Friday, April 26, 2013

This One's for the Girls 2013

On Wednesday night, we celebrated our second annual "This One's for the Girls" (a.k.a. "Princess Power Training") spa night at Heartland. I wanted to begin a program like this for Lorelei, because I know we have got to be deliberate as mothers in teaching our daughters the truth about who they are and what defines their beauty. More about its beginnings HERE and HERE.
I was so thrilled to introduce our keynote speaker, Miss Greater Wichita 2013 (soon to compete for Miss Kansas), Hannah Fox. Here's Hannah & her little chihuahua mix Tia with Lorelei before the event.
Sutton's mommy was helping out, so she got some special Tia kisses before the event too.
Each time, I have been simply overwhelmed by the response. I have so many moms stop me to say, "I've been praying for something like this for my daughter." It breaks my heart, but both years we've had to turn people away because there's more demand than space. We've had other churches interested in joining us too, so I know this is heavy on mothers' hearts. We all just know what our precious girls are up against, and we want to stand together as a community and be voices of truth.  It's really been a group effort, completely led by these intentional moms.
 I had the privilege of introducing our speaker and giving a short talk about what beauty is, and what it isn't.  I think it's so important for moms to acknowledge that THEY are beautiful, just the way they are, because if they can't accept that truth about themselves, their daughters will struggle to accept it, too. We are ALWAYS modeling for our girls what it means to love and accept ourselves.
I asked Hannah if she would give the same speech Miss Kansas 2012 gave last year. She removed layer after layer--sash, crown, shoes, dress--until her hair was in a ponytail and she was in a plain old shirt and shorts, asking each time: "Does this change who I am?"

Powerful! What an example of beauty being so much more than skin-deep.
We led the girls and moms together in a chant--"I am beautiful!"--because God created us, He creates beauty, and He tells us we are "fearfully and wonderfully made."
I love capturing the faces of mothers and daughters hearing this message.

 Hannah also brought copies of her book and signed them to the girls. A treasure!
 We split off into small groups for "love manicures." 
 Using nail pens, we wrote letters representing the be-YOU-tiful and unique qualities we love about our daughters: S because Lulu is such a great big sister, V because she's a talented violinist, H because she's always so helpful, C for her boundless creativity, F because she's fun & a friend to all...
She kind of loved it.

 You can just see the Light in their eyes.

Next, we played the "Pass the Pedicure Game." We pass the polish until the music stops, then paint one toe.

Super fun and colorful!
 We ended the night in relaxing facial and cucumber eye treatments, just doting on our sweet daughters.

Because they are daughters of a King, crowned in beauty.
And we love them.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Shire

Thanks to Legos, Gryffy has an obsession with Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit. The kid also is madly in love with our bunny, Mr. Tubbins. So we married the two ideas, and made Mr. Tubbins his very own Shire one day while Daddy was at work.

Ridiculous, I know. But we really love that bunny.
 He even has a little lettuce garden, to replace our old square-foot-garden (let's admit it here--I have a black thumb).  Lorelei and Gryffy have been watering the sod, and they helped pick out the green rocks and "Every Bunny Welcome" sign (after-Easter clearance at Hobby Lobby).
 Mr. Tubbins loves his hobbit hole (I laid sod over a plastic bunny igloo), only it's impossible to tempt him out once he wriggles in there, escaping the yapping Next-Doors' dogs or a downpour of rain. Yes, I've spent a sleepless night in a hailstorm peering out our window, waiting for Tubbins to finally evacuate, only to bring him inside at 1:30 in the morning--stubborn bunny! But it makes my heart sing to see our bunny so bouncy and free when he's out of hiding.
Can you spy that tufty white fur tucked back in there?
(Now we have to work on Daddy to let us get Mr. Tubbins a companion. I'm thinking a Mr. Baggins would make a very nice, fluffy addition to our family.) 

Monday, April 15, 2013

New Orleans

Mark and I took a quick weekend trip to New Orleans, a southern city I've always wanted to visit.
We had some flight troubles. Mark's flight was canceled, so his connection was routed through Minnesota, where he almost got stranded in a snowstorm. Meanwhile, I made it in on my scheduled flights over some very stormy skies. When I arrived, there were reports of rotations and tornado warnings and bridges closing--my own mini-Katrina. Here's the view from room #4444 in the Astor.
But I ventured out for an umbrella and toured the French Quarter.
 These balconies are amazing. I love the spilling flowers.

The windows were so inviting, especially on a stormy day.
 And I was in heaven with all the art galleries on la Rue Royale.

Fortunately, my date showed up Thursday evening. We had fried oysters & Italian fare at Absinthe House.

 I discovered the Cafe du Monde, home of the original beignet. They were so cheap and oh-so-decadent. I had to bring my date here for dessert.
 For breakfast, we munched on the world-famous croissants at Cafe D'Or.  While Mark went off conferencing, I stayed behind to write just here, tucked beside the window. Heaven.
 I could go on and on about the food.  Here are fish tacos and red beans in the Garden District.  But our absolute favorite meal was the Acme House's broiled oysters (I didn't bring my camera--such a shame).
I met up with Arlene, the passenger next to me on a very bumpy flight.  Just saw her walking by on Bourbon Street.  We bonded, as people tend to do thinking they're about to die.
 A bit more of NOLA--the French Quarter.

I love touring cathedrals.  Here is St. Louis Cathedral, and all around it were artists and jazz musicians for the famous Quarter Festival.  It was the perfect time to take in the culture of this great city.

Mark and I took the Green Trolley to the Garden District.  Here we are at the famous Lafayette Cemetery.
 It was interesting at both cemeteries we visited to notice signs of voodoo still alive in New Orleans--people writing "xxx" on graves for wishes to be granted, or leaving sugar packets to ward off evil spirits.  The earth is so swampy that graves here are above ground.
 They fit several bodies in a grave at a time. Once the freshest of the dead decomposes, whatever's left is slid to the bottom to make room for the next knocker at death's door.
 I'll admit, with all the ramshackle graves half tilted into the ground, crumbling so that even parts of their inner chambers are exposed, I felt a bit creeped out when I got separated from Mark.  It's a maze in there.

We ended our trip with a tour of the Garden District, which had a distinct flavor of our old home, Charleston, SC.  I love the patios & gas lanterns.

 This is so southern--tree roots bulging through the earth, pushing up cobbles.
 No room to grow.
And the courtyards were divine. Even Mark, not so the chaser of beauty I tend to be, had to stop me to take in this beauty.
All in all, it was a lovely, short trip to one of America's most flavorful, charming, invigorating cities.