Saturday, June 28, 2008

Baby's First Pedi

What's a girl to do when her daddy's out pressure washing?

Get a pedicure!
Perfectly Pink, please!

Looks good, mom!Braelyn quite enjoyed her outdoor pedi.
It was the first thing she told daddy when he got home. :)

Speaking of pedicures...
Question: How young is too young to get a pedicure? Like a real live pedicure that you pay for?
I would say, if you still carry a baby doll...YOU'RE TOO YOUNG!

Last week I was getting a fabulous pedicure, but there were a few disturbing moments. The first was when I realized that there was a 5-ish year old girl getting a pedicure (with her baby) in between her parents...yes, both mom and dad.

The second disturbing moment occured when the lady who was giving me my pedicure asked me...out of NOWHERE...if I wanted my eyebrows done. I politely, but a little confused said no thank you, to which she looked at me as if to say, "Lady, you do not want to be seen in public with those crazy eyebrows!"

Now, there are plenty of spots on my body that I fuss and obsess over, my eyebrows, however were not one of them! I always felt sort of lucky that I didn't have to "work" on my brows. But this lady, while boiling my feet in hot wax, planted a seed of eyebrow doubt. If you, Reader, call yourself my friend and have ever thought my eyebrows unruly...why have you not told me this?!!! That's your job!!!

Well, in all honesty, even if you did tell me I had unruly eyebrows, I'd probably just keep 'em like they are. I figure, who's lookin' at my eyebrows when my feet look so darn good!


Yesterday was a happy day! Casey came home from camp, it was his birthday, and a culinary miracle happened right here in my kitchen...thanks to Jesus and Ina, the Barefoot Contessa. I believe it to be a miracle, because 1. I'm not a very good cook and 2. I never cook anything unhealthy enough to be that good anyways ;).

I got a very late start on dinner, which was disappointing because Braelyn had to go to bed before it was ready (she had her own dinner, of course). But we couldn't let her miss out on cake and candles, so we did that first.
(Yes, that's a sad, store-bought birthday cake, and also sad, that's not 30 candles.)

After we got Braelyn to bed, my heavenly Ina Lasagna was ready. The up-side to the late dinner was that it was very quiet and romantic. I didn't have to get up from the table once! It was really the first time Casey and I were able to sit and talk in over a week, maybe two. Very nice! let's talk about this lasagna...SoooOOOooo delicious!!!

I wanted Casey's birthday dinner to be really special, so I thought I'd try something a little fancier than normal. After browsing the Net, I decided on Barefoot Contessa's lasagna recipe, which you can find here. I watch Barefoot Contessa every once in a while, and her food always looks amazing but I've never tried anything before this (except for her cookie mix that you can buy at the store...FABULOUS!).

Now, folks...this ain't no CookingLight lasagna! This recipe is gonna do some damage to your diet, but IT IS worth it! It did call for turkey sausage, which might bring it from like 5000 calories to 4000, but our HEB didn't have any, so I used regular mild sausage. 5000 it is! And, I just picked up a package of mozzarella, but when I started cooking I realized that she uses fresh mozz. So, I bet that makes it even better! The star of this recipe however, is the goat cheese. Oh my gosh, it's so good!
Most importantly, I think Casey really enjoyed it...which is saying something because he's a pretty tough critic. I have to say...I was a proud little wifey. ;)

Finally, a little warning...I know I've already done a number of posts about Braelyn/Casey birthday are coming. I know, it's crazy. We've celebrated together, but not with any family or friends yet, and so when that happens, I'm sure I will feel compelled to post more pictures and whatnot, so...yeah...more birthday blogging to come.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hey Honey....

Happy Birthday to you...

Happy Birthday to you...

Happy Birthday dear Casey, (man, your wife really loves you a lot)...

Happy Birthday to you!

Just in case some of who are thinking, "What's the big deal? That's not a very exciting 30th birthday present," let's look at some before pictures, shall we?

This is me trying to make some sense out of ALL. THE. BOOKS!!!!! UGH! There are so many!!!

So there ya go, Honey. I love you so much. I can't wait to see you! Happy 30th Birthday!!!!!!!!

And don't worry, Casey and others, there are more presents to come. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I FINALLY graduated Braelyn from her high chair to a booster seat! So, I'm ready to move the high chair to the garage until there's another baby to occupy it. However, the cushion is DISGUSTING! I want to throw it out, but not at the risk of having to buy a whole new high chair. Does anyone know if you can buy just the cushion? I didn't look very long, but the Internet wasn't very helpful.

June 21, 2008: Part 2

The Reunion...

Here I am, with my full and complete ensemble ;). I loved my dress (thanks to White House/Black Market), but I was so nervous that I was going to be over dressed. At first, it looked like my fears were coming true, but sure enough lots of girls came all decked out. And girls, let me just tell you...I searched far and wide for a dress that was not black, brown or navy. I really wanted something with a lot of color and a big print, but nothing fit quite right or it was pink (not my best color) or it looked hideous. So...little black dress it was. That's okay though...I had a lot of fun wearing it.
Look at these ol' high school sweethearts! I was a sophmore when we got together...that's 12 years!
Casey decided against the other outfit. Banana Republic did redeem themselves however. We gave them another shot, and I have to say...they did'm right! He looked so handsome!
This is us with our dear friend JR and his lovely wife Cory. I've known JR since elementary school. He is essentially the one who brought Casey and I together. We love them and it was great to spend time with them.
Other friends who I've known since elementary school (maybe before)...Keri and Edlow. I was so glad that they were there! Much of the reunion experience was a little awkward and uncomfortable, so several times throughout the night I would go find them and relax a little bit. I don't see them very often, but whenever I do it's like no time has passed at all.
Sadly, many of my close friends from HS live far away and were not able to come, but one friend I was dying to see was my big-brother-kinda-friend, Rondrick. We were on PALs together for two years. I don't think I've ever seen him without that big ol' grin on his face! :)

All in all, I had a good time. It was really great to see everybody. I think I asked, "So, what are you doing now?" a thousand times. I was so tired of hearing myself ask that...but what else do you say?! It is quite interesting to find out what people have been doing for the last 10 years, especially to hear how the "class clowns" are now doctors and lawyers....well, some of them ;). The best part was that Casey was there with me. I loved that we went to the same school and knew many of the same people. I didn't feel so alone in the experience.

So there's that. Will I go to the 20 year reunion?....Hmmm?...I got 10 years to decide!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June 21, 2008: Part 1

Braelyn's Birthday Celebration...just the fam...

First stop: Build-a-Bear
So many cute animal's so hard to choose!
All stuffed with fluff.
I like this one, Mommy!
It was so fun to dress our bear, especially when her little tail popped out!
All set with a new friend.

Second stop: The Dessert Gallery
After some lunch Braelyn got to choose her birthday dessert. I was thinking a delicious cupcake would be perfect, but she chose the Decorate You Own Cookie plate. Big fun!
Ugh...I think I've had all the birthday I can handle!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Baby Girl is TWO!

Just born...
Two!!!Can you believe it?! My brand new baby that I just gave birth to like a month ago is TWO! I think an old cliche' is in order here. Which one should we use?
Ah, time flies...
They grow up so fast...
Enjoy 'em while they're young...(Um...At what age will I stop enjoying her?) (Please note the sarcasm)

Anyways, she's cute as a button and I love her to pieces! I brought a cookie cake for dinner at church tonight and of course she had some and thought it was delicious. I brought home what was left and she apparently took notice of this because as we were sitting in the rocking chair before bed she asked to have some. I told her it was time for bed, but she could have some tomorrow. Then she said in her cute, jumbled, matter-of-fact way, "Cookie sleepin'."

:) She makes me smile.

I attempted to do a full post on last week and our big birthday/reunion weekend, but I was rambling and not making any sense, so I'll try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Update From Camp Chaparral

Sorry I haven't posted in a couple of days...not too much goin' on. Just campin'. We are in Wichita Falls at Camp Chaparral. We've been coming to this camp for years now, we're good friends with the host and many of the campers that return year after year, so it's a good one for us to come to.

There's a lot of fun stuff coming up though:

1. Braelyn's 2nd birthday...on Saturday. I didn't want to do a big party on Saturday...1. I'm here at camp so it would be kinda of crazy getting everything ready and 2. my 10 year HS reunion is that night. So on Saturday we'll just keep it just the three of us. I was thinking we'd take her to Build-a-bear (she's been noticing it - with interest - at the mall lately) and then have lunch and somethin' sweet at the Dessert Gallery. YUM!

2. So 10 year reunion...also on Saturday. I'm a little nervous. I haven't really kept in touch with anyone, but it'll be fun I think. Has anyone gone to theirs? How was it?

3. Casey'll go to two more camps without us. We don't really like to be apart that much all at once, but he'll get a week and a half off after that, so I think we can make it. Plus, he will come home the weekend in between.

4. Speaking of the weekend in's Casey's 30th birthday...June 27th! Yea! We decided not to officially celebrate that weekend since he'll be resting from and for camp...but we will make sure he is properly sent into his thirties! :)

5. We've looked at the calendar and the best time for us to celebrate Braelyn's and Casey's birthday with family is not until July 12th or so. Better late than never I guess. But I think it'll be fun to do a Daddy/Daughter birthday.

I guess that's it for now. We'll leave this camp tomorrow afternoon and head home to Brenham. Then, Friday morning, we'll drive to Houston to get my haircut (yes, I'm sticking to my vow to never get my haircut in Brenham). And then we'll be in SL through Sunday morning. It's gonna be crazy! But good crazy...I hope!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Brainpan...That's the nickname Sawyer gave me! I don't really get it, but I'll take it. ;) I'm pretty sure he would note my red hair, but that wasn't an option.

What's yours?

Casey and I started watching LOST from the beginning last night. It might be even better the second time 'round!

I should really go do something productive now...Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 13, 2008

I Owe BR An Apology

I was reading over my last post last night and started to wonder if I had made a mistake by criticizing Banana Republic's latest fashions. I mean, what do I know? I don't work in the fashion industry...they do. So, today I went to Sugar Land to do some shopping for the reunion. I decided to go ahead and let BR be my guide as I searched the mall for Casey's reunion ensemble.

So, this is what I picked out. Casey really seemed to like it, but y'all be honest...what do you think?
Now we don't know a lot about fashion, but I think we got pretty close to the BR look. Are the glasses too much? Cause if they are, we can totally lose those...just be honest...

And to BR...I am sorry I criticized your fashions! It won't happen again. Thank you so much for helping me put together my husband's reunion ensemble. I never knew he could look so good!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Father's Day is coming up and Casey's birthday is coming up. So...Casey is desperately in need of some new clothes. He needs new clothes for everyday, for speaking...and I would love to find something fabulous for him to wear to my reunion. So, I started browsing around the net to get some ideas...cause really, I'm clueless about what's in fashion for men.

One of my first stops...Banana Republic. I figure I'm pretty safe with them and even if I don't buy from them, they'll help me know what kind of things to look for...right?

Um...are you kidding me?! WHY?
Socks with shorts? And dress shoes? Really?
Are they really selling that as a complete outfit that you should buy?
He looks ridiculous!

But look! There's more!
This one is even better! You're actually saving money by buying this outfit, because you are dressed for every occasion at all times!
Shirt and tie, dress shoes and socks for work.
Shorts for hanging out with the guys or sailing.
And cardigan for reading quietly at home.
I am really considering this for Casey to wear to the reunion. The invitation says "casual," but you know people are going to dress up. So...with this, Casey will be set no matter what!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sacred Parenting: Chapter 5: Joy!

~How Raising Children Helps Us Embrace God's Joy~

I'm sure I've written before how parenting is a daunting and overwhelming task, and it is. Any parent that wants to raise godly children, should, I think have a healthy respect for the job. However, I am discovering that without joy, without laughter (even at mistakes), without freedom, without Christ above all, parenthood is a heavy burden that will bring me to the ground long before the race (or the week) is over. I hate to think of the woman I will be if there is no joy in the journey! That's a long road!

This chapter was a blessing to me. In a way, it gave me permission to relax in my chair, take a breath, and slow down. When I read these Christian parenting books, however great they are, I read with a certain level of anxiety, not wanting to forget a single thing so that once I close the book, I can immediately begin to put the information into practice. I don't think I took a single breath the entire month I read Shepherding a Child's Heart! Anyways, this book, and this chapter in particular helped me to calm down a bit, and helped me to see that everyone, my children included, will be better off if I do.

So what'd he say? For one, he talked about changing the way we pray for our children. Most of us pray for 1. protection and 2. that God would change our children to be more godly and less sinful and more polite and things like that. These are fine prayers that should be prayed often, but Thomas argues that we forget an important prayer, one that will give us joy and perspective...the prayer of thanksgiving. As often as we pray for protection and change, we should give thanks to God for our children, who He has created them to be, and what He is doing in them. If we pray only for protection, we will begin to be swallowed up by fear. If we pray only for change, we begin to only see our children's faults. If we offer a prayer of thanksgiving we begin to take more joy in them and more joy in God. Thomas writes this:

"Think about it: if every time you prayed to God He seemed neurotically fearful for your safety, and then spent the entire time nitpicking over every possible flaw and absence of manners, how often would you want to pray? Not very! If your Heavenly Father does not model His care by showing obsessive fear for us and constantly harping over our failures, why should we build our relationship with our children on such a worthless foundation? How much better to follow His model and rejoice in our children!"

Children are a blessing. They simultaneously bring us down to earth (with the spit up and diapers and tantrums and disobedience) and take us to the mountain tops (with hugs and kisses and sweet words and smiles). With kids, our choices are illuminated. They can help us fight busyness or help us cause it. They can help us become selfless or make us cling to selfishness. They can help us to be grateful or remind us what we've given up. If we are looking through the lens of Christ, children can lead us towards joyful holiness. When we are together, enjoying one another and enjoying God...sanctification happens...His Kingdom is happening!

A final quote:

"It's a natural principle of life that the more time, effort and energy we put into our family, the more we hold it dear."

Monday, June 9, 2008

Proud To Call This Guy Our Friend

I'm not usually one to plug music, but for John Sherrill...who we've known for a while and are proud to call our friend...I have to do it! His new CD, Join the Song, is so great! I really love it.

Braelyn usually demands that we listen to Blue's Clues Biggest Hits while we're in the car (which btw, I have listened to virtually everyday since Christmas! I know every word. Shoot me!), but today I told her I wanted to listen to John's CD and in no time at all she was singing right along. (By singing, I mean mumbling through the sentences, and then when she hears the last word of a line, she'll sing something sort of sounding like that word...a little late...but super cute.)

Anyways, if you're lookin' for some new worship tunes to listen to...check it out! Go here for a little taste. Go here to buy. :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

South Padre: Day 3 & 4

* Warning for LOST fans who have NOT watched this season's finale: I do mention a little something about what happened in the final episode, so you may want to stop reading ;).

Yesterday and today were pretty uneventful. We swam a lot, we ate a lot, we slept a lot...all good stuff. I did let Braelyn stay up REALLY late last night so we could actually hear daddy preach. He did such a great job! I was really proud of him. The conference room was stuffed with kids, so we stayed out in the connecting lobby. They kept the doors open so we could hear everything...the perfect set up for an unpredictable toddler. Braelyn did really well. She sat on my lap pretty much the whole time and whispered if she needed to talk. I was so proud of her too.

After worship, I put Braelyn to bed and waited for Casey to get back to the room. (There are usually kids who want to talk to him afterwards and late night activities where he likes to make an appearance.) When he finally got here, around 11ish...we FINALLY got to watch the LOST finale!!!!! It was so good! Can I just say...I am so happy that Desmond got his "money" back! Know what I mean?! Great television moment! Anybody else have a favorite scene?

I think over the summer (especially while we're at all these camps) I am going rewatch the previous seasons. There's a lot of stuff that I can't quite remember and I'm sure there's a ton of stuff that I just didn't pick up on. Hopefully, now that we have a few more of the puzzle pieces, I'll appreciate the mysteries even more!

So that's about it for us here in Padre. We leave tomorrow afternoon and head back to Brenham. Casey'll have Friday-Sunday night at home and then he heads out again Monday morning to Oklahoma. Braelyn and I are not joining him for that camp. Figured I'd give B (and myself) a little break since we're going with him to the next camp. It's a crazy life we're livin! :)

Also, I do plan on getting back to my Sacred Parenting book discussion. Sorry I've kinda dropped the ball on that. The last few weeks, all rhythm and routine have been sorta kicked to the curb. Hopefully, some resemblance of order will return to my life tomorrow...well, better not push it...let's aim for Saturday. ;)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

South Padre: Day 2's been another long day, but a great one. For starters, I am feeling much better! Thanks everyone for all the well wishes! Thankfully, my husband has no qualms about calling the doc for a prescription. So last night, I took my first dose and I was already feeling better by this morning. Regarding Braelyn's hives, they don't seem to be bothering her too much, but they did flare up this afternoon. There is a camp nurse who has some Benadryl if we need it. So far so good though.

We got up this morning about 7, watched a Blue's Clues (actually Braelyn watched it and we snoozed), and then got some breakfast. After breakfast, Casey had a short meeting and while he was doing that Braelyn and I headed to the pool. Soon, Casey joined us. I got to lay out for all of 30 seconds and then we decided to walk on the beach. Braelyn had never been to the beach before, so I was excited to see how she liked it.

After a few minutes of assessing the risk, she decided she could get her feet wet, but even just standing in the three inch waves knocked her down. That only happened twice and then she took up shell collecting instead. This was big fun! She could not pass up a single shell and she gave daddy the job of rinsing them off, one by one. Some pics:

This one's for you Cynthia. No photoshop required!
After a few minutes of this we cleaned up a little, grabbed some lunch and the whole family took a nap. Glorious!

Now, the campers were spending the entire day at Schliterbahn. That, to me, sounds like a nightmare. We were invited to do the same, but I could just imagine Braelyn after literally, 7 hours at the water park. Just shoot me. Anyways, we were happy to join them after nap time, which is what we did, giving us about 2 hours there, tops! Perfect.

Ok, so it's been a really long time since I've been to a water park. I couldn't quite remember what to do. I wore my brown, white polka dotted, one-piece bathing suit (which I love, btw), my brown strapless cover up, and sporty flip flops that could be worn in the water. It started to dawn on me that I might have to walk around in just my bathing suit like all the other fools in this place! Gross! Now, I'm not being overly modest here or anything. I can be in public in my bathing suit. But, if one must be only in their bathing suit, walking around and other non-water activities should be kept to a minimum, in my correct opinion. At the water park, you're walkin' around all over the place, you're eating, you're climbing nothing but your bathing suit!

For a while I kept my cover up and flip flops on, and only took them off when we encountered something in which I was required to get wet, but this soon became ridiculous and I was forced to abandon them. Feeling quite exposed, I suggested the Lazy River. Perfect. You're in the water. You float. You relax. Nothing too scary for Braelyn.

Ok, so this is what I was expecting the Lazy River to be...

And this, my friends, is what it actually was!...

What?! Since when is the LAZY river the circle of death? Casey and I, innocent and unsuspecting, hopped into our double inner tube, plopped Braelyn in my lap and were swept away into wild, raging rapids against our will! After we hit the first little bit, I think to myself, "Should I have gotten her one of those life jackets that are hanging all over the place?" Sure enough, I see a sign (after we're already sailing along, mind you) "Weak swimmers should be wearing a life jacket." Crap! Bless her heart, Braelyn did pretty well, considering, but after we would swish and slide around, she would say, "All done! All done!" I would have gotten out immediately, of course, but it's a trap! You have to endure 4 or 5 phases of the wild, raging rapids before there's an outlet. I felt so bad for her. After that, we stayed in the baby pool with the showering mushroom and a floating frog slide in 12 inches of water. Just our speed.

After dinner with the campers, we came back to the hotel. Casey went to speak and Braelyn and I got ready for bed. And that's where we are. :) After such a big day, I thought B might just dose right off. No such luck. But it didn't take quite as long as last night. It's progress.

Monday, June 2, 2008

South Padre: Day 1

What a long day! I got up this morning at 6:30 feeling like death! My throat stared feeling scratchy on Sunday and by Sunday night I could feel infection brewing in my face. So, this morning when I woke up I felt that there we're only two viable options...1. We all stay home so mommy can stay in bed or 2. Casey and Braelyn go to Padre and mommy stays in bed. Casey said those were both impossible and ridiculous suggestions so I got up from my deathbed and took a shower. At this point I wasn't positive that I didn't have the flu, but since Casey poo-poo-ed the afore mentioned solutions I trudged on. By the time we were packed up and in the car, I did feel less flu-ish, but my head was still pounding and I was super stuffy....still am actually.

Anyways, so Braelyn did great on the plane. I was nervous about it, since she's not the bravest soul, but she was perfect! Going up and going down she snuggled me tight, but no fussing. I, on the other hand, was a basket case on the way down. My ears were KILLING me! I was shaking and rocking and rubbing my freak show! But I couldn't totally give in to the freak show because B was sitting on my lap and I didn't want to freak her out. Otherwise, there would have been moaning and shrieks of pain. I am just praying...
praying! that B doesn't get sick for the flight home! I will refuse to leave until she's better. How could I subject her to that pain?!!!

We got to the island around 1-ish and grabbed some lunch. We got to our hotel after 2 and the nap gap was quickly closing. Not only was she super tired, and not only were we about to cross over the no nap point, but we had a new sleeping obstacle to face..the big girl bed! Yup...we put her in the pull-out bed. First time! It took her about an hour, but she did finally dose off. She was so tired. Bless her heart.

Now it's night time, and I am at this moment, blogging and dealing with bedtime problems, simultaneously. We put her to bed around 7:30 and it is now 9:30 and Braelyn is still not asleep. I can't get mad though...the girl has a number of distractions to shut out. 1. The strange and new "big girl" bed. 2. The pool is right outside our room, one floor down and there are small children screaming and playing in it. We can hear everything they're doing. Why are they not in bed?!!! 3. I'm in the room. It's dark, minus the laptop, but still, she knows I'm here and it doesn't help that I'm coughing, sneezing (at which she HAS to say bless you) and sniffling. 4. To add to our Island ailments, she has hives! I don't know where they came from or why! What do I do? Brandi?...Help! Needless to say, she's still awake. She's quiet. Just laying there, but still awake. I think she's getting close though. I hope!

There's day one. Sorry for the long and overly detailed report of a not-so-interesting day...I'm just trapped in a pitch dark room and forced into silence. I have nothing else to do but you! :)



I think she's out! Victory at 9:45! :|

I guess I'll close shop here, turn on a reading light and dive into
The Weight of Glory or The Adventures of Huckleberry, tough decision!

I'm sure I'll be back tomorrow, when I'm trapped silence. Good Night.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

And The Winner Is...

The beautiful, the funny, the girl everybody wants to be friends with and the gal who found her way to Pleasant Places all the way from Oregon...

Congratulations Abbie!
Email me your address and the two books you want at stephcease[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll send you your prize! Yea!

To everyone who participated...thanks SO much for playing and for all your encouraging words! I was completely overwhelmed by your response! I hope those of you who took the plunge and came out of hiding will continue to visit my little blog and drop a note every once in a while :). Thanks again everybody!

In other news:
Casey, Braelyn and I spent Thursday through Saturday in Sugar Land. It was a busy, busy weekend. (I haven't even seen the LOST finale yet!) I met some Cease family members for the first time, celebrated my dad's 56th birthday, and threw a baby shower for a dear friend. The three of us got home last night at about 12:30, totally exhausted. Casey is speaking right now to the youth group at First Baptist Brenham and I am working on laundry. Tomorrow morning we leave again for South Padre Island...let the summer camp marathon begin!

Casey and I would greatly appreciate your prayers in this crazy season. The summer is such an important part of Casey's ministry, but as you can imagine, it does take its toll on the family routine.

I have lots to post about, but gotta do it later! See ya on the beach!