Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving - just a little late!

I have to admit that I fly around most of the time like a chicken with my head cut off.  I have always been a busy-body, but add in taking care of my kids and a house and preparing for travel and trying to get the best deals for the holidays and squeezing in a workout and pretty soon, those pesky walls begin closing in on me.  That’s when I tend to snap at my husband and fuss at my kids and yell at the dogs…

Sound familiar?

Last week, I was dealing with mushrooms (Yes, mushrooms!  I got a good deal!).  I was making cream of mushroom soup and blanching some to freeze and chopping some for dinner.  All in all, a fungal mess…if you will.  Dishes were stacked up in the sink to be washed.  My washer was buzzing to let me know I needed to move the laundry to the dryer.    And my iron was popping steam, reminding me to press Scott’s shirts.  It was in the midst of my created mess that Elizabeth wanted held.

“Mama, rock?”

I am thankful that realty hits me gently sometimes and I gladly scooped up my daughter to spend some time in the rocking chair.  Sighing away my stress, I tried to take all of her in:  the baby shampoo smell of her hair, the feel of her little hands, the weight of her head laying on my chest.  Soon, she’ll be too old to rock and hold like this and she’ll be slamming the door to her room and hating me instead of loving me. 

Before I knew it, here came our "little inspector" with her pat-pat-pat of hands against hard flooring, wanting to see what Mommy and Sissy were doing.  We scooped her up too and I had a giggling, grabbing, crying mess on my hands.  Isn't that the best kind of messes?
It reminded me that the best cure for stress is thankfulness.  Do you ever just sit and think about your blessings?  For me, it never fails to fill the void that tension and stress and worry tends to dig out.  We just finished a whirl-wind tour of Charleston to Wheeling to Pittsburgh and back to Charleston...all in a matter of four days.  I didn't take one picture.  I didn't take videos.  I tried not to fuss with extras but just take in our friends and family and my children. 

During this holiday season, I encourage you to take some time to count and love on your blessings.  Hold your kids.  Hug your spouse.  Rub down your dog.  Kiss your mom.  I swear, you won’t miss the stress.  And when the walls start closing back in on you, just pray them back and be thankful that you have the "walls" to begin with. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas planning!

There is nothing like having no money to make you appreciate having even a little. As I've told you before, last year was the year God thought he would make us be totally dependent on Him for our finances.  Not that we have ever been rolling in it, but when we attempted to make out a budget, we weren't even making what our bills tallied.  Therefore, we had to ride on trust.  Whoa, did God ever show us!

I'll never forget the deals I got on photo gifts for our families.  Looking at our Christmas list, I had no idea how I was going to do gifts (and I LOVE buying presents).  Fortunately, I learned a lot (very quickly!) from mommy bloggers on how to buy from great companies when the deals were hot.  Shutterfly was one of those companies and I was thrilled to see the quality of product they produced.  

I ended up getting my dad a mug of Elizabeth covered in spaghetti.

For Barry, I made a calendar of Elizabeth.

I made photo books with a little story for each set of grandparents.

This isn't even going into how I've used them this past year for collage prints and mouse pads and travel mugs...and their promotions are so good that I've spent very little money on them.

Which leads me into this promotion.  Shutterfly is now running a promo for bloggers to write about their Christmas cards.  YAY!!  I just happen to have these AWESOME pictures that Stephen took of our family and have been looking for a great deal to get some cards made.  (All this shocks you, I know.)   So the great deal is that I can write about how much I LOVE Shutterfly (easy) and share it with you people and they will give me 50 free cards.  DOUBLE YAY!!

Now, which picture to use?  Oh, and which card.  If you haven't flipped through their selection, it is AWESOME!!  I'm not sure which cards deal with the promo but I'd love one of those flip open ones...oooo, fancy!  However, the classic single pane family shot would be nice too.  I love trimming those and keeping them in the photo album of YOUR kids!  Shutterfly is easy to download and quick on delivery.

There's my promo!  I'm off to make my free cards!!
Most Wonderful Year Christmas 5x7 folded card
Make a statement with custom Christmas cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vegas Baby!

As I told you, Scott and I took our circus out West last week to see the family.  We had a wonderful time.  The weather was awesome and we were so blessed to get to spend a lot of time with Susie and Larry and Anessa and her family.  The girls actually did really well on the airplane.  Although the flight out was doomed with night-time Rachel and the DVD player losing battery power half-way there.  ("Watch Elmo!!")  We made it though and just enjoyed the time to relax. 

Elizabeth started saying "Gam-maw" at just the right time to get whatever she wanted out of Susie!  Her favorite thing to do was to point out the mountains along the amazing view from their back porch.  Rachel enjoyed their open living space and commenced to "inspect" all there was to see. 

Scott and I went on two dates during our trip (I KNOW!  IT WAS WONDERFUL!).  We went to the M (a new casino near their house) and played some games and had a great lunch at The Huddle House.  Our last night there, we went down to Green Valley for a couple hours after putting Rachel down and leaving Elizabeth on the couch with her Grandma.  Susie was so excited to have some special Grammy time with her little girl.  And did they ever have a time!  They watched Little house on the Prairie.   They ate goldfish.  They drank egg-nog.  And then my daughter started her melt-down.  When we got back, she had been crying for about 10 minutes- just beyond the point of tired.  We rocked and went right to bed and she was out cold.  I don't think slumber parties are in our future any time soon!

We had our early Christmas with the whole crew (Rachel was down for a nap when we took this picture) and said tearful goodbyes.  All-in-all, it was a wonderful trip and no one was happier to see us come home than Tina and Butchy...who camped out all four days.  ha!


My baby is going to the potty!  All of a sudden, something clicked!  We put the potty in the living room and after a couple accidents, she got it!!  Elizabeth was so excited to wear the princess panties that Brenda got her - and I think they really helped because she didn't want to get the princesses wet.  This morning, she went to Bible study with no diaper (and a skirt, since we haven't worked with pulling pants down yet).  She stayed dry and came home and used the potty right away!

Some people read books, others color on the potty!

Why she is posed like a majorette, I have no idea.  But here is ERS in her princess panties.  And this is Rachel's "mom, why aren't you picking me up" face.  Lovely, huh?

When I pulled the camera out, Rachel was standing up, clawing at her sister.  Mama is too slow and she is on the move again.
We are so proud of our big girl and I think she is really proud too.  The first time she had success, she ran in and gave Rachel a huge hug, yelling, "Rachel, Rachel!  I pee-peed in the potty!!"  I wish I could have gotten that on video.  She was so happy to show her daddy too and we were both stunned last night when she poo-pooed on her own and came in to tell us.

Mom and Elizabeth, the day we brought her home from the hospital.

I have to admit, I was a little sad after she went to bed, realizing how much and how fast she's growing up.  I'm so glad that God makes this a gradual process.  My heart couldn't take it moving any faster.  She is talking more and more each day and even today, she told me that she needed to take a nap in the middle of our book and went and laid down in her bed.  I'm so thankful for this gift of being a mother, even during the "they drive me crazy" times.  Thank you for riding this potty training roller coaster with us.  I'll still keep you updated...and then, there will always be Rachel! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Inspector

I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to prepare for this cross-country trip to see the girls' Grammy and Grampie.

Am I packed and ready?  No.
When do we leave? Today.
What am I doing?  Updating the blog...  :)

Rachel has done so much changing in the past week, I just can't leave and not tell you about it.  She is a full-blast crawler now and has discovered every room in the house.  Her little knees are bruised and I have hand and slobber prints all over.  Most times, I walk into a room and can hear her little hands slapping the floor behind me.  As soon as she enters the doorway and makes eye contact, she breaks into a huge grin (or cry...depending on the mood of Miss Rachel), as if to say, "I just wanted to see what you were up to."  This has earned her the nickname of "inpector."

Looking for the dogs

Elizabeth and her crazy hair, coloring while Rachel naps.
The inspector loves to explore mommy and daddy's closet, follow her big sister into her room and bang on her piano or petition that it's time to eat from mommy.  She gets stuck under the table, inspecting the chair legs.  She wants to do anything her sister is doing.  Lately, they've been playing in the little kitchen together.  Elizabeth pulls down all the food and dishes and Rachel gnaws on them.  This morning, Elizabeth confiscated all of my bread pans (old and metallic, handed down from my Grandma) and Rachel banged on them for 10 minutes straight. 
Elizabeth saw her and told me, "Rachel stuck." 
Playing music for mommy
The inspector loves the vacuum cleaner and wants to climb it / chew on the cord every morning.  Yesterday, I was so focused in getting my house clean that I swept and then pulled out all the attachments to clean the couch and dust the window sills, TV, bookshelf...so engrossed that I turned around to find both children chewing on hose attachments...yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck!!

I just can't get enough of watching them play together.  This music table is a huge hit in our house.  It sings and lights up.  Elizabeth likes to do dances for Rachel, which she thinks are hilarious (of course!)

But yesterday was the big event - Rachel pulled up for the first time!!  She has been pulling herself up when holding onto our fingers, but never on her own.  My little baby, so big.  Her sister is never going to know what hit her when we are totally mobile!!
Mom, I just need a better look at this thing.

Attempting to follow her sister on the rocking horse.  Elizabeth had just put a new definition to the term "oatmeal bath."  That's why she's just in her diaper.
Ok, now I really have to go pack.  Pray for us on the airplane...well, maybe for the fellow passengers on our airplane!!