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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Celebrating Spring and Easter

I should preface this post by warning you there are a lot of pictures and very few words! It should probably be several posts, but who has the time? Not this chic!

It's been a fun and busy past couple of weeks. Asher had his school Easter Party.

Then, it was definitely egg hunting season. We went to several community egg hunts.

We have more candy than I know what to do with...and a belly ache from too many jelly beans!

We celebrated Vaughn's 32nd birthday, April Fool's style of course.

We've gone strawberry picking

and even played in the dirt.

We dyed Easter eggs.

We celebrated the resurrection of our Christ, Lord of Lord, King of Kings.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Maryclaire is 15 months!

Hello Friends!

Guess who turned 15 months old the other day?

That's right-This little sweetie did!

You might not even recognize her she's grown so much!

I am amazed at what leaps and bounds Maryclaire has made in the past 3 months. Seriously amazed. I don't even feel like I have the same sweet baby. Here are just a few fun facts about 15 months.

1. You have 6 teeth. And you've been sick with every one of them. You're not a terrible teether, but your not a great one either.

2. You have gotten HUGE! I don't know your stats, but you've gone from wearing 9 month clothes just a few months ago to wearing 18 month clothes. I've even put you in a few 24 month dresses and they fit fine. Crazy!

3. You finally have a nick name and you'll even respond to it. Before you had this enormous growth spurt, we started calling you "itty bitty" and it just fit you perfectly. You're not so itty bitty anymore, but the name has stuck among our household.

4. Personality. Big Personality. You are so feisty, sassy, and independent. You don't want me to help you do anything! You think and you try to be such a big girl. You won't even hold my hand when you walk. Nana says you must be your mother's daughter.

5. You even have a bit of a mean streak. Especially to your brother. I hate to say it, but you are down right rotten to him. Which bring me to...

6. You are a pincher and a scratcher. If somebody makes you mad, you reach out and either give them a pinch with your little tweezer fingers or a good scratch across the face with your velociraptor claws. You've gotten many pops on the hand for that and your poor brother has gotten many red scratches across the face.

7. You haven't said many new words, but we know you understand most of what we say to you. Right now, you go around saying, "owwwww" for "ouch". It sounds more like a dog howl. Asher inadvertently taught you this one (see #6).

8. You are finally sleeping through the night. Not by your own accord. Basically, we had to turn the monitor off in our bedroom for a few nights. You still have hiccups now and then, but at least I know now they're not out of habit and you really do need me.

9. You love to read books. We sit and read book after book after book during the day. You like to play with your baby dolls and whatever Asher is playing with. You'll pick up a car and make noises with it while you push it along, just like brother does. You like to go outside to play. You love Elmo and I usually let you watch Sesame Street every day...or I at least turn it on and you'll pay attention here and there while you are playing. You like to climb...anything you can. And stand on top of whatever is NOT supposed to be stood on. You are a complete daredevil and I definitely see gymnastics in your future.

10. Jealous. You and Asher are SOOOOOO jealous of each other. It is ridiculous. You'll cry and try to pinch him if I'm loving on him. It's very frustrating and I love you both so much. I know it's normal, but it's not fun and it causes a lot of stress some days.

11. You drink out of a cup with a straw. You don't like sippy cups. You want a regular cup, but I only let you have one when I am right there to help. You are a great eater. You love your veggies and will try anything.

11. Precious. I just love watching you become a little person...seeing your BIG personality come out, watching you develop and hit milestones. It's truly amazing and I am so glad I am home with you to watch you grow!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Blog: Take 3

You know that feeling when you've blown a diet...again and again (and again) and then you don't even know where and how to start back? Well, that's kind of how I feel with blogging right now.

I was looking back at some posts from a few months ago and I so much enjoyed reading what the kids were doing at the time....things I didn't even remember even though they don't seem like they were that long ago.

So, where to start back? I guess now!

Asher had his 4 yr old check a week and a half ago. He's 4.5, but we got off track a couple of years ago. He was diagnosed with Asthma when he was two, and we pretty much lived in the Dr.'s office for a few months around that time, so we missed his official check-up by 6 months even though we were in and out of the Dr. for about 4 months. So, I guess this is 4.5 yr check up!

He got his eyes checked and his hearing checked and passed both with flying colors. I talked at length to our pediatrician (who I love!) about several things. But, here's the low down.

1. He's still really little. Asher gained a whopping 1lb and grew 3/4 of an inch, which means he weighs 32 lbs and is 38 inches tall.

2. His asthma seems to be getting better, so we're decreasing his dosage. Yay!

3. He is developing allergies. He'll start taking Claritin as needed. And most of you probably know, allergies and colds can aggravate asthma so, that makes me a little nervous. :(

4. He is ready for kindergarten! Dr. Brichant asked him several developmental questions and he made me so proud. When she asked him about the shapes he knew, my boy doesn't talk about circles and squares. He tells her about octagons, hexagons and polygons.

5. The nurses just kept praising how well he followed directions, how brave and calm he was. He really didn't know what was coming with those shots and showed out big time after that. Ha! I promised him a milk shake after the shots and I'm pretty sure he would have cried for an hour had I not bribed him to stop crying before we left the office.

It was a great appt. (minus the shots) and our pedi. did a great job addressing my concerns.

And while I'm talking about Asher, I have to point out a few new things he can do. Drum roll please......he has finally learned how to button and unbutton buttons!!! This is such a milestone for him (and us!!!) that he doesn't need us to help get him dressed and undressed anymore. He's so cute and proud of himself too. As he gets dressed every morning he says, "Mommy look! Watch me do this."

He continues to bless my heart the way he loves God. When Jesus talked about faith like a child, I KNOW he was thinking about kids like Asher. He loves Jesus, he loves to pray, and he loves to read his bible. He never ceases to amaze me.

He tries so hard with Maryclaire! And she is so rotten to him! They are both just as jealous as they can be over one another. He has revived his Sesame Street underwear b/c she loves S.S so much. He puts it on, runs to her room, and shakes his little booty in her face so she can see. It's a small act, but so sweet and funny!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Hand of God

Watching the hand of God work is an amazing thing to witness, no matter if he's working in your life or another. There have been several times in my life where I KNEW, without a shadow of doubt, that God was moving and orchestrating big events in our life. I have experienced exactly that kind of movement this past week.

First, thank you so much for those of you who have been praying for our family.

Matthew 18:20

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

The evening of my last post we found out Vaughn was going to keep his job. Halleluiah! Answered prayers? Absolutely.

The past month, the church we have been visiting has been doing a series on finances called "Broke." It's been very fitting and relevant for where we are right now. I have to say, Vaughn and I have both learned so much about what God expects of us through our finances. I think one of the huge realizations for us was that our money is not ours, it's God's. This one really hit Vaughn hard, and as the head of our household, he felt greatly convicted. We have always been "givers" to the church, but have never made an effort of give a monthly/weekly tithe. I was elated that God put this on Vaughn's heart as something we should make a priority.

Vaughn wrote his 10% tithing check and I gave 10% of my side business proceeds on January 29th. We rarely have enough to cover our expenses as it is each month, but this wasn't as scary as it sounds. Actually, it didn't cause us any stress at all.
Trusting God...

We also decided to quit using our credit cards. Every month when things didn't add up, it's the first place we went...automatically. We decided we needed to stand on our own two feet and give God room to work in our finances. This part was a little more stressful for us. Money in does not equal money out. But, we are following God's lead, trusting, and giving him room to glorify himself through us.

Ready for it? Because it's really amazing.

This month my etsy store sales have sky rocketed. I went from 3 orders/month for the past 3 months to 22 ORDERS and COUNTING JUST FOR THIS MONTH. And the month is not over, people! I am booked 4 weeks out, and even have orders coming in for March, April and May.That's a lot of cookies! It is more than the difference between income in and income out.

Oh, but then of course, Murphy' Law step in.

Last week, my car decided it needed a new transmission. A $2100 transmission. This, of course, right after we swore off using our credit cards. How were we going to pay for a $2100 transmission? Credit? It didn't take long to decided, we just weren't going to get it fixed until we had the money (there goes my tooth money, I thought!). We would trust God...that he would allow us a way to get where we needed to get and do what we needed to do.

I rationalized that lots of families are a one car family and they somehow make it work. The biggest hurdle was how we were going to pick up Asher from preschool 3 days a week, but we trusted something would work out, even if we had to ask for help from friends and family.

Just a few hours later, we had a family member offer us a loaner car they weren't using. Wow! I was elated. Look how God works when you let him.

When the loaner car arrived the next day, the title to the car was brought with it and handed over to us. Are you following me here? Someone was GIVING us a keep...and folks, it is definitely an upgrade from what I've been driving. I have never been so shocked in my entire life...there were some major tears of joy. Now, a car if a HUGE gift and we aren't really sure if we can even accept something that major, but the offer is there.

I have more.

We filed our taxes this weekend so we could have the refund money to fix my car. We were praying it would be enough to get the car fixed, even if we had to add in the money I had been saving to get my tooth fixed.

Our return was more than 3.5 times what it was going to cost to fix the car. Enough to fix the car, fix my tooth, pay off Maryclaire (you know, our debt from her birth) and put some away in savings.

This not even the kind of stuff you can make up. This is definitely not the kind of stuff that happens to us. This is not luck. None of this is by our accord, but by the grace and glory of God.

I am reminded of his glory, his power, his provision...especially when you trust and obey Him...when you allow him room to work in your life, even the areas you think are beyond his reach. They're not.

In the words of my 4.5 yr old, "God can do anything, Mommy. Anything He wants."
Amen, and Amen!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bueller? Bueller?

I've been taking an accidentally-on-purpose break from blogging.
I'm busy. Incredibly busy with a business I can't keep up with.
I'm distracted. Oh so distracted.

And I'm about to get very REAL.

Blogging is usually that sunny picture of how grand life is, and while it is very grand, there are some very real life things our family has been going through.

This might become the skeletons out of the closet post. It's about the hardships, the struggles and the blessings that currently consume our life.

It also might be the longest post I've ever written. So, bear with me. Skim if you must.

I'll start with the business that is growing in way I never imagined. Back in November, I opened an Etsy store to sell my cookies. In the past two months, it's become more than I can handle...literally, I turn down a handful of orders each month b/c I am a one woman operation and I just can't do it all. Blessing? Absolutely! I have prayed for a means to help make ends meet in our finances and God is opening doors and windows in a way I NEVER imagined.

But, in this is also a struggle to balance family. I am consumed by work...and working from home while also caring full time for two tots is enough to send even the strongest woman to the loony bin. I find myself obsessing over what I need to get done during naps, after the kids go to bed, and any time in between when I can steal a moment away from them.

I've cried in my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot b/c I'm just so overwhelmed.

I DO feel like my mom/wife duties are taking a backseat and that's tough for me. Stressful. Guilty. But, it's keeping us a float.

I've taken maybe 15 pictures of my kids the past month and 150 of cookies of I've made. And that speaks volumes.

Why you may wonder am I taking on so much business if staying home with my kids is my number one priority?

And the answer is simple: Finances.

To say things have been tight is an understatement. And to be even more real, it is a real possibility my husband might not even have a job at the end of this month. It's incredibly scary.

We are trusting God....that he has already walked this for us.

Finances. I know everyone has to deal with this on some level, and maybe someone else reading this can identity with our struggle.

I currently have $1200 worth of dental work that I need to get done and no dental insurance.

Last year after Maryclaire was born, when things really started to get tough, we found ourselves not being about to make the $250/month payment to the hospital for her birth (our insurance sucks....$6,000 deductible b/f anything besides well care is covered). And now, I owe a collection agency over $2,000. We make a joke out of it around our house, but in reality, it makes me want to cry.

I've lost nearly 20 lbs this past year, unintentionally. At my well visit a few weeks ago, my Dr. chalked it up to hormones leveling out after pregnancy. I am usually a "have to work at it" kind of girl to maintain a 130lbs....which is a normal weight for my 5'6 frame. While I not complaining about being so thin, it's a little worrisome. Stress? Thyroid? I'm getting some bloodwork done soon, but I have to wait a bit longer so my Dr. can code it under my well visit and it not come out of my pocket.

Did I mention I got the flu 2 weeks ago. I was flat on my back in bed for two whole days and my hubby had to take two days off of work to care for the kids. While it was a BIG eye opener for him to have complete responsibility of the kids, there couldn't have been worse timing.

$15,000 worth of credit card debt. That's what we've racked up this year buying groceries and gas.

You might think we live too extravagantly. We don't. My kids wear clothes from consignment, Vaughn's last work clothes came from Goodwill, even the kid's Christmas presents were second hand this year. They definitely didn't notice, and I'm so glad they're too little to right now to know the difference.

We actually laughed out loud when we got Vaughn's W-2 in the mail a few weeks ago. His job as a commission only financial advisor is rocky. But, it's one of those jobs where it could change in a heartbeat if he came across the right client (you know, one that had lots of money he was willing to invest-ha!). We always try to think "it will be better next month."

Inhale. Exhale. Deep breaths. Trust the Lord.

If I'm sounding ungrateful, forgive me. It's not how I mean to come off. In fact, I'm incredibly excited about my new business ventures. It's all I can talk about with my husband when he gets home from work.

But, it comes at a great cost and I can't shake the feeling I am stealing time from my family.

So, you see how it might be hard for me to sit down at the computer to blog about how funny and perfect and fabulous our life is, to maintain an image of some "do it all and do it fabulously" mom.

Because lately at the end of the day, I just don't have the energy to even pretend things are all rosy.

And I have a feeling, I might regret this post later. BEING REAL IS HARD. But, I'm a heart on my sleeve kind of girl. And I pray God can use my struggles to glorify HIM and maybe even help others...only if it's just knowing they're not alone in their struggles.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Asher and The Trouble with Teeth

I just had the biggest sigh as I sat down the type this post.

Teeth trouble.

My face is presently experiencing spastic cringing as I think about our little visit to the dentist. If read my post here about fears, you'll notice the dentist was one of them (and now it's all too validated!)

I took Asher to the dentist for a cleaning this week. Vaughn and I had noticed some darkening in the crevices of his back molars while we brush his teeth that we were a little worried about, but we were still hopeful...after all, they are just baby teeth, right?

After his cleaning (which he did great!) the dentist calls me in and proceeds to show me a number of cavities in sweet boy's beautiful in multiple (i.e.many, several, numerous) cavities. I'm still so horrified I can't even share it with the blog world.

The dentist then begins to talk in code about the procedures (again, plural!) because he doesn't want to scare Asher and he advises ME not to talk to him about the details of drill and fill.

Terrifying, right? I can only imagine what goes through a 4 yr olds mind as they sit in a big dental chair for an extended amount of time getting shots, drilled and filled.

It absolutely makes me sick to my stomach.

I'm ushered back the waiting room, digesting just how Asher could have X amount of cavities.

And you know when small kids have cavities, who does the finger get
pointed at????

A beaming Asher gets delivered back to me by the hygienist. He has a new superhero toy from the treasure chest.

Ready for the part where go from horrified to mortified?

Hygienist: Did Asher go to bed with the bottle when he was a baby?
What I said: NO! Never!

What I thought? Omg, they think I am completely retarded. Doesn't everybody know you're not supposed to put the baby to bed with a bottle? Should I tell her I nursed Asher for a whole year and then he went to a sippy cup with the exception of ONE bottle we kept at bedtime until he was 18 months old?

Hygienist: Does Asher drink excessive amounts of juice?
Me: No! He gets one cup of juice, one cup of milk and the rest water.
Hygienist: You can always water down the juice he gets.

What I'm thought? Omg, I cannot believe this!!! She totally thinks I am the worst mom ever. Should I tell her we already do water down the juice? We always have....mostly in the effort to make it go further because it's one way I can cut our grocery bill down. My niece even refuses to drink the juice at Aunt Jill's house because it's watered down.

And here's where I go from mortified to miffed.

Hygienist: Does he drink a lot of coke?
Me: NO! We are very strict about what he eats and drinks.

What I'm thinking? OMG, I'm gonna crap my pants. Coke? Who gives their kid coke? I've never ever given Asher a coke. He doesn't even know what a coke is! Vaughn and I do try so hard not to feed Asher junk all day. I don't even let him have chocolate milk!

Hygienist: Make sure you are brushing his teeth twice a day, especially before bedtime.

At this point, I have no words. Obviously, she thinks I am lacking some pretty basic parenting skills and I don't really feel the need to give a play by play of our day (from brushing teeth after breakfast, to the lack of coke drinking, to brushing our teeth again before bed) to a complete stranger who probably won't believe me anyway.

Mortified. Horrified.

I called Vaughn and told him and he's in disbelief too.

He called his cousin, who is a dentist in his hometown, to tell him the situation and ask what he thought. He asked us our teeth care regime, which our dentist never did. He assured Vaughn it sounded like our oral healthcare routine with Asher was just fine and that some dentists are more aggressive at treating even the smallest signs of tooth decay. He also urged us to get a 2nd opinion from a trusted dentist if we could.

We've already decided we're going to travel the 3 hrs to south GA and let Vaughn's cousin give us a second opinion. It's someone we trust and even if the news is still bad, at least we we know it's not for an over aggressive dentist with a drill!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Party like a Superhero

When I blogged my Top 5 Posts of 2011 I realized that Superhero parties are in hot demand. I made a long and detailed post about Superhero Party Ideas here. However, when I posted about the actual party, I focused more on my little man and less about the details like decorations, etc.

I wanted to go back and give some detailed pictures of what we did so maybe this can be helpful to other people planning
their own little Superhero party.

The adult tables. There was one more not pictured that hadn't been set up yet...nothing like waiting until the last minute, right?

Close up of the tables.

The kids table. I made each kid a cape that is placed under their plate. The one closest to you in the pic is pink for my niece.

The table is not finished in this picture, but you can see the Gotham City scape we made out of cardboard.

Superhero's Only! sign for the front door.

Gift bags for party guests. I don't even remember what we put in the "Little Superhero" bags, but we put a yummy trail mix in the bags for "Big Superheros."

Banner I made out of scrapbook paper, red ribbon and superhero clipart I found on the internet. I still have all the images on file, so if you are interested, I can email them to you.

No party is complete without a Superhero cake. Asher requested Spiderman, Batman and The Hulk. He loved it!

And if you're in the Atlanta area, don't forget I can make this cake for YOU too!

You can see my cake and cookies blog here at The Happy Caker!

I was at max crafting potential for his party. There were so many other things I wanted to do, but ran out of time! All in all, I thought his party was a hit and Asher did too!

I can't believe we're closer to h
is 5th birthday now than his 4th. He's already told me he wants it to be about BUGS!!!