On Needing Reading Glasses (And How It Makes Me Think of Drawing Near to God)

"I see that you are forty-one," he said, looking down at my paperwork.

We were sitting in the small exam room where I just had my first experience with an eye exam more thorough than the one given by the Department of Motor Vehicles. I scheduled this exam after noticing that I tended to pull things like my phone or the recipe card further away from me in order to read it.

"This is normal for people your age," he continued. "The lens begins to stiffen around age forty."

I truly had not felt a downside to forty-one until just then.


my week in review: 4/19-25

// sharing my pictures // telling the stories //

My little girl turned 9 last Friday. 
The last year of single digits.
We woke her up with breakfast in bed, a tradition. 


A Post About My Dad (April is Parkinson's Awareness Month)

“Anne – this is difficult for me to read,” he wrote after reviewing this post. “It seems so dramatic.”

It is dramatic for a child to realize that their parent has a disease.

My dad, 2006
I first noticed it when they came to visit and we stood in a circle and prayed. I was distracted during the entire prayer by my dad's hand, involuntarily shaking in my hand. Maybe I had imagined it? I silently wished they lived closer for reasons other than the free babysitting.


my week in review: 4/12-18

My weekly post with the stories behind my phone's pictures. 

Friday the boys went to Cincinnati for the weekend, so us girls had my sister over for a movie night.
Whenever the boys are away, 
I take the opportunity to watch a chick flick that I know they would never want to see.

[bonus feature:]

That blue blanket was crocheted for me by my Grandma several years before she died.
In her old age, to keep her busy, she decided she was going to crochet a blanket for each of the kids and grand kids.
When it came time for her to make my blanket, she asked me what colors I wanted.
I told her that I wanted something neutral that could go with any room's decor.

"How about cream?" I suggested.

To which she quickly replied, "How about blue? 
I've been wanting to make a blue blanket. Everybody wants cream. I'm tired of cream."

"Sure," I said. 
What else could I say? 

I love it even more because it's blues that she picked, blues that I wouldn't necessarily have chosen.
I imagine it brought her some about of joy to look at those blues instead of tired cream.
Each of my kids have a lovey blanket that I knitted for them... 
... that blue blanket is my lovey blanket that Grandma made for me.

[end bonus feature]

I took out my sewing machine this week.
This machine has served me well for many, many years.
I need to use it more.

I got it out to make a purple banner for Sarah's birthday party on Friday.
She specifically requested a banner. 
And a purple themed birthday party.

Prince should be so lucky to have a purple banner like Sarah's.

I think it turned out pretty good. And, because it was felt, it was super easy.
I made this 15 foot banner for only $3.75. 
You can't get a 6 foot pre-made non-custom banner for that.
I took a ton of pictures of it because I was loving the gorgeous purples.

I took so many pictures that I decided I should go ahead and do my first DIY post.

I feel a little bit silly about putting it out there. 
Like I'm some kind of DIY Pro. 
But the fact is, I did do it myself
And I do lots of stuff myself. 
Often out of necessity. But also for creativity's sake.
Maybe I'll have to start taking photos of the stuff I make and put it up here. 
Because that's part of my story, too. 
Part of who I am:
The Unassuming DIYer.

I've been having some sweet time with Sarah in the mornings this week.
On this particular morning we helped each other memorize James 1 and then, 
while I spent some time journaling, she read more of James. 
When we were both done I asked her what stood out to her as she read.
She told me that she thought she needed to be a better doer of the Word, not just a hearer.
"Me too," I said.
Then we discussed ways that we can be better at doing what the Word says.
When we were done, I snapped this picture because I wanted to remember mornings like this.

This week Tamera asked me to make a pinnable image of the marriage advice in my post 
I'm including it in my InstaFriday post even though it's not a phone picture because 
I met her through the InstaFriday link up. 

Once again, the April rains are forecasted to bring the sleet and snow.
I see it on my windshield after work on Thursday and I think it about matches my mood:
Dreary. Cold. Tired. Damp.

It's been a hard week.
West, Texas.
Having to let our preteen experience difficult consequences.
Being the one to give her those consequences.
Work stuff.
Hearing a "No" regarding something we'd prayed for.
Wondering "what now?"

(It's not something I can really talk freely about, but if you are a praying person,
my husband and I would ask for your prayers for guidance and provision.
Thank you.)

Being in such a foul mood, I decided to take the long way home and look for things to photograph.
That always makes me feel better.
To discipline myself to look for the beauty around me.
To find the wonder, and so to experience God's grace.

“The spirituality of wonder 
knows the world is charged with grace, 
that while sin and war, disease and death are terribly real, 
God's loving presence and power in our midst are even more real.” 
― Brennan Manning
The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

There's supposed to be more green in this picture. But it's still pretty, I think.
And it tells a tale.

I drove right by these guys, and then did a U-turn so that I could capture them
standing all huddled together in the mud with the cold rain pouring down on them.

I love red barns. 
I have often thought it would be fun to go on a day trip just to take pictures of red barns.
And white ones too, I guess.
But mostly red ones.

“We must go out into a desert of some kind (your backyard will do) 
and come into a personal experience of the awesome love of God.” 

And that is just what I did.
Thank you, Brennan

By the time I got home I was ready to think about getting ready for a party for this girl: 

Yes, that is purple cake batter.

My grandma taught me how to make checkerboard cakes. 
She made them all the time. Probably even in her sleep.
One time at a garage sale I found a kit with special tins for making the checkerboard cake,
but the spoon and dollop method works just fine.

She is so funny. I am so focused. 
When you run out of bowls, a baking dish will do just fine.
I put on my Rosie the Riveter headband because I needed to remember that
"I Can Do It"

So... how was your week?

I'm @annebickle, linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.


How to Make a Custom Felt Pennant Banner

For her birthday party, Sarah requested a purple banner.

I'd made a banner at Christmas time using old scrapbook paper, but I didn't have many purple sheets of paper, so I went to my favorite place, my heaven on earth, Hobby Lobby, to see what I could find.

I was happy to find some cardboard pennants pre-made, ready to be decorated. But the happiness was short lived when I realized that I would need to decorate those white or brown pennants.

I considered buying purple scrapbook paper, but again, the cost added up. (That stuff isn't cheap.)

Then I stumbled into the aisle with felt. The nice thing about felt is that it's easy to work with. And at $0.25 per piece, the price and the amount of work to make a nice banner was right.

6 - 9" x 12" sheets of felt, two in each of three colors of purple
1 sheet of white felt for letters
1 roll of purple ribbon, 15' long
Purple thread

I cut the felt into triangles using my rotary cutter (from back in the day when I had the time and energy to make quilts.) But a simple scissors will do the trick.

Here's how to get three fairly equal sized pennants out of one piece of felt.

Divide the piece of felt into fourths (along the pink lines).
Cut each fourth at a diagonal (along the yellow lines).

Easy peasy! You don't even need a ruler. You can just fold the felt to get your lines. But you can use a ruler if you'd rather. Either way.

Next you need to pin the ribbon along the top of the pennants. I used a little bit of elementary level math for this:

Third grade math word problem: 
Anne has a piece of ribbon 15 feet long. She has 18 pennants that are 6 inches wide. If she wants 1 foot of ribbon on each end of the banner, how far apart should she pin the pennants?

Answer: 2.83 inches. 

(See kids? You really will use your math skills someday.)

But I didn't want to bother with measuring 2.83 inches. Instead I took the width of one of the excess pieces (which is 3 inches) and used it as a visual spacing guide to pin the ribbon to the top of the pennant.

If you do as I did, you will end up with an odd number of pennants on your banner and one extra pennant. I was okay with having an odd number of pennants because my daughter's name has an odd number of letters in it and I wanted it to be centered. You are free to measure 2.83 inches between each pennant, though, if you want to do that. Then you will use all your pennants and have an even number of them.

(Side Note:
Regarding the ribbon, if I did it again, 
I would have chosen a wider ribbon and 
folded it over the top of the pennants to
form a border along the front and back.
With the narrow ribbon, it is just on the 
front of the banner and I notice that as it
hangs I can see some of the felt behind the
ribbon. But it works either way.)

After I pinned my pennants, I sewed them to the ribbon. I didn't worry about sewing like a pro. A crooked line will do just fine. (Unless you're using a contrasting color thread.) (So don't use a contrasting color thread.)

Good help is always nice, but this project is so easy that you can do it without a kitty's help.

Now it was time to make letters for the banner. I decided to just do Sarah's name instead of Happy Birthday because I want her banner to be a decoration that she can put in her room after the party.

I eyeballed the letters and cut them freehand. If you do not feel confident with that, you can draw or print some letters in the size and font you want, then use them as cutting guides. 

(Side Note: 
is my favorite place 
to get great fonts. 
The best part is, 
they're all free!)

Once my letters were cut, I attached them to the pennant. I used glue because I wanted to be done with the project. You could sew them if you wanted to make sure they don't come off eventually. If you use glue, make sure the glue has time to dry before hanging the banner.

Wallah! Sarah has a custom purple felt banner for her birthday party! 


<< my week in review: 4/5-11

The weekly post where I tell the stories behind my phone's photos.

 Early Saturday morning we went to Kaitlin's volleyball tournament. 
 In between her games, I did some reading/processing.
 This session she's on a different team, the Bananas. I finally get to yell, "Go Bananas!!!"
 They came in first in the tournament!

 Last week Sarah got her Littlest Pet Shop pets out and made a cardboard house for them.
Then on Saturday, when she was out with her friend's mom at a church garage sale, she saw this there.
She had brought enough money with her, so she was able to get it all by herself.
She'd been saving for one, and found one for $1.50. How awesome is that?!

I told her that it was like a gift from God.
I think He blesses us with even little stuff like that.

I've been roped into playing LPS with her several times this week.
After reading last week's post, she "taught" me how to play make believe.
"You just take them, face them together, and talk for them."
I think I'm getting the hang of it.

 It was my dad's birthday on Monday.
Naturally we made him grill dinner.
I'm kidding. He loves grilling.
That's why we made him grill dinner.

Then we watched The Game.

It was a boring Final Four weekend for the Bickle-Winnes pool. We were all out of it last weekend.
Still... I don't know if I mentioned this or not, but...
I came in first place in our family pool.
Ahead of the people who picked their picks with some amount of care.
I'm just sayin'.

Aren't these flowers pretty?
My mom had them on the table for Dad's birthday, but as we were admiring them,
we realized we didn't know what they were called.

[pop quiz]

The name of this flower is:
1. Redonkulous
2. Ranunculus
3. Renocunoculan
4. Renalcalculus

I had to post the picture to Instagram in order to get our answer.
My sister thought it was something that sounded like (3), but she knew that wasn't right.
@thisvintagegrove came to our rescue with the correct answer, (2).
To which my sister, when I told her, said "oh, like (1)." 
So, if we ever need to remember the name of this flower, we'll just think about how redonkulous ranunculus are.

(Also, just fyi, if you have (4), you should go probably see a doctor.)

I went shopping with my son to get him some sweatpants that weren't "too skinny" and I came home 
with some yoga pants that aren't too short.
I'm bending over in this shot to take the picture, so you can't fully appreciate the fact that 
they actually fold onto the top of my foot. 
I have long legs... I get excited about these things.
Because it is not cool to go to the gym with sweatpants that are a just little too short.
Especially when you are wearing white socks.

Wednesday it was raining when I left work to go home and the temperatures 
were supposed to get down to freezing.
April showers are supposed to bring flowers, not ice or snow.

Reggie was watching The Dog Whisperer on Netflix.
Actually, I was watching it, but I was watching from the kitchen while making dinner. 
JD walked into the family room and saw Reggie alone there with The Dog Whisperer on and we had a good laugh.
Also, yes, I always have laundry in my family room at some stage of being done.

Wednesday night we worked on her birthday party invitations. 
She had to make them herself, which I love.

This was going on while we were making the invitations.
I get excited about having a fire in the fireplace. 
When it's November!
Fires in April should be in fire pits.

Thursday the kids had a SNOW DAY!
I took the day off work to stay home with them.
I made pesto potato pizza and Mediterranean pizza for lunch.
It was so fun to be able to do that.

By dinner we all agreed that artichokes give us gas.

I started my book club homework.
A quiet house, a good novel and a $3.99 Merlot.
So nice.

How was your week?


<< my week in review: 3/30-4/4

The weekly post with my phone's pictures and the stories behind them.

Last week my InstaFriday became InstaSaturday because on Friday we were still in Chicago with our friends. This week I added a bonus InstaChicago post to round out last week's post.

Now we are back on track.

At 3:45 am we dropped John off in the Target parking lot for his trip to Washington DC and New York City
 with a bunch of eighth graders and several brave adults.
I saw this and my first thought was "Oh man. My boy is a man."
Also, I am very jealous of the fact that he got to see a show on Broadway.

Sarah kept her room clean for a whole month so she got some Flapdoodles as a reward.
All month she's been marking off the days on her calendar, anticipating the bright pink Cotton Candy ice cream.

These two have spent pretty much every day together during Spring Break.

I've never owned a food processor until I got one for Christmas. I used it for the first time this week to make
 Sun-dried Tomato Pesto. It was so pretty I had to take a picture. It was so yummy I'll have to make more.

Sarah has such a great imagination. It's something I admire about her. I was never really good at playing 
make believe. Her littlest pet shop pets are going on a double date. Those are their smartphones on the table. 

Wednesday at 11:00 pm the buses rolled into the Target parking lot with the precious cargo.
I was so excited to see John and hear all about his trip. 

My tired traveler. Does a mom ever tire of watching her children when they sleep?

Twice in one week, Flapdoodles! This time I was getting some gift cards, and as long as I was there... I had 
to have some quality time with my littlest and her littlest pet shop pet.

Thursday night we went over to my parents and introduced them to the game that we learned in Chicago 
from our friends. "Things." It's always entertaining. And sometimes enlightening.

That was my week. How was yours?

I'm @annebickle, linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.

life rearranged

[Post Script]
Oh, after looking at other instaFridays I realized that I didn't mention Easter at all. Ugh. Apparently I didn't take any pictures of Easter, which is why it's not in this post. But it did happen around here.
No egg hunts on the front lawn, there was snow. So I did an egg hunt inside for Sarah, who was the only one interested in it. I had to have the plastic eggs from the road trip fetched out of the garbage in order to do the egg hunt for her. I offered to just hide the candy, but apparently it wasn't the same thing.
Even though we didn't go all crazy with photos or baskets, I completely enjoyed celebrating the resurrection on Sunday. Am so grateful for Jesus and his sacrifice for me. And for you.
I struggle with finding balance on this holiday in particular. 


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