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Monday, June 25, 2012

The Iron Anniversary

We've shared one baby.


We've lived in two counties.




We've called three houses "home."



We've had four careers.


We've gone through five cars.



All this in six years. 





(Herb would like to add, "zero kidney transplants!" Yay!)

On Sunday, Herb and I celebrated our sixth anniversary.  Tradition says it's the Iron Anniversary.  To celebrate, we went to a Hibachi Grill.

(Japanese food ... Iron Chef... iron anniversary?)

We had no plans the rest of the evening, so we headed over to Millersville to capture some pictures at the place where we met, and let's face it, fell in love. 


Recently, Lyte Auditorium (the building where we literally spent our lives for four years) was renovated.  I was concerned that the iconic steps would be torn down, but nope, still there!  


I remember sitting on those steps one afternoon and feeling so alone, praying that God would bring someone special into my life.  That's what makes these pictures even more special to me.


While we took pictures, Levi practiced jumping.  It was pretty cute.



Happy anniversary to the man of my dreams.  
You are my hope fulfilled.



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oreo-ls

In true Michelle fashion, after I blogged about the marriage conference we went to, and promised a part two, I never delivered.  So here it is: One of the main things we took away was realizing how much more of an effort we both need to put into being friends, not just business partners in our marriage.  In this season of life when we're both pulled in so many directions, we really are trying to make an effort to make better time for each other.

For example, when Herb gets home from work and I have to run out the door five minutes later to go to work myself, instead of just asking "How was your day," he now asks, "How are you?"  This gives me a chance to tell him the happy or stressful things I'm thinking about, and gets us right to the point in the few minutes we have together.


My concession was to follow baseball this year.  I know, a weird compromise, right?  But I decided if I can be interested in something that Herb loves, it's an activity we can share together (and as a family).  It's been pretty fun catching up on scores with my MLB app, and trash talking my brother when the Orioles beat the Phillies last week.  

And let's face it, the two best things about sports are trash talking and coordinating a cute family outfit, right?

So anyway, last week for my birthday/ our anniversary/ Father's Day, Herb's mom and step dad treated us to a baseball game.  It wasn't Levi's first Orioles game (pronounced Oreo-ls by the little guy), but it may be my most memorable. 


The weather was perfect.  Sunny with a high of 75 (or so).  The Orioles were playing the only other team that is just as bad, The Pirates.  Herb's mom and step dad are Pirates fans, so it was a great game to go to together!  And even better, the Orioles actually won (weird, right?).

As we found our seats I realized Levi was really warm, as in feverish.  He slept most of the game but woke up during the 7th inning and puked in my hand.  


On the way home, Herb's mom's car broke down.  We know LOTS of people in York that could have came to get us; we were only about 45 minutes away, but it was midnight.  We found a hotel lobby to crash in and my insomniac mother came to the rescue and picked us up in Timonium at 2:30am.


And yes, feverish Levi was awake all this time, too.


All drama and sickness aside,  we had a wonderful time at the game and got some really precious pictures!!  But next time we're taking our new car - we have free towing and rental car service. ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Twenty Two

Roses are red,  violets are blue,

HOW CAN MY LITTLE BOY BE 22?!

Months, that is.

I know, a weird numbered month for an update, but whatever.  It's my party and I'll blog if I want to.

From May 5 to June 5, Levi grew 3 inches.  That makes him almost three feet tall - it's weird to see him being held and be half the size of the adults in his life.  Because of the Stretch Armstrong business going on, he's still able to wear some of his 18 mo shorts from last summer (craziness), but needs a 2T shirt.  I love 2T shorts with an adjustable waist band!


Vocally, he's so clever!  Not speaking in sentences (except "I Love You,"), but echoing short phrases and pretty much every word we say.  His favorite word right now is "Bee-a-shruck," which sounds a little like "beer truck," but what's he's really saying is "Firetruck."  He also babbles a lot about helicopters, airplanes, cars, baseball, hockey, b-pa (grandpa), Elmo, hats, and shoes.  Oh and now he LOOOOOVE wearing hats.  Loves them.

Although he has climbed out of his crib once, he's still sleeping like  CHAMP.  We're talking 12-13 hours at night and 2-4 hours in the afternoon.  In fact, today he slept till 11am, and then slept another 3 hours in the afternoon.  It's all that growing, I guess.

His sense of humor is coming out, too.  He likes to put weird things on his arms/hands (like a cup or a headband) and comes over, waving the arm at you, saying, "Hi!" He loves being tickled, startled, and read to.  In fact, the other day, I caught him reading the book "Tickle Monster" to himself, saying, "knee!  knee!" and then tickling his own knee.



Levi is definitely developing an interest in all things musical.  When he's upset in the car, if we turn on the radio he usually calms down.  Occasionally during silence he'll shout, "SING!" and then proceed to sing his version of Ben Folds Five or "na na na," which is kind of Elmo's song, or wait for Herb or I to do that for him.

He knows pretty much everyone's name in his little world.  Even names of people I wouldn't expect him to remember yet he is nailing.  I am also finding it weird the stuff he remembers, like where toys and such are at other people's houses.

He associates any mobile device or remote as a phone and often picks up the "phone," and says, "Me-ma?"  I must be talking to my mom a lot... :)

Eating has been a bit more of a challenge, but the definite loves are yogurt, applesauce, asparagus (what?), hot dogs, and fishies.



(Watch video of Levi eating asparagus here.)

My heart melts every time this little guy grabs my face and plants a kiss.  Or the moment before bed when he's all tucked in, takes out his pacifier and whispers, "I looobe ooo," and smiles.  Or the times when he brings me little flowers picked by his tiny hands.



Happy 22 month birthday, Levi!

(I guess it's time to start planning a party, huh?  Want to see what I'm thinking?  Check out my pins here.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Daddy

One day last week, I walked in the house a few hours earlier than expected after work.  I came in the door, music was blaring from the computer - Herb's new favorite band, The Rizers (they put Bible verses to music).  Toys strewn around, Herb on the floor on his hands and knees, Levi climbing on his back, giggles filling the air.


I spied on the boys for a bit before I made my presence known.  Seeing the two of them playing so hard together made my heart swell.


Little boys need their daddies.


Herb plays with Levi so incredibly.  He's got this constant energy and patience with his son.  He is the perfect balance of gentle in love and firm in discipline.


I have been so blessed to have a great father myself and a great father for my son.  My dad and Herb are living examples that show me glimpses of the love my heavenly Father has for me.


Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Turning Point

This morning I had breakfast with some girlfriends. The following conversation happened.

"Michelle, your bangs look great!"

"Aw, thanks. I think they look a little like a mullet- I cut too much around my face."

"Nah, they're good. They make you look younger!"

"Sweet, thanks."


Shoot. Not so long ago, I would have been flattered if someone told my haircut made me look older. Is 28 the magic turning point when women try to stop aging?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Levi Love

Lately Levi has been expressing his love with words, hugs, kisses, and juice sharing (even if it's just a picture and not a real person).



If the video is not showing up, watch it HERE.)

 Technically speaking, "I yube oooo." is Levi's first sentence, how sweet is that? He's also saying it without being prompted, which is pretty freaking endearing.

Also, if you back away from a kiss. He grabs your face to plant a sloppy one. Watch out, ladies!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I Love the Number 12: June

This is the biggest twelve of the year - the one that started all the twelve loving.  Drumroll, please...

Today is my birthday!!!

{And my adorable niece's half birthday, but we'll save that for December.}

I've been showered with birthday wishes (somewhere around 130 Facebook messages, not to mention a few of texts, calls, and cards), spent the morning with my best friend and the afternoon relaxing.  Having a summer birthday means that in the last 28 years, I don't think I have ever had to work or go to school on my birthday.  I worked tonight, but my wonderful co-workers sent me home early, bought me flowers, and shared some birthday cookie cake that Herb and Levi surprised me with.  Working on your birthday is kind of fun!!  Thanks for all the love today, everyone.  It was awesome.

So, today, for my number 12 installment, I want to reflect on the last year a little bit.  Being 27, despite starting to feel "old," was pretty great.

In the last year I think I really figured out me.  I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but I just realized, for the first time in my life, I am really secure in knowing my strengths and weaknesses.  I am embracing my quirks and striving to change my bad habits.  I feel more secure with my body, my style, and truly feel beautiful, even though I have not lost any weight (not gained though, either).  I think I'm starting to see the bigger picture.  I spent so many years being ashamed and self conscious, and I don't feel like than anymore.  I know I am loved, and it's an awesome feeling.

Being a grown up is pretty cool.  I hope this trend continues as my twenties draw to an end.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Good Fondant - Wait, what?

This past weekend I made a wedding cake for my mom's BFF, Lori.  Let's just get this out of the way first - I really ought to stick with doing music, not cakes, at weddings.


Anyway, Lori knew what she was getting into with me (cheap labor, good bargaining, and a half decent cake), so I went for it.  After experimenting with fondant frosting last year for my sister in law's wedding, I knew if I was going to use this disgusting excuse for frosting would need an upgrade.  Previously, I used a box mix from the craft store.

This time, I decided to try my hand at making my own fondant, hoping it would be an improvement from the box mix.  I found a recipe on Wilton's website, but adapted it just a hair.


It was SOOO delicious, that my mom/partner in crime and I decided to cover the entire cake in fondant, rather that just using it for the pink flower.  Of course, there was still a pretty decent layer of my favorite delicious butter cream recipe under the fondant.

Unfortunately, I knew nothing about how to store and transport a cake decorated with the marshmallow goodness, so one 20 minute car ride later, and half of the fondant was sagging or cracked.  I'm over it now, but I was having a pretty hot melt down at the reception site during set up (sorry, Herb).

In case you're wondering about the cake design - the dark pink flowers are similar to what was on the wedding invitations, the light pink swirls echo the wedding gown, and the crown on the top is symbolic of their last name.  Can you spot the K monogram I hid in the swirly layer?


Anyway, here's the recipe.  It is simply amazing. I have some left over and, I'm not going to lie, I've been making little pearls and eating it plain.  So delish!


Marshmallow Fondant

16 oz mini marshmallows
2-5 tablespoons water
2 lbs 10 x sugar
1/2 cup shortening

1. Put the marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl and add 2 tbsp water.  Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, microwave, stir, microwave, stir.

2. Dump a bunch of sugar in your kitchen aid mixer bowl.  Dump in the melted marshmallows.  Grab your dough hook and dip it in the shortening (about 2 tbsp).  Turn the mixer on low and knead for about a minute.

3.  Slowly add more shortening and more sugar until you have used all the ingredients.  Keep the dough hook kneading that mushy goodness.  

**If you don't have a fancy mixer, you can do all of this by hand.  Please refer to the Wilton Rolled Fondant instructions.

4. If the fondant tears easily, add more water (it's dry, just a teaspoon, though).  The fondant should be smooth and elastic, however mine was not, and it still worked out.

5.  Double wrap the fondant in saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.  I couldn't pick my fondant up to wrap, so I poured mine onto a large piece of saran and then wrapped it.

6.  To use, sprinkle a ton of 10x sugar on the counter top, cover your hands and rolling pin with sugar, too.  Just like with dough, the more powder that is on your work area, the easier the dough is to use.

I made a couple of batches to do this three layer wedding cake. 
This recipe makes 2 lbs of fondant.


Return of the Bangs

You know when you decide you want to try a new haircut, you just can't stand to wait even a day or two?  Or is that just me?

Well, it happened today.  I saw a picture on pinterest of some really awesome bangs.  I texted Lauren to say I wanted to get them cut.  She said, "Do it!"

This is a big deal - I haven't had bangs since 1996 and at that point I swore them off forever because of my super tiny forehead.

I got bored tonight, and I couldn't get the bangs out of my head.  Lucky for me, there are a few bang tutorials (don't google "bang tutorial" haha, try "how to cut bangs" instead"), like this one.  Enough talking, let's get to the pictures.

Before


During


Halfway - Maybe I should have stopped here?



Finished Up


Finished Down


Pinspiration Photo



Compare!  How did I do?


So, they need some time to be trained and styled.  We'll see how this goes.  Worst case scenario?  I pin them up all summer and wait for them to grow out again.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Beautiful Things

I am always so behind on awesome music.  Oh well.  That's just me.

Recently, we went to a wedding in South Carolina.  My "little" cousin, Sheila, wed the man of her dreams in one of the most GORGEOUS weddings I have ever seen, and y'all, I've been to a ton of amazing wedding.  Everything Sheila decorated with was vintage, hand made, and detailed.  I loved it so much.


No but really, you absolutely must see Sheila and Andrew's wedding pictures.


Anyway, I was going somewhere with this.

Sheila and her bridesmaids walked down the aisle to the song, "Beautiful Things," by Gungor. It was one of those songs I had heard befoer but never really paid attention to.  Oh my, it has caught my attention now.  Again, why am I always late to the new awesome music party?

Another use for this song that hit pretty close to home, was an adoption video with "Beautiful Things" in the background.  Waterworks for sure!!

I love the hope.  I love the hope fulfilled.  I love that God is constantly working in our lives.  I love that a garden can come up from this ground.

Beautiful Things - Gungor
All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new







Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Message Received

My friend Kati is a texter.  And not just any texter - she has a list of at least 50 people that she texts scripture to every morning around 5 am.  It started as a way to encourage a smallish group of people who had just experienced great tragedy, and as time passed and people heard about her text messages, more and more people got added to the list.  From what I understand, there is even a producer at a major cable network on the list.

So anyway, I started getting the texts, too.  Knowing she is sending to so many people, there is no possible way she knows what she is typing is going to apply directly to me.  But I guess when you're trusting God, and speaking truth from the Bible, it's going to hit home more often then not.

Last night, Herb and I had a discouraging conversation that piggy backed my feelings of discontent.  For me, the bottom line is we are both working our butts off, and have little to show for it.  Something has got to give.  And then this morning, this message was waiting on my phone and fifty others,

"You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.  Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant your strength to your servant...give me a sign of your goodness..."  from Psalm 86

Tears stung my eyes as I read about mercy and strength.  I cracked open my Bible, which has sat dusty on my shelf for more days than I'd like to admit, and read the rest of the Psalm.

"Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy..."  Yup, needy indeed.

"Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long..." Am I really?  Maybe that's where I should have started instead of whining to my husband about all the things that are "wrong" with our life right now.

"Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth..."  And reading my Bible more consistently would be a good start.

Okay, where am I going with this?  I'm not sure yet, but I know where to start.  If you're "poor and needy," financially, emotionally, mentally, spirituality, like me, maybe you want to read Psalm 86, too.

Thanks Kati, for letting God use you and your phone to send me a message.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Favorite Baby Things - Guest Post

Today I'm over at The Baloney Bug doing my first guest post!  Joan is doing a "favorite things" series right now, so I am sharing my very favorite baby must haves.  Joan's not a momma yet, but I am excited for one day when she is - that will be one crazy awesome nursery.

You may remember Joan from our Christmas card pictures or this post.  She was also the creative genius who recovered Levi's glider. 


While you're over at her blog, hang around and get to know Joan a little bit.  She's got an adorable small apartment in NYC with BIG style.  


She makes cake pops that taste even better than the look.  


She's got incredible fashion sense, and she's married to one of my best friends from High School!

Some of the old gang from high school:
Me, Jeremy, Joan & Jon, Liz
Ok, see you over at thebaloneybug.com!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Content in the Circumstances


This morning I listed for Herb all the reasons I hate our apartment.  There's never been an itch to move as great as the one I have.  


I'm tired of being cramped, not having a place to go with stuff 
(and yes, I am paring down all the time).

I hate not being able to entertain.  

I hate that I drop stuff in the kitchen all the time because there is no counter space.

We are trapped into not being able to expand our family while we live here due to space and lease specifications.

Basically, I'm embarrassed we live here.  


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I'm having a little selfish pride issue.


Then in church, the elementary school kids shared verses from Philippians that they had memorized, and why those verses were special to them.


"... I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Phillippians 4:12-13


No, my heart wasn't instantly changed to loving this little house, but it sure was tugged in a way that made me squirm.  


Oh Jesus, help me to be content.  I know we have more than we need already.


And really, I need to stop going to open houses for places that are out of our price range, even if it's only $50,000.