Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Avery's Braids and Fudge Bars

I can't believe my daughter's hair is long enough for me to braid it. It stayed pretty good throughout the day, too!

We had dinner at Dairy Queen, so Avery got some ice cream with her kid's meal. Um, she liked it.

I don't usually show videos on here, just because it's always hard to get them to upload. But, I've found a great new way to get pictures on here, and it's Picasa Web Albums! So in love with how easy it is! She starts talking about 2 minutes in! Enjoy!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Living in the Shoes of a Person with Psoriasis

I don't know why I've never talked about this on my blog. I've told myself that I am going to start writing more from the heart, about myself, instead of just always showing pictures, although I am sure that's why a few of you visit this blog, at all. So, I am sorry if you don't enjoy all the writing!
For those of you who don't know me, I have psoriasis. I have had it on the back of my scalp for as long as I can remember. Psoriasis runs in my family, and all of us who suffer from it have it on different areas of our body. Mine has only been on my scalp and has never spread, although the patch has gotten larger as I've been pregnant and gotten older.
If you don't know what psoriasis is, psoriasis is a non-contagious auto-immune skin condition which causes the skin to consistantly make new skin cells, resulting in a buildup of itchy, flaky scales. Learn more about it here. Imagine when you cut yourself. When that happens, your skin begins to regrow new skin in the affected area, which results in a scab. Eventually, that scab becomes itchy, then will fall off and voila. You have new skin. Well, imagine having an itchy, scaly, flaky scab over all of your body, constantly, for the rest of your life. That's psoriasis. There is no cure at this point, although there are many medications and treatments that come sometimes help, even though they are incredibly expensive and require treatment from a doctor.
In my particular case, my patch has always been on the back of my head. As a kid, I was scratch my head, all the time. It's like I had dandruff, but didn't. I couldn't wear my hair in a ponytail, ever, because not only would people see the psoriasis on the back of my neck, but I was constantly flaking. It became a habit of mine to always brush off my shoulders, so people couldn't see the flakes; wearing black was especially embarassing. No one ever teased me for it, but I don't know if anyone really knew. I hated going to get my hair cut, because I knew the person cutting my hair would see it and be grossed out. I remember being in a car, with my sisters in the backseat and them telling me, "stop scratching!" It was a habit that I didn't even notice, but one that I was doing constantly.
Growing up, I kind of learned to just live with it, although, it would sometimes drive me completely nuts. I would wake up, and still do, to constant itching, and no amount scratching ever gave me relief. Stress is a trigger for it, as well as changes in your hormones, such as pregnancy. So that was an especially bad time. There are times that I get up, and my husband says, "Jenna, your back!" because it's almost completely white. Now, I've lived with the itching for so long, that it's not just second nature, but it's also an addiction. There's been times I've scratched so long, so hard, that I've made myself bleed. Not good.
It's terribly annoying and aggravating, knowing that it will be something you treat forever, and that nothing you will use will work for very long. Not only is psoriasis incurable, but it also builds immunity to medications, so something that has worked for a month or so, will just stop working. I guess I've just learned to deal with it over the years. But it's something I am always cognisant of. It's still embarassing, but now I am much more likely to tell people about it, as opposed to keeping it a secret. I suppose people could call me "lucky," in that it's not all over my body. There are some people who have patches all over their body, everywhere, and luckily, mine has never spread like that. But I do think about Avery, since it runs in our family. I hope that is something she never has to experience.
Living with psoriasis is draining, both emotionally and physically. I often get headaches from the scratching. The embarassment and constant thought given to "Am I flaky?" "Can people hear me scratch?" is hard to live with. I have used various medications in the past, but they are sometimes so tedious, stinky, oily and uncomfortable that I just don't even bother doing them at all, especially because they require use at least twice a day. Since my skin is often irritated, these treatments can also be very painful, buring my skin, inducing tears. I learned the hard way how not to apply hair dye, as that was especially painful. Even running water of my scalp, while theraputic, hurts.
There are many worse things in the world to have, much more painful ailments to suffer from. The severity of my case could be much worse, but it doesn't make it easier. It is usually referred to as the "Heartbreak of Psoriasis," with good reason.

What Have You Given Up For Your Children?

On Babycenter today, one of the bloggers posed the questions What did you give up for your children? after reading an article about the Oscar nominated movies this season. It made me really think about that and I thought I would write a response on my own blog, and perhaps pose the question to those 3 of you who read it.
Let's put aside the notion that anything you gave up for your kids are "small sacrifices compared to the greater blessings you received instead." Of course, I love being a mother and wouldn't give it up for the world. But sure, there are things I gave up after I had her. Now, alot of these things I am about to list would have probably gone by the way side anyway, as I got older, but that is neither here nor there.
1. I have given up my sick days.
Very rarely do my sick days or personal time off days ever go to me. I was actually thinking this morning about the last day I took off, JUST to spend the whole day doing what I wanted to do. It hasn't happened since before I was pregnant. Even if I took a day off, I would probably feel guilty that my daughter was at daycare, when I could get her and spend more time with her, and probably end up picking her up early anyway.
2. I have given up the opportunity and ability to sleep in, past 6:45.
EVEN IF I WANTED TO, since my daughter came along, I couldn't sleep in, without waking up at 6:45. There have been a few evenings we've spent with Avery sleeping at her Gigi and Pops and the next day, we pop right up, so excited to take advantage of an adult breakfast and our time kid-free. Wasting an entire kid-free morning sleeping just seems silly.
3. We have given up the ability to be spontaneous as a couple.
OK, I guess you could still be spontaneous with kids. "Hey honey, I know we were supposed to eat in tonight and we put that stuff in the crockpot, but let's be spontaneous and go eat out at Dickeys (because we have a buy one, get one free dinner coupon to there.)" You can't just decide, last minute, to do something in your relationship. like even after work dinner, without having a plan for the kiddo/s.
4. I have given up the ability to be able to get ready to go anywhere in less than an hour.
Especially when all three kids are with us, even to go to the park or somewhere simple, you have to make sure all things are done in your mental checklist. Have you all brushed your teeth? Check. Have you all gone to the bathroom? Check. Have you fixed both girls hair? Check. Has everyone eaten? Check.
5. I have given up my own new clothes so my kids can be cute.
I don't know how many times my daughter has gone out of the house looking more trendy and cuter than me. Seriously.
6. I have given up the ability to ever have an entire box of candy or treats in the pantry without being guilted into sharing with the rugrats, or to eat said candy or treats, out in the open, without the munchkins smelling/seeing/hearing you eat it and bothering me for some.
Don't lie. You've got a box of Little Debbies at the top of your pantry that your kids don't even know about, don't you? DON'T YOU??
7. I've given up the ability to eat cereal or other non-nutritious junk food for dinner (on a regular basis).
You have to set a good example, and make sure the kids are getting the good stuff, so you can no longer eat junk for dinner and call it a day. I remember when Jason and I first started dating, he asked me for the first time, "What's for dinner?" and my thought was, "I haven't thought about this whatsoever, I was just going to eat a bowl of cereal and chips that I had in the pantry. THE ONLY thing I had in my pantry."
8. I have given up the ability to eat the afore mentioned cereal and chips every night for dinner and still being thin and trim, despite never working out.
Yeah, not happening now that I have had a child.
9. I have given up the ability to live frugally or give up certain "essentials," such as healthy groceries or life insurance, to have a more fun life or to buy things I actually want instead.
Yeah, you can't live in that little bitty apartment, with things that might not work all that great in, so save money to go out on more girls' nights with friends. Or have a car that needs to be fixed in so many ways, that isn't dependable, but that is PAID OFF so you can have more money to buy clothes. I can't tell you how many times I used to say, "If I can only spend $20 on groceries, I can use the rest to go out this weekend. What, Snackables are on sale for $1? Those can last me for days!" (Yes, that actually happened to me.)
10. I've lost the ability to come home to a quiet house and turn on the TV to any old show I want.
From the second I walk in the door, a child, husband or animal bombards me immediately. Then, instead of being able to watch Friends before dinner because it might contain innappropriate language, I must watch Tangled for the millionth time or a show on Disney. In fact, I've pretty much given up control of the TV anytime the kids are awake.
Well, there are 10 items on my list, what are some things you've given up for your children?

Pics I Found on Jason's Phone (Part 5) Jordan's School Project

A few weeks ago, Jordan's school had a "marketplace" in which all of the kids were to come up with a product, and make enough to sell them. Parents spent actual money, then went to school one evening and bought the kids' products with the fake money. (Like, $1 real dollar equaled $100 fake ones.)
I am not sure if they had to dress up or if Jordan just wanted to, but he really got into this.
He made pencil toppers, pretty cool, huh?

Jordan is really into anything dealing with computers, especially powerpoints, which he will do just for fun. They also made a video project, in which they talked about the early settlers to America and had to make a commercial for it, which he loved. He is showing alot of interests these days, and I really hope we can continue to encourage his interests!

How We Potty Trained at Our House

Potty training has been an overwhelming success at our house. It's taken some adjustments, not only from Avery, but from me and Jason as well.
Potty training was just, well, an overwhelming thought to me for the past two years. Of all of the things I wasn't looking forward to doing, this was it. And mainly, it was because I had no idea what I was doing or what plan I had "going in."
Much like anything with kids, every kid is completely different and every parent is different and so every milestone, in which you must transition a kid from one thing to another is going to be different. For us, the biggest milestones we've hit so far have been weaning from breastfeeding, getting rid of the pacifier, and sleeping through the night. All of those things feel like they worked themselves out, but I don't really know why that is. I guess it's because I've just gone with the flow and not held on when a stage was passing, so I wasn't resistent to it. Potty training is not different in that regard.
Avery has always picked up on things very easily, so it was tempting to start potty training her before she was ready, with the thought that she was smart enough to catch on. Well, potty training is just one of those things that just because you are smart, doesn't mean your body is ready to start too. We tried once and realized very quickly she just didn't want to try. So, we didn't force her. Instead, we just thought we would try again. We watched for cues like, telling us when she is peeing her in diaper, wanting us to change her right after she goes, stuff like that. I also decided to follow Jason's lead and do what he did with the other two, which was let them be naked. So, that's what we did. I was home for a week and we let Avery run around with socks and long shirts and nothing else. That worked great! But when we would put Pull-ups on her, she would go in her Pull-ups. And putting real underwear on her did nothing, either. She is just now getting to the point where her Pull-up is dry all day, and it's starting to stay dry at night as well. She will wear real underwear if we are at home or she is near a restroom, but if we know we will be running errands and in a car for a long period of time and we can't stop for a break super easily, she wears a Pull-up. She doesn't like going in it, but at least it's there just in case she can't hold it.
I thought I would put together a list of tips and tricks I've learned over the last few weeks that have really helped me.
1. You simply can't get frustrated. Potty training is frustrating, no doubt. You put them on the potty and they don't go. Or, they have an accident and pee in a closet when they first start. Or, they need to poop and you've put them on the potty 10 times that day, and nothing happens. You can't get frustrated. You can't "yell" them into going. You can't force them to go, you can't spank them when they have an accident, or punish them at all. It is completely and totally counterproductive. You are dealing with a child's body and parts they don't know how to control just yet. You can't get upset when they aren't doing it at your pace.
2. You have to be at their beck and call in the beginning. When they say, "I have to go potty!" you can't expect them to wait until when it's at your convenience. You put that fork down, pop them out of their booster chair, and take them to the potty. Or, you get them out of the car seat you just spent five minutes putting them into, turn off the engine and roll back into the garage and take them to potty. It's just part of the deal. Expect to be late to work somedays. Expect to stop playing or watching a movie or working or whatever you are doing to take them to potty.
3. Find the "carrot" and reward, reward, reward. At our house, M&Ms were the reward and she got a few every time she went to the potty. Sometimes, even for telling us she had to go. But you have to find whatever it is that they love and give them that. Who cares if it's a little extra sugar? I mean, this is a big deal, you get rewarded for things in your life, shouldn't they? You can't give them candy forever, and now, she doesn't get M&Ms every time, but when she asks, she still gets them. And be excited and praise them to death! The more positive reinforcement, the better! She still gets a "yay!" every time, even if she doesn't get candy. And now, we get a "good job, you get M-M-Ms!" when we go, so that's nice.
4. Find the seat they like and use it! There are two types of potties they can use. They can use a potty chair, which is a small chair just for them, or the seat that goes on top of the regular potty. I have both and Avery just has never used the little potty. Not once. So, I've never tried to make her. She has always used the potty seat. In fact, Jason trained her to put her hands down on the big potty, so now, she doesn't even use the potty seat anymore, if it's not close to us. And it's fine. She likes (and this sounds gross) but she likes to watch herself go and likes seeing it get flushed. So gross, but hey, they are curious! So, if one isn't working, just try another and see if maybe they like one more than the other.
5. If they aren't ready yet, just wait a few more weeks and try again. the biggest tip I've learned is that when kids aren't ready, they just aren't. And there is nothing worse than forcing a kid to potty train who isn't ready.
6. Try not to compare your kid's readiness with other kids. This is really hard, because as a mom, there is always that tinge of jealousy and/or competitiveness that tells you that you are a bad mom if your friend's child was potty trained at 18 months and yours is two and still using diapers. Every kid is different and I was always prepared just to let Avery tell me when it's her time and be happy when it happens for her, at her pace!
7. Don't go past the point of them being ready. I think something that might be worse than making them go before they are ready is making them wait until after they are ready. After a certain point, if you wait too long, they get stubborn and just don't want to do it. Don't let it being inconvenient or not knowing go past their prime-time.
8. Expect that this is harder on you than it will be on them. Potty training is hard on you, it is. Pull-ups are more expensive than diapers. You have to stop what you are doing to take them to the potty. You have to clean up pee-pee off the floor. A car ride is interupted several times because they have to go. You are late to work/church/etc because of having to go. You wait and wait and wait for them to go #2. I mean, let's face it, it's hard! But expect it from the beginning and it's easier to take, for sure!
9. Appreciate that even though it's difficult, and frustrating, and hard to do, and etc etc etc, it's one of their last milestones from transitioning from a baby to a big kid, so enjoy it for what it is. I love watching her be proud of herself when she "goes." I love getting rewarded myself for going potty because she sees it as such a positive experience. I love that I am not going to have to buy diapers every week, anymore! And I love that my daughter now knows what it's like, and is old enough, to appreciate that she is accomplishing something that is very important!
Hang in there and good luck!

Monday, January 28, 2013

This Little Boy....

I know we've spent alot of time in the media and on Facebook the last few weeks about gun violence and the shooting at Sandy Hook. But what happened last week was no less horrendous and terrible.
**Graphic image alert below**
About 1 mile from my house, this little boy, his mother and his two year old sister (who was in a stroller) were crossing the street, in a crosswalk, at a light, with a crosswalk sign lit. They had the right of way and the light from the other direction had been red for a bout 14 seconds, which if you know anything about crosswalks, that's about as long as they say "walk" before the flashing hand pops up and says "Don't walk!" This happened about 7:30 at night, so it was dark, and this little boy got a few steps ahead of his mother, which we all know can happen with six year olds, and right then, a man in a black hatchback ran the red light and hit this little boy. The police think the little boy was on the hood of the car for about 100 yards. The car stopped, the boy fell off, the car honked, then sped away.
This boy was loved by many, many people. We ran into a mom the next day at the store, who was buying a teddy bear because her son was in his class and said he was a wonderful kid.
The really bad part of this is that this driver drove away and they don't know who it was. There was no way this driver didn't know what he did. He ran a red light, hit a child, drove with him on the car for 100 yards, then had the nerve to honk, and speed away. The car in the picture below, that is turning the corner, is the car they believe hit him.
You know, this wasn't something that was meditated, like Adam Lanza. But somehow, it seems just as sadistic, just as evil to me. The speed limit on that road is 35 miles an hour, and I have to say that in my experience around this area, people don't speed. In fact, they usually go slower, especially right in this area. There are lots of people who live here, in these apartments, who do not have cars and walk places. You have to pay attention to what you are doing. To hit a person, much less a child, then not even stop to make sure he's OK and HONK and speed away is just beyond the scope of my understanding. I just wonder what they are thinking now. Are they scared? Are they in shock? Or are they thinking they didn't do anything wrong?
This mother is just in shock, I've heard. To watch your child go through that, well, no words can describe that feeling. It makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it. I just don't know how I could live through that horror and still keep going in life. And if I was the one who took the life of a child, because I wasn't being careful and ran a red light, well, prison isn't worse than the mental toll I'd put on myself. I just don't know how to ever forgive myself for that. Certainly makes me think twice before texting on your cell phone.

Pics I Found on Jason's Phone (Part 4) Sophia Singing

Sophia is in Girl Scouts and before Christmas, her troop got together with a Boy Scout troop and they went to a nearby nursing home to sing carols. We got to take her, since it was our weekend.

As a kid, you just really never, ever appreciate how much older adults love to be around you. We told Jordan and Sophia to go around and shake hands with people and introduce themselves. We spoke to several people who lived there, most of whom were in their 90's, and they just had permanent smiles on their faces the whole time. They told me stories of their lives. I met a deacon of a church (who LOVED Avery, by the way) who told me of his days in his church choir and how him and his siblings sang and recorded gospel music back in the 50's. I also met a woman who was a teacher in Chicago for decades but moved down here to be closer to her son. When I asked them the secret to a long life, they both told me the same thing: "Being around children!"

It is so true. I love listening to stories of people who have been around for a long time. It's the simplest answer to them. If you want to feel young, be around young people. I will tell you, I never forget that, no matter how much the kids are wearing me down. Every adult with grown children will tell you this is the best time and not to ever take it for granted. I try not to.
There was this one lady who you could tell, might be a bit "not all there," and she came out in her pajamas and started dancing to the music. The very nice director was smiling, but you could tell she didn't want the kids to feel uncomfortable so she was trying to get her to sit down. Avery started dancing too. I loved that, and it was all I could do not cry. Watching those people clap and sing to the carols was something I am really glad we got to do. I know Sophia and Jordan didn't know what they did (and Avery too) but I will remember.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pics I Found on Jason's Phone (Part 3) Avery's Babies

Avery got up onto the couch one day and wanted Jason to cover up all of her and her babies.

She is very concerned about her babies. To her left is her baby Colbi. Colbi is her very bestest friend and goes almost everywhere with her.

She is such a good mommy and wanted everyone to be included and have their covers!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pics I Found on Jason's Phone (Part 2) Suessical

The Grand Prairie Arts Council had "Suessical the Musical" at the Uptown Theater in December. On opening night, they had all tickets really cheap, so Jason took the kids to go see it!
The kids really loved it and they got to stay out really late, which they REALLY loved!

I think what they loved the absolute most is that they got to spend time with just their dad, which they love to do! Who can blame them, he is AWFUL fun!

They came back so excited, telling me all of the great things in the show! What a great experience!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Avery and Colbi, 6 Months

My niece is six months old! Where did the time go, I just do not know.

Just for grins, I thought I would put up a pic of Avery when she was six months, too.

Two cuties, if I do say so myself!!!
Happy half-birthday, Colbi!

Pics I Found on Jason's Phone, (Part 1) Making Cookies

For Christmas, Avery and I made my mom's famous sugar cookies.
I have never wished for my daughter to be bigger to do something like this with me, but I am glad she's at a stage where she can.
She made four different shapes!

Aren't those piggy tails with big ole bows to die for?

Yay! Such a great memory!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why My Girlfriends Are So Very Important....

I was talking to a friend of mine the other night about the friendships that you know will always be in your life. There are many friendships over the course of your life that come and go. While they might serve a purpose at one time, they aren't meant to last. (Much like relationships, you know?) Then, there are some friendships that you keep, that no matter what happens, you know they will always be there.
When you become a mom, especially to a girl, I think those friendships take on a whole new meaning. At least, they have to me. First and foremost, I have never been one of those people who keep people around that I don't like or that suck the goodness out of my life. In my opinion, a life long friendship is alot like a marriage, in that it's never 50/50. Sometimes it's one person giving more than another, but in the end, it evens out. I've never been the type to keep a friendship going where I feel like I am the one giving all the time and never receiving anything in return, nor have I ever been the type to be around someone who always and forever zaps my happiness. Now, at times, have we all zapped happiness away from our friends because of our "woe is me" stories? Well, of course! But if I've been friends with you for years, and I don't see any redeeming value in our friendship because it's been all take and no give, than more than likely, we aren't going to be close friends anymore. Well, then, as a mom, you have to ask the question to yourself that is hard: is this person good around my child? Meaning, do they treat your child with respect, aka, not curse around them, not make inappropriate comments, etc? Luckily, I haven't been in a situation where I've had to make that choice, but there are many who might be.

I've had several friends in my life, whom I would consider life long friends, who I might go weeks without speaking to or seeing, but we would always do anything for each other. These are women who bring something different into my life, who make me smile, whom I can go to for venting, whom are completely different women but all offer me so much. I can say with certainty that we have a mutual respect of one another, we've fought (some started out as the opposite of friend to me!), but at the end of the day, our friendships mean more than anything else.

You see, these women are women I continue to want in my life after I had Avery. All of these women are in different places in life. One had older kiddos, two live in a different state, a couple are single, some are married, but I've managed to keep the friendships going, after I had a baby, because I knew that these women would help get me through life's hard moments. I also knew that they would help me raise my daughter. There is going to come a time when Avery doesn't think I am cool and might be going through things that she doesn't want to confide in me about. I am hoping my friends will come to the rescue. Each of my friends also having been through hard experiences in life, that might be different than my own. I am hoping that when the time comes for Avery to talk about those things, there is one good, adult, woman role model she can speak with, if she can't talk to me.

I know it's hard as a mother with young kids to keep those friendships going. You just always think it's too busy or whatever, but I encourage you to keep those friends whom bring you happiness and make time for them in your life. It's so very important!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Short History of the Battle Hymn of the Republic

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.
I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Since God is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
[originally …let us die to make men free]
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.
He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.
For those of you who didn't know, these are the lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic, written by Julia W. Howe in 1861, during the Civil War.
I listened to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sing these lyrics today and was very moved by them. Although I'd heard this song probably hundreds of times, for some reason, I understood what this song was really about today and it inspired me to find out more about it. I looked at several websites and I found that Wikipedia said it best:  "The song links the judgment of the wicked at the end of time (New Testament) with the American Civil War. Since that time it has become an extremely popular and well-known American patriotic song."
I have always tried to research different periods throughout our world's history, since the time of Christ, in which societies thought things were so bad that Christ would be coming any day for His judgment. It's a hard subject to research because during any time of extreme strife, upheaval, suffering, and needless dying, people tend to assume that things must be so bad, Christ just has to be coming. Just think about how many periods throughout history must have lended to that thought process: The Bubonic Plague, the Holocaust, the Crusades, I mean, there are so many of these examples I couldn't even mention them in one post. In recent history, I would think the Civil War was one of these times.
I know we tend to think our society is so bad right now, especially with recent incidences in the news, that we just know Christ is coming any day. But I think that times have been bad before in the last 2,000 years, and times will be bad again. Only God knows the time when He will send back Jesus, we just have to trust and live within His plan and not worry about it, because everyone in this world who believes in Jesus has thought it would happen in their lifetime.
What's intresting to me, however, is that this song has been considered a "patriotic" song since it was written over 150 years ago. If you read the words, there is nothing remotely patriotic or American about it. It is completely and totally religious in nature, and in fact, Christian in nature. Why is this considered a patriotic song?
Originally, this song's tune was from a song called the "John Brown Song." This song wasn't nearly as nice, in fact it was racist and derogatory, and the Union soldiers would sing many versions of this this song, including the words "glory glory hallelujah" when they were making fun of another soldier. You can look up the original words and read more about this song here. Ms. Howe was asked to redo the lyrics and said that these words came to her one morning and she just had to write them down. The song lyrics were published in The Atlanta Monthly in 1862 and the rest is history.

This song is just gorgeously written and the words just get you right in the heart! God uses so many situations for His plans. You can't help but hear it and get goosebumps.

I wondered, today, as I heard it and listened to the words, how this song, about the coming of Jesus Christ, can be sung at our President's inauguration, but we can't use the phrase "Merry Christmas," in order to not offend other religions. I wonder how we can sing the lyrics "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord" and not have prayers in school. I think about how the words "as He died to make men holy, let us live to make them free" doesn't resonate when we are limiting freedoms left and right in our country. It's kind of incredibly hypocritical, isn't it? And it really makes you realize how much we are taking religion out of our country, when you see the types of songs that were song and incredibly popular, throughout our country's history.

Here is the performance from this morning, Gorgeous!

The Battle Hymn of the Republic

My Weekend with the Kids

Ok, honestly, connecting with my step-kids hasn't always been easy. I try to find ways for us to spend time together that are enjoyable for both of us, but it's not always simple to do.
So, I was surprised when Jordan suggested last Thursday that we make dinner out of his Usbourne travel book that his Aunt Faith gave him for Christmas. He said we could go shopping and cook everything from scratch! He came over Friday and made me a shopping list before I even came home from work, so I knew he was serious!

Ok, so, this dinner was pretty costly and I had to go grocery shopping again to replace some items we needed for the week, AND it totally ruined my diet that day, but he was so excited about doing this with me, that those were all wonderful sacrifices to see him have fun.
He made the cupcakes 100% by himself, with me only helping when it involved the oven.
He even wore this apron, that was made specially for him by a friend of our family when Jason and I got married!

I think he like baking especially cause it really is alot like science!

We made a greek salad (which was alot like bruschetta)...

And open faced sandwiches, which were basically just sandwiches with only one piece of bread.

Everyone got theirs exactly how they wanted it. 

To make the evening truly special, we decided to dine by candlelight.
Such a nice day!

 I decided the next day to spend some time with Sophia. What better way to relate to my step-daughter that loves to dress up than tea parties??
I offered us having a tea party and she RAN with the idea...
so we went to my old make-up kit that is now designated just for Sophia, and I am sure, Avery, when they want to be made up.

And Sophia loved it. At one point, she looked at me and said, "Do I look scary? I kind of think I look scary."

I decided to donate one of my old dresses to the "Sophia's Dress Up Fund" and let her borrow a pair of my heels...
And my wedding china even got some use today! What you see here are Swiss Rolls (Little Debbie, of course), butter cookies covered in chocolate, and Andes mints, her favorite. Like I said, my diet suffered this weekend. Oh, and sweet tea.

She had some great pretend conversation...

and we enjoyed being in Paris, meeting together over some wonderful pastries and tea.

It was pretty fun. My mimi and me used to have tea when I was little. I was glad I can carry on the tradition.

This weekend was great fun. I am so glad I got to spend time with the kids, doing exactly what they wanted to do!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Big Girl (tear)

Well, my daughter has crossed two more milestones off her list in the last two weeks or so.
Potty training is going stupendously. She has had a dry pull-up for the last three days (not at night yet) and she goes potty now almost every time we put her on it. It's like this weekend, it just clicked. Except now, almost every time she "goes," she says "I want M&Ms in my mouth!" Judge all you want. It works.
We have been talking about getting her in a big kid bed for a while, but I wanted to keep her "confined" to a crib as long as I could. We borrowed a gate from my sister in law to go across her bathroom opening, but it wasn't long enough, and I just haven't gone shopping to find one that is. Within the last month, we've noticed that Avery is too long to fit in the pack n plays anymore, so I know that if she is ever going to spend the night at her Gigi's again, she is going to have to start sleeping in a big kid bed. Since we have a convertible crib, where the side comes off to make it a toddler bed, last night I had the thought that the side might work great as a gate for the bathroom. And you know what? It works great!

Looks alot better than a baby gate, too. We secured it to the wall, so it's awesome!
I don't think Avery realized what all the hub-bub was about last night, she just knew she could get into her own bed by herself!
She is REALLY into princesses right now. She wants to be a "princess" all the time, which means, wear skirts, even to bed. This nightgown was Sophia's a long time ago that we kept for her, and she LOVES it. It's a dress AND it's got princesses on it! Score!

The princess obsession can be brought back to a Christmas present from Gigi and Pops...
It's the Little People Princess castle and it's really cool. You put those princesses (all disney ones) on that litte thing Cinderella is on, and they each say four lines from their movies and sing part of one song. She has loved that thing so much! We always hear Rapunzel in her room say "This is the best day EVER!" and Avery will say it too. Really neat.
Well, she's growing. Why do kids always have to grow? :-)


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

House To Do List - 2013

There are a few things I want to do for the house this year that wouldn't be pricey but would help with some updates. (Lots of these pictures are from pre-move in).

You see these entry-way lights?

They need replacing.

I wish I had a better picture of this bathroom...

Above the mirror is a light fixture. The painting people really did a not great job on the details of this house. In fact, there was more than one thing that they didn't tape and just spray-painted right over, and this light fixture was one of them. It's supposed to be brass, but they took the globes off and just painted over it, then lost the globes. So it's just a cream colored light fixture with light bulbs showing. I want to replace that, frame the mirror with crown molding, replace the hardware, and get some new accessories.

I can't seem to figure out what I want to do to decorate this fireplace...

1901 Westminster Drive Grand Prairie TX 75050 Home for sale - MLS #11751415

It's hard to decorate lava rock and I don't just want an enormous wreath there all year long.

This is the kids' bathroom...

The walls got painted, but unfortunately, it still looks like this. The light fixtures are old and ugly, so I want to replace them. I want to add a shelf in the middle of the sinks, then frame each half of the mirror so it looks like there are two mirrors, instead of one big mirror. Then, I want to paint the countertop white and replace all of the pulls.

I want to redo a dresser like this, as a buffet for my dining room.

Pinned Image

It would go to the left, under that dinky mirror, that would also get replaced.

I want to finish my entertainment center - I redid a dresser for my TV. I am going to find two bookshelves and add them to each side to make a really huge piece. Trust me, my walls can take it.

Something like this, perhaps?

Pinned Image

I want to get a new table for our breakfast nook and redo the walls and curtains.

Something pub-style and raised would be cool, like this:

Pinned Image
I want to paint these curtains chevron. I've always wanted to paint curtains!

Something like this: Pretty cool!

I want to replace all flooring with hardwood. Cost: $10,000 or more? OK, maybe that shouldn't go on my list for a while. :-)

So, let's make a list:

-New Lights for entry way
-Redo half bath
-Redo kids bathroom
-Refinish dresser for buffet
-Complete entertainment center project
-New kitchen table and redo breakfast nook
-Paint dining room curtains

I think I have a ways to go this year! Better get on it!