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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Alexa & some hoop action

I tried out my iPhone video this weekend when we watched my brother-in-law’s basketball team – the Edmond Santa Fe Lady Wolves. They are ranked #1 and the defending state champions so it was great to finally make it to a game. We hope to make some play-offs this year as well. It was also the perfect opportunity to expose Alexa to some quality basketball action. We are, after all, hoping she’ll enjoy the game we both love.

The highlight for Alexa, however, wasn’t hoop action but rather the pep band. She loved dancing to the music and she especially enjoyed cheering for the teams when they announced the starting line-ups. Unfortunately, one of Chris’ videos mysteriously disappeared (hmmmmm . . . I wonder who deleted that). But, I did manage to capture a nano second of Alexa helping direct the band. She was mimicking the band director. That’s my niece, Rylen, who gives her a high five and fist bump at the end. She was a brilliant babysitter during the game so Chris and I could actually watch the action. Thanks Rylen!!
Alexa enjoying her first taste of Oklahoma basketball at the Edmond Santa Fe game.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Practice of iBalance

Although I took this picture thinking it was kind of cute to see Lil’ A all flaked out watching a Baby Einstein video on Daddy’s iPhone (it was an educational one, by the way). The more I looked at it, the more it disturbed me. First of all, let me say we don’t make a habit of giving Alexa an iPhone in her bed. It’s a long story but it had to do with “picking our battle” after church last Sunday. I’m not proud of that but it’s the truth. We were able to get her out of her dress, change her diaper and fix lunch without a major meltdown and major discipline (yes, the meltdowns are major these days). Instead, she watched a video about Spanish, German, French, Japanese and Arabic. Does that redeem us a little bit?

The reason this picture disturbed me was it reminded me of book I read in grad school called, Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. A brilliant and prophetic book explaining the ways in which media, specifically television, shape our lives, to a large extent, without us even knowing it. It piggybacks the theories of Marshall McLuhan who stated “The medium is the message” as well as “The medium is an extension of ourselves” (Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man). If you can’t tell, I earned an MA in Journalism and Mass Communication.
In Postman’s foreword, he compares his book to Huxley’s Brave New World where people come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. He feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. He feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the “feelies.” As he said in Brave New World Revisited, "The civil libertarians and rationalist who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In Huxley’s book, people are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In the end, Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
Whew . . . probably too deep for a blog post, right!? Well, my point boils down to this. I got an iPhone this week. I know, I know . . . welcome to the 21st century. I have to admit I’m pretty excited about the new world it will open for both Mommy and Alexa. It’s probably the first time I’ve been excited about a technological change in a long time. I’m excited about having a phone that does more than talk and text. I can browse the Internet, send an email, use a grocery list app, Skype the grandparents or check the weather before I get out of bed. I can use it as a GPS device, an iPod, a flashlight, a camera, a teaching tool, a television. I can even dictate a text or ask it a question and it will answer me. Seriously, are there limits to this device? 

However, my concern has always been how much of an “extension of myself” do I want this device to become? I don’t want to go into withdrawal if I don’t have it with me. I don’t want it to stifle our little girl’s creativity or hinder our one-on-one time together. I don’t want to stand face to face with the Lord and have to explain why my iPhone made me less effective for the Kingdom. If anything, I pray it would make me more effective. I think the Enemy loves the iPhone as much as we do, and I just want to be aware of that.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe the iPhone is a brilliant invention. I hope we discover amazing tools to encourage Alexa’s love to learn while also balancing life outside of “smart” devices. At the moment, Alexa calls it “my phone,” so we’ll have to work on that. I just pray the Lord will give me wisdom to exercise plenty of “iBalance” in the days to come. I’ll keep you posted . . . which ironically, I can do more often now.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Got An Award!


So, I’m starting to faithfully follow a few people’s blogs (thanks to my hubby setting up a Google Reader Account for me). Goodness! Has it made a difference. I’m so grateful because I get overwhelmed easily. (I’m not a Facebook fan for that reason). A blog I follow, (brilliant, by the way) presented our blog with this award and I’m supposed to share seven things about myself that you might not know. Hmmmmm - this may be difficult. I’m pretty boring. Here goes . . .

1. I enjoy the outdoors (even sweating) but I don’t enjoy the smell that accompanies it. I call it the smell of “wilderness.” My daughter loves being “owside” too so I’m getting used to having an “au naturel” odor to my hair.

2. Sending handwritten notes brings me joy – especially when they are written on pretty paper. I despise aspects of the digital age like typing in generic fonts all the time – seems cold and impersonal. There’s something incredibly special about the written word – it’s the truest expression of a person. Pretty stamps thrill me too!

3. My love language is clean and organized. Even though I live in chaos most of the time, it’s organized chaos. I like the beds made, dishes clean and toys put away. I tend to be a grumpy pants when I see disorder.

4. I’m a HORRIBLE decision maker. I can deliberate for hours over anything. For example, I received this award from Joanna on Thursday and I’m just figuring out what to say. I’ll second guess everything I wrote once it’s published.

5. I love all kinds of music. It moves me. Literally . . . if it has a beat, I’m going to dance (in the privacy of my own home, that is). If we hear a song with some bass, Chris will say, “There’s your music.” Alexa and I dance . . . a lot. Thankfully, she has Mommy’s gene for rhythm.

6. I have a strong conviction every woman should have at least one pair of amazing jeans. I shop the outlets for most of my clothes, but when it comes to jeans, you get what you pay for. A good pair of jeans can make any day better.

7. I always wanted to be an actress . . . . still do. Don’t think I would’ve made it with the size of my nose. However, I still enjoy speaking in accents and pretending to be “in character.” Thank goodness I have a little girl to share in my imaginary world.

There you go – nothing too fascinating. I do hope you know me a bit better now. At the least, you can know how to pray for Chris!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Grilled Cheese Perfection

I know, totally random, but I had to share this cheesy delight with you. With an extremely finicky eater – like my daughter – I find myself making A LOT of grilled cheese sandwiches every week (along with menu staples: mac-n-cheese, chicken nuggets, PB&J, pizza, cheese quesadillas and inordinate amounts of fruit). I have to say I am grateful for the person who decided bread, butter and cheese qualify as a main course.
In my mental menu rotation, it seemed we were due for a grilled cheese. Alexa concurred. Although I don’t get very excited about cooking, I have enjoyed perfecting the art of this cheesy dish. I get LOTS of practice. As I bit into this lunchtime regular (picture melted cheese stringing from my bread to my lips refusing to let go), I thought, “This is heavenly. This may be my best grilled cheese yet.” I put the sandwich down (very difficult for me to do as it’s best straight from the griddle) and took a snapshot for you. Ahhhh, will I be able to repeat this bliss next week? Who knows. One things for sure. I’ll get another chance to find out in the next couple of days. Regardless, I’m thankful I captured it this go around. Now . . . how does a girl spice up a chicken nugget!?

May you, too, find joy in life’s simple pleasures (again and again and again)!

My tips for cheesy perfection . . .
-- Begin heating your griddle on medium heat while you prep the sandwich.
-- Salted butter (room temp) – apply liberally. (This isn’t the low fat version).
-- Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese – sliced very thin (several slices)
(Dubliner is a mild nutty cheese that’s subtly sweet and melts to perfection).
-- A soft nutty bread. I love the crunch with the smooth texture. This was a 10 grain.
-- Mayo – I apply to the insides of both pieces of bread. (Repeat - This isn’t low fat).
-- Grill until brown with cheese oozing from the edges.
-- Wonderful additions: Banana peppers & grilled onions. Of course, the pièce de résistance is a warm cup of Campbell’s Tomato Soup to dip it in. (Sorry Karen)

Bon Appetit!
-- If you have any suggestions, I’m open to them. I do think tomatoes would be good.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Call to Faith

“Faith is not an instinct. It certainly is not a feeling – feelings don’t help much when you’re in the lion’s den or hanging on a wooden cross. Faith is not inferred from the happy way things work out. It is an act of will, a choice, based on the unbreakable Word of God who cannot lie and who showed us what love and obedience and sacrifice mean, in the person of Jesus Christ.”  Elisabeth Elliot

”Faith is not a matter of believing in oneself to fulfill one’s potential. It is not a positive mental framework or maintaining a serene emotional atmosphere. It is a deliberate decision to put one’s FULL trust in the character of God who will do what He has promised.” (Bible Study Fellowship, Lesson 14, p. 2)
This summer, the Lord was calling me to trust Him on a level I never had. He was calling me to faith. I responded in the same way the father of the demon-possessed boy in the Gospel of Mark did, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (9:24). I did want to trust the Father but I had to get myself out of the way. I just wasn’t willing to let me go quite yet. I’m a mess like that.  

Then, this fall, the Lord smacked me in the face with this challenge again . . . “Kels, do you trust me – really trust me? Do you believe I can do anything – even greater things then you could ask or imagine? You talk big but I know your heart.”

Probably due to spiritual fatigue and the famine in my soul, I conceded. “Yes, Lord . . .  my heart is ready to bow down to your throne. I desire to know you more fully, because no matter what, I need you. I need you desperately.” And since that watershed, I have asked the Lord to do His work in me (although, I don’t think He had ever stopped). I have a Post-it Note I see everyday with these requests written on it: for the Lord to grow my faith in Him, to create a deeper dependence on the Holy Spirit, to show me what it means to completely trust Him (yeah, I know I won’t grasp that until eternity), and to renew my expectation in what He’s doing in and around me. I can’t say I feel like He’s answering that prayer everyday, but I can believe (in faith) He is.
So, that’s a super long intro for me to say I’d like to share what the Lord has been revealing to me about faith. (I must credit Bible Study Fellowship where the Lord has untucked a great deal of this Truth to me from His Word). Most of you mature folks already know all of this by now, but I’m a definite (and very stubborn) work-in-progress. To be honest, I hadn’t ever truly thought about what faith really is. It’s just a word we, Christians, throw around a lot. I pray this encourages you through whatever tug-of-war of faith He is calling you to. May we all heed the words of Hebrews and please God with our faith in Him! It’s seems it’s impossible without it.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

FAITH . . .
- “is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
- asks for no detailed explanations or plans to pre-approve. It simply trusts and obeys.
- is enabled through the work of Jesus in our lives (Heb. 13:20-21, 1 Thess. 5:24)
- is a way of life. It’s choosing to believe God – period.
- is what pleases God – always has been . . . always will be.
- saves and will be rewarded.
- waits on the Lord to fulfill His promises.
- walks with God and worships rightly.
- perseveres
- looks up
- says thank you

With a list like this, it seems exercising faith might be an unattainable goal for any believer. However, the author of Hebrews commands us to, “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (12:2). Jesus is faith’s author because He lived the way of faith first and creates faith in those who trust Him. And, He is faith’s perfecter because He will bring that faith to its final perfection (BSF, Lesson 14, p. 4).

We can rest assured “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). If He calls us to faith, He will equip us for faith. The question is not will I have faith today? We all put our faith in someone or something. The question is, my friend, in whom will I put my faith? It’s your choice.

I choose faith . . . I choose Jesus. 

My dear friend, Melanie, recently gave me a cd called “Faith in You” by Jami Smith. It is so powerful. My prayer is I would believe these lyrics with the same conviction Smith sings them. I’ve included my favorite song with the lyrics – “Faith in You.”

Bow my head to pray
I know You hear each word I say
I’m pouring out my heart to You like water
I have faith, I have faith
I have faith in You
I know the road is long
And we don’t always get to understand it all
But we are asking, God, help us to trust You anyway
For every mile we walk
For every sorrow that seems to break our hearts
Would You give us strength to face each day
In Your grace

I have faith, I have faith
I have faith in You

I have faith, I have faith
I have faith in You

I see you there so strong
I see you open your mouth and sing along
I see you trusting in His words every single day
The courage in your eyes
Wish I could tell you how you changed my life
I want to live each moment now
Remembering your face

I have faith, I have faith
I have faith in You
I have faith, I have faith
I have faith in You

And when this life is over
I will be free from pain
I will forever be
Satisfied in You
I have faith, I have faith
I have faith in You
I have faith, I have faith
I have faith in You

Bow my head to pray
I know You hear each word I say

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th . . . and we survived!!

I didn’t process the reality during childbirth (mind you) that having a baby on the 13th would eventually result in a Friday the 13th birthday. Lucky for us (no pun intended), Alexa hasn’t celebrated a Friday birthday yet but we have managed to celebrate a few month-aversaries and survived just fine. No black cats. No broken mirrors. Whew – another one down!

Regardless, it’s been a wonderful month (minus daily refinement in the discipline department) watching Alexa continue to learn, grow and develop into her own little person. And about the pic, Alexa isn’t doing her latest Betsy Ross impression, she just loves hats. This was the hat she chose to wear to the park today. Yesterday, she grabbed a pink sunhat. The day before that – a brown & pink fleece cap. The day proceeding – a crocheted beanie. And the Mickey Mouse ears from Disney World, well, they are a “must wear” everyday.

There were so many pictures I just didn’t have a place to post this month. So you’ll get a fine sampling of Alexa in action below. Take a deep breath . . . there are lots. But before the slideshow – here are my favorite Alexa moments this month . . .

-- Watching Alexa’s excitement as we did Advent each night when she’d say, “Jesus Coming.” She loved putting the “ormanents” on her Advent tree as well.
-- Alexa quoting Isaiah 9:6 and Luke 2:11 to songs Mommy made up. It’s precious especially when she says “mighty God.” We hope to capture it on video.
-- Alexa singing “Away in a Manger,” “Jingle Bells,” “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” and “The First Noel.” Like Mommy, she LOVES her Christmas music and we still sing a few of her Christmas requests before bed each evening.
-- Alexa also takes after Mommy in wanting to stay clean. Although she loves Cheetos, she also knows they make your hands orange.  When Mimi and Pop were visiting, we were eating some Cheetos with dinner.  Alexa saw them and said "Cheetos! Okay! Dirty hands!"
-- Driving around to see Christmas lights. Alexa loved to see “canananes” (candycanes) in the yards, and she’d say, “More lights” and “Look at that!” when something fascinated her.
-- Alexa still loves her pacis (even when they have small slits in them from her teeth). She actually prefers her “broken paci” the best. I should boil it often.

Enough with the details. I’ll save the rest for her journal. On to the pics . . .

Haircut #3. This was the first time Alexa sat in the car all by herself. Look at her driving skills spinning that steering wheel! Stay off the road in 2026.

Opening up Christmas packages from family in CA and CO. Look at that excitement!

And playing inside the packages which also make brilliant boats.

Alexa loved her purse from Auntie Janet & Uncle Tom. She immediately put it on her arm and said, “Bye Bye,” blew us a kiss and headed to the door.

The following day she accessorized her purse with a new bracelet and Mommy’s scarf. Off on her “shopping” adventure.  

There has been continual jumping on the trampoline. Alexa will say, “Mommy jump.” Luckily, between the two of us, we don’t surpass the allowable weight limit.

Alexa likes to end jumping exercises with a slide out dismount. It’s a hoot. She likes for Mommy to do it too – even more of a hoot.

Reading her new book from Ama & Opa. I love this pic of her eyelashes.

This is “real life” Alexa – throwing a fit because she can’t hold the camera. Check out Alexa and Daddy’s Lego tower to the right.

Playing with her cousins, Bailey and Laken Mills, who were visiting from Colorado Springs, CO. Alexa calls them “Bailey/Laken.” They also have a sweet little sister who didn’t make the pic – Karis Hope.

And finally, look at my precious family and those amazing lights. They were at Chesapeake in OKC. Alexa with Layton, Aunt Holly and Mimi.

Alexa is so blessed to have the sweetest cousins in the world. She stayed the night with them this particular evening and was so excited to sleep in Layton’s room.

Hard to believe we’ll be celebrating #2 in just two months. We love you sweet girl!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

So . . . it’s really over?

I’ve attempted to put away the Christmas decorations all week. This is the only week of the year I question why I put up so many decorations. I have to admit, I get a little bummed taking them down because I love the ambiance of our little home at Christmas – the smells, the music, the lights. I say to myself in disbelief, “Is it really over?” When everyone else is fleshing out their New Year’s Resolutions, I’m still knee deep in bubble wrap, packing tape & Rubbermaid containers. It seriously looked like an obstacle course of boxes this week. I have no idea how we didn’t trip over them. It’s a miracle!

This is one of the decorations it’s hard to put away. Chris’ Grandma Graf made these “pasta” angels. It takes an incredibly talented (and patient) individual to craft these masterpieces. I always want to belt out “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” when I see them. They make me smile.

Anyway, it seems our little girl is also experiencing a bit of disbelief that Christmas is over. For several nights, she ran to the sofa to do her Advent devotional. She didn’t know why I wasn’t playing Christmas music (all day), and she was definitely perplexed as to why the “ormanents” were missing (well, why they were spread all over the coffee table). She’d say, “Where the ormanents go?”

Earlier this week, I was preparing breakfast when I began to wonder why it was so quiet (this normally means Alexa’s exercising her curiousity). I walked around the corner and discovered Lil’ A putting her “ormanents” back on the tree. She said “Alexa’s ormanents here . . . on the tree.” It was so precious.

Yep, I have to agree with Alexa. Her ornaments needed to go right there – perfect.
The decorations were officially hauled up the attic ladder this evening to spend another 300ish days in the darkness until they are unveiled again. I haven’t put the “normal” decorations back up (you know a girl’s gotta dust & vacuum before that can happen). That will be my goal for next week – to put some flare back into the rooms that now feel cold and bare. I truly can’t believe the holiday season has come and gone but I am looking forward to a bright 2012 (even though Alexa and I are still singing Christmas songs together). New Year – here we come!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Whee . . . Down the Slide!

This is a very common phrase around our household. Alexa used to call all slides a “whee” but now she has added “down the slide.” And boy . . . did we ever “whee” yesterday. It was a glorious day – temps near 70 degrees. We definitely had to get outside to frolic in the warm sunshine. Alexa will say, “Park . . . kay.” Except it isn’t really a suggestion. It’s more of a statement letting me know she’s great with her recommendation, and I should hop on the “Alexa wants her way” bandwagon. I was all for it yesterday. Here are a few snapshots from our trips to the park. Yes, we visited the playground two times - pre- and post-nap. Delightful!

I said it was warm outside. I didn’t say it was without wind. It’s Oklahoma, after all!

Alexa enjoys hanging from a bar to swing herself into full throttle “whee.”

What a landing! And look at those teeth . . . I love her imperfect grin.

Lil’ A also enjoys sliding down on her belly. She calls this the “body” slide. She’s sizing up the slope and determining how much speed she’ll pick up on the descent.

Alright – here I go Mommy! Please make sure I don’t “Superman” off.

On the walk (I mean, the run) home, Alexa enjoys watching her shadow.

She kept looking at her shadow and waving. She’d say, “Hi shadow.” What a fun day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One Last Hurrah for 2011

The Kilgore & Scoggins crew gather to celebrate their 33rd New Year’s Eve together. Just so you know – all of the little ones celebrated 2012 in their beds.

I consider our New Year’s Eve celebration with the Kilgore family as much of a Christmas tradition as eating turkey and pumpkin pie. It’s just sort of understood we’ll be together on New Year’s Eve. As the caption states, my family has been celebrating with the Kilgore family since I was born (at least that’s what the matriarchs remember – it could go even further back). I cannot recall a year I wasn’t with at least one of the Kilgore family members when the NYC ball dropped. (Of course, my family was there too.) Since my birth, the celebration has added nine more family members and the tradition continues. We just have more pack-n-plays and most of us get tired by 10 pm. We still manage to make it past midnight to usher in a new year. We also enjoy our traditional caramels. (Delicious caramels rolled in biscuit dough, fried, and covered in powered sugar – delightful). With full bellies and memories of sweet fellowship, our little family crawled into bed at 2:30 am. WHEW – what a way to ring in 2012. But, honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Janice Kilgore’s “melt in your mouth” sugar cookies. We had to give everyone a sugar cookie allowance this year as they are always in high demand. Unfortunately, I didn’t capture a pic of the infamous caramels. I’ll try to remember next year.

My Dad hanging with the younger crew – Brandon & Kim Kilgore and Courtney Kilgore sans Trey.

Trey & Courtney’s sweet little girl, Aubrey Grace, belting out a tune.

Kim enjoying her precious baby boy, Malachi Kelly. What a blue-eyed charmer!

Aunt Kels, Rylen and Uncle Chris gather together with our good friend, David, who was visiting us before he heads back overseas. He has joined our celebration two times now . . . what a brave soul.