Sunday, July 31, 2011

pinto bean pie

pinto bean pie

At the evo '11 Bush's Beans sponsored dinner, they served pinto bean pie for dessert.  After making black bean brownies, I was eager to try another bean dessert.  It was delicious!  It tasted just like pecan pie.  I looked up the recipe on the Bush's Beans recipe site and made a pie.  It did not disappoint!  If you like pecan pie, you'll love this.  And why not get a little more protein in your dessert?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

feeling rich

Jeremy and I both have a strong value of community and relationship.  As we've traveled the world, we've made friends all over the place!  This trip I felt so rich as we were able to see friends that we hadn't seen in years. 

erica works for today's mama.  we were neighbors with her and her husband in our connecticut days.  i last saw her nearly 5 years ago.
friends at evo

jen and jenn!  jenn was in my small group during our ywam tyler days.  we last saw her and her husband when they got married 10 years ago.
jen & jenn

erin, blissful e's sister, and i went to youth group together.  lots of high school camp memories.  i believe we last saw each year before my 9 year old son was born.
friends photo

I still feel overwhelmed with the richness of relationships we have all over the world.  It truly is a gift and something to be treasured.

Friday, July 29, 2011

four clowns at the circus

Well, technically there were way more than four clowns at the circus, but Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center in section 116 there was a family of four (clowns?) watching The Greatest Show On Earth.

clown
this clown was great with the kids...joshua has already started his clown training here at home. :)

Growing up, I remember going to the circus a handful of times.  I was always mesmerized by animals doing tricks and trapeze artists flying through the air with such grace, making it look so easy.  The kid in me the other night felt the same wonderment that I did some 25 years ago.  Looking over at my kids during the show, I knew they felt it, too.

elephant show

I love trying to experience events like this through the eyes of my children, especially when it's a first time.  Having lived in Africa, they were used to seeing big cats and elephant (thankfully no African elephant were a part of the show...whew!), but they had no idea what to expect going to the circus. 

elephant piggy back

The kids loved meeting some of the performers pre-show and getting autographs.  Joshua didn't want to ask them what they did, because he wanted to be surprised.  Surprised he was when two of the performers he met were in his favorite part of the show...The Globe of Steel!  Motorcycles zooming around in a globe was seriously nothing short of spectacular.

globe of steel

Emma G posed for a photo pre-show with two dancers.  It didn't surprise me, when I asked her to tell me her favorite part, that she responded, "The dancers."

with the dancers

The Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey circus is a great place to take the kids.  It's fun and entertaining and will, without a doubt, bring smiles and laughter to men and women, children of all ages (not to mention provide a great place to escape the hot summer heat).  Barnum 200 - Barnum's FUNundrum, Ringling Bros. biggest show yet, will be in Dallas until August 7th and Ft. Worth August 10-14.  Tickets include admittance to the all access pre-show one hour before the show starts.   The pre-show includes autograph signing, trying on costumes, meeting the performers up close, and much more!

signing autographs

Buy your tickets here and prepare to be amazed by the FUNundrum that crosses geographic borders! 

ringling bros. website

ringling bros. on facebook

ringling bros. on twitter

interview with the ringmaster

Disclosure : I received free tickets to the Ringling Bros. circus in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Special thanks to Kathy for arranging our time!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

rocking the gondola & other park city fun

This trip was my first time to Utah, and I must say that Park City was absolutely beautiful!  Nestled in the mountains, this resort town was the perfect escape from hot Texas.  While I was "working" and attending evo '11, Jeremy and the kids enjoyed our room, swimming in the pool, and visiting the kid friendly sponsor suites.  One of my favorite things about evo was that the evenings were totally family friendly!

When I told Jeremy that the Friday and Saturday dinners were family style and that they could go for no extra charge, his response was less than enthusiastic.  "I don't want to be the only guy among lots of mommy bloggers," was his response.  The last night he was thanking Rachael of Today's Mama for making it so family friendly.

failed back flip
photo by jeremy

The Friday night dinner was sponsored by Bush's Beans at Park City Mountain Resort.  The spread was so yummy.  All of us had a blast tubing down the big slides.  The kids really loved the trampoline, although they quickly realized that doing a back flip is harder than it looks!

trampoline jumping
photo by jeremy

Saturday night's dinner was on top of the mountain at The Canyons Resort which required a 12 minute gondola ride up.  Riding a gondola up the mountain is not for the faint at heart.  I'm usually ok with these kind of things, but a certain little girl in our family decided to throw a fit right as we were leaving for the gondola.  When this happens I always feel like there's a choice we have to make as parents.  Not giving in to what she wanted, we decided that we would all walk to the gondola just knowing that she would calm down at some point.  She didn't.  We boarded the gondola with a screaming little girl who rocked us all the way up...over steep valleys.  It was nerve wracking, to say the least.  Wouldn't you know that she calmed down once we got the top while the rest of us were tense from the agony.  Thankfully, the ride down went much better.

bright flash

in the gondola

The dinner was sponsored by Together Counts.  I had a lovely chat with these ladies the day before.  I love their mission of trying to get more families to eat meals together as well as be more active as a family, all promoting healthy living.  The whole evening was full of great food and family games.  We loved playing horse shoes and participating in the GPS scavenger hunt.  Joshua wanted to run so that we would have the best time thus winning the Sports Authority gift card.  However, little miss informed us that she was much too delicate for that.

playing horse shoes

family game

This was just the beginning of our 18 day adventure.  Little did we know how much more awaited us...

You can read all my evo '11 highlights here.  Be sure to visit Together Counts and take their pledge to live more healthy as a family!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

the art of losing myself...

the art of losing myself

I'm guest posting over at (in)courage today. Won't you grab your coffee and join me there?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

evo '11 takeaway :: seo

Perhaps the session that most intrigued / educated me at evo '11 was the one I attended on SEO.  By the way, SEO stands for search engine optimization.  In case anyone is still learning lingo...like me. :)  Dennis from The Next Corner did an excellent job of sharing how to improve SEO for your website. 

Love, love, love that we can enjoy reading together at the coffee shop!
this is about how i've felt as i've tried to absorb all this info!

These were the points that stood out to me...
  • What's above the fold in newspapers?  Be mindful of this in constructing the layout of your posts. 
  • Editorial links are like gold.  Write excellent content for guest posts, do interviews.  Linking within the content of your post is much more valuable than sidebar linking.
  • The URL structure of your permalink is important.  The URL should include your post name.  Take out common words to make it more user friendly and take out the date.  If a URL has a date to it, the older posts often get pushed to the back of search engine results.
  • Don't buy or sell links on your site.  This was really helpful for me because right before the conference I received an email regarding paying me to embed a relevant link within a post.  Doing this can cause your site to be flagged as spam thus damaging your optimization.
  • Construct your post title well.  Don't have too long a title that it will get truncated.  I will be talking more about writing a good title or headline in another post.
  • Solve a problem that people are looking for on the internet.
  • Take advantage of image optimization.  Use the right keywords in your filename.  Avoid putting the actual place in your description because this can be flagged as spam.  Instead just describe the picture.
  • Beware of no follow links.  Although it's great for a big website to link to your site, if it's a no follow link, then you won't get the impression credit for it which helps your optimization.  You have to decide what you're willing to compromise.
These are a few snippets of a great session.  He mentioned Google Webmaster Tools as a great resource for SEO.  Also, all of his notes are on his website for easy reference.

Monday, July 25, 2011

3,399.9 miles, 18 days, & 5 states later

Sun rays out in the middle of nowhere NM

We made it home yesterday a little after 1 in the morning.  It's always nice to come home after being gone for so long, even if that means that temps are about 20-30 degrees higher than your body has been experiencing.

Thank you so much for commenting even though my visits to your blogs were sparse.  I am catching up with everything and working on getting back on track.  I feel like I have so much to share and can't wait tell you everything I learned at evo conference and all the fun adventures we had!  Lots of info and photos coming soon!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

time with God for mothers

Time With God For Mothers 

Back around Mother's Day, I received Time With God For Mothers from Thomas Nelson to review.  As with all devotional books that I read, I like to take my time and savor them from beginning to end rather than rush through in a mad dash.

Time With God For Mothers is a sweet collection of Scriptures and devotions geared specifically toward mothers.  I love that they are short (because mamas can be busy people) and yet offer deep truths to ponder all day long.  Perhaps my favorite one is found on page 62, a reminder that our greatest responsibility as mothers is to let the Holy Spirit guide us in all we do.  I think that's what I love about this little hardback.  Although short and sweet, all the devotions offer wisdom and encouragement for day-to-day life as mothers with the reminder that our leaning on Jesus is what makes us great moms.  This little devotional will definitely stay accessible for those snippets of time that allow for a short inspirational to challenge my day.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, July 22, 2011

from the archives :: all kinds of adventures

This week I am highlighting some of my favorite pics of my kids from 2009 and the corresponding post from my archives.   It's amazing how much they grow in two years!  This post originally published July 23, 2009.  Not only can I see how much my kids have grown but how much my niece has grown!  And thankfully, we still haven't had any broken bones!

roots

A beautiful sunny afternoon, sitting on the grass with Anneke as the kids laughed and played outside, commenting on how Zoe has seemed to grow up overnight.

drainage ditch

arielle

walking through the roots

I hear my name but don't see the youngsters. As the sound grows louder, I see them walking up the newly dug drainage ditch. They convince me to follow them on this adventure in the dirt, through the roots. Along the way, Joshua swears he hears a snake and decides this adventure is over. So began the next one that warranted this...

all bandaged up

As I'm standing in the sun's rays, Joshua runs up screaming, his hand covering the right side of his head. "What happened?" Through tears and explanations, I see that the right side of his head is covered in blood. We quickly go and rinse off the blood. Jeremy and I make a decision to take him to our doctor. Almost closing time, but she graciously agrees to see us. Joshua was beyond relief when she decided against stitches. A butterfly plaster and a bandage (a bit dramatic, she admitted, but necessary to keep it in place overnight) and we were good to go! The next morning it looked like it was healing nicely. And Joshua had a cool head wound to show his friends!

the wound

I'm actually thankful that we haven't had any broken bones or stitches or anything. I know with a boy it's inevitable, but for now I'm thankful for that clean bill of health!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

from the archives :: school photo days

This week I am highlighting some of my favorite pics of my kids from 2009 and the corresponding post from my archives.   It's amazing how much they grow in two years!  This post originally published June 30, 2009.  The last picture of Emma G is still one of my all-time favorites of her.

Do you remember those days of dressing your best, combing your hair, and looking extra nice on that one day of the year that your school photo was taken? You had to look your best otherwise that bad hair day and crooked smile forever marked that year. That's a lot of pressure! The kids recently got their school photos for the year. So what will forever mark Emma Grace's year of pre-primary? Those tats!

gr. 1 school photo joshua

pre-primary school photo emma

Of course, they look adorable. But...I'm still a fan of my everyday random photos in the outside world!

cool joshua

lovely


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

from the archives :: the many poses of joshua

This week I am highlighting some of my favorite pics of my kids from 2009 and the corresponding post from my archives.   It's amazing how much they grow in two years! This post originally published August 22, 2009.  This boy is just as silly as ever!

Sometimes this silly guy throws his hands in front of his face to stop my picture taking madness. And sometimes he doesn't want to stop posing, even when I've had enough! Here he is looking through the window of the newest short-term team housing at University Village.

silly boy

silly

i'm cool!

salute 1

salute 2

oh, yeah!

come on ya'll!

praying joshua

I love this guy!

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