Thursday, March 31, 2011

Show Us Your Life - Your Church

On Kelly's Korner, the post today is Show Us Your Church. I had another blog all ready for today, but I really would like to participate in this one.

I attend Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX. I know, I know. A mega church, God's stadium, I've heard it called a millio n things. But really, its a very small church feel once you actually get involved. When Jason and I were looking for places to attend, we tried about 3 and none really seemed to fit. I have tried churches in the past and I have realized that I really like a "traditional" church more than I thought. By that, I mean a choir, singing songs that include the congregation in the worship, having a pastor who knows the Bible and having a church that is not wishy-washy on their beliefs.

I have always wanted to be a part of church choir and it's kind of amazing to me how many churches don't have them anymore. I just kind of felt like with a worship team, it was more like a concert I was listening to instead of something I could participate in. But at Prestonwood, every Sunday, the songs move me. They have a choir of over 500 people and it is unbelievable. I recently joined this year and last sunday was my first time to actually be up there, helping to lead my church in worship to the Lord. It was such a great thing to be involved in.

Prestonwood encourages Bible Study and always has groups and conferences for their members to be involved in. They also encourage witnessing and talk a great deal about telling people about Jesus. They believe in the Bible. Period. They don't make excuses or amends on stances that they take on issues that might be controversial, and I really like that.

I love that if you want to do it, there is a place for you. I want to eventually work with the youth, with the pregnancy center, and will be starting in the nursery on Sunday. It's great to serve in those ways...I might not have a lot of money to give, but I can be of service there. I am really starting to meet some great people there and I have been blessed in many ways after attending this church. It's wonderful to watch what God will do when you follow His lead! I never thought this church would fit, but God sure did! If you are in the Dallas area and would like to come visit, let me know, I would love to meet you!!
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Who Would Ever Want To Leave This Face?

This last week has been hard. I have HATED leaving Avery. How could you ever want to leave that beautiful face?

I know I would not be happy as a stay at home mom, but I would love at least SOME more time with her. Sigh.

Avery, I love you baby girl.

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New Blog Name

Ok all - I have FINALLY come up with a name that I think is going to stick! I didn't really take blogging too seriously the past years so "The Whitehead Family Journeys" fit for a long time, just because it was mostly about us, as a family. The I changed the name to "Party Of Five" which never seemed to feel right to me. I have kept another blog purely for my opinion posts but will be getting rid of this soon. I have decided that my blog is going to be about other things, aside from just being a mom, stepmom, and wife.

It didn't really occur to me until after I completed this blog challenge what purpose I wanted my blog to serve. And so I just wrote and really learned how much I love to write, but about all types of things, not just one or two things specifically. I also love to start conversations among others and hear what other people have to say.

I hope you like the new changes to come, of course, I will still post pics of my family and Avery (that's my favorite subject!)

Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Who is in Control? My Story

God is good, isn't He? Just when I doubt that He knows what he's doing, something happens that proves it all the more.

Today is my last challenge of my 7 day challenge. My task is to Write A Story. I was almost completely done with this story today, my life story, to share. When I went to choir rehearsal tonight, we were asked to share our story of how we came to know Christ with the person next to us. After a few minutes, our director said the one thing he hears the most is that most people don't know how to witness or share God with others. He told us the easiest way to do it is "tell your story." Ok, God. I am listening.

I have always known Christ. I have been going to church since before I can remember and I accepted Him into my heart when I was around 7. I was a very active member of my youth group as a teen. But around 18, my senior year, I felt like I had lost Him. He completely stopped being the leader of my life and I started questioning a lot of my beliefs; I stopped going to church and didn't really want to be a part of making Christian decisions. I totally wanted to do what I wanted to do and not feel guilty. I put going out with my friends ahead of all other things, I lied about many parts of my life and dated guys that were not good for me. I even dated a guy who did not believe in God (that relationship almost devastated me completely). I spent my entire 20's feeling very lost, depressed, and out of control. The more I tried to control things, the worse they always tended to become. I had lost a lot of self-confidence along the way and I couldn't understand why I didn't have the things I thought I deserved, like a great career, a husband, and a family. I was mad at God. A lot. I remember always asking "why me? Why am I stuck here in this horrible place?" Don't get me wrong, my life was not all bad, especially not from the outside looking in. But internally, I was suffering a great deal. There were even a few times I felt like running away, thinking people in my life, my family, would be better off without me there. There were many times I remember feeling completely hopeless. I made mistakes that I could not forgive myself for, and carried around a lot of guilt, pain, and fear. I remember feeling very, very alone. A lot. And I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Looking back, I know. It was because God was letting me take the lead.

It wasn't like God wasn't there, I always knew He was there, even though I forcibly pushed Him away. He would tell me sometimes to be patient and to let Him take care of things, but I could never wait. I had to do things on my own, without His help. And man, did I make some huge messes! But looking bad, there were so many times (my parents can attest to this) that things couldn't have worked out so well for me. God was keeping me safe because He had plans for my life, and no matter what I was going to do, He was going to get me here, to this place. It was His plan.

At 29, I gave up. I remember the moment it happened, I was sitting in my living room and I said, "God, I am ready for a good guy, a guy who will be nice to me and give me the things I deserve. I leave it in your hands." I bet 3 weeks later, Jason showed up. And we have been together ever since.

The first time I had been back to church was with Jason and it felt like it was so right. I was with the kids and we would sing Jesus Loves Me, I got to be around Jason's Godly family and I let my Godly parents in to my life. I made family and God important. And it changed my life 100%! Honestly, I have had so many reasons since Jason and I have been together to be upset or angry with God's plan. We have had our impatient moments where instead of waiting on His timing, we wanted to do things on our own timing. God is very quick to tell us, "Hold on...." God has been convicting me of so many things, asking things of me that I am like, huh? But, I have tried to listen and do, even if I don't understand. And even though I don't understand, I feel more mentally together being "out of control" then being "in control."
I am doing my best to listen now before I do because Go has proved, time and time again, that He knows what He's doing, and yet I still continue to doubt. Why do we do that so much as humans? Anyway, that is my story, for better or for worse.
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If My 18 Year Old Self Could See Me Now!!!

I am currently on day 6 of my blog challenge and today posed a challenge that took me a minute to think about. The challenge is to ask my readers a question, so today, I am asking you a question I think you will enjoy answering!

If my 18 year old self was to take a peek to the future and see my present day self, I think I would be slightly surprised!!

Thinking back to yourself at 18, are you where you thought you would be at your current age? For instance, I thought I would be a high powered executive, getting to travel the world!! What about you? If you want to take it further, what major life events changed your mind about what you thought you wanted in life? For instance, you never thought you wanted to be married until you met your dreamy husband!!

If you blog, write your answer on your blog and link it into a comment on this blog so we can all see how you reply!! If not, a comment will be great!

Happy Blogging!
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Apple Juice and Dreams

Here are just a couple pictures to end the day...

My baby girl had her first apple juice today! (Watered down apple juice). I think she liked it! I love that face she makes when she's experienced something new. I think the coolest thing about having a child is watching them experience something for the first time.

Her tooth is just coming in and she is taking it like a champ! No real fussing but she is back to waking up at night. I am ok with that, though. I look at it as giving me another chance to see her beautiful face.

Good night!!

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How to Hold On To Your Identity After Marriage and Motherhood

Today's challenge is to Write a Tip post. A "how to" if you will. I had to think about what I knew enough about to actually be somewhat of an expert on it....

One thing I have learned a great deal about in the last couple of years is how to go from a single girl to a wife to a mother without completely losing your identity. It is sometimes a lot harder than one might think! I think these transition periods in a woman's life come several times in her time on this earth. My first real transition period was when I turned 25. I felt older and I had to learn how to feel ok with my body, as it didn't look as it did when I was 21 and it stopped being easy to get back into shape. I had to learn to be more of an adult. It took a little bit of time to adjust to my age and just when I got used to being a single, twenty something woman, three things happened. 1) I became a wife 2 ) I turned 30 3) I became a mother. All in the same 12 month period!! It took me a while to start wrapping my mind around what all of those things truly meant and what they meant to me. I read a lot of blogs and articles about how women navigated through, but ultimately, when I came down to it, I had to decide how and to what degree these changes would affect my life. Here is what I've learned about getting your identity back after life changes and how to feel like yourself again!

1) Don't completely let go of the person you used to be. One of the hardest things I had to do was grieve the loss of my single self. As much as I was looking forward to the next phase, I was sad to see the previous "me" go. We had some good times together!! It wasn't the dating I missed, it was being able to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it (for those who are interested, I wrote a blog about the 5 things I would miss the most about being single and you can read it here). It was knowing who I was and being able to change any time without having to involve anyone else. I guess, in one word, I missed the freedom. When I became a mother, it rocked my world! I felt I had to give up all the fun I had without her and become a boring mom whose life was just about her. It has been a joke in my family, all of the wild and crazy escapades I've had in my 20's. One day, before Avery came along, my dad and I were talking about how much my life has changed. I will never forget what he told me..."Jenna, even though your life has to change somewhat when you become a parent, don't become one of those boring women who has no life. Still keep that fun side about you!" I think those words really changed my perspective on how much I should change. I think I had to change some thought processes, I had to give up a lot of selfish ways, I have to be more fiscally responsible, etc. But I am really starting know how to be Jenna who is married, not just Jason's wife. I am starting to be Jenna who has a child rather than Avery's mom. And I think that will help me to be the best wife and mother I can be.

2) Don't let one role define you more than the other long term. I have four real roles: Jenna, the person, Jenna, the wife, Jenna, the worker, and Jenna, the mother. The most important role is my role as Christian, but that must be there always. The next important role is being a wife. However, I don't ever let Jenna the person get lost in the shuffle of being a wife. I still need "Jenna" time without my husband. I don't want to start to feel like I sacrificed who I am to be a wife; I will start feeling resentful. I also don't want my whole identity to be tied up in my child. I love her more than life itself, don't get me wrong, but I still have friends and a husband that I want to keep too. Besides these four main roles, there is Jenna the daughter, Jenna the friend, and on and one. Striking a balance can sometimes take some time, but it can be done.

3) Be selfish sometimes. This is the hardest for any woman to do, but its so necessary. I don't want to feel like every minute I have goes to someone else, every dollar I make goes to my family, or that all I do is give without taking for me. The hardest time I have with this is money. I used to spend money on getting my hair done, my nails done, pedicures, shopping, and other stuff I wanted. When we started going through our money challenges (I.e. Not having any!) I sacrificed all of my upkeep items for the good of the family. That's ok for a while, but when none of your clothes fit, you hair is two different colors and not in a good way, and it just lays there and does nothing, and you never do anything you want to do, there has to be some sort of compromise. It helps when your husband supports this and luckily mine does!! Even though we might be broke, I got tired of looking broke and feeling broke. I got tired of not caring what I looked like and feeling like all of the beauty I had just went away, especially after having a baby. So, I started spending a little here and there on myself (a very little, but still more than nothing!) and I am starting to enjoy looking in the mirror again! Those little things can mean so much in the long run.

4) Don't forget about your own hopes and dreams. Having a child or getting married were never dreams of mine (ironically). They were just an added bonus to my life. But my hopes and dreams were put on hold for a while. This year, I told myself I was going to do some things I had always dreamt about doing. So far, those two things are writing on a regular basis and joining the church choir. I have many more and remember those things every day. Those things are just for me, no one else. I love being challenged in that way and achieving things I set out to achieve.

5) Don't forget to talk with your partner or a friend if you are feeling down or going through a phase. You don't want to one day wake up feeling like your life isn't what you wanted or that you have no clue who you are anymore and then blindside the people who matter the most in your life. I find that talking to my husband has really helped me know how to feel better and he really helps me get through times when I am just, blah. It also surprises me how supportive he always is and how he is always asking what he can do. "Do I need to watch the baby so you can go out with friends?" "Do you need to sleep in today, I will get up and do our morning routine!" "How can I help you get to where you want to be in your career?" I love that he is so supportive of me. I also know he truly knew who I was before we got married and doesn't want me to change completely!!

With a little work, and some mental adjustments, you can better manage all of the roles in your life and keep your identity in the process!
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Monday, March 28, 2011

Come out, all ye Blog Lurkers!!

I am de-lurking my blog today!! If you are a person who reads my blog but don't "follow" me or ever comment, I want to know ya, know ya!!!

Comment and send me a HOLLA!!!
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Peanut Allergies: Appropriate Restrictions or Overboard?

Onto Day 4 of my blog challenge: Write a Link Post! I have actually never done this before so it's a neat challenge for me.

I thought that I would discuss something that was a touchy subject at work recently...the case in Florida regarding a girl with a peanut allergy and preventative measures that some were calling too much. I am sure that if you are a parent, my opinion on this might not be a popular one, but here I go.

I think that in this country, we often take things to the extreme, especially when it comes to our kids. I know, I know, how can I possibly say that? But you know, people have been having kids for a pretty long time, generations and generations before us, and I think sometimes we are way too careful for our own good. In this particular situation, the parents of a first grade class were not happy about "extreme" measures taken to accomodate a girl in the class with a severe peanut allergy. In fact, this allergy is considered so severe, she is said to have a disability by the ADA. The children in this class have to wash their mouths out when they arrive at school in the morning and after lunch. A dog trained to sniff peanuts is also brought through the school to detect peanut residue. Ok, a dog? Really? They've recently said that these measures were extreme and will stop in the future, but why was this ever considered "reasonable" in the first place?

Here is the thing. I am not saying that peanut allergies are not a real thing, because they are. I am also not saying they are not life threatening, because they are. However, if you read up about statistics for peanut allergies, you will find that of the 3.3 million Americans suffering from these allergies, only 150 actually die from it each year, and this is always because of peanuts being ingested, not just residue floating through the air. Time has an interesting article about peanut allergy hysteria, saying that the amount of attention paid to peanut allergies in this country only contributes to the "anxiety" felt by parents. Read this article here. The article goes on to essentially say that the more we drive nuts out of kids daily activities, the more hazardous this can be to their health, as the more kids are exposed to nuts, the more likely their allergies are to disappear.

In this particular case, the girl's allergy was supposedly incredibly severe. So severe, in fact, that even airborne residue from other children's mouths might cause an allgeric reaction. Listen, I am all for including children as much as we can, despite disabilities. But if, in fact, her allergy is that severe, why in the world would her parents even WANT to send her to school? Actually, if they are that severe, this child would not be able to go anywhere, ever. Exposure that minimal causing a reaction that could lead to death would have to be cut out of her life completely. I would venture that her allergy is not that bad, as she would have already been exposed to residue at the age of 6, and obviously, she has made it this long. I am not here to judge her allergy, though. I just think that if it were my child with a life threatening allergy, I would find a way to keep her from harm's way as much as I can.

The other thing I would be concerned about would be relying on 6 year olds for my daughter's life. Having a 6 year old myself, I can certainly attest that they are sneaky with stuff they've put in their pockets. I have almost washed bits of crayons, rocks, acorns, jelly beans, and a number of other small toys and items that have snuck in to her pockets throughout the years. I also cannot get her to remember what she ate for lunch, much less remember to not ever have peanut paraphonalia on her person at all times. She can't read labels well enough to know what could have peanuts in it...what happens if a child snuck something into his pockets that no one noticed and this girl died? How would that feel as a child to know that something you did caused the death of another human being? And why, as the parent of this girl, would you want to put that type of responsibility on another child? There is another parent on who agrees with me, I found her article to put it best.

I really feel as though we need to ask ourselves what type of accomodations are appropriate and which ones are a bit ludacris. I am not saying schools shouldn't be aware of children with peanut allergies, but if the situation is truly life threatening, we need to find an alternative that is going to make sense to everyone.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Big Girl

I am not one of those mothers who is in a rush for her child to grow up and hit "milestones" as fast as possible. I want her to be a baby and to relish every moment. For the last few weeks, I have noticed some changes in Avery, lots of drool, biting on things, fussiness as times for no reason. I told Jason, "Could she be teething already?" 3 months seemed too fast at the time, so I didn't think about it again, until today. Jason had Avery and she was chewing on his thumb and he said, "Jenna, give me your finger." As I ran my finger across her gums, there is was. The sharp edge of a tooth!!! I pulled her lip down and sure enough, a little white was just poking out. I was so excited but kind of sad....she is growing up too fast. I could get a good picture because she was just not a happy camper today.

I figured we would start rice cereal (or introduce it) around 4 months. I have read between 4 and 6 months, but you should let your child tell you when she's ready. Since I have never had a child and I don't know precisely the perfect time to do all of things, I figured I would just try it and see what she thought. Let's just say, she was not a happy camper!! I don't guess she's ready for cereal quite yet. We will probably try it in a week or two and see how she reacts.

What an eventful weekend!
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One Year Wedding Anniversary

I am trying very hard to keep my blog posts to one a day, so I am going to interupt my blog challenge for today to talk about our weekend.

I have been married one year today. Its been great and its been tough! Not tough because we fight or anything, just because of our circumstances. I've already talked about that, so I won't go into more detail. But I can say with all certainty that I picked the right man for me. If Jason and I didn't make such a good team, this year could have easily torn us apart, but it actually made us stronger and better as a couple. We really learned to work together. All I can say is thank goodness for God's timing and for bringing Jason into my life!!

So, last night my company had their annual banquet. It was free food, drinks and dancing and it was great fun!! We really enjoyed ourselves. I love it when we get to spend time alone and we had a neat chance to do that this weekend. We slept in today and then went to brunch. I got the small order of french toast - it was enormous!! But it was good. I miss Avery a lot and I can't wait to give her hugs and kisses, but I loved being able to spend some time with my husband.

I have noticed that I will take pictures all day of Avery but I am not so good at taking pictures at taking pictures of us, so I got a picture at the event last night and of us today (and of the french toast because it was huge!!). But that's it.

I love you honey!!!
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

First Night Away From Home

Not to overwhelm everyone with a gazillion posts, but just for memory's sake, I wanted to say that tonight is Avery's first night away from home. Its our one year anniversary tomorrow and my parents offered to keep Avery. We are going to a fancy dinner tonight and brunch tomorrow, but you know what I am looking forward to the MOST? Sleeping in!!
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I Love I Love Lucy

I am on day 3 of my blog challenge and I am looking forward to my new challenges everyday! Todays challenge...Write a Review! It can be on anything, a movie, a TV show, a book. I have decided to review a classic show that I have loved and loved for years...

I Love Lucy!

I have seen every episode of I Love Lucy about 65 times, or maybe even more. This show never seems to get old, even after all of these decades. I sometimes wonder how it has such an ageless, timeless quality to it. Despite the parts about the series that date the series back to the 50's, it still holds its edge as a funny, relevant series of today.

First and foremost, Lucy was cutting edge for its time. It was filmed in front of a studio audience on a sound stage, with 3 cameras as opposed to just 1. If you watch The Honeymooners, you will notice it was filmed on a theatrical stage with only one camera and had a very grainy appearance to it. Lucy used technology that only movies were using at the time, giving it its clear black and white appearance and up to date sets. It was able to film scenes in more than one room at a time (filming from the kitchen to the living room to the bedroom, for example), compared to only one set (the living room/kitchen of The Honeymooners). This particular technique has allowed Lucy to be fresh looking and added a high visible quality to the show for the viewer.

I Love Lucy was not only entertaining but it also allowed audiences to relate to the characters on the screen. Although not all situations Lucy got into were realistic, you could find something honest and endearing about the way Lucy and Ricky's marriage worked. She had her quarks but he loved her anyway. She got into trouble all the time, costing him money and embarrassment, but it didn't matter because he loved her despite it all. The friendship between the Ricardos and the Mertzes was realistic as well. They had their fights and disagreements, but their friendship stood the test of time. Ethel was a great friend to Lucy and Fred to Ricky, and when Little Ricky came along, they accepted him and played the parts of aunt and uncle with love and affection. I believe these relationships, throughout all of their imperfections, allowed audiences to feel a sense of realism and relatibility.

This show was also the first to ever include an on screen pregnancy (even though sensors said they were not allowed to use the term "pregnant"). Once the baby came, Little Ricky was made a part of the story as much as they could and did not stick him in a room "napping" never to be seen again. Watching Lucy go through a pregnancy, with all of the mood changes and pregnancy symptoms allowed mothers to connect to her on a whole new level. As producers, Lucy and Desi made a very smart choice to include her real life pregancy in the show, as it certainly added to the value of the show and raised the show to a whole new level.

But the cornerstone of the show was Lucy's comedic timing. She was willing to go anywhere for the audience to laugh. Dressing up in ridiculous costumes, using physical comedy, using voices, and making herself the punchline...this is how Lucy remained true to her comedic strengths. As a chorus girl in Hollywood before the success of I Love Lucy, she was never a stand out. But as a role of zany housewife and by Desi and the writers giving her all the license to do what she wanted to do for the show, she could be exactly the comedic genius she was meant to be and the world was all the better for it. What would the world be like without Lucy?

Let's hear your reviews!!
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Ask me a question and I will give you an answer

My second blog challenge out there is to Answer a Question....this was hard because I had to think of a question that people have asked me in the past and answer it. I thought and thought and finally came up with one...

How does it feel to be a stepmom?

Being a stepmom is not something I was really prepared for, nor is it something I thought would ever happen. I guess deep down I figured that the older I got, the more the possibility was there, but I just didn't really see it coming.

The first year I was with the kids, I was in love. They were so much fun! I wasn't so involved with the day to day discipline, nor was I really involved with the goings on with Jason and their mom (regarding the kids and visitation and stuff). All I had to be was the cool girl who hung out with them, who played with them and took them out places. I thought it was great that I was getting to relive my youth through them by going places I hadn't been since I was a kid. Jordan was doing great in school, Sophia hadn't started yet and there was just something easy about it.

As time went on and Jason and I got married, things started becoming more complicated. The kids' mom moved them farther away, Jordan started at a new school and Sophia started kindergarten. And I started learning what it was like to live on not a lot of money while having quite a bit of child support taken out. I learned how hard it is to watch the kids come back from their mom's and hear them tell us what fun things they got to do this week or what stuff they got, and us knowing we barely are making it cause so much of our income goes to their family. I started learning what it was like to disagree with how kids are raised regarding certain issues at the house they are at 70% of the time but still try to have an impact on their upbringing. I have learned how different a boy who is 9 and a girl who is 6 can be and how easy at times it can be to be around one kid and hard it can be to be around the other. I have learned how to be the disciplinarian without being the "evil stepmother." I have learned that God did not intend for families to break up and how hard it gets each year to keep things going without being frustrated, resentful and angry. But most importantly, I have learned to be a shoulder to cry on when my husband misses his kids so deeply and can't see them every day, but can't do anything about it.

I love my stepkids but every day brings its own challenges. Some weekends are great and others aren't, which is pretty typical of any other family. If I could give anyone advice from a stepparent's perspective, its that is your are going through a divorce or have been divorced, let what happened in your relationship go and move on for the good of the kids. If you have an ex-spouse who wants to be an active part of the kids' lives, don't keep them from it, encourage it, especially if they are doing everything they are supposed to kids. Ultimately, everyone ends up being miserable if you don't just learn to work together.

What question do you get asked a lot and how do you normally answer?
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The 16 Ways I Got Through the First Year of Marriage

I am taking part in a blog to join me? Today's challenge: Write a List!

My one year wedding anniversary is coming up in three days. It has been a very eventful year for me and my husband, to say the least! I can't help but think how well we got through it, but how did we do it? I thought you all might be interested in seeing the 16 ways we got through the first year of marriage.

1. We laughed. A lot. At our circumstances, at ourselves, at situations. If we didn't laugh, we would have cried!!!

2. We took each other's faults with a grain of salt.

3. We appreciated each other's contributions on a daily basis. I don't think a single dish would have gotten washed if it wasn't for my husband!

4. We stopped lying and appreciated the other person telling the truth. We also became very truthful with our families.

5. We didn't wish our lives to be what they weren't or wish to have other people's marriages. We were happy with what we had/have and appreciated our relationship and family for what it was, not for what we wished it would be, compared to others.

6. We started accepting the other person for who they really were, no matter how difficult that was to do.

7. We worked hard at evolving our bad habits for the sake of the other person.

8. We worked as a partnership and realized that things aren't always fair and both people do not give 100% every minute of every day. Sometimes its one person giving more than another.

9. We learned to let things go, very quickly, especially if it was negative.

10. We took the word "divorce" out of our vocabulary.

11. We made time for just us and made it a priority to have fun together.

12. We kissed each other goodbye every morning.

13. We say I love you more often than just at the end of a phone conversation.

14. We accepted that someone else accepted us for who we really are. That's a hard one, if you really think about it.

15. We started looking at life/marriage as a long race, not a series of short races. Its not always easy and its not about winning. Its about getting to the end together, crossing the finish line together.

16. MOST IMPORTANTLY: we put God at the center of our marriage, every day. A couple who prays together stays together.

I am curious how you got through your first year of marriage!!!
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Sophie!!

Tonight, we celebrated Sophia's 6th birthday. When I first met her, she had just turned 4 and now, she is so big!!!

Sophia is such a great little girl. I have truly loved getting to be a part of her life and am so looking forward to more to come. She teaches me so many life lessons, the longer I am around her. She has got such a sweet spirit and such a wonderful heart. She loves to share, she is so easy going, and she is so cooperative. She doesn't like stuff, she likes people and being around her loved ones. She would rather have a toy or book that someone can do with her than a great expensive toy to play with by herself. She doesn't dwell; if something doesn't go her way, she might be upset for a minute or two, but then she's over it and on to the next thing. She is incredibly optimistic and always looks at the bright side. She is adventerous and loves to try new things, so its so much fun to take her places. She is beautiful, outside and within. She loves God and her family. She is so accepting of new people, including her new little sister, which I love her even more for. I truly love Soph like a daughter and I am so excited to see what life brings her.

So, we usually get the kids on their birthdays and her birthday is actually tomorrow, but Jordan has a soccer game tomorrow, so we opted to get them tonight. It stinks, because we are not actually invited to their birthday parties with their mom (I know, I know. I hope that won't always be the case, the kids don't like it). So, since we aren't going to throw another party, we usually just ask them where they want to eat and take them there. Surprise surprise, Soph wanted to go to Chiuck E Cheese. I truly hate that place, it is such a rip off, but I digress. She wanted chocolate cupcakes for her birthday, so that's what she got. And she wanted an American Girl doll. I would never normally get this, but they got a choice, one big present or a bunch of little ones, and this was her big present. I think she enjoyed herself very much!

We love you so much, Soph! Happy birthday big girl!
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For those of you who are interested, Avery is 25 inches long and weighs 14.14 pounds, which are both in the 75th percentile.
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4 Months Old!!

Today, Avery turns 4 months! We are getting ready to take her for her shots today (breaks my heart) and so I will have some measurements later. She is such a cutie!! I just love the scowl on her face!!!! I love you Avery Grace! You've turned your momma into a picture-blog addicted momma and I don't even care cause I love going back and looking at you!!!

Church Choir

One thing I told myself I would do this year would be to follow what God wants me to do. One of those things would be writing more and another is joining church choir. One of the reasons we joined Prestonwood is because of their amazing choir. I wanted to join last year, but with me being pregnant, it was a hard time to start something new. So 5 weeks ago, I joined and this last Sunday was my first Sunday to sing! It was great. You can't see me, but I am on the left side on the backrow. I look forward to more Wednesdays and Sundays!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What a difference 4 months makes

My baby is turning 4 months tomorrow. Its going too fast!! I came across one of her diapers in Sophia's doll stuff (we used one of her newborn diapers for her Cabbage Patch!) I can't believe how little she was!! Here is an old picture of Avery. Tear.
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Get Real Monday

So, I don't normally go into detail about things such as finances on my blog, because personally, I don't think its anyone else's business (no offense everyone!) But, in an effort to get real, I thought I would go into it, just a little bit.

Mu husband and I, as a friend recently put it, have gone through about 5 years worth of life changes in the last 14 months. Needless to say, it has not always been easy to handle. My husband has lost his job twice in the last 12 months, we've been married, and had a baby. Being a young married couple is hard, but throw in having two older step kids, having to find childcare, and having their mom move about 35 miles away from where you live makes it harder, especially when you are making that trip 4-8 times per week.

Jason and I often wonder how we've managed to get through the last year without losing our home or a car, managing to keep the kids clothed, managed to keep food on the table, two cell phones, etc etc. I realize many of you have not had to worry about those things or haven't in a long time, but for those who have, you can certainly relate. Luckily, we both have great families that have really helped us muddle through. Its nice to have people you can count on, but its also frustrating at times, knowing that you need other people's help. Going through periods like this are very hard, but they also build a lot of character (hey, looking at the bright side!) It really makes you realize what you can really live without. For instance, we haven't had cable since 2009. I know, I know. But we have streaming Netflix and a converter box which allows us many channels for free. Now, I couldn't imagine spending $200 a month on cable!

I think its hard sometimes, watching other people be able to purchase new cars, or get their hair done every month, or get to shopping all the time. Its a constant struggle with "why God?" and wanting to be able to have expendible income so we can buy stuff we want to buy. We've both been in a place where we had money and I am sure we will be there again. Obviously, God has some plans for us, some lessons to be learned, and some character to build first, and that's ok.

I will tell you that it helps us teach the kids that you don't always need "stuff" to be happy. Ultimately, having limited means requires some creativity in the entertaining department. It also requires doing things together that have us being very interactive with each other, so its nice to spend quality time. I wanted to list some of my favorite cheap things we've done as a family of four that cost little to no money.....

1) Going to the park. This is definitely one of our favorites, cause it also involves being active! We usually bring a picnic lunch and a kite, or a ball, or anything and just spend the day hanging out.

2) We love going to the movies, but seeing new releases in a new theater is ridiculously expensive. Honestly, even if we had the money to spend, I wouldn't do it regularly anyway. Unless it was a movie that was worth it. For example, seeing Avatar 3D. A new release for a family of four would cost us roughly $60!! So we just go to one of two dollar movie theaters close to us. They show new releases but they are just an older theater. So, a trip to Kroger to get some dollar candy, a drink to share, and a movie for four of us costs less than $20.

3) Game night at home is something we don't do all the time, but will every once in a while. Jason loves to make popcorn, so we just grab a bowl each, get in our pjs, and play.

4) We found our rec center has some cool stuff to do for cheap. The indoor pool (and they do have an outside pool with water slides) costs $3 for kids for the day. Not too shabby!

5) We swim during the summer. A lot. Every day. Since we have an apartment, its nice to have access to a pool!

These are just the top five, but you get the picture. Yes, Jason and I are not able to take trips, we didn't get a honeymoon, we don't buy each other lots of presents, and we don't get many nights out (even before the baby). Our money almost always goes to stuff we need and not stuff we want. But, I think we are very happy, regardless. I in no way wrote this to say being financially blessed isn't a great thing, because it is. God wants us all to have things we desire! But if you are going through a growing pain, like we seem to be, just know it will be ok, even though that's a fact that is sometimes easy to forget!!
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Hard Morning

I had to leave this sweet, beautiful, smiley girl at the sitter today - today was a hard day for me to leave her. But at least I get to stare at her beautiful face all day on my computer. :-)
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Day at the Pool

There is a rec center about 10 minutes from our house that has the most amazing indoor pool. There are two areas, one for lap swimmers and one for kids. There are also two slides. It really is awesome!!!

We decided to take the kids today so we could get in some swimming before summer. Jordan won't ride the slides, but he spends most of his time in the lazy river and whirlpool. Sophia, on the other hand, would ride the slides if she was tall enough, so she settled for the diving board instead. She is such a daredevil! It was funny watching her in line, she was the smallest kid there by far!!!

Avery swam just a little bit, as much as she could take. She didn't get a great nap before we went, so she swam for about 10 minutes before she took a nap! She didn't know what to make of it, there was so much going on! I held her and she kicked her feet a lot. I think when she really does know what is going on, she is going to really love it!!! My dad got to come and we got some good video of her first swim day!

If you'll notice, there are no pictures of me in my swim suit. As unashamed as I am of my body, as I did just have a baby 4 months ago, its not really an image I would like to remember for eternity. :-)

Have a great Sunday evening!
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Game Night

Jason and I get tired of watching kids movies all the time. I think of my grandparents that were like, "No, we are not watching Labrynth again!!!" So every once in a while, we will just have game night. Tonight we played four games. Each of us got to pick a game, Go Fish, Dominoes, Candy Land, and Slap Jack.

Its really nice to play games with Sophie now that she is big enough to 1) understand the rules and 2) keep her cards to herself!! She used to spread the cards out face up and we would have to help her play while pretending not to knpw what she had. And its fun to play games with Jordan because he can actually stragetise. I think Jason is also teaching him chess, but I am not a chess fan, so that is between them.

We had a good game night, no one whine or pouted when they were losing or lost, and I won a lot (which is cool because I usually don't). Here are all of our pics, deep in thought! Have a good Saturday!!
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Beautiful girls

Aunt Leslie loves Avery...I mean LOVES Avery. Its so sweet watching them together. Leslie just talks to her and Avery just smiles and smiles. It makes my heart happy to see this picture. :-)
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Friday, March 18, 2011

The best big sister

I really got lucky with Sophia...she really loves Avery. I mean, really really. She talks to her, hugs on her, plays with her. All the time. I am so blessed!!!

When she comes over, I always know Avery will never be bored because Sophia will be showing her one thing another. Last weekend, she wanted to show her to color. It was very sweet watching Soph put her colors in her hand (or try to!) and then color lines on her blank page.

Tonight, before bed, Sophia said, "can I hold Avery?" Of course, I said yes. Then she said, "why don't you take a picture??" Little model, she is. I had braided her hair so it would be wavy tomorrow, so here they are. Of course, its late and I could only get Avery to look at me once. But aren't they little cuties??
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Dog park

I think we tired them out sufficiently!!!
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Aunt Leslie and Aunt Brooke

Aren't my sisters beautiful? I can't wait for Avery to get to the know them as she gets older.
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St Patrick's Day!

Good morning!!

Happy St Patrick's Day!! I remember last year at this time I had about a week to go till the, how fast this year and gone. And how things have changed!! I am finally getting better at getting my daughter to smile for pictures, yeah!!
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