my superpower

You may not believe me, but I have a superpower. I know if the word gets out, that I would be interviewed anyway, so I'm just going to save some poor intern chap some trouble and write it in interview format so he doesn't even have to think. You're welcome, journalism college grad of 2014.
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What is your superpower?
Always being the one in the bathroom when the toilet paper runs out. Always.

Always? That seems pretty definite?
Always. I don't live in the gray area, son.

Does your superpower come in handy?
Absolutely not. It's pretty useless. Actually, it creates more work for me so it's less of a power, more of a kryptonite I suppose...but I had to get you out here to interview me somehow, right? Fame doesn't make itself.
and then we would laugh...hahaha.

So please elaborate on this so called "superpower." Is it everyday? Where does it most often occur?
Woah. One question at a time, please! I'm feeling suffocated.

Okay, I'm sorry. You're right. You're so smart. Please elaborate on your superpower. 
So it's pretty basic, but essentially it never fails that when I am in the bathroom, the toilet paper is bound to be at the end of the roll. Not like, "Oh man! I don't have anything to wipe with! Someone help me!" but more like there is exactly enough for...umm...one job... and then an empty roll.

And then you're left with a moral dilemma?
Exactly! Because it happens EVERYWHERE I GO. I'm at a friend's house: end of roll. My parent's house: end of roll. Target: end of roll. My own bathroom: end of roll.
Now, when I'm at my own house I kind of weigh the situation-- if it's midnight, it's not getting changed. 3 in the afternoon? It may not happen either...you can ask my husband. But I guarantee 10/10 I am the one in the bathroom when the brown cardboard appears.
If I'm in someone else's home, I typically scrounge around for another roll and if I find one I'll change it.
In a public restroom it depends: If they have the spiffy triple roll dispenser and it's as easy as sliding over another roll, I will. Why? Cause I'm a nice lady and I picture someone...older... who may have trouble with that kind of "technology". [You can leave the quotation marks out when this goes to print. It may come across as snarky.]

Probably because it is a little snarky. And ageist.
Hey buddy, who is paying your salary here?

Umm...not you? I'm pretty sure you don't even have a real superpower. 
Touche. Let's move on. Next question.

What have you discovered are the most obvious places people store their toilet paper?
Under the sink, cabinet or basket above toilet [those are the best because they are easiest to locate], or some store them in a linen closet in the hallway, which makes no sense to me because what if someone else with my superpower was just at your house but isn't as kind hearted and it's too late when you realize the toilet paper is gone?

How do you think this superpower has made you a better-rounded person?
It hasn't.

Do you know if superpower is one word, two words, or hyphenated?
Your guess is as good as mine.

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baby bump 2: week 25

I know this picture is terrible quality…but this week is documented so I'm using it! 

Dear baby,

Hey sweet one. We did it! We not only crossed the threshold into the third trimester, but we have less than one hundred days to meet each other face to face!

You're throwing me for a loop though because these weeks are going so fast I barely have time to snap a picture until it's almost too late. This week's picture had to be taken on my phone because we travelled over the weekend and I almost forgot!

You got to travel to the town where I went to college, and you got to "meet" some of my college friends, including two of my former roommates. One of them was getting a super special honor-- she got inducted into the hall of fame at our college. She was a crazy ridiculously good basketball player. Your sister didn't get to come with us, but I made sure to keep you warm and well fed while we traveled North. It was a quick trip, but it was a good weekend.

You're moving all the time now, and with each movement I can tell you've grown. Your punches are much more obvious now. Though I always feel the BEST during the second trimester, I definitely think that this is my favorite time. Though I'm a little much more tired, I love "seeing" you. I love that others can "see" you. I love feeling you. Getting bigger obviously has some adjustments, but it makes me happy knowing you're growing, and that I get to be a part of it.

I have yet to feel you hiccup, which was one of my favorite sensations last time. Also, if you must know, you've caused my belly button to force itself out quite far this week, and I think by next week it will be safe to say it has "popped." Last time I always put a bandaid over it when it got to that point-- very few things weird me out about being pregnant, but I really don't like the look of my belly button poking through my clothes. :)

I'll try to let this week and the time slow down a bit so I can soak up each week with you so close, but I really am looking forward to having you on the outside soon too!

Love, Mommy 

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another new adventure

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In the fall I was contacted by a sweet lady from our previous church and asked if I may be interested in a new endeavor. I hadn't seen her in several months, and I was curious as to what I could possibly have to offer her.

So I called her up, and thus began a new journey for us both.

She has been a stay at home mom for nearly 20 years. During that time, she has also homeschooled all four of her children. A new opportunity was knocking at her door, so she knocked on mine.

You see, she still has two kids at home but had been approached about a new job that would take her out of the home every few weeks. Home-schooling Her kids are her priority, but this job just seemed to make sense. And then she thought of me, a former teacher now at home with a rambunctious two year old. Would I be interested? She wanted to know.

Here is what it boiled down to:
- Every third week I would go to their house from 8-12 to sub. I would make sure the boys stayed on task, would answer questions, walk them through lessons, and check their assignments so they could move on to their next subject. She said, "I'm very OCD about their school work…and then I thought of you! And I thought, She's OCD too!" I took it as a great compliment.
- I could bring Blythe with me…and the baby in the fall.

Interestingly, around the time she called me, I was in one of my downward swoops of missing teaching. I knew there was something in me that was made to teach, and I was just missing it. I wasn't thinking about going back full time or anything, but just missing it.

And then she called.

The only thing that didn't sound appealing was having to be out of bed, ready, and at their house by 8. :) You know me and sleep.

And now we've started. The boys are so wonderful. 7th grade. 4th grade. So well-mannered and self-motivated and just great kids. By the time I get to their house they have gotten ready, done their chores, completed their devotions, [put the dogs up for me!] and begun their first lesson. It's impressive to say the least. And their mom is so wonderful too, and organized, and makes it super easy for me to fill in.

And then there is Blythe. She's definitely the variable in all of it. She isn't quite used to me sharing my time, and she let's that be known! The boys have been gracious about it, but yikes. So this will be good for her too, since she will have to learn to do that. And the boys are great with her and like to play with her when they get to take breaks. She makes it a very busy time, and probably not as quiet as the boys are used to, but I think over time she will adjust. I also have a great friend who said that maybe she could have her over for a little "play time" once in awhile when I sub, which I think would be a nice break for Blythe, me, and the boys…maybe not so much for my friend, but … ;)

So here I am, starting a new journey that connects me with my old one of teaching. It's provided me an opportunity to tap into that part of me that was created to teach and be with kids. It's also given me an inside look into home-schooling done well, which I really knew very little about. And it provides me with a chance to earn a little extra cash, which definitely helps, especially knowing baby number two will be here shortly [like in a hundred days!].

I think it's incredible when God orchestrates things like this for us.

And there you have it, a new adventure for me.

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I used to think...

This photo has nothing to do with this post

I used to think I didn't like onions, but now I use them in just about everything I make.

I used to think that friendships were about having a lot in common, but now I think they are about sharing life and being intentional.

I used to think that my child would have a headful of curly hair, but now I have a two year old with barely ANY hair.

I used to think having a nicer, newer home was important, but now I think that having a home with less space to separate us from one another is what I want.

I used to think legalistically about my faith, but now that I know God more, the legalism is fading away.

I used to think that not having a dishwasher would be the worst thing ever, but now, though I'd still like to get a new dishwasher, I've learned to appreciate the quiet moments that have happened for me while washing the dishes.

I used to think that everyone had a soulmate waiting out there, somewhere, just for them, but now I know that you find someone and then choose them everyday.

I used to think that my toddler wouldn't throw tantrums, because I would act on them immediately and he or she would learn quickly, but now I laugh at that thought.

I used to think that my identity was wrapped up in what I did, but now I realize that what I do is simply my role and not my purpose or my identity.

I used to think I had to be super productive during naptime, but now I think I'm going to read a book and/or take a nap while sweet baby number 2 kicks away.
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baby bump 2: week 24

Dear Baby,

I have a hard time believing you are already this big! But I know it's true because I am starting to feel you kick up in my ribs a bit, and then I'll feel something squirm clear down on the other side, and I know you must be stretching yourself out day by day. Speaking of your kicks, they are even more fierce now, and I am loving it! 

Your sister will be moving out of your room, the nursery, very soon. This weekend you tagged along as I started to work on Blythe's big girl room, trying to vacate the other space for you. Though I'm leaving the nursery mainly the same, I plan on adding some little touches just for YOU and you alone. I'm starting to dream of laying you down in that crib-- the same crib your nana laid me in when I was a baby-- and I get even more excited about meeting you and learning all about you. 

she loves loving you

I had a dream this week about your delivery. It was really silly: Your dad brought me to the hospital because it was time, but they told me there wasn't any room inside, so they moved a bed out to the parking lot for me. And that is where I delivered you! From that point on your dad took you into his arms and I hardly got to see you, because he didn't want to share [this is probably fairly accurate]. I think that maybe this means I am nervous you will come too quickly, and that we will barely make it to the hospital in time and I will deliver you in the parking lot for real! Let's hope not! 

As crazy as the dream was, it really got me thinking about you even more: your arrival, your appearance…all the unknowns in our future. And I know even more know that I am so, so very excited to meet you and greet you [I guess even if it does occur in a parking lot!]. I love you so much. Happy end of the second trimester! 

Love, Mom

some extras from the "photo session"

this is what she does when we say "focus" 

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lost in the files

I know it's not October anymore. Trust me, I've been outside. It's definitely not October.

But back in October Blythe and I took a week long trip to visit Kali and Dan, meet Wesley, and play with Caroline and Ellie. 

To say Blythe got some much needed time with her cousins is an understandment. Sheesh! She was loved and squeezed and bossed all over that house! 

It was a great time. And I don't want these pictures to "gather dust," so here are a few I just had to post from our time together. 

After Caroline instructed Blythe on proper bath paint etiquette ["DO NOT put the paint all the way down in the water, Blythe, or it will be RUINED!"], she was ready to roll with it. Ellie just considered Blythe her canvas, and Blythe was happy to oblige. 

Then it was time to go trick or treating. Kali and Dan live in THE BEST subdivision, and this is actually our second time trick or treating with them.

last year - 2012

Blythe enjoyed it more this year, and we may have even gotten the comment that they were the cutest three girls to be seen all night. [To which I respond…uhh, obviously! ;)].

Here was our Doctor, with a for real stethoscope [we don't mess around], Cinderella [who courtesies for a lady we passed when she said, "What a beautiful princess!], and a Bumblebee [who figured out quickly how to dive right in and say "trick or treat", or at least mumble the right syllables, and dig for candy].

they were supposed to be doing silly faces, and apparently a serious face on Ellie is silly….seems appropriate.

Blythe was all over those silly faces

the girls spotted the first trick or treaters of the night! Caroline makes sure to just glance out of the corners of her eye, as to not break character. 

We brought out the duck for one picture. He hung out with his dad and passed out candy…until he passed out. 

My camera acted funny while we were actually out, so this is the only picture I took. We were quite the entourage! 

That is one happy duck! 

It's always a treat* to go visit this crew. I know it will become increasingly more difficult as we add another child, but I hope we always make it a priority. 

Thanks for taking a trip back to October with me! 

*see what I did there? 

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I took some pictures of some people...

During fall and early winter I was busy snappin' some pictures for some people. I didn't know if they really wanted me to share before they got their Christmas cards out, but now I figure it's fair game. 

And just so you know, this is like the pop-up-video of a photo shoot. Enjoy. 

Of course this first little lady had to make the cut for just a few pictures: 

And then there are these ladies. Oh my goodness. I love them. When I was little their mom lived across the street and would come and play tea part with me all the time. And when she was just a baby [and one of THE cutest around, I might add], Avree spent her days with my mom. And then, when I was in high school,  Rylie came along and I got to spend my summers with these two. We had a blast [just don't ask about the time Rylie ate soap…].

And now they are like 25 years old and professional models, or something.

The light was so.stinking.awesome the day we took these…but don't be fooled, it was a chilly day [I was wearing gloves and a coat!] and these two were cuddling in between shots!

…and then we made Ry spit out her gum...

no photoshop here, you guys… I'm telling you…professional models

And then I got to do something really fun. We're just hanging out, snapping pictures, and I'm talking while clicking away like I always do… and that's when I told them the big news: that baby number two was on the way!! I started laughing at their response, which is why the shot is blurry, but they both jumped up and tackled me and I will always love this picture:

And then another truly lovely girl, inside and out, asked if I could shoot some senior pics for her. And I said, "But aren't you in junior high still?" and she said, "You're so old!"

Just kidding, she didn't say that because she is nice. I actually got to teach Laura her sophomore year, and it was a delight.

One last funny story about her: one day this year I was subbing. It was a softball game day, and the bus was leaving immediately after school. I had brought all my stuff with me…or so I thought. And there I was, changing into my coaching polo and shorts in the bathroom when I realize: Crap! I forgot my tennis shoes. I was wearing high heeled sandals. So I went into the hallway and who is the first person I see? Laura. Dressed in all camo for a homecoming dress-up day…but wearing tennis shoes. And cute ones.

"What size shoe are you?" I ask, jumping out of the shadows.
"Eight and half?" She says.
"Can I borrow your tennis shoes for the game tonight?"
She doesn't miss a beat and just starts taking them off and hands them to me.

She laughs when I hand her the heels, but slips them on over her socks. She even went to the bank that way!

She saved me. So of course I wanted to take her pictures! :)

Just look at her… you can tell she's a gem:

She also just donated all that lovely hair. And she loves Jesus.
And did I mention she gave me the shoes off her back [that doesn't seem like the right saying?]

She wanted me to get a few shots of her with her fire baton. It was essentially dark out when we shot these. It was a fun new challenge for me!

And then there is Matthew. It was funny because I shot these shortly after Laura's. She had approximately 24 outfit changes, and after the first picture I asked Matt if he wanted to change or anything. Of course not! I also got to teach Matt for a year and, fun fact, his mom is one of the reasons I went into English teaching in the first place! 

I had fun trying to get some smiles out of this serious dude!

And then I went to Nashville, and Kali paid me in ridiculously good food and snuggles with her children. Maybe that should be my going rate from now on?

I know they are a good looking family, but here is me being honest: They are extremely difficult to photograph. For one they have a two year old with unending energy and there is hardly a shutter speed that can capture her. They have a ridiculously  handsome new son…who urps on everything every two seconds. And a 4 year old who is either hot or very, very cold…and dramatic. And Kali and Dan are, well, a little awkward in front of the camera. [I love you.]

This day we packed up, headed to a park, and realized that we should have started shooting about an hour sooner because it was super overcast and I forgot they live right on the time-zone line. Also, picture Blythe running around doing whatever she wants behind me. There were a few times Kali wasn't looking at the camera, because she was concerned Blythe was going to run out into the street. Thank you, Kali. But Caroline was ON this day…so there is at least that.

this is one of those imperfect yet perfect photos I love. Ellie is doing…whatever Ellie is doing, Wes apparently just sneezed or something, Caroline is just posing, and Dan and Kali are like, "yep, this is our life!" 

And then Dan put Ellie in the tree…and she scraped her back up getting down…end of photo shoot.

…just kidding! Ellie is one tough cookie! Unless something is "scaayyeee" or "too yowd", then she's OUT!

I already posted a few of these, but in Novemeber we went to visit my college- roommate, Renae, and her fam. And we almost blindfolded them and threw them in the back of our van and brought them home with us. Next time. Shhhhhhhh….

I shot a few quick pics for them after church on Sunday for their Christmas card.
No, Jaden is not 6, he is just the biggest three year old you will ever meet.

And then there are these guys that Blythe and I get to hang out with from time to time. I think they will be her protectors and look out for her once they are all in high school. Or they will try and date her and we will run them off our property. Either way… they are awesome. :)

Let me tell you, these guys are cute. And super photogenic. But this day it was raining, so we were confined to the porch. My daughter was screaming. Then Westen would lose it. Then Wyatt, for no reason, would break down. It's a miracle we got any pictures, am I right, Tiff?

I think all that chaos, and still getting these pictures, goes to show how down right adorable these dudes are.

Then I buzzed over and took some pictures for their aunt and uncle.
Travis had sent me a message that went something like, "Melissa wants to take pictures… but we want Knox in them-- we will keep him on a very short leash and won't let go, we promise!"
They had seen me around dogs before.

So this was a first for me: a dog. A big one.
But look at this guy: he's like the prince of all dogs.

At one point I was trying to get him to look at me and I'm making extremely awkward noise, I'm sure [I'm not around dogs much, clearly]. And I said to Travis and Melissa, "What should I say to get him to look at me?"
And Melissa, to her credit without much condescension in her voice, says, "You could just say his name? Knox."

It was super cold, so this was the fastest photo shoot I think I've done to date [except maybe the one of the boys above, due to all the toddler drama that was occurring!]. But I have to say, for being cold and hustling around, these guys were like pros.

Then this sweet family asked for some photos, and who could resist this crew?
Honestly, hands down, some of the nicest people you could ever encounter.

Then it was time to take some shots of some more great people with their grandsons. It was almost high noon, so the sun was crazy, but when you're this cute, it doesn't really matter: 

And there you have it, some pictures I took to end 2013.

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