Friday, November 1, 2013

This One's for the Girls...

Or specifically, my sisters.

Or if you happen to love 90's country music.

Or Trisha Yearwood.

Or a little 3-year-old bootie shake.  ;)

TGIF, my friends!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Carving in this Joint

I have approximately 10 minutes before Caleb wakes up from his nap.  The house is trashed, the laundry's piled up and I could really use one more cup of coffee before we venture into the Halloween evening festivities.  But I just have to share our pumpkin carving pictures with you.

It all started with Scott and me sitting on the couch last Friday evening and having the following, loving conversation...

Me:  Well, you know that we have to carve pumpkins this weekend since Halloween is next week.
Scott:  *insert silent stare*
Me:  Seriously.  It's next Thursday.  
Scott:  Do you know when the last time was I carved a pumpkin?

Throw into the mix that Elizabeth insisted on making a GIRL pumpkin.  (No, Daddy, it has to be PRETTY!)  And all Scott and the girls ended up sitting at the dining room table, looking at design templates on Martha Stewart's website.  They finally settled on a kitty cat design that seemed cute and easy.  

Although when Scott suggested adding some fangs, Elizabeth threw herself on the ground in protest.

Such a drama lama.  

It worked out great though that Sunday was perfect weather. We were all able to be in the yard and Caleb was pretty distracted by everything BUT the pumpkin carving.

Well, except in the beginning.  Ok girls, now this is how you carve it.  Just pick it up and drop it!

Fine, you don't want to do it my way.  I'll just head down here and eat some sand.  

I'm sure ten years ago, Scott never pictured himself carving kitty cat pumpkins.  He cut the tops off and tried to get the girls help him scoop the guts out.  Rachel refused to get close to it and Elizabeth stuck her hand in one time and was sufficiently grossed out.  I'm thinking we don't have two doctors on our hands here.  I'm sure the boy would have nose-bombed right in.

The after shot.  Elizabeth is making her "scary" face.  Grrrr!

And my whole scary bunch...I pretty much love everyone's expression in this picture.  Can't wait to light these puppies (I mean) kitties up on the front porch!

Happy Halloween, my friends!  I'll post costume pics tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Small Victories with the Little People

As sweet as Elizabeth can be, she's not much of a hugger.

Cuddling and sneaking a squeeze is just not her thing.  In fact, even 'I love you's' are tough to get out of her.  Now, this is not the case for the other two, who race and push each other down to get to my lap as soon as I take a seat anywhere in the house.  Most mornings find me covered in Rachel and Caleb, with Elizabeth on the edge of the love seat.  

That is her perch, especially after I (stupidly) taught her how to use the remote.

But that's another story.

Anyway, I have begged my child to come lay with me, cuddle with her mama, give me a get it...and sometimes she will...begrudgingly.

Now there have been random times that she's giving me glimpses past her tough exterior.  Like about a month ago, when we were driving back from Wheeling, WV.  We were about 6 hours into the trip and Caleb and Rachel (who both sit in the middle captain chairs of the van) were beginning to lose it.  So I started playing "this little piggie" with their toes, making the little one go whee whee whee all the way up to their very ticklish necks.  

Elizabeth was watching a movie and seemed to have cared less.

So I couldn't figure out why she was crying when we stopped for lunch.  As she was bawling in my arms, I finally got out of her, "BUT I WANT TO DO THE LITTLE PIGGIES!!"

Guilt flooded me.  "Oh honey!  I'm so sorry!  I didn't get to do the piggies with you, did I?"  And we went to our seats and made the little piggies race up her neck right in the middle of McDonalds.

Flash forward to yesterday.

We had just been having a day of rumbles between Elizabeth Rose and myself.  Her personality is strong and we're at the stage that she will just flat-out ignore me if she doesn't want to do what she's been asked to do...which of course, lights a fire under me faster than gasoline.  We argued about which leotard to wear to gymnastics.  We argued about picking up the major pony fort she had constructed during nap time.  We argued over her not being able to light candles by herself (true story...she had put the play chair on the hearth in order to reach the lighter on the mantle...didn't see THAT ONE coming).

And the problem with the oldest being defiant is that the other two tend to follow right along suit.  So it was just one of those days that I felt like all I did was discipline and harp and lay down rules and those just aren't that fun or rewarding.  By the time Scott got home, I was spent.  And I felt stupid being spent as a stay at home mom because duh, I STAYED AT HOME, but spent I was.  

So dinner rolled around and, as I watched my children push the healthy food around their plate and moan and groan about the frittata I had fixed that had "yucky steak" in it, I felt myself sink lower and lower.  Just the day before, I had heard a devotional on finding Jesus in our every day chores, to look for Him when things were mundane or hard raising our little people.  But, for the life of me, I couldn't see Him.  

Deciding that she was finished, Elizabeth hopped up from her seat and ran into the living room.  Amazingly, she came back willingly when we asked her to clear her dishes and then the rest of the table (she enjoys most chores that don't involve picking up toys).  Then, when she came back into the dining room from her first load, it happened.

She hugged me.  

She stopped, put her arms around me and hugged me for a good 20 seconds.

Within the first 10, I was bawling my eyes out.  

She looked up at me, shocked.  "Mama!  Why are you crying?"

And in that moment, I decided to be honest with her.  "Oh honey," I sniffed.  "Sometimes I'm just not sure you love me at all."

She hugged me tighter.  "Well of course I do," she giggled.  "You're the best mama I have!"  (Oh Jesus...THERE you were!)

And with that, she cleared the rest of the table, each time stopping to give me a quick squeeze.  Scott reached across our ketchup covered son to squeeze my hand and we both paused in the brief minute of peace in the house.  

Well, until bath time...

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Signs you might have a toddler in your bathroom

Every morning when I get ready, I laugh at the set up on our vanity simply because we tend to always have a "helper" when we are getting ready.  And there he is!

"Here Mama, I'll turn the water on for you so you can go ahead and brush your teeth.  Now spit so I can yell 'bubbles!!' and splash in them."

"Oops, Mama...don't worry.  I'll get your toothbrush.  I just dropped it.  Right on the floor.  By the toilet."

"Hey Mama, why do you put everything way over there?  I'm having trouble getting them from here.  Don't worry, I'll just scale the sink and get them.  You go get dressed and don't stress."

And, you know, I would consider him unique had I not found this little gem in my archives.

(Rachel at 19 months.)

Have a great day, my friends...and here's to hoping you can brush your teeth alone! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

From Messes to S's...

Lately, I've been dealing with control issues.

Or a lack of control issues, if you might.

My children run around crazy, my eyebrows are out of control and my house is a wreck.  And while the "get it together sister" part of me is yearning to tighten the reigns and go to all ends to have control, the "they're only young once" other part of me is urging myself to enjoy the journey.  

All this being said, I've been in a mass cleaning and purging stage while I move our belongings back in from the garage, where they were stored as the floors were getting done.  Boxes of items we don't need have been sent to the thrift store and I've actually been thankful for the process because I don't think it would have otherwise gotten done.  

When they replaced the floors, they had to tear out the subfloor, leaving a thick layer of dust on anything standing - blinds, curtains, baseboards, pictures left on the walls, etc.  The only reason why I'm telling you this is to paint the picture that I've kind of been on a cleaning frenzy around this joint.

So you can imagine my disbelief when I walked into the entryway yesterday and discovered writing on the wall.  In crayon.  Blue crayon.

Now, let me pause again and tell you that all of my children are smack on the edge of big developmental stages.  Caleb is trying with all his might to talk.  Elizabeth is beginning to go from rebellious to helpful and want responsibility.  And Rachel is exploding in creativity.  She really has started to color well and is wanting to make letters randomly.  

Rachel, more than the others, is very sensory driven.  She clings to a blankie with soft edges, especially when she's upset.  She is the only one that bites her nails and toe nails (which both grosses me out and makes me jealous of her flexibility).  And lately, she's taken to picking all the leather off our couch, which drives us crazy but no one's been able to catch her in the act yet.  

However, this was all very far from my mind when I was trying desperately to get my house back together yesterday around 5 p.m.  It had been a long day and the kids were running crazy around the house, since it was too cool to go outside with their drippy noses.  Dinner was on the stove and I knew Scott would be on his way home soon.  I had wiped down surfaces, dusted the living room and was just finishing up the floors when I saw the brand new art work on the wall... in blue.  

I knew it was Rachel, as we had already been down this road with Elizabeth, and I began to blow my top at my three-year-old.  Of course, she denied it and cowered under her blanket and I felt all my control issues bubble to the surface.  

Your house never looks put together.  You're just not a good homemaker.
Your children can't follow the rules.  You're just not a good mom.
Your husband is going to think you have no control of your house.  You're just not a good wife.
and even
You're taking out your frustrations on your three-year-old!!  You really have no self-control.

And while the true battle of control was raging inside me, Elizabeth walked up behind me.
"Mom!!  Look!!  Rachel made an S!!"

And she had.  There in the middle of the "art" was a perfectly scrawled blue my entrance way.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9  

I pulled Rachel on my lap and apologized for getting upset and asked her if she would make all her letters on paper so that I could keep them forever.  Her tears dried up in an instant as she jumped down and ran off to do just that.  And once again, I was thankful for pint-sized grace that forgives me quicker than I deserve.   I was thankful for Elizabeth's sweet heart and gentle reminder of what was really important.  I was thankful even for my control issues because they keep me looking to the One who is so much stronger and has it all together so that I don't have to. 

And I was also thankful for the big box of Magic Erasers that was on sale last month at Costco...

Happy Thursday, friends!

Monday, September 9, 2013 see my hallway??

Ok, so this isn't the sexiest of house transitions, but it is definitely one that takes my breath away the most.  And it would probably be the most unassuming, had you never visited our house prior. 

A little history on me:  I like white trim.  I love a clean look.  Our little SC house had the old farmhouse baseboards and I just fell in love with the whole whiteness of them.  

Call me a weirdo.  

So when we moved into this house, they had painted all of the downstairs baseboards, but left the upstairs dark and it always bugged me.  I just wasn't sure how to make it look pretty without painting them.  So with the help of my good friend, Rita (painter/home designer extraordinaire!) we (she??) got to work.

Now that, my friend, is a lot of dark wood.  Every door, every baseboard, every window frame...well, you get the picture.  

Ahhhh...isn't that CA-RA-ZY??  We carried the same wall color from downstairs and all the woodwork became white.  I thought we were going to have to change out our door hardware too, but being a dark bronze, they actually looked really good when we lightened everything up.  

The first day Rita started on it, she had been working for about an hour when I came upstairs.

Me:  *Gasp!!*  Rita!!  I love it!
Her:  Annie, that's primer.
Me:  Well I LOVE primer!! 

And seriously, it's just spinned into a love affair from there.  Every time I walk up the stairs, I really feel like I'm entering into a new house.  

All in all, it took her months to get everything painted.  Pretty much everything took a coat of primer and two coats of paint.  But I am so happy with the results.

Will share more soon!  Happy Monday, sweet friends!

Friday, August 23, 2013

First Day Recap and Daddy Birthday Parties

Well, she survived.  

I have to tell you, I held my breath walking into preschool on Wednesday afternoon.  I was so nervous that Rachel refused to go to the potty or threw a crying fit or had a horrible time.  There were a couple of moms standing at the doorway chatting when I walked up.  I overheard the teacher talking about the kids working with scissors so I glanced over her shoulder and saw Rachel, sitting quietly at a table, not doing anything.

Oh no.

And then she looked up and saw me...and smiled...

Ahhhh!!  Sweet relief!!  Once the teacher realized who's mom I was, she told me Rachel had a great day, although they weren't sure she could talk until she saw Elizabeth on the playground and went crazy.  (Sounds like her.)  Elizabeth's day was pretty typical for her and she got rave reviews from her teacher.

We talked about their days and new friends and then set out on our secret mission.  We had big fish to was Daddy's birthday.

We were making our plans on how to celebrate that morning when Elizabeth asked how old Daddy was.  Doing the math, I couldn't believe he was turning 39, making it ten years ago that we celebrated his birthday together for the first time.  Life was so busy then (ha!), with the college kids getting back to campus and school starting.  We hadn't been dating long, maybe a couple weeks...way too early to know how someone celebrates their birthday.  (You know what I it no big deal or is it a national holiday?  You never know!!)  So I asked him if he wanted to go out or did he want me to make him a special dinner?  He thought they would be practicing late and said he could just stop by afterwards, which worked out for me because we had practice too.

I ended up being pretty late for some reason that I can't now remember and walked in the door with nothing prepared, which I sheepishly admitted when he called to tell me he was on his way.  "No problem," he said.  "I'll be right there."  Ten minutes later, he walked in my little house with two cartons of ice cream and toppings and we celebrated his birthday with ice cream sundaes and watching TV on the couch.  I was mortified that he bought his own birthday treat, but he didn't seem in the slightest bit upset and told me that he just enjoyed relaxing and chatting.

Oh, I was smitten right away!  ;)

Fast forward waaaay into the future and three kiddos were excited to celebrate with him and we definitely weren't stopping at ice cream!  

Caleb and I met Scott for lunch at one of our favorite little restaurants that doesn't care if you trash the tables.

After picking up the girls, we ran to the fancy store (Stein Mart) to find him some presents, which, much to the chagrin of Elizabeth, did NOT include a Hello Kitty watch.  Then we went to Publix to get balloons and a cake.

The balloon tradition started not long after we moved here.  We had very little extra money and no little friends to make a birthday party special.  So Scott walked in the door of Elizabeth's 2nd birthday with two $2.99 balloons...the mylar kind with a character on it and they were instant hits...for a week!!  So now, at every birthday, each kid gets to pick out a special balloon and it normally still lasts a while.  

The nice lady at Publix agreed with the girls that Daddy would LOVE two princess balloons and Caleb got Toy Story.  We shot home, wrapped presents, decorated the house and they played and colored as I got dinner going.  During this time, I asked Rachel why she wasn't cutting with scissors with the other kids.  She just kind of shrugged at me, so I said, "Rachel, if your teacher asks you to cut, then you need to do what she says."  She paused for a minute and then looked me in the eye and said, "But mom, she said we didn't HAVE to and that we could color instead.  I already know how to cut."  WHOA!!  A fully sentence and not a hint of crying??  Yes!! (cue air fist pump!)

Then came the really important part...practicing jumping out and yelling surprise.  (This was right in Caleb's wheel house, in case you didn't already suspect.)

Here they are, keeping "look out" for Scott to get home.

I'm sure YOU'RE not surprised that it was a wonderful evening and we celebrated 39 years well.  Today, revealed another day of preschool and we were better prepared for the routine and had everyone's "bap paps" ready (Thank God!).

And then today really marked the first day of quality time with just me and my son.  Wednesday was so chaotic that we weren't really home much together.  So today, he broke me in by walking right in the door from the Y, running in the kitchen and pointing up at the refrigerator like, "Here!  Can I spell it out to you any more woman??  Cook me some lunch!!"  

"What??  I was huuuungry!!"
Sigh.  And now it's nap time and I'm off to tackle some ga-ross bathrooms.  Have a wonderful weekend, my sweet friends!!  Thank you for all your kind wishes, prayers and texts on Rachel's first day!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day of Preschool!

I forgot how much I used to LOVE nap time.

With Caleb being the only napper in the house, the 12-2 hours are now some of my craziest.

"Mama, what can we do now?"

"Mama, can you get this toy down?"

"Mama, can we play on your computer?"


So I basically keep running on a normal day and didn't realize how much I missed the solitude of a good nap time with no children awake until right now.

Ahhhh...quiet.  Can you hear it?  I'm drinking it in.

Well, except for the new garage door getting installed.  That's a little noisy.  But I'll go into all that next week.

Today, I had to take my heart to preschool.  Now, you know that Elizabeth went last year and she was jacked about going back.  Not a hesitant bone in that child's body, I swear.  But Rachel...

Well, we signed Rachel up because the pediatrician thought it would be best.  She is our shy one, our sweet and quiet one.  She will rarely talk to adults and sometimes not even kids her own age.  And she's never really been away from me for more than a couple hours.  I would be lying  if I said I wasn't nervous all morning, but she was really all smiles picking out her outfit and getting ready.

Ok, girls!  Stand there so I can get a picture of you in your back to school outfits!
Ok, Caleb...You want to get in there too?  Ok, now everyone look at me!  No, stop moving.. No, look at me.  Wait!  Hold still just a second...
Don't squeeze her head off Elizabeth!!

I asked the girls to go to the potty, got my bag on my shoulder and walked back in the den to see them both standing with their backpacks on, holding their lunchboxes, waiting on me.

*tear wipe*

And then Caleb pointed up at me, "Bap pap."

I have no idea why my dad taught him to say backpack at the beach, but somehow it wound into conversation.  Well, now here it was.


He wanted to go too.  And was quite insistent on my making it happen.  I ran back into the kitchen, his chubby little feet hot on my trail, and grabbed his lunch box out from under the island.  Happy to have something like his sisters, he marched proudly to the door to stand with them.

And there they were, ready and excited for what was very much the real world for a 5, 3 and 17 month old.  We walked in the school and dropped Elizabeth off, no problem.  Caleb held tight to his "bap pap," and after saying goodbye to Elizabeth (with a reminder to listen and obey), I turned to find a very nervous Rachel standing in the hallway.

Oh, how I know that feeling and how I wanted to take her back to the car with me.  Doesn't being the mom just suck sometimes??  

I smiled and gave her a big hug and we walked the hallway to her classroom and met her teacher.  Much to my relief, she was scooped up in her teacher's arms and told how excited she was to see her.  And then I saw Rachel's slow smile and knew she was going to be ok.  And I thought that I probably would be too...

Until I looked down to see my son staring up at me, expectantly...the one who has never been an only child in the house.  Sizing up his playmate for the day, he turned on his heel, grabbed his bap pap and started running for the car.

So much for being sad!

And now that my playmate is down for the count, I'm going to try to tackle my kitchen...which is still wrecked from making pancakes and lunches.  Happy Wednesday, my dear friends!!  And I'll let you know how the day went tomorrow...that is, if the girls let me use my own computer during nap time.  ;)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer Dreams...

It flew by and I wrote nothing.  

I didn't record my kids swimming.

I didn't write about our first trip to the ER.

I didn't tell you about our monster tomato plants or about how I was learning how to paint or my workout designed to get strong enough to do a pull-up.  (Which I can't do ANY!)

I didn't complain and I didn't rejoice. 

And now I'm kind of regretting it because I don't have record of our summer except for the piles of house renovations we were able to get through (and I'll share with you soon...woot!).  

Last week, we went to the beach and, while I didn't feel like I needed a vacation, once I set sights on the ocean, I knew I had been sadly mistaken.  We had perfect weather, stayed in a condo with a perfect walk-in pool, and made perfect memories.  

Me and the crazies!

After a few days, I found myself refreshed and ready to tackle the new season.  Running the beach, I felt so insignificant and thankful.  

Lord, look at all You've created and still you manage to bless my family and me.  Forgive me for all my selfishness and belly-aching and thank you for not only taking care of and knowing the individual needs of all the millions of fish in the sea but me also.

I told Scott that I felt like I was given a summer time New Years and returned home ready to get into our new preschool schedule and the final house remodeling. 

Oh, and writing.  :)

Speaking of which, this morning, I had the following conversation with Elizabeth as I was fixing her hair.

ERS:  Mom, if I were a mermaid, I WOULD NOT open my eyes under the ocean.
Me:  Well, Elizabeth, mermaids aren't real.  They're just pretend.
ERS:  No...I'm talking about MER-MAIDS.  The kind that swim in the ocean.  Do you think the water doesn't hurt their eyes??
Me:   They're not real.  They don't have eyes.  
ERS:  Ok, I don't think you know what I'm talking about...


Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Paint up to my eyeballs

Perhaps you've noticed I've been MIA.  Summer is officially underway in this house.  That means mornings by the pool, afternoons on the playground and days and nights trying to update our 1980's home.  

My hope this summer is to get all the "little" projects completed, like paint and tile, so that only the major, big-ticket items are left.  The problem is that just about everything needs painted and that takes up the most time.  

Last week, we got the walls done through most of the downstairs and yesterday, the last of the dark trim was painted downstairs.  I can't believe how just a little bit of white paint has made such a difference, but I'm in love.

Here is the before.  The wall color was a light tan and the upper trim in this room was dark, along with the beam.

And here is our after.  It's hard to get a true picture of the new paint color, but it is sort of a vanilla color with a light tint of yellow.  It runs through the downstairs, except for the kitchen.  Of course, all the upper wood work is now white and I can't believe how much it has updated the house.

Of course now, I'm itching to get that old gold fan out of here!!  But that can wait for another day.

The upstairs is also being tackled and I have a good friend who's been helping us on all the dark trim.  So pictures to come of all that soon.  My only other hang-up in here is the fireplace.  My friend is in favor of painting the mantle white and the cover black.  What do you think? 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dreaming of Organization

There are times I get a burr up my butt and decide that This is the day I will get organized, and (cue horn salute) today was (kinda) one of those days.  Ok, only in one small section of the house, but really that's a step up for me.

We decided to come home after dropping Elizabeth off at preschool, instead of going to the Y or the store, which I had previously planned.  It was raining cats and dogs and there was a cold wind blowing and it just sounded a whole lot better to come home and watch Sesame Street and drink another cup of coffee.  I'll let you just guess which sounded best to whom...

So after making a batch of muffins and lunch and putting Mr. crabby pants down for a nap, I decided to tackle two of my biggest issues in the kitchen:  my leftover containers and my pantry. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I have spent plenty of time getting these two places organized.  However, there are three small people, WHO WILL REMAIN NAMELESS, that don't quite care for my system.

Here they are, making mama work to get to the stove.  This was while I was making dinner.  Now, the leftover containers were previously in that white cabinet behind Caleb.

Sine he has been able to walk, Caleb has been fascinated with the pantry.  It seems like every week, I have to move the heavier things up higher so he doesn't pull a can of beans down on his toe.  This has resulted in a ticking time bomb food avalanche just waiting to happen.

Did I take before pictures?  Oh, you know me better than that.  That would take previous thought and planning...two things I have not done since having these little creatures.  But I don't think the end results are too shabby.

Ok, here's the finished pantry with the heavier things up higher and the fun-shaky-but-can't-get-into things on the bottom.  We're going to have to repaint the cabinets...I'll save that sob story for another day...but the inside of this will be done and I bought some chalkboard contact paper to put on the inside of this door too.

This single move is going to piss my son off to no end.  He LOVES scattering leftover containers to all ends of the earth.  But I HATE picking them up and finding dog hair and slobber and who knows what else inside them.  So up they go.

He won't be left empty handed though...look at all those fun things down there to destroy play with!

Has anyone ever started to empty the flour into the canister, only to discover that there's too much in the bag but you already tipped it over so you just leave it there until you figure out what else to do?

Yeah, me neither...

I think it's a sign I need to make cookies...   :)

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Silent Songs of Praise

You know how you have moments in your life that you just want to take a picture and keep it in your heart forever?  

That's partly why I decided to keep a blog - so I could capture those little moments at this time in my life and my children's lives.  I always like looking back at actual pictures of my parents and grandparents when they were my age to put bits and pieces together about what they thought and what they were like then.  Therefore, I have to tell you about the mental picture I took this morning.

(If you click on the song, you'll get the full effect of the message.  Especially since I'm listening to it now as I'm writing.)

At our church service, there is a gentleman who is hearing impaired and sits on the front row.  There is a woman in front of him who signs the songs and sermons and I always like watching her because I think it's fascinating how she can sign and remember what the preacher just said and listen to what he's currently saying all at the same time.  I know I would lose focus far too easily.

Not that I stalk this man, but I have always seen him stand or sit and just watch her.

Well this morning, we sang 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.  It was one of those songs that I can't say I've thought about in about a million years, but once it started, my heart went back to songs with my grandparents and growing up.  

I was already half way to weepy when I looked over and saw the man.  His head was slightly tilted back and he was signing along with the music.  And not just signing...SIGNING!  He was joyously singing as "loud" as he could - signing along with the woman in front of him.  His smile was so large that I could see it even though I was angled behind him and he didn't turn around.  

I have no other amazing insight except just the picture and the blessing it gave me to watch this man singing and signing his heart out.  My heart has been heavy with the news lately and there is even a lot of sadness behind the writing of this hymn from the late 1800's.  I got so much joy out of this open display of praise that my heart smiled.  I'm not sure if the man was singing out loud or not, but I can surely say that Jesus heard him this morning.  

I've listened to a lot of people say this week that the key to keeping faith in the hard times is to remember the good times.  They even advised writing down times of blessings or faithfulness to pull out when things get rough.  So I'll tuck this wonderful man that I don't even know deep in my heart to light the darkness if I ever need him.  And he will remind me exactly how sweet it is to trust in Jesus...

Have a wonderful night, my friends. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

All I wanted to do was cook...

I've been batch cooking for a while now - maybe 3 or 4 months, if you want to be precise.  We subscribed to Once A Month Mom and love their Paleo menu.  For about $70 a year, they provide monthly menus, shopping lists, bag labels and full detailed directions for your big cooking day.  Once or twice a month, I buy a huge batch of food and set aside a day to cook it all, bag it up and stick it in one of our three freezers.

Obsess much?  Three freezers???  Nah...

The reward has been life changing and I absolutely love just being able to pull out a dinner and not having to stress in the kitchen every night.  
So normally I do this cooking on a Sunday after church and wind up working all day and into the night.   Everyone gets high stressed because Mama is high stressed and it really doesn't end well.  So this month, I decided to cook during the week.

With my children home.

By myself.

(If you ever hear me mention doing this again, please just take me out of my own misery.)

What I failed to realize was that life and chores don't stop during a week you decide to cook.  And you can't exactly put it to the side because that stuff is going to go bad.  And your children don't stop.  Ever.  

So here was the scene at my house last week...feel free to feel tons better about your own home.  ha!

Starting with the kitchen, this was after I had cleaned so the dishes weren't overflowing from the sink quite as much.  Notice the stack of bags on the chair since I forgot about half a million things when I went to the store and had to make a second trip.
Stupidly, I also broke out the summer clothes that same day.  Which the girls happily distributed all over their floor.

Speaking of laundry, there it is!!  All waiting to be washed.  The dang laundry fairy is fired!!
Scenes from the play room...this was before they got into the puzzles.

I heard Caleb calling me so I had to turn everything off and see what he was into (and by me, I mean "dada").  This is currently one of his favorite climb to the landing and yell for someone to rescue him.  It's awesome, really. 

In the end, I got most of the meals done and what didn't get done, I just put in the freezer.  By the third day of cooking, the kids were going stir crazy so I called it quits and took them outside to play.  Everyone felt better from there on out.

This week, I have to catch up on my house cleaning and workouts, since I let both of those slack last week.  So if you don't hear from me, I've gotten lost in my mess of a bathroom or I've collapsed from too much Insanity.

Or I might be outside pushing can never tell.

Have a great day my friends!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Heaven is Real

I don't have too many opportunities to call Elizabeth an angel (ha!).  Maybe it was her singing or the message or maybe it was just the sun angle and her fairy wings, but this took my breath away.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why Staying Home has Been My Blessing

I've been doing a Bible study on Monday nights that has really lifted me up.  It's on the book of Ruth and one of the questions this past week was: What has God done that has exceeded your expectations?

My answer was immediately being a stay at home mom.  

Don't get me wrong, I have always respected people who stayed at home with their kids.  

I just never thought I could do it.  

Elizabeth was kept by a sweet woman her first year while I worked and seeing the poor saint after eight hours with crazy toddlers made me thankful to be coming or going.  

I really thought I needed to work.

I thought I needed it socially.  I was convinced we needed it financially.  And honestly, I didn't think I had the "kahunas" to cut it in the SAHM realm.

But God obviously had other plans.

When we moved to TN, I began putting out applications, but I couldn't really find a job that fit.  I had no idea what I'd do for child care and Scott was working such long hours trying to get his wings as a rookie salesman (not to mention he worked 45 minutes + away) that I knew I'd be on my own.

Well, and then we found out we were pregnant.

Elizabeth and me, our first year as the dynamic home duo
I had no idea how it was going to work.  I made the budget out and every way I could figure it, we were in the red.  I had never made more than a couple meals a week and really never thought about shopping for a household much.  And on top of that, I was truly convinced that I would be bored. 

I mean, what can you do AT HOME all day...of course, now (as I normally do) I am completely doubled-over, holding my sides at my know-it-all former self. 

Of course, this was a major detour on my spiritual know, the path that I went down where I didn't know my way around or anyone except my one-year-old and husband?  The same path where I got down on my knees and cried I can't do this without You and I'm sorry I was convinced I had this whole thing called life figured out because I don't?

Maybe you know the one?

Now, I am almost into my fourth year at home and every day I learn and grow.  But I do know this one thing for sure:  I never thought this gig would be as challenging, breathtaking or humbling as it is.  And I had no idea what priceless memories I had in store.

So here's my top ten reasons why God has exceeded my expectations as a stay at home mom. 

1.  After-sleep-cuddles make me melt.  My kids all love rocking and there's something about that still-sleepy little person totally molded into you that completes my soul.  (That is, if they're not screaming their heads off for a sippy/show/snack.)

2.  I wake up every morning, put on my glasses, robe and slippers and walk down stairs to make 3 milk sippies and one cup of coffee.  

3.  I understand (and respond to) a one-year-old's commands.  This is especially challenging when the only real world he says is "dada."

4.  I get shoulder workouts doing three-swing push alterations.  

5.  I can make their day by playing with them.  Anything will do.

6.  I used to melt when my husband told me I was beautiful.  Now, I glow under my children's complements.  

7.  Today, I was crying and my four-year-old comforted me and cried with me.  She didn't even know what it was about.  But I felt her little arms around me and her compassion almost bowled me over.

8.  I know their distinct tastes.  Today, for lunch, I made one pb only sandwich (for Rachel), one j only sandwich (for Elizabeth) and one pb&j sandwich (for Caleb).

9.  I can sense when one of my children is into something they're not supposed to be.  Weird mommy intuition...or the Force, Luke...I'm not sure which it is yet... 

10.  Every day, I get to witness the pure joy and excitement when their daddy comes home.  As they hear the door open or see his car pull up, off they sprint to see who can get to his arms first.  I also get to see that same joy replicated in his eyes.

Now, I know that I very often write about things that are funny or over the top here just because those are the things that I want to make sure I save for my children.  But more than those, I want them to know that I treasure my time with them and it's something that I won't ever take for granted.

How bout you?  Got anything to add to my list?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Ewww, steaks!

I've fallen off the eating wagon.

With Scott on the road, my inspiration wanes and I tend to drift more to the kid's way of things.  Instead of fresh veggies and good meat, we have more mac and cheese and spaghetti.  In going away from good habits, I've not only noticed my waist line increasing, but my attitude slipping.

So today saw a new leaf turn over and we're back in the game.

Now the problem with officially declaring this was that I had basically no food for dinner.  Stuff had gone bad, we hadn't made it to the store, blah blah blah.  So I started a pot of split pea soup with a ham bone after breakfast, pulled a couple steaks out of the freezer and promised that I'd pick up one more vegetable at the store when I went today.  (And I did...corn on the cob.  I swear, nothing else says summer to me.)

Having steaks always brings up good memories for me.  Growing up, we had an uncle that was a farmer and raised and butchered cattle, so we were never short on beef.  In fact, I didn't know that having steaks was considered a upper class meal until after I left home.  It was just something that we had.  

Scott and I hadn't been dating too long when I invited him over for dinner at my apartment.  We hung out there a lot anyway and I'm sure had had dinner together already, but I wanted this to be nice so I bought steaks.  

Now, the softball team (I was an assistant coach) ran the concession stand at the time during football games and I manned the grill.  We served chicken, hamburgers, brats, know, all stuff you want cooked pretty thoroughly.  So I didn't really think twice before heating my little charcoal grill up and then burning those bad boys to a crisp.

In fact it wasn't until I saw my handsome boyfriend trying to smile at me while gnawing on his tough t-bone that I realized that you didn't have to cook steaks through.  In fact, some people liked them RARE.  Oh, I was horrified and embarrassed and he was ever the gentlemen and told me he liked them like that...burnt...and that it was a wonderful dinner.  (Side note:  he likes his steak still mooing.  And he married me anyway!!)

So skip forward plenty of years and I've now pretty much mastered our steaks.  What helps profusely is the fancy new grill we bought at Lowes last year on discount after season, where all the burners work and cook evenly.  I rub the steaks down with a clove of garlic, drizzle olive oil on them and rub in salt and pepper.  Then I cook one side about 4-5 minutes and the other side 2-3, depending on how thick they are. 

I set the hot food on the table and it was just the perfect evening.  We had the windows open and the warm, Spring air was coming in.  I bought some cheap, pink carnations at the store and put them on the table in my good vase.  The children were listening, actually washing their hands when we asked them to...

...and then they walked into the dining room.

"RACHEL!!  Come look at this!!"  Elizabeth yelled.

"What is it?"  asked Rachel.

"Just look."  said Elizabeth.  (Now, I was still in the kitchen so I could only hear this, but I'm imagining her pointing with a look of sheer disgust.)

"EWWWWW!  STEAKS!!"  They both said in unison.  


So, as it turns out, neither one ate the "ewwwww steaks" or what turned out to be "yuck soup".  But they did have two ears of corn apiece and then ran outside to jump on the trampoline while Scott and I ate the rest of their steaks.  

At least they were cooked right.

Oh, and the boy liked steaks.  Go figure.  :)

Happy Sunday eve, my friends!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sailing Solo

So I'm getting ready to walk upstairs and pack a suitcase...

for myself...

for a trip...

by myself...

Holy shmoly!!

On Monday night, I got a text from my best friend that went something like this:

I need you this Saturday!!  I just won 2 tix for George Strait.  I neeeeeed yoooouuuuu!!

So my husband did what any other wonderful husband might do in the same circumstance and volunteered to not only get me a plane ticket but to also watch the three small crazy people who occupy my daily existence.  

Did I also mention that Martina McBride is going to be there?  I KNOW...I've been resting up my vocal chords all week because I just know she's going to call me up from the audience after she hears my singing from the crowd. 

And while I'm totally fired up about seeing my best friend and her family and having an awesome evening, a part of me remains...I don't even know how to explain it.  Hesitant?  Sad?  Already missing my kids?

I tried explaining it to Scott and he literally looked at me like I had three heads.  

"We'll be fine," he said.  "It'll be a lot of fun...I never get to do this."  

And of that, I have no doubt...this really has nothing to do with him and all to do with me.  

You see, this is the first time I've been away from all of them.  And, in fact, the only time I have ever been away from the other two was to have another one!  So it's kind of a big deal for me.  I feel like I sort of traded in the Annie card to become Mama four years ago and it's been a no-look-back kind of deal.

This weekend, I get to be Annie again...and it's just a little overwhelming.  What does one do without a diaper bag or someone crying on them or needing to be carried?  What books will I read when the opportunity provides itself to read for more than an hour straight?   And what does one wear when there is no chance of snot or throw-up ruining the outfit??

These are the brilliant thoughts running through my head...the lack of brain cells, I totally blame on Nick Jr.  

So I'm looking forward to the trip and am anxious about it all at the same time...and before too long, I more than know that my little brood will be grown and driving and not home for dinner and moving their stuff out of my attic and I'll once again think, "What do I do?  Who am I again??"

Well, unless I'm asked to go on tour with Martina...which could totally happen people.  I'm about to go dig out my CD from 1998 and rock out.  (As Miss Kay says on Duck Dynasty, "Score one for the hoarders!")

Have a great weekend, my friends!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday Math Problems

The two smaller people are down for naps and Elizabeth is sitting at the island, playing with play-doh while I clean the kitchen and start on some soup for dinner.  She's humming to herself and making her characters talk...

...when all of a sudden...

ERS:  Hey Mom, what's 1 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 10?

Me:  (Washing dishes and distracted) What??

ERS:  I SAID, What's 1 + 1 + 1+ 5 + 10??

Now, we've started talking a little bit about math and demonstrating how you can use your fingers to help you add and subtract.  So I raise my soapy hands out of the water, wipe them on my pants, and start putting my fingers up.

Me:  Well, you said 1 (raise one finger) plus 1 (raise another) plus 1...

ERS (interrupting):  No, no, no, no...I SAID, WHAT'S 1 + 1 +...

Me (interrupting her):  Elizabeth, I heard what you asked!  I was trying to help you figure it out!

ERS:  Oh, I already know what it is. 

Me (now fully turned to her with my hands on my hips)  Oh really?  What is it?

ERS:  18.  (She has now gone back to playing)

Me (in shock)  That's right, honey!!  How did you know that?

ERS:  Oh, they said it on Team Umi-zoomi.


Have a great one!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pictures around this joint

Spring is upon us and the sunshine makes me not want to sit at my that you too? 

This past weekend was so pretty.  It was my first chance to do lessons outside and we were blessed with warm, 70 degree temperatures and clear skies.  The girls played outside while I taught and then continued to play as I pulled weeds and trimmed bushes.  Isn't it amazing how good you feel after doing yard work?  At least, I do.  And it seems like I've been pregnant or just coming off being pregnant and unable to move and do anything in my gardens for so long that I appreciate my hands in the dirt so much more now.

I remember when I was a graduate assistant and moved into my first little duplex apartment.  I had never lived alone before and didn't really know anyone except for the people I worked with, so I started working on the flower beds around my house.  I ended up going to the gardening store to get plants and the sale I thought I was purchasing under had just ended the day before.  When I rang my flats of flowers and dirt up at the register, it came to $80!!  I almost choked, but was so embarrassed by my mistake that I couldn't take them I loved flowers.   So I promised to REALLY take care of them...especially since that was pretty much a month's worth of groceries back then!  

We lived there for two years and months after we moved out, I made the mistake of driving by and just cried and cried about how it had been left to overgrow and get wild. Now, my phase of life has me growing babies instead of flowers but I'm hoping to be able to begin to mold the two worlds.

That is, if Rachel would ever stop picking the heads off all my daffodils...

But anyway, I know I've been quiet on here so let me catch you up on our household with the most recent pics and short stories.  

Caleb's birthday was last week and we were so blessed to be able to celebrate our little boy!!  He is quite the handful these days, walking and running, yelling and attacking his sisters.

Here is a shot one of his sisters captured.  This pretty much sums him up.

And if that doesn't, this will!!
The girls helped me make his cake - it was vanilla with vanilla frosting.  And of course, there were plenty of sprinkles.
And he got his own piece...which was quickly taken away from him when he tried to stuff the whole thing in his mouth.
It was a fun day and he loved opening his gifts and playing with his new "boy toys."  I never thought about how few rough and tumble things we have around our house...admittedly, most of our toys come in the pink or princess variety.  But given the chance, he definitely drifts to balls and trucks...things he can push and throw.  So it was nice to get a few more of those things into the mix.  

Caleb is a funny little boy.  He loves swinging outside and exploring the yard and driveway.  He can climb up the stairs and knows how to come down on his belly.  He loves going through my kitchen and pulling everything out of drawers and can clap his hands and stomp his feet on cue with If you're happy and you know it.  He still calls me dada and his favorite time of day is when his real dada walks in the door.  (He is the big guy's top fan!)  He loves making the girls laugh.  Just last night, he figured out how to blow raspberries and had them rolling in the bathtub with his sound effects.  

Yep, we're pretty much head over heels!!

Anyway, in other news, the girls figured out how to use my iphone.  Are no electronic sacred in this house??

Here, Rachel.  You take my picture and I'll take yours!
I tried taking a picture of the kids one morning because they actually wanted to match.  The shot I got is pretty typical around here...Elizabeth singing, Rachel crying and Caleb drooling.  Classic. 

This one turned out a little better on St. Patrick's Day.  And Rachel actually wanted to wear this headband to church AND put it in her hair all by herself.  Jump back!!

I told you were were starting to update the house and the kitchen is first on the list.  Sunday, Scott took out the old counter-tops and sink for me.  Please never mind the mess.  I would say the island is usually cleaner, but that would make me a liar-liar-pants-on-fire.

And here is with the new counter-tops and sink.  The pic makes it kind of hard to see, but I am in love with the whole thing and excited about moving forward.  Next week, the lighting is getting updated (from florescent to cans) and then the appliances and back splash.

And now, looking at these pictures, I need to go take down the happy birthday banner.  Have a great day, my friends!!