Playing catch up

Last night, about 11 p.m., as I was dozing off to the high brow intelligence that is the programming on E!, I received a concerned text from none other than my biggest heckler brother Dan.

He was concerned that something was wrong.

You know, because I haven't blogged in about eleventy billion days.

I told him that I've been extremely busy lately, but all of it has been boring. Nothing exciting has happened and I can't imagine writing about any of it.

He suggested a post in tribute to his fine self, and I thought about that for all of two seconds. Then I reasoned that my boring was WAY more interesting for all of us than that.

Sorry, Dan.

Prepare to be astounded. It's been all kinds of awesome around here.

Like, for instance, when I took the kids for a nutritious meal at the Panda and Chase found this fortune inside a cookie:


Truer words have never been spoken. Man I love that kid.

Also of note was turning the corner while shopping at an electronics store last week and finding this smart aleck with his nose buried studiously in what I can only assume by his expression is the most awesome book ever written:


But where I've most enjoyed spending my time is the Pinterest.

Okay, fine, yes, I admit it. Pinterest is about the greatest thing that has ever happened to mankind, not counting the advent of diet coke. I eat every bad word I ever said about it and invite you to come find me on there. My boards? They pretty much rock.

An especially fantastic Pinterest find was the sock bun curls tutorial, which I promptly tried out on my skeptical, yet willing, daughter. The before photo:


And the after:


Which, yes, I realize is not very focused and taken with a crappy iphone camera, but whatever. I also enjoy using the Instagram, and invite you all to come join me there. It's highly addictive, but oh so fun. I am @clhalverson. Come see more of my everyday drivel, won't you?

A gorgeous photo shoot I've been playing with that was taken with a FAR better camera was with these lovelies, who surprised us by visiting over Christmas. While I still haven't taken off the weight I gained from that week alone, it was fabulously wonderful to spend time with them:


And, that, dear friends, is a faithful narrative of all my dealings for the past few weeks. Not pictured is the many lunches, diet cokes, chats with friends, and hot cups of tea sipped while snuggled under a blanket with a good book. January is treating me rather well, I'd say. And coupled with the fact that today is going to be in the 60s, I just might declare it my favorite St. Louis winter yet.

I'll try to be better about posting. Not just for the three of you who still check every day, but for me. So I don't forget the fabulously boring and incredibly, wonderfully ordinary life I am living.

I love it.

The one where I return and report

Hi all.

Didn't mean to drop a bomb like that on you and then disappear for over a week. Sorry 'bout that.

The Dan update is this: Surgery went well, though it was hours and hours of an agonizing wait. Took way longer than it was supposed to.

They were able to remove the entire tumor without removing his kidney, but it did turn out to be cancer. He is doing great and will see the doctor next week to find out more. We are not sure what the next steps will be (if any). We are furiously hoping that the tumor removal is the end of this saga for him (with the exception of those body scans and blood tests he'll probably have to endure every six months or so). Fingers crossed that there will be no chemo or radiation.

Thanks a million for your thoughts and prayers. Daniel has no idea how many strangers out there were pulling for him. You peeps rock.

Me? I returned last night in the wee hours from a gorgeous, ridiculously lavish vacation with the family. My laptop died on the plane ride out (literally. Won't turn on. Any ideas, anyone?), and as soon as I am finished washing the sand from our laundry, I will upload the millions of photos I took and make you feel extremely jealous of how I spent the last six days.

Plus? I've got my favorite person ever coming to visit this weekend, and I can hardly wait.

Now I KNOW I've made you jealous.

Be back soon. Promise.

I love him anyway

Hi internet. How are you?

I am still here, and have missed you thoroughly. I have been busy with some of my favorite house guests, father's day and the Husband's birthday (all in one week), summer, gearing up for a vacation, and eight photo shoots in two weeks.

I'm exhausted.

But that is not what I am here to share today.

I am breaking radio silence to thoroughly embarrass and humiliate my brother Dan.


Dan is known by many of you here as the commenter who speaks his mind in a hilarious, if not slightly insulting, way. I can always count on him for a dose of reality and a good laugh. Usually at my own expense.

But what you don't know about him is that he is a father to four beautiful children and husband to a gorgeous, thoughtful wife. He is the dad who gets on the floor and plays trains with his boys. He has attended more of his daughter's tea parties than most men would have the patience for. He changes diapers and does the dishes.

He always has my favorite snacks and drinks on hand whenever I come to town - even though no one in his house ever consumes either. On those visits, he stays up until the wee hours of the morning, listening to me, making me laugh, and sharing stories of his own, then cheerfully gets up for work with only a few hours of sleep.

Sometimes he even calls me on his way home from work for a quick chat. Just because. And I love him dearly for it.

He is one of my best friends.

And right now, he is the one in need of some extra help.

A few weeks ago, doctors discovered a tumor on his kidney that is most likely cancer. He's going under the knife tomorrow to get it removed. I absolutely believe in the power of prayer, and I am asking you, dear friends, to add him to yours.

The risk is great that he could lose the kidney entirely.

I gladly offered to donate one of mine, but he doesn't think it'll come to that. I was slightly disappointed because I imagined the lifelong joy I would derive at the thought of one of my organs socializing and infecting the rest of his with my cooties. When I said that to him, he quickly put me way down on the list of donors. Right after the water-logged carcass of Osama bin Laden, I'm sure. Darn.

Anyway, if you think of it, your prayers on his behalf would be greatly appreciated. The power of a collective voice to our Heavenly Father is one that can work miracles. And that's just what we're in need of.

Though I know this post will annoy him to no end, I think that makes it all the more worthwhile, don't you?

Love ya, brother. Get better quick so I can come out there and kick your trash.

Inspiring others through my greatness

My brother Dan left a few comments on my post yesterday, which you really ought to click over and read (I think they're his best yet). He was greatly touched and inspired by the photo of the iPod resting gently in the sunshine. He said he could almost hear the soft music coming from the ear buds. He felt the human emotion that emanated from such a simple, profound work of art.

[Trying not to gag on my self-proclaimed importance here.]

In honor of that, I present you with a little iPod photo series. Shot and edited today just for my dear brother Dan. I felt that if the iPod was inspiring to him in such a simple presentation, then seeing the more complex life of an iPod would only lift him higher and higher.

And that is what I do, people. I inspire greatness.

Without further adieu, I give you the many faces of iPod. May it help to inspire you, as you set your own iPod down on the kitchen table of your life.

There. Wasn't that something?

You're welcome.

He gets a bad rap, but underneath is a real peach

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while are familiar with my brother, Dan. Some of you have probably laughed at the comments he leaves. Some of you have no doubt left feeling slightly offended. And a handful of you have even emailed out of concern for me and the less-than-friendly comments left by this person named Dan.

I can assure you that it is his love language. And mine to him.

We have had the privilege this week of having Dan and his cute family visit. They have braved our germ-infested walls and dared to spend time with us in spite of the swine flu. I am fervently praying that they do not come down with it themselves in a few days, however. [Although, given the fact that his daughter was a conjoined twin of my daughter until the fevers began, it will be a miracle if they escape unscathed. Oy.]

Anyway, since Dan has been so disgusted by the many appearances made by my feet on this blog, I thought it only fitting that he be the one to draw the winner of the Traveling Shoes. We put all the names in a pretty little bowl, seen here:

Then Dan was forced to cheerfully picked the next recipient of the gorgeous pink shoes:

And the winner is Thelma! Email me your address at stiesthoughts at gmail dot com and the shoes are on their way to your house. I cannot wait to see where you take them.

For those that didn't win, I offer you instead some pictures of Dan's cute family. Because coming to my house and escaping without a photo shoot is more miraculous than escaping without the swine flu.

Both of which are probably a little painful.

Dang, I sure like these guys.

A weekend so full of estrogen it will be scary

The boys are leaving this weekend to go and watch themselves a little college football game. Live and in-person, in the great state of Texas. (Which hopefully won't leave them too disappointed when if the Cougs lose.)

Ha. I say that as if I know what I'm talking about. Implying that I honestly care about college football.

I slay myself.

Anyhoo, the little Princess and I are on our own for the next few days, and, boy, has she ever got plans. She brought up a large stack of DVDs last night, informing me that THIS is what we'd be watching. I smiled as I noticed that my all-time favorite was at the top of the pile. Though she's tried many times to make it the whole five hours, she has never yet managed to stay awake long enough to meet the entertaining Mr. Collins, let alone see the love story through to the end. Something tells me this could be the time. FINALLY she will see Pemberly and understand why I swoon at the thought of Mr. Darcy jumping all sweaty and such into the water.

Her wanting to watch it also tells me that I am absolutely raising that girl right.

She also made a lengthy list of things she and I are to do while the boys are gone. Top of her list is shopping for clothes at the mall, shopping at the scrapbook store, actual scrapbooking, manicures & pedicures, and watching a lot of "girl movies."

I am pretty sure this will be the best weekend. EVER. Hope yours is, too.

P.S. Did you know a while back my brother Dan created a blog whose sole purpose is mocking me? Please pay him a visit and tell him how much you love me. That would tick him off something awful. While you're there, you can have a good laugh at what I looked like in sixth grade.

Yes, I know. Some things are just that frightening.