Butterfly Sparks Designs

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


steve surprised me yesterday with a day together sans kids as part of my birthday gift.  the girls were at school, and he had a friend watch them both during the afternoon until we got home.  it was incredibly refreshing to be able to spend a day alone together!  

we started the morning at waffle house (mmmm, yum) and then headed north to the north georgia mountains.  we hiked to the top of bell mountain in hiawassee, and actually were able to see a light covering of snow on the ground. we spread out a blanket on top of rocks and spent an hour or so observing and admiring the changing leaves.  it was kind of strange... i felt like we should be having a profound conversation about life or something, but we sat and were quiet together.. it was sweet to be able to have nothing pressing to work through or discuss!  it was too chilly (30 something degrees) to hang out for too long, so we stayed for a while and then headed to lunch.   we ate at brasstown valley resort, and can i tell you that the experience was more than i hoped for.  after lunch we relaxed next to their fireplace, and then headed to a local winery for wine tasting.  the wine was the pits, but the experience itself, the house it was located in, and the property it was on was amazing. 

we headed back about 3:30 and finally made it home at 6pm.  one of those days that close out leaving you completely satisfied with life as you know it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

... the anniversary i don't look forward to...

i'm a bit blue as i write this post because 12 years ago today my dad died. he was an amazing and remarkable man, and certainly the person who has had the biggest influence in my life. i wish i could post a few pictures of him so that you could see what he looked like (he was so handsome!), but he died before the age of digital images and i haven't scanned any of my prints yet. bummer.

my brother called me this morning, and asked me if it seems like it has been 12 years. i quickly answered "yes" because it's very apparent to me that it has been a ridiculously long time since i've heard his voice or seen his face.  12 years ago means he never met steve, didn't have the opportunity to walk me down the aisle,  and he never got to see or hold his grandchildren.  heck, he's about to miss my 40th birthday in 19 days.  many important events have transpired without him, and that really stinks.  even in the midst of missing him, i would be remiss if i didn't mention that one of the cool things about being a believer is i am confident that it's not the end of the story. i'll get to see and hug him again, and he'll hold my girls and love my husband. one day. thanks, jesus, for that confidence and gift!

...deal of the day...

my last post was about my favorite websites, and i mentioned both restaurant.com and slickdeals.net... 

for those of you who were enticed by restaurant.com  but are waiting for a fab coupon from slickdeals, today is your day!!! 

go to restaurant.com, find some new restaurants you want to try (or one's you've tried and want more of!), and add the gift certificates to your cart. apply the coupon code "TREATS" at checkout, and you are set! 25 dollar certificates cost you 2 bucks, and 10 dollar certificates cost you 60 cents! 
fyi-- you have up to one year to use the certificate.

ok, so let me know what you got!!
this time i bought another couple for a sushi place i tried a few weeks back....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

... my favorite sites...

time to share your favorite websites!  

i have a few that i have on my toolbar, and each time i get on the computer i buzz through them to see the latest.
these are the ones i check regularly (in no particular order):

1.  slickdeals.net

this site is amazing, and lists all sorts of internet deals.  each day and all day long they post incredible deals to be found online.  i was able to get our Flip video camcorder for 50 bucks instead of 150 from Dell, and have bought lots of other random things i'm not convinced i actually need but the price was too good to pass up..and they constantly post codes for huge discounts on my next favorite site:

2.  restaurant.com

this site allows you to enter a zipcode and find restaurants in and around that area that have gift certificates available to purchase at a reduced price.  we use this ALL THE TIME, and are saving a ridiculous amount of money doing it.  a 25 dollar gift certificate is usually 10 bucks on their site, but slickdeals posts coupon codes VERY regularly with 80% discounts off of that price. so steve and i went and ate sushi last week with a 25 dollar certificate, and paid only 2 bucks for the gift certificate (10 normal price minus the 80% discount). now THAT is some affordable sushi!
you are able to print the certificate immediately, so now waiting around for it to arrive in the mail. check it out today, and go try something new tonight!

3.  etsy.com

etsy is a fabulous place to buy things handmade and unique.  i bought both of the vinyl wall designs shown on my last post from two different etsy sellers, and was really pleased.  i've seen some amazing jewelry i'd love to get as well, and i might buy our christmas card design/template from a seller on etsy.  

4.  google reader

this is the place i check all of the blogs i follow.  it's VERY cool, because you are able to see in one location when the blogs you follow have new entries.  i remember spending a ridiculous amount of time clicking on every blog i was following to see if there were any new posts, but no longer!  google reader has given me my life back... now if i could just stop checking this site every second :)

other sites on my rotation: facebook, ebay, fox news, and ak's class website.

where are you spending your time online? 
what new site do i need to add to my rotation? 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

...speakin' my language...

according to gary chapman's book the five love languages each of us needs to feel loved, and we receive love in one of five ways.

the five love languages are:
1.  words of affirmation
2.  quality time
3.  receiving gifts
4.  acts of service
5.  physical touch

i'm not convinced i've always been this way, but i am BY FAR a receiver of love by acts of service.  tell me i'm great- whatever. hang out with me- fine. touch me- ok. give me gifts- i like this, but no biggie. but do an act of service and you've spoken my language!

so it was beautiful yesterday when steve gave me a full day of service as one of his birthday gifts to me... (see day 11 on this blog for details).  i think it's one of the most fun days i've had in a while!  we accomplished all sorts of stuff on my to-do list, and i was as happy as a child in a candy store the entire day. 

here are a few pics of our progress:

muscle rack shelf put up in the basement, filled with stuff from boxes we unloaded (are you impressed that it is already a mess?)

a vinyl monogram was put on the wall over the master bed

a vinyl "family established" design was placed on the wall over the front door in the foyer

and the mirror direction was changed and sconces were hung over the living room fireplace

he also helped wash and dry dishes, and was willing to do whatever i asked whenever i asked.  props to my hubby for serving me so selflessly yesterday! i absolutely LOVED it. :)

so tell us internets,  what is your love language? 
i would love to read at least one example of someone loving you well!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

...new products...

i've just brought in lots of new products for two monkeys and me. so if you have a baby shower to attend, or you have children, nieces, nephews, neighbor kids, or college football fans you need to buy christmas gifts for, then check it out! 

some of the new stuff:
cool art smocks, backpacks, children's toiletry bags, children's wallets, coin purses, and sweet new baby security blankets

here's the link:

Friday, October 10, 2008

...losin' it...

the past few weeks i've become a different person. or maybe it's just that my mind belongs to a different person. 

for those of you who know me, you know i pride myself on doing things well.  i very rarely screw anything up, and i have always multi-tasked very well. i can remember my to-do list and steve's. and yours if you need me to.  if you ask me to do something, you don't need to follow up. it will be done, and done pretty much close to perfect.  maybe even better than you thought it could be done. 

i say all that not to brag, but to confess that a huge part of my identity is wrapped up in this.  it defines me to a large degree, at least in my own mind.  it leads to one of my biggest faults-- super high expectations of others and super high expectations of myself.  Because i do things well, i expect close to perfect performance from others. and grace for mistakes doesn't come easily.  i know it's unfair, but my natural self is drawn to this response. 

so you can only imagine the mental battle that occurs when i screw something up. let me tell you, it's not pretty.  the mistake basically consumes me, and i even find myself getting depressed and blue.    

it seems like i mess up something or make some sort of mistake EVERY day these days.  
here are just 5 examples from this week alone:
1.  i typed the incorrect address on a postcard printed for a home show i'm participating in. 1000 postcards were printed with the wrong address. LOVELY.
2.  i missed pediatric appointments for both girls to get their hearing and eye screening done, and their  flu shots. and now we're stuck with $50 of missed appointment fees. what happened? i forgot.
3.  i helped out in anna katherine's class this morning (pie making day) and forgot my camera. i ALWAYS take pictures at class celebrations or on fun activity days. i also forgot my camera for the tie-dye t-shirt making day last week.
4.  we went to the school fall festival this afternoon. the girls rode rides, ate snow cones, and did all sorts of fun stuff. guess what? forgot the camera. AGAIN. 
5.  i cut out laminated stuff for anna katherine's class.  it was all due on tuesday for a project.  last night i found a handful of those cut outs buried in my purse that i didn't turn in until TODAY. 3 days past the due date.

functioning in this capacity is uncomfortable and strange.  obviously i'm mentally hazy for some reason. referring to this haze, even steve commented that i'm not the person i once was.  my immediate response was to become defensive but i began to reflect on that thought.  who am i? what kind of pride do i take in being perfect, and is the goal of perfection an idol God wants to tear down?

maybe- just maybe- i need to change.  it's not like God has a problem with things being done well, but i know God doesn't want me to define myself by what i do or don't do well. i'm sure that's not how He defines me. certainly i need to be able to offer grace freely to others and to myself when mistakes happen.  i know He's teaching me, and i don't want to miss the lesson. so i'm listening. and learning how to love people better.  and offer  grace to myself. and them.  and hopefully they'll offer grace to me as well. especially in this season of imperfection!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


C- R- Y- I- N- G

my husband is amazing.. check out my birthday gift... 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

...12 shopping weeks left...

so today's question for you:

how much STUFF do you get your kids (and others) for christmas? 

i REALLY want you to answer this for me, because i struggle with this question.  i need a solution.

my kids will be 4 1/2 and 6 years old this christmas, so they'll be very aware of who's getting what (in our house and in their friends homes.)  up until now we haven't done too much, and we haven't felt like we "needed" to. reasons?
1.  their grandparents get them a lot.
2.  we don't have the money.
3.  we don't want to promote consumerism and materialism.
4.  the focus is on jesus, not more stuff for us.

with all of that said, i think it's difficult to keep a reign on spending. it seems no one else does, so it's easy to get caught up in the mess of it. and to be completely honest, i really enjoy buying pajamas, purses, and other odds and ends for the girls they don't usually get during the year.

i have one friend that gives three presents to her daughter.  these gifts are symbolic of the gifts from the 3 wise men. that's it. three gifts.  i'm strongly considering adopting this idea, and think this is an excellent tradition to pass down.

here's an excerpt from a blog i wrote last december:

the national retail federation estimates that americans spent 457.4 BILLION DOLLARS at christmas in 2006. just 10 of those billion if put towards bringing clean water across the globe would solve the water crisis. 18 of those billion would bring food to every hungry child and adult on the planet. can you imagine if we began to look outside of ourselves during this season? what if we gave sacrificially to those truly in need, to show the love of jesus to those who are the least of these in our communities and around the world?
here's an excerpt from the website adventconspiracy.org:
"part of saying "yes" to Jesus means that we say "no" to over-spending. we say "no" to overconsumption. we say "no" to those things so we can create space to say "yes" to jesus and his reign in our lives. after the holidays we work for months to get out of debt, only to find that the presents we bought in the name of Christ furthered a consumerist mentality in us and our children and took our focus off of the greatness of Jesus. as Christ-followers, the advent conspiracy starts with us resisting a culture that tells us what to buy, wear and spend with no regard to bringing glory to jesus."

that sums up the struggle. would i like to spoil the girls and steve christmas morning? yes. for sure. but is it the right thing? certainly not.  
those of us who are believers are called to live differently. and sometimes it's difficult. here's an occasion it is a bit difficult to live differently.

i'm looking for a solution i can get behind and live with every year. a plan. 
if any of you have resolution or thoughts, please share it with us. let's discuss!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

...someone figure it out already!...

anyone read this article today? thoughts?

my only non-negotiable is organic milk, specifically for my girls... 

...memories light the corners of my mind...

the tahoe girls trip was incredible!  it was action packed, and i loved every minute. it was really nice to be able to spend five days with girlfriends i have loved for the last 22 years. we've been through thick and thin together, and those friendships are invaluable to me. 

we went hiking each day...

ate AMAZING food at AMAZING restaurants... 

 went on a sunset cruise on the lake...

relaxed at a spa...

picniked on top of a mountain...

and challenged ourselves on a high ropes course.  

i am especially proud of conquering the high ropes course.  i had something to prove to myself, and i did it that day.  (i suppose i'm struggling a bit with turning 40 next month!!)
here is a picture of me reaching the top of a 60 foot rope tube.

here is one taken after i climbed a pole and had to stand up on the top and jump to a trapeze. i think this feat might have been the most scary, and only 2 of us actually had the nerve to do it.  the picture doesn't do it justice- it makes the pole look short.  it was much scarier than it looks!

3 of us made it up this pine tree, which was a 100 foot climb on staples.  scary ain't even the word..  this is my friend audra, and this picture shows her about 1/3 of the way up...

one last picture of the course...

invigorating! i strongly suggest a high ropes course if you ever get the chance. 

my girls and steve did great while i was gone, and when it was time to return i was ready to get back.  but i will never forget this trip, and will remember it fondly.  it was totally worth those three pounds i gained...