This is where I write about my life. Marriage, children, faith, and coming to the realization that as long as I have those three things...I am home. No matter where that is.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spending Christmas...Christmas Spending

Every year, it seems, it gets harder and harder to keep up with the demands of Christmas.And, a lot of times that is what it feels like...demands. What starts out as a time of joy and family time quickly turns into "How much are we spending?" and "Can we really afford all that?". The $10 here and the $20 there adds up to a substantial amount of money that could be saved or spent on more important things, and I am having a hard time this year finding the joy in all the spending. That is very unlike me. I usually get all excited making my lists and trying to think of great gifts that everyone will love. I enjoy the giving. For some reason this year, I can't explain it, I have not been as eager to go out and spend, spend, spend.

The girls aren't going to have a big Ta-Da from Santa this year. You know what I'm talking about. The huge kind of gift that takes up the whole living room and gets a BIG Christmas morning reaction. They are, however, getting everything that they asked for....Moon Dough and Pillow Pets included. And, thanks to Gigi and PopPop, a salon. We said that we were scaling back Christmas this year, because we are planning an upcoming trip to Disney World and would rather save money for that. But, those plans flew out the window as soon as Wal-Mart started playing Christmas carols over the intercom.

I have found a few ways to save money, though, in spite of all the hustle and bustle. I have done a lot of my Christmas shopping online, which has helped me compare prices, find better deals, and you can get free shipping almost everywhere during the holidays. Thank you eBay and amazon. And, a lot of people may disagree with re-gifting, but this year, I'm guilty! Two or three years ago it was the Christmas of Elmo around here. Sarah was between 1 and 3 years old and was infatuated with all things Elmo. When she started moving on to the next thing, we put most of the Elmo toys in the attic. This year, Rylee is at that age. She is Elmo's biggest fan. You should see her blue eyes light up when she hears that annoying, high-pitched voice! Why should we go out and buy all new Elmo toys when we have an attic full of barely-played-with Elmo toys? So, we are going to get all of those toys out, clean them up, and give them to Rylee. Poor Rylee, I know, always getting the hand-me-downs. But, she'll be just as excited about those recycled toys as she would be about new ones. That is, until she looks at the pictures 10 years from now and realizes that Santa brought her the exact same things that he brought Sarah 3 years earlier!
I am just realizing, I think, that I've spent so many Christmases getting all wrapped up (pardon the bad pun) in the things that aren't important. And, it's time now, to start remembering what Christmas is about in the first place. I don't want my girls to grow up thinking that Christmas is all about how much is spent on them and what they can get. I want them to have a real understanding of why we celebrate. I want to them to have a passion for giving. Not of their wallets, but of their time, and of their hearts. I want them to give freely all the love, encouragement, friendship, and service that they can. The things that can't be wrapped in a nice little bow. The things that Jesus came here and gave to us. And, I know that the only way to teach them the true spirit of Christmas is to lead by example.

So, this year, I don't need any tangible gifts. If you want to give me something, here is my list:

1. You can give me your prayers. If or when I cross your mind, just say a quick prayer. Pray that I will be the wife,mother, and daughter that my family deserves. Pray that I will be a better friend, who picks up the phone more often to call, and picks up a pen more often to write. Pray that I will find contentment spending another Christmas living away from home. Pray that this Christmas be our last one living here, and that next year Brian will get the opportunity to move us home. Pray that our lost loved ones will come to know salvation. And, pray that I will be the example of God's love that I am called to be. So that more will come to know His amazing love and mercy.

2. You can give of your time. Let's have dinner together when we come to town or take turns helping each other clean house or do laundry. It's only a 2 hour drive. Let's set aside an afternoon to gather all the clothes,toys, and household items that we don't use and donate them to people who really have needs this year. Let's spend a Saturday baking sugar-free Christmas snacks to take to the nursing home and/or shut-ins. Offer to come up one weekend and we'll take our kids to do something fun together.

I am not in any way trying to come off as Ebenezer Scrooge, Bah Humbug, and all that. I just think that dollar amounts should not be on the top of the priority list for Christmas. I want my kids to be excited about presents and Santa just like every other kid. But, I don't want to lose sight of what really matters. I want this year to be the last one that I spend Christmas worrying and stressing about too much Christmas spending! And, next year when I start making all my Christmas lists, someone please remind me to come back and read this post, because I'm sure I will forget.:)
p.s. Don't you love the irony of the whole post being about the un-importance of Christmas presents and in the picture my girls are wearing dresses covered in Christmas presents?!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Love is...

This morning, my husband went to the gas station to fill the truck up with gas. It was barely 30 degrees outside and not even 7:00. But, Sarah has dance on Thursday nights and his new work schedule means that he can't go with us anymore. So, instead of making me stop on the way to dance class and fill up the truck (with both kids in tow and like always running late), he did it for me.

While he was gone, I made a pot of coffee. I put his in a "To Go" cup and warmed up 2 leftover Krispy Kreme doughnuts for him. I also prepared his lunch for the day. And, I stuck an extra Little Debbie in the sack, because I know he loves them.

At lunch time today, he called just to say hello and see how we were doing. He does that everyday.

Tonight, my husband snuggled with our little girls and watched Snow White for the 1000th time, just so I could finish up working on Christmas dresses. And, even though he pitched a fit about me starting a sewing project, he ooh'd and aah'd over those 4 little dresses, because he knows his opinion matters to me.

It may not sound like much, but that is what love looks like to me these days.

It isn't always about the grand romantic gestures. Date nights, dinner for 2, a movie, flowers, and candles. Sure, those things are nice, but it isn't what is really important. And, when you have small children, sometimes those things can be impossible.

It's the everyday things that we do for each other to show our love. It's him listening to me rattle on and on about the random things that cross my mind. It's me listening to him rattle on and on about football (seriously...for hours!).

Love is him staying awake when he is exhausted so we can talk to each other uninterrupted for a few minutes before bed. Love is me making sure no folded laundry is on the love seat when he comes in from work, because I know he enjoys coming home to a picked-up house.

Love is him getting up in the middle of the night to make sure all the doors are locked, because I hear noises and am a big wimp. Love is me getting up in the middle of the night, turning the monitor off, and tip-toeing across the hall to quietly rock a baby back to sleep and make sure that he stays asleep.

"I love you" is not just something we say to each other before we hang up the phone. It is something that we live day in and day out. We love in the exotic anniversary vacations and we love in the never-ending work days and poop up to the elbows. It isn't always a bed of roses around here, but even when we are having our worst arguments, I still can't imagine going through life without him.

We have learned a lot of things about ourselves in the 5 years that we have lived away from our families. We have, if nothing else, learned to depend on God and each other above all. We've learned to communicate better. All in all, we know that up here all we have is us. And, it works. Because, as cliche' as it may sound, he really is my best friend.

Tomorrow morning, my husband will get ready for another long day at work, and I will try to convince him to call in sick, so we can spend the whole day together. He won't, of course. He never does, even when he wants/needs to. But, to me, that also looks a lot

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but, the greatest of these is love." I Corinthians 13:13

Monday, December 6, 2010

25 Things About Motherhood That Make Me Smile

I guess I forgot for a couple of weeks that I had a blog to keep up with. I don't even know now where to begin updating it. We have been on the go constantly for the past few weeks, and that means lots of things to write about and no time to write. I think that I will start with the next installment of 25 Things About Motherhood That Make Me Smile. All 25 things have taken place in the last 2 weeks.

25 Things About Motherhood That Make Me Smile:

1. Sarah riding a horse for the first time
2. Giving Rylee 3 Reese's cups at midnight so she'll stop crying
3. Sarah playing dress-up at Thanksgiving dinner
4. Rylee running to my Mom and saying "NONNI!" for the first time
5. Taking the girls to a Christmas Parade
6. Decorating a Gingerbread house
7. Rylee's fascination with our porcelain baby Jesus
8. Living room concerts on a step stool singing "Be our Guest" and "I'm a Goat"(don't ask)
9. Rylee reaching for me and saying "HOLD HOLD!"
10. Sarah thinking that she smuggled a Mr. Potato Head into the shopping cart
11. Sarah making her "Gigi Face"
12. Watching my daughters decorate their little tree together
13. Keeping Rylee from eating the plastic ornaments
14. Sarah telling people that Christmas is Jesus' birthday
15. Praying that my children will know the true meaning of Christmas
16. Singing Christmas carols for the entire 2 hour drive home
17. Getting a round of applause after each and every song
18. Trying to get a beautiful picture of my girls and the babies together
19. Babies screaming the entire time
20. Rylee running away, refusing to sit still, and playing "drums" on the spotlights
21. Sarah leaning up against a column, arms folded across her chest, pouting
22. Thinking about what to smock for Easter dresses...before Christmas
23. Making hand print reindeer Christmas shirts for great-grandparents
24. Moving "Mickey" the Elf (our elf on a shelf) every night after the girls are in bed
25. Spending a "Lazy Monday" with my babies complete with hot chocolate and movies after a super busy weekend

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Of A Few Words II

Rylee Anne. My precious second born. Almost 2 years old. The Class Clown. You are so funny and beautiful. God knew just what He was doing when gave you to us. You are cuddly and warm. You love to give hugs, mostly to me, but sometimes you will hug others and let them feel just a fraction of what I feel with you everyday. Unconditional love. We are still learning together who you will be. But, I know that you will make a mark on this world. Compassionate and caring one. You bring joy with you everywhere you go. I cherish every second with you. So blessed to have you in my life.

Love, Mommy

Wednesday Of A Few Words

Sarah Grace. My beautiful girl. Almost 4 years old. You are spirited and funny and a bright light on a cloudy day. You feel everything deeply. Such a girlie-girl. You are emotional and dramatic. Sometimes you test me to my limit, but I am so glad that you do. I am supposed to be molding you, shaping you into the person you should be, but at the same time, you are making me a better person. So silly and imaginative. You are not just relaxing here in the grass. You are making "Grass Angels". Lying there sliding your arms and legs back and forth. Then you get up, to see the impression in the grass, and cry when it isn't there. You have brought so much love and laughter into our lives. Thank you, Sweetie-Girl.
Always be who you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Love, Mommy

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pure Joy

These girls are loved and adored beyond what you could imagine.

Sarah has a flare for the dramatic, a tender heart, and a tad of a mean streak. She is beautiful with big blue/gray eyes and long legs, and a laugh that makes my heart sing. She is my firstborn and my tiny dancer. She is so intelligent and has an imagination as big as the sky. She leaves me scratching my head sometimes, but everyday with her is an adventure.

Rylee has (as you can see) a smile that lights up my world, a goofy personality, and she gives the best hugs ever. She has heartfelt conversations with you in a language that only she understands, but somehow you know just what she is saying. She has piercing blue eyes, but her hair is always covering them. I can't seem to do anything with her hair. She loves her Daddy, but she calls him Mama. We are both Mama. But, when she calls my name, I know why I am on this earth.

Then, there are these new little additions to our family. My twin nieces Anna and Addison. They are close to 11 weeks old now. They are tiny miracles, like all babies are, but they remind us everyday that life is precious and surprises are wonderful. And, they are responsible for giving me the worst case of baby fever ever! Thanks a lot, girls!:)

Anna, on the left, smiles all the time. She is a happy baby. But, when she is hungry or wants to be held, she goes from 0 to 60 in about 1/2 a second. She is beautiful, and her nose and eyes remind me of Sarah. But, she looks like her Daddy, too. It's amazing how babies can look like so many people at one time. She started out as the smallest, but now she is the biggest. She loves her Mommy! All is right with the world as long as she is being held close to her Mommy's chest.

And, Addison, on the right, she is sure gonna be a heart breaker, with those big blue eyes. And, when she smiles, she smiles with her whole face. Beautiful girl. She is content. But, when she wants something, she lets you know...right then. She loves her bop-bop (passy) and doesn't think she can live without it. She looks like her Pop Pop and Uncle Brian, but there are times when I look at her that she really looks like her Daddy, too.

I am enjoying watching them grow so much. We don't know yet who they will be, but everyday their personalities shine through a little more. I am so blessed to be in their family and to know them and LOVE them. These four girls are just pure joy for me!


I am all about holiday traditions. Even more now that I have children than before. I so look forward to doing special things every year with my family.

All of my life, almost 28 years now, we have had Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas Eve dinner with my Nana and Papa and my cousins (who feel more like siblings). Oh! How I love Nana's house on Thanksgiving! It is full with children and laughter and hugs and kisses. The men sit in the den and talk turkey and deer hunting, rock quarries, and football while the women pile their plates full of food and serve them. As a newlywed, I was determined not to show such submission. But, it didn't take me long to realize that it isn't done out of submission. It is done out of love and respect and thankfulness. So, now, I happily take my husband's dinner to him on a tray and roll my eyes when the younger girls swear they'll never do that. Because, I know they will. Then the women, after serving food to the little ones, eat around the kitchen counter. The chatter that once consisted of pageants, recitals, recipes, and babies has now turned to conversations of college, boyfriends, symphony, and well, still recipes and babies. It is arguably one of my favorite days of the entire year.

When I was a teenager, we would come home from Nana's on Christmas Eve, and I would open one gift from my Mom and Dad. Then, I would go spend the night with Vanda and Shawn and help with Santa for their (at the time) three small children. We did that even up to the year that I was hugely pregnant with my first baby. I watched with swollen feet (oh, who am I kidding? Swollen, everything) as Brian assembled a little toy kitchen for Amberly that, 3 years later, would be the highlight of my own daughter's Christmas morning. I have grown to truly cherish those times of tradition with family.

When Brian and I got married, as I'm sure most couples face, we had to do some major compromising for holidays. He is big on family traditions, too. And, he was no more willing to give any of it up than I was. So, for more than 5 years now, we do the very best we can to accommodate each other. It isn't always the easiest thing, but we make it work.
There are a lot of things that we could do differently and make things easier on ourselves, but we choose not to, because keeping with the traditions we love is more important to us than doing it the easy way. So, we will continue to eat 2 huge Thanksgiving meals, one at lunch and one at dinner, because we adore time spent with both our families. We will continue to go to Nana's with our girls in their jammies on Christmas Eve, and reluctantly but happily leave early to make it to Brian's Memaw's house just in time for Dessert and Dirty Santa. We will continue to drive 2 hours back to our house late on Christmas Eve, because it is important for us that our children wake up Christmas morning in their own beds. We will continue...because it is tradition...FAMILY tradition. And, because we love it and look forward to it all year.

That does not mean, however, that there is no room for new traditions to be established. When people get married, have children, combine families, etc... it is a good thing, no, a wonderful thing, to establish new traditions that will be all their own and build on that relationship and help the family to grow together. But, we should still be respectful of long-held traditions and not make people we love feel torn or conflicted between the old and the new. That is not what the holiday season is about. It should be something to excitedly await, not dread. It should be a time to enjoy, not just survive.

We have a new tradition (since Sarah's first Christmas) of early Christmas Eve morning breakfast at Shoney's in our jammies. We adopted that from Vanda and her family and last year we had the privilege of spending that time with their family. And, thus, a new tradition was born.
This year is going to be a year of lots of new traditions with new family. And, I am looking forward to it. At least, I am now that I know I am not going to be forced to choose between the people that I love.

Let's just remember that any time spent together as a family is a time for Thanksgiving. No matter what day it is.

What are some of your family's old traditions? And, what are some new ones?

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Someday, Brian is going to call me on the way home from work and tell me that there is a job for him at home. I won't hear all the specifics that will follow, because I will be too overcome. I won't even know who to call first. Or if we should call anyone at all. We might just have to hop in the car and make an unannounced trip to see our families. That kind of news will be so much sweeter shared in person.

Someday, we will sell our house. The house that changed our lives. The house where we truly started out on our own. The house that we brought both of our newborn daughters home to. But, I won't shed one tear of sadness for the memories made in this house. Because they are just that...memories. I will take them with me always. I will only shed tears of joy for the life that we've lived in this house. We'll move into the house that will be our home for good. And, as far as I am concerned, the closer the better.

Someday, I will spend my days having lunch with my Mom, meeting my sister-in-law at the park to let our girls play together, and taking afternoon trips to Smocking Bird with Vanda. I will pick up my sweet nieces and take all the girls for ice cream. Then, take them back to their Mama with a sugar high just because I can. I will double recipes, so that we can have Taylor and Jeremy, Teneal and Joey, or Craig and Valerie over for dinner anytime.

Someday, when Sarah cries not wanting to leave Gigi's house, we will be able to say, "OK. You can stay the night and we will pick you up in the morning." When Mom comes over for an afternoon, Rylee will run right to her, and give her a familiar hug.

Someday, I am going to go back to school. I will get my Masters, and become a teacher.


But, today, I am going to pack our bags for another weekend visit to the loved ones that we don't get to see often enough for me. I am going to give thanks to my Father for a husband that provides, a good job, an income that allows me to stay home with my babies, a roof over my head, and a company vehicle with free gas, so that our frequent visits home are possible.

And, I am going to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY that someday comes soon.

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:3-5

Monday, November 8, 2010

25 Things About Motherhood That Make Me Smile

1. Putting big block puzzles together for 3 hours
2. Rylee saying,"MY MAMA!" whenever Brian hugs or kisses me
3. Finding real Pop Tarts in the toy microwave
4. Sarah singing "All the Single Ladies"
5. When I tell Sarah to sit down and she says,"What am I going to be in?" Hoping that I don't say time out
6. Seeing the excitement on both their faces at Disney on Ice
7. Trick-or-Treating with the 2 most beautiful princesses in the world
8. When Rylee says, "Awww, Man!"
9. Doing bath time with Mr. Froggy
10. Watching Sarah put on "lipstick"
11. Having to get Rylee off the top of the kitchen table 10 times a day
12. Looking in the backseat of the car and them being there
13. Having to pause the movie during "date night" to rock Rylee back to sleep
14. Putting Lisa Frank stickers on a blank sheet of paper for an "art project"
15. Meltdowns in the middle of Wal-Mart and another mother passing by giving me a knowing glance
16. Christmas time-it took on a whole new meaning when I had children
17. So did Thanksgiving
18. Sarah telling the pediatrician that "Only girls can go to DisneyWorld, not boys"
19. Having been so blessed that the only visits to the pediatrician have been well visits
20. Sarah "reading" her princess bedtime story complete with a French accent for Lumiere
21. Holding my new nieces and feeling that familiar tug at my heart
22. Rylee dumping all the contents of the sippy cup drawer into the kitchen floor every day
23. Sarah telling Rylee "Shh, don't cry. It's ok." in her most convincing "mommy" voice
24. Knowing all the words to "Green Eggs and Ham"
25. Singing, "I love Sarah/Rylee in the Springtime" just like my Mom used to sing to me

Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh

Friday, I cleaned the house. I had all the laundry put away. I had all the toys in their assigned drawers and containers. I was feeling pretty smug, if I do say so myself. Happy to be starting the weekend with nothing hanging over my head. THEN....THIS HAPPENED:Notice, Brian looks thrilled to be getting photographed picking up toys. But, it was his fault really. He was painting Sarah's room on Saturday, and all the contents of said room had to go somewhere. That somewhere just happened to be the middle of the living room floor. Of course, every time someone walked through they would stump their toe on the kitchen, or step on a baby, or trip over a plastic lemon or asparagus or banana! Then we found THIS:At first glance, it just looks like your average toy kitchen with an Abby Cadabby doll perched on top of the fridge. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? But, take a closer look. Upon further investigation, we found THIS:
I thought Sarah had eaten both Pop Tarts in the package for breakfast. I was wondering why she was still hungry. It seems that she was going to nuke this one for a snack later.
I just had to laugh!!
p.s. Yes, I let Sarah eat Pop Tarts for breakfast. And, I would let Rylee eat them, too, if she wouldn't smear the strawberry filling all in her hair. Don't judge.


Right now, I am watching my spunky not-quite-2-years old Rylee Anne "cook" something in the toy kitchen. She is so bright and imaginative. She learns a new word everyday. Yesterday she learned to say, "UP!" while raising both arms to the sky. She also learned the word "Mine". I was wondering how long it would take for that one to creep up. It is incredible to me how much she has changed just in the past 3 months. She is looking and acting less and less like a baby and more and more like a big girl. It makes me makes me happy.

I have been really reflecting on this for a day or two, because we are about to transition her from the crib into a big girl bed. She will be sharing the bedroom with her sister. She seems so tiny in that huge twin sized bed. I'm not too excited about having to put her back in the bed a hundred times a night for the next week or so. I am, however, looking forward to tucking them in at the same time and sitting in between the two beds for story time every night. I'm looking forward to hearing the giggles and chattering of sisters awake past bedtime. And, I will definitely have my camera ready for the morning I go in to find them snuggled together in one bed. I have a feeling that will happen often. They are both snugglers.
The main thing upsetting me about moving Rylee to a big bed is that the crib is going to be...empty.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Thousand Words

That is what this is worth to me. My husband worked over 12 hours today, and has to be at work by 4:00 tomorrow morning. He came in tonight, ate dinner, and played with the girls for a few minutes before he completely zonked out on the couch. Sarah saw that Daddy was "taking a nap" and brought all of her bed buddies and her ballerina blanket and tucked Daddy in. Oreo is on top of Daddy's head. He is snuggling with Ruby, and there are 3 more under that blanket! She then turned out all the lights and instructed me and Rylee, "Shhh...Daddy needs his rest." I adore that little girl and her wide open, tender heart! And, I adore that man for working himself to a frazzle for us. Oh, and I adore Rylee for planting sweet, slobbery smooches on Daddy's face in the midst of all the "tucking in". Wish I had gotten a picture of that.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Best Laid Plans

What I wanted to do this week:
1. Spend an afternoon carving/painting pumpkins
2. Make a really cute Halloween cake for the weekend festivities
3. Decorate the wagon like a princess carriage for Trick or Treating
4. Get 2 liters of Diet Mt. Dew for 75 cents each
5. Paint my toenails
6. Plant daffodil, tulip, and glad bulbs in my flower bed so they would come up in the spring
7. Go to Sam's for laundry detergent, diapers, toilet paper, etc...
8. Start a diet and start walking on the treadmill
9. Cancel Rylee's well visit for next week so I could extend our weekend visit
10. Put the toys in the attic that never get played with to make room for the new toys they will get for Christmas

What I actually did this week:
1. Spend an afternoon turning the house upside down looking for stray crayons...sheesh!
2. Make sugar cookies with Valentine's Day and Christmas cookie cutters...and burn them to a crisp
3. Leave the art supplies I needed in an abandoned Wal-Mart buggy
4. Also left the Diet Mt. Dew in the abandoned buggy, because the check out line was 3 miles long and I didn't want to be late picking Sarah up from dance class
5. Clip Sarah's and Rylee's fingernails
6. Wait to get the bulbs "until next week" and now it's going to be too cold to plant them
7. Wash the last 2 days of laundry (including the red artwork duvet cover) in Dreft
8. Eat KFC for dinner last night and spend my "walking" time online Christmas shopping
9. Decide to come back on Sunday because it will be August of 2011 before they can reschedule the appointment
10. Get out some of the Elmo toys that were put away (adding to the toys instead of subtracting) thanks to Rylee's new found infatuation with Elmo

Well, better luck next week...I hope.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Special Birthday

October 30th, 1991...the day that I was born AGAIN.

It was the day before Halloween when I was 8 years old. My Mom and I were going to church for the Wednesday night service. All the children were having a special class in the nursery with Mrs. Patsy Moates and Miss Michelle Moates. I don't remember all of the lesson that was taught. I just remember the part where they talked about salvation, and the tugging I felt at my heart. There was a long wooden bench at the front of the room, and that night it was used as an alter. When the class came to a close and it was time for prayer a few of the other kids and I went to that alter and gave our hearts to the Lord. I remember clearly the prayer that Mrs. Patsy prayed with me.

That was 19 years ago, and I still feel His mercy as strong as I did that night in a little country church nursery.

Many things have come along in nineteen years, and I have strayed at times. I have done things I am not proud of, things that I know He isn't proud of either. But, in all the doubts about myself, I have never once doubted God's love for me.

There have been times of sorrow and unbelievable grief when I have wondered where God was and even asked Him "Why?". But, I always felt the whisper to my spirit saying, "I've been right here the whole time. I will never leave you, and I will NEVER forsake you."

There has been incredible joy and beautiful blessings poured down on me. God has given me an incredible family. A husband that I cherish, and two healthy, beautiful children that I marvel at on a daily basis. They are truly my greatest joy. I am so thankful for the blessings, and I know that "every good and perfect gift is from above".

My Heavenly Father has been with me at the peak of every mountain and in the deepest darkest valleys. I am completely unworthy of such love and forgiveness, but I am so thankful for it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Airing Dirty Laundry

I love what I do. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I was made to be a stay at home mom. At least, I hope that is what they would say. I never miss a minute of anything with my children. I am the first person they see when they wake up in the morning and the last person they see when they go to bed at night. We spend our days playing with "babies", coloring pictures, reading stories, and watching movies together. It is a wonderful life. My husband works extremely hard so that I can have the opportunity to be here with them full time.

All the other domestic duties that come along with being a homemaker are not exactly up there on my list of favorite things to do, though. I detest folding and putting laundry away. I like to organize things, but I hate to deep clean the house. I make no excuses. I know that I should have a better attitude toward housework, but that has never been me. I don't get stressed out by clothes on the love seat or hand prints on the walls. I don't lose sleep if the floors need sweeping. Sure, I like to have a clean house. I love the way the house smells like pine-sol and lemons when I've just dusted and mopped. I love the way it feels to get up in the morning and not have a sink full of neglected dinner dishes staring at me. But, it's just not something I get bent out of shape about. I do these things around the house because I have to, and not because I want to. I don't clean Brian's work clothes with the joyful attitude of "I am so thankful for my husband going to work and providing for us that the least I can do is be happy about doing his laundry." Instead the attitude I have is, "I better get these stupid clothes done, so I won't get yelled at when he has nothing clean to wear in the morning." Wrong?? Yes, I know, but I'm just dishing out a smidge of honesty here. Airing my dirty laundry...cheesy pun intended.

You see, I am married to a neat freak to the 1000th degree. I think he really believes that "Cleanliness is next to Godliness", and he is going for sainthood. He is super organized...borderline OCD, and I'm pretty sure that 99% of the time, living with me drives him bonkers! He loves me, though, in spite of the dust and crumbs that I welcome into our family on a daily basis. I know this because I have always been me. And, he has always been him. And, we fell madly in love and got married anyway. Probably both wishfully thinking that we would somehow rub off on the luck so far.

Today, the girls and I got out the crayons and got creative...I had no idea just how creative. While Sarah and I were drawing on blank sheets of printer paper, Rylee was busy as a bee dumping out all the crayons and putting them back in the clear plastic container. When we were done working on our masterpieces for the day, I rounded up what I thought were all the stray crayons and put them away. Can you see where this is going? Early in the afternoon, I was putting some things away in Sarah's room when I saw it.....RED crayon all over her WHITE duvet cover! So, I called Sarah in. She promptly blamed it on her sister...and I believe her. Sarah wouldn't have drawn on the comforter...she would have drawn on the wall.

What to do?? Well, I have about 1/4 of a scoop of washing powders left, so I can either wait until I go to the store and buy detergent or I can wash the duvet cover in plain water. I decided to wait. WRONG!! Knew better, did it anyway.

When my 20/20 eyesight husband went into Sarah's room, what was the first thing he saw? Yep, that's right. We proceeded to have a ridiculous fight about my apparent "lack of supervision" of the children when they have crayons. Seriously?! They are almost 4 and not quite 2...sometimes things get past me.

We never go to bed angry with each other, and tonight he went to bed upset, and obviously I still am, or I wouldn't be blogging about it. All over a stinking comforter (that is now in the dryer, good as new and smelling like a new baby-because I found some Dreft in the back of the laundry closet) and a little red crayon...Geez, I would much rather save my fighting energy for fights that are actually a big deal. It all seems so silly in retrospect. But, I wear my heart on my sleeve and my feelings got hurt. How about I leave both girls with him for a few hours and see how much "kid stuff" happens under his supervision. All I'm saying is, if they were unsupervised with crayons all the time, then I would be going to town with a magic eraser trying to remove Picasso from every freshly painted surface in our house.
OK, I'm done.
I'll be over it in a minute and go wake him up to say "Sorry", because I literally hurt when we argue. We'll kiss and hug and all will be forgiven...even the ugly name I called him (not so) under my breath. I really do love what I do...sometimes....well, most of the time....ok, all the time. But, I am woman enough to admit that I am still a work in progress.

I'm going to go apologize to my husband now.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Very Big Small Thing

When I was a little girl, I used to love riding to the store with my Daddy. He'd come out of the gas station with a sack, and I didn't have to ask what it was. A Yoo-Hoo drink and a Zero candy bar. Even as I got older, he never forgot the tradition. Daddy worked at night. He got home at 4:30 every morning. I could always find my Yoo-Hoo in the fridge when I got up for school. It was a small was a big thing.

After Brian and I got married, I looked forward to getting a phone call from Daddy every night when he was on his lunch break at 9pm. We'd chat about the day. Crack jokes with each other. Say good night and I love you. It was a small was a big thing.

One night, during our phone conversation, I mentioned that I wasn't feeling well. I had come down with a stomach bug, and I was miserable. It was the first time that I had been sick since moving out of my parents' house. I felt all alone without my Mama there to hold my hair back and keep the wash cloth on my forehead nice and cold, while Daddy refilled my Sprite. What can I say? I was an only child, and a terrible patient...a total wimp! Brian was working late, and wouldn't be home for a while. I was feeling pretty homesick (at least what I thought homesick was in the days that we lived nestled comfortably 15-20 minutes between Brian's and my parents). Anyway, I could tell on the phone that Daddy felt horrible about me being ill and home alone.

The next morning, at about 5:00, the phone rang. It was my Mom. She said, "Go open your front door." I thought I was either dreaming or she was crazy. But, I got up and went to the door anyway. When I opened it and looked down, I couldn't stop the tears. There on my front step were 2 bottles of Yoo-Hoo! My precious Daddy had stopped on his way home from work and brought me the one thing that he knew would make me feel a little closer to home and a little closer to him. And, it worked. I will never ever forget that feeling.

I know it sounds crazy, but it was over 2 years after he died before I could even look at a Yoo-Hoo, let alone drink one. One day, I went into the store to pay for gas; and for some reason, I bought a Yoo-Hoo. I got into my car, drank that delicious chocolatey goodness, and bawled my eyes out. Then, I felt the same feeling that I had felt that morning, as a newlywed standing barefoot on my front step...a little closer to home and a little closer to him.
It was a small was a BIG thing!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wednesday Of A Few Words

I feel like sometimes all I do is complain about the reasons I don't want to live here. So, today, I am going to show one really beautiful reason that I love it here. I adore north Alabama in the fall. It isn't all pine straw up here. The views are magnificent. And, in years when we've had enough rain, the leaves are absolutely brilliant. I also love cotton fields, when the cotton is high. There is a cotton field on every corner up here. A few days ago, I found some cotton that had drifted into our yard while being transported to the nearest Gin Company. It made me smile. We live in the heart of the Tennessee Valley, which is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful parts of the state. For that, I am thankful.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Beautiful Weekend

Saturday morning, Brian was painting the hallway. We are trying to get the entire house painted trim and all, so we can get new floors and carpet. Yay! I am so excited about getting rid of the way-too-light-for-children carpet. So, we put up the gate, and the girls and I were confined to the living room for the majority of the day. We watched movies and Brian moved the toy box into the living room so there would be no shortage of things to play with while their rooms were off limits. I cleaned a little bit...a VERY little bit. I dusted the living room with Rylee's help. She loves "cleaning" especially when there is a feather duster involved. I made a big pot of Wisconsin Cheddar soup and ham and swiss sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls. Oh so delicious! Lots of veggie chopping involved, but I think that veggie chopping is therapeutic in some ways. I don't mind it at all. Of course, making a big meal like that always makes me feel a little homesick. It makes way too much for just us, and I always wish we were having company over when I make a big pot of soup or chili or whatever else. If we lived at home, I would have poured up half the soup and taken it to my sister-in-law's house, who has 6 1/2 week old twin girls, and no time to prepare a home cooked meal right now. Those are the kind of things I think about that bring tears to my eyes. The simple stuff that comes with being near family. We enjoyed the soup, though, and all the football games that we watched Saturday afternoon and night. This is, without a doubt, Brian's favorite time of year. Baseball play-offs and SEC football going on at the same time. It is sports overload around here right now. During the Auburn game, Brian said to me, "Arkansas called a time out." Sarah's eyes got big, and she said, "OH NO! Time Out!" He's going to have his hands full explaining all the sports terminology to her. The other night we were watching the Texas Rangers baseball game, and Brian said," Come on! You gotta get the hit!" To which, Sarah responded, "DADDY! Hitting is NOT nice!"

Sunday morning we visited, yet another, new church. Sarah enjoyed it. It was a very kid-friendly church. They had Children's moment before the service, then all the kids dispersed into their different age groups. The class Sarah was in was called "Lamb Time". They did a Bible lesson, colored a picture, got stamps on their hands, and a dum dum lollipop. She was pretty much a happy camper. The adult church service, however, left much to be desired for me and Brian. We left wondering if we would ever find a church for the whole family. It seems that the churches that minister to us have no ministry for children at all, and the churches that have big children's programs lack the worship and preaching that Brian and I desire. So, the discussion continues, and we keep looking. I know that there is a church somewhere in this area that has just what we are looking for. We'll just keep looking until we find it. It is getting a bit tiring to go to a different church every week, always being the first-timer, and I know it's got to be stressful on the girls, too. A different class, a different nursery, different people all the time. Pray for us.

Quote of the week: "I love this time of year, because my ice doesn't melt."
We got in the car after church and Brian was pleasantly surprised to see that it had stayed cold enough in the car to keep the ice in his sweet tea. Oh, the simple joys of fall!

After lunch (leftover soup and sandwiches), we wanted to go and do something fun. This is becoming a Sunday afternoon ritual around here. A couple weeks ago it was a short road trip, this week a trip to a drive-thru safari that a google search for zoo's near our area found. The place is called Harmony Park Safari. I recommend it! It was voted one of Alabama's top 100 attractions. We put the girls in the front seat with us, and bought some cups of food to throw out to the animals. It is not a petting zoo. But, we saw tons of beautiful deer, monkeys, birds, goats, a camel, a zebra, a kangaroo, alligators, horses, mountain goats, buffalo, just to name a few. It's not really like a zoo. It's like a natural habitat for these animals. Very cool. Some of the animals are free to come right up to your window, which at times you have to roll up, because the big bull with big horns will try to kiss you. I learned something about myself at that safari that I never knew. I am deathly afraid of....wait for it....ostriches! Those things freak me out like you would not believe. They are so tall and crazy-eyed. And, they were seriously harrassing me! I think they smelled my fear. Everytime I turned my head there was an ostrich six inches from my face peering into the window like I was lunch and it wanted nothing more than to peck my eyes out! Creepy animals, those ostriches! We got to get out and see the turtles. You can pet them, and feed them. You can walk around with beautiful blue and green peacocks. It is a pretty neat place. Sarah's favorite was the zebra and the kangaroo. And, I'm pretty sure that Rylee's favorite was the deer and the ducks. Everytime she saw the fawns she would say, "Awwww", and she would try to quack at all the ducks. Pretty cute. So, another memorable Sunday afternoon with my 3 loves. It was a beautiful weekend. Fun! Lots of FUN!

25 Things About Motherhood That Make Me Smile

1. Rylee holding an empty plate (dumped on the floor of the restaurant) up to her ear and saying, "Heyyo"
2. Sarah, at the same restaurant, pouring parmesan cheese onto every single bite of her pizza
3. A spontaneous Sunday afternoon trip to a drive-thru safari
4. The looks on both their faces when they saw all the animals, especially the monkey doing back flips
5. Sarah seeing a commercial for a Fisher Price crocodile block set and telling her sister, "Rylee, I'm going to ask Santa to bring you one of those for Christmas, because I know you want one."
6. Complete strangers stopping me in public to tell me how adorable my children are
7. At church, looking over during prayer, and seeing Sarah's hands folded, head bowed, and eyes closed
8. Saying prayers at bedtime and praying for the crickets chirping outside the bedroom window
9. Both girls sitting in their Daddy's lap having a "movie date"
10. Praying that someday they'll both fall in love with men as wonderful as their Daddy
11. The way Rylee puts her sweet little hand just inside my shirt and pats or rubs my chest for comfort or when she is really tired
12. Coloring pictures
13. Finger paints
14. Having "feet ghosts" hanging from the ceiling fan in our living room
15. The whole side of our fridge being covered in artwork
16. Rylee's fascination with her belly button
17. Sarah's excitement at going to the mailbox to see what movie Netflix sent her. Today we'll get A Bug's Life
18. Sarah being more excited about ringing lots of doorbells than all the candy she'll get trick-or-treating
19. Playing "Salon" when I do their hair. It keeps the screaming to a minimum
20. The face Rylee makes when she is up to no mischievous
21. Sarah telling the Sunday school teacher, "When I eat a lot and get lots of sleep, then I'll be four."
22. Counting "1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi"...all the way to 30 when we brush teeth
23. Catching myself counting it in my head when I brush my teeth
24. Rylee waving bye-bye and blowing kisses to the phone when her Daddy calls from work
25. The way Sarah says, "Well, I'll letcha go. Bye. I love you!" when she's getting off the phone with someone.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Birth Story...Almost 4 Years Later

It's a shame that I hadn't discovered blogging before the birth of my first daughter. Then, I would not have the disadvantage of time passed and a bad memory when writing about it. Nonetheless, I am feeling nostalgic today, and really want to try and put her birth story into words. My journey into motherhood is one of the most important parts of this journey.

Disclaimer: This post is about child-birth and contains words like "cervix". If you are creeped out by that or uncomfortable in any way. Read no further.

In the middle of my 3rd trimester, I changed from an OB/GYN in the area that we live in to a practice in the town where our families live. Some may have thought that was unnecessary, but for me, and the situation at hand, it was completely necessary. You see, 6 weeks before my due date, my Daddy went home to be with the Lord. If ever I needed to be near my family, it was then. And, if ever my Mom needed me to be close, it was then. I could no longer imagine bringing my first baby into the world without the comforts and familiarity and support of home. So, for the last month of my pregnancy, I was traveling back and forth a good bit, and staying with my Mom a lot. I don't even remember much about the last trimester. I only remember it feeling like a whirlwind. I was struggling with SO many deep emotions that my thoughts couldn't have been their clearest. Grief, joy, pain, love, anger, excitement. I had never been in that place before and have never been there since. All I knew was that the only thing that was going to alleviate even a little bit of the hurt was holding my brand new daughter in my arms very soon. And, soon it was.

At my 40 week appointment, we made the decision to go in and be induced. I was showing little progress in the way of cervical changes, and was a little apprehensive to wait until I went into labor on my own because of the distance. I wasn't really digging the idea of giving birth on the shoulder of I-65 South. So, on Sunday evening, January 14, 2007, after eating a fried bologna sandwich at my in-laws' house and stopping at the local Texaco to get drinks, snacks, and the Sunday issue of The Birmingham News for Brian (like he was going to have time to read the paper), we arrived at the hospital. I was wearing a red long-sleeved shirt, black yoga pants, and my favorite red flip flops. It was cold, but I was hot. Plus, my feet were the size of Oklahoma. I was nervous to the point of tears. Once we got all settled in, we had a few visitors. My cousin, Gina, brought dinner from Cracker Barrel just before the cut-off time for me to eat. The nurse came in and took it away from me after one bite of hash brown casserole. They inserted something to help me dilate. And, told me to get a good night's rest. It was going to be a long day tomorrow. Really?! (dripping with sarcasm) I hadn't thought about it. Like I could sleep even if I wanted to.

Early the next morning, the nurse came in to start pitocin. I asked her to please let me take a shower first. So, she did. Then, they started the pitocin. We had a few more visitors. A friend came in while I was putting on my makeup and made fun of me for doing so while I was in labor. Like I'm not allowed to even try and be cute when I'm having a baby. I blow dried my hair, too. Why not? I was stuck in this bed, not even feeling the contractions that everyone was telling me were getting really strong. Apparently, I have a high tolerance for pain. I never knew that. The nurse came in every couple of hours and checked me. Annoying. I hated that part, and wasn't sure how necessary it was so early on. Progress was slow. I did know that there was a waiting room FULL of people there for me. And, that felt really good. The day dragged on and on like there was no end in sight. By 3 that afternoon the contractions....well, now I could feel them. a lot. Wow. So, THAT's what epidurals are for. OK. I was dilated to between 4 and 5 when I got the epidural. Happy New Year! More visitors. I love 'em. My best friend, Taylor, came by and brought a friend of ours from high school, Jordan. I hadn't seen him since Freshman year in college (6 years) and he was sweet enough to come to the hospital and see me that day. This is what I meant by the support of home. Everyone thought that the baby would come at some point in the early afternoon on Monday, January 15th. Martin Luther King Day. People were off work and out of school. We thought it was quite convenient. The baby had other plans. One by one the loved ones waiting had to go. It was getting late. 6 cm...7cm...Help me, Jesus. 8 1/2 cm...By now, it is around 10:30 pm. I am at 9cm and miserable. I tell Brian if I haven't progressed to ten within the hour, I am going to beg for a c-section. Then, a few minutes later, I feel the overwhelming urge to push. But, the nurse isn't planning on checking me again for another 30 minutes. What do I do? I've never done this before. Should I push if I feel like it, or should I wait??? Call button..."Umm, could you please have someone come in to check me? I kinda want to push."

At 11:00pm, the doctor comes in. She says I only have a tiny bit of cervix left and the baby is right there. Can I try to give her a big push. So, I do. With all my might. Lights, camera, action. It was time to push. I'm exhausted. I'm sleeping between contractions. My husband is right beside me. I was only rude to him once, I think. And, he took it like a champ. I was hot. really hot. I wanted to get out of the hospital gown. What was it really doing for modesty anyway? Hello! I tried to take it off a time or two. No one would allow it. The nurse wanted to give me oxygen. So, they strapped a non-rebreather mask to my face. I immediately burst into tears. My daddy was on a mask identical to this one for the last month of his life. I locked eyes with my Mother and saw a tear streaming down her face. I couldn't do it. My mom had never witnessed a live birth before. I wanted to keep this moment as grief-free as possible for both of us. I yanked off that mask and into the floor it went. quickly. My mother-in-law was in the room, too. At first, I wasn't sure how I would feel about that, what with all my business being on display, but I was glad. She's great, and it made me happy that she could be there with Brian when his first child was born, and her first grandchild. She swears, to this day, that she never saw any of my "business". Bless her heart. I don't know if I believe her. Anyway, after 31 hours of labor, including 1 hour and 15 minutes of pushing, I heard the sweetest words ever uttered by an ob/gyn. "Happy Birthday, Sweetie!" January 16, 2007 at 12:15am

Peace washed over me. My first baby had entered this world just one floor above the place where her Grandaddy had left it. I could hear clapping and cheering just outside the door. It seems that the 10 or so family members that were able to stay were standing outside the cracked door of LDR 5 and were able to listen to her first cries. Priceless! The proud daddy, through his tears, cut the umbilical cord. We have a daughter. Pure joy. Bliss. Elation. They held her up, quickly, and let me sneak a peak. Then, they whisked my baby away to a scale/warmer/whatever other stuff that thing does and started giving her the once over. I HATED that. I know it has to be done, but I wanted to at least touch her first. Kiss her. Someone said, "Wow! 9 lbs. 1 oz. 21 inches long!" Holy cow! Are you serious? That's huge! But, it's really not. I said, " I want my baby. I'm so ready for her. I'm ready for my baby!"

Then, I got my wish. Someone (I don't know who) brought this bundle over to me. Swaddled so tightly in a blanket, wearing a hat. All I could see is her face. The most beautiful face in all the world. I said, " Hey, Sarah. I'm your Mommy. I love you SO much." I never even realized just how much. Is it even possible to love someone so much? My heart felt like it would explode! It still feels that way.

That's how I became a member of the Mom Club. A badge that I am honored to wear. One I am extremely proud of. I also am intensely aware that the birthing process does not a mother make. It's the unconditional love. the nurture. the selflessness. Even if I hadn't carried Sarah under my heart for 9 months, I knew that I had carried her in my heart my whole life. She was meant to be my Sweetie-girl, and I was always meant to be her Mommy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

25 Things About Motherhood That Make Me Smile

Sometimes I get so caught up in the mundane day-to-day tasks that come with being a mom that I forget to stop and just smile at the wonder that surrounds me. I get so busy cleaning up spills, picking up toys, preparing meals, cleaning up meals, etc... that I don't always recognize the things that make me love it so much. So, every week I am going to list 25 things that make what I do so worth doing. I want my daughters to always know that the love and fun far outweigh the tantrums, attitudes, and difficulties of our days together.
So, without further ado, the first installment of...

25 things about motherhood that make me smile:

1. The way Rylee's hair looks when she first wakes up
2. Sarah singing the "Clean up song" when she picks up blocks
3. The smell of Johnson's baby lotion
4. Bear hugs
5. Slobbery kisses
6. Tea parties
7. Bedtime stories
8. Making silly faces
9. Finding a stash of bop-bops (passies) 9 months after Sarah stopped using them
10. Watching Sarah dance
11. The way Rylee says "MAMA!!"
12. Having enough room on my lap for both of them at once
13. "Swing me higher, Mama!"
14. "Watch me slide, Mama!"
15. Sticky hands
16. Rylee sucking her pointer finger and rubbing her nose with the middle finger
17. Ponytails that stick straight up
18. Mammy and Ruby (2 beloved stuffed animals) being members of our family
19. Rylee picking up macaroni with her chubby little fingers and feeding it to me
20. My daughters playing sweetly together in the floor
21. The way they both laugh when I tickle them
22. Watching them sleep
23. Finding toys in the pantry and groceries in the toy box
24. The way they want me with them all the time
25. The way I want them with me all the time

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Going For A Sunday Drive

We visited a new church Sunday morning. It came as no surprise that this church was pretty much identical to most of the others that we have been to up here. We have lived in this area for almost 5 years now, and still haven't really found a "home". We have visited countless churches, and have gone to one in particular on a regular basis for quite some time. But, it doesn't feel quite right. It's a little like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. So, we are looking around....again. This past Sunday we left the service feeling a little disheartened. Brian and I have had many discussions about what we are looking for in a church, and whether we are willing to compromise on any of these things. In short, we are but we aren't. Make sense? What we really need is a place where the people genuinely love the Lord and love each other. A place where the tears fall freely and the alter is always open. A place where things don't always go according to a program, and sometimes the singing, praying, and anointing take over. A place that listens when God speaks. We need a church that we can get involved with, whether it be teaching Sunday school or singing in the choir. We need a place that our children will thrive. A place where they will look forward to going every week. A place that loves children. A place where they will sing songs, make friends, learn about the Bible, and pray. We need a praying church. A place where my entire family can feel His mighty hand and amazing love.
We know it is out there. We just have to keep praying about it and searching until we find it. So, the journey continues.
After the service, we came home and had lunch. We couldn't really decide what to do with the rest of our day. We thought about going shopping, but didn't want to spend the money. So, Brian decided that we would go for a drive. We left home at 2:30 and just...drove. We went all the way through the Bankhead National Forest and down to Smith Lake. What a breathtaking landscape the Lord has designed! We drove around Clear Creek Park and found some great spots to go camping. The drive was absolutely beautiful. We talked and laughed and sang. It helped us clear our heads. It felt like we drove forever. But, it was so worth it. Just to get out of the house, where something always needs to be done, and close ourselves off to all outside distractions for a little while. Around 7:00 Sunday night, we got home feeling refreshed and renewed. As I lay in bed that night, listening to Rylee breathe on the monitor, I thanked the Lord for another beautiful sabbath to worship Him. At the "real" church, sure. But, this day, I mostly worshipped in a congregation of Savior, my 3 loves, and me. I enjoyed a sermon whispered to my heart about the magnificence of the earth He created, the grace He has shown me, and the incredible blessings He has bestowed upon me. And, the song service consisted of singing "This is the Day that the Lord has Made" in a choir made up of me and a beautiful 3 1/2 year old girl.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Days I Live For

Some days my two toddlers test me to the point of insanity. I think they are conspiring to put me in a padded room somewhere wearing a straight jacket. Yesterday was one of those days. Every 5 minutes it was something. Sarah refused to pick up toys. I threatened everything shy of shipping that girl off to boarding school in Switzerland. Then, she wouldn't share. Then, she got awfully sassy with me when I tried to talk reasonably with her about sharing. Then, she hit her sister, and lied about it. Who taught the 3-year-old how to lie? Human nature kicking in, I guess. Rylee was into everything...climbing onto the kitchen table included. Then, she disappeared with the telephone...which I found 3 hours later in the oven of the toy kitchen. Then, she hit Sarah in the head with a ceramic coaster, and cried like she was dying when I scolded her. They didn't like each other yesterday, and they liked me even less, it seemed. My only reprieve was when Rylee took a nap, and Sarah sat quietly watching The Aristocats for a little while. I was in tears by 3:00 wondering where I had gone wrong. Did I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and my bad mood rubbed off on them? Was it too harsh for me to yell that if the toys didn't get put back in the toy box, I was going to give them away to a little girl who knew how to obey her Mommy? To which Sarah replied, "What is the little girl's name? Is it Lylah?" She totally missed the point. Had I been sassy and hateful with Sarah which, in turn, caused her to be sassy and hateful with me? She had to hear it from somewhere, right?
Then came Prince Daddy. Riding in on his white Ford pick-up. "It's beautiful outside." he says, "Take them out." I tell you, he is a genius sometimes. So, I did just that.
Instantly, a horrible morning turned into a wonderful afternoon, complete with flower picking, swinging, and playing a made-up game that Sarah named "Seek-tag". It's a cross between, you guessed it, Tag and Hide-and-Seek. You hide...but she has to know where you're hiding. Then she "finds" you and screams "TAG, YOU"RE IT!!" Then you chase her around and tag her. She hides, always in the same spot, behind the slide. And, the game goes on and on forever, or until I pass out on the grass. It was absolute bliss! We spent close to 3 hours in the back yard, and by the time we came back inside I had almost forgotten the stress of the first half of the day. They were my sweet girls again. Stinky with sweat, starving, and delightfully exhausted. Dinner, baths, story time, and bedtime went off without a hitch. And, as I sat on the sofa with a tall glass of Diet Mt. Dew, watching the Duggars, I thought, What a fun day! I want to do that again tomorrow. Ah, What a life!

Monday, September 27, 2010

How We Met

16 years old, on a Saturday night, all my friends are on dates. I am at home crying golf ball tears into my pillow while my Mom rubs my back and cries with me. And, I pray. "Lord, You know the man you have created for me. He is out there somewhere right now. Can you please send him to me soon? I am so tired of being the only one without a boyfriend." (I was a kid, what do you expect?) I was still praying that prayer 2 years and a few mistakes later.

Then, On November 30, 2001, after much protest, I agreed to go on a blind date with a "friend of a friend". Well, a blind "double" date, that is. After all, he could have been a serial killer or something. I believe those were my exact words. I did NOT want to date anyone. I was still nursing a broken heart from a high school romance gone terribly wrong. I wore a pair of Old Navy blue jeans (a size 8 HA!) and a red turtle neck sweater with a little sparkle to it. It was one of those days that my hair couldn't decide if it wanted to be curly or straight, so it ended up looking a little of both. I was nervous. My friends and I pulled into the Winn Dixie parking lot and I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest. My friend, Jennifer, thought that this guy and I would be "just perfect for each other". I guess she was smarter than I gave her credit for.

Then, he drives up, in a blue Chevy pick-up that is in my drive way right now. He swears it will be a classic someday. I know I had my nose pressed to the window of that white Mustang convertible like a kid looking through the window of a toy store. When he got out of the truck and came around to introduce himself, I knew! The moment I looked into those dazzling blue eyes, the eyes that our daughters have now, I knew that I would never spend another moment crying into a pillow wondering where "he" was. I was home!

We talked about everything that night. It felt like we had known each other all our lives. He told me of his plans and dreams. I told him of mine. We laughed and joked around. I laughed at him making up his own lyrics to the songs on the radio. He still does that. We went to a movie. Not that I can remember anything about it. I was too wrapped up in the excitement of it all to even notice that there were other people on the planet at that moment. It was just the two of us.

I floated in on a cloud right around curfew that night. 12:30 am. My Nana was sleeping over at our house. I guess the smile on my face gave me away too easily. Nana took one look at me and said, "He's the one, isn't he?" I will never forget that as long as I live. I argued, "Come on, Nana! It was just the first date! I don't know....GEEZ!" With a sarcastic roll of my 18-year-old eyes. But, in my heart, I knew it was true. And, I did know just that quickly.

That night, I cried golf ball tears into my pillow and prayed. Tears for the happiness and peace that overwhelmed me. "Thank you, Father, for sending him to me. I know that HE is the man that YOU created just for me. You sent him to me at just the right time!"

"He hath made every thing beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Company and Conversations

We had a great visit last week with my Mom (Nona). She came up on Tuesday and stayed until Thursday. We went shopping, made a cake, went to the salon, and just generally enjoyed each other's company. That is happiness. I cherish every second of quality time that we get to spend with her. It's not as frequent these days, but every child should want to devour every morsel of time they can get with a parent. Even at 27 years old, I still do. Nona taught Sarah how to lay across the swing on her belly and spin herself around until she is overwhelmed with joy and dizziness. A trick that Sarah was very excited to show everyone. Nona patiently let Rylee take her time warming up, and laughed like I haven't heard in quite some time at Rylee's class clown personality. It did my heart good. By the time Nona left, Rylee was blowing her kisses and waving bye-bye. In Rylee's world, that means, "Hey, you're alright. I'm cool with you now." This kind of visit with my Mom makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because I love her and love when she spends time with the girls...and me. Sad, because it makes me miss the visits that much more. All in all, good memories were made with Mom and my girls, and that is the most important thing. Psalm 113:9 always makes me think about my Mom.
"He maketh the barren woman to keep house and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord."
Following Mom's company, we had a weekend visit from Brian's parents (Gigi and PopPop). The girls were SO excited to see them. They immediately went into "show-off" mode, and the living room became center stage for all the singing,dancing, and goofing around that 2 little girls could manage at 9:30pm. To their delight, Gigi and PopPop were the perfect audience, laughing and applauding on cue, and encouraging encore performances. It was hilarious! Saturday was spent....can you guess? I'll give you a hint: September Saturday in the south. You got Brian and his dad worked on our back door early in the day, and all 4 of us girls watched Toy Story 2 (super cute movie). Then, I made a big pot of taco soup and 2 pans of cornbread. We all came in and after watching the Tide Roll in, we watched our beloved AU Tigers barely squeak out a 27-24 win against Clemson in OT. But, it was a win, nonetheless. So, Brian was still good company after the game was over. We won't talk about attitudes and outbursts during the game, because we all know SEC football brings out the crazy in people. We were sad to see Gigi and PopPop leave this afternoon. Their goodbye's brought on the meltdown of the century from Sarah, who was devastated that Gigi left without, of all things, giving her a mani/pedi. She cried for 30 minutes about her toenails not being pink. I tell you, that girl is ALL girl...through and through. But, no matter how I tried to soothe her, nothing worked. Finally, I took the hint that we all needed a nap. So, I put Rylee down for a nap in about 5 seconds, as usual. And, laid down in the bed with Sarah to rub her back and "talk" until she was calm enough to go to sleep. My 3 1/2 year old and I have some of our best conversations during nap time. This is the conversation that took place today:

Sarah (still snubbing and wiping tears): "I sure wish Gigi and PopPop would have stayed at my house."
Me: "I know. Me too. We love when they visit, don't we?"
Sarah: "Yeah. Why did they have to go to their house?"
Me: "Well, they have to go to work tomorrow, you know, just like Daddy."
Sarah: "Just like Daddy??"
Me: "Yep."
Sarah: "Mommy, where is your work?"
Me (thinking): "Well, my work is here. Mommy gets to stay here with you and sister."
Sarah: "Umm...Mommy?"
Me: "Yes?"
Sarah: "That is not work." this point, I am thinking and thanking. That little girl has such a simple way of making me look around and realize just how good I've got it. I was just about to respond to her with something like,"No, it's not really work. It's fun. It's the best thing in the world. I'm blessed that I don't have to 'work'. I get to play with dolls, swing on swing sets, color pictures, have tea parties, rock babies, and just be with these 2 beautiful girls all day, everyday. That's not 'work'." Thank you, Lord, for giving me the best job on the planet!
Then, Sarah brings it on home when she picks the conversation back up...
Sarah: "That is not work, Mommy...because, there is NO dirt."
Me (laughing hysterically): "You mean like Daddy?"
Sarah: "Just like Daddy."

She just doesn't know how much "dirt" there actually is. I mean, who washes Daddy's clothes, after all?!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Starting Something New

Why am I starting a blog?

There are a few reasons why I am starting a blog. The biggest reason being that I have an incredible husband and two beautiful daughters. Everyday they do or say something to amaze me and I am constantly saying to myself, "You should really write that down." So, I'm going to do just that. This may serve as more of a journal for myself than anything, but that will be ok, too.
Here are 50 things that you will learn about me from this new adventure in blogging:

1. I love my Saviour and love sharing Scripture that speaks to me throughout the day.
2. I pray a lot. I pray when I drive to the grocery store. I pray when I do laundry. I pray when I am rocking a baby to sleep.
3. If you ask me to pray for you, I WILL.
4. I love my husband and children fiercely. I will do anything for them. I would give my life for them.
5. I adore my family. I don't see them as often as I would like, but I think of them all the time.
6. I am a MOMMY. That is what I do. It is my calling.
7. I love doing lots of crafty things.
8. Making cakes.
9. Smocking precious little girl clothes.
10. Scrapbooking.
11. Seeing how many things we can do with paper plates, popsicle sticks, glue, and paint.
12. I had beautiful examples set for me.
13. I strive daily to set a beautiful example for others.
14. I love Diet Mt. Dew and Sour cream & onion potato chips.
15. I laugh more than I cry.
16. I'm ugly when I cry. But, sometimes it must be done.
17. My children look just like their Daddy and his family.
18. And, that is ok with me!
19. I am adopted.
20. I've never felt adopted.
21. I would love to adopt a child (or 2) someday.
22. I hate diets. But, I'm always on one.
23. I love to travel. Next on the list is Disney World.
24. I have brown eyes...which are dominant.
25. Both of our children have the prettiest blue eyes you've ever seen.
26. I love to cook.
27. I think that there is nothing more beautiful in this world than a Mother nursing her baby.
28. I am an Aunt to beautiful new twin girls.
29. I play the piano. Not very well. Just for fun.
30. I've learned to do all sorts of things from Youtube.
31. I miss my Daddy....everyday.
32. I am enormously proud of my husband.
33. He still gives me butterflies.
34. I think imperfection is beautiful.
35. Classical music (especially violins) makes me tear up with joy and sadness.
36. I love Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum.
37. I adore Anne of Green Gables. I always have.
38. I hate laundry with a passion.
39. I love going to church.
40. I hate getting everyone ready to go to church.
41. I have an Aunt that I call "Nana". She is not my grandmother. But, I love her like she is.
42. My house isn't perfect.
43. But, I love my house. Dust bunnies and all.
44. My husband does not. He likes CLEAN.
45. I want more children.
46. I would have 2 more and adopt 2.
47. I know we'll probably only have one more.
48. And, that will be ok. I think.
49. I desperately long to move 2 hours south of here. It is home.
50. I am learning to accept that home is wherever my 3 loves are. It's a work in progress.

"For I know that plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11