Friday, July 30, 2010


on the brink.
this is about how i feel right now.


at first sight.
autumn wrote to me a few weeks ago for help finding the perfect outfit. she is about to be reunited with her husband who has been deployed for a year! eeeek!
i can't imagine how excited she is. she wanted something light, airy, and comfortable. and of course she wants to look gorgeous for her husband! 
i was immediately drawn to this dress from j.crew because of it's price and empire waist. autumn is petite and an empire waist is great for us short gals. it makes it look like your legs start under your boobs. that sounds like a weird body type (pear, hour-glass, torso-less...) but, under clothing--it just works!
i wanted autumn to have something relatively simple. no belts to adjust or scarves to re-tie. when she's running towards her man, she does not want to be worried about her outfit! plus, i wanted her to feel great, and personally, i always feel great in a dress. this knit dress is good middle-ground: not too dressy, but still special. 

after posting this, i realized i didn't include a necklace. i generally choose 2 out of 3 jewelry locations when accessorizing so as not to overdo it (meaning: earrings and necklace or bangles and earrings), but that's because i love huge earrings, huge necklaces, and huge bangles; so it gets a bit much. with this delicate look, i think a simple gold necklace would look beautiful. maybe a letter "D" charm for her husband, derek!
i hope you love it, autumn! i know you must be so nervous and excited and anxious for him to arrive! oh, and by the way: a bonus of this outfit, is that the pink will look great next to army green in all your pictures!

can't wait until i'm picking my reunion outfit!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


she woke at her normal time and snuggled in for her first meal of the day. she didn't know that this day was different. she didn't know that this day was special. that she was one year old on this day. as she ate, i held her close and whispered tales of a brave soldier and his young maiden, of their long journey across a dark sea to a sun-filled sky; all for the birth of a precious babe.

the child was born quickly. a dark whirlwind of power and pain.
but as the darkness faded to light, the calm began and the gift of the precious babe began to spread. the babe was quiet, mild. she knew when to smile and when to sleep. when to hush and when to coo. some even said she exuded an inner peace.
soon the brave soldier was called away. the young maiden wrote page after page detailing their days, hoping to bring him back into their world. their hearts were heavy, but the precious babe brought elation to the firstborn and joy to the maiden's heart.
it was as if she were a promise of the young man's return.
but the days grew long and the nights lonely, until one day, the brave soldier finally returned. they welcomed him with guarded embrace, but as he looked past the tears in their weary eyes, he saw a glimmer of hope.
the joy that the precious babe had given was still there and he knew that her birth was truly a gift. the precious babe did not know that her life would have such purpose so soon, but the brave soldier and the young maiden would never forget.

as i softly sang "happy birthday," i thanked God for this precious babe.
for her eyes and her smile. for the joy and peace that He gives me through her.
the next year of her life will be different than most. her daddy will be composed of words and pictures rather than time and memories. on her next birthday she will have spent only six of her twenty-four months with our brave soldier.

but i will continue the tales as we continue the journey.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


cold shoulder.

i really tried to take a decent picture of this outfit.  i promise i did. but by the time i had the opportunity, it was dusk, i was sweaty, and my tummy was giving me a rumble. no, not the "i'm hungry" rumble. the other kind of rumble. you know the one. (am i seriously talking about my digestion to you guys? sheesh! sorry.)
anyway. my patience for outfit pictures only lasts about five minutes. and if i don't get a decent picture--i'm over it. but i still wanted to show you what i wore today because i really like the pattern-mixing and, well, i thought i should document the fact that i'm finally not wearing my cut-off denim shorts. i've been wearing those puppies like it's my job. and finally, my employer is in the laundry, so i had to branch out a little. anyway, the rumbling has since ceased and i'm now in my beloved sweat pants. yes, these. you guys know i loves me some cute clothes, but nothin' beats taking your bra off and throwing your sweats on at the end of the day.

am i right???

striped tank: j.crew, $12
solid tank: j.crew, $8
skirt: forever 21, $15
belt: j.crew, $9
flipflops: j.crew, $9
earrings: a gift, these
bracelet: j.crew


up. the sequel. without the dumb talking dogs.
this is a long post. it won't hurt my feelings if you just look at the pictures.

a couple of weekends ago we attended a fundraising event for military couples. there was a silent auction and one of the items up for bid was a hot air balloon ride. i joked to mr.a that we should bid on it. but, after our recent home improvements, things are a little tight in the ol' checking account. so, the balloon ride was forgotten.
until last week when a friend from the fundraiser called and said there were actually two balloon rides donated and they wondered if we would like to go!
i was so excited i got all choked up.
i had just said to mr.a, we need to do something really fun before you leave. but the aforementioned budget restraints were limiting us to a really fun night, cheap wine and maybe third base (if we didn't fall asleep first).
so this was a huge surprise and something we never would have been able to do without the generous donation of our balloon pilot and the fundraising efforts of
dr.gary and barb rosberg and their team.
anyway, when i got the call i thought it would be fun to keep it a secret from mr.a. (isn't everything better when it's a surprise??) so, i didn't tell him until yesterday that we would be going on a little adventure that evening. his dad came over after work to stay with the girls, i told him to dress casually in something that would look cute with his bindfold (ha) and we took off for the
indianola balloon field.
the blindfold ended up being completely unnecessary, because mr.a was konked out as soon as we hit the interstate. doesn't he look handsome when he's sleeping?
don't i look handsome when i'm excited?
the unfortunate side of keeping your destination a secret from your passenger is that they can't help you when you get yourself lost. yes, i drove about 10 miles past the balloon field. but, in my defense, mapquest doesn't really give very specific directions when your destination is: field. but, i turned around and found it eventually.
mr.a was totally surprised. when i told him to take off his blindfold he was like,
"uhhh, sweet. a field." but when he saw a guy with a ballooon on his t-shirt and huge baskets everywhere, it clicked.

ballooning is like this little community that most of us know nothing about.
we learned so much from our pilot. it was a really incredible experience. each balloon has a crew of 3-5 people that help get it into the air, "chase" it, help plot a landing, and then help with the landing and loading. our pilot, rob, keeps it in the family. his mom and dad, wife and kids are his crew. his first ride as a child was in the same balloon that he now owns and flies. isn't that neat? the whole process of getting it ready for take-off is really amazing, too.
it's hard to describe what it's like watching this enormous balloon fill up with air. seeing it grow and expand...i felt like i was a child in a fairytale. like in james and the giant peach or in willy wonka watching violet turn into a huge blueberry. it was surreal.
and then it's time to climb into the basket!

i got a little nervous when i realized the basket was not even waist-high. i felt really exposed. and all of a sudden....we begin to lift off the ground. light and weightless, you just start to float! it's quiet and peaceful and it seems wrong that you are up in the open air. without walls or seatbelts or stewardesses! my stomach has butterflies even now as i think about it.
this was my first glance down... 

it was a beautiful summer night. not too hot, not too muggy, not too buggy. an occasional breeze was welcomed because the flame that lifts the balloon was like standing next to a campfire. but it's only in short, sporadic bursts. it doesn't run the whole time. 
because ballooning is completely dependent on the weather, when the weather is right, there are usually multiple balloons heading out for a flight. there were about 6 other balloons last night. look how huge this balloon looks next to the barn!
our balloon was called the yellow brick road.
can you see why?it was cool to watch our shadow...
and our reflection...
iowa's fields are so beautiful. especially from above...
i love this picture. it's classic iowa...
eventually, the sun began to set and it was time to come down.
our hour in the air flew by and i was sad to descend.
but i'm so glad i got to share this incredible experience with this boy...
i love him so much i could give him a knuckle sandwich for leaving us.
but i won't. his nose is crooked enough.

Monday, July 26, 2010


tonight is the night of the second surprise for mr.a and i'm soooo excited!
here's a little hint...
can you guess???

i have to admit, i'm a little bummed about missing the bachelorette tonight.
yes, i watch. it's my sister's fault.
i sit there and scoff half the time, but can't seem to skip a week!
but my surprise for mr.a is so good, he's gonna feel like he's on the bachelorette.
and i'm totally inviting him to the couple's suite tonight.* ha!

*that will make no sense unless you watch the show.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


yes. it's that dress again.
i feel entitled to wear it as much as i want since it's the dress that mr.a bought for me. and, well, i guess i don't have to explain why that makes it a bit sentimental these days.
dress: michael stars, gift
scarf: thrifted, $5
earrings: forever 21, $4
sandals: gap, $14

Saturday, July 24, 2010


love/hate relationships.

so there's a story about this dress.
i had actually bought a different dress from forever21 for the party, but later decided it was maybe a bit too dressy. so the afternoon before the party, i brought the dress back to exchange for something else. anyone who shops at forever21 knows how terrible their return policy is, ecpecially considering the relatively poor quality of their clothes. if you don't know their return policy, basically you have 21 days to return an item that must be unworn, tags attached, and have the original receipt. but you can only ever get store credit--no money back. luckily, i had this other dress in mind, had my receipt and the tags were still on the dress i was returning.
so i bring it up to the counter and explain that i have an exchange. the girl asks if there was anything wrong with the dress, i say no. then she says, "you have to have your receipt." i point to where i had just set the receipt in front of her. then she calls a manager over and says the tags aren't attached. well, i knew they were attached. so the manager turns the dress inside out, searching for the tags which just happened to be attached to a spot other than where they normally are (i guess). the manager rips the tags off and tells the co-worker that it will have to be re-tagged. they're both acting like i've somehow re-tagged the thing myself and that's why it was in such a mysterious location. whatever.
so then the manager asks me why i'm returning the dress. i explain for the second time. but they're both acting hostile towards me. totally giving me the stare-down, which i don't understand, because i'm returning the dress under their ridiculous confines without any complaint. so then the manager proceeds to inspect every inch of the dress and, for the grand finale, holds it up in the air and SNIFFS it. by this time i'm really annoyed. i have both girls with me and quinn is crying and piper is begging for neon pink nailpolish. i just want out of there. but they continue to take their sweet time analyzing whether i've somehow damaged this $20 dress that has sat in the bag in my closet for 3 days.
luckily, i felt amazing in the dress i ended up with, and we had a fantastic time at the party, so i quickly got over my annoyance with forever 21. until about midnight, when we were getting ready to leave, and i look over and sitting just a few tables away is the forever21 manager! the girl who sniffed my dress up & down! all my frustration comes rushing back to me. so, i walked over to her, introduced myself and explained that i thought what she had done was a little rude and that maybe they should try to treat their customers with more respect and...
she totally blew me off.
first she claimed that it wasn't her (it was) and then said that it was rude of me to question her work ethic while she's obviously out trying to relax and have a good time.
maybe that's true. maybe i shouldn't have said anything to her. i don't know what i hoped she would say, maybe explain that she has some sort of OCD about where tags are placed or that she thought the dress smelled really good and was going to ask me about my perfume... i don't know. but the customers who return items are the same customers who purchase items and they ought to be treated equally.
which, maybe at forever 21 is equally bad
sigh. forever 21. can't live with it. can't live without it.
dress: forever 21, $22
earrings: forever 21, $6
espadrilles: target:, $11

Friday, July 23, 2010


the first surprise.
last night was mr.a's first surprise. i was nervous that somehow it would end up spoiled (because there were about 60 people in on it), but it ended up being a huge success!
mr.a is deploying with one of our best friends. they are in the same squad and will be together for the next year. his wife, alana, helped me plan the party for our boys. well, by "plan" i mean we just invited a bunch of friends down to raccoon river brewery for beer and pizza. and last-minute alana brought some cute decorations, too! the guys had been sneakily invited there by mr.a's brother for a few beers. all the while we were waiting upstairs in the swanky pool hall.
we all cheered as they walked in and mr.a was truly surprised.
i had never thrown a surprise party--it was so fun!
i now think all parties should be surprise parties.
we drank great beer, ate gourmet pizza, and spent one of our last evenings with our dearest friends. unfortunately i didn't take any decent pictures because i was having too much fun!


erin's house.
anytime i tell piper that we have to run errands,
she thinks we're running to erin's.
each stop we make, she asks, "is this erin's house?"
"no sweetie. erin doesn't live at the thrift store."

this is what i wore erin-running...

head-to-toe: j.crew

Thursday, July 22, 2010


good morning!
sorry things have been quiet around here. i've had a terrible case of nesting syndrome. (except without the baby bird.) we have been trying to organize our basement because my little sister is moving in! she'll be going to university nearby, and since mr.a will be gone, we're hoping it'll be a win-win situation for both of us.
anyway, it's practically been an episode of hoarders at our house this week. luckily, i looooove getting rid of stuff. once i get started--look out! the girls are clinging to their baby books and teddy bears.

today i have trips planned to three consignment shops. one for women, one for teens, and one for babies. it's kind of annoying to have to make all those trips (and then trips back to collect cash) but, they all accept different types of clothing and it's better than dumping it all at the goodwill.

i also have two huge-o surprises for mr.a this week!!!!
 he only reads my blog like, twice a year
("i live it! i don't need to read it!" says he)
but i still don't want to risk telling you yet.

i hope you understand the posts may be a little sporadic for the next week or so. but don't give up on me! i'll be back with all sorts of child-rearing chaos, expressions of love for my mr.a, and of course cute outfits all along the way.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


an extra five.
i've gained at least five pounds this summer.
i always do. i know most people lose weight in the summer. but for me, summer brings a laid-back attitude and lots of fun. and my kind of fun involves eating. i know the psychology behind that is far from healthy
five pounds up, five pounds down, i guess.
i'm a perpetual fluctuator. i'll lose the five come winter when everything is sad and dreary and you have to work-out just to stay warm.
i bring the whole weight thing up because, though gaining an extra five pounds was really fun, finding a spot for those pesky pounds in my wardrobe isn't.
i need to get my butt into gear and out of spanx. actually, i think all women, regardless of weight or size, should own spanx. target has a great off-brand called assets. they're much cheaper but just as good at keepin' the jiggles at bay. an asset a day keeps the jiggles away. or something like that...

i can't remember how to bring this full circle into what i wore today.
i got way off-track when i started talking about the ol' l.b.'s.
(that's what they always call pounds on E!news.)
i guess it makes them sound cute and friendly.
like the nice, new girl on the Hills.
can't you just hear ryan seacrest?
"has kim k. packed on a few l.b's since she & the reg-meister took a trip to splitsville?!!?!" 

anyway, here i am with my extra five...
cardigan: forever 21, $15
t-shirt: j.crew, $9
pants: j.crew: $20
shoes: franco sarto, gift from mr.a
locket: gift from my bestest
wooden bangle: f21, $5

p.s. let me clarify: i'm not complaining about my body or size. after waaaay too many years of being super-critical of myself, i've learned to give my bod some slack. (five pounds of slack. each and every summer. ha!)
i refuse to beat myself up over it. but i also know that i feel better when i eat right and get consistent exercise. which i have not been doing lately.
so, this is more of a personal acknowledgment that i should probably cut back on the late-night snacking sesh's with mr.a so i can button my pants again.
i love that man's snacking habits, but i abhor his metabolism.
and by "abhor" i mean covet.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


the other day we were at the west glen fountains; an outdoor space with fountains for kids to splash in, right in the middle of a shopping area.
(local moms: have you been there? it's fantastic! the perfect multitasking playdate. if you're really smart you leave your kid at the fountains while you run to target. uh, just kidding.) anyway, after the girls splashed around for a while, we decided to go around the corner to plato's closet for a little thrifting adventure. (everything is an adventure when you're toting two kids.)
thrift stores are generally not the most kid-friendly shopping option. especially a place like plato's closet where the average employee age is 17. i was looking for shorts, but had no luck. so we started looking through dresses. i tried a million things on (interrupted by an impromptu nursing session for quinn in the dressing room) and had given up. i was pretty annoyed that we had wasted all that time, only to leave empty-handed. but just as we were walking out the door, i spotted a dress in the window with all of my favorite colors. i had an employee get it down for me, and (without even trying it on) bought it on the spot. and....drumroll please......
i'm in love.

it's my perfect summer dress: lightweight, bright colors, flattering fit.
i loooove the pattern and all the color. i wore it the next day out to dinner with friends and i have to say--i felt awesome. it's just my prefect summer dress. (did i say that already?)
so the thrifting adventure ended with a hidden treasure.
well worth the search.

dress: billabong, thrifted, $14
necklace: forever 21, $5
purse: banana republic, $25
sandals: j.crew, $12