Chasing Contentment

Sunday, April 13

For my birthday, my friend, Aleece, completely redesigned my blog and moved it over to WordPress. You're not going to believe how beautiful the new design is! If you've got me bookmarked, you'll need to change the addy.

You can find me over here now.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, April 13, 2008  ]

Tuesday, April 8

Happy birthday to me. It's been just lovely. Mike gave me the funniest gift this morning... I love the smell of fresh Play-doh, just opened, never touched. And he got me a Demeter fragrance (some of my favorites anyway) that smells like Play-doh. Really!

They surprised me at work with a Food Day, and several sweet folks dropped off gifts. I was SO surprised!! I honestly hadn't expected anything at all, so it was a fun change.

And while I love the gifts and the goodies, I'm mostly grateful for the opportunity of another year here with those I love. I am blessed beyond measure to have Mike and the kids, kind family, and precious friends.

In this next year, I want to work hard and get better at my job. I want to find a church that ministers to each of us, encouraging each of us to grow in Christ. I want to laugh.

A girl at work asked me yesterday what age I would freeze myself at if I could. I told her 27 was a good year for me, but that, in general, I'd have to say now. Not because things are all honey and goodness (of course, I don't much love honey, so I guess all chocolate and goodness) but because they are. And in this moment, simply being here and experiencing it is plenty much for me.

In this next year, I pledge to be grateful.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, April 08, 2008  ]

Monday, April 7

I never post three times in a day. It's been an usual day, I suppose. I'm just all birthday excited. Mandy's gift for me came in the mail today, and it's fabulous. A big yummy jumble of random. I do love random stuff.

And this is some of my favorite random stuff... pajama pants in a groovy yellow floral print, a Starbucks card, an iTunes card, and a Buffy music card. (For those of you new to me & CC, I spent seven years straight watching Buffy every Tuesday evening.)

My brother, John, and his family sent me a gift certificate to Sephora which is sooo exciting for a girly-girl, product junkie like me.

And this is a photo of my signed R. Nichols notecards. I mean, really, how completely cool is that?!

Yes, I get all birthday giggly excited. I admit it.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, April 07, 2008  ]

Happy Birthday, Mandy!
Yay, Mandy. We love you. And all the way over here in Florida, we're celebrating your day.

You are one of the strongest women I know. Your mom, of course, would also make my top five. You have a strong and earnest sense of right and wrong, and I've yet to find an underdog cause or person that you didn't defend. You embrace the peculiar and odd and encourage the wonderful qualities in those people. If everyone were a bit more like that, the world would be a better place.

You are brave and courageous. Your new-found hypocondria only serves to comfort those of us around you... reminding us that you can get rattled, too. Those brushes with our mortality shake us, change us. Olivia changed you in lovely ways, just like Josh did all those years ago (though, I'd be remiss if I didn't say that you were better for him... gotta remind him where my allegiance ultimately lies, right?).

You're funny (Griff's favorite thing about you) and smart and talented and kind and generous and just ... well, fabulous.

We love you. Happy Birthday.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, April 07, 2008  ]

Okay, it's our first week of our April Dinner Experiment. I'm using Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie for some planning help, and I'm listing our week of dinners here. Thirty days of not eating out is quite a challenge for us!

Here's the plan...
Sunday - Sami Meatpies (biscuit dough rolled out with each person's favorite cheese/sandwich meat tucked inside)
Monday - Homemade waffles with strawberry puree (The fresh strawberries here in Florida are amazing... blend them with a tiny bit of sugar and pour over the waffles. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Heaven.)
Tuesday - my birthday - we're going out... our one April dinner out exception
Wednesday - Pizza-dillas (from Rachael Ray's "Express Lane" cookbook)
Thursday - Bruschetta chicken (one of the My Girlfriend's Kitchen meals I have in the freezer)
Friday - chicken nuggets & fries (The kids will be with a sitter while Mike and I go on a date to the outdoor movie showing of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.")
Saturday - Lime Chicken Soft Tacos (from All - love the ingredient search feature!)

Here's hoping for the best!

(And Mandy, Happy Birthday... if we were still two doors down, we'd definitely be going out to dinner tonight, too, for your special day!)

[  posted by Chel on Monday, April 07, 2008  ]

Sunday, April 6

I love birthdays... all birthdays, but especially my birthday. I've already started getting groovy gifts & I had to share.

Chuck, Stacy and the kids gave me this great bag of random stuff. I LOVE random stuff! It's got note cards with my name on them and bath goodies and fuzzy slippers and Moose Munch. No, you can't see the MM in the picture. Mike and I ate it right away.

And my folks bought me new sandals (yeah, I picked them out but still!), and this amazing bouncy cow for my kitchen (and yes, for everyone who knows both me and my mother, I picked this out as well).

The photos didn't turn out nearly as groovy as the cow. Imagine it bobbing up and down. Sooo fun.

On our way home today from picking up the kids at Chuck and Stacy's, Mike took a detour for my birthday. I love to write and send pretty notecards, and some of my favorites are by R. Nichols. I've bought things from his website (and Mike's bought cards for me, which I love), and he's got an actual store now - close to us! Who knew?

So Mike sat outside in the van listening to the Astros on the XM while the kids watched a movie, and I went inside to pick from all of the groovy cards. Because I'm a notecard geek, I told the guy working there all about how I order online & love the cards & blahblah-I'm-a-dork-blahblah. He asked my name & I told him & he said he recognized it... said he knew all of the names of the people that order online (which sounds completely bogus).

And then he introduced himself... as R! That's right! The R Nichols. And I geeked right out. I was a full-fledged, completely unashamed notecard groopie dork meeting the guy who made them. It was such a rush. I bought all sorts of cards, which he personalized for me (that's right... R. Nichols cards with my name on them!). I got him to sign one of his cards for me. I'll scan it and post it later this week.

How completely cool is my birthday?! And it's not even here yet!!

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, April 06, 2008  ]

Saturday, April 5

This month, with the exception of my birthday, we are doing an experiment here in our house. Inspired by an article in the latest issue of Cookie magazine (the only parenting magazine that doesn't make me feel like a mama failure), we're going to try to go an entire month without eating out.

Now, for us, that's a HUGE challenge. We eat out a LOT. But I'm ready for us to eat healthier and to try new meals and to try to stretch the kids' willingness to try new things.

The article told of one family's endeavor to try 30 new meals in 30 days. We're not quite that adventurous. I'm going to throw in some sure things here and there to keep the kids going. But I'm going to have the majority of our April meals be new to us.

My plan is to make a menu for the week on Sunday, and to help keep me dedicated to it, I'm going to do Meal Plan Monday at Org Junkie each week. I'll post my meal plan here on Sunday evenings & hope for the best.

Now, just for the record, there will be some exceptions.
1) Our weekly trips to the Italian Ice place around the corner.
2) Chick Fil A Fridays. Everyone needs to start the last work day of the week with a chicken biscuit and fruit cup.
3) Spirit nights for Griff's school.

I'll post our progress here. We'll see how it goes.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, April 05, 2008  ]

Remember the big scary birds at work? They had a baby. How can something so cute come from birds so scary?!

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, April 05, 2008  ]

Friday, April 4

The kids are with Chuck and Stacy for the weekend, and Mike and I are boiling shrimp for dinner. I can hardly wait. It's my birthday weekend, so I get to call the shots. I love that.

As we were driving to run some errands this evening, it was raining, and we saw a rainbow. We see lots and lots of rainbows here in Florida... more than I can ever remember seeing anywhere else.

I'll post more soon, but I'm off to drop the shrimp into the crab boil Yummo. Till later, here's a picture of the rainbow.

Look close... it's there... the photo's taken from my iPhone.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, April 04, 2008  ]

Thursday, April 3

It's been a good week with my folks... they'll leave for Arkansas tomorrow morning. We've been very blessed to have had a good visit with them.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, April 03, 2008  ]