Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oh the Places we will go...

So sorry for being out of the blogging loop lately. I had a work trip to Birmingham this week (only for a day), but that has thrown me off of my normal schedule. And we've been busy!

Ollie is in the pre-primary class at his school now which means he is a big boy. The class is with 3-5 year olds and he is the youngest this year. The neat thing is that he will have a turn being in the middle and then being the oldest. I'm more excited about the last 2, but he is learning a lot this year being with the older kiddos. So, a perk to being in the big boy class is that you get to go on FIELD TRIPS!! Isn't that exciting! So, our first field trip (you KNOW I was there) was on Wednesday and was to the Botanical Gardens to see the scarecrows.

Ollie got to pet a turtle:
And the whole class posed by the school's FIRST PLACE winning scarecrow entry (in the school division)- The Cat and the Hat: (Ollie is 3rd from the left there)They learned all about herbs in the herb garden and got to hang out with the guys: (What kind of mommy doesn't bring sunglasses or a hat?? ME and that kid's mom on the end...)And they each picked a leaf and made a class leaf collage. Our leader (and the Director of Education at the gardens) was none other than my former roommate and co-worker Shelly. It's been about a year since I've seen her, so that was a nice surprise! And here are some of Ollie's new friends, M and O. They are both 4, both new to our school and are so stinking cute. And I love their moms- we were all eating together. This picture is funny because M (in the middle) told both of them to come pose for it... and they DID! They were eating lunch and then it became picture time. I wish my child would listen to me like that!!

There were so many cute scarecrows out there, but this was my favorite! I think it was entitled: College- Friday morning.

So, Thursday was busy like normal, but then I HAD to devote 3 hours of my time to TV that night, so nothing else got done. Who can give up a season premier (better yet, two)?? Friday I went to B'ham for the day.

Saturday, we went with Connie and Irv to Lyon Farms in Tennessee. It only took us about 40 minutes to get there and Connie found this place because we thought Tate Farms- our usual fall farm destination- was closed. Apparently there was a typo in their opening date, but we were glad we went to this place! They had a beautiful little setting when you walked in for pictures. Too bad my kids don't care about such things. Ollie looks like he his thinking, "Are you kidding me? How many pictures could you possibly have of us??"

There was a great petting zoo with sheep, ducks, pigs, bunnies and goats. Henry liked hanging out with his Nana.Then it was off to the corn wagon. This is a fun place for the kids and I have taken some of my favorite pictures in these little places. Maybe it's something with the reflection of the corn- I don't know- but I always love these pictures!Then there is a walk through area to see/ pet big animals. There was a horse, a cow, a donkey (Ollie- "Shrek, mommy!") and chickens. But the neatest were the hogs because the farmer threw them whole pumpkins to eat while we were standing there. They went to town on them, too! Ollie said all day, "I saw a pig eat a pumpkin!". Then we went out to the pumpkin patch to pick a pumkin. There was many a family picture that we tried to take all day and sadly, this is probably the best. There were many other things to do there. We ate a great lunch, went down a huge fun slide, rode the cow train (pulled by a lawn mower), Henry swang for a while and the kids got their scarecrow pictures taken:

This was such a nice place. We went for Connie's birthday celebration (her birthday is on Tuesday), but we all had so much fun! I would highly recommend this place if you live around Huntsville. Tate Farms is nice, too, but this wasn't crowded at all, so it made for a nice, calm experience. Oh, and the weather was absolutely perfect- that helped.

Hope you've had a nice week. Glad the blog is up to date! Whew! Check! Off to get ready for youth tonight. Have a great Sunday afternoon. Hope you're napping!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bumper Stickers

First, Happy 100th Post to my blog! Thanks for reading my ramblings. You make my day!

Now, on to the matter at hand- bumper stickers. What are your thoughts on them? My husband is ANTI. As in, he does not want anything sticking or magnetized to his car. He can have a custom tag (not with "JAY Z" or anything like that on it, but he did get stuck with my "helping schools" themed tag that I got a few years ago) or a plate on the front (he has an SGI plate there for Saint George Island), but nothing else.
Where are you on the spectrum?
I feel the added pressure to represent for our family and unfortunately, my car has started to look like it might be on the NASCAR circuit soon (insert you own joke here about my driving). It started innocently with an Auburn sticker. Then a church magnet. Then our pre-school got magnets. Next I added a UAH sticker for parking on the college campus. And this is the time of year that our Junior League sells Apple Annie apples, so I temporarily have an Apple Annie sticker (that one is on the front windshield, though). THEN (I know!), I had to add a De Colores sticker after my awesome Emmaus weekend! With that last one, I had to move the school magnet to the side of the car in an attempt to disguise what I realize is a little over the top. Here is the kicker- I have an SGI sticker I bought on our last trip in the car (not on, yet) and a McCain- Palin sticker that is on order (I'll address politics in a later post, I'm sure, but know that I'm not personally against you if you are voting for the other guy, but I happen to be in the camp that falls in line with this guy/ gal team in most areas).
I think with the political sticker I'm definitely going to put it on a magnet so I can take it off after the election- no matter who wins. Don't you hate seeing a "Kerry '04" sticker on a car? (Or any sticker that indicates a really old election for that matter.) Scrape that sucker off, please! Or are you trying to show people that that's who you would prefer to be president FOUR YEARS LATER? I don't understand.
And for the SGI sticker, I just don't know where I would put it! Surely that's a sign that there are too many on there.

When I was in high school, my dad served on a federal grand jury that met in Montgomery for several days a month. He was selected for that based on a 20 page-ish questionairre and one of the questions was about the bumper stickers on his car. I remember thinking how odd that was, but it makes more sense now and I obviously have never forgotten it. I think bumper stickers show where your true passions lie. And/ or where your money goes. (So that means you don't have to write out, "My daughter and my money go to Alabama"... you can just have a classy "AU Mom" and we all know.) I can understand Jason's position that he doesn't want people to judge him based on his car labeling. It's the same reason that I don't put shirts on my children that say, "Trouble" or "Spoiled Rotten" or any label- even if they are funny. But for me it has been an avenue to discussion in many areas; several people at our pre-school have asked about our church and other friends have asked when I started taking classes at UAH.
And, as a positive effect, I've tried to drive much more considerately with the realization that there is a church magnet on the back of my car. (I think I need to put the sticker that says, "I'm not perfect, just forgiven" above it!) But, if I'm in a pinch, I've decided to just honk, cut off the offending driver and then drive away really quickly so they can't read it.
Or, on second thought, I think I'll put more stickers on there so that they are distracted by all the other stickers on my car to able to catch that one!

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Cleaning Service

Last week I heard from my cleaning lady that she wouldn't be able to keep my house on her rotation. She said it was because her mother was ill and she was cutting back on her hours to help her, but I have a sneaky suspicion that it might be because of the large amount of dirtiness she had to deal with over here!!

So, I've resorted to a new cleaning service.

The new guy came by today and he does laundry:Bathrooms (he's particularly skilled with the toilet paper):And he even re-organizes refrigerators (at no extra charge!):

He's pretty cheap for cleaning, but his room and board can add up quickly.

I just love this little guy. He's at home with me for a few more Mondays and then he's off to big boy pre-school with Ollie. He's about to start walking and (as is glaringly obvious) is into everything- perfectly normal though. And these pictures weren't staged. I just had my hands on a camera for a few minutes while folding laundry and this is how our day goes!

Hope your Monday has a cutie like this in it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You know you're a mom when...

Today, I took my bug-covered, dirt smothered car to the drive through car wash. Ours is called the Goo-Goo Car Wash, so we just call it the Goo-Goo. When I got there, the Goo-Goo employees (always dressed in ties???) told me BEFORE I went through the first time that it would take 2 trips through the car wash to even touch the bugs. It was on them, so I was all for it!

After my second trip through, I got out to vaccuum and realized that I'd forgotten the towel that I normally bring to help dry/ wipe the dirt out of the creases of the car. Hmmm. Looking around the car... AHA! Baby wipes! That's right! They helped get those bugs and random dirt off like a charm!

So, if you smell a fresh baby hiney coming down the road, it might be me!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fourth Day

I have not been blogging because I have been gone. And when I say gone, I mean GONE. I spent Thursday night- Sunday night at Camp Sumatanga in Nowhere (fine- Gallant), Alabama. This is the United Methodist camp in North Alabama. Jason has been to church camp many times here growing up, but I had never been there. I was there participating in my Walk to Emmaus.

This is a spiritual retreat (for all Christians- you don't have to be Methodist) that I have been looking forward to for a while. Jason went in February and I had to reschedule my first planned trip in March. It tells you a little about how popular it is that I got rescheduled to SEPTEMBER! Part of the Walk to Emmaus is leaving behind the world to really focus on God. No phones, no watches, no TV, newspaper, BLOGS, you get it. Absolutely no link to reality. I don't know why I was SOOO resistant to this. (Maybe it's my control issue that I'm working on...), but once I got there and got settled, I didn't even notice it. I thought I would want to call home all the time, but I honestly didn't. And I didn't miss my e-mail... although I did reach for my iPhone about a dozen times on Friday- just a habit... I'm addicted.

The point of the weekend is to bring you closer to God and make you a leader in your home church. But I got so much more out of it. It is truly an amazing place and an overwhelming experience. Everything you do has a reason. Everything is planned, prayed over and practiced for up to a YEAR before you get there. I was super impressed with all the presentations, teams, food, food, food (there was a little bit of food- let's just say I haven't weighed myself) and people. But that wasn't what was so overwhelming. God was there. He truly was there. He showed up and showed off! Through songs, talks, amazing stories of His love and new women who I'm honored to call my friends. This is not just a retreat. If you know me in real life AT ALL, you know that I'm not hokey. I don't like cheesy things. I didn't even hold hands in public with boys until I met my hubby. So, I'm not exaggerating or sentimentalizing. This experience was unbelievable.

A lot of what you do at an Emmaus Walk is kept secret. Not because it is a cult or it is weird, but because everyone needs to experience it for themselves and there are several surprises that should not be ruined. Like I said before, Jason went in February and we stayed up until midnight talking about it all last night. I can't believe he kept so much a secret for 7 months!!! He just wanted me to have as wonderful of an experience as he did. And we could have talked longer if we weren't both exhausted!! But, if you are interested, just e-mail me and I'll be happy to explain or answer any questions that you have.

If you're interested in the Emmaus story, it's very cool and takes place at Jesus's resurrection. As you can imagine, I've heard a little about it this weekend. Here's the story.

There are many "Emmaus terms" that you learn about and learn what they mean. DeColores is a bumper sticker that you might have seen and that's an Emmaus thing.

The stickers we have look different than this, but before I knew about Emmaus, I saw these everywhere and had no clue what they where! Another big one is Fourth Day. I don't think I'm giving away any big secrets to reveal this one so you understand what the title of the post means. Since the Emmaus Walk is 3 days, you have to go back into the world on the 4th day. Every day after your walk can be considered your Fourth Day... get it? So, today is my actual 4th day and the rest of my days will be considered 4th days- what you do after this awesome experience. Today was pretty great as far as that goes, but I have a lot of work to do to get where I need and want to be with God. I'll keep you updated.

While I was gone, Owen had his first 2 soccer games! I know- sob, sob- but I didn't want to reschedule my walk again and I have a feeling that I will see about 4, 382 soccer games in my life. So, Jason (aka Superdad) got both kids to the games, had Owen dressed and ready- and they even had pictures on Saturday!! Talk about pressure! To top it off he took some great pictures.

Poor little brother is along for the ride- as always. I asked Jason how he managed his nap on Saturday morning since the game was during his normal nap time. He thought about it and said... "Hmmm. I guess he didn't have a morning nap." And since I'm working on my control thing- it didn't even bother me!

Owen in action- he's on the far left:

And this is Jason's favorite picture. Two of the kids on the yellow team fell on top of each other on accident. Owen saw it and thought it was a great opportunity for a dog pile! Hilarious! I wish I could have seen that!!So thanks to many people for making this wonderful weekend possible. I'd like to give a shout out to my sponsor (and dear friend) Gina and all the girls that took us down there and brought us home: Beth, Lisa, Amanda, Jenny and Heather. And my friend Trina who was there with me- we didn't sit together, but it was so nice to have at least one familiar face! And of course to sweet Jason who pushed me out the door to go- and Connie and Irv who helped him this weekend. (Have I gotten an Emmy and I didn't know it??) OK- sorry for the acceptance speech, but I am so truly thankful for the experience. It was awesome!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Consignment Sale Junkie

I am such a consignment sale junkie. They had me at "consignment".

There is a huge one in Huntsville every year that is my favorite. It's called Kids Kloset and it's held twice a year- spring/ summer and fall/ winter.

If you have never participated in one of these, here is the low down: there is a huge warehouse type facility with clothes (galore), toys, jackets (at this sale), equipment and anything baby/ child there. People package and price their own items, drop them off and you (the public) come and buy them. The secret is to work the sale as a volunteer to get the first pick of all the items. That's what I do at this sale every year and it continues to be the best thing. I LOVE IT!!!

So, last night was the worker's sale and it was thrilling, as usual.

{On a side note- I took the Flu Mist yesterday with my kiddos, so I had a bit of a headache, but worked through it on adrenaline and full blown Coke- no Diet wimpy stuff. Harris is too young for the mist and actually has to have 2 shots a month apart, so that's why were were in relatively early in the season.}

It's a little embarrassing to tell you how much I ended up spending, but I did get all of Owen's clothes for the season. I REALLY do not do much other shopping, so to knock it out in 3 hours is wonderful. So, just fill in the blank here ___ as to what you think would be a ridiculous amount to spend and that's probably close. But here are some of my finds:

Piles ...

And piles of clothes for Owen:

A sit and stand stroller- brand new- so excited!!

I also got tons of toys, Thomas stuff and goodies that were already properly hidden this morning in closets put away for Christmas.

What about this little guy, you ask?

Well, he happens to have a closet full of hand me downs that will fit- Praise the Lord!!- so I told myself he wasn't getting anything.

Until I saw this beautiful little number. It's some fancy name brand that I can't remember right now, but it is much more adorable in real life. And this is the only clothing that Harris got, poor second child. But, if you think about it, he'll have those other stacks of clothes in 2 years!

So, I've got to work the next couple of days to "pay for" my shot to shop early and get all these clothes with tags on them for $3!!! Totally worth it, don't you think?

Monday, September 8, 2008

To Schedule or Not to Schedule

That is many people's question, but it has never been mine. I have always fallen on the side of "To Schedule" without a doubt. I read Babywise {here's the summary: eat, play, sleep} before Owen was born and we had him indoctrinated in a matter of weeks. Harris took a few more weeks. But for many months I had to live the mantra, "He can either have a schedule or a brother in preschool- not both". After about 6-7 months, though, I got them both on the same afternoon nap schedule, so things are a little smoother, now.

This weekend, my hubby and I had a wonderful, relaxing weekend at the beach with a few friends. My gracious and ever-so-kind in-laws moved into our house to watch our kiddos. When I called home, my mother-in-law just kept saying that they were "right on schedule". This would seem fine to any normal person, but if you know me AT ALL, you know I don't fit in that category.

So, I started thinking (usually a problem). A schedule is not a way of life for me. It's just the avenue to make life a little more sane. I want my kids to be God- (and mama) fearing, well- rounded, fun-loving, polite and kind children. I don't want them to be little robots. But they better not wake up from that nap early... It's a tough mix to go for, but we're working on it.

So, even though my mother-in-law agreed when I told her this today, she told me how thankful she was for their schedule. Apparently it did make things a lot easier for them and the kids. As long as they (adults and kids!) know what to expect next, things go a little smoother. Ahhh. Yes. Someone who understands my need for a routine.

Thanks again, Connie and Irv! We can't do it without you!

And if you're looking for pictures of me at the beach, you can keep looking, cause you're not getting them here! I did have an amazing birthday trip, but gained 6.5 pounds!!! Can you believe that?? Apparently a diet of cream cheese/ salsa and chips, fried seafood and a few drinks is not good for your waistline. Hmph. Go figure.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

30 Things I'm Thankful For On My 30th Birthday

I've had the idea for this post in my head for a few weeks, but wanted to wait until my actual birthday to make a list. So, this morning, I spent a while thinking of all the things I'm thankful for. I wish I could start off every morning that way!

Here they are (and thanks in advance for indulging me in this long, sometimes sappy and pictureless post- I ran out of time for pictures):

1. God's grace. New every morning.

2. A heritage of Faith. I can't tell you how thankful I am to have had parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc. All surrounded me with a heritage of faith throughout my life.

3. My sweet husband. I have mentioned many times that he "gets me". This morning he sang Happy Birthday- the original way and my family's way. And had my birthday presents out at the table- a nice Kate Spade bag - WOOHOO-(fitting all qualifications) from him and potholders that I've desperately wanted from the kiddos. With sweet cards, of course. But the kicker was getting in the car this morning. I got in on the way to take the kids to pre-school and hear a song I don't recognize. Jason made me a "mixed tape" of my favorite songs from childhood! How funny is that?? So, I got the hear John Anderson's "Just a Swangin'" and "Elvira" by the Oak Ridge Boys on the way to school. Ollie kept saying, "what's that song, mommy?"!!

4. Ollie- my big boy- learning more every day

5. Henry- my sweet little man- going to be walking soon

6. My Mom and Dad- they are wonderful. They've always built me up and done everything for me they could. Love y'all!

7. My Sister- even though we don't see eye to eye on most things, ok, anything, she's still my sister and I'm thankful for her

8. My In-Laws- I couldn't ask for better parents-in-law. Connie and Irv will drop anything for us and bend over backwards to help us all the time. They are so generous with time and love. I have always appreciated that.

9. Extended family- I am super thankful for all my aunts, uncles and cousins who I love dearly. I grew up with most of them as brothers and sisters and second parents, so they are that much more special to me.

10. Health- I am so thankful to be healthy and in relatively good shape! We upped our life insurance recently which means new physicals. I actually scored in the top 1% of all people so I get the super low price! YIPPEE!!

11. Old friends- I've loved staying in touch with my friends from elementary, middle and high school. I guess that's what happens when you graduated with only 31 people, but they are a great part of my life.

12. College friends- "they" say that when you pledge a sorority that you'll have "friends for life". I was a little skeptical of this since it seems super cheesy, but I'll tell you that those girls are truly amazing friends and have been there for me every step of the way. Love you girls.

13. New friends- I've met so many new friends my past 10 years here in Huntsville and they are wonderful! This is a great place!

14. Our church- we are so thankful to have a place that we can call a home church. It nourishes our soul, leads us and houses our hope for a wonderful future of faith for our family.

15. Our Sunday School class- these people have truly become some of our closest friends. They share in our struggles and triumphs and are just a great group of people to journey with.

16. St. George Island- my favorite place in the world. We are actually headed there with a couple of couples from #15 tomorrow! My family has had a house on St. George since I can remember and it's so nice to get away from everything!

17. A great marriage- happy anniversary to my engagement! Jason proposed on my birthday on the beach at St. George Island 8 years ago today! I'm so thankful to have known and loved him every day of my twenties!

18. The USA- Go Fish has a song that talks about being an American Kid. My favorite line is: "My country is the best, and this is how I know: Everybody wants to stay and nobody wants to go!" Ditto.

19. Democracy- I am not thankful enough for democracy and freedom. And we owe a super debt of gratitude for those who protect it for us each day.

20. Our house- although super old and in need of a lot of work, it has fit us perfectly for this time in our lives.

21. Concealer- you wouldn't recognize me without it. Thank you, Mary Kay.

22. Our Dogs- I know. I try to give them away every day. But deep, DEEP down I still love them.

23. Sports, in general- we always played softball growing up- before it was butchy. And my dad always coached. It was great. I love sports and the competition of it all.

24. College Football- this is THE BEST time of the year. WAR EAGLE!!

25. Boiled peanuts- and I've even allergic to them, but they are my favorite fall/ football delicacy!

26. My job- again, as crazy as it is, it has suited me perfectly for this time in my life.

27. Going back to school- I love school. I'm a dork. I know.

28. Running- I love to run and haven't done it enough lately. I will definitley get to run this weekend at the beach!

29. This blog- Thanks for letting me get my feelings and our every day lives out there. It makes my day to catch up with you, too!

30. And one to grow on! Can't wait for my thirties! I'm thankful to have the opportunity to try them out!

Alright, instead of the mandatory "Happy Birthday" comment., you get to leave at least 3 things you're thankful for in the comments section.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Farewell to My Roaring 20s

If I have ever been 29 and holding, then it's today. September 2. The last day of my 20s.

My mom always said that turning 29 was harder for her to handle than 30, but really, neither has affected me. I love to celebrate birthdays (especially mine!), so I've really enjoyed- and plan on enjoying- both. The only thing that is getting to me a little is that I clearly remember my mom turning 30; I was 5 and remember thinking she was old. So, that does weird me out a bit.

I think we all have an ideal of what should happen in your 20s and I know I haven't done all those things. I was supposed to travel Europe, be wild and fancy free, live the single life and maybe settle down around 30. God had different plans and really tied my heart to settling down earlier. Jason and I got married when I was 22 and he was 25. I did travel quite a bit with my job at the space center, though. I've been to 35 states! I got to shoot TV shows and movies, meet famous people, but was also really unhappy at work. So, when God lead me to working from home 5 years ago, I was up for the challenge. It took a while to adjust, but I found out it was one quick way to remove myself from office gossip! Or any talk at all! This job has been challenging, but it has enabled me to stay at home with my children part time and pretend to work full time. It has been just what I need; funny how God works that out, huh?

In the latter part of this decade, my brain waves and priorities have shifted from business to mommy-hood. I've had to blend past knowledge of creating a press release, completing a report or drafting a business plan with counting bottles/ feeding times, remembering the words to the speckled frog song, taking snacks for a pre-school classroom and wiping up spit up (from anything and everything). I'd rather read Parenting magazine than the newspaper. And I'd rather hang out with my kids or husband than go out to a bar. (But I do all those things!)

Owen was born a few days shy of my 27th birthday and Harris joined us last year when I was 29. I can't think of any better accomplishments for a decade.

So, Sayonara, 20s! I have loved most every minute of the decade!
And I hear Europe is much better in your 30s, anyway. :-)

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