Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Flourishing Frames Christmas
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November I'm back on schedule

Well, this little girl is growing, literally, before our eyes. I put her down to bed or for a nap and it seems she has grown just in that short amount of time. She is working on sitting up. She hasn't quite gotten it yet, but she is definitely almost there. She loves to watch Anna Claire move about the room while sitting in this chair so I think that is helping a lot.

Molly loves to smile and she really is a contented, well mannered baby. I am blessed to have had two very easy babies that were easy to figure out when it came to what their needs were. Molly only cries when she needs something, either to eat, when she is tired or needs her diaper changed. Other than that, she is in a good mood all the time. :)

Anna Claire, on the other hand, being almost 3, is giving us a run for our money. She has finally hit the terrible two's. I was talking to another mother the other day and I mentioned that I think she has hit that stage. The mother looked at me and said, "wait until she actually turns 3." Wow. Okay.

We are trying, very diligently, to instill in her a sense of responsibility for her actions and words and to teach her that she can control some of the emotions she is feeling. But I'm learning....NEVER TRY TO REASON WITH A TODDLER!!!! I have to give her credit though, she is realizing that there are boundaries, which ones she absolutely should not cross and which ones she tries to cross but knows she will likely get in trouble. It's just a season and I have to remember that we are not the first, nor the last parents to ever go through this with their child.

She brings us so much joy. She is funny, compassionate, she loves her sister and she has a huge imagination! Her favorite thing to do right now is to dress up. She usually puts together an ensemble that includes a princess dress, her Tinkerbell shoes, her crown and her baseball bat that serves as a wand or microphone, depending on whether she is going to sing or just walk around like a princess. She loves to dance and always wants some sort of music on.

The other day it was raining outside and she wanted to play baseball. I told her we could so this is what she put together....

See that Tinkerbell shoe popping out down there! :)

We headed to Tuscaloosa for Thanksgiving this year to visit some of Mike's family. It is always a good time with lots of laughter and fun! Santa Claus showed up to pass out some early Christmas gifts to the children. It was the first time Anna Claire has been that close to Santa. Last year she didn't want to have anything to do with him but this year, I think she warmed up a bit since he had a present for her.

We did take an afternoon to get some family pictures done. It was a beautiful afternoon at a park near the campus of University of Alabama.

We are looking forward to December and all that it holds for our family. The holidays, our wedding anniversary, Mike's birthday and visits with family. And a bonus...Jessica, my niece, flies in today to spend a couple of weeks with us!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

October recap...a month late

I remember feeling after Anna Claire was born that it took me a good 6 months to feel back on my game. Evidently that is true for subsequent children as well. I feel like I am just now getting back to being organized, from meal planning to cleaning, to life in general. Mike has probably been wishing it would have happened sooner, but it has been a quick 6 months since Molly was born and it seemed to go by ALOT faster this time around.

I'm sure we are not the only ones that find the end of the year months getting busier and busier as the years go by; wanting memories to made for our children, wanting to capture each and every possible thing we can either on video or camera; and with Anna Claire being old enough this year to experience some of those things, we took advantage of the activities during the fall.

At the beginning of October, I threw a baby shower, along with the other women in my church, for sweet Lauren. It was just a little over a year ago that I threw her bridal shower. I have so enjoyed getting to know Lauren over the year and was so excited to have a party in her honor, and baby Ezra too. Did you know that the way to a pregnant woman's heart is through donuts? If you are a mother, I'm sure you did :)

For fall break, we headed down to southern Alabama to visit my sister. She and her family moved from Ohio to Alabama earlier this year and it was the first chance we had to take some time to visit. They just so happened to move to a city that neighbors where Mike grew up so it was fun for him to be back on his old stomping grounds.

Christy has a HUGE love of horses and some wonderful people in their church have given her the opportunity to ride one of their horses whenever she wants. She goes out a couple of times a week to ride Bama and one day we went out with her. Anna Claire was able to ride Bree, another horse who shares the same pasture.

Christy also took a few pictures of us one day at the park.

Sweet Molly.

It was only appropriate for Anna Claire to be a cowgirl this year for Halloween. She liked her "freckles" so much that the next day she asked if she could have more "sprinkles" on her face.

Molly went as her trusty sidekick.

We also visited Owen Farm, a local pumpkin farm that puts on a festival for the fall. They had tons of stuff to do for kids, a giant slide, a petting area, pumpkin shooting, big inflatables for them to play on, a corn maze and also a corn pit. It is definitely someplace we want to make a yearly tradition.

This is exactly how I felt as the month came to a close--and now we are in the throws of November! It's been another busy month with Anna Claire showing us exactly how strong-willed a 2 year old can be and Molly continuing to grow so fast; we have visits with family coming up and the long awaited arrival of my niece, Jessica, home from Australia for Christmas!

More pictures and hopefully a bit more consistency with blogging to come!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my beautiful sister, Christy!

May this year be FULL of happiness, blessings and laughter!

I love you!

Monday, October 24, 2011

{w}hole by Lisa Whittle

In her book, Lisa Whittle, provides an honest look into her life and the struggles she has faced with the holes in her life. Holes that have been developed through religion, roles we play and the experiences we have. She takes a deeper look into how these three points shape us to be who we are and in turn steal the real wholeness we are to have in this life through Christ.

Along with a Barna Research study (her main resource for the book), she has identified these three areas (mentioned above)  in which women tend to have holes in their life that prohibit them from experiencing true wholeness. The study, in it's condensed form, is found in the back of the book to help readers gain insight into the study.

You will be challenged by her words to find those areas in your life that need to be re-evaluted but she will walk alongside of you, offering words of encouragement and bits of her own story. You will walk away from this book having been motivated to find those holes that have identified you and challenged to fill them with the love and grace of Jesus.

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I'm a Mom now

Well, I have been for a few years, but this past weekend I really felt like one. So much so, that I decided to take a few days off from being one, so that I could learn how to be a better one.  I headed to Birmingham with a dear, dear friend of mine to attend the .MOM event. What an amazing experience it was! Anna Claire kept asking me where I was going and I would tell her that I was going to learn how to become a better Mommy. :)

Between the main speakers (Angela Thomas, Angie Smith, Vicki Courtney and Priscilla Shirer), the worship (Michelle Green) and all of the breakout sessions (which were worth the price of admission themselves), I came away with so many different things: insight into a young girl's mind, encouragement from other mothers in the same stage of life as me, areas that I need to work on, both for myself and for my family and tons of ideas on how to be the best mom I can be to my girls. They already have the event scheduled for next year so if you want to join in on the fun, I promise it is well worth it! I told Mike that even if they had charged double what they did, I would have paid it because you get your money's worth.

On a side note, I can't speak highly enough of David Thomas, Sissy Goff and Melissa Trevathan from Daystar Ministries here in Nashville. I know David and Sissy from meetings at my previous job before becoming a mommy and let me tell you, they are the real deal; helping children and parents in all areas of life. If you have youngins', kiddos, teenagers...all of the above, I highly recommend their books for parents of boys and girls. I sat in on the Raising Girls session at the conference and couldn't write fast enough. Oh, and the exciting thing is that they are going to be some of the main speakers next year at the conference! 

After a full weekend I was ready to come home to these sweet faces!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Counting #211-212

I have my list of things I have been counting this week, and even though each one is significant in and of itself, there are really just two things that I would like to list this week...

211. complete protection from a car accident I was in
212. that this little girl's car seat did it's job and kept her safe when the accident happened

Despite the damage to the car and it needing to be towed and my nerves being shaken, all is well. I've gone over in my mind how if I would have stopped at Hobby Lobby like I had planned then the accident wouldn't have happened. Or, what if I would have taken longer in the grocery store, would it have happened then? I don't know. But I know God is in control and when you experience something like this, it puts it all into perspective how things can change in a split second. So thankful for His protection on us.

I'm linking up to count....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Counting #196-210

196. cooler temperatures
197. a husband who works very hard to provide for his family and makes wise decisions
198. several parties to celebrate birthdays and new babies
199. sleeping with the windows open
200. having joy on September 4th as we celebrated our daughters.

201. family and friends remembering Allison and Emily's birthday.
202. Molly's first giggle
203. an opportunity to get away for a girls weekend with a dear friend
204. another friend coming to visit for the day and watching Anna Claire so I could get some errands done
205. getting back to a normal schedule now that Molly is sleeping through the night

206. piles of books waiting to be read
207. piles of books waiting to be taken to McKay's
208. encouragement from Mike in my weight loss
209. for the many men and women who sacrifice so much so that we can be free
210. beautiful pictures of remembrance of families from 9/11

I am linking up to A Holy Experience to continue counting gifts....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We have a star in our midst

Like the ensemble? Whenever she sings, she has the shoes on...

 the tiara too...she prefers to have a nightgown on because it is like a dress

And the princess baseball bat that she refers to as her microphone.

Among her favorites are "The Wheels on the Bus," "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," "Father Abraham," and the "Hokey Pokey."

Along with the many songs she and her father make up on their own.

Feel free to contact us if you would like to book her for your next party. She is available most nights and weekends with the exception of Wednesday because that is gymnastics night. All parties must conclude by 7:30pm to allow time for a bath, stories and bedtime prayers.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A special day

Happy Birthday Allison and Emily!

We love and miss you more than you will ever know.

Our hope is in that we will all be together one day--oh, how we wait for that day.

Today is about you and your sweet lives that changed us forever.

Happy Birthday sweet girls!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The number 6

You know how there are times when the Lord causes you to be still, outside of your own will? It doesn't happen that often with me because I can't seem to be still for that long of a time, but night before last it happened.

Molly has been (thankfully!) sleeping through the night for about 3 weeks now. However, Thursday night, she woke up at 2:00am wide eyed and wanting to smile. This in turn causes me to smile back at her, then giggle, which causes her to giggle and then it is just downhill from there and there is no hope in going back to sleep anytime soon. I fixed her a bottle and then snuggled down with her in hopes that she would drift off.

I have learned that in these moments, especially with Molly, that they are few. I don't know if we will have any more children so these restless nights might be the last I will ever get to enjoy. I sat in the rocking chair that has been passed down through generations, listening to the squeak in the rock that has been there for as long as I can remember and just sat with my baby girl. I was still.

Then I began remembering.

Remembering these days leading up to September 4th, 4 years ago.

Then I began thinking about my life and what has happened in those 4 years.

Another year has come and gone. Another year without Allison and Emily. Another year thinking about what our house would sound like with rambunctious, funny, beautiful 4 year old girls running through it. Another year without them.

It's been different this year. I don't know if the new "normal" that we waited for for so long for has settled in to the point that it isn't a "new" normal, but rather just living our lives with the story of who we are and how we have 2 daughters in heaven. The hole in my heart where the memory of their lives seemed to take up residence doesn't have jagged edges around it anymore. The hole is still there, the edges are just a bit more smooth.

Maybe it is because Molly is here now and she completes a picture we had in our mind of having 2 children. Of course Anna Claire and Molly could never, or would never, replace their older sisters, but when you get married and dream about what your family looks like, we are there.

But we have so much more than that.

I have a house number that I bought, that sits in a place that I see everyday. I originally bought a "5" when Anna Claire was born. It was a way to acknowledge there were 5 people that made up our family; Mike, me, Allison, Emily and Anna Claire. When I found out I was pregnant last year, one of the first things I did was go and buy a "6." There is a part of me that wants so badly when people come over to ask what the "6" is for, so I can tell them about our family. Not just tell them about Molly and Anna Claire, but to speak the names of my firstborn daughters. To tell their story once again, so they will not be forgotten.

More importantly, so that their lives can continue to be a testimony to the goodness of God, the grace he gives us, the mercy he shows us and a Love that is overflowing and redemptive.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Counting #181-195

A couple days late, but full of gratitude nonetheless...181. cooing from Molly--she is finding her sweet little voice!
182. beginning of another school year for Mike, at a school where he is challenged and loves to teach
183. gymnastics for Anna Claire and the time that we each get to spend with her during her class
184. cousins from Atlanta
185. laughter with those cousins

186. new recipes
187. daily reminders that it is Lord who provides what we need--not what we want!
188. conviction of sin and bad attitudes
189. a much needed night out with Mike
190. the ability to remember and be joyful in the midst of grief (you can read Allison and Emily's story here and here)

191. my daughters, all of them, and what they have each added to my life.
192. Anna Claire's interest in the potty--finally!
193. princess stickers to motivate her to go potty
194. grace
195. talks with my niece, Jessica, and being a witness to the amazing things going on in her life right now." target="_blank">" >

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stumbling into Grace by Lisa Harper

I was excited to receive this book and read Lisa's words on grace, from a viewpoint of a woman who is living life, just like the rest of us. Lisa Harper takes her everyday life and weaves in stories, lessons learned and how Jesus is changing her into a book that provides humor, scripture and guidance for those of us who need a little pick me up when it seems like life is throwing lemons our way.

She provides biblical references and questions at the end of every chapter to engage the reader to go deeper with their understanding of grace. I think she does a great job of making the reader feel like they are not alone in their quest to find the love and compassion that Jesus offers.

She receives praises and acknowledgements from many well-known authors and speakers, however, I don't know that this is a "must read for all women." It was okay, but didn't necessarily cover anything new that hasn't been written before; it was her personal stories that brought the book together to make it a good read.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

for the grandparents

Never the Bride by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge

I have mixed feelings about this book--although a (sometimes) funny read and a clever storyline, it definitely falls into the category of chic-lit. The story follows the life of Jessie Stone, a woman who is extremely discontent with her relationships, work and life in general. It seems she has just been coasting through life waiting for "the one" to take her away from all that is familiar to give her what she has been dreaming about.

God enters the picture in a quirky sort of way and attempts to almost coerce Jessie into a life lived for Him. I wasn't overly impressed with the way the story played out, the representation of God or that in the end Jessie didn't really learn anything about her relationship with Him. She gets the guy in the end but it still seemed that all of her hopes and expectations were wrapped up in that relationship and she never really learned how to trust and hope in the One who really writes our stories. There are better chic-lit novels out there; I'd skip this one.

I received this book as part of Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones

Once again Denise Hildreth Jones has delivered on a good book. I have to say, though, that this is definitely the saddest book, to date, that she has written. Even so, Jones writes with a clarity and genuineness on grief and suffering.

Gray and Mackenzie London (TN's first family), Eugenia (Mackenzie's mother), and Jeremiah (the gardener) all suffer through a tragic loss but are brought together by the healing that takes place once we surrender ourselves to what God wants us to "go through" not "go around." The characters are real, their emotions are real and the healing process is real and Denise does an excellent job of including us in their lives.

If you are a fan of Denise, definitely add this to your collection. If you haven't yet read any of her books, now is a good time to start and then make sure you follow up with her other novels (the Savannah series is laugh out loud funny!)

I received this book as part of Tyndale Blog Networks review program.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I wonder where she gets it from?

This is Anna Claire playing with her flashcards. Notice how they are all lined up. Notice how they are all facing the same direction.

This is Anna Claire drawing. Notice how all of the markers are lined up together. Notice how all of the crayons are lined up together.

If I was brave enough to take a picture of my closet you would see my clothes hanging according to short/long sleeve, then by color. Pants hang together. Skirts and dresses accordingly. And my shoes are kept in shoe boxes.

My cupboard is borderline the crazy husband from Sleeping With the Enemy, you know, where all everything is facing the same direction?

I love ziploc bags, any sort of container, box or bag. I love being organized.

In fact, I found this picture and my first thought was, "look at how pretty that is!"

So, with that being said, I think it is safe to all likelihood, she gets it from me.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Counting #166-180

166. four consecutive hours of sleep
167. party planning
168. air conditioning
169. a non-eventful trip to the grocery store with both girls
170. friends who offer to help

171. books in the mail for Anna Claire
172. Molly's first smile
173. a husband who takes care of his family
174. handmade and homemade goodies from a friend
175. homemade lemon curd

176. Anna Claire's love of the outdoors
177. a safe trip for my sister and her family down to their new home (read about it here)
178. walks in the late afternoon
179. Anna Claire's imagination
180. Mike's ability to fix just about anything

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Few Random Things

1. Pinterest....there is nothing else to say. Except that it's addicting.

2. If you know the names Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield this might be of interest to you,  Sweet Valley Confidential.  Based on the reviews on, it doesn't look like that great of a book, but it sure was nice to take a trip down memory lane in the middle of the Sam's Club last night.

3. It's hot.

4. I got my first smile from Molly yesterday. I'll remember it forever.

5. I'm sure you all know this, but Pioneer Woman's show on Food Network starts August 27th...I already have my DVR set.

6. Having just had a baby, this post is hilarious!

5. It's still hot.

8. My birthday was a couple of weeks ago and I'm still finding it ironic (or a friendly reminder) that the Living Social Deal of the Day was for Anti-Aging Therapy.

9. There is someone who owns a Smart Car here in our town. I laugh every time I see it.

10. Mike asked me if there were any songs I wanted downloaded onto his iPod. I told him the only songs I know right now are "the ABC song," "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" and "The Wheels on the Bus." I don't get out much these days.

Have a great Friday. I hope it's cool where you are.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cousins and Build-A-Bear

I mentioned in a previous post that my niece, Jessica, was going to be heading to Australia for school. Before leaving she was able to spend a few days with us in Nashville. It was the most fun we've had in a while!

Last week we all packed in the cars and drove her to the airport. 

Before goodbyes were said though, fun was had! My sister, aka "Sissy," treated Anna Claire to a Build-A-Bear experience. What was so fun is that when Jessica was little, I did the same thing for her! Here she is putting the heart inside the Bunny she chose to build.

After being stitched up, Bunny got a bath and her hair brushed.

Here she is ready to go home! Notice the bare feet with painted toes. The painted toes are courtesy of Jessica; the bare feet are courtesy of being 2.

We got in as much fun time that we could fit which included Jessica taking tons of pictures on her iPhone.

I love to watch these two together. They love each other so much!

Jessica, if you are reading this, we love you so much and are so proud of you! Remember the TimTams when you come home!