Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Walking on Water

Pin It So maybe not the miracle of Jesus walking on water, but you know it's cold when the geese are walking on top of the pond in the south!


Wordish Wednesday

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hot Cocoa kinda mornin'

Pin It Waking up to another chilly morning, my daughter announced: "It's a Hot Cocoa kinda mornin'" I couldn't have agreed more so after eating our oatmeal, out came the cocoa, sugar, cinnamon, milk, water, & salt. About 10 minutes later we were sipping on hot cocoa by the light of the Christmas tree.



Here's my favorite home-made hot cocoa recipe:
5 Tbs. Cocoa
5 Tbs. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
Pinch of Salt
1/3 Cup Water
2 1/2 Cups Milk

Mix cocoa, sugar, cinnamon and salt together in small pot. Add water and mix well. Cook on medium high heat for 3 minutes, stirring the entire time. Add milk and cook until heated (do not boil).


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our first Big Boo-Boo

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This morning started out much like many other mornings in our household with a pile of laundry and the baby sitting on the bed while the toddler runs around in her pajama top and training panties. I always knew this day would probably come at some point. Elena has inherited her Daddy's high activity level with her Mommy's lack of coordination. NOT the best of combinations! She falls all the time and has bumped her head and scratched her knees more times than I can count. Today was much like all those other times with one major exception...the non-stop flow of blood pouring from her eye.

When I heard the scream behind me, I knew she fell and probably hit her head (this time it was on the window sill in our bedroom). As usual, I scooped her up and held her tight telling her it was O.K. It wasn't until I pulled her away from me to inspect the boo-boo that I noticed the blood all over her face, hair, hand, shirt and me. I'll admit, I did panic a bit, just because I wasn't sure how to handle getting everything together for a trip to the ER while applying the pressure I needed to to stop the bleeding. I managed to calmly place a call to my husband's cell phone to explain Elena had fallen and would need stitches. He was there within 10 minutes of my call. He held her while I got dressed, threw some things in a bag, got pants & socks on Elena, and fastened Kate into the car seat.

Three hours and some liquid stitches and butterfly sutures later, we were celebrating Elena's great behavior in the ER with Starbucks for Mommy & Daddy and a Hardees cinnamon-raisin biscuit for Elena. Throughout the entire ordeal, I couldn't help but wonder how a single mom or mom who doesn't have someone close by to help does it. Though we live farther away from family, my husband works two miles from our home and has a boss who is extremely understanding of family emergencies. I honestly don't know what I would have done were he not able to be there to drive us to the hospital and watch the baby.

Though she may have a scar for the rest of her life, and she'll probably get a few more along the way, Elena is just fine right now. She's so proud of her "band-aid" and lucky for Mommy, she wants to keep it on. So now I get to write on that page in her baby book that says, Boo-boos (broken bones, stitches, etc.).

Baby girl, Mommy is so sorry you got her clumsiness! At least I can be here for you and understand how tough it is to be athletically challenged!

Wordish Wednesday

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reversible Christmas Tops

Pin It I'm finally back to blogging! We've had a crazy few weeks and I haven't had a moment to sit down in front of the computer to post but I'm so excited about the outfits I whipped up for the girls this weekend. I just have to show them off!


I hope to do a tutorial on how to make these adorable little tops soon, but until then, I'll just have to let you have a sneak peak. These little tops are reversible. I really like making reversible things right now. It's great for my girls. If we're out and their tops get dirty, all I have to do is turn them around. There is also opportunity for extended seasonal wear with these.

And here are a few pics of the girls wearing them at our family reunion this past weekend. It was their first time sitting in Santa's lap:




I'm linking this post up with:

The Girl Creative

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 25

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Today I am Thankful for...My blogging friends

When I started this challenge, it was really more of a personal challenge and I thought I might have a few of my friends play along every now and then. It turned into so much more. I feel so blessed to have been allowed a glimpse into the lives of those who have linked up here and my prayer is that this experience has been as meaningful for you as it has been for me. Thank you for joining me on this little journey. God bless you all this Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 24

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Today I am Thankful for...My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ


I have been saving this post for the end of my 25 days of thanks journey because it is what I am MOST thankful for.

When I was ten years old, my parents divorced. I was a happy-go-lucky kid without a care in the world. Yep, the divorce was hard, but my parents did it the right way...they showed me love through the entire thing. They made sure I knew it had nothing to do with me and my mom even helped my dad set up the place where he would be living. They spent a day moving him in and setting up his place with things that were familiar to me.

I began spending every other weekend with my dad and a lot more time with my Granny & Papa. One weekend, they took me with them to church camp. I had been to church off and on while growing up but never had been to Sunday school and certainly had never spent a weekend away from home with a church group. One of my great aunts decided that I had reached the age where I was ready to be "saved" so they brought me down to the front of the room where they were preaching and people began to pray over me. I had never been quite so scared in all my life. Needless to say, I didn't want to go to church for a long time after that. No one ever explained to me what being "saved" was and I didn't see what I needed to be "saved" from. Regardless of how traumatic that may have seemed to me at the time, it was what started me asking questions. I remember all of a sudden I was afraid to go out into the dark to feed my dogs at night. I was scared of different sounds, and I didn't know what would happen to me if I were to die.

One night on our way home from a Christmas program, I asked my mom what being "saved" was all about. She explained to me in terms that I could understand:

She asked me if I did things that were wrong
(yes, I had told many a lies when I ate candy before dinner)

She asked me if I believed Jesus was real and he died for me
(yes, I had heard that story all my life and never once doubted)

She asked me if I knew where I would go when I died
(no! I didn't and that scared me).

She calmly explained that if we trusted and believed in Jesus and asked him to be our savior, he would come live in our hearts and we wouldn't have to be afraid of what would happen to us any more, HE would take care of us and when we died, we would be with Him in heaven. I remember thinking "that's all being saved is? All I have to do is pray and tell Jesus I messed up, I believe in Him, and I want to follow Him?" It was so easy! She asked me if I wanted to pray to ask Jesus to save me and I did right then and there in the car on the interstate.

It was amazing! I wasn't scared anymore. I felt completely at ease and confident. I wasn't afraid to go back to church with my dad and the happy-go-lucky girl returned. I have no doubt that was the moment that Christ came into my heart but it took me many years of searching to realize the true weight of my decision that night. Not being in church regularly, and not attending Sunday school, I didn't have guidance as to MY responsibility as someone who had accepted Jesus's free gift of salvation. I of course began to flounder and it wasn't until I was in high school that I began to find my way back to the Lord.

I wanted so badly to be popular so I looked at the girls who were popular and asked what they all had in common. Though it shouldn't, it sometimes amazes me what the Lord chooses to use to get your attention. At the time, they were all going to a certain church who held revivals quite often (it wasn't until later that I discovered going to church was just a disguise for the things they did afterward). It was then that I found my Bible. I started reading it and all of a sudden verses started coming alive to me. The first verse I ever remember reading and applying was "Whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, Giving thanks to God the Father through Him." WOW! I am supposed to do what JESUS did? This was life altering for me. God began revealing himself to me in so many ways.

I started going to church with my dad every Sunday and I started going to Sunday school. I was saddened to hear the kids in my class talking about all of the partying they had done the night before, bad-mouthing other people in the church, and even the Sunday school teacher then turn on the smiles as soon as our teacher entered. I knew from what I had been reading in my Bible, this wasn't how God's people were supposed to be. I wanted to do what HE wanted me to so I prayed. I felt disconnected from Him and started to feel that uneasiness return. I had never joined the church or been baptized so I thought maybe that was what was missing. At 16, with God's guidance and no one else's, I made the decision to join my Daddy's church (my mom wasn't attending a church) in obedience to the Lord. I was baptized in a cool swimming pool on a hot summer day. That act in and of itself did not save me, but it did allow me to publicly announce that I believed in Jesus as my savior. I wanted NOTHING to separate me from Him and wanted to be fully obedient to Him. It was a way for me to throw my insecurities aside and admit that He was and is everything to me. If he publicly died on a cross for me, being dunked in a little water was the very least I could do for Him!

I am so thankful that my faith is not based on my parent's faith or anyone else's. It was through God's guidance and soul searching on my part that I came to have a personal relationship with my Savior. He has seen me through so many things. I can look back on my life so far and see His hand on my life in so many ways. I have NOT lived a perfect life. I have made my fair share of mistakes and fail to give the Lord my all each day. One thing I DO know is that Jesus died for ME. He loves me and wants what is best for me. I owe everything I am and everything I have to Him because without Him, I am nothing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 23

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Today I am Thankful for...My Soul Mate, The Love of My Life, My Husband

God certainly knew what he was doing when he put my husband in my life. I tell people often that I could never have dreamed up a more perfect person to spend the rest of my life with. He is my perfect compliment. He is patient with me. He is so careful of my feelings. He never criticizes me. He always encourages me. He never complains about the dishes not being done, the house not being clean or the laundry piling up. He's eager to help in any way he can. He works hard for our family so we can be home and comfortable. He's the best daddy any little girl could ask for. He always knows how to make me laugh. He's the best listener...I could go on for days...Let's just say that he's my knight in shining armor and I can't imagine life without him. I love you so much, babe and can't wait to spend the rest of our days together!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 22

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Today I am Thankful for...My Firstborn, Elena


My Dear Sweet Elena,
When you were born, my life was forever changed. I always dreamed of being a mommy and you made that dream a reality. You have always been my independent one. I love that you go after whatever you desire with such zest! You definitely have a mind of your own and for that I am grateful. You have always amazed me with how quickly you catch onto things. You are a little sponge and can remember things that even I can't. You love to read, dance, draw, sing, watch TV, eat marshmallows and gummy worms, and would rather dig in the dirt than play on your play set. You love to help mommy get supper ready and I can often find you pretending to host your own cooking show (Cooking with Chef Elena). You have such an imagination and your latest invention is your friend, Miracle Anna.Whenever I hear you chatting away and I ask who you are talking to, Miracle Anna is always your answer (and you say it like "Duh, Mommy! Don't you know?")

You have risen to the challenge of being a big sister beautifully! Your daddy and I had no doubt that you would. You rarely get jealous and you are always eager to help. You get so worried if Kate cries and if there is the tiniest bit of drool on her cheek, you run get a cloth to wipe it off. You love being silly and making her laugh. With all of your independence and self-confidence, it is easy for me to forget that you are only two and a half. Sometimes I know I expect too much from you as the older sibling.

With you I am learning what it means to wear my heart outside of my body. This weekend I was reminded that you are still young and vulnerable. I was witness to some older children being far from nice to you and it broke my heart. I didn't know that I could feel pain that way. I immediately understood why all those moms came huffing and puffing up to the school when someone did wrong by their child where I taught. I was so proud when you took it in stride and simply decided to go play somewhere else. I just wanted to scold those other children and scoop you up and protect you and tell you what an amazingly precious person you are but I know there are going to be those times when I can't always do that. Know that your mommy loves you so dearly and I will always ALWAYS be praying for you and loving you my sweet, precious, funny, independent girl! You are my joy and my heart and I am so thankful God put you in our lives!

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 21

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Today I am Thankful for...My OTHER Dad


(Sorry I'm so late posting today...busy weekend) I have been blessed with two wonderful fathers...my dad who you read about earlier and my step-dad. They are totally different from one another and both have helped make me into the person I am today. Even though my step-dad is not blood related, I can't imagine loving him any more if he were. He was always there for me as a teenager. When my mom and I had disagreements, he was always there for me to talk to or to advise my mother (always quietly and without stepping on toes). Being a former band director himself, he was always my biggest supporter in the band world. He is an amazing man and I feel so blessed to call him my dad!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 20

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Today I am Thankful for...My Mother

My Mother is an amazing woman. She has always inspired me to be a better person. Whatever she decides to do, she gives it 110%. For example, when she graduated from college, she did so in three years as a TRIPLE major! When I was born, she quit work so she could be home with me and be the best mother she could to me. I grew up knowing that no matter what happened, she loved me with her whole heart. She gave me some of the best childhood memories. From junk food days to silly songs we sang when we got in the car, she always knew how to make me smile. As I grew into a teenager, we had a delicate balance. She was my best friend but also my mother so sometimes I didn't always like her honesty with me. I know she had many days when she wanted to pull her hair out with me, then! Regardless of our disagreements, I always knew she was there for me and wanted what was best for me. Today, she is still my best friend (aside from my husband). I can talk to her about almost anything. She was there for the birth of both of the girls and helped coach me through the pain of delivering Kate (since my meds weren't working at that point). She is an amazing teacher, grandmother, friend, and yes, she still goes by "Mommy." This one's for you, my amazing mother. Love you, Mommy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 19

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Today I am Thankful for...Our Camper
the view from INSIDE our camper at our favorite spot

 When we first were married, I never thought we would be into camping. I had camped in tents in high school and college and knew that wasn't my idea of a vacation. It was fun but not relaxing for me. My husband had been camping with his family in their family camper(s) since he was in diapers. We started planning a summer trip to the Grand Canyon and began investigating the cost of renting a camper for the trip. We were amazed to find out that we could purchase our own for not much more than it would cost for us to rent. We then began our search for the perfect travel trailer and special ordered our 2006 21' Wildwood. I was still a little nervous about such a big purchase. I wasn't sure camping was for me but we took our maiden voyage to Hunting Island State Park in December and I was hooked. Since then we have kept a journal about each of our camping ventures. Though we have yet to take that trip out west, we have made so many wonderful memories and I am so thankful that we purchased that first camper. We have since purchased a much larger one to accommodate our growing family. I am so excited about the memories that we will be able to make together in it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 18

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Today I am Thankful for...My In-laws




I love my in-laws almost as though they were my own parents. They are both amazing people with amazing life stories (not to mention they gave birth to what I feel is the most amazing man on the whole earth, but more of that is to come in another post). So many people have out-laws instead. I can pick up the phone and call them any time just to talk. They always know how to make me feel good about myself and the job I do with our girls. They can always make me laugh, too. Yes they have their ways! My mother-in-law LOVES to clean (she's a bit obsessed with it) and my father-in-law LOVES his dog (aka my husband's little brother) but as they are quick to remind me, everyone is different and has their own strengths and weaknesses. Today I give thanks for them and all that they are. I love you both so very much and thank you for loving me as your own daughter!

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 17

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Today I am Thankful for...My Grandparents

Grandmommy with the girls

Papa's first meeting with Kate
I have been blessed to know both sets of my grandparents really well. I was raised with one set living ten minutes in one direction from me and the others 5 minutes in the other direction. I spent all the major holidays with my maternal grandparents for lunch and my paternal grandparents for dinner.

I played on the farm with my seven cousins at my paternal grandparent's home. Granny gave us the tools we needed to build the best forts inside and out. Papa took us on tractor rides and let us go barefoot in the dirt picking up potatoes behind his plow. They taught us how to love each other and love the Lord foremost.

 Not only am I an only child, but on my mom's side I am an only grandchild. As such, I had my Grandmommy and Grandaddy's undivided attention. When I turned 16, they bought me my first car (brand new). My Grandaddy was my "Buddy" (to learn more about him, check out this book). My Grandmommy was always the one to sew up anything. I called her the "fixer-upper."

Though Granny and Grandaddy have gone on to be with the Lord, my girls still have the opportunity to know my Papa and Grandmommy a bit. I am so thankful for all of the memories and the heritage that they have passed down to me and subsequently my girls.

What are YOU thankful for today? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top of the page and link up below!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 16

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Today I am Thankful for...Potty Time!

This is another post I must preface: if you don't want to hear about pee-pee and poopies, this one isn't for you!

At 18 months, Elena started telling us before she needed to potty. We purchased a potty chair and let her start trying. She did great with it! I didn't want to be one of those parents who pushed their child to potty train too soon, but she was so interested and seemed to be so successful. After about a month of her going pee pee in the potty and even some poopies, we decided to take the plunge and switch to training panties. For about another month after that she rarely had an accident and she even went many nap times without diapers. We did however notice that she waited until bed time to go poop so one night we decided to put her on the potty before bedtime and try to get her to go. BIG mistake. After that, she seemed to shut down and refuse to go potty. It's like she almost didn't care anymore if she were wet or soiled.

Here we are over a year later and there hasn't been a lot of change. I am not holding my breath, but I am encouraged by the success she has had this week. I decided on a whim to move her potty to where she normally hides to go poop: behind the kitchen table (hey, whatever works). Twice this week, she's been successful there and she's even gone in the big potty on her own once also! She hasn't pooped in her pants all week! Though she still gets preoccupied and forgets to go pee-pee all the time, I am hopeful that we may have turned a corner. SO, today I am thankful for baby steps in potty training.

What are YOU thankful for today? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top of the page and link up below!


Monday, November 15, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 15

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Today I am Thankful for...Old Friends


Me and my college roomies last year at our girls' day

I loved my college experience. I made some great memories and some great friends. I still have contact with many of them today. I love that we can go months without talking and still pick right up where we left off. Though we don't see each other as often as we would like (life has a tendency to get in the way), I know that we will always be there for each other. For the memories and the long-lasted friendships, I am thankful.

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.  ~Elisabeth Foley

Sunday, November 14, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 14

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Today I am Thankful for...My childhood home




Yesterday my family went for a little day trip to visit my mom. The drive down was beautiful. The fall leaves are in their peak here and I enjoyed taking it all in. As we drew closer to my mom's home, and we turned onto the road where I was raised, I quickly remembered why fall used to be my favorite season. I have a beautiful home where I live now, but living in a neighborhood is totally different from living on a street where most of the homes are surrounded by acres of unspoiled woodlands. As we pulled up the drive to my moms house, we were encapsulated by trees of all different shades. These woods, MY woods, were calling my name.



Growing up, the woods were my solitude. I could go there when I had a bad day or a good day and just have my thoughts to myself. I often took my bible and would spend hours praying and thinking and sometimes just taking in my surroundings. It had been years since I had taken the time to do that and it was a crisp, clear, temperate fall day. After we visited for a while and ate lunch, I got the girls settled in. Though I was exhausted from another sleepless night with the baby, the woods were calling to me. I took my camera to my favorite spot. I always expect it to change, and somehow it never does. No matter how old I get, the splendor of these woods never seem to diminish.


As I started the short trek down the tangled bank, I could see the drop from the first rock terrace ahead of me. There are a series of about 6-7 rock terraces built hundreds of years before, all grown over with different types of moss and lichens. I soon came to the clearing that was my favorite spot growing up. At one point, about 80-90 years ago, it was a camping spot to fox hunters and the fire ring and a solitary rock "seat" remain in the center of the small clearing. I couldn't help but shed a quick tear of thanks for the memories and the immediate renewal I felt by being there. I can't remember the last time I had time for myself and it was an answer to prayer. I sat for a long time on my favorite rock just trying to take everything in and breathing a prayer of thanks before I started trying to capture some of the beauty that surrounded me with my camera. When I finally left about an hour later, I was refreshed and renewed. Thank you, Lord for giving me that time, then and now!


What are YOU thankful for today? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top and link up below!



Saturday, November 13, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 13

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Today I am Thankful for...Modern Technology




It's tough living away from family and all the friends I grew up with. Modern technology has made it more bearable. In addition to email and blogging, we have hooked the in-laws and my mom up with web cams (and in my in-law's case a computer and internet) so we can Skype each other. My two year old loves to see the pets on the other end of the camera and the grandparents love to see their babies. It's a way for us to not feel so far away.

Since staying at home with the kids, I have found blogging and Facebook to be a wonderful way to keep in touch with people from all over. I also have reconnected with many old friends and made many new ones in the process. So for the conveniences of modern technology, I am so very thankful!

What are YOU thankful for today? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top of the page and link up below!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photo Challenge: Eyes

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I know all moms are probably this way, but I just adore the eyes of my babies! When I saw Faith's photo challenge this week, "Eyes" it has taken me a while to get around to entering the challenge because I couldn't settle on a single picture to enter. I have so many shots of BOTH of my girls' eyes and all of them I find special. With some help from my hubby and mom, I finally settled on this one of Elena.

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 12

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Today I am Thankful for...SLEEP!






Oh how I love my sleep! My husband and I used to joke that our favorite things to do early in our marraige was eat and sleep. We often stayed in bed on Saturday mornings until 10 a.m. and in the Summer, often later. It wasn't unusual to catch us napping on the couch Saturday afternoons as well and ALWAYS after church on Sundays.

Along Came Elena:
Though it was tough when we first brought her home (she had her nights and days mixed up) she followed in her mommy and daddy's footsteps within three weeks and was a champion sleeper. She loved nap times and it wasn't unusual for her to sleep from 7pm to 8am. Sleeping until 10 in the morning was now out of the question for us but we still got in our Sunday afternoon naps.

THEN came Kate:
 At seven months of age, she still has not regularly accomplished the task of sleeping through the night. I can probably count on one hand how many times she has slept from 11-6. A GOOD night for her is sleeping from 10:30 to 3a.m. (wake up & be comforted by Mommy) then 3-6:30. She may or may not take a morning nap and then may or may not take an afternoon nap. Either way, they never last longer than an hour and a half. I know she'll get it one day, and I try to be thankful for the time that I have with her in the middle of the night (or ALL night some nights). I know there will probably be a day that comes where I actually miss this time.

I have learned to cope with little to no sleep and now have a MUCH greater appreciation for the sleep I do get. So, for my 12th day I give thanks for sleep (and maybe I'll get some tonight)

What are YOU thankful for? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top of the page and link up below!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 11

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Today I am Thankful for...My Sweet Kate




Dear baby girl,
Today, as you turn 7 months old, I give thanks for having you in my life.

You fulfilled a long-time dream of mine when you were born. I was an only child, and always knew I wanted to have at least two children, so you were a sweet answer to many years of prayer.

When we found out we were expecting again, your mommy was excited but scared. I was so in love with your sister that I didn't see how I could possibly love another (especially another little girl) as much as I loved her: then you came into our lives. All my fears melted away instantly. Unlike when your sister was born, you immediately stole my heart. You just have that way.

I always call you my "sweet Kate" because it just fits you so perfectly:

You are my cuddler

You are a Mommy's girl

You adore your big sister

You have the most darling little features

 You always have a big, open-mouth grin for anyone you come into contact with

You always seem to be more interested in other people rather than yourself


I feel so honored to be your mommy. I love you, baby girl!



What are YOU thankful for today? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top and link up below!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 10

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Today I am Thankful for...Library Story Time



When my husband started back to work this school year, I decided I HAD to do something to get out of the house each week. Apparently I thought being a stay-at-home mom meant that I had to be home all the time. It's just so much easier to communicate via the internet and not have to pack diaper bags for two girls. I knew I needed to provide Elena with some more social opportunities and I needed some, too. I decided to start small with story time at our local library.

We went once and were HOOKED! I expected to go in, sit in the children's corner of the library and be shushing my little ones the entire time they were listening to a series of stories read by an elderly volunteer. It was nothing like I had envisioned. I followed a trail of strollers and toddlers into a room that was bustling with activity. There was a table set up with a craft for the kids to complete. Story time began with two songs. (being a former music teacher, they hooked me right there) There were cute little movement games, manipulatives for more songs, and of course the story. Everything revolved around the common theme of the story that was being told and I was even more impressed when the story time director gave me a story time schedule with their lesson themes for the remainder of the YEAR! They also had books that related to the theme sitting on a table as you left for you to check out.

I immediately began planning the activities I did with my toddler around the story time theme. Elena has started asking what we're going to learn about this week. She is in her element at story time, too. She volunteers for everything and has her eyes glued to the director at all times. She sings the welcome songs in the car during our short drive to the library. It has been such a great way for me to structure some learning activities for her AND I've had the added benefit of meeting some other moms.

Check out your local library if you haven't already. Maybe you'll find a special gem in yours like we did in ours!


What are YOU thankful for today? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top and link up below!

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 9

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Today I am Thankful for...Being A Stay at Home Mom



This is a typical morning scene in our household during the week: both girls sitting on the bed "helping" Mommy fold a load of laundry. When I taught elementary music, I began each year by having each of my students complete a questionnaire so I could get to know them better. I completed the form also and shared my answers with them. One of the questions was, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" My answer was always the same, "A great Mommy, one day." I don't know how "great" I am, but I do know one thing: I sure do love it!

When my husband and I went on our first date I remember us kind of grilling each other with big-picture questions. One of them was, "How do you feel about stay-at-home moms?" Both of us were raised in a household where our moms quit working to be with us when we were little. My husband's mom never returned to work and my mom didn't return to work until I was in the 5th grade. Even then, she was a teacher so we had the same schedule. Being educators ourselves, we have seen first hand the difference it can make having that one-on-one instruction at home in the early years.

When we started planning our family, we knew that I would not be returning to work. We never even gave it a second thought. Sure, we had some concern over how we would handle it financially, but honestly, we didn't even give THAT much thought. We just kind of took the plunge and God took care of the rest. He has blessed us with a steady job for my husband and other side jobs that allow us to live comfortably. I can also look back on the early years of our marriage and see His hand on our financial decisions that have allowed us this time. I realize that so many others CAN'T be at home. I am SO THANKFUL that I have this opportunity.

I had no idea when I told my students all those years ago that I wanted to be a mommy, how true that would be today. Though if you have read my profile you know that I was TERRIFIED of staying at home, I can't imagine being anywhere else right now.

No my house is not always clean (actually it rarely is)

No I don't always have home-cooked meals (I do enjoy making them)

No I don't always keep up with the laundry (we do have something clean to wear)

Yes the TV is watched more often than I would like to admit (usually educational)

Yes mommy and the girls often spend their entire day in their PJ's.

Yes mommy spends a lot of time working on her projects.

BUT, Household work will always be there and this time with my girls will be gone oh so fast.

I love being the one to feed my girls in the morning, to hold their little hands each day, to hear and see all their firsts, and to guide their little footsteps. Though I am still learning (and will continue to every day) I can't imagine any profession with a greater reward.


What are YOU thankful for today? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top and link up below!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall

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Fall used to be my favorite season. I was raised in the middle of 17 acres of woods and my grandparents owned about 30 acres right across the road from us. I loved bundling up and walking through the woods hearing the leaves crunching beneath my feet. When I was in high school, I also hosted a camp-out each November where we pitched tents, played capture the flag and served up weenies and eggs for supper and breakfast for about 18-20 of my closest friends.

I don't know if my blood is thinner or it's just that I don't have the woods right at my doorstep any longer, but the cold weather is no longer something I look forward to. Regardless of that fact, I can't help but see the beauty of God's paintbrush all around me in the fall and be thankful, cold weather and all!

Menu Monday: Meals for the Cold

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I admittedly DO NOT like the cold! There is honestly not much I like about it at all. I enjoy the excitement of Christmas, and the occasional snow is nice. I do, however like those stick-to-your ribs, warm you to your core type of meals that are associated with the cold. We skipped right over fall here in the upstate of SC and plunged head first into the cold of winter this week. In honor of the cold, this week's meals in our home are some of those yummy, feel good, cold weather meals:

Monday: Baked Potato Soup
Tuesday: Low Country Boil
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Tomato Soup & cornbread
Friday: Roast with vegetables
Saturday: Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Sunday: Leftovers

Sunday, November 7, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 8

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Today I am Thankful for...My Daddy




I was trying to save this post for later (because I wanted the most important PEOPLE in my life to be featured later) but I just can't wait. This weekend, my Daddy came to visit his girls. I am an only child, you see, and my mom and dad divorced when I was ten. My dad has never remarried so the ladies in his life are me and my girls. As usual, he couldn't possibly come to visit without helping out in some way. He and I set out yesterday to put a coat of weather-proofing on the playset we built for the girls earlier this fall. I love those days when it's just me and my dad working on a project together. We work and talk and catch up. For just a minute, it's just like I'm a little girl again, pretending to build things while my dad does the real work.

My Daddy is one of the most giving, loving, caring, tender-hearted people I know. His soft-spoken love has guided my footsteps throughout my 32 years. Though he isn't a man of many words, he is one of those men who's actions speak louder than words. He would do ANYTHING for those he loves and gives almost to a fault. He has shown me what it means to love sacrificially. They certainly don't make 'em like him anymore! SO for day 8 of my challenge, I give thanks for the man who helped give me life: my daddy.




What are YOU thankful for today? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top and link up below!

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 7

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Today I am Thankful for...My Church Home


my family with our Pastor, Dr. Don Wilton
When my husband and I were dating, and he had moved to where we now live, we began our search for a church to attend. Both of us had been raised in smaller churches so I assumed that would be the right fit for us. We planned for me to come up each Sunday to try a different church each week until we found the one that was right for us. Patrick began the search by opening up the phone book. The first church he came across, and the first church we visited was Spartanburg First Baptist. We never went anywhere else after that first Sunday. Though it was a HUGE church compared to where we had both come from, we immediately were drawn in by the truth being preached so boldly (and with such a rich accent) from the man in the pulpit.

I was amazed to hear an oboe in the orchestra. I never thought I would be able to use my gift of playing my instrument in church. We soon got plugged into the orchestra and began playing regularly on Sunday mornings and found that the more we got involved, the smaller the church seemed. After having our girls, we also realized other benefits of attending a large church: the programs for children. Though we no longer serve in the orchestra, we teach a pre-school Sunday school class, I work with the children's choir, and Patrick is a deacon.

Especially since we live further from our families, we have grown to depend on our church family. I am so glad we are in a church that challenges us in our walk and is not afraid to share the TRUTH of God's Word. I feel so blessed and thankful that the Lord used a phone book to guide us to our church home 11 years ago.


What are YOU thankful for today? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top and link up below!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 6

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Today I am Thankful for...Friday Night Family Time




At one point in my married life, Friday night Family time was pretty much non-existent during the Fall. My husband was one of the band directors and required to go to all of the football games. Luckily, when we started planning our family, he decided to look for another teaching job that would allow him a bit more time. That has enabled us to have some wonderful times together. Though we don't officially plan anything, it just always seems to work out that Friday nights we do something special. Usually the activity stems from something my two year old has seen on Sesame Street or Word World that week. Last week it was popcorn and a movie night with Toy Story III. This week it was camping out and roasting marshmallows in our PJ's (all in the comfort of our living room because Mommy and Daddy are wimps). We put up our little two-person tent, piled it full of blankets and pillows and daddy served the girls smores from our wood burning fireplace. There was no T.V. and only the light from the fire, one lamp, and my occasional camera flash. I can't imagine a better way to spend the first cold fall night of the season. Thank you, Lord for these sweet, precious memories that I am sure I will cherish for a lifetime!


What are YOU thankful for today? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top and link up below!

Friday, November 5, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 5

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Today I am Thankful for...The Ability to Sew


When I was 10 years old, my dad brought home a sewing machine. Someone he knew asked him if he wanted theirs and said he would take it for his daughter. At the time, I thought he wasted his effort. I was not interested in learning to sew and never thought I would be. When I was married, he brought the sewing machine up for me (still, I was thinking I would just use it as a table). I quickly found that money didn't grow on trees when I wanted custom window treatments for my home. That's when I first decided to give this sewing thing a try. Through a lot of trial and error, I made window treatments for almost every room in my home. Before having Elena, I found a nursery set I wanted but was shocked at the price so my next sewing venture was her nursery. I made the bumper pads, a quilt, the window treatments pillows and a lot more for her room. After having her, I tried my hand at sewing some baby clothes. I was never quite happy with how the patterns fit so I started looking at her other clothes and designing my own patterns. All of this was done on my 1963 Kenmore sewing machine. When we found out we were having another baby and it would be a girl, my husband bought me my Singer sewing/embroidery machine (we got a deal on it through Craig's list). I have had so much fun making clothes for my girls, and gifts for family and friends. I am thankful that my daddy knew better than the 10-year-old little girl and saved that first sewing machine for me all those years ago. There's something special about putting my girls in something made for them by their mommy. I can't help but be a little proud and thankful!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Photo Story Friday: Wrinkles...A GOOD thing?

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This week I looked in the mirror. I used to do it all the time but now I'm a mom to two girls. Looking at myself in the mirror is something I rarely do (and honestly, don't WANT to do anymore). I might look in the mirror once or twice a week now when I'm in the car on the way to church putting on a bit of makeup so I don't scare the kids in my choir or Sunday school class. Even then, it's a cursory glance in between passing books to my toddler and putting the paci back in the baby's mouth. When I took a good hard look, I was a bit shocked and dismayed by the image staring back at me. There were WRINKLES! I had seen them on other people my age so I don't know why it came as such a shock, but it did.


At first I started to feel a bit depressed, then I thought of a PBS broadcast I had seen about aging. In it there were images of aged people who had obviously lived a full life and had the wrinkles to prove it. Their wrinkles told their life story. People who worried, had a lot of wrinkles in between their eyebrows, people who smiled a lot had more wrinkles around their eyes. I remember watching that and wondering what my wrinkles would say about me when I got old. I just never thought I would be seeing it happen so soon.

So, after I caught my breath from the shock, I took another good hard look and decided what I saw wasn't so bad after all:

Wrinkles in between my eyebrows say: "She is a thinker"
Wrinkles on my for-head say: "She is open"
Wrinkles around my eyes say: "She is a smiler"
Wrinkles around my mouth say: "She is happy"


So the next time you glance in the mirror and aren't happy with what you see, don't be afraid to take a closer look and find the GOOD side of YOUR wrinkles!

PhotoStory Friday

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

25 Days of Thanks Challenge: Day 4

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Today I am Thankful for...The Ability to Breastfeed my Baby


To preface this post, I'm going into a bit of detail about breastfeeding here in hopes of encouraging other breastfeeding moms. I know that there are a lot of moms out there who for whatever reason can not breastfeed. I totally respect a mom's decision to do what is right for them and their baby whether they breastfeed, pump, or use formula. I have experienced both sides of the spectrum with my girls. Though I didn't have the challenge of working while feeding (don't know how you girls do it), I faced other challenges as a stay-at-home mom.

When I had Elena, I knew nothing about babies (and I mean NOTHING). I had never even changed a diaper. Funny how I thought THAT would be my biggest challenge. I read all of the pregnancy books but just assumed that once I had the baby, everything would come naturally to me as a mom. For the most part it did, but breastfeeding did NOT. As a new mom it took Elena losing lots of weight and a few trips to the lactation consultant to discover she wasn't getting anything. She was labeled a "dis-functional sucker" meaning she latched on but was too lazy to get anything. She basically used me as a pacifier. Determined to give her what she needed (since I knew the benefits of breast milk) I purchased a nice breast pump and for nine long, agonizing months I pumped and fed. I found some great support sites for "EPing" moms (Exclusively Pumping) but didn't realize until having Kate, what a sacrifice pumping truly was for me.

When Kate arrived, I was a bit more aware of what needed to be done to breastfeed, but was so afraid of her not getting enough milk that I went a bit overboard. I did supplement for the first week after bringing her home but I immediately set out pumping to make sure I established my supply. She was a bit lazy at first about eating. We had a hard time keeping her awake to feed. I would feed her on one side and simultaneously pump on the other. Then my husband would feed her what I had pumped just to make sure she was getting some. With Elena, I always knew exactly how much she was getting. Due to my previous experience, I didn't trust my body (or my baby) to get what was needed. It wasn't until she started gaining weight consistently and an exhausting overnight stay in the hospital (due to some other complications she developed) that I finally started limiting some of my pumping and trusting her to get the job done.

Today, Kate is a champion breast-feeder. I only pump if I know that I might be going out or need a bottle for someone else to feed her later (which rarely happens). I can't believe the difference! The bonding that breastfeeding provides is nice, but the biggest difference is the convenience and comfort. I had no idea how I was torturing my body by exclusively pumping. I was rubbed raw from the friction of the pump. I couldn't lay on my stomach for the pain and even water hitting me in the shower hurt. Now that I know how breastfeeding is supposed to be, it would be tough to go back to pumping all the time if I had too. I am so thankful I was able to provide for Elena as long as I did, but I am EVER so thankful that Kate is able to get what she needs directly. It is such a blessing to see my body and my baby responding the way God designed us to...He is Good!

What are YOU thankful for today? Check out the "25 Days of Thanks" tab at the top of the page for details and link up below!


H is for...

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I'm a little late, but here are my entries for the Alphabet photo challenge for the letter H this week:

Halloween

The girls' first time trick-or-treating

As a side note, my little Pumpkin Princess won TWO challenges this past week at:
Trendy Treehouse
&
Parenting by Dummies


Hairstyle
not a professional, but proud of my style!


Hands
Kate holding her Daddy's hand

Hydrant
Great find outside of our polling place