This Just In ...

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Flex Belt

When I got to my parents' on Wednesday, my sister strapped her new Flex Belt on me.

Look how great I looked with just one use!

Okay, no, maybe this was the picture of me.

Seriously, she did put this on me and it felt like I had been taken to the basement torture chamber and had the electrical torture device hooked to my stomach! It really is electrical impulses shooting into your abdomen. At first it freaked me out! It made me a tad lightheaded and I had to sit down.

After a while I got used to it, although it still felt extremely abnormal.

Hey, I was getting a full abdominal workout while blogging! Excellent!

But, does it work?

"Tone, tighten, firm and strengthen your abs with The Flex Belt. Get results in just weeks. The Flex Belt is the only abdominal toning system cleared by the FDA for toning, firming and strengthening the stomach muscles. The Flex Belt patented EMS muscle stimulation technology is the same medical-grade technology that's been used for thirty years in the health care industry. The same technology used by physical therapists to exercise the muscles of their patients who can't do it for themselves. The Flex Belt generates deep, yet comfortable contractions that effectively firm, tone and strengthen all your abs, all at once – so you get a great workout in just 30 minutes a day." ~ from As Seen on TV.


My sister swears it works. And, I have to say she sure looks good right now!!

Worth the money? I don't know. I don't think I'll be spending the $100+ to get one. I guess I'll have to stick to good 'ol sit ups.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rick Rocks ~ Because While I'm Taking Pictures, He's Teaching Roller Skating

You know how it goes, moms. When your child gets invited to a birthday party, you are the one to take them. Or, you might get your husband to take them, but he'll probably just 'drop and go'. I'm not saying every husband is like that, but in my many years of birthday parties that has been my general experience.

But Rick's not that kind of dad, or husband. He's taken our kids to (and stayed at) many birthday parties.

This past Saturday our neighbor was having a skating party in a nearby town. Rick was playing golf that morning in his league he plays in. I was planning on taking all of the kids skating .... kids who had never skated. I asked him if he thought he could make it to join me. He said, 'Sure'! He drove a good 40-50 miles to meet me.

When we got there we 'suited up' the kids in their skates, and got skates of our own. {Secretly, we wanted a chance to couples skate before the day was over!}

Eli and Brynne were all over the place, obviously! In fact, Eli even slipped off the bench he was sitting on and landed in the floor. It was going to be a long afternoon!

But Rick and I took them over to the little practice rink. He not only held onto them while they slipped and slid around, he actually took the time to teach them! He taught them how to use their brake, how to squat slightly and use their free hand for balance, how to 'walk' in their skates. And then he proceeded to take them around the rink no less than 500 times in a two-hour period.

And at the end of the party, Eli skated by himself for a short time and Brynne was skating while just holding hands.

Unfortunately Rick only had the opportunity to couples skate with Brynne under the strobe light, but he didn't look too unhappy.

I love him so much! I was able to take pictures and skate with the kids while he did all the real hard work! It makes me so proud that he's my husband!

I looked around and most dads were just sitting and watching, or not there at all.


Rick Rocks ~ Because while I was taking pictures, he was teaching our children how to roller skate!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tutu Excited to See Justin Bieber!!

Brynne will be wearing this outfit tonight when we see Justin Bieber in concert in Kansas City! Aunt Krissi got us tickets, so it will be a girl's night with Kyndal and my niece, Rylee, on the 7th row and Krissi, Brynne and I further back on the floor.

Would you like to make a tutu for your little one? Believe me it was easy and cheap! I spent $6.00 and two hours of my time. Brynne said, "It's so beautiful!"

I got my basic instructions from this month's issue of Family Fun magazine. Here's how you do it!

1. Purchase two yards of each color of tulle you want to use. I wanted green and blue, so bought two yards of each.

2. Cut the tulle into 2" x 12" strips.

3. Measure your child's waist with a piece of elastic and tie it into a circle. This will be the waist band of the tutu. Then slip it around a 3-ring binder to hold it steady while you tie on the tulle.

4. Then choose your pattern and start double knotting tulle pieces on the elastic. I used two strips at a time, so as to make it fuller (so two strips of green tied on, then two strips of blue tied on, etc.)

Hopefully you can see here that you double knot the tulle at the half-way point of your tulle strip, around the elastic, not at the end of the tulle strip. Did that make any sense at all?

I did half of it with an alternating green/blue pattern. At that point, though, I decided I wanted more blue in it than green, so I went back and added more blue so my pattern ended up being green/blue/blue. It gave it some extra pop!

5. Go all the way around the elastic and you're done.

Super easy!!!!

If you are making it for an older girl, and want the skirt length to be longer than 6", then cut your tulle strips into 2" by 24" instead and it will end up being 12" long. You'll probably have to buy 4 yards of each color, though.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nicole's Daybook

Outside my window... It is a little overcast and considerably cooler than it has been.

I am thinking... about teenagers and their constant struggles and how best to guide them.

I am thankful ... that I have a relationship with my husband and kids where we can really talk about issues and work through them together.

I am wearing... green shorts, white sleeveless t-shirt and running shoes.

I am planning... for being away from the house for a few days.

I am creating... nothing the rest of this week, but I did create a tutu for Brynne this past weekend. Check back tomorrow for a tutu-torial.

I am going... to finish packing up, get the kids up, load the car and drive four hours to my parents', then go straight to their pool.

I am reading... The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. This is a 1000 page book, which would be the longest book I have ever read. (Kyndal said, "It's like reading the Bible ... seriously!") It's good, though!

I am hoping... that when I come back from being gone for three days that the house is clean and does not smell like puppies gone wild!

On my mind... is how fearful it is to have teenagers that are at an age where their decisions really do affect the rest of their lives potentially.

From the learning rooms... most of us are on hold. But, since Dawson is going to be here at the house these few days, he's to read a small book about Pearl Harbor and watch the movie.

Noticing that ... just when you think you have settled something in your mind and heart, an alternative is thrown your way making you question things all over again.

From the kitchen... guy foods, which means frozen or cereal.

Around the house... it is relatively clean. Will it stay that way while I am gone???

One of my favorite things... is sleeping in on Saturdays and Sundays. Sometimes I even make it until 9:00 a.m.!

A few plans for the rest of the week... The girls and I (and now Eli) are leaving in a bit to drive to Missouri for a few days. Tomorrow night we are going to the Justin Bieber concert in Kansas City. We're coming home on Thursday and, hopefully, just hanging out the rest of the weekend.

From my picture journal.

Sometimes they still like each other. Of course after an incident last night, I don't think it will be today. You gotta capture these fleeting moments when they happen!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday ~ 'Mom's Gone and the Boys are Alone' Edition

In other words, it's a week of mostly frozen foods and pizza.

Tomorrow morning the girls and I are heading to Missouri to see my parents for a few days and attend the much-anticipated Justin Bieber concert with my sister and niece.

That means the boys will be home alone to fend for themselves Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Since none of them cook anything beyond Ramen, I've included some easy peasy favorites for them on those nights.

Here's what's cooking (or microwaving, whatever the case may be) ...

Monday ~ Burgers and fries

Tuesday ~ Order pizza

Wednesday ~ Pizza rolls, hot pockets, frozen burritos and the like

Thursday ~ Corn dogs and chips

Friday ~ (Mom's home!) Homemade calzones

Saturday ~ Chicken fettucine and breadsticks

Sunday ~ Chicken tacos

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Update on Kyndal's Back and Neck

A reader asked if we had heard anything more on Kyndal's injuries to her neck and back from her car accident. I thought I should do a quick update.

In the past week and a half she has had two MRI's and a CT scan. After meeting with her orthopedic surgeon on Friday, we learned that she does not have any fractures. Praise God!

She was diagnosed with cervical and thoracic strains, which basically means severe whiplash.

She was given the okay to go back to normal activities as she can tolerate them and was ordered to six weeks of physical therapy, three times a week. Hopefully physical therapy will work out the kinks in her muscles and ligaments and she will be pain free in a couple of months.

Thank you to those of you who have asked about her and who have been praying for her healing.

We might not be able to move when we get up today, but we sure had fun!

Yesterday we went to our neighbor's birthday party at a skating rink in a neighboring town. Rick couldn't remember the last time he roller skated. The last time I did was when Dawson was in the 5th grade, which was when he last roller skated. Kyndal, who knows? And Eli and Brynne had never gone.

The little ones started out slow on the practice rink.

But before long they were getting the hang of it and headed out to the main rink, with help. Eli even skated without help!!

Dawson's girlfriend, Tess, went with us, as well as Kyndal's friend, Jenny.

Rick and I got to take a few spins around the rink without the little ones, but mostly we just helped them.

We were sweaty and sore and exhausted by the end of it!

Kyndal said that she wants to make this a weekly event. (However, she was regretting it quickly when her back started really hurting.) And I don't know if my old body can handle doing it weekly, but we are certainly going to do it again soon! Besides, where else can you have such muscle-wrenching fun for $4 a person??

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Parenting is H.A.R.D.

Oh, teaching our kids real life lessons is so hard!

I've been faced with that this week.

Kyndal is going to be sixteen in November. She has always been told that she will not get a car given to her, but that she would have to have a job and earn money to buy one and pay the insurance and for her own gas. A couple of years ago Rick told her that he would match any amount of money she was able to save. Long story short .. she hasn't saved any. It's hard to get a job around here unless you are sixteen, but there are jobs. Unfortunately, those aren't the jobs she wants.

Anyway, two nights ago she went to dinner for her friend's sixteenth birthday. They did the 'ol "surprise her with a car" gig. Kyndal was happy for her friend, but the reality of the situation that she will not receive the same type of gift hit her hard.

I think she has always thought we were "just kidding", like her friend's parents were pretending to do.

She realizes we are not. And she is disappointed.

Would I love to surprise her with a car for her sixteenth birthday? What parent wouldn't??

But, I know that by doing that, I would be making a huge mistake. Kyndal would be learning, yet again, that the world owes her something .. that she is entitled.

I want Kyndal to learn the life lesson that to get what we want, we have to work hard and save for it.

She mentioned that her dad might buy her a car and let her make payments on it to him.

But, again, I don't want her to do that. I don't want her to learn the life lesson of how to go into debt to get what you want now!

The discussion I had with her yesterday is that she will have to learn this lesson in her life, at some time or another. I would rather her learn it now, than to learn it the hard way later in life when the stakes are really high. I'd rather her not be $25,000 in credit card debt with a car payment and student loans when she learns it.

Isn't that what real parenting is about? Aren't we here to help our kids weather the pre-storms of life so they don't get demolished with an unexpected tornado later?

Did you get a car when you were sixteen? I did. Actually I got it about a year or more before I turned sixteen. But I had cleaned office buildings with my mom (including a public restroom at a city building ... yuck) and had run the public swimming pool concession stand to make some money. I think I had saved about $600. For my effort, my parents gave me $1000 to go with it. I bought a rusted, green 1977 208Z.

Then the summer before my birthday I had to go to the baseball fields with my dad every afternoon in the blistering sun and pick up candy trash (he managed the ball fields) so that I could get a new paint job for my car. Then after I turned sixteen I waited tables at my grandma's restaurant to pay for my insurance and gas.

My car was like this, Porsche Red after the paint job, oh yeah! I had the black bra, black louvre, fuzzy dice on the rear view mirror and a carpet dash (to cover the big rip in it) with my name embroidered. Sweet!

None of those jobs were fun, by the way. But I wanted a car, so I had to work for the money. All of my friends who had cars given to them wrecked them shortly thereafter, and then got them replaced with new cars again.

Kyndal is just not "getting it" and it is frustrating, for both her and me.

I hate to see her upset and disappointed. There have been lots of teardrops resting on big, beautiful eyelashes this week. But, I would hate for her to learn a bad lesson even more. So, I am willing to be the bad guy to help keep her from doing that.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rick Rocks ~ Cause He Rides the Roller Coasters With Me

... and I'm not talking about the thrill ride ones. I'm talking about the roller coaster of life.

When we are plummeting down that steep incline and the g-force is lifting us out of our seats, completely out of control ...

When we are flipping upside down in the unexpected set of spiraling turns ...

When we come out of that and are thrust into the dark hole when we aren't sure when we'll see the light again ...

When the coaster is jostling us around so hard and fast that we are banging our heads against the restraints holding us in ...

And when we come to a screeching halt, not sure where we have just been ...

... I look over and there he is, just as winded and beaten and exhausted and scared and thrilled as I am. And, he smiles and says, "Do you want to do it again?"

This life is a constant roller coaster of twists, turns, plummets and the occasional slow inclines (when you can take a breath). It happens in marriage, jobs, parenting, friendships, hobbies, extended family and the like.

I wouldn't want to ride a roller coaster by myself. I'd be too scared.

I'm so glad Rick rides them with me. He makes me feel safe and that we will make it out alive, and maybe even smiling, exhilarated and excited for the next ride.

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Gil: Oh?
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
{Scene from Parenthood, the movie}

Rick Rocks ~ Because he's my roller coaster riding partner on this Roller Coaster of Life.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Because of the serious education budget issues in the state of Oklahoma, there was an extreme risk that many of the teachers at our elementary would lose their jobs to more seniored teachers in the district. That risk included the two kindergarten teachers. Although Eli is going to 1st Grade, Brynne will be starting kindergarten. I was very worried for our teachers because they are so excellent and love being kindergarten teachers! My fear was that they would take these two teachers who love kindergarteners and replace them with other teachers who didn't have a passion for teaching small children.

This was especially troublesome for me because Eli was a special needs student who desperately needed a teacher who loved the struggles of kindergarten students. Would a teacher who loved teaching 5th graders care as much?

Brynne doesn't have any learning issues, but other students might. I can empathize with how fearful it would be to be the parent of a special needs child learning under those circumstances.

Our fears have been eliminated! I ran into Eli's kindergarten teacher the day before yesterday and they had just learned that none of the teachers will lose their jobs. Praise God! I loved volunteering for those teachers last year and I look forward to working for them again this year!!!

The other job news hits much closer to home.

We have been very worried that Rick's job was in jeopardy. Although the rumor was that there were going to be layoffs in his department but that his job was safe, we were still worried that higher ups knew more than they were saying and that the entire department was really in jeopardy.

We have been so back and forth about what we should do. Should we stay, should we look for other opportunities, should we try to stay in this area, should we move across the country, should we put our house on the market, what?

It's been a difficult time. We haven't wanted to do anything stupid ... move away or sit still.

We learned today that the higher ups have actually been short-timers, and have known it for quite some time, so they have not made any attempts to invest in Rick's department. Apparently these guys are leaving in the next couple of weeks, and someone else is stepping in to lead them. It's been said that no one in Rick's department will be layed off. Instead, we've been told that steps will be taken to build it to its potential.

Do we believe all of that? At this point I guess we have to. The hard part about working for a large company is that, as I'm sure you are aware, a rug can be pulled out from under you without a second's notice. We are just praying that what we've been told is all true and that the new leader of Rick's department will invest his time and efforts into it and help them grow it into what Rick hoped it would be when he started there four years ago. Things have not been good and he has been so discouraged and frustrated, and my prayer is that he gets the opportunity to be fulfilled in his job. Career satisfaction is extremely important to him.

In the meantime, status quo is being maintained.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What a Fun Day ... NOT!!!

Yesterday I spent the majority of the day in our playroom doing one of my least favorite jobs ever ... (re) organizing the toy tubs for the gazillionth time.

I knew I was needing to get this done soon because the back half of the playroom is where Dawson's schoolroom will be this year. The problem? ... this!

Brynne's "house" was right where our desks needed to be. And the toy tubs were overflowing with junk!

On Monday I bought several Sterlite tubs with lids. I've found this to be a great way to store "like" toys. I then store them in the storage room off the playroom and when the kids want to play with certain toys, I can just pull out the appropriate tub. Organized play .. I love it!

It was right about ** here ** that I started to meltdown!

I didn't even know where to start! I told Brynne that I thought it would be wise for her and Eli to stay downstairs away from me because I was very frustrated that I was having to sort through these buckets, which were the complete result of them just throwing toys in them with no thought all these times I've asked them to clean up the playroom.

I had many buckets where the insides looked like this ... Look at that mish-mash of toys!!!

It's no wonder they can't even find that one particular toy they are looking for!!

At the end of several hours I had this pile of tubs (still waiting for distribution of toys from Eli and Brynne's rooms before they get stored away. Toys always tend to make their way in mass exodus from the playroom to their rooms downstairs. That cleaning and distribution will occur tomorrow. We have titled tubs of "animals", "castle", "cars", "girl toys", "Fisher Price", "Batman, Superman, Spiderman", etc.)

After the tubs were stacked, the back end of the playroom was ready for the schoolroom construction to begin.

Here is Phase I ... the desks.

We will add shelves, bulletin and white boards, books, supplies and a world map, hopefully some color ... and eventually a teacher and student.

For now, though, the teacher needs a break!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nicole's Daybook

Outside my window... It is so stinkin' hot! In Oklahoma in July, the only way to stay cool is to stay inside! Even swimming fails to provide relief from the heat.

I am thinking... about how until we get a clear answer from God about any changes we should make in our lives, that we live full out and seek the joy in each day.

I am thankful ... for the encouragement I received from my mom in an e-mail this morning. I don't think we are ever too old to stop desiring encouragement from our mamas, and I doubt I provide enough to my kids.

I am wearing... black shorts, a red tank top and my running shoes.

I am planning... a day of playroom organization.
** Yuck ** !!!
Gotta do it, though, because it's time to get Dawson's school room set up in the back half of the playroom.

I am creating... my new bedroom bench. Stay tuned.

I am going... to have to start buying school supplies now. I made my list of what all four kids need to start school and it takes up the entire front side of a piece of paper. It's insane!

I am reading... Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. Gotta get it done this week because I have another book waiting for me at the library and I can't wait to read it!

I am hoping... that we are successful in adjusting our attitudes to enjoy what God has given us, even when we think we want something different.

On my mind... is how Crusoe and I about got attacked by another set of dogs this morning on our run. This is the second time in a week. I wish that people would pay attention to their dogs instead of just sticking them in a fenced in back yard and assuming they are fine.

From the learning rooms... we are just trying to take opportunities that present themselves naturally and learn from them. Life lessons are the hardest to learn sometimes.

Noticing that ... instead of frogs we now have an overabundance of butterflies. They are everywhere right now, so many sizes and colors!

From the kitchen... I have a whole chicken waiting to be cooked in the crockpot today to be used in a couple of meals this week.

Around the house... organization projects are screaming to me!

One of my favorite things... is catching Rick doing something with one of the kids and seeing the pure joy on their faces. Like last night, I looked out in the backyard and Rick was pushing Brynne on her new swingset he built for her this week. She was beaming and giggling and looking at him with such love. It was a beautiful sight!

A few plans for the rest of the week... Today we were planning to go into a large library in Tulsa to view a special exhibit. But because of Kyndal's numerous doctor's appointments in Tulsa this week, we are putting that off for a couple of weeks. So instead I am going to work in the playroom all day getting the toys organized and put back in their proper tubs. Tomorrow Kyndal has a CT scan of her neck. On Thursday she has an orthodontist appointment (her last one before she gets her braces off!!!), and then she is going to eat dinner with one of her best friends who is turning 16. On Friday she has an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon to discuss all of her test results and determine our course of action for treatment. Dawson has plans to hang out with one of his friends this week, and the little kids will just be tagging along and trying to stay cool. Eli has been playing a new Playstation 2 game that has him designing mini golf courses and stuff. He beat the whole Mario Brothers Galazy 2 Wii game in about 3 week. Amazing! This weekend we will probably just do yard work, housework, grocery shop, etc.

From my picture journal.

One of the many butterflies in our yard this week.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ Open faced turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy

Tuesday ~ Croissant chicken

Wednesday ~ FFY

Thursday ~ Chicken and noodles

Friday ~ Soup and crackers with cheese

Saturday ~ Paninis, homemade pasta salad (didn't do this last week because we had leftovers we needed to eat one night!)

Sunday ~ Chicken quesadillas (still haven't had this because last week we were invited to some friends' for dinner at the last minute.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Saturday Projects

Since the first of June I have had two minor projects staring me in the face: One was Rick's Oklahoma State University shadow box and the other was Brynne's balloon flip flops.

Yesterday the heat index here was 110 degrees, and I was not feeling very well, so the kids and I stayed in our pjs all day. I decided I might as well get those projects done!

So, that's what I did.

Here's Rick's shadow box ...

And here are Brynne's flip flops ...

We are home today under the same conditions, so I just might tackle my bedroom bench redo. I've got housework I need to get done first, though, so we'll see if I get to it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"A Great Day" ~ Final Observations

It's time to call my little experiment "complete"!

I am sure the things I realized are things I already knew, and things Rick has observed in me in the past. But, I am someone who doesn't like to be told what to do, and I tend to have to learn lessons the hard way. This was no exception.

Here are my observations:

1. If I have a list, I count it as failure if I don't complete it.

2. I am way to hard on myself to achieve perfection and I let that affect my mood.

3. If I do not get up and run in the mornings, and especially if I sleep in, my entire day is thrown off and I have no motivation.

4. If I do get up and run, and do my morning schedule, I am energized the rest of the day and tend to get a lot done!

5. In an attempt to complete my list I put relationships on the back burner, and even make family members frustrated with me! (i.e. in my attempt to get the dusting done on Wednesday, I was snapping at Kyndal and all she wanted to do was sit with me and watch a new show she has started watching. She got mad, I got mad. She came in for a second attempt to get me to watch it. I did. It's what I should have done to start with. The dusting can wait.)

6. I have realized which things on my list are really important to me and which things don't need to be ...

a. The important things: Getting up to run in the mornings, reading my Bible before I start blogging, getting my blogging time in before everybody gets up in the morning, taking the opportunities to do something for myself each day if the opportunity arises, trying to eat as healthy as possible during the day, getting my nightly stuff done early and trying to get the kids to bed by 9:00 so I can spend some time with Rick in the evenings.

b. The non-important things: Getting my housework done, making myself fill every day with "something meaningful" with the kids when just hanging out at home and spending time together is just as meaningful to them sometimes, following my list to the extreme and feeling like a failure if I don't get it done, being crazy about the dinner time meal when sometimes it's okay to just have a bowl of cereal or a grilled cheese because we've been busy all day.

7. Observations of my family: Rick thinks from reading my list that I have "conquered" my life here in Owasso and I am bored. (I think he might be right.) Kyndal thinks I am a grouch. I think Dawson has enjoyed the attention that the kids have been getting during the day. And Eli and Brynne really don't care as long as I'm around and they are getting fed.

8. My decisions regarding this: Get up and get my day moving because it sets the mood for the rest of my day, slow down and just spend time with the kids during the day (and don't worry about completing my list to the point that I forget they are there), try to provide the best for my family without being too hard on myself, DO get my nightly routine stuff done early (because I fizzle out in the evenings), sit down and spend time with my family, get everybody to bed as early as possible and end the day with my husband.

Really, what makes me the happiest is taking care of myself, taking time for myself and slowing down to enjoy the relationships with my family.

I am now done following my list. I know what I need to do.

What have you learned in doing your list?