Beam Me Up. Now.

Mike and Sophie LOVE building Lego sets. It's one of their favorite pastimes. Usually they end up getting somewhat persnickety with each other, given all the tiny details that need to be tended to…

Mike: "Where's the little one-piece thing that goes in this spot?"

Soph: "WHAT one-piece thing? The directions say you need the half-piece thing."

Mike: "What are you talking about? There's no half-piece thing, Soph!"

Soph: "RIGHT HERE, DAD. IT SAYS IT RIGHT HERE."

Mike: "That says HAIR-piece, Soph. The little dude needs a HAIR-piece."

Soph: "Yeah, so do you."

Mike: "You'd better check yourself. Now where's the half-piece thing that goes in this spot?"

This time, however, they got along quite well. Most likely it's because the Lego set they were playing had to do with a cool alien creature and a spaceships, and if there's anything Mike loves, it's alien creatures and spaceships.

And their sound effects…

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Okay, time to get serious. There's work to be done…

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And the ship is finished!

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"Here, Soph, lemme see it. Look at this. Bvvvvrrrrrrrrrzzzzzzzzzzzzvvvvrrrvvvvbpppttffffffff…"

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…"rrrrfffvvvvvvvvtttttttzzzzzzzzvvvvvvffffffpffffffpffffffttttbbbbbrrrrrrr."

Soph: "Dad."

Mike: "rrrvvv…."

Soph: "DAD." 

Mike: "bvvvvvv… oh no, we're losing power! Bvvvvvvvvvvvvv…."

Soph: "Okay, that's enough, Dad. You're not taking this seriously, dude."

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Sophie soon realized that there was nothing in the galaxy that could stop her alien spaceship-driving father, so she decided to join him in an alien battle.

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Meanwhile, the alien sat quietly.

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Remind me – the next time Mike's 8th birthday rolls around – to get him something sensible, like a wrench or something. 

On second thought, that would be bad news for my pots and pans. And my ears.

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Say Yes to the (Homecoming) Dress

The big Homecoming dance is in just a few weeks, so Sabrina, Sophie, and I decided to go dress shopping. After roaming the mall wings for what seemed like days, I plopped down on the fitting room floor and decided to rest while Sabrina tried on some dresses.  I hadn't planned on taking photos, but I grabbed my little purse camera and tried to take some (from the floor, mind you – I was NOT about to stand up) in the very poorly-lit fitting room…

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Sophie's job is usually to take out the rejected dresses and bring in some new ones, but this year she decided to have her own fun…

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(Since short is in again this year, Sophie's dress would have been entirely too long!)

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It looks like girl-style cummerbunds are all the rage… both of the girls loved this pink number…

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If you'd care to find out which dress Sabrina chose, don't forget to check back around the 26th! Unless I'm too exhausted to blog about it, that is… I offered to host a pot-luck dinner before the dance, and I'm afraid all those kids might take me up on it! 

This Post Is Not for the Squeamish.

The last time I posted pictures of what some would call "creepy-crawlies" and others would just call "gross," I got a few commenters letting me know that it would have been nice if I had warned them about the post content.

This post is mantis-photo-heavy. Consider yourself warned. 😉

I've had some strange luck with praying mantises lately. (Did you know that other plural forms for mantis are mantes and mantids?)(By golly, this here's a learnin' blog too!) For instance, as I was descending the stairs of our local Lifetime Fitness Center last week, I glanced at something unusual in the window: a 6" bright green praying mantis. I couldn't decide if I was more shocked at the sheer size of it or the fact that it had crawled 2 stories up. When I told Breanna about it, she said that she was there on the same day and when she went out to her car, there, on her sideview mirror, was another one – no doubt wanting to pounce on her protein smoothie.

A day or so later, Breanna and I headed to our new favorite joint, Red Mango, for some frozen yogurt. As we were walking along the landscape-lined sidewalk, I brushed my hand on a floral shrub and quickly yanked my hand away: there, within millimeters of where my hand had just been, were two black eyes staring at me. Attached to the black eyes was the body of another mantis. (That was creepy.)

And then there was yesterday: I noticed that the potted plant on my porch table needed dead-heading, so I set about doing it. I have no idea how this crazy thing missed my pruning fingers, but THANK GOODNESS, it did.

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I stared at it for a while, and it stared at me. I decided "it" was a "he," so I named him Wilhelm. No matter how many times I circled the table and switched directions, Wilhelm's head turned and his eyes followed me.

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See the water beads on the top of Wilhelm's head and chin? I had also watered the plant, not realizing he was there.

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Has anyone out there seen the movie District 9 (great movie!)? Surely their inspiration came from some sort of mantis.

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Check out those forearms…

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I shall never hand-prune again without first donning a pair of garden gloves, just in case. And if I forget to put on the gloves, then I'll at least make sure there's a protein smoothie nearby, so I can offer up some sort of peace offering.

If you've managed to make it this far into the post, but you're starting to feel a little anxious, I'd like to offer a photo that will surely calm your nerves and put a smile back on your face:

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Mmmmmmmm. In stores now, and it smells much better than insect repellent.

Big Red

My Breanna went back to Lincoln to start her sophomore year a couple of weeks ago, and while I won't miss the daily queries as to whether I'll be joining her at the gym or not (to "get her fitness on," as she put it), I will miss her joining me in the living room for coffee and stitching. (I got my fitness off quite some time ago.)

Mike loaded into the cars all of the STUFF we packed to move her back into the dorms, and then he did what he could to get her day started off right: he pumped and purchased her tank of gas for her…

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Then we hit the road and arrived in Lincoln a little while later, where Mike unloaded from the cars and hauled up to her room all of the STUFF Breanna and I had packed to get her moved back into the dorms. 🙂

While Mike made his many trips back and forth to the parking lot, we girls got her clothing put away and her bed put together and her decorations put up. See those three bottles on top of the desk? They're Yankee Candle's new Halloween tea lite holders, and Bre loved them so much she decided to display them immediately…

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(The lone popsicle Christmas ornament hanging next to her Abbey Road poster puts a smile on my face. And don't you love the coordinating pillow cases my mom made for her? And that row-by-row quilt was the very first quilt I ever made.)

There's her roomie, Sarah, working hard at getting her desk in order…

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This was the best part of her whole room (teeheehee)…

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And I'm not sure why she needed this particular coffee cup. I mean, I don't get it. Surely she's joking, right?

RIGHT?

Pshaw, of course she is! Whew.

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No, Mike, you can't move in. And somebody please tell him to put his Hook 'em Horns sign down before someone hurts him with a corncob.

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When I bought this doormat for Bre, it seemed funny at the time. But now, after reading her coffee cup again, I'm not so sure. I'll need to check to see if I still have that receipt…

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We said our goodbyes and I remembered how this time, last year, I got such a horrible lump in my throat I couldn't speak. I also remember Mike telling me that if I needed him to turn the car around so I could go give Bre one more hug, he'd do it. But I managed.

Now I only get lumps in my throat when she shows up on the doorstep with 14 loads of laundry.

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Have a great year, Bre! We love you so much!

Details

Yesterday I went to a lake near my house, looking for a good spot to take Sabrina's portraits. I wanted to find some really beautiful light, so I set out just after I dropped Soph off at school and the sun had been awake for a couple of hours. I got out of my car, headed through some very tall weeds and started looking around. I know I've posted about this before, but it truly amazes me when I see all the beautiful details in heavy wildflowers and weeds.

The morning dew was  sparkling all around me. I had my little purse camera with me,  and I ended up not finding any great portrait sites, but rather some often overlooked (and trampled on) works of the Creator Himself. 🙂

These aren't going to be any gallery-worthy photos (I mean, I did mention the Creator Himself, so I wish they could be!), but they are a little reminder to me of a morning well-spent.

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I don't know what it is about this odd tree that captured me… there were hundreds of these dried-up "blossoms" hanging down like grape clusters, and they were so beautiful! They reminded me of antique linen…

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While these weeds are often scoffed at, if you ever get the chance to look at one with dew on it, look as closely as you can… all those tiny beads of water look like twinkling Christmas lights… oh how I wish I'd had my macro lens with me!

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Here's another one bedecked in twinkles…

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Look closely!

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God even made the bugs their very own Slip-n-Slides… 😉

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I may not have found that perfect spot yet for Sabrina's senior portraits (yet), but at least I got her yearbook photo finished up!

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(I remember the days my little Sabrina loved her own backyard Slip-n-Slide… sniffle…)

From Finland (and Texas) with Love

What a surprise I received in the mail last week! I was truly touched by such a kind gesture from Pirjo of Finland… Look at all these lovely things she sent me from her country (and I can't wait to take a look at that dvd)!

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Oh my gosh, those Smoothie candies are very addictive…

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Or should I say "were" very addictive. 🙂

And look what she made for Sophie! Soph loved it!

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And look what else Sophie is having fun with…

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A reindeer! From Finland!

Did you see that hand-written note Pirjo enclosed in the prior photo? Well, as happy as I felt when I was reading it, something stopped me up short…

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Did you catch it? Let me help you out, just in case you didn't…

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THE 'G' WORD!!!!!!!! PIRJO, I THOUGHT FINNISH PEOPLE HATED GAMES!!! Okay, I didn't really think Finnish people hated games, but I was hoping they did. Needless to say, Mike was positively thrilled to find out that a woman all the way in Finland was thinking of him. Well, he's got a woman right here in Nebraska (with Smoothie candies stuck in her front teeth) who's thinking of him, all right: thinking how she's going to pretend that game got lost in the mail, should it ever arrive.

Moving on to more lovely things… look what else Pirjo sent!

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Much of what Pirjo mailed was tucked away inside this handmade bag. :)  And I have no idea where she got the notion that I like crowns (teeheehee), but what a grand surprise this was!

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What a sweet, generous person you are, Pirjo. I thank you from the bottom to the top of my heart. And so does Sophie! 😉

But wait! Joann from the great state of Texas sent my Sophie a little sumpm-sumpm too! (Good grief, all my mother's friends ever did for me was tell my mom, "You know, no offense, but Paulette could really use some discipline.")

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If you have school-age kids, then you've no doubt heard of Silly/Wacky Bands. They're the new Beanie Babies, which were the new Cabbage Patch Dolls, which were the new "Vote Mike for Class President" buttons that were all the rage in the 1960's. (Or was Mike fibbing about that?) Except I refuse to camp out overnight for them and beat off other crazed moms who are after the limited edition ones. Anyway, here are just a few of the Wacky Bands Sophie has, including some of the ocean-themed ones that Miss Joann from Texas sent to her. Thank you sooooo much, Joann! Sophie was absolutely thrilled!

I'm disappointed that I haven't been able to post much lately – I'd been meaning to get on here and thank you (and post some more reader finishes) much sooner, but our days around here have been very busy since school started – and noisy! We're getting some things done around the house and the contractors are out before the roosters crow, waking us all up with the hammering and painting. This was what I saw when I walked into my dinette area this morning…

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All of the framed samplers in my house are hanging crookedly on their walls now, but that's okay. There's work to be done, so hammer away, contractor-men! Even though it drives the Yorkie crazy and she does nothing but bark for 9 hours straight.

I have a facial tic now.

(Btw, before I posted that last sentence, I had typed "I have a facial tick now.")

Thank you again, Pirjo! And thank you for the Wacky Bands, Joann!

Dog Duds

When we were in Kansas this past time, Sophie spied an entire doggy wardrobe that I had stuffed into a bag to be hauled out to the garage sale. She pulled out each piece – sweaters, raincoats, a "10 Karat Dog" shirt – and cried, "Mom! What are you thinking, putting these in the garage sale!?" I explained to her that I don't really care to dress dogs bc I think God blessed them with the perfect outfit just as they are, to which she replied, "But what about when it snows! Look how cute these are!! Oh please let me have them, please!"

I gave in.

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I'm sure the Yorkie thinks Sophie has lost her mind, given the forecast for today. But something tells me that as long as Sophie carries her around like the 10-Karat dog the Yorkie believes herself to be, then all is forgiven.

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Revived

Oh, the heat! I can't remember when it was so hot for so long here in the heartland. It's usually about this time that I wonder what possessed me to plant any vegetables during the springtime, bc I certainly don't want to have to go out in the heat and water them. Poor veggies. I'm a very bad veggie mom.

The flowers have been languishing as well, but yesterday I was very pleased to see a new neighbor in the gardenhood… the brown-eyed susans my parents brought from their garden last year have made their debut!

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And just in time, bc all of the spring annuals are beginning to lose their luster. Here are the few that are hanging on for dear life…

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Friday loves being outside, despite his tired expression (he'd stay out all day if I'd let him)…

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This little guy is a transplant from Mike's parents' garden. They loved garden gnomes, and since Jimmy was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan, I gifted him with this Dallas gnome one year. But now I'm a little startled when I see him hiding in my landscape, bc he reminds me of that creepy Travelocity dude that shows up in people's suitcases or bathtubs…

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Now today… today was a welcome change! We woke up to rain, and it was glorious! Not because the rain makes everything look fresh and anew.. no, no, that's not it. Today was glorious bc I finally got to pull on my new pair of rain boots!

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I've never owned a pair of rainboots before. But a week ago I realized that I've always wanted to own a pair. This revelation came to me when Breanna and I were shopping at a department store and they were having a huge clearance sale, and these glorious red rain boots were on sale from $40 down to $8. How could I refuse?

(I have also always wanted to own a Scottish Terrier. However, since the Yorkie has come to dwell in my once-quiet home, I no longer have a hankering for a pooch in the terrier family. So I wear my would-be dream dog on my glorious new red rainboots.)

And since I thought Sabrina would look so stinking cute in a pair, I bought these as well!

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They're so me her!

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Sabrina was very excited when I told her I bought her a love present, but strangely enough, her countenance dimmed somewhat when I pulled these babies out of the bag. Maybe she got a cramp in her foot or something that kept her from being as giddy as I was.

As I write this blog post, I sit here wearing my glorious new red rainboots, drinking coffee, and listening to the patter of rain outside. In a little while, I may have to go pull on Sabrina's new boots, just to make sure they're broken in for her when she decides to wear them.

Besides, in the spirit of keeping up with the Jones', I'd like to match my new neighbor…

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Fit for Royalty

You won't believe what I received in the mail this week! I came home from running errands, and there on the counter sat a package. A package from France. From France! It's not every day a girl gets a package from France!

I eagerly opened it up and found the most wonderful surprises, all from an extraordinary stitcher and seamstress – Sandrine!

First, she had found a pair of jeans and made them into a super cute tote…

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…And here's the back:

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Now check out what was inside the super cute jean tote…

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Btw, can you believe all of these lovelies are stitched OVER ONE??

Now check this out… Sandrine also made a stitching necessaire, and here's the back of it:

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You can imagine my surprise when I unrolled it!

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Wow!! All those little crowns… the lovely pink thread rings (there are actually 4 of them) and the 2 embroidery hoops… those beaded pins at the top… everything is outstanding! And take a look at what I found inside one of the little linen pockets…

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A thimble! (Mom, don't even start in on me about how I need to give the thimble to you since you quilt wayyyy more than I do, bc if Sandrine wanted you to have a thimble, then she would have sent you a thimble. Right, Sandrine?)

Get ready for the grand finale… the front!

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AMAZING!!!!

(I'm still speechless at all the over-one stitching!)

Sandrine, I cannot thank you enough for your kind generosity. I am truly honored that you would share your talent and creativity with me in this way. You are so very thoughtful, and I wish there was a way to express my thanks to you. What a beautiful gesture this was, and I am in awe!

And now I need your email address, bc I don't have it! 🙁

Merci, merci, merci beaucoup!