Thursday, December 20, 2007

Things That Make Me Smile

Ella: "Pet Spunky." "No." (Very sad look on her face)
Mommy: "Why couldn't you pet Spunky, sweetie?" "Did he run away?"
Ella: "No." "Walk 'way."


Whenever we're in the kitchen for an exteded period of time, I will no doubt hear this request at least half a dozen times, "Hear Frosty Snowman? Peeze..."

Ella's rendition goes something like this,
"Frosty Snowman."
"Happy, Jolly So."
...."Butt Nose"
"Two Eyes".."Cold"

She loves high stepping it when the "Thumpity, Thump, Thump" part comes on. And she sings the last part perfectly on tune, "Back 'Gain Someday!" She'll often repeat that line, and then add, "Frosty Snowman said!"


Last night, she was looking at a Charlie Brown book and wanted to know the name of one of the characters. I didn't know. So she said,
"Show Daddy."
"Might know."

Trying to lift the radio to take into the kitchen:
"Too heavy." "Grownup do it."
"Baby grownup yet."(shakes head).
"Help Mommy though."

As we came into the kitchen,
"Ella big girl."
"Taylor big girl."
"Laura big girl."
"Mommy grown up."
"Daddy big boy."

Will wasn't too trilled when I told him that. BTW for those who don't know, Taylor and Laura are Ella's cousins. Taylor is 9; Laura is 7.

We were getting read to go to Mama's yesterday for a little get-together.
"See Taylor?" she asked.
"I don't think Taylor will be there, sweetie."
"Maybe so," she says.
When we made it to the dirt road at Mama's, she said, "Out. Dirt road," and I helped her move up front w/me. Soon, we saw the horse and I said, "Oh no, we forgot Sir's food!" Ella immediately turned towards Sir and yelled, "Sorry, Sir!"

BTW, Taylor and Cody were there and they all had a ball discovering forts and playing Cowboys and Indians. And Grandma was the star of the show. But Ella did miss Laura and kept saying, "Taylor here, Laura no."

I told Ella this morning that the pancakes were still a little hot, so she needed to wait a minute before eating them. Instead she immediately took a bite and then followed with,
"Hot!"
"Mommy told you baby."
"Too hot baby."

And since she hasn't quite learned how talk using negatives, if she tries something she doesn't like (or even if she thinks she might not like it), she'll shake her head vehemently, arch her back, and through gritted teeth say, "Like that!"

Lastly, for all you BOZ fans out there, Ella loves to greet me in the morning with,
"Wake up!" "Time rise!" "Prise!" "New Day!"

(Please tell me I'm not the only Mommy who knows all the words to Boz's Treehouse Tunes...)

I hope all of you are having a blessed holiday season. We're looking forward to Emily and Jeff's visit (and of course finally meeting our newest nephew!) and also seeing my dear friend Sarah and her husband who will be coming down from VA for New Year's Eve. We'll also be going to visit my folks whom I haven't seen since August. I apologize for not getting out Christmas cards this year-hopefully we'll be all settled and more organized next year!

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Best Thanksgiving

We had such a glorious time yesterday. It was our first Thanksgiving where we had family over and it was wonderful. We figured that if we're going to be cooking turkey anyway, we might as well have others over to share it with us. And for the first time, we actually live close enough for family to take us up on the offer. Mom, Dad, Mama, Laurance, Kimberly, and Jonathan joined us for a delicious Thanksgiving feast. What a treat! Ma-Ma had been telling us for weeks now that she wanted to see our new place, and we're so glad she was feeling up to the trip. We made turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, and brownies; Kimberly brought delicious green bean casserole, and Mom brought yummy sweet potato and squash casserole, as well as potato salad and pecan pie. We did the turkey in a bag for the first time and thought it was our best one-much more moist than our previous 2 years. And it was our first attempt at making homemade mashed potatoes w/the skins left on-we used the red potatoes and it turned out great. Our hopes of making a homemade pumpkin pie (using a small sugar pumpkin) were dashed due to time constraints, but we're hoping to attempt it this weekend.

During dinner, Mom broke out singing a couple songs including "I'll fly away" and we all joined in. I think that was my favorite part; a spontaneous, joy-filled family sing-a-long. And I loved not having to feel like I had to impress-they saw our bare walls and sparse furniture and still thought we had a lovely place. Ella gobbled up Mama's attention, especially when she fed her ice cream, and she thoroughly enjoyed Mom pushing her on her swing and Kimberly's chasing her all over the yard. "Imly, Chase Ella!" she'd say over and over. Jonathan was a little angel-he even got a nap in and we all managed to just barely fit around our table (though we did move it into the dining room to have a bit more room). Will showed off his new toys (I mean farm equipment)-namely his 1962 red Massey Ferguson tractor, disk harrow, bush hog, and trailer (all bought used and for a great price), and Dad advised us on starting our own Pick-Your-Own garden for next year. :-)

They all left around 4:30 and then Will, Ella, and I hung out on the hammock for some snuggle time and even had Mandy and Marlo join us. Until Marlo breathed too heavily in Will's face-then they had to snuggle together some place else. And yesterday was a 1st for our little girl. She petted both dogs on her own and she repeated it today. So maybe my goal of her not running away if the animals get too close will be accomplished afterall. We ended our day by watching We are Marshall. Speaking of movies, a recent favorite of ours is Amazing Grace,the true story of William Wilberforce and his tireless fight to end British slave trade.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well. Indeed, we have much to be thankful for. Children who delight us, family and friends who encourage us, spouses who continue to love us, and our Savior, who loves us most of all.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Big Girl!

Ella dressed up as Raggedy Ann for Halloween this year and was ever so cute! We went to the Fall Festival at the church we've been visiting-she was a little overwhelmed w/all the people but had fun playing a few games and of course winning candy! She caught us off guard by saying she wanted a "lollipop" the next morning b/c neither Will nor I call it that-we say sucker. But we remembered that one of the game helpers had said "Would you like a lollipop?" after she played a game and it obviously stuck w/her. She doesn't miss a thing!

Ella just amazes us all the time. She knows so many words-headache (Daddy gets these a lot), hammock, eBay (I've been addicted lately!), etc. And if you ever tell her she'll get hurt if she does such-an-such so she better not do it, she'll ask "Cry?" And we'll say, "Yes, Ella, you'll get hurt and cry." To which she responds, "Uh-uh, Big Girl!" If you try to convince her that sometimes even big girls cry, she won't buy it. We "blame" this on Ms. Julia, one of Ma-ma's nurses, who has told Ella before, "Big girls don't cry."

She can tell you her night-time schedule-"bath, milk, read book, brush teeth, night-night." She loves for us to pray w/her too and even has said her own prayer. Her first was "Thank you Ma-ma home." How precious is that! I tell you there's nothing sweeter than hearing your child say "Jesus" or as she says, "De-sus."

She has 2 new favorite books: Emma's Lamb and My Cousin Katie. Go check them out at your library! Ella LOVES THEM-I must read both of them at least once a day and I'm thinking we might just go ahead and buy them for her for Christmas.

And for over a month now, Ella has been diaper-free! Yippee! She was only wearing them for naps and night-time but now she is strictly a "panties girl." I just decided when I got down to 3 diapers that I didn't want to buy anymore so I told her, "Ella, you're a big girl now, and big girls don't wear diapers at night." And, "If you have to go tee-tee, you have to get out of bed and go to the potty. We don't tee-tee in our panties, do we?" "Uh-Uh!"
Her diapers were never very wet come morning anyway, so the transition was smooth. She still nurses at night, but we just make sure she goes potty before going to bed and occasionally she has woken up and gone to the potty at night. And she uses the big potty now. Her old potty chair has turned into a step-stool which helps her reach it. Less mess for Mommy-yay!

Also, Ella now uses adult toothpaste (yes, it's safe for kids 2 and up) and knows to spit it out. We like this b/c now we feel like we're finally preventing cavities (since it has flouride) and it's cheaper!

Now more of Ella's antics. Ever since Ella was a baby, if I couldn't find something, I'd make a game out of it. "Brush," I'd ask, "Where are you?" as I walked from room to room looking for it. Now she's caught on. If I'm in another room in the house, I'll hear, "Mommy, R you?" If we're outside playing, "Dump truck, R you?"
And when I'm pushing her on her swing (which we finally! got up at our new house) she'll insist, "Higher, Mommy, higher!" The other day Spunky, one of our cats was watching Ella swing but then ran off. Soon, Ella questioned, "Spunky is?" Too cute!

And come morning time, my angel will pull me out of bed with an emphatic "Up, Mommy!" If that doesn't work, the sheets come off-cruel girl! :-) That's after she's been nursing off and on for an hour as we both get some more shut-eye (have I ever mentioned I am NOT a morning person!)

Enjoy the pics! The park ones are from September.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Life on the Farm

Okay, well technically we're not raising crops or livestock for our livelihood (at the moment), but I did do a lot of poop scooping this morning as I cleaned out the chicken coop (you wouldn't believe how much 2 chickens poop), and we do have a fair amount of land (more than we've ever had), and more animals than we've ever had, AND Will's hunting for a tractor....so in my book, it's a farm. :-)

We've been getting settled in (closing date was Oct. 5) and I've been doing my part-time job again (grading SAT essays), so, I'm sorry for the long delay in updating.

I don't think I can begin to convey how good this move has been for my soul. I'm not sure if I could ever get depressed out here. It's quiet, and ever so peaceful. I'm hoping soon to post some pictures of what I wake up to seeing every morning. And the lovely, breathtaking sunsets. Many times a day, I say, "God, You're so good! Thank You for giving us this; we're indeed blessed." I still can't believe it's ours; it truly is a paradise for us. And Ella loves her new house. When we're doing errands around town and she's getting tired, she says, "New house, Mommy. New house." :-)

I love having animals too-every morning Boosie and I walk out and let them all out of their pens and feed them. She's getting less afraid of them everyday and will even walk very close to the dogs and cats now. But no petting...yet. She's still not too sure of the chickens after a pecking incident, and I can't really blame her. Peepers (the other hen's name is Penny)came after Ella when we let them out one morning. Truth be known, Peepers was really mad at Will b/c when he left for work that morning, he let the dogs and cats out but not the chickens. He said they were still in their house, not waiting at the gate, so he figured I could just do it later. Trouble is, Ella and I went out there late that morning, so by that time I guess they were really mad. I opened the gate and Peepers charged Ella and began pecking at her sweater before I could stop her. But considering that traumatic experience, Ella's doing quite well. She still wants to help me feed the chickens their daily dose of bugs (when we dump the pool filter out)and always likes to look at Peepers from the door when she decides to park herself on our steps. And of course, Will said, "Let that chicken try that again (referring to pecking Ella), and we'll have her for supper!"

Usually after feeding the animals in the morning, Ella and I will relax for a few minutes on the hammock and I will just reflect again on God's goodness and love. He knew we needed this-especially me. My soul needed to get out in the country, to have animals to care for, to walk outside my house and not see any neighbors. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to become a hermit, but I do like to enjoy my privacy. There's a time and season for everything. When I'm able, (meaning when and if Ella takes a nap that day), I love going outside on the deck for my quiet time w/God. I seem to be able to hear Him better out here. Perhaps b/c I'm not hearing sirens in the background? Or wondering when the next roach is going to pop out? (Rental house woes!). Or is it just b/c I'm out in His beautiful creation, which is a worshipful experience in itself?

Now for an Ella update. She's talking more now...yay! I can't tell you how good it is to hear her put a couple of words together. I'm still amazed by it and wish I could capture it more on video. How do they know to clam up when you turn that camcorder on? Her only 2 sentences so far have been, "Let's go park" (or "Let's go Mama's"), and "Daddy kill deer." You can imagine how thrilled Will was w/that one! She's doing a lot of 2 word phrases right now, "Yellow ball" (she knows all her colors!), "Lot more," etc. And she says animal names now, instead of just the sound. Except for chicken-she still says, "Bawk, Bawk!" :-) And for the news she's proudest of? She's no longer in her crib-well not technically. We took the railing off her crib, so now it's a day bed. She's doing well in it. We put 2 pillows lengthwise and have her portable mattress below, just in case she falls out. So far, so good.

And this past Saturday, we took Ella to a pumpkin patch. The closest one was an hour and a half away and very commercialized-but Ella enjoyed it. We're looking forward to growing our own pumpkins next year. I would really like for Ella to get to pick a pumpkin and not have them already sitting out on display. Not to mention, it would save us a lot of money (between the hay ride, the corn maze and the pumpkins, it cost $32.) Hopefully, we could sell some of our pumpkins too. And as for the hay ride, we'll just put some hay in a wagon and let Daddy pull her with his tractor. He can stop every so often and let her pick the choicest ones! :-)

Enjoy the pics; hopefully I'll get some of the house up soon.

P.S. And yes, Liz, we DID GO SWIMMING! It was about 78 degrees in the water-not too bad-a few weeks ago. I attempted it since then and only managed to wade. It had dropped to 74. Ella was with me too, and even she thought the last time was a little too cold. She still however insists that we put our feet in at least once a day.



Monday, September 17, 2007

Beach Vacation

We just returned Saturday from a week at Surfside Beach. Our first time there. I always went to Myrtle growing up and liked this so much better. It's more of a family beach, so much less of a crowd, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. And since we went in September (b/c of the move), we beat the heat wave. Yay! We found the 2BR condo on vrbo.com-the best place to go if you're looking for a vacation rental anywhere in the world.

Last year, Ella didn't like the sand; this year she wanted me to cover her completely in it. Wish I had a pic of that! She preferred the tidal pools to the actual ocean and loved playing w/her buckets, shovels, and sand castle molds. And she met a darling little girl there, Casey (almost 2). We hit it off w/her parents and are hoping we'll see them next year, same time, same place. Also had fun meeting up w/friends who were staying in a house on the beach. Ella got to get reacquainted w/John Michael, but since we only had our disposable camera, I have no pics to post of that. :-(

Our first full day there we went to Wild Water Park and had a blast! I haven't been to a water park in ages. We took turns riding the slides while one of us watched Ella in the toddler pool (which had tons of small slides for her to play on). But Ella loved jumping up and down in the pool best. It was only 2 feet, so she could do that. We love the water wings we got for her. (We got them new for around $11.00 w/shipping, but they're so worth it. I'm sure she'll be able to use them next summer in our pool, as well.) They're for 1-3 year olds, whereas most of the ones you find at Wal-mart or other places are for 3 and up. So they actually stayed on, and she could swim w/us anywhere-even in the big pool.

Will and I both went on the scariest slide-it has a straight vertical drop. My legs couldn't stop shaking when I got off. And I went in the dark hole slide-completely dark, enclosed slide-there should have been a sign, "Warning-not for claustrophobic people!" We only stayed for 3 hours but that was just the right amount of time-we got to do all the slides and even eat a bite. The rest of the week was spent on the beach and in the condo pool. We had a private walkway from our condo right to the beach-when you have to lug a bunch of stuff, it's helpful not to have to travel far. And Ella got a suntan. You can still see her bathing suit lines-obviously she takes after Will on that one.
:-)

I've also included some pics from when I watched Jonathan a few weeks ago, so Kimberly could go to a dentist appt.
Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

We Stand in Awe of You.

Warning: Long Post. But necessarily long to show you how God worked through every detail in the latest chapter of our lives: buying a new home.

We've found a wonderful, beautiful, more-than-we-could-hope-for house. Yes, we had planned on building on the old home site but many issues came up w/that. There was the concern that another relative who lives close by would be developing property close to where we would build, the problem of the house we built being our permanent residence for at least 20 years. We couldn't sell the house in 5 years if Will got another job somewhere else. How can you invite strangers to live on Mom and Dad's/Mama's land? Then there was the issue of Ella. She'd of course always want to be running up to see her Grandma. And her Grandma is so overwhelmed right now with taking care of her mom; it just wouldn't be fair to them right now. Also, it's not so private anymore. With the subdivision close by, there is more noise and even go-carts going right in front of MaMa's house.

I had been looking for hours online, in real estate books, and could come up with nothing. If I wanted even a 1/2 acre lot, we'd have to pay close to $180,000 for it, and had a hard time finding anything on this side of town which is closer to his work. I had even checked out FSBO websites, since we've had such success w/that route. So, late Tuesday night (actually it was 12:30am, so early Wed. morning), I just felt like I should check the forsalebyowner.com website one more time. I saw only a few homes in our city way out of our price range and then one in a nearby town. I had seen that one the week before but passed it up b/c Will had mentioned that would be a further drive to his work. But again, something told me to at least open it and look at it. This "something," I have no doubt now, was the Holy Spirit's leading.

As soon as I saw it, I knew; "This is our new home."

Seriously, that fast. I read that it had 4 acres and that sealed the deal. But then, just because our God loves to grant the desires of our heart, I continued to read in the description that is has an inground pool. I've always wanted one. I was in the process of convincing Will that if we did ever build somewhere, we had to build that as well. I consider it the best exercise ever and much preferred over 3 miles on the treadmill!

So....the next step was to plug in the address in Google Maps and see how far it was from Will's work. I just knew it would be too far and actually closed my eyes while waiting for the results. I was too scared to look. I wanted this house so badly. Well, it said 56 minutes away and he is driving 55 min. now. WOW! I couldn't believe it. This really was it. As I climbed into bed that night, I said, "Honey, I found our house." Will's response. "Huh?" Back to sleep. He was out of it. The next morning, I asked him to look at it online. He admitted it was a good deal for the money but wasn't that impressed w/the pictures. Especially the first one. He said it looked too plain, etc. But he agreed we should call and set up an appointment. I got in touch with Donna (homeowner) and asked when we could come see it. She said we could it that night (which was Wed.) or we could Thursday. I chose Wed. And that, as you will see, was another God thing.

As soon as we pulled up, Will said, "Wow-this is so much better than what I thought. It's beautiful." After walking the property w/Donna and Mike, we both knew we wanted it and we hadn't even seen the inside. We had been introduced to their 3 dogs, 3 kittens, and 2 chickens and seen her blueberry and blackberry bushes and muscadine vines, the unbelievable country front porch which extends the length of the house, their beautiful land, and didn't need to see the interior. And we found out that Mike's a pastor at a Presbyterian church and that he knows Will's dad very well. Yet another God thing. After touring the inside, we talked w/them a little about specifics. They had mentioned that a man from Texas wanted the house and had made a verbal offer, so we wanted to find out more about that. Turns out, his realtor had called them that afternoon and told them he couldn't fax over the information to them b/c he was on his way to a meeting, so nothing was official yet. They told him, "Well, just so you know, we have 2 couples coming to look at the house tonight and one of them could make an offer too." The realtor said okay and took the chance. I'm sure he's kicking himself now.

After we'd been there for an hour, the next couple showed up. I was so antsy and worried the whole time even thought Donna promised us that we'd be able to offer first since we came first. Will and I talked out on the front porch and decided we weren't going to risk losing this house over a few thousand dollars. So we agreed we'd offer them full price. Thankfully the family that was looking at the house after us said they'd call them the next day re: an offer (and they did), so we were able to sit w/Mike and Donna and present our offer. (Just so you know, they'd only had it FSBO for 2 weeks and got 4 offers in that time period, including ours. So, should we ever decide to sell years down the road, I don't think we'll have any problems.)

They wanted to make sure we were sure and we told them the circumstances that God had worked out so far and how after seeing it on the computer, I just knew this was it. That hit home w/them b/c that was similar to Donna's story when she first saw the house (without Mike). She knew right away and Mike had just been praying that God would please let them find a home out in the country b/c Donna had always wanted to live on some land. They've been in the home now for 8 years and hate to leave it, but Mike is taking a church at Wrightsville Beach. I told Donna, "Well, if you have to leave your "paradise on earth" (her words), at least you'll get to live at the beach." But she's not really a beach person, so that's not much consolation. They will have houses all around them, no privacy like they do now. She has no doubt though, that this is the next move God has for them.

Anyway, back to the offer. After offering full price, they said they wanted to go outside and talk about it. We were worried; did the Texas guy offer as much or more than we did. Then I couldn't help but thinking, maybe we should have offered less (specifically I was thinking, "I wish we could get it for about $4,000 less"-though I knew we were still getting a great deal at full price). So we prayed while they were outside praying as well. They came in and asked us again if we were sure and then said they felt like God wanted us to have the house but they wanted to give it to us for $4,000 less if that was okay w/us...are you kidding? Of course that's okay. Amazing. We found out the Texas guy did offer full price and since he was using a realtor, maybe they would've had to pay 3% to him, but still, they didn't have to let us have it for any cheaper. That just goes to show you their great character.

Donna said that specific prayers of hers had been answered. One was that a Christian family would buy the property and love and care for it as much as they had and another was that God would take care of her animals. She hated to give them away-this was the only home they'd ever known. They can't take all those to the beach, so we're inheriting 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 chickens, one of which lays eggs. Perfect! Now surely I won't get lonely during the day. :-) We had said as soon as we got some land, we wanted to get Ella a lab. One of their dogs, Mandy, is a beautiful, gentle yellow lab.

Also, another neat tid-bit. One of their cats is called "Scaredy" b/c she's so afraid of anyone who comes to the property. Whenever they go away, the boy who feeds the animals never sees Scaredy the whole time. She'll only come out when Donna and Mike return. Well, guess what? While we were walking the property, Scaredy stayed close by. Donna said that was surely a sign; she never does that when any other people come by.

After signing the contract at their dining room table, Mike led us in prayer. I felt God's presence there in the midst of us-so real, so strong. So neat. And how awesome to know that you're buying a home which has been bathed in prayer.

Well, by the time we left it was close to 11:30pm; thankfully Ella was w/Will's parents and already in bed. We go outside to discover that Will's keys have been locked inside the truck. We could've called AAA but who knows when they would've showed up. They told us we could use 1 of their 2 vehicles and bring it back tomorrow, since we had an extra set of Will's keys at home. What a blessing. Then we arrive home and can't get inside (house keys in his truck too) but God worked again and we were able to get a bedroom window opened and Will boosted me inside. Oh wait, I forgot to mention the most important part. This only happened after we stopped and prayed about it. Will was considering busting the panes out of the front or side door. Glad we stopped to pray. :-) The next day, Dad came up w/us and got to talk w/Mike and Donna. He loved the property but of course said, "Y'all must be having to pay a fortune for that place!" Will assured him we got a good deal. :-)

I can't wait for y'all to see it in person-the beautiful country setting can only be experienced, not explained. So quiet, no sirens going by at 2am, no planes flying directly over our house. Donna and Mike said in the fall and spring they love rocking on their front porch and sometimes even see 2 cars pass by-that's really heavy traffic for them. What a nice change that will be. And guess what-there is even 2 trees spaced just right for a hammock. Another desire answered. And for the best part. Will drove to his work Thursday after we brought Donna's car back and w/her short cut directions, he got there in 45 minutes! That's 10 minutes closer than now. What a blessing! And it's only 25 minutes from Will's parents, so we can still see them once or twice a week and visit w/Laurance & Kimberly.(20 min. away). That way no one will get sick of us! :-)

And one of the greatest things is that there's 500 acres of land behind us which the owner never plans on developing. Possibly he'll let Will hunt it w/his bow? Donna and Mike also see turkey and deer from their deck all the time. They graze right on their property. Won't that be nice. Hopefully, I can convince Will to just look at those. :-) There's 12 acres a widow owns across the dirt road from us. We can't even see her house from our front porch. Another widow lives next to us (and by "next to us", I mean about a 1/2 mile away). So, now I can go outside in my PJ's if I so desire. :-)

And I haven't mentioned the difference in weather there-amazing. It's on a hill, nice breeze all the time, AND I didn't get bit once while I was outside by stinking mosquitoes. And they always find me. Especially at Mama's house.

The house also include a nice 2-car carport w/attached 10x20 office (read: workout/reloading room). There's also a small work shed w/loft space for storage.
More granted desires: cathedral ceilings in the large great room, fireplace in great room (gas or could be wood burning-we prefer wood-burning), beautiful pine flooring in Great Room and Dining Room, walk-in closets in the bedrooms, sliding glass door off MBR leading to its own private deck, and...did I mention the land? :-)

So, I echo what Will said as we were standing on the beautiful country porch and gazing out across the property, "This is more than I could have ever hoped for or imagined."

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
Amen.
(Eph. 3:20-21)


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Saying Good-bye

Thank you all for your prayers, encouragement and birthday wishes-it really means a lot to have y'all as my blogger family! I'm feeling somewhat better today...packed our last trailer full of stuff from our old house (yes, another trailer!!!) and Ella said "Bye-Bye" to the house for the last time. Sniff, sniff, boo hoo. But of course, she said it happily, without a care in the world. I got our neighbor to take some pics of us in front of our house. God has graciously allowed me to realize that even though I will miss it dearly, it is time to let go. And by His grace, no looking back and no more questioning. We'll go back one more night next Sunday (closing Monday morning) but Ella won't go w/us. Somehow I don't think a 2 year old will sit quietly in a lawyer's office while we sign a million papers.

So, she swam in her pool for one last time, swung in her swing one last time...but she has many firsts to start here, so all is well.

I am indeed blessed and as always, God is good.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Back On!

Well, we finally got the internet connected in the rental house, and now I feel human again. I was feeling so disconnected from the world, especially since we had no TV to even watch the news. I've so missed my blogging family and friends.

A little has happened since I last wrote. I'm now a year older (31!) and had a wonderful time at Red Bone Alley w/Will (sans Ella-thank God for grandparents!). We both had shrimp and cheese grits (yummy!!!) and a free birthday sundae for dessert. (And yes, Sarah, I got to enjoy my cup of coffee!) There was a musician playing the guitar there-blues and some 80's classics-it was lovely. I really wanted to dance but neither Will nor I had the nerve as no one else was....maybe I can talk him into a dance class and we'll show off next year. :-)

And more news...we close on the 20th! So, we'll be closing 35 days after we put the house up for sale. Crazy how fast this all came together. I'm now trying to remind myself that I should be thankful and grateful. Right now, I'm going through an emotional time. We're losing our first home, the only home Ella has known. And we've gotten about 6 calls since the house was under contract which makes me think, "Did we have it priced too low?" "Could we have gotten more?" "Should we have held out?" Based on our interview w/the real estate agent we considered going with (but decided against), we made $1000 more than she would have even listed the house for, yet still, that was only one realtor's opinion and again I wonder....You know, Satan loves to get me w/those "What If's."

So, I've just been a wreck this week. Questioning, crying, missing our home, and to top it all off, I was 5 days late. That actually got me hoping, wondering....but after 2 tests, I resigned myself to the fact that I was not pregnant. Nope, just very late and I'm never late. Of course now I realize stress and Ella nursing at night during those weeks she slept w/us at Mama's probably led to the delay. But I was hoping...

I know God's timing is best, and I know that I need to make this home our home for now, as best I can. I know all these things in my head, but if my heart could ever get on board, I'd be doing much better.

Thank you all for your prayers.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!

We have a contract on our house!!!! We had a couple look at our house yesterday (our wonderful neighbors had a key and gave them the tour) and we got a call last night with their offer. That's 16 days on the market! Amazing! Praise the Lord, we will be making about $7500 more since we're not having to pay any realtor's commission. God is indeed good. Thank you all so much for your prayers; please continue to pray that closing will all go well. Lord willing, that will all be done by the end of this month.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A NEW HOUSE!

That's what it felt like coming in after our Accredited Staging Professional was finished with our house. She did such a fantastic job-now I really don't want to leave! :-)




















Now if we can just get people here to see it, I think we'll have a good chance of selling it-thank you for your continued prayers!

It's raining Duckies!

Elizabeth and Emily have more details about Emily's wonderful baby shower held last Sunday at Ma-Ma's, but I thought I'd post the few pics I had. Emily looks so adorable pregnant-she's still so tiny and of course, all baby. I'm sure she'll be fit and trim as soon as little Benjamin pops out. :-) It was great fun planning the shower w/Elizabeth though all the decorations were her idea. Lots of rubber duckies and some cute froggies. So boy and so cute! I just contributed some games, which thankfully everyone seemed to enjoy. And the food-absolutely delicious!
Can't wait to meet Benjamin Thomas Gray!

Oh, and I had to thow in some pics of Ella and Ba-pa at the 4th picnic. So precious!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'M TWO!!!

Please come help me celebrate
My 2nd birthday at the lake
We'll laugh and run, swim and play
And enjoy icecream cake all day.

Well, that was what her invitation said,
But it should have read,

Please come help me celebrate
My 2nd birthday at the lake
I'll get sick, and Mommy will fall
And in unison we'll begin to bawl!

:-)

Here are the promised birthday photos. Enjoy!





And here's a comparison-Ella at her 1st b-day and 2nd b-day. This really makes it obvious how much my baby has grown. Will I ever stop calling her "my baby"? Probably not. :-)




Tuesday, July 03, 2007

For Sale By Owner

Yes, you read that right-we've changed our minds back to our original plan after some encouraging words from some good friends who had great success w/this. We have some great neighbors who are willing to show the house if someone wants to see it during the week and we'll be back every weekend someone wants to see it. We're planning on trying it this way for 1 month; if no potential buyers in that time frame, we might try a realtor again. Our first realtor interview was awful. She was recommended by USAA and had 20 years experience, but she was not prepared in her presentation and not at all motivated about selling our house. She had no real market strategy. It was like she was just still doing her job but had really left it years ago (as far as being excited about what she does). There was no way I was giving this lady $7000 for basically just putting a sign in my yard. Will and I decided right then and there, that there was no way we could do any worse, MLS or not!

We didn't feel like trying another one USAA had and then possibly another-just a waste of our time. It's not worth the $650 cash back bonus for using one of "their" agents. So, if the FSBO doesn't work for us (and please pray that it does!) we're going to go online and pick our own agent by looking at bio sketches. Sometimes the ones who've only worked 2 years are better b/c they're still so motivated and excited about their job. If we're giving a realtor that money, they're going to have to work for it.

Ella had a most interesting 2nd birthday-I'll write more about that later when I can post pics (my camera hook up that goes to the computer was accidentally packed up!). In short, she was sick and I took a terrible fall (I slipped on her vomit while trying to rush her to the bathroom-how many people can say that!) and thought I was going to have to go the the ER. But thankfully, my neck was not broken (I hit the corner of a wooden TV table and then fell on a hardwood floor-my feet just went completely out from under me!) Turns out I have a very hard head and back and God was completely watching over me! Definitely not a b-day we'll soon forget. Thankfully, my soreness is getting better and Ella hasn't thrown up since early Sunday morning. However, she still hasn't gotten her appetite back-I'm so glad I'm still nursing. On Sunday, breastmilk and 4 saltine crackers was all her little tummy could take.

We're going to the rental house tomorrow-Will's already got all our furniture down there. He may be down for the 4th picnic depending on how the fixing up goes w/this house. Oh, the emotions of walking in yesterday and finding my house almost completely empty. All the memories-and yet, God reminded me that my home is really wherever my dear hubby and daughter are. But still-it is hard. Especially Ella's room. And now today, it has a new coat of paint. :-( No more cheery yellow. Oh well, we'll just have to paint her rental room that color again.

Thank you all for your prayers!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Moving Update

Many of you have asked for an update on our moving status, so I thought a post would be the easiest way to give an answer. :-)

We're moving out of the house July 2-taking our furniture on a moving truck to our new home (the rental property where both Kimberly and Erin have stayed). We're coming back the next day to clean, clean, clean until our house shines and then calling the carpet people in to do their thing. Next, we're calling in the home staging gurus to make our place look wonderful (it's been proven that homes sell 70% faster when they are furnished). Will's company is paying for it, so we figured we better do the most we can to make it sell fast (we have 3 months worth of mortgage covered as well and are ever so thankful for that).

Once that's all done, we're listing our house w/an agent. We wanted to do FSBO so we could save thousands of dollars, but with Will starting his new job the 2nd week in July, it's going to be much easier and less stressful if we do it w/a realtor. Otherwise we'd have to be apart or have Will travel back and forth and try to arrange showings when he's here. The only consolation is that we're doing Mover's Advantage w/USAA (our insurance company), so we'll get about $650 cash back for using their recommended agent. It turns out their agent works for the company we wanted to use anyway (Century 21)-isn't God good! :-)

The handyman should start fixing the roof/gutters on the screen porch tomorrow and Lord willing, be finished w/everything by the end of the week. Will fixed the gates/fences this weekend and re-did the shutters on his shed.

He also took some time to enjoy Father's Day. We had a very special time of family devotions-sang lots of hymns, read a passage, and prayed, and Ella managed okay. We're trying to teach her to be still and quite. Not so easy for a 23-month old, but she's learning. And Will was excited about his presents (a new work outfit, new swim trunks, and some new shorts); I got some great deals at Penny's. :-)

Thank you for your prayers! I'm soooo looking forward to being at our new location and being done w/it all!!! and I think Ella is too. We went down this past Thursday to take another 6x12 trailer down and since we've been back all she keeps saying is "Maw-Maw." That's what we call Will's grandmother whom Ella adores. She also says, "Neigh" because she loves feeding Sir, the horse that's there. I really think she's going to have a blast in the country. She loves her grandparents and great-grandma so much already!


A hug for her Daddy on Father's Day!


She's started feeding her stuffed animals some of her food (here she shares a cracker w/Cuddlebug Bear).

Monday, June 04, 2007

IT'S A BOY!!!

Wow, what a crazy weekend! We went down for Kimberly's shower (my sister-in-law) but found out on the way that she had just been admitted to the hospital b/c her water broke! (She wanted a home birth but her midwife legally couldn't do it b/c according to her calculations was only 35 weeks.) We got to Will's parents around midnight and Mom and Dad had already left to go to the hospital. I told Will, "Well, we'll just go over first thing in the morning; with this being her first baby, she probably won't have him before 8 or 9am ." We woke up at 6am only to find out from Will's parents that she had the baby that night. She was admitted around 8:30pm (3cm. dilated, completely effaced) and JONATHAN LAURANCE was born at 11:48pm after just 20 min. of pushing. He's 6lbs. 11oz. and 20 1/4 inches long and absolutely A CUTIE! Can you imagine how big he would have been had she waited till her original due date of July 1!

I'm not sure whether to be jealous of her short labor or to feel sorry for her that everything came so fast and she didn't have much time to prepare nor have much relief between contractions. Of course, later she realized she had been in labor all day while out to eat and to the mall w/Mom but didn't realize that's what contractions felt like. Hard to know when it's your first time!

What a blessing that her midwife and nurse-midwife were able to be in the room w/her and she was able to have a natural childbirth just like she wanted (minus the birthing pool). She was able to labor the entire time standing up and squatted to push the baby out. Laurance is already a protective daddy-it's so cute to watch! And, my, I don't remember Ella ever being so small (of course, she technically wasn't-she was exactly a pound more) but still, I've already forgotten how tiny newborns are. And...I can't tell you how much more seeing him made Will and I want another one soon.

Mom and baby are fine. Kimberly didn't need stitches but they are monitoring the baby for jaundice. He's a 12.5 right and if he gets to a 20, he'll have to get on antibiotics. So please pray the sunlight will help him and he'll get better soon. They had him under the lamp at the hospital for a few days but didn't make them bring it home w/them.

So, is this a first? You have a baby shower but the guest of honor can't attend b/c she just had the baby? We decided to go ahead and have it b/c it was too late to call everyone and it would've been too hard to try to schedule it all again. It all worked out fine though. It became a little more of a drop-in shower but we all had a good time and instead of seeing Kimberly, they saw pics of the new little family. I was a little disappointed that we didn't play games since that was my main contribution to the shower, but that just means I can use some of the games for Emily's shower and my work is already done...that is, unless I talk w/Liz and we decide to come up w/some crazier ones. :-)

We're so thankful we were able to be there to share in the miraculous event. Every birth truly is a miracle and every baby a blessing from God. And we're soooo looking forward to living closer to them so we can raise our babies together!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Paint, Boxes, and Camo!

Hope everyone enjoyed Memorial Day! Will spent the weekend and Memorial Day painting the office, den, master bedroom, and hallway. I went home for a friend's 30th birthday party and enjoyed spending time w/family as well. Our house is looking prettier and prettier which makes us not want to leave it! Why couldn't we get it looking this good while we were here for 6 years? But please pray about the screen porch! We're having trouble finding someone to finish it up. People say they can and will and then back out. We don't want to put the house up until it's finished.
We're also praying that Tommy (Will's future boss) will continue to be patient w/the starting date. It's looking more like July for sure and that's if our house sells very, very fast. We've started packing boxes-books, attic stuff, and some of Will's supplies from his shed. We'll be taking those on a U-Haul down to the homeplace this weekend since we're going that way for Kimberly's baby shower.

Here's some recent picture of our adorable and crazy baby. The camo overalls are a little big yet, but she definitely looks like she'd make a cute hunter one day. :-)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ella's Update

Well, I figured it was high time I wrote a little bit. And I have a confession to make...I miss blogging! :-)
Ella is changing so much and so fast. Too fast. Is there any way to stop time? To let her remain 22 months old forever?
Yesterday, Will came home for a rare lunch break and got her up from her nap (she had already been sleeping for almost 2 hours) so she could eat with us. The first thing she did upon waking? Say "Choo Choo" and do the train motion w/her hand. There are train tracks near our house but there was no train coming then, so all we could figure was she had been woken up too soon from her delightful dream about trains. :-)

She's using the potty all the time now! I credit success to my reading of The Diaper-Free baby by Christine Gross-Loh. In actuality, you should start this w/younger babies, but I figured, "What the heck; let's try it now and see what happens." What happened was amazing. I first kept Ella's diaper-free times confined to the kitchen (the only room we don't have carpet in) and tried 30-45 min. increments. Her first time peeing on the floor enforced what the book said. Babies learn to forget their peeing sensation b/c our diapers today are so absorbent. She stood there looking at me like, "What is this coming out of me? What's going on?" The next time, she went straight to her potty (which I had moved to the kitchen) and as she was peeing I said, "Ella, you're peeing." That's when she got it. And from then on, it's been pretty smooth sailing. She even poops in the potty without any problems. We're still using diapers at night but usually in the morning she's dry. Tonight while we were walking around the block, she said, "Poo-Poo" which could mean she has to go pee or poop. So we said, "Don't go, Ella. Hold it in. We're going home." And she laughed as Will and I raced her home in the stroller. She went straight to the potty and boy did she really have to go. I don't know if that pull-up could have even held all that pee!
:-) (We use regular panties sometimes around the house and when we're playing right outside, but I'm still scared to try them when we go anywhere!)
I'm considering using the Elimination Communication method for our next little one (starting much younger naturally.) The point of this isn't a race to see how soon you can "potty-train" your child but rather communicating w/them (yes, even infants have "potty" signals) and never letting them get into the habit of soiling themselves.

Something else new since I last wrote? Ella's says the greatest Southern
"Hay-ey" you've ever heard. And she's becoming quite opinionated about what she wears every day, even bringing me different socks (yesterday it was purple) to wear hours after we've decided (or thought we did) that she was wearing pink socks.

Ella had two fun playdates recently. It was exciting to see her interacting more w/another toddler and doing a little less parallel play. One with John Michael who is 6 months younger and one with Kurtis who is about 3 months older. And Kurtis's younger brother Kamden (8 months) was there and Ella was so great w/him. She gently patted him on his head, tummy, etc. It gave me a glimpse of how she'll (hopefully) be as a big sister one day.

And I have to share our new favorite song, "Made to Love" by TobyMac. Whenever we hear it, we rush into the kitchen (where the radio is) and begin dancing. It's such a catchy, fun song with meaningful lyrics. I'm instantly refreshed when I hear it as I often need reminding of my purpose on this earth. Here's the chorus:

I was made to love you
I was made to find you
I was made just for you
Made to adore you
I was made to love
And be loved by you.
You were here before me
You were waiting on me
And you said you'd keep me
Never would you leave me
I was made to love
and be loved by you.

These days, whenever Ella wants to do anything, she'll point to that thing, and say, "Uh-huh." So, we're outside today, and she runs over to her toddler swing, points, and says, "uh-huh." I put her in and then the "conversation" goes something like this.

Me: Ready?
Ella: Uh-huh.
Me: Okay, here we go, One...
Ella: "Twoooooo".
Me: Three!
Ella and Mommy: "Whee!"

Oh, such fun! Yes, she has her temper tantrums, but this is such a delightful age.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Children's Book Monday

This will be my last post for awhile. I'll miss posting, but I'll enjoy the time I will now have to do other things.

The Lord gave me a wonderful confirmation this past weekend of our decision to move near Will's folks in the "country". We went to see my folks and spent the day Saturday at my Granny's and then my Aunt's house. They live just like we will-a country setting, and a quiet, simpler life-and they're also just a stone's throw from each other. Well, I can't tell you how much fun Ella had. She was getting hot in her overalls, so eventually stripped down to just her diaper, and then to her birthday suit. And can you believe it....our dainty, little "I-don't-ever-like-to-be-dirty" girl played in the dirt and loved it! She scooped up dirt into a bowl, then she just started picking it up with her hands and throwing it on her feet or into the air. It was so lovely to watch. And I just kept thinking that soon she'll be able to play like this every day. God is good.

Now with a little sadness, I begin my last review...



The Little Sleepyhead

Story by Fran Manushkin
Pictures by Leonid Gore

A long time ago, when the world was so young that all the rocks were little pebbles and all the chicks were still in their eggs, there lived a Little Sleepyhead.

So begins this delightful tale of little sleepyhead who plays all day and at night is very, very tired but can't find anywhere to sleep. He sees the squirrels sleeping in the trees, so he decides to try that. "He closed his eyes, but did he sleep?" No, too bumpy. He sees the frogs sleeping on lily pads; maybe I can try that he thinks. "But did he sleep....no," he fell in the water. This refrain is repeated with various animals until he finally finds the perfect resting spot and the perfect animal to cuddle with for a wonderful night's sleep. I can't give it away-you'll just have to go check it out of the libary for yourself. With the soft, pastel illustrations, I think your toddler will love it!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Changes

Will and I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. The Holy Spirit had already been convicting me of my time on the internet. Too much of it. At the cost of spending time w/Him and w/my husband in the evenings. I've tried curbing it, but it's an obsession. Checking blogs-finding new blogs, writing posts, reading comments, writing comments, etc. And Ella still has no scrapbook-just one that's online. And that's not exactly what I had in mind. I need to spend the time while she's napping to work on that among other things. As much as I'll hate to lose the contact w/my wonderful family and friends, we're cutting back on this technology for now at least. I keep reminding myself, there's always the library. Internet is free there if I just have to have my blog fix or research something. And I may occasionally update my blog from there, but probably not much in the next few months as we have lots to do...

Will and I have been praying about building on his family's old home site.(I'm not saying the name of the city for safety reasons.) Most likely, Will will be working at his old job-yes, that would be a good 50 minute commute-but there aren't any geotech firms where his family lives. He's going to try to get them to agree to just a 4 day work week (working 10 hours a day); that way, we'll see him more than we do now. But the best part is I'll have family nearby for support, for adult interaction, etc. I sooooo need that. I get quite depressed here by myself all day--thus why I turn to the internet so much! I'm quite excited about Ella saying in the near future, "Mom, I'm going up to grandma's!" And to top it all off, she only has a quaint, beautiful country lane to travel to get there!

So, how did we come to this conclusion. Actually from reading
Better Off
Flipping The Switch On Technology

By Eric Brende

I highly recommend this-go pick up a copy from your library today! Will's wanted to do something like this forever but I haven't exactly been on board. But after reading this book and seeing how Eric and his wife had a much better quality of life living on a farm and having a close community, I wanted it so much. Eric (an MIT graduate) and his wife Mary actually have an experiment-live among the Minimites for 18 months (no, not the Mennonites or the Amish-he actually made up the term "Minimites" for them as they are even stricter than the others and use no machinery whatsoever.) They've even invented their own contraptions for threshing their wheat and for getting running water in their homes. What Eric found was that this community actually had more time on their hands for socializing than we do w/all our modern technology. It's such a fascinating read because it it reveals how we don't need so many of the things our cultural dictates as mandatory.

In one passage I particularly like from the book (from the chapter, "The Sounds of Silence"), Eric is reading The Education of Henry Adams one evening (by kerosene lamp light, of course) and finally understands why he could so easily read the book now but yet had not been able to get past the first few pages while in college.

[Henry Adams] had lived within a culture whose movements were still largely limited by the speed of horses; the ambling cadences of his writing preserved this pace. Having taught medieval history at Harvard besides, his verbal nuances hearkened back to an earlier epoch still and seemed to echo from the deep wells of time, the vaults of the great cathedrals.

This was the secret: to grasp his meaning, you had to be living it. Not merely your thoughts, but your various daily duties, the material accoutrements by which you performed them, had to fold together in a quiet rhythm, an interconnected unity.

And this explained not only why time moved more slowly but also why we had more of it, why we were able to relax and read the way we were doing right now; in the absence of fast-paced gizmos, ringing phones, alarm clocks, television, radios, and cars, we could simply take ou time. In being slower, time is more capacious. The event is only in the moment. By speeding through life with technology, you reduce what any given moment can hold. Buy slowing down, you expand it.

Shortcuts lead to emergency mending sessions in order to piece back in what was cut out, to lengthen what was shortened: Computer users, cramped in a cubicle all day long, jogging around the block. Bureaucrats and financiers, zooming ahead along their career paths, then reversing gears to attend school concerts, ball games, and parent meetings. Captives of the technological environment fleeing for brief weekends to mountain, beaches, and rustic cabins.


So true, don't you think? I could discuss this book forever, but I need to move on; otherwise no one will finish reading this post b/c it will be too long.

So back to our decision-for us moving to *** is the closest we have to farm life and family, so that's why we're doing it. We want to have a big garden and maybe chickens and goats in the future. We're planning on building a wood house-similar to that of the mountain cabin. We wanted a log one, but then checked out the prices-way too high, so wood it is. We want something rustic but we also want to finance the least amount as possible for only 15-years and put extra on it every month to have it paid off in 10 years or less. We want a simpler life. We've been looking for ways to cut back on spending b/c ideally the less we have to spend every month, the less Will has to work and the more time we can spend together as a family. We've already cut back on car insurance (almost $400/yr savings-yes, we're still covered, but found things we were spending that we didn't need) and of course, the internet ($43/month). The next will probably be cell phones and Dish-but right now we have heavy penalties for canceling before our contract is up, so we're waiting several more months on that.

I'm scared about this new adventure but also excited. I'm glad God didn't give up working on me. And whenever I get exhausted from trying to figure out all the details, God gently rebukes me as I sing to Ella from The Lullaby Bible-her new favorite book!

(To be sung to the tune of All Through The Night)

Hush my child,
Cease your worries,
God cares for you.
He feeds the birds
and clothes the lilies,
God cares for you.

Soft the lovely birds are winging,
Sweet the flowers who hear their singing.
Twilight falls with hope still ringing:
God cares for you.


Thank you for your prayers-please continue. We're still waiting on details to be worked out w/Will's job and then of course we need to get this house ready to sell.

P.S. I'll be posting one more time before we close out our account.
P.P.S. I failed to mention how I found out about Better Off. It was by reading this post on Amy's blog. The irony does not escape me. :-)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Children's Book Monday


I'm sorry I haven't written since last Monday; a lot has been going on. Actually I may not be posting much longer but that's another story. I'll be writing a post on that later this week to explain. (No, I'm not pregnant.) We have a lot of decisions to make in the near future, so right now if you could just be in prayer, we'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

Now on to the review!



No More Diapers for Ducky
Story by Bernette Ford
Pictures by Sam Williams

The story time leader read this a few weeks ago, and I immediately thought "Yay, maybe this will convince Ella to use her potty!" She does sit on it a lot more now (even w/no clothes on-which she used to be afraid to do), but as of yet, no actual pottying has occured. Regardless, the book is such a fun read; the pictures are simple and adorable. First Ducky comes to Piggy's house; Piggy's there but is in the bathroom. Ducky knocks on the door. I always knock on the book at this point and Ella loves it! "I can't come out now-I'm on the potty," Piggy says. So Ducky plays with Piggy's toys and reads his books while she's waiting on him. Later, Ducky realizes her diaper feels wet and cold and wriggles out of it and kicks it across the floor. I know this could pose a problem-but as of yet, Ella hasn't taken any diapers off (except for this incident a long time ago and that was way before Ducky book). Ducky knocks again. "I have to use the potty." "You can't use the potty; you wear diapers, says Piggy." "Not anymore," says Ducky." The last page shows Ducky on the potty reading a book. A delightful read regardless of your child's potty-training status. :-) Happy reading!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Children's Book Monday



I'm so excited to be joining Elise at A Path Made Straight for Children's Book Monday. Obviously my choices will be geared toward toddlers, mainly a vivacious 20-month old named Ella. Since I've been going to story time at our local library, I'm discovering all kinds of good reads. Of course they display some books and read a couple, and then I also just browse the children's shelves for as long as Ella will allow me. I usually leave w/at least 6 good books for her and 2 for me. Of course, I always have to renew mine...

I have to tell you how much my little girl loves books. Oftentimes the first thing she'll sign now when she wakes up from naps or even in the morning is "book." Even before signing "milk." Now that's what I call a book addiction! During our reading time, she'll often lean back and cross her hands behind her head-lounge baby. And she always wants a book in her hand while nursing as well.

I discovered an easy no-fuss way to get her to go down for naps too. Now I just choose 3 books and place them in her crib w/her. As I shut the door, she's already got one on her lap and is studying each page. Usually by the time she peruses them a few times, she gets tired and goes to sleep.

And I just have to share this story that happened yesterday. Ella was looking at a Publix advertisement for their Preschool Pals. On the front page was a cute, green dinosaur. She suddenly got very excited and started pointing towards the den. "No, Ella, we don't have a dinosaur." But she was persistent, so I carried her into the den. Then she began pointing towards the hall, then into her room. Once there, she directed me to her book shelf. She began pulling out one book after the other, apparently looking for something. Finally, it hit me. About a month ago, she had The Best Pet of All on her shelf. I had checked it out from the library after reading Elise's review. She obviously remembered that dinosaur on the cover and wanted to see him again to prove to me that we do indeed have a dinosaur in our house! It was heartbreaking to have to say, "No, Ella, we don't have that one anymore-it's at the library." Luckily, that seemed to pacify her, and I was left to marvel at my little girl's memory!

Now on to my first review. (Don't worry, I won't have such long introductions all the time!)



Clip-Clop
Written and Illustrated by Nicola Smee

This is an adorable book. An easy favorite with it's simple but fun storyline and large, bright illustrations. It tells the story of cat, dog, pig, and duck who all want a ride on Mr. Horse. Ella always giggles when Mr. Horse says "Up you get" to each animal's request. After the animals ride for a bit, they ask Mr. Horse to go faster. They eventually fall off in a haystack, but have no fear, no one is injured. Of course they immediately all shout "Again!" And off they go, "Clip-Clop, Clippity-Clop."
I'm sure your toddler will love it as much as mine did! Happy reading!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Daddy's crackers


Ella loves these peanut butter crackers, but she doesn't get to eat too many b/c I buy them for Will's lunches. I often tell her, "No, Ella, we can't eat those; those are for Daddy." Today, while Will was napping on the couch, she brought a pack to me. I told her the same thing; "These are Daddy's crackers." She promptly took the first pack and placed it on his tummy. Then she went to the pantry and got the other 3 and did the same thing. How sweet!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

10 New Things Ella Can Do

1. Blow Bubbles. She has a monkey wand and constantly beats her chest to remind me that monkey is outside and that's where she wants to be. She loves it when we're outside sitting on the patio chairs blowing bubbles. She feels like such a grown-up I'm sure sitting in a big chair like her Mommy. She'll point to her chair, and I'll say, "Ella's sitting in her chair." She'll point to mine and I'll say, "Mommy's sitting in her chair." Then she'll point to a vacant chair, and I'll say, "Nobody's sitting in that chair." She thinks that's so funny.

2. Operate her Jack-in-the-Box all by herself. She still opens her mouth wide every time he pops out!

3. Ride her purple stick horse that her Aunt Marna got her for Christmas and push his ear to make him neigh.

4. Say "Turtle." She pronouces the 2 syllables so distinctly- "Tur-tul"-it's adorable. She started saying it once she saw the beginning of Over the Hedge. She was fascinated w/that turtle! I personally loved the squirrel the best. :-)

5. Is trying to say other words like "doll" and "ball." Not quite there yet. Making the first sounds of the word though. She's got the "Pu" sound down for "please" too. And she's said some new consonant sounds-for instance, the "h" sound after I told her something was "hot." Her latest is saying her best "Choo-Choo" when she hears the train. Of course her favorite way of communicating is still signing, but she's pointing at new things and wanting names. Today we were outside and she wanted to know about the hose and the drain pipe.

6. Can stack 5 blocks on top of each other! But her favorite activity is putting a couple blocks on Mommy's head and watching them fall off.

7. Can climb up and slide down her new 4-foot slide all by herself. We opted for this right now b/c who knows when Will's going to have the time to build a nice wooden set.

8. She hasn't used her potty yet, but she loves flushing the toilet after I use it. Sometimes she'll flush when no one has even used it.

9. Climb on Rusty (her rocking horse) all by herself and press his ear to make him "clop,clop" and "neiggggh." Will taught her how to put one foot in the stirrup and swing herself up. She doesn't always make it, but you can't fault her for not trying. :-)

10. She's been saying "Moo" for a cow, "Bawk-Bawk" for a chicken, and "Baa" for a sheep for a long time but now she can look like a chicken as well by putting her hands under her armpits for wings and moving her head in and out.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tagged by Liz!

1. What is your occupation? Homemaker

2. What color are your socks right now? Cute pink slipper socks that Emmie got me-I love them! So comfortable.

3. What are you listening to right now? the hum of the computer.

4. What was the last thing that you ate? scrambled eggs/bacon sandwich for breakfast.

5. Can you drive a stick shift? no

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Let's see, right now, I'm feeling like a vibrant blue would be nice...

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Nikki-a friend from church-told me about another person in our Bible Fellowship class who just went into pre-term labor-please pray for her (Stephanie). She's 27 weeks right now.

8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? yes, lots and lots!

9. How old are you today? 30 years, 7 months, and 5 days.

10. Favorite drink: I have 3 favorites depending on my mood: water, sweet tea, diet coke

11. What is your favorite sport to watch? beach volleyball

12. Have you ever dyed your hair? no, just got highlights one time and no one could even tell!

13. Pets? no; when Ella gets a little older, we're planning on getting her a puppy.

14. Favorite food? chicken

15. What was the last movie you watched? Not hallmark? Prestige-and loved it-kept thinking about it for days

16. Favorite holiday? Christmas

17. What do you do to vent anger? Oh, I'm very mature when I get mad. If I'm really frustrated, I scream and beat on the floor (if I'm sitting down) or on a desk or something else nearby if I'm standing up (don't worry-never on Ella). I do this for a few seconds and then feel immensely better.

18. What were your favorite toys as a kid? Scruffy, a stuffed dog; my First Barbie (cute pink/white skirt one)

19. What is your favorite: Spring or Fall? I like them both for different reasons. Love the leaves/color in the fall and the crisp weather, and of course, love the flowers in the spring. I'm an indecisive person, remember?

20. Hugs or kisses? hugs!

21. Cherry or Blueberry? Blueberry! I love putting frozen blueberries in my cereal.

22. Do you want your friends to do this survey too? if they want to

23. Who is most likely to respond? Emmie?

24. Who is least likely to respond? Erin, because she has absolutely no time w/2 kids and twins on the way.

25. Living arrangements? 3/2 down south, on .8 acre lot that backs to woods.

26. When was the last time you cried? teared up reading Karanena's comment on my last post. Really cried? That last time I can clearly remember was when Ella was about 2 months old and I called Sarah Grace bawling. It was a mixture of "I'm a new mom and am completely overwhelmed" and Ella not eating (nursing) enough.

27. What is on the floor of your closet? A shoe rack, my laundry basket

28. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to? Out of the people that read my blog, Sarah Grace is the one I've known the longest. She's "my Diana"-my bosom, kindred spirit.

29. What did you do last night? after putting Boosie to bed, I watched a Hallmark movie. Safehouse-it wasn't that great.

30. Who is your role model? I have different ones for different things. I look up to my sister, Marna, for her great patience and laid-back attitude. She has 4 kids and doesn't ever seem to get really frustrated-amazing. I look up to Emmie for her generous spirit-she's always thinking of others (See #2 above) To Liz for her amazingly upbeat attitude all the time. To Sarah dear-for her wifely skills-among them-cooking meals all the time on time for her hubby. To Letisha-she has 4 kids and is homeschooling them. And she has time to blog. Simply amazing. I struggle w/one. To my grandmother-she never misses a day reading her Bible. To Mama and Mom Kannon-they're so kind and always seek to make peace. To my mom-who always, always, always, puts herself last. To my sweet Ella-who sees everything new and has such curiosity. And I look up to my husband, who works so hard for us during the day and still has the energy to bathe Ella, read her stories, and give me a good back rub/scratch when he gets home!
:-)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Learning

Well, God's been gently reminding me of showing LOVE to my fellow man. Why is that so hard? B/c I'm still so self-absorbed. In my own little Mommy world.
I am realizing it more though and that's the first step, right? I did notice that the deli worker's name was Pam but still didn't say, "Thank you, Pam." Just "thank you." I'll get up the nerve next week. I always think people may think it a little creepy if I use their name and don't know them. I'm sure they wouldn't-they'd be glad someone actually acknowledged them as a person and not just a worker, but that's just my female mind doing way too much analyzing. And I failed to engage in a conversation w/a lady while out walking around the neighborhood b/c I was worried Ella would get too bored in her stroller. But at least God made me aware of the need to.

What God has brought to my mind the most since reading Matthew is Jesus eating w/sinners. (Because the sick are the ones in need of a physician.) And I've been thinking, "Do I even know any non-Christian friends?" Shouldn't I meet some and have them over? In Blue Like Jazz, Don talks about his pastor encouraging them to go out and just love on people-show them Christ's love and kindness. Not to try to get them to come to the church, but just to be like Christ. The result was many did end of coming to the church and finding a relationship w/Christ b/c those church-goers put their faith into practice.

I've been thinking about our next door neighbors-should we invite them over? This would take a major step of faith and God-given courage b/c I don't like feeling awkward, and when you're getting to know someone it tends to be that way. They could be Christians, who knows? Isn't that the sad thing-I hardly know anything about them.

So pray for me, dear friends, that I'll not just hear God's voice but respond as well.

Ella's been on a "Mama" phase for about a week now. She says it ALL the time-I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say at least a few hundred times a day. I have to admit, it gets on my nerves. Even if I'm in her sight, if my attention is not 100% on her, I hear it, "Mama, MAma, MAMA!" But when I was on the treadmill yesterday, I saw the beginning Dr. Phil. A mom was on there who had triplets who were all deaf and blind. And I was so rebuked and ashamed. This mom would do anything to hear her girls say "Mama." And here I was complaining.

Sometimes Ella will mix it up a bit, "Mama, Dada, Mama, Dada," but Dada is usually at a higher pitch. She'll do this when Will's not even here. I'm currently trying to figure out how to curb her yelling though. Yesterday in the grocery store it got quite loud-people were staring-and my "Shhh, Ella" wasn't working. Maybe they were just amazed that someone so tiny could be soooo loud. So, more practice at home, I guess.

Here's a recent pic-thanks for taking it, Uncle Jeff!

You can see she's getting a little more hair. She had her mouth full of grapes at the time and was pushing her corn popper.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Blue Like Jazz

I just finished reading this book, thanks to Grier's and Jeff's encouragement. I have to admit that after the first couple chapters, I wasn't that impressed. I didn't like his writing style-short, choppy, sentences-abrupt thought changes, etc. However, the next day, after reading about Penny's conversion, I had changed my mind. The book definitely put me in a contemplative mood as I thought about what Penny said about reading Matthew and learning that Jesus never showed partiality but all of us humans do. By the time I finished the Confession chapter, I was completely hooked and extremely convicted. I felt I needed to go set up a booth to confess and also have a booth next to it where I was giving away hot soup to the poor.

In a nutshell, Donald Miller challenged me to put my Christianity or as he would call it my "Christian Spirituality" into practice. Like Don's friend Andrew the Protester who really believes that Jesus's command to feed the poor was meant for him directly, so he serves breakfasts on Saturdays on a busy sidewalk downtown. Not only that but he actually talks to and more importantly listens to what the poor and homeless are saying.

One thing you can say about Donald Miller is that he's real. He says things that we've all thought or wondered about at some point, but haven't had the guts to say.
And God convicted me throughout the book. One of the main things God showed me was that I am not showing Christ's love to those around me-indeed I can't-when my focus is all on myself. Don talked about how he likes "efficiency in personal interaction." I'm often the same way. I'm on the phone with someone, and I say the right things that make them think I'm listening, "Uh-huh, wow, interesting..." but secretly I'm wondering, "Why can't they just get to the point?" I'm thinking about the next thing I need to do and how they're holding me up from doing it. How backwards is that thinking???

Christ doesn't care about things; He gave His life for people. And that is exactly who I should be spending my time on. How many times have I been at the grocery store and just thought about what I needed and how quickly I needed to get out of there before Ella had a meltdown. Yes, I smiled to the lady at the deli counter who was getting our turkey and cheese, but secretly I was thinking, "Lady, can you just go any faster? No small talk; come on, I've got things to do." How very un-Christlike of me. And shouldn't I bother to learn her name? And truly act like I care about her b/c after all Christ does. As Don points out, when we act rushed, all it does is leave people with the idea that we don't value them. I want people to feel valued when they are around me because I truly value them as God's creation. Because God values them. Because God loves them just as much as He loves me.

I sat down to read the book some more yesterday after putting Ella down. I was frustrated b/c I had wanted to read a magazine article in the restroom (where all good magazines are read), but of course, I couldn't. Ella was in there w/me. Pulling things out of cabinets, putting her hands on the magazine, and saying in her own special way, "Pay attention to me, Mommy, all the time, every second when I'm awake, even when you're trying to poop!" Right after that, I had to go change her poopy diaper. I was just tired of it! I needed me time, so I put her abruptly down for a nap. "No, Ella, no time for a story; you have to take a nap."

As I settled in my chair to read, I arrived at the Community chapter and felt God gently rebuking me as I read Don's thoughts.

"Life was a story about me because I was in every scene...If somebody walked into my scene, it would frustrate me because they were disrupting the general theme of the play, namely my comfort or glory."
He went on to describe how
"The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me."
"...There is no addiction as powerful as self-addiction."

After spending time at a bed and breakfast that was set up for people who were doing ministry and seeing how the host constantly cleaned up after people and put his needs aside, Don questioned him. How did he have "such a good attitude all of the time with so many people abusing his kindness?"
The host responded, "If we are not willing to wake up in the morning and die to ourselves, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether we are really following Jesus."

Piercing-instant rebuke. Had I been speaking loving words to Ella that day? No, I was frustrated b/c she was getting in the way of my plans. And have I mentioned that a 19-month-old isn't very appreciative? She doesn't care that I sit with her for 45+ minutes every meal while she eats. Ever. so. slowly. But God sees and God wants me to do all things as if I'm doing them for Him. I would imagine that would mean to do it with a cheerful heart, a thankful spirit-certainly not complaining. God is showing me that my first ministry right now is my child and my husband and that they deserve my respect and my love.

Even when I don't feel like giving it. Especially when I don't feel like giving it.
As Elise so aptly said in her post, "The Manner In Which We Walk," my job right now is to "Feed, Love, Lead."

If I am to be like Jesus, I must learn to die to self-not just every day, but every moment of the day.

So, I'm currently reading Matthew. I want to rediscover Jesus. I want to read and not just grope for a verse to speak to me. I really just want to see how He lived on this earth, how He interacted with so many different people and responded to their questions and their hurts. I want to learn so I can start living like Him.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Liz's 30th B-Day Celebration!

Oh, what fun I had Saturday at Liz's party. I met Karanena (you're even more lovely in person!) and many other of Liz's friends. Plus, I got to spend time with Emmie, Abbie, and of course, Liz. I so enjoyed the girl talk after the party w/Liz and Abbie. Who knew that we could move from devotion topics to pregnancy tests in a matter of seconds? :-) If you ever do move to Florence, Liz, we'll be close behind. How much fun would that be?

Abbie planned a marvelous Fiesta party! It was a Mexican theme b/c Liz is going there w/Kris on a cruise in just a few short days. We had delicous tacos for lunch and then for games took a Mayan quiz with some interesting questions and multiple choice answers. Can you believe I actually won the prize for the most correct on that? Like I told Abbie, just lucky guesses. My prize? A Kalanchoe-or what I call a beautiful plant w/lovely pink flowers. :-)

Then we played hot peppers-like hot potato but w/a catch. If you were caught w/the hot peppers, you weren't out of the game, you just had to wear a dress-up item of Liz's choosing. What a silly and fun time-everyone was in stiches! Lastly, Liz broke the pinata-wow, she can swing and hit hard-Kris, you better watch out!

It was just such a fun and relaxing time for us-Will of couse loved it b/c he and Jim got to catch up and I enjoyed the girl time. Ella was entertained by all the other kids there and especially loved the adorable, little nook Mrs. Shumaker created where her old water heater used to be-how creative-we just love the idea. Ella wanted to keep climbing up and down the ladder, of course. And her favorite toy to play w/up there? Sam's cars...I keep telling Will he already has his little boy...

Liz, I wish you the bestest of birthdays on Valentine's Day-have lots of fun w/your hubby and eat some good chocolate! You're one of the few people I know who is truly beautiful inside and out. You remind me of Mama-ever so pretty and sweet-always cheerful and smiling. A true joy to be around. I love you!