Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reconstructive Surgery, Finishing Touches, and A Day at the Lanes

You remember him, right? I can only name you a surrogate Auntie or Uncle of Owen if you know the bear's name. Otherwise, you're just a poser.

This sale-bin bear was not our original plan for Owen's cuddly item. Oh no. Our Pasadena neighbor Alison gave Owen a darling little lamb that he loved for the first 6 months of his life. So much so that I thought ahead to order several more...since a white lovie is a dirty lovie...and as a first time mom, I didn't want him to have to wait while he was in the washer. Well, Owen's love for Louis the Lamb (and Louis the II, III, and IV) was tested while the grandmothers were in town visiting. They took Owen for a walk and forgot the lamb. Walking down Lake Avenue, south of Colorado, their docile grandson turned more vocal, shall we say. Finding themselves without a comfort item, quick thinking Sushi bought a Halloween bear (discounted dramatically since it was November). You know how she loves a sale. And since most of you have never seen a lamb at our house, you can guess how quickly Owen embraced his new love...and dropped Louis like a bad habit. 3.5 years later, this orange bear with pumpkins on his paws looks like this:

Floppy neck, 3 torn paws, and one that finally busted to release its bag of silicone beads. Thank you to the manufacturers for sewing them up in a little nylon bag in anticipation of this day. Since she was the one who started this mess, Sushi came to the rescue while we were in Texas to restore Spooky Bear to his previous glory. Restuffed and repawed, we felt like the old man in Toy Story 2 (except we didn't tell Owen "for display only!" when we returned it to him). Results:

Yep, she even monogrammed his name. Owen loves how his bear "grew" because he's made reference several times to the fact that Spooky is not growing at the rate Owen is and that he will not relinquish the bear to the baby. He has volunteered to find another bear for the baby when "she" (says Owen) arrives.

So, here's to Spooky Bear...may you survive to stowaway in Owen's suitcase to college!

Moving's a travel pillow/nap pillow I made for one of Owen's classmates for his birthday. O-man picked out the fabric.
Also, we finally got bedding for his bed. Grandmom got the denim comforter, Mom made the pillow, and eBay helped someone recycle the bedskirt and window valance. And, yes, I know they're vertical blinds; another issue for another day.

These posts are mostly for family who needed updating, so for you...I made pillows to match the back of the t-shirt quilt Mom made for Christmas. Here they are on our bed.

And for the grandparents and surrogate aunties and the boys are bowling. Owen has put this on his calendar (literally a post it placed there Tuesday for Saturday) all week. He and Michael bowled one game. We weren't sure how the "experts" feel about me bowling, so I sat out...but, honestly, that was more to save my money for snacks instead of shoe's pricey :)

He was very serious. You know, those "expressive eyebrows" as Rhea Sid. calls them.
Ha! Can you believe this guy? Distract him with the thought of a 3 year old running up behind him and he bowls a 102!!!! With bumpers!!! HA!
These sweatpants are a tribute to Owen's Uncle Rodney. Giggle if you know what my mom calls them.

Two posts in one month? May two Mondays off in February bring you more pictures, more interesting posts than mine, and less use of ellipsis. I'm too tired to think of transitional phrases between thoughts so...

I wanted to title this post "Now I know Why Some Animals Eat Their Young", but lucky for us all, posting about some sweeter Owen milestones has made me forget (almost) what a horrible evening we had.

Oh, and for those keeping track at home...I'm 22 weeks along...ultrasound tech wanted to change the due date to May 31st, but let's stick with the original June 9th. Makes me feel like I'm honoring more of my teaching contract to the 12th that way. Baby's movin' and groovin'. Owen's response to the kicking was "Mom, she's playing hi-ya in your tummy. She's going to box your belly open and it will crack like an egg!" I'll leave you with that mental image. He had sound effects too, but that just might be too much.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

First Time for Everything...

With the big 3-0 looming (March 7th, mark your calendars), I guess I needed to know that you can teach an old dog new tricks. So, after much time helping my mom complete some sewing projects of her own (see later photos), I returned to Fresno with her old machine to begin some of my own.

Below is my first solo project since that sewing class I audited in college (yes, I'm a nerd who audited a sewing class). I saw a bag like this on the Internet but no pattern. So, I modified a crayon bag from these instructions to make a half crayon bag/half hot wheels bag for Owen.

One side holds 10 crayons and the other holds 4 Hot Wheels (or Thomas Trains for those of you whose child has that obsession...and God bless you on that one). It's lined in black and is a great size for coloring books and such. The next one I will make an inch or two wider and taller and, maybe, box the bottom corners.

Owen picked out the fabric, and I worked on it yesterday morning while the boys were playing Wii boxing at a friend's house. I had it ready after nap time, and he's been wearing his man purse ("murse") ever since. So, I've found a new way to have some quiet time without the boys. Now, when can I send them away again? ;)

Here are some of the pillowcases my mom and I made together over the holidays...she's already made more for several of her friends who are ill or super stressed, but these are mostly kid- themed and for Owen to take to Casen's birthday party, for his daycare napmat, and for his new bed (the cowboy one). Pattern

While I'm on the world's longest post, here are some photos of the t-shirt quilt Mom and a friend made for me for Christmas. She made my brother one too, but I don't have his photos. It has t-shirts from junior high quiz bowl, high school sports, mission trips, summer camp, and college stuff. So, most of you readers were there for a least one event on this quilt. I will think of you often. She did the back in a toile that matches my bedspread, so I can have it at the end of the bed. All the fabric that connects the t-shirts has prints of places around the world...most of them places I've been.

Such a thoughtful gift, right? I love it and know it will be something I have for life. If you know my mom, I hope you will agree with me that one of her love languages is "gift-giving". How many of you still have a travel pillow from a trip to Mexico or have ever had her make you a meal at our home? For a lady who doesn't have a lot of time, she amazes me what she gives to others.

Gleaning from Proverbs 31:

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.<-----or selects great fabric on sale at JoAnn's

She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.<-----did you see the food she made for Christmas?

She gets up while it is still dark; <----her work hours are crazy

she provides food for her family

and portions for her servant girls.<----and she treats her staff there like family

She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.<----no vineyard, but they did make a porch

She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

She sees that her trading is profitable,<----eBay, anyone?

and her lamp does not go out at night.

In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.<----ask her about her new sewing machine

She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.<----"don't want you looking like a raggamuffin, Nat"

She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.<---Shout out to Dad too!

She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.<----IDK, but I know all merchants smile when they see her coming. :)

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.<----funny lady, no?

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.<----any teacher she mentors is a lucky educator

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.<----"do something for the good of the cause, Nat"

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."

Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.<----or on the Internet

Thanks Mom...can you tell I miss you?

Okay, now that my emotional-preggo self is done for the day (I cried reading the obits this morning too), I bid you "Good day!"

Monday, January 5, 2009

McNeese Meals: The Diet Starts Tomorrow

The annual McNeese family Christmas became a New Year's Day event this year. Mom took great pains to plan the following menu:

Anno Nuovo Felice with the McNeese Famiglia
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Visiting begins early afternoon
Eating begins @4:00


Fried Artichoke Hearts
Fresh Tomato Brushetta
Antipasto Platter
Orange, Arugula & Kalmata Olive Salad
Rustic Italian Bread

Portata Principale
Cheese-filled Shells

Dried Cranberry & White Chocolate Biscotti
Pannetone Bread Pudding with Orange Sauce
Assorted sweets

Cafe, Pellegrino, Lemonada, & Tea

Mouthwatering, no? The fun part was that every family member brought a different item (recipe provided from Mom earlier in the month) and the main course was made by a favorite local Italian restaurant. We had a great time, and the only leftovers were because once Grandmom gets on a roll baking sweets, she can't stop. So, when the menu says "assorted sweets" that includes homemade chocolate covered cherries, blackberry jam cookies, pecan pie, apricot cheesecake, chocolate covered pecans, and more. Gracious!

Photo Gallery:

Mom, Michael (hubby), and Cary (cuz-in-law) on the back porch

Christmas tree pre-exchange

Stephanie and Lee (sis-in-law and bro)
Cary and Cara (Happy Anniversary to my cousin and her groom!)

Haley (cousin) jammin' on GH3
Jaron and Owen (second cousins to one another)
Jaron in the mini-bounce house Mom borrowed from a friend
Jordan (Jaron's bro) chill-axin' on the bounce house

Grandad and Kimberly (cousin)

Hannah (cousin) and her momma Holly (aunt)

Owen has always gravitated towards Jaron is no exception.

Grandmom and me
More McNeese girls!
Two of my favorite men: Michael and Dad

After food, fellowship, and the gift exchange, we were all fat and happy! But the question remains, where was Uncle Art? Jim was in New York, but how did I not get one picture of Art? And for those concerned, Denny the Attack Schnauzer was visiting his dogfriend Belle and was not in attendance.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Just when I thought I'd had enough of football...

...I read this story.

Faith in action...

"A Shower of Blessings Every Day"

In college, Michael and I had a friend who described her then-boyfriend (now her spouse) as a "shower of blessings every day". At the time, we gagged a little and then, after regaining composure, hoped that was true. That phrase comes up a lot at our house, all too often with heavy sarcasm, but today, I can say that this trip has truly been "a shower of blessings every day".

As I wrap up week 2 of our 3 week tour de Tejas, I am once again reminded of God's faithfulness to Michael, Owen, and me. Since birth, He has provided us with loving and supportive families, and as they grow with spouses and children, each addition has brought us more joy. So, thank you to my family and in-laws for the time and love you continue to invest in us.

M. Arnold Family - I loved that Michael saw more movies in the theater with his mom in the past week than he has with me since June. Ebert and Roper, those two!

B. Arnold Family - seeing my niece and Owen made me know a little girl would be so fun!

R. Smith Family - seeing my nephew and Owen playing in the backyard made me know another boy would have its benefits too

McKinley Families - loved seeing the little cousins growing up and meeting Chase and Bryan for the first time!

(Glynda is the photographer in the family, but we need to get her a digital camera. Once I get copies of the photos she took at the fantastic Arnold Family Christmas, I will scan and upload them for the family)

G. McNeese Family - thanks for helping me make my weight gain goal for the month! Food, glorious food!

A. McNeese Family - still waiting to play Catchphrase with Haley!

D. McNeese Family - thank you for staying over a night!

L. McNeese Family - still loving Nini's new boots!

C. Pierce Family - thanks for the bounce house time Jordan!

J. Moye Family - we missed you Jim!

Moreover, I am so thankful for God's continual hand on our friendships. He continues to nourish older friendships, those people in our lives who have grown up with us and still love us, and He has provided us with additional relationships that have grown out of times of need in our adult lives.

S. Kilmer Family - I realized this trip how much I count Scott as my friend too, not just Wendy! (and not only because he guards his son from hot miso soup)

C. Kiser Family - If Owen could type, he'd write pages about his time at Great Wolf Lodge with you guys. To next year!

C. Spencer Family - Thanks Rachel for letting our kiddos play together and for sharing your time with us. I look forward to more time in TX (or in blogland) to catch up!

D. Bohannon Family - thanks Dianne for expanding Dave's culinary experiences! Such a fun couple!

A. Howard - I liked knowing I'm not the only one who nods off before the ball drops on New Year's. (How many days until March 14th? Yep, Abby and Kris are gettin' hitched!)

K. Haydel - Thank you for laughing with Michael about all things, great and small. He needed to do it, and I needed to hear it!

C. Bell - Faithful friend, thank you for your time!

After all of this, why do I worry about our times in a new town? Has He not always answered our call and desire for relationships with other believers, in whatever stage we have been? Why then, do I worry now?
One week left in ol' Fort Worth...still left on the agenda:
Dinner with the Grysen Girls (regardless of their legal married names, they are still the Grysens)
Visiting teacher friends at Northwest High School
Day out with Mom and Owen
Play date with Julie and Ryan
Oh, and yes, lesson planning because (boo-hoo-hoo) school starts again next Monday
That being said, I've now been gone from Fresno long enough to know who I'm missing. Josh and Laura, please look out for Michael. He'll be loose on the town for a week before Owen and I return. Goodness help you!

Remembering His faithfulness with thanksgiving!