Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Where is Your Treasure?

It is the week of Christmas and I'm finally ready for it! All the presents are wrapped and ready to go. Today I have to start on laundry so we can get packed for our trip to Graceville. We decided to take Abigail's gifts from us with us to open on Christmas morning. However, we won't be able to bring her "big" gift. I'm getting excited because Ryan is going to put it together Wednesday night or sometime Thursday and she is going to get it before we leave! I am so ready for her to see it. It's something I know she is going to love!

But there is something about gift-giving that I absolutely cannot stand. I despise competition when it comes to "out-doing" each other. I mean, I love a good friendly competition, in things like board games, sports, etc. I like to win. But the need to "win" when it comes to life, really gets on my last nerve. For someone like me, who has a healthy competitive streak, it can be hard at times, not to be drawn into it. There a people who are genuinely interested in what you "got" for Christmas or what you gave your children but there are other's who ask these kinds of questions just to gauge where they stand. Were they successful in "out-doing" you? How did they measure up? It's just completely irritating. I often wonder if these people are conscious of what they are doing. Or is it something they do subconsciously? Anyway, I have been drawn into this line of thinking and the need to compete on several occasions. But as soon as I realize what has happened, I quickly remember a passage of scripture, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21. It's not things that matter. Yes, they are nice to have. But they definitely aren't a measuring stick. Too often, "things" get in the way of our relationship with God. A few verses down, the Bible goes on to say that you cannot serve two masters. So this Christmas, we really need to find out who or what it is that we are serving. Are we laying up treasures on earth? Are we competing with our "neighbor"? Gifts are nice but what was the spirit behind the giving.

A friend of mine used to have a t-shirt that said, "He who dies with the most toys, still dies."

Where is your treasure?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The World Tastes Good 'Cause The Candy Man Thinks It Should

It is Saturday morning and my Abigail is watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I wish I knew how many times she has seen this movie over the last few months but I have lost count. She prefers Gene Wilder to Johnny Depp, although, she likes both movies. I have to admit that the original version is my favorite too, although, I love Johnny Depp's movies.

Abigail and I both have favorite lines in the movie. At the very end of the movie before Charlie returns the Everlasting Gobstopper, Mr. Wonka, gets impatient with Grandpa Joe and tells him, "Good day sir!" A few weeks ago, Abigail wasn't listening so I sent her to her room. About half way there she turned around, stomped her foot, and said, "Good day sir!" Oh boy! Can you say drama queen! My favorite line happens after Augustus Gloop falls into the chocolate river. His mother is yelling at Mr. Wonka to do something and he looks at her, void of expression, and says, "Help. Police. Murder." Ha ha. I just love dry, sarcastic humor!

We've had some bumps along the way this past week - literally! My days have all blended together, but I believe it was on Monday, that Abigail fell down, face first, in her room and busted her lip. There are some days that I think she should have been a boy. She's definitely not the most graceful child. Plus, she doesn't see danger in anything. Her lips swelled up pretty badly but she was tough and we didn't have to take a trip to the ER. She's back to normal now except for a small spot on her lip. She may end up with a scar but I'm not sure.

Otherwise, we had a normal week. Yesterday, I didn't have to babysit because the mother doesn't work every other Friday. So, thankfully, Ryan was off on Friday as well. I rarely get any free time to myself so I took advantage of the opportunity! I left Abigail at home with Ryan and headed out to finish Christmas shopping. Even on a Friday morning, it was crazy busy. I am usually through shopping by the first of December but this year has been different and I've had to buy along and along whenever I've had the money to do so. So, I was out in the madness on Friday by myself but I finished up all my Christmas shopping and I even did a little grocery shopping too! I was able to get everything wrapped up while Abigail was napping.

We are officially ready for Christmas. I have to work four days next week. In addition to keeping the baby, I will be watching his older siblings next week as well. The extra money will help since we will be out of town for Christmas and the few days afterwards. We are planning on heading to my parents on Thursday night after the children get picked up. The following Monday we will be headed to Fernandina to celebrate with Ryan's family. My wonderful husband will be turning 29 before we return to Louisiana! Man, we are getting old-ha!

Tonight most of my family on my dad's side will be celebrating Christmas in Claxton. I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas with the Strickland's. The new tradition is going to eat at Cilantro's in Claxton before returning to my grandparents for dessert and presents. I hope everyone has a great time! I'm sad I'm gonna miss it.

New Christmas picture of Abigail (before the busted lip). This was Sunday morning before church. We attended FBC Slidell and listened to their Christmas cantata. I informed Abigail when it was time for congregational singing, saying it was our turn to sing. While everyone else was singing Joy to the World, Abigail was belting out, Itsy Bitsy Spider at the top of her lungs. We had a good laugh. I guess she thought that our turn to sing meant she could sing whatever she wanted to!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Baking and Decorating

I'm sure that the majority of my readers are my Facebook friends too, so you've probably already seen my recent pictures. But here is a look at what we did yesterday:
Ryan had the day off. So we decided to finally get in the Christmas spirit. While Abigail was napping I went out in search of Christmas lights and the ingredients for Peanut Butter Balls. I had to go to three stores before I could find three boxes of white Christmas lights on green strands! I've told you before how crazy the drivers are in Louisiana, so add in the holiday frenzy and it's utter chaos out there. When I returned, we woke Abigail up from her nap. At first she was not too happy about being so rudely awakened but when we told her she could "bake" with daddy and mommy had bought Christmas lights she jumped straight out of bed and started jumping up and down and clapping! She put on her new apron set from Uncle Jon and Aunt Mellissa. I snapped a picture of my two chefs before the fun began.

Here is a picture of the action. There is no picture of the finished product because well, they looked a little sad. While Peanut Butter Balls are easy to make and require only a few ingredients, someone, didn't read the instructions and we ended up with something that more or less resembled a bomb instead of a ball! They still taste good though! While they were busy "baking" I was busy putting the lights on the Christmas tree. I must confess that I became quite aggravated with my task and eventually put myself in time-out. After a little prayer and self-reflection, I came around. Abigail was so happy and ready to decorate.

This is the first year that she's really been interested in decorating and baking. Last year she helped put one ornament on and that was enough for her. She also helped make Christmas cookies last year but was more concerned about eating instead of baking. This year she was ready and excited for both. I have so many fond memories of decorating the tree and other family Christmas traditions and I pray when Abigail is older, she will feel the same.

The finished tree. She informed me that we needed a star for the top. Someone gave Ryan and I an angel topper several years ago but instead of staying lit, it constantly blinked on and off. It really gave me the creeps so we got rid of it. LOL! If you gave the angel to us and you're reading this...SORRY! :) One year, I purchased some branches and stuff to stick out of the top but it only lasted that year and ended up getting trashed. Maybe we'll get something to go on top eventually.

After we were done, Ryan gave Abigail a bath while I made supper. I tried my hand at gumbo. I think it turned out pretty good. It was a starter recipe. Next time I will be tweaking it and putting my own spin on it. Later after everything was cleaned up and we were finally ready to relax, Abigail decided she wanted to stay up all night. Somehow, she's gotten it into her head that because her daddy and I don't go to bed when she does, that we stay up all night. I decided to let her give it a try, knowing she wouldn't last all night. I think she finally gave it up about 11:30.

We slept in today and it was much needed. We have had a pretty busy week so we decided to just be lazy today. I did do a couple of things around the house and make lunch. I was able to finish a book I had been reading. Abigail watched some TV and played with her toys. We also played a game of UNO MOO that she got for her birthday from David and Lindsey. We were so busy being lazy though, that we forgot to take a nap. She fell asleep early. So now, I think I'm going to eat some supper and start a new book.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lessons I've Learned Since I've Become a Parent

I bet you figured that I was going to forget to blog today. Actually, I waited until the end of the day to post because I wasn't really sure what I wanted to write about. And because my child has been acting crazy all day and I just now have gotten the peace and quiet that I need!

Something that I've been thinking a lot about lately is the lessons that I've learned since I've become a parent. Sometimes these lessons have spiritual applications that rock my world. No matter how many books you read or how many people give you advice, you're never fully prepared to be a parent until it happens. I remember thinking, even as a teenager, that there was a certain way I would raise my children, and there were certain things that I wouldn't do. And while, some of those things have held true, many haven't. The responsibility of being a parent is so great. You are no longer responsible for just yourself, you're responsible for a whole other human being. This little infant depends on you to make the right choices, to nourish her, clean her, provide for her, answer when she cries, know what to do, etc. It truly is a daunting task.

I remember the day that my parent's left to go home after Abigail was born. They had stayed an entire week with us. I had a C-section with Abigail and getting around was tough. My mom had been a huge help with Abigail, cooking meals, keeping the house clean and organized. I remember just crying after they left thinking about the huge repsonsibility that now rested completely on my shoulders (Ryan's too). I was this child's mother. Wow! At first, I was completely sure that I wouldn't be able to do it. That I would fail miserably. But somehow, I knew just what to do. An instinct that I didn't know I had kicked in and took over. I thank God for that maternal instinct.

Now, I can't say that I've gotten everything right over the last 3 years. I've probably actually gotten more wrong than right but thankfully kids are resilient! :) I've freaked out over little things, taken her the emergency room when it wasn't really an emergency, had to apologize to a small child because I lost my temper or handled a situation badly. I've had to clean up various bodily fluids that weren't my own. I have a very weak stomach. Who would have thought that my first instinct when my child started vomiting in a car was to cup my hands under her mouth to catch the said vomit. And I did it without gagging or vomiting myself. I could go on about becoming a parent and my observations but then I wouldnt' get to the point of my post...lesson's I've learned.

1. I have a better understanding of the sacrifice God the Father made in allowing His Son to become sin and die in my place. I seriously could not imagine allowing my child to die in someone else's place. I cannot fathom it. That God loves me that much, makes me weak in my knees, and produces sorrow in my heart over my own sin and failures that sent Jesus to the cross.

2. When Abigail is getting in trouble she will cry and say, "but mommy, I love you." To which I replied one day, "if you really love me then you'll do what I say and not disobey me!" As soon as the words escaped my lips, I was overcome by the spiritual implications of what I had just uttered. That pretty much sounded like Scripture to me, "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments." - John 14:5. How many times do we resist doing what we know God wants us to do? How many times do we read Scripture as if it doesn't apply to us? If we love God , we will keep His commandments. If Abigail loves me, she will be obedient to me.

3. I also have a better understanding of grace and mercy. As a parent we have to be capable of showing both. Especially as a child learns and grows, there are going to be bumps along the way. There will be times when you want to pour out your wrath but showing mercy is the best thing to do. There are times when maybe your child hasn't lived up to the expectations that you've had for them at that moment but you allow them that piece of chocolate or some other special treatment or privilige. But we must not forget that God cannot be just, if all He ever shows is grace and mercy. God's wrath is very real too. I see too many parent's who allow their children to run the home, who only ever extend grace and mercy and never discipline their children. Without discipline we raise up selfish, rude, disobedient, entitled children who grow into adults with those same traits. There is fine line, we have to know when to extend grace and mercy and when a strong hand of discipline is needed.

4. Children keep you accountable. Abigail is at that stage where she repeats everything. She is very observant of the world around her. And she doesn't forget much. It's hard when you are trying to teach your child something that you aren't very good at yourself. We hold our children to a different standard than we hold ourselves. I cannot stand to hear Abigail say words like, "stupid, hate, shut-up," etc. But I find my vocabulary filled with those very words. And you better believe she calls me out on it. I am saddened to see my child pick up on traits and habits that I have that I dislike about myself. I am not a very patient person. I'm easily agitated. It's something that I constantly have to work on and constantly fail at. I see this in her already. Parent's have more influence over their children than they realize.

I wanted to make my list an even five but my brain is shutting down. Sometimes, I think my brain has become mush since becoming a parent. I think I need to buy a book of those brain teazer puzzles or something! Maybe I should ask Santa for one in my stocking! :) Well friends, there are officially 23 days until Christmas and that means at least 23 more posts from me before the year ends! I've enjoyed reading your comments and have felt greatly encouraged by you all. Feel free to leave your comments or lessons that you've learned from parenting!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

24 Days Until Christmas...What?

I cannot believe that it is December 01, 2010. This year had totally flown by. So many things have changed over this past year. However, there is one thing in particular that has not...my inconsistency in blogging. I always have the best intentions but let's face it, my life is mostly boring, and sometimes there is just nothing to blog about. I doubt many people read it anyway.

Writing, however, has always been a release for me. My thoughts always seem more clear and logical when I write them down. I will confess that there are several entries that haven't been posted for the cyber-world to read. Sometimes when I'm irritated or upset, I take to writing out my feelings about what has happened but once the writing stops and I take the time to read what I've actually written, I feel better and there is no reason to "air my dirty laundry" so to speak.

Is there really only 24 days left til Christmas? Normally, at this time of year, nostalgia kicks in and giddiness takes over. I'm like a kid all over again but this year, I'm feeling more like The Grinch instead of Cindy Lou Who. I'm really not sure why. I am usually itching to put up my Christmas tree the first of November. I hold off until after Abigail's birthday though. This year, not one single Christmas ornament can be found in our house. I really didn't have the chance to put the tree up after Abigail's birthday party and we were gone the whole week for Thanksgiving and then for Ryan's granddaddy's funeral. Now, I just can't seem to muster up any excitement for putting it up. I keep telling myself that I should at least do it for Abigail but I could really care less if we do it this year or not.

I know that gifts are not the true meaning of Christmas but if I'm being honest, it's one of my favorite parts of the Christmas celebration. Before Ryan and I got married, my parent's made me read, The Five Love Languages book. My top language was giving and receiving gifts. I absolutely love picking out and buying gifts for other people. Getting gifts isn't too bad either-ha! I spend a lot of time each year thinking about what the person likes and trying to pick out the perfect gift. But if I have the extra money throughout the year, I love to buy presents for others at random times, just to say I love you and I'm thinking about you. So, I guess I'm not The Grinch when it comes to gifts. I'm still excited about that part of Christmas.

I am also excited about having our first Christmas in Graceville. Ever since my family moved to Graceville, Florida, the summer of 2001, we have always spent Christmas in Georgia. We would have our family Christmas a couple days before heading out of town. And since Justin and I have both gotten married, the dynamics and traditions have changed. So this year, we decided that we didn't want to travel to Georgia, even though we will miss our family there, but we wanted to start our own traditions with our own children. Now, next year will be different because it will be our spouses turn to have Christmas with their families.

So maybe I shouldn't say I'm The Grinch after all. I truly am looking forward to many things about Christmas, most importantly, celebrating the birth of my Savior. One of my favorite Christmas songs is by a man named David Phelps. I can't remember the name of the song but my favorite part says, "He stepped from Heaven's hall to Bethlehem's stall, where a star lit His newborn face." Can you imagine Jesus leaving the splendor of Heaven to be born in a lowly manger? He gave up everything to become like us, so that he could be the propitiation for our sins. He truly was born in the shadow of the cross. Without Christmas we wouldn't have Easter or the promise of eternal life.

If I'm not The Grinch, who am I? Sometimes, I like to think I'm Buddy the Elf, so child-like and full of Christmas cheer. But not this year. Can you think of another fictional Christmas character who maybe, just wasn't in the Christmas spirit? One who didn't despise Christmas but just wasn't "feeling" it? If you do, let me know. Hopefully, I'll catch the Christmas spirit soon. I want Abigail to have the same fond memories of Christmas that I do.

I've also set a little blogging goal for myself. Since there is only 24 days until Christmas, I want to blog every day until then. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

Thanksgiving was bittersweet for us this year.  

On our way to Graceville on Sunday the 21st, we got a phone call from Ryan, who was staying home since he had to work all week. His mom had called saying that his granddaddy had been taken to the hospital that morning. He had bladder cancer and had been undergoing chemo and radiation treatments. Prior to this, he had some good weeks and some bad weeks with the treatments.

By later that evening things had gone from bad to worse. Decisions had to be made that no one was prepared for. On Monday morning, I was notified that the end was near and on the way to Georgia, I got the sad and disappointing news. His weakened immune system, already ravaged by the chemo, was battling pneumonia and some other infection. It was too much for the sweet but frail 88 year old man and in an instant earth said goodbye to one of the best men I have ever had the privilege of knowing, and heaven said hello to a dear saint.

I had the honor of knowing Isaac Shiver Jr. for almost 9 years. I first met him in March of 2002 at the Shoney's in Fernandina Beach. It was the first time that I met most of Ryan's family. I have never known a sweeter man. He willingly claimed me as a part of his family. He was a huge part of Ryan's life and so he was a huge part of mine. He was there for the big moments in our lives such as our marriage, Ryan's graduation from college, and Abigail's birth. And he was there in the small moments such as birthday's, holidays, family gatherings, church services, etc. When you were around Granddaddy you could always expect a hug, a pat on the back, and a huge laugh. I have so many memories of a man who wasn't blood kin but might as well have been because he treated me like his own granddaughter, not someone who had married into his family.

For a while, Ryan and I attended FBC Fernandina. Mimi always played the organ so Ryan and I sat with Granddaddy in the balcony. It was a joy to sit next to him in church. And I loved going out to eat with them afterwards. We had some of the best times and conversations at Down Under on Sunday afternoons.

In the 7 1/2 years that Ryan and I have been married, we have cooked meals and hosted family events. It's something that we both love to do. On most of those occasions, Granddaddy would say that he didn't have much of an appetite and probably wouldn't eat much but I always caught him going back for seconds. That always made me feel good about my cooking. On Ryan's birthday one year, I made Taco Soup. Granddaddy came to the house with the notion that Taco Soup was something that he wasn't going to like or eat. I got him to try a bowl and I think he near about made himself sick that night! He loved it!

Another thing I could always count on Granddaddy for was his opinion of my hair. He liked it long and dark, the same way Ryan does. He would always tell me when it was looking good and when it wasn't. His comments always made me laugh. The last time I saw him was the end of March the day before we moved to Louisiana. My hair was still fairly short and over the last 8 months it has grown tremendously. I was looking forward to seeing him again with my hair long and dark and seeing what he had to say. I'm sure he would have loved it.

I will never forget how proud he was when Abigail was born. I remember the day we brought her home from the hospital, he and Mimi came to see her. The look on his face as he held her was priceless. He just oohed and aahed over her. I always thought she stole his heart that day. Abigail loved Granddaddy too. I am sad to think that she probably won't remember him as she gets older but we'll never stop showing her his pictures and telling her stories about him.

We loved visiting with Mimi and Granddaddy at their house whether we sat inside or if the weather was nice, outside on the swing. Ryan was always kidding with his granddaddy about borrowing one of his Lucky Strikes. He sure liked them but he didn't want Ryan to take up his habit. :) When the visit was over, he would walk us to the door and eventually follow us out to our car. We would finally get in the car and then roll down the window and talk some more before finally leaving. It was always as if he didn't want us to go.

Ryan deals with emotions in his own way but I on the other hand can always be counted on for tears when I'm sad. It was hard seeing his empty chair at his house or the empty chair outside by the swing. It was hard getting into our car and him not standing next to it. Even though I knew we were in town for his funeral, I still caught myself looking for him in the crowd, wanting that hug, and needing to hear that laugh. I know how I feel after only knowing him for a short while. I can't imagine what other's in his family are feeling and how they are dealing with the hole left behind where Granddaddy once was.

Thankfully, we don't have to grieve like those who have no hope. Thankfully, we will see him again. He may be gone from our lives here on earth but he will never be forgotten. And I'm sure, I'll always look for him in the crowd on holidays and at family gatherings even though I know he won't be there.

Birthday Party #2 and Thanksgiving

My mom, Abigail, and I were finally able to leave Louisiana on Sunday the 21st (Abigail's actual birthday) after a trip to Urgent Care and Walgreen's (see A Not So Fancy Few Days for details). We arrived in Graceville later that afternoon. My mom worked half a day on Monday and then we loaded up again and headed to Georgia to be with my family during Thanksgiving.

We got there early Monday evening. On Tuesday, mom and I both had hair appointments at Salon 280. My aunt owns the place and is an awesome hair dresser. Later that day, my friend Amberly, took some amazing photos of myself and Abigail. I needed a 3 year update picture of Abigail and this was the perfect opportunity. Please see www.amberlyfosterphotography.shutterfly.com for all the photos and her great work. That night, we had a small family birthday party for Abigail at my aunt and uncle's house. It was supposed to just be an ice cream cake and drinks but my aunt is fabulous and she made it even more special by adding a theme, Tangled. My grandma made some vegetable soup and my aunt provided hotdogs and chips and dip. The birthday girl got even more presents. It seemed everywhere we went in the last week someone had a present for Abigail. We had a hard time getting everything home. :)

On Wednesday, we went shopping in Statesboro with my grandma. It was fun helping pick out people's Christmas presents and letting Abigail pick out some things with her birthday money.

Thursday was Thanksgiving as you well know. I love holidays with my family. I love getting together and reminiscing. My mom and my dad's side of the family all get together at my dad's parents house. We have the usual Thanksgiving fare. Several years ago, most of the girl cousins on my mom's side, started the tradition of going to see whatever Christmas movie was out, after lunch was over. This year there wasn't one so we all took Abigail to see Tangled in 3D. It was so good and everyone including Abigail enjoyed it. My grandma even came and she never goes to the "show" as she calls it.

We usually all go Black Friday shopping but we had made plans to return to Graceville on Friday, giving us a day to relax, before Abigail and I traveled home on Sunday morning. Our plans were changed due to a death in Ryan's family. My parent's took me to Fernandina Beach on Friday morning. My vehicle was at my mom and dad's since I rode with them to Georgia. Ryan stopped on his way and traded his truck for my SUV and met us in Fernandina around lunchtime on Friday. We spent time with his family and attended his grandfather's funeral on Saturday. We were able to stay an extra day and left at 4 am on Monday morning. We stopped again in Graceville to pick up his truck, eat some breakfast, and drink some coffee. Plus, I had a few things I still needed to pick up from my parent's house. We got back home around 12:30 on Monday afternoon.

We have so much to be thankful for. Our lives should be characterized by an attitude of thankfulness. We so often take life and things for granted. Let us remember to give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His love endures forever!

(I wish I had more pics to put up from this week but my camera died not long after Abigail's Tangled party and I left my charger in LA.)

A Fancy Nancy Soiree

This post should have been written days ago but we had some family matters come up unexpectedly. Better late than never, I guess.

On Saturday, November 20, we celebrated Abigail's third birthday with a Fancy Nancy Soiree (that's fancy for birthday party). Abigail's Aunt Mellissa introduced us to the world of Fancy Nancy last Christmas. We had been shopping at the Town Center in Jacksonville and while in Barnes and Noble, Mellissa showed us the Fancy Nancy book. My parent's actually got her the original FN book for Christmas. After that, she received the paperback holiday versions throughout the year along with some of the other paperbacks as well. Nancy's world revolves around dressing up and being fancy all the time. Is there a better birthday party theme for little girls? I think not.

I've always loved event/party planning so when it comes to Abigail's birthday's, I have to pace myself. With this theme, I had the very real opportunity of going overboard. In a previous post, I told about our recent financial bumps and how I had been learning to be resourceful and make the most of what I had. So, I applied this knowledge to the FN birthday party as well.

I love custom invitations and I would rather not use the pre-made fill-in-the-blanks invites, unless I have to. For Abigail's first birthday party, I had custom invitations made at http://www.vistaprint.com/ and only paid a few dollars for them because they always have great deals. For Abigail's second birthday party, she had a Dora the Explorer theme and I ended up using the generic ones that came with the party supplies. I had searched high and low for the perfect custom invites for this FN soiree. The ones that I had originally decided on were a little over a dollar a piece. In the end, I just couldn't justify spending the money on something that would end up in the trash anway so I decided to put my limited photography skills to the test. I did splurge a bit on Abigail's birthday party outfit. However, I did shop around a lot, and thanks to my sister-in-law, Hannah, I found a tutu and FN shirt combo for $25 with free shipping, the cheapest around. Some tutu's go for $25 by themselves. So I dressed her up in her birthday outfit, complete with fancy accessories. I grabbed some pink and purple sidewalk chalk from her pack and headed outdoors. I snapped about 30 pictures or so and then edited them on my computer. In the end I picked the photo above. I uploaded it to Walgreens.com and found out they were having a photo deal and 4x6's were $.10 a piece. I was able to get all of her invites for about dollar. I looked up some fancy wording online and then handwrote the info on the back of the picture. Now, I had a great custom invite for a great price and most likely instead of being thrown in the trash, it will be displayed on a fridge or in a photo album or frame.

While looking online for party planning and decorating ideas, I came across some very lavish parties. While I would have loved to be able to put that kind of time and money into a party, it just wasn't necessary, plus I was still trying to be a good steward of what God had given me to work with. So borrowing from some other frugal mom's ideas, I headed to The Dollar Tree! I was able to get plates, cups, doilies, bowls, spoons, decorations, party favors, etc. I made two different trips to The Dollar Tree but in the end I only spent about $20 total. I had to get a few things from Walmart like the hot pink tablecloth and napkins since I couldn't find that particular color at The Dollar Tree. I also bought all the items for the cupcakes, parfaits (that's fancy for ice cream sundae), and drinks. My mom contributed to the party buy purchasing the FN balloon, placemats, and stickers for the goody bags, from birthdayexpress.com. Overall, we had a very fancy party without the huge expense. Here are a few pics of the party.

 I made 36 pink and purple cupcakes for the party. They were sprinkled with pink sugar crystals and several of them had FN rings on them. I got those for a steal on ebay. We made parfaits, complete with chocolate syrup, sprinkles, M&M's, and whipped cream. I found really cute parfait cups from Hobby Lobby at the end of the summer on clearance and I found the parfait spoons at Dollar General on clearance as well. For the fancy drinks, I found ice cube trays shaped like flowers at The Dollar Tree. I poured Hawain Punch in those the night before. We poured Sierra Mist into small clear cups and placed one or two hp ice cubes in each glass. The kids enjoyed watching the ice cubes fizz and turn their drinks pink.The goody bags consisted of a boa, a bracelet, sunglasses, a ring pop, and pixie sticks. They each were able to take home their parfait cup and spoon, the FN placemat, and the tiny buckets with their names on them (we put the M&M's in those) as well. I got most of the items at the dollar store or Wal-Mart for cheap. They also colored FN coloring sheets and I read them the original story at the beginning of the party.

Abigail had the best time even if she wasn't feeling well (see previous post for the not so fancy stuff). After the kids were hyped up on cupcakes and ice cream, Abigail opened her gifts and then they spent the rest of the time running around in the backyard. All in all, I think Nancy would have been proud.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Not So Fancy Few Days

On Saturday, November 20, Abigail had a Fancy Nancy birthday party. But before I tell you all about her party, I need to back up to a few days leading up to her party.

On Monday, Abigail woke up from her nap running a fever or 102.2. I gave her some tylenol and made her rest. I couldn't believe she was going to get sick right before her birthday. But by later that evening the fever was gone and she never had another symptom until Friday.

On Friday morning she woke up running a low grade fever. I had so much to do on Friday which included making 36 cupcakes, babysitting for a friend, and to finish cleaning my house before my parents, my brother, and his family got there later that night. She acted fine all during the day until after naptime. She woke up running a high fever again, this time accompanied with vomiting. This went on most of the afternoon and her fever continued to rise. My brother and his family decided not to come since Marlee had been sick the two weeks prior. We were disappointed but we understood why they couldn't come. I finally had to put her in a lukewarm bath and give her a popcicle before her fever would come down.

By Saturday she seemed fine. We went ahead and had her party. Later that night her fever shot up again and we couldn't get it down all night. She also developed a stuffy nose. We were supposed to leave Pearl River at 9 AM on Sunday morning to travel to Graceville with my parents so that we could ride with them to Georgia on Monday to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family. But mom and I had to take Abigail to the Urgent Care and it didn't open til 9. They tested her for strep and the flu. Thankfully both came back negative. The doctor there was super nice and thorough. Having a good doctor is always a plus. She ended up having pharyngitis with flu like symptoms. We then had to go to Walgreens to pick up some pictures we had ordered and to get all of her medicines. The doctor cleared her to travel so my dad left around 10 and mom, Abigail, and I weren't able to leave until about 11:30.

Thankfully her fever stayed down all day on Sunday. We were able to spend time with Uncle Justin, Aunt Hannah, and Marlee on Sunday night. We brought some cupcakes and party stuff for them to celebrate together since Marlee wasn't able to come and Sunday was actually Abigail's birthday. Neither of the girls wanted cupcakes but they had fun playing together.

Abigail got sick a couple of times last night but we think it's because the congestion is finally breaking loose in her chest. We are headed to Georgia this afternoon when mom gets off of work. And tomorrow she is having a second birthday party. Yes, I said SECOND! :) She is one spoiled little girl. When we lived in Fernandina, most of my family from Georgia would travel over for her birthday party since it was only a two hour drive. Since it's 9 1/2 hours from Georgia to where we live in Louisiana, they couldn't come this year. So, we are having a family party Tuesday night at Aunt Jamie and Uncle Rudy's house. I promise to post about the Fancy Nancy party soon but I have to get ready and get packed up for our trip today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Last Six Months

I can't believe that it's been six months since I last posted on my blog. I'm such a slacker. I think that I have about three or four post that I started but never finished. So, I guess it's time for an update.

It was HOT in Louisiana over the summer. Thankfully, most of the parks around here have splash pads. It was a very nice way to get out of the house and stay cool over the summer. And I must admit that I enjoyed playing in the water as much as Abigail! My parents visited us for the 4th of July. We had a great week together. We went to the beach in Waveland, MS, took Abigail to see her first movie in theaters, Toy Story 3, did some shopping and some eating, and had a nice cookout with some friends on the 4th. There are too many pics over the last six months to post, so friends please visit my Facebook page and look through the latest albums, if you haven't already. :) My brother and his family visited in August. We took the girls to the Louisiana Children's Museum in NOLA, frequented the splash pad, shopped, ate, laughed, and just had a great time all around. It's so nice when my family gets to visit and stay awhile, especially since we don't live close by.

In September, Abigail and I visited my family in Graceville. Uncle Rudy, Aunt Jamie, and GG came for the weekend. It was nice to have extended family there as well. My brother, the chef (well not technically but he loves to cook and he's good at it), made milkshakes and blended iced mocha's several time. I think I gained 5 pounds, at least, that weekend. We did some more shopping and more eating! Dad made sushi! He just keeps getting better and better at it! My mom was able to take most of the week off so we enjoyed spending more time with her since she usually has to work while we are there. I finally was able to use my spa gift card from last Christmas and let me just say, a one hour deep tissue massage is just NOT long enough! You think it would be, but it wasn't. Oh and my brother smoked a Boston butt and we made Pulled Pork Parfaits! Let me just say, YUMMY! Take a tall clear glass, put some BBQ sauce in the bottom, a layer of pulled pork, then a layer of mashed potatoes, repeat, and drizzle top layer of mashed potatoes with BBQ sauce. It looks pretty and taste great! Ryan also received a promotion in September. It was much needed answer to prayer. He is now a Club Level Concierge. He really likes it and the raise wasn't too shabby either.

October passed in a blur. I can't really say anything extraordinary happened in October, well except the lessons God taught me especially in October. Without going into detail, we experienced some financial distress in the last couple months but the LORD provided as he always does. I feel like I learned a lot and grew a lot in the past months. While trying to stretch our money as much as we could, I began to realize how much we actually waste and how ungrateful we are for what we actually have. There have been many times that I haven't felt like cooking dinner or didn't want to eat what we had in the house and we went out and spent money on food we didn't need. The hamburger might have been tasty but were we being good stewards of what God had given us? Not that there is anything wrong with eating out but we were blowing a lot of money on something we didn't really need. It was also during this time that I started really paying attention to Freebies4Mom on Facebook. I had added this lady to my friends list several months ago and just ignored her post. She has a website dedicated to helping others find free samples, coupons, and sweepstakes with great prizes. Check out www.freebiesformom.com Anyway, I started frequenting her site daily and signing up for the free samples. Sometimes they aren't things that I necessarily need but hey it's free and if it's something I think I can use, then I sign up. Well, after realizing how much I waste, I had been squeezing the life out of my tube of toothpaste. I was finally at the point where no more was going to come out and I went to check the mail. The first sample that I had ever requested was for toothpaste and I had forgotten about it completely. When I checked the mail on this particular day,there was a mysterious box in the mailbox. When I opened it, it was a tube of toothpaste! Woohoo! It came at the exact time that I needed a new tube of toothpaste! Isn't the LORD, amazing!!! At the end of the month I started keeping a 8 week old baby boy named Dustin. It has been an adjustment for me as well as Abigail but we are enjoying it. He is just too cute and the pay check is sweet too!

I can't believe that November is almost over already. In six days my baby girl is going to turn three. It feels like yesterday that I was being induced, anxious to meet her. She is an indescribable blessing in my life. She is a constant source of laughter and joy in our house. I am amazed every day at how smart she is. When it comes to personality and behavior, she is definitely my child. There are times I am grateful for that and times I wish she wasn't so much like me. You want your child to have your so-called good traits but no one wants their child to have their bad ones! She has an equal mix of both, I believe. :) If I can remember, I'll put a birthday party post up after her Fancy Nancy Soiree on Saturday. Until then, here is a picture of my little cutie.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Not Me Monday

It was NOT me who decided to buy my two year old a Watermelon Slush from Sonic. And it defnitely was NOT me who gave her the whole thing to drink while in her carseat in the back seat of my vehicle.

After leaving Sonic, it was NOT me who passed the on ramp to the interstate which was the quickest route to our friends house. I did NOT have to drive out of my way and I also did NOT get caught in school traffic. I absolutely did NOT pass the shortcut to our friends house. I did NOT drive a little ways down the road and did NOT try another shortcut that I hadn't personally used before. I also did NOT get lost in the subdivision twice before getting back on the main road. It was NOT me who had to sit in traffic for 10 minutes for more to take my next turn.

Remember the slushy...Well, while sitting in traffic, I did NOT hear my child saying "oh no" repeatedly. It was NOT me who turned and found her straw sticking out sideways from her Sonic cup. It was also NOT me who grabbed the cup, dripping the slushy all over my car. I did NOT find napkins in the glove compartment. I was definitely NOT me who had to hold the extremely cold slushy in one hand and drive with the other until we finally made it to our friends house.

It was NOT me who had a birthday last week. My friend did NOT bake me a double chocolate heart cake for my birthday. It was NOT me who ate a piece bigger than I care to admit. My child did NOT ask for a candle to "lick" since the other kids were doing so. And I absolutely did NOT tell my friend that she could have one. My child did NOT come up to me and say she was done and hand me the candle. Half of the candle was NOT missing. It was NOT my child who "ate" half a birthday candle instead of licking it! Stuff like this NEVER happens to me.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Potty Training Woes

It's been a week since I started potty training Abigail and we're still at square one. I tried potty training her last summer when she was about18 months old. At that point she just wasn't ready. So we stopped and started again last week. I thought this time around would be easier. She's older now and I figured she'd get the hang of it pretty quickly. Day one was rough, to say the least. I tried the no pull-ups or training panties approach first. I had to clean up poop off of my floor three times before I put training panties on her! After that, the rest of the day went pretty well. Days two and three weren't too bad either. Just a few accidents each day. Since then, it seems like we're going in the opposite direction instead of making progress. When I ask her why she goes to the bathroom in her panties instead of on the potty, she says she doesn't want to go in the potty. What do you do when your child deliberately pees or poops in her pants because she has no desire to go to the potty? Is she scared of the potty? I don't think so. We bought her a really cute frog potty and she used it a few times but would rather use the regular potty instead. So I don't think that it's because she scared. Is she lazy? I really don't know what else to do or try. I know she's only two and yes, I know, I need to be patient and that it will take time. I've tried bribery by treats, Smarties and M&M's. I've tried putting her on the potty every 20-30 minutes. I've tried no underwear. I've tried letting her stay in her wet underwear, hoping that she wouldn't like the feeling. I've tried making her clean up her own mess. I really don't know what else to do other than just keep on going and hopes she gets it soon. If anyone out there has the secret to potty training, feel free to share!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Not Me Monday

It's been a while since I actually posted a "Not Me Monday" so I figured it was about time. Please note that some of the following "not me's" are not recent but too funny not to share. Enjoy!

It was NOT me who accused my husband of passing gas, upon smelling a foul scent while driving back to Florida from Louisiana in March. The foul smell was coming from our daughter so we pulled over at the next rest station. It was NOT me who was going to change her on the front passenger seat because the rest of the vehicle was loaded down. It was also NOT me who got a handful of poop when I was trying to pull her onesie up high enough to change her. I absolutely did NOT throw the onesie away so that we didn't have to smell it the rest of the way home. My hands also did NOT smell like poop the rest of the way, even though I had washed them multiple times in the restroom.

After Abigail hit a little boy, I did NOT spank her while saying "we don't hit."

It was NOT me who decided to potty train Abigail this week. It was also NOT me who decided to potty train without pull-ups or training panties the first day. I absolutely did NOT have to clean up poop three times off of my floor before I realized that I should put some training panties on her. I have NOT cleaned up any more poop or pee from the floor this week!

It was NOT me who went and got a pedicure and an eye brow wax today. I was NOT embarrased when the lady pulled my feet out of the water to "work" on them. It has definitely NOT been a year since I last had a pedicure. The lady who waxed my eyebrows did NOT laugh at me when she saw them. She also did NOT ask me how long it had been since I had them done. I did NOT blame it on having a child and never getting out of the house.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Where We Live

Hey guys! As promised, here are a few pics of the house we are living in right now. For more you can check out my facebook profile.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pearl River, Louisiana

In my last post, I informed you all that we were moving to Slidell, Louisiana. Well, we made it but our address is actually in Pearl River, LA.

I barely slept at all the week of the move because I was so busy packing boxes and trying to get everything ready. I am a huge procrastinator so it wouldn't have been so bad, if I had started sooner! On Friday, March 26, we finished loading our rented Budget truck and pulled out for the first leg of our journey around 1:15 pm. It was a bittersweet moment, leaving the place we had called home for the last four years and the only home Abigail had ever known. We arrived in Graceville, Florida where my parents live, that evening.

We started the last leg of our journey on Saturday morning. My mom was able to come with us, which was a huge help! We arrived at our rental house in Pearl River, around 2 pm. After looking around a few moments, we began the task of unloading and putting all the big items in place. Then came the unloading of all the boxes and then the unpacking! My least favorite part! We had accomplished a lot by early evening so we set out to Walmart for some items that we needed and in search of some supper. When we arrived back at our house, my mom, Abigail, and I came inside to start setting out our supper, while Ryan unloaded the car. He left the storm door propped open to bring in the groceries. My mom had set Abigail's supper out on her tv tray and I was opening to-go boxes to see who's was who's, when I heard my mom scream. I in turn screamed because I didn't know what she was screaming about, which set Abigail off in a fit of hysterics. The source of the scream...a cat! My mom hates cats, as do I, but this cat had come in through the propped open storm door and was making a beeline to Abigail's supper! After I shoo'd the cat out, and my mom tried to get Abigail calmed down enough to eat, I couldn't help but laugh! And at this point, I was so tired that anything funny became hysterical! After supper, the unpacking continued. My mom and Ryan were rockstars! lol! Abigail wouldn't let me out of her sight and wanted to be held, so I didn't accomplish much until I got her to sleep. People who know me, know that I do not deal with stress very well. So by the end of the night, my mom ordered me to take a shower and go to bed! It was the best option, trust me! We all made it to bed around 1 am or so on Sunday morning. Thankfully, they let me sleep in the next morning and I was in much better shape. By Sunday afternoon, we were pretty much finished unpacking and then my dad arrived. I think he timed it out like that on purpose! :) He did hang all of our pictures and wall hangings for us though! I still have a few odd and end things to do but they'll get done in time.

So far we are enjoying our new home and new town. Slidell is a really neat town and has a lot to offer. While my parents were still here, we went in to New Orleans one afternoon and walked around the French Quarter.
We found out that since Ryan is still in training, he has to work on Easter Sunday and since we still only have one vehicle until he gets his truck from Fernandina, we wouldn't be able to attend church. My mom and I decided to go ahead and dress Abigail in her Easter outfit and get some pics.

My parent's left on Thursday morning and Abigail and I spent the day with Ryan. We went to Lowe's and picked up some area rugs since the floors are linolium throughout the whole house. After lunch at Olive Garden we made our way back home. On Friday morning, Abigail and I dyed Easter eggs. She had such a great time.

Saturday, I made our Easter lunch since Ryan will be working on Sunday. Our friend Josh, came and ate with us since his wife and kids are out of town for a few more days. I made roast with carrots and onions, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean bundles, homemade mac and cheese, and we had oreo cheesecake for dessert. It was very yummy. We had planned to hide the Easter eggs and let Abigail hunt them after lunch but it was raining all afternoon. We had a lazy afternoon and Abigail and I both enjoyed a nap.

Today is Easter. The cross is bare; the tomb is empty; the throne is occupied! Halleluah! Abigail and I woke up before Ryan had to leave for work. She received an Easter basket from us. Since, she had gotten one earlier from Nana and Papa that was filled to the max, we decided on just a few things; some chocolate marshmallow eggs, some candy, and the animated version of Alice in Wonderland. Abigail and I are watching it now while I blog. The weather is a little overcast today. I'm hoping it clears up a bit so Abigail can hunt some eggs.

I'm going to try and take some pics of the house this week. Be on the lookout for a new blog coming soon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Wherever He Leads, We Will Go


It feels good to finally be able to share with everyone. Here is our story:

Over the past several years, Ryan has been praying about and wanting to go to seminary to get his Master's degree. Each time the doors have been shut but he knew that God wanted him to go back to school. It is my sincere belief that the doors had not been open before for several reasons with the main two being that Ryan would have attended the wrong school for the wrong degree and we would have been miserable.

In the past few months God began working things out as only He could. Ryan currently works at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island as a bellman. With this job we have great insurance and one our our concerns about going to seminary was being able to keep this insurance. Those of you with kids definitely know why. So he began to look at places that had a Ritz Carlton near a seminary. There is a Ritz in New Orleans and of course, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is there. Let me tell you that this was the last seminary that Ryan wanted to attend but he began to research job opportunities there. When he checked the job opportunities at the Ritz in New Orleans there was a job opening for a bellman. God? Is this a sign? A bellman opening is a very rare situation so he immediately sent over his application and request for transfer and we really begin to pray trying to discern if this is where God wanted us. A month or so went by and we heard nothing.

Without going into detail, some other things began to transpire, and we were curious about what the Lord was up to. I had gone to visit my parents in Graceville and go to my nieces first birthday party. Ryan was unable to come get me the following weekend because of his work schedule and I had to stay in Graceville and additional two weeks. One afternoon Ryan called me and when I answered he sounded groggy. He works the overnight shift and I knew it was too early for him to be up. He told me that he had received a phone call from the Ritz in New Orleans and they wanted to know if he was still interested in the job. They told him they would call back and set up a time for a phone interview. Again, on another day, he called me groggy saying they had called him back and set up his interview for the day of Marlee's birthday party. I prayed hard for him all day that day and he called during the party to tell me that the interview went great but they had to interview one other person before making a decision. Not once did I ever worry that he wouldn't get the position. I was at peace and it felt right. A few more days later he called and said that he had gotten the job.

The awesome part about this is that we had already scheduled a trip to New Orleans the following week. Ryan was coming to Graceville to ride with my dad and some other guys to a church conference and once they returned we were going to visit some friends and check out the seminary. Ryan was informed that he would have to start his job the end of March. Wow, it was almost the end of February at this point. It all happened in a whirwind fashion. So, one of our main priorities while we were gone was to find a place to live. This is where I began to get nervous. Would we be able to find a place we could afford? In a good neighborhood? Our friends live in Slidell, Lousiana about 30 minutes from New Orleans.The husband commutes to New Orleans everyday for his job so we decided to look around Slidell to see if there was anything there. And guess what! God provided! He is faithful. Oh and after visiting the seminary, we both were at peace, and knew we were headed in the right direction.

Now I must tell you that upon seeing the house I was not overly excited. The opposite actually! The house was in a great location, plenty of room but the interior was very 1970's and old lady. But talking with the landlords made me feel at ease and I was reminded of the apostle Paul. He was content in any and every situation. God had provided us a place to live, the landlords had come down on rent, and here I was unhappy about His provision for me. So I'm taking lessons from Paul. I am truly thankful that the Lord provided for us, each and every step of the way. We will make the house our home.

Ryan has to be at work on March 30. He read his letter of resignation at church yesterday. It was a bittersweet moment. We are sad to be leaving behind some great people but are excited about the journey that we are on with the Lord. Wherever He leads us, we will go. So, starts the task of organizing, packing, and all the other stuff that comes a long with moving. It feels overwhelming at times, thinking about it all but like the old saying goes, "If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it." We are clinging to Proverbs 3:5-6 during this time in our lives. We appreciate your prayers and if you live in our area, feel free to stop by and pack some boxes! :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Stranded...in the SNOW!

I've started and stopped several posts over the last few weeks. I've saved them all and might post them at a later date but I never could seem to get all my thoughts together enough to finish up. So, here I am starting a new post and maybe, just maybe, I'll finish this one.

It's been a crazy few weeks. Ryan drove Abigail and I halfway to meet my dad the last weekend in January. We were supposed to stay in Graceville for the week and then celebrate Marlee's first birthday the following weekend. Ryan was supposed to come pick us up after Marlee's party but he wound up having to work and thus, we are still "stranded" in Graceville. We have greatly enjoyed our time with my family but we miss Ryan so much. He is coming on Wednesday night but leaving Thursday morning to go to the True Church Conference in Mussle Shoals, Alabama with my dad and some of his church members. We will only get to see him for a bit before he's gone again. But I know he will have a great time and be encouraged and grow in the Lord while he is gone. Then on Sunday afternoon we will be together again...FINALLY! :)

Marlee had a princess themed first birthday party. She was so cute in her tutu! Everything was decked out in pink and white and the cake was oh so yummy! A lot of our family from Georgia made the trip for her birthday so we all went out to eat at Mikata, a Japanese steakhouse in Dothan, Alabama, afterwards. It was so yummy! Haha, maybe I should stop eating and start blogging at my other site on trying to lose weight! Anyway, we all had a great time.

Everyone has to work during the week except me and dad. Haha! I brought my wii so I have been kicking dad's butt in Mario Kart and Dr. Mario. Our Mario Kart races can get pretty intense! Abigail and I have enjoyed getting to spend a lot of time with him over these past couple of weeks.

On Friday, we got a huge surprise...SNOW! The weather kept forcasting it, but I had my doubts. It started coming down, mixed with rain, around 9:30 AM on Friday morning and then went back to just rain. But around 2:30 PM it really started snowing! I mean come on...THIS IS FLORIDA FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! I hate cold weather but the snow was nice and it was Abigail's first time seeing it. She had just gone down for a nap when it really started coming down so we woke her up and took her out to play. We wound up playing in it for about two hours, throwing snowballs and making a snowman! I took tons of pictures. Her daddy was jealous when we called to tell him. I hate it that he missed it. While I hate cold weather, I have to admit, everything looked beautiful covered in snow.

Today, well yesterday since I am up way too late and it's actually tomorrow, which is today. Haha! That is too confusing! YESTERDAY, was Valentine's Day and dad's birthday. It was also Homecoming at Devco. After church they had a fellowship meal and then we came home and Justin and I made homemade pizza for dad's birthday. We also gave him a griddle. He loves kitchen supplies and appliances! Abigail and Marlee got to open their Valentine's from Nana and Papa. Abigail got three Fancy Nancy books, an outfit, candy, and a Strawberry Shortcake dvd. Those girls are so spoiled! :) Abigail just loves Fancy Nancy! She got the original Fancy Nancy book for Christmas from Nana and Papa.

This is our last week in Graceville. I am very thankful for the time we have had with my family. I hate living so far away so these visits that last more than just a few days are so refreshing and fun. We'll make the most of this last week and probably take more pictures than necessary!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just Some Thoughts...

Wow! I can't believe that January is almost over! I haven't blogged nearly as much as I planned but it's a good start. In my last post, I told you all about the "monster" in Abigail's room. The problem has not been completely resolved but it's getting better. The only way to get her to stay in her room at night was to put a lamp in there so that the whole room was pretty much illuminated. Some nights are harder than others to get her to stay in bed and go to sleep but the lamp has been the best solution so far. I've talked to her a number of times about talking to Jesus when she's scared or afraid. Even though we pray together every night before she goes to bed, I'm not sure she understands that concept. I have also told her that we don't allow "monsters" in our house. She will still often wake in the middle of the night and come crying that there is "something in her room," but I think it has more to do with making excuses for wanting to sleep with me. If any of you moms out there have any other solutions, please feel free to leave a comment.

Every day I am amazed at how much she has changed. She is such a little lady now. She talks non-stop and has a pretty big vocabulary. She loves to laugh and has a pretty big one like her mama. :) She still loves to dance and sing. She knows all the words to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and most of the words to other songs like, "Jesus Loves Me," "Deep and Wide," "I'm A Little Teapot," "London Bridge is Falling Down," "Jingle Bells," and "Happy Birthday." She can count to eight in english and ten in spanish. She can sing majority of her ABC's. She loves to point out things and say what they are. The most recent being the names of all the characters on the tv shows that she watches. I am so amazed at how smart she is. She soaks everything up! I think I have a little genius on my hands! Mama is so proud!

We are getting read to head to Graceville on Friday to visit Nana, Papa, Uncle Justin, Aunt Hannah, and Marlee. Abigail and I are so excited. It was about this time last year that I started blogging. Abigial and I were in Graceville for three weeks waiting on the arrival of our niece and cousin Marlee Brooke. I can't believe she's about to turn one! Time flew by so fast. I hate that we live so far apart. I got to see her a bunch this year but it doesn't change the fact that I missed so much. Abigail has been going around saying, "Marlee's birthday is in two weeks." Ever since her birthday she has become obssessed. She is so ready to sing Happy Birthday and give Marlee her birthday present and so am I! I just loved what we picked out and I think Marlee will too. We love you Marlee.

Well this week will be busy with cleaning, laundry, and packing. Abigail has been running a fever since Sunday. It got up to 103 yesterday so I took her to the doctor. She only has a virus and hopefully will be better by tomorrow. I am praying that Ryan and I don't get it. Here are a few pictures of Abigail over the last few weeks. Hope you enjoy!