Saturday, November 19, 2011


Fall in Alabama is amazing. It is beautiful outside. Creighton is busy building a tree house. I am busy working on my hen house (photos forthcoming). But today I am dreaming of our backyard outdoor living room.
This is the nearly blank slate we have to start with:

Plans for my fireplace: Hopefully it will look more like this:

And when we are done with the whole project, I am envisioning something like this:

Lots of plans in the works here at the Texas Embassy. I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Obsession de jour: Tostitos Restaurant Style Salsa

Have you tasted this stuff? I could drink it right out of the jar.
I could dip kitty litter crackers in this and it would be transcendent.
I have literally consumed an entire jar in one sitting.

Friday, October 14, 2011

All Creatures of our God and King

We came to Alabama with Apollo (best dog on planet earth) and Athena (voted "most naughty" by all people on planet earth).

When we arrived, Bama the goat entered our lives. I have wanted a goat for a long time but our Overland Park suburban cul-de-sac was not conducive.

Then came Dolphin, the stray kitten. Fluffy, smart, friendly, hilarious. (Dolphin was the name of our swim team this summer and we found him at the pool).

Helo (pronounced Hee-lo) is our most recent purchase. Most money we have ever spent on an animal - and he is so worth it. What a well-bred prince, that one!

We finally bought a chicken coop and our first two chickens have turned out to be roosters - HAAAAA. But they are so much fun we can't get rid of them! Will be adding HENS very soon!

And besides that, it seems like every other day we are delighted by one of God's lovely creation!

When we came to Alabama, my top priority on the list was to find some land (5acres) so the kids could have just a glimpse of what I was blessed to grow up with. The climate here is so great - we spend hours upon hours outdoors. I am very thankful for this property. We have been hard at work making it a wonderland for the kids. More on that later!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shane and Shane in concert at Bama Wesley

Miss my friends!

It was so good to be with the Shanes last night at Bama Wesley. They are out on tour promoting their new CD "The One You Need".

People. This album is so good. So good. Go out and get it!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Living with chickens

I was so thrilled a month ago to get my young hens. The woman from whom I bought them told me that they were growing and would be close to laying within weeks. I waited - pregnant with anticipation.
You can imagine my surprise to discover that these hens, ahem, were not actually hens at all. They began to "cockadoodledoo" last week.

Yeah, I was likely tricked into buying roosters, as I haven't the slightest knowledge of the distinction of male and female in the black osterlorp breed (or of any breed for that matter). Thing is, now the children have already fallen in love with these birds! They are so tame and funny.
So, needless to say, we are keeping them. And Iris and Daisy have been appropriately renamed.

Check out my church production blog!

I invited my friend and colleague Josh Knight to join me on my church blog:

We talk about everything from presentation software to managing volunteers - communion servers to technical production products.

Pass the word around!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Garden Dreams

I have picked out the perfect spot for my garden.

It's close to the house, flat and sunny. Most of our property is sloped or heavily wooded. The garden area is overgrown with brush but it will be fairly easy to prep with a tiller.
I'm going for a design that is practical and simple, with raised beds. It will probably look something like this.

I will put a fence around it to keep the critters out. It is a fairly large area, so this is the future site of my chicken coop/yard as well.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A brief update on me and the family

1. Homeschooling is great. I have learned so much about the process and about myself. I have learned tons about my kids.
- their eating habits
- their preferred sleep habits
- when they get grumpy
- their love languages
- their conflict styles
- how to stop conflict before it starts
- their learning styles

2. I have been reading a TON (since I have no technological link to the outside world)
2 books on composting
2 books on raising chickens
3 books on organic gardening
1 book about Labyrinths
9 books on landscaping (ideas, pictures, design plans, how-to's)
1 book on how to read a book
1 book on the anatomy of Yoga (currently reading)

Oh and I am just about to finish up Rob bell's book, Love Wins.

3. I have watched my husband lose 60+ pounds.
Amazing to see Creighton successfully achieve his goal. He finally just decided to go for it. So proud of him. He is running too.

4. I have watched myself gain 10 pounds.
Here are the contributing factors.
- I no longer have a job that keeps me walking for 6 hours a day
- my whole world is less than 30 steps from my kitchen
- I have not been exercising since we quit Lifetime Fitness in KC
- I feed my kids 3 full meals and intermittent snacks everyday
- I have drank more wine these past 5 months than I ever have before
- I felt isolated and a little depressed for the first few months of our move

The good news is that I feel like I am getting a handle on it and have lost a few of the pounds back. I think I am on the mend.

5. We joined the country club.
This has been a huge blessing because my children and I are finally able to meet people. They have made some friends (just before they revolted on me for taking them away from their life in Overland Park). We joined the club swim team - which is exposing the kids to competitive swimming in a fun, low commitment kind of a way.
In the fall, we plan to get golf clubs and try to learn to play golf.

No computer for 5 months

I returned my Macbook pro to the church when I left Resurrection January 20. Creighton had his laptop still, so I borrowed it from time to time to blog, surf, watch hulu, shop, pay bills....etc.
Well, It got old and fried one day so NEITHER of us had a computer. Creighton relied on his iPad to keep him going. But I have had zilcho. Ugh.
Finally, he has a new Macbook pro which he keeps with him at all times.

I am still pining for a new mac. But it will take another couple of months for me to save up the dough to get it.
In the meantime, I am sneaking some time on Creighton's laptop while he is out running this morning.

A few blissful moments to blog, surf, watch hulu, shop, pay bills....etc.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Laura Story is building our worship band

Creighton asked Laura Story to drive over from Atlanta for two reasons:
1. To lead worship at our three preview services this spring.
2. To audition and work with students who will be the worship leaders for Wesley in the fall.

So far we have had two of the three preview services. At the first one, we had 20 people there. Last night, at our second service, there were 60 students. Creighton was thrilled last night.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


One of the ways I am prepping for my garden, is to start a compost pile. I have interviewed some folks over the years about composting, and organic gardening, but this is new territory for me. I ordered three books from Amazon, specifically about composting. The one that helped me the most: Composting for Dummies.

That's right, Composting for Dummies. LOL

There are so many different ways to compost!
At first, I was looking for a tumbler or rotating composting bin to keep outside near my garden. I realized that I don't need to spend the $150+ to get that when I can simply erect a compost pile anywhere. For free....
I'm sure my compost pile will be moved when I finally build my garden, but I want to keep my compost near the garden area.
So here's my rudimentary first go at composting.

1. Procured 3 product flats from my local strip mall.
2. Prepped the flats by insulating them with cardboard (this helps to heat the pile).
3. Moved them to their location, and tied them together with bailing wire.

Meditation vacation

Making the move to stay home and home schooling has been eye opening.

I have been intentional about observing my children - their tendencies and patterns throughout the day.

There is a time in the afternoon (around 3 or 4) when they become loud, irritable and sometimes aggressive with each other.

3 days ago I instituted a time of mediation for all of us to take a break, relax, calm down. When I start to notice the kids become fussy with each other I call out, "Meditation Vacation!" We head to the playroom and sit in a circle. We breathe and pray, sing or OM together for a few minutes.

I might take this time to look directly at their faces and say something encouraging to them. I might discuss the plan for the remainder of the day. I might remind them of one of our family virtues.
Meditation vacation only lasts for about 10 minutes - but that seems to be enough to press the reset button.

Yesterday, Whitby fell asleep in Half Lotus. She slept for about 10 minutes, then popped up and flittered off with a smile.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2 months in Tuscaloosa

It's hard to believe we have been in Tuscaloosa for 2 months.

Spring is lovely in the sunny south. The kids and I have enjoyed exploring our property to discover all the blooming surprises. The property was owned by the same family since the early 1900's. They built the house in 1960. They planted some great trees and shrubs and we are reaping the beautiful benefits of their work.

We have about 16 dogwood trees - their blooms take my breath away.

Azaleas are flowering all around our house. They draw our attention every time we step outside.

We have a bamboo forest that the kids spend a lot of time in. I don't know how fast bamboo grows or how long ago these trees were planted, but many of their trunks are 6-8 inches around. I have not seen bamboo this big. Whitby wants me to contact the Chinese government and see if we can adopt a panda to live here.

The creek has become our favorite activity. I love going out to the creek with the kids because the minute we step into the water, we step into another world and I get to observe their creativity and imagination. I'm doing tons of laundry though because everyone comes home covered in dirt and creek water. IT'S WORTH IT!

The children aren't the only ones enjoying this property. Apollo and Athena are in doggy bliss. There are dozens of trails, smells, burrows and critters to keep their attention for hours. They are with us every hour of the day. They come in exhausted from playing outside with the kids for hours. They have found their favorite little comfy, shady outdoor resting places as well.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Some pics of the house

A couple of you have asked for pics of my house. Here are a a few.

This house is so cool. It's a TOTAL fixer upper. We will eventually redo EVERYTHING.

For now, it's totally liveable. We bought it because of the acreage (5 acres) and the proximity to Creighton's job (10 minutes).

This house is about half the size as our house in Overland Park (at least right now, until we get the basement finished).

Therefore, we have had to do a lot of trimming...

It's been great.
Don't get me wrong, I miss my house in KC - LOVED THAT HOUSE (not to mention my friends and my job and the kids's school, and my community and my church...).
But this is my opportunity to simplify and focus on the family! The kids are loving our property - the trees and the creek. They are never bored!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One Month in Tuscaloosa

I have to say, winter in Alabama has been a balmy dream. We left Kansas when it was 7 degrees outside, with 7 inches of snow on the ground. I think it hovered at >15 for like 2 weeks.
Meanwhile, my kids have been playing outside everyday for hours.

Spring sprung 10 days ago and already I have been gathering up little delights from around our property.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


The kids and I are playing outside. 60degrees in February.

Suddenly I feel someone touching my hair. When I turn around, I see all three kids picking peonies. They decide I needed a little adornment.

In this moment, I love the feeling of being pampered. I love the physical touch of their hands in my hair.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Recycle it!

I chuckled this morning as I remembered the conversation that first inspired me to recycle. In 2004, we had some friends over for dinner. I finished off the milk and then used my inner thighs to collapse the milk jug. I put the lid back on and threw it in the trash.
My friend Jimmy Emery asked, "What are you doing?"
I replied, "Well when I collapse it, it takes up less room in my trash and in the landfill."
He laughed, and with gentle correction he said, "Nikki, why don't you just recycle it?"

An eye-opening experience for me.

Now, we recycle everything we can: cardboard, paper, cans, bottles, and most definitely milk jugs.

How and when did you begin?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Things I learned from my friend Allyson

The kids and I went to Mississippi this weekend to see my friend Allyson (and family).

I call her my "mother-earth" friend. We went to seminary together.

She grinds her own wheat.
She feeds her family healthy stuff.
She drinks a lot of water.
She homeschools her kids.

1. You have to discipline your kids. Rewards are great but you have to balance them with dicipline - - previously discussed, consistent discipline. Tell your kids exactly what will happen for a specific infraction. Then follow through.

2. Inform the kids that discipline counts double if they do it in public.

3. Use tea tree oil for bites. It has anti-bacterial skin healing properties.

4. Eating in is so much better than eating out. Allyson is passionate about food and cooking. She would always choose to stay in and cook for everyone than go out to dinner.

5. Pray with your kids every night. Then come in and pray OVER them after they are asleep. This woman believes in the power of prayer.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My school room

I finally finished my school room. Really excited about it!

My curtains are hung on a bamboo tree that I cut on our property.

We hung a cable across one wall to display the children's art.

Friday, February 11, 2011

In a phase called "Learner"

I have been voraciously researching, asking, observing and learning.

This move to Alabama has taken me to a new place. I am loving being home with the children and exploring the new world of homeschooling and staying with the kids full time. I'm tip-toeing into the idea of homesteading as well.

I am trying to boldly go where many have gone before. Here are some of my questions:

1. What is the best chicken coop?
2. What is the best composting process?
3. How do I build a vegetable garden?
4. What is the best home-schooling curriculum?
5. How do I build a tree-house?
6. What are some good books for kids these days? (age 9,7,5)
7. What kinds of things can I do with all the bamboo on my property?

These are just the few tabs I have open on my desktop right now. Every chance I get I am taking "field trips" to see friends and acquaintances to gain wisdom and counsel.

My main learning quest: Getting to know my children better. I am experiencing them in fresh new ways. I love it. I am blissfully content right now (and pleasantly surprised).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Goodbye to my friends

It grieves my heart to leave my job at Resurrection. I am so thankful and have learned so much working here. But the saddest thing to leave is my volunteer position as a worship leader at Vibe. 5 hours of my week that I don't even get paid for - and it's the hardest thing to say goodbye to.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We're moving...

I'm so conflicted.

I love my job here at Resurrection. I love my friends, community, neighborhood, house, elementary school. I LOVE leading worship on Sunday mornings at Vibe.

But we have the opportunity in this move to Alabama for me to stay home with the kids. I am even considering home-schooling! This stay-home thing is something I have never done. Frankly, I don't know if I will be any good at it. But I am excited to try.