Wednesday, March 27, 2013

80s Surprise Birthday Party

My friend Carisa and I were born just 3 days apart.

It took us about 38 years to meet and realize that. 

She once wrote me a sweet email

(after we had met through church about 5 years ago)

 that God, in His infinite wisdom and sovereignty, 
waited until JUST the right moment to cross our paths.

Like He was up in heaven saying

"Not now. Wait for it…"

Then BOOM.

Karmen and Carisa happened.

And we've been HAPPENING

ever since.
(If I could only talk about all those HAPPENINGS! 
You'd wet your pants. 
Or maybe that's just us. 
Okay, just me.)

When Carisa and I were turning 40, it came out that she had never had a birthday party.

[Sound of needle scratching record to stop the music.]


I decided to fix that.

I NEEDED to fix that.

Fix it good.
(Ok, now I'm singing Devo.)

So I threw her a tea.

She is from Kentucky.

So I had everyone in attendance at the tea house 
read a stanza of a Jimmy Dean (yes, of sausage fame) poem

in their best Carisa accent.
(Boy, does she ever have an accent.)

It was a sweet poem about your cup overflowing so the saucer is full and whatnot.

Everyone's take on Carisa's accent was hysterical.

Everything from Aunt Jamima to Scarlett O'Hara.

Funny stuff!

So we decided to make the tea annual.

There was always a theme.

One involved bras

(because Carisa left me a message once about needing me to be "her bra":  
offer her support and stay close to her heart.)

The other involved shoes.

In its fourth year, I pulled a fast one.

Carisa came up with the idea that we'd each send evites to our invitation list that we were surprising the other with a luncheon.

And the surprise would be on the guests since we'd known about it all along.

I said okay.

Then sent my own fake evite and then my double psyche surprise evite

which was an 80s themed party for Carisa.


Thanks for hanging with this.

That was a l-o-n-g set up!

Me and Carisa in the  makeshift "photo booth". The "I were" sign is an
inside joke. FYI:  she said that once. "I were!" I know. Too funny.
And it makes NO sense. So I made a sign. And made her hold it.
It seemed appropriate.
This was SUCH FUN to put together! And my friend Sumita helped me A LOT!

I did some Pinterest and blog research and found a great centerpiece idea involving cassette tapes.
There is a short strand of multi-color Christmas lights
inside. I couldn't figure out how to plug them in
while still acting as centerpieces. So I just used them on
the table with nothing inside. Still looked cool.

I found a bunch of cassette tapes at the thrift store
to make some centerpieces.

I hot glued the cassette tapes together to form a square.

I added a second layer. 

I even used the tapes that weren't clear.
I put the cassette tape containers on the dining room table flanking a vase of flowers that my girlfriend put a legwarmer on! I don't have a picture of it but it was CUTE!

 I knew right away that I wanted to do a photo booth since I was asking everyone to dress up in their best 80s garb AND bring a picture of themselves during the 80s.

I wanted a neon color to paint a frame I picked up at the
thrift store. The only neon spray paint I could find
was this MARK IT stuff that the gas company uses to
mark gas lines in your yard--on the grass.
It is very powdery and doesn't make for a good covering
paint. I wouldn't recommend it.

I wanted a big empty frame to use for a photo booth.

Madonna stopped by for a photo shoot.

 Every photo booth needs props!

I put together a props area. I filled a vase with
lemon drops and Nerds and stuck in signs
with 80s sayings that I made out of pre-cut signs
I found at CVS (of all places) that I taped to
wooden skewers. I found the slatted sunglasses
at Dollar Tree. I had the red sparkly ones.
I tied a pink handkerchief to the vase.
Check out those Devo hats I made! Come on, they are adorable!
Oh, Madonna, you make me laugh!

My photo booth backdrop was just a
zebra print vinyl tablecloth taped to
the back of my French door and curly cues
taped on top.

I filled another vase with Nerds (bought on clearance after
Halloween) with Pixie Sticks stuck in.

I had each guest bring an 80s picture of themselves. I set
up an area to display the pictures. That was such fun
to see when they went up.
(I've been threatened to not show pictures of certain
people AT the party or their pictures DURING the 80s).
They were all such good sports!

I turned my chalkboard pantry door
into all things 80s. I found people just
standing there reading all the the different
names, events and pieces of pop
Chocolate Cafe made these incredible
80s cupcakes.

Pac Man, MTV and cassette tapes! Aren't they great?
Same people who made the Thrift Store Party themed
In the bathroom I provided some "Gnarly 80s stuff" to
spiff up everyone's TOTALLY AWESOME appearance.
I actually FOUND Love's Baby Soft. It smells JUST
the same! I also had some scrunchies, banana clips and
hair clips of all sizes. There is even some neon nail
polish in there. Dollar Tree and Wal-Mart had everything
I needed.
Goody Bags! Each one included a bottle of Aqua Net (duh!),
neon nail polish, a banana clip, a bright scrunchie and
Love's Baby Soft perfume. Aqua Net is harder to find
than you'd think. I finally tracked it down at Walgreen's.
And guess what?? NO ONE asked me why I was buying
12 cans of Aqua Net. No one.

As it turns out, the 80s didn't turn out to be a great food decade. So I made up a salad bar with grilled chicken, shrimp and salmon as choice toppings among other veggies and nuts. I guess the salad bar became a big thing in the 80s.

It certainly was easy to put together.

After lunch, I had some 80s trivia questions that I asked everyone.

That was fun.

And Carisa was surprised.

So the double psyche surprise worked!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Why The Bible Is Working

I don't mean the bible, bible.

I mean The Bible.

Don't get me wrong, the bible is working. Every day it is living and breathing and WORKING.

But I mean to talk about the TV show, The Bible today.

I read several blogs.

Some crafty,
some DIY,
some design in nature,
some humorous,
some faith-based.

I was caught off guard by some of the comments made to a blog post about the show The Bible.

The negative criticism.

One person admitted to YELLING at the screen in disgust.
(Didn't really even explain why.)

As I read through these comments I was stunned when I realized that they were all made by Christians. 


It may have made a teence bit more sense if these comments were made by nay-sayers to our faith.

But these were CHRISTIANS.


The overall nature of these comments were negative due to the way The Bible omitted one story or handled another.

Here's what I have to say:



But I went into my viewing of this series with that in mind.

I know the truth.
(I don't need a TV show to tell it to me.)

My husband has a guy in his office that he's known for almost 15 years. 

He came into his office a few weeks ago and closed the door.

That is never a good sign.

Monte expected the worst.

But the co-worker asked Monte if he'd been watching The Bible.

Monte said he had.

He sighed in relief and wondered if Monte would answer a few questions he and his wife had about the show 
(which in fact is truly a question about the bible in general 
which in all TRUTH is about Christianity in general.)

Monte said it was the sweetest conversation they'd ever had.

The next Monday morning the co-worker came into Monte's office, closed the door and asked more questions about The Bible.

The next week too.

In fact, he is probably sitting in front of Monte right now asking him questions since The Bible aired last night.

Praise God, isn't that lovely?!

So, no, it wasn't a big deal to this co-worker that Sarah showed up after Abraham's almost sacrifice of Isaac (even though we all know it was a 3-day journey).

Or that Delilah only attempted to deceive Samson into telling the source of his great strength once and we all know it was like 4 times.

It doesn't matter!!

What matters is that there is a guy and his wife who are so intrigued by this show called The Bible that they write questions down so he can go into his place of work and ask his boss about them.

So regardless of how any of those negative comment writing Christians feel about it,

The Bible is working.

God is working.

And it is good.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


We have a Spring Break countdown going on here.

It is literally written on our pantry door.
(The word "literally" said like Rob
Lowe in Parks & Rec)

It is both taking forever and creeping up on me FAST.

It doesn't help that it was 27 degrees 
when I took the girls to school this morning

or that I have a whopper headache and a sore throat

or that I am trying to keep up with the spring wardrobe needs 
of my EVER GROWING girls
(What do you mean you have NO shorts that fit?!)

or that I feel like a pasty white fat cow.

Yeah, I am having one of those days.

The girls were excitedly talking a mile a minute about our trip

as we left Waffle House Sunday after lunch.

The girls mentioned it would be the first long road trip in our new Honda Pilot 

a.k.a The Manvan.

Then Ellie brought up how one long road trip didn't start out so well in our other vehicle.

Not. So. Well. At. All.

It was June a few years ago and we were (as my friend Beth put it) 

"not even 7 songs into a l-o-n-g road trip"
(not that she has retold this story or anything)

when Monte decides he needs to stop to go to the bathroom.
(Seriously?! We are not even 7 songs into this l-o-n-g road trip!)

He pulls into a McDonald's.

The girls and I wait in the car since we properly evacuated our bladders BEFORE we left.
(Just saying.)

Monte locked the car and took the keys with him.

Ellie decided to open her door practically before Monte was inside.
(Can't remember why now probably to litter or spit or something not cool like that.)

This action triggered some sort of rogue alarm system that in all the 5 or 6 years we had owned the vehicle, we had NEVER encountered.

The headlights flashed.

The horned honked.
(Like, seriously, louder than normal.)

The windshield wipers may 
or may not have come on.

I don't even remember, there was a lot going on.

In total survivor mode, 

I screamed for Ellie to shut her door,

then I pushed every button on the steering wheel and dashboard.

All of our doors went into lock down.

We couldn't get out.

Or stop the headlights from flashing
or the horn from honking
or the windshield wipers from wiping.
(If indeed they were wiping.)

Did I mention we were parked RIGHT IN FRONT OF the McDonald's entrance doors?

A man who looked like he frequently enjoyed the full menu at McDonald's, was smoking a cigarette by the entrance doors.

At first he looked over at our vehicle in spasm with some interest
(I thought he might even come over and help)

than he got this annoyed/disgusted look on his face

like he just wanted to smoke in peace

in front of a McDonald's

before he enjoyed the full menu inside.

I couldn't blame him.

We were causing quite a scene

And it was getting pretty stuffy inside that car.

Where was Monte?!

He had been gone quite a while and worries of intestinal distress crossed my mind.

I couldn't even get out of this devil car to check on him, poor thing.

Wasn't there a horror movie like this in the 80s??
(About a devil car, not someone in intestinal distress at a McDonald's.)

There was! Stephen King's Christine in 1983. Not that I saw it. But this picture does remind me of what
was going on INSIDE our vehicle (and my heart).

Just when I thought the ample Cigarette Smoker might kill us with his stink-eye stare,

Monte walks out of the restaurant (or was he skipping?) carrying 

wait for it

a to-go sack.

Yep, Monte was waiting in line to order a burger

while we were trapped in a spasmodic devil car

with no keys

being visually assaulted by Cigarette Smoker,

and I was actually praying for the Lord 
to ease Monte's intestinal distress?!


Half-way to the car,

Monte stopped in his tracks

to-go sack swaying 

to stare at the hot mess that was his family.

I took a lesson from Cigarette Smoker,

and gave Monte the stink eye

not that he could see it with the windows being so fogged up.

One bloop bloop of the key fob

and peace was restored

to the vehicle anyway.

It was a good hour

and several texts to friends 

to calm me down.

When I could talk in a non-howler monkey shrill,

I asked Monte if he heard any ruckus coming from the parking lot

while he was waiting in line for a cheeseburger--
not even 7 songs into a l-o-n-g road trip?!

He said he indeed did.

But he thought it was just some idiot who didn't know how to turn off a car alarm.


We did go on to survive and drive 5,000 miles on an AMAZING trip out west with my parents.

And we are still married.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Thinking Things Out…In His Presence

I have been thinking about things.

Really, God has been working on me about a few things.

I've just been sitting back thinking on what it is He is working on me about.

I know, I just finished that sentence with a preposition.

Yesterday morning, our daughters came into our room and got into bed with us and we talked and laughed and shared a leftover cranberry scone that a lovely friend made.

We needed to rush.

To get ready for church.

But it seemed so perfect 

what we were doing

and talking 
and getting crumbs 

Ellie told us about a part of the book "Diary of A Wimpy Kid"

when Greg fell asleep in the bathroom. 

On the toilet. 
(I just whispered that part).

When he woke up, he stood with a start but his legs were asleep 

and he fell

and broke his wrist.

What middle school aged boy wants to admit that he has a cast on his arm because of a 

bathroom incident?
(also whispered)

So he told everyone he got into a fight 

and the sheer force of his punch

broke his wrist.

We skipped church.

A few years ago, 

that would've driven me crazy with guilt.

I would've heard about it

from others

who would've driven me crazy
with guilt.
And I would've been tempted

like Greg and his fake fight story

to make up some noble, 
worthy story 
of why we couldn't make it.
But things are different now.

I realize that although I feel the presence of the Lord at my church on Sunday mornings

the Holy Spirit is with me always.

And most certainly yesterday morning in the bed with my girls eating a scone and laughing.

Monte did read a devotion 
lest the guilt bubble up on either of us later.

He read from a devotional that McDaniel had received from her youth pastor for Christmas.

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

I don't remember what he read but only that I liked it.

I picked it up again

as I was drying my hair later that morning

and read the introduction.

Sarah quotes J.I. Packer in his book "Your Father Loves You"

"God…guides our minds as we think things out in His presence."

Isn't that amazing?

Because I am ALWAYS trying to figure something out.

Grasp it.

Make sure I don't miss the lesson

the big picture

the boat.

I just LOVE this image of God being 

right there

in front of me as I melt my brain trying to get it all and He is

right there

guiding my mind.

Thank you, Lord.

Because He knows the carnival ride

that is my mind

yet He still guides it.

Thank you!

This morning, I picked up Jesus Calling again

flipped to the first devotion

January 1 based in Romans 12:2 and Jeremiah 29:11:

"Come to Me with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed. A close walk with Me is a life of continual newness. Do not cling to old ways as you step into a new year. Instead, seek My Face with an open mind, knowing that your journey with Me involves being transformed by the renewing of your mind. As you focus your thoughts on Me, be aware that I am fully attentive to you. I see you with a steady eye, because My attention span is infinite. I know and understand you completely; My thoughts embrace you in everlasting Love. I also know the plans I have for you:  plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Give yourself fully to this adventure of increasing attentiveness to My Presence."

…Continual newness.

Do not cling to old ways…

…My attention span is infinite

I know and understand you completely…

Give yourself FULLY to this adventure of increasing attentiveness to My Presence.

Makes this crazy girl feel loved.
How about you?

After dinner we decided to have a "Dance Off" playing Wii's Just Dance 4.




First of all, 

I am going to have to step up my workouts

because I was WEARY
after all that dancing!

McDaniel looks like she is cowering in fear
that I am going to clobber her mid-dance.

Don't you love the Matrix-like dance style
of Monte? The speed of his arm
movements even caused blurring.

Through some truly UNFAIR conspiracy

Monte and I ended up on the same team.

We got smoked.

But we did laugh 

a lot.

Our most fun song was when he and I danced to the Blues Brothers song, 
"Everybody Needs Somebody To Love".

(Monte and I dressed up as Jake and Elwood not once but TWICE for Halloween. 
We even learned the dance to perform at a party. 
We "practiced" in front of our very shy college student babysitter and she 
nearly died of embarrassment.)

Last night Monte turned on one of those 30 on 30 shows on one of the cablillion sports channels we get.

It was about college basketball coach Jim Valvano.

Most just called him Coach V.

He coached an amazing underdog team to a NCAA championship

then died at 47 of bone cancer.

He was a sought after speaker before he was diagnosed with cancer.

After he was given his terminal diagnosis, Coach V was given the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian award at the first ever ESPY awards.

He said this in his acceptance speech:

"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."

It didn't strike me until this morning that there was still the tiniest bit of guilt in me and God was using that show and Coach V's speech to say:

So what if you missed church one Sunday.

You did the right thing!

You laughed with your girls.

You read my Word and talked and thought.

You danced!

You had a full day.

You made something special.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Wishes of Warm Birthday Party

My husband grew up in south Florida.

Ohio's winters can get l-o-n-g for him.

And his birthday is in February.


Always pretty cold.

So I decided to bring him reminders of warm weather for his birthday a few years ago.

I had received the awesome Hello, Cupcake

book from my friend Carisa and found this idea in it:

Monte went to the University of Florida.
Their mascot is the Gators.

Now that I look at both of them,

not so much of a match.

But it is the THOUGHT that counts.
The teeth are marshmallows I cut into triangles and the pupils in the eyes are mini Junior Mints an the toenails are
the bananas in Runts.

I also surprised him with flamingos in the yard. It was like 10 degrees that morning. And 82 degrees in his hometown.

Trying to be a good sport.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


So. Much. To. Cover.

Three years ago my oldest daughter, McDaniel, did a 5th grade project on the solar system. They got to pick a planet to study, write a report and craft a visual.

She chose Uranus.

Of course, she did.

But she didn't realize what she did.

She asked me why everyone laughed when she picked Uranus as her project.

I may or may not have patted her on the head and said something dismissive like,

"Don't you worry about them."
"I have no idea."

I am all about denial 
when it comes to Uranus.


McDaniel truly did not know about the potential tee-hee of Uranus.


It gets worse.

Pour more coffee if you must.


McDaniel researched and wrote an impressive report on the planet Uranus.

She was on the computer in the den trying to come up with a "snazzy" title for her project.

Ellie and I were in the living room reading those crazy instructional 1st grade books about owls and a boy named Peter going to get eggs at the store.

Mind. Numbing.


Every now and then, McDaniel would holler out an idea for a title for her report.

You know, to get my feedback.

But she didn't realize what she was saying.

Tortuous things 

I wasn't supposed to laugh at

while I was listening to Ellie read about


and Peter going to get eggs at the store.

Titles like:

McDaniel:  "Uranus and You"

Me:  "No! Not that. But keep trying, Honey."

McDaniel:  "All About Uranus"

Me:  "Good gravy no!"

McDaniel:  "Let's Learn About Uranus"

Me:  Long. Pause.

McDaniel:  "That Big Blue Ball? It's Uranus!"

Me:  Help. Me. Now.

McDaniel:  "The Wonderful World of Uranus"

I couldn't take it.

I am not that mature.

I ran upstairs and called Monte.

I cried in laughter with him so I could face McDaniel.

That night at dinner, Monte explained what caused people to snicker when they heard the word


We watched the light bulb go off in McDaniel's head.

Then Monte proceeded to list a few titles of his own for her project

ones he undoubtedly worked out on the drive home from work.

We laughed

and laughed

and laughed.

Now Ellie is in the 5th grade

and they are studying the solar system
(see where this is going?)

Ellie chose to study Uranus.
Sorry. Sounds a bit invasive.

Ellie informed me that her teacher AND Bill Nye the Science Guy announced that 

Uranus is no longer Uranus.

It is now pronounced Yur-i-nus.

Can they just do that?!

Hey, I grew up with a family with the last name of Butt.

The dad's nickname was Red.

And his father was Harry.

They didn't go changing their name to Boot or anything!

They forged on and became a pharmacist and still own the prettiest house in town.

One family did succumb, however.

The Swine family.

Maybe it was because she was a teacher and had to be around children so much.
(They can be cruel little creatures.)

One fall she came back to school and all of a sudden was Mrs. Schwinn.

But I digress,

Back to Yur-i-nus.

Remembering the big laughs of years before, 

Ellie was somewhat disappointed in Yur-i-nus vs. Uranus.

But she forged on and put together a good first draft of a report.

She read it out loud.

Somewhere in the report was a mention of a gassy atmosphere.

I couldn't resist.

"So Uranus is gassy?"

Monday, March 11, 2013

Thrift Store Birthday Party

We like parties at our house.

And birthdays are a BIG DEAL.

My daughters like to talk about themes for their birthday parties all year long.

My oldest daughter, McDaniel, came up with a thrift store theme for her birthday some time ago.

WAY before that stupid song came out.

She has been forced to like thrift stores by me.

After finding some pretty cool stuff, 
she genuinely likes to thrift now.

She decided to enlighten some of her friends on the thrift store experience this past weekend.

She handed out price tag shaped invitations that I made.
(Can't find an extra one to photograph.)

Since we were taking 13 14-year-olds shopping, 
we decided that bright t-shirts would make them easy to spot.

We found a 2 for $5 deal at Joann Fabrics.

My husband Monte picked those up and had to negotiate HARD for them to honor the online deal in the store.

They did.
Because that is how it is with Monte.

But they rang each of the 15 shirts separately.
Typing in 100 numbers each time.

Monte felt the hate of everyone standing in line behind him. 

The color of the shirts is Safety Green.

As in "I could see you safely from 2 miles away."

I made my own stencil to paint on the t-shirts.

I printed this out in Word and using an Exacto Knife,
cut out the words.
I decided to go with the spray fabric paint
again. So fast and easy!

I used a paintbrush to spread around the paint in
thin spots.

We decided to have the girls do a scavenger hunt in the thrift store to give the shopping experience some structure.

McDaniel divided the girls up into 4 teams that we posted at the house.
Monte found an article on the web about a guy who had found a signed Picasso at a thrift store in our area. He posted it for the girls to read.
He bought the print for $14 and sold it for
$7,000. It pays to thrift!
Once we got to the thrift store, I handed out clipboards with 12 items for each group to find. Each group's list was different.

There were things like:

•Find something with a squirrel on it
•Find something with fur.
•Find something creepy. 
(black cat with green eyes. shiver shudder!)
•Find a leather jacket.

Each group had a photographer who took a photo of each item with their phone.


Hamming it up.

When they were done, they found either Monte or I 
and we checked off each item as we saw the picture.
Monte found this huge desk that he
made his "office". We saw the desk
being loaded into someone's
truck before we left the store.

The girls blew through the lists faster than I thought!
(And our lunch reservations weren't for another hour.)

On the fly, I had each team regroup and I gave them themes to dress and accessorize for.


•The 80s
•Country & Western
Not sure what the red hat has to do with
this theme.

•A wedding
Groom. She even put silk flowers in her

Bride. They couldn't find a wedding dress
so they used a bed sheet, belt and a lacy
table cloth for a veil. LOVE their

Flower girl.

They even had a preacher. 
I made trophies for the teams who finished
the scavenger hunt first. I bought
these plastic trophies at the Dollar Spot
at Target last year.

I decided to paint one gold.

I decided to embellish the trophies with little
hangers using this fun wire.

I just twisted the wire into a hanger shape.

Aren't they cute?

I twisted a piece of wire to each hanger so I could
hot glue it to the inside of each trophy.

So fun.
After a great lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, we came back to our house for cupcakes.

I had them made by Chocolate Cafe and they did a great job!

They turned out so cute!
Jeans. The cupcake to the right has
pennies on it.

A blazer. A quarter is on the cupcake to the right.
These hangers are adorable.

Scavenger hunt winners of the Gold Cup.

Silver Cup winners for creativity for the wedding theme.

 It was a good day.

Did McDaniel successfully make thrift shoppers out of any of the girls?


I saw some girls buy a camouflage snuggie 
(they gave it to McDaniel).

A Barbie DVD 
(they gave it to McDaniel).

And a Cinderella 3 DVD 
(she kept that for herself).

This party worked so well that I just might try to do it for adults.

My girlfriend's birthday is this week and I do have a few t-shirts left over…

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

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