yes, slightly crooked) ruffle cake from the Martha Stewart website.  I am not attaching a link because the icing was terrible, awful, disgusting. I even left a bad review. It tasted like stale grocery store cake icing.  If you really, really want it, message me.  I just didn't want to send a direct link to my mean review...which I cannot remove.  :-)

Also--pink punch, strawberries and blueberries and some red and pink candies.

It was pretty.  And the inside was good--I used Cake Doctor for that one.  I also made Lyla a tiny cake so she could do this:

See her boots? cute.  She demolished the little cake.  Love this James-family tradition!

I also made party hats, which we all wore.  Wasn't my family supportive?  And patient?  Lyla LOVES things on people's heads, so she loved this.  She even left hers on pretty well.

All in all, a successful event.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, March 28, 2011

I am a wannabe Pioneer Woman

Oh man.  I got it bad.

I have a crush of major proportions.  Ree Drummond, you make my heart beat with joy!

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, Ree Drummond, Hardcover

I have read Black Heels to Tractor Wheels one and a half times since yesterday afternoon at around 4:00.

Yes, my house is a disaster, and my kids drank Carnation Instant Breakfasts this morning.  Worth it.

I am fully aware that I may be the last person IN THE WORLD to jump on this popular train.  Here's the thing--I've had her blog bookmarked for a long time, liked her recipes, etc.  But this book made me truly fall utterly in love with her.  What a great read--why don't they make more books like that?  Note to self. I must write one.

Read it.  Read it to get away from your living room, read it to laugh, and maybe cry (especially if your hormones, like mine, are in permanent cry-mode since your last child), read it to feel hope and inspiration and to fall in love with your own husband all over again.  It's one of those.  It's also, clearly, a quick read.  Which is great for those of us who have more important things than reading to get done!

Also read it to get away from the awful, oh-so-numerous skinny-smart-woman-married-to-dumb-fatass sitcom. I hate those.  Why does Hollywood think making the men in those things DUMB will give the women the leg up?  Those women are the dumb ones, to me, for having married lazy, ignorant, emotionally stunted selfish pigs.  Wow. I had some serious feelings about that.  I may need to return to that in another blog.

Anyway, as a good friend of mine recently told me over a delicious lunch at La Duni, it's a book about a Real Man, and woman truly in love with him.  Nothing pretentious or troubled, and so refreshing to see that devotion and love played out in someone else's life besides my own.

Also, it is perhaps the most gorgeous book I have ever owned.  No, not perhaps.  It is.  The cover alone makes me very, very happy.

So grab it!  Let me know what you think!  Also...if you have any ranch land for sale, I'm thinking I might want to get going on that.

Finally, check out Ree's blog at  You will thank me, if you haven't already read the whole thing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Role of Obedience

We talk alot about obedience at our house these days.  Simon sings this little song to Caleb every morning before he leaves for work, "Everything's okay when we listen and obey.  We have a good day when we listen and obey."

This little song holds more truth than it seems...and applies to my life even more than Caleb's.

As a mom who is constantly trying to fit more into her day than will possibly fit, who barely gets showered, much less fits in a good workout or a long Bible study, keeping this truth in mind is crucial.  Because it's where all the other stuff comes from.  My Very Favorite Pastor, John MacArthur (, has an amazing double-sermon series on self discipline.  If you're looking it up, it's "The Art of Self-Discipline."  Since this is one area of my life that I can't even pretend to be good at, I decided I needed to listen to it.  Then I waited a while.

You see, John MacArthur is one of those guys whose sermons are so full of truth and who preaches with such determination and such beauty that, well, you're likely to have to change your life.  Literally.  And I wasn't sure I wanted much change.  Especially in that area of Discipline. fun is discipline?

Also, I felt like I was getting quite enough Discipline as a parent of a three-year-old.  Of course, I am on the other end of that one.  But it's no more fun to enforce than it is to have it enforced upon you.  So I felt.

But I got around to it.  And so should you.  Because--wow.  Talk about perspective.

Maybe you know more about discipline than I do...but one of the reasons I was (and still am--though I am working on it) so bad at it is because I had no notion of the root of obedience and discipline.  The reason for it, theologically speaking.

Get this.

I am not my own!  I belong, purchased and paid for by the very blood of Christ, to God.  I have no authority over my own life.  I am required, as a Christian, to live as God commands.

That sounds rather serious, doesn't it?  I mean, did I sign up for that level of subservience?  Yes!!  I DID!  I entered into a covenant with God when I accepted his Son's blood as payment for my sins.  In the act of asserting my belief--the belief that I am a child of God, am sinful, and need Christ--I also agreed to live for Him; to be His.  I cannot assert that I believe in God, and am His, without submitting completely to His authority.  Without dying to my own.

What does this have to do with discipline?  Everything!  My time is not my own to waste!  My thoughts are not my own to spend upon myself.  My words, my deeds, my whole life.  Not mine.  I don't get to choose how to spend or use them.  I must align myself with Christ, must, to the best of my ability, follow the teachings of Scripture and live my life as a daily devotion, disciplined unto the Lord.

Wondering where the fun comes in?  It's there.  Because, once you get over the general (sinful!) feeling of defensive possession, this is incredibly freeing!  My life can be devoted to Christ with no reservation, no need for my own cultivation or preservation.  I don't have to worry about who I become, where I'm going, or what I have to do to get where I want to go.  It's all Christ.  Am I living too much in the house?  Should I be out, accomplishing things, widening my education, polishing myself?  Those questions the world asks us stay-at-home moms every day.  The answer is, Christ!  Return to what Scripture says about these ideas...and leave behind the expectations of myself and all others.

It's so lovely!  I continually discipline myself to single-mindedness.  Stop worrying about anything but shining the glory of the Lord into every nook and cranny of your life.  Discipline yourself unto the Lord.

And it's the best day ever.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Motherhood Plus Makeup

So.  I'm adding dressing up, experimenting with makeup, and doing crazy hair to the list of things I only liked before I had kids.  Also on the list--wearing a bathing suit in public, low-rise jeans, and the bathtub.  Okay, I still love baths, but these days my tub is always filled with bathtoys and usually tinged some strange color as a result of the bathtime crayons Caleb got in his stocking.  Soaking in slightly-orange-tinted water just isn't as relaxing, and scrubbing the tub beforehand kind of defeats the purpose.  Anyway.  I digress.

The Wichita Theater (that bastion of art and perfection) is putting on Cinderella in three days.  I'm in it.  I am a wicked stepsister.  

And it is great fun.  Don't believe me?  I get to scream and yell, wear this awesome fat bustle-butt contraption, and sing my little heart out.  I might even get a few laughs in the process.  It is such great fun.

What is NOT great fun?  The AWFUL hairdo I have to get my hair teased, sprayed and kinked up into each night.  The eighties have nothing on me, believe me.  Also not fun:  the layers and layers and LAYERS of makeup required to "make me ugly enough."  Apparently it takes alot, so I guess that's a compliment.  But also a headache.

I was looking forward to it!  I really, really was!  In high school, nothing was better than holing up in my bathroom, working for hours on myself and emerging, looking like a completely different person.  (Simon might make observation here that many women do this every morning...but I am speaking of an even MORE different person, honey.)

WHY is all this un-fun?  Here's the difference:  kids.  Oh, and a few others:  I don't enjoy looking at myself in the mirror as much any more.  My alone time is so limited that spending it this way seems ludicrous.  Oh--and the kicker--my current bathroom is nowhere near as big as the one I grew up with, and the counter space is nonexistent.  Not that really care most days.  But for THIS process, it's a problem.

Back to the kids part--picture this.  Me, curlers just recently out, hair springing in every direction, trying to tease it, pin it up and spray it, while I keep Lyla out of the toilet, Caleb out of my makeup box, and dinner from burning on the stove in the kitchen.  In about six square feet of space.

Things I have learned:  

You can't tease your hair while holding a child.  

Cheap liquid eyeliner plus fake eyelash glue is a super-painful combination.  

Tammy Faye may never have had a serious conversation in her life.  Cause who can really talk to you when you look like that?

Things I plan on trying:  NOT showering after I take my hair down--and letting it be even crazier the next night.  This is the kind of thing motherhood drives me to.

Pictures to warned.