Monday, May 26, 2014

Rainforest Cafe

Because today was kind of a crummy day to go swimming or be outside, we thought about where we could take Avery that would be fun for her. We decided on the Rainforest Café. We have only been there once with the kids, because it is close to the kids' mom's house, and Avery didn't like it at all. She couldn't quite understand that the animals are not real. They are kind of scary for little kiddos. But, we went today, and she liked it a lot more!
They do have some pretty cool aquariums. I swear, kids can't look at an aquarium without wondering where Nemo or Dori are.

Avery found a cheetah above us that freaked her out at first, until she realized it was not a real cheetah.

I had a hamburger and fries, and between that and the other carbs I've had this weekend, I will be in the gym hardcore this week!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mom's Day

Well, it's been a week, and I am just now posting pictures of Mother's day!!
We go the same church, my parents and my family, so it's nice to see them there. This is a good picture of us, I think.
We got this great artwork from my daughter's Sunday school teacher, Mrs Rikki. This was such a nice surprise and such a nice gesture for me - I get handprint art, but never art that is laminated with such beautiful thoughts next to it, that will actually stand the test of time. I will cherish it always!

We went out to eat after church at a little Mexican restaurant by our house that we like. And I got some smooches!

And I gave some smooches.

Later on, my mom, sisters and I went to the movies, then went out to eat. This little cutie pie was there!! She is getting so big.

My, time flies!!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

When I was in my 20s, I knew I wanted to have a family. Yet, I was still hesitant on how much kids would change my life. So, while I knew I wanted kids, I knew I wanted them a certain way. To be married for a while, older, having traveled around for a while. Before I had to settle down.
God stepped in and I realized all my plans for kids had changed, because I had met two wonderful children.
Children that would change my life forever.
Children that I knew I wanted to be with always.
When Jason and I got together, we thought, "Two kids is enough. We can feel content and complete with our two."
God stepped in and I realized all our plans for more kids had changed, because I learned there would be another little one to join our family.
And she came in and I couldn't figure out how we ever thought our lives were complete without her.
And the three we have love each other.
And the three we have make us crazy.
And three we have make us busy.
And the three we have make us happy.
And the three we have make us complete, in God's plan.
And we are thankful for our unfulfilled plans.
And that God knows our hearts and futures better than we do.
And I am so blessed that God knew that I could be a mother.
Happy mother's day!!

Mom's Night Out - A Real Movie Review

For starters, let me just say that I've read a lot of other reviews out there about this movie, like these. I know it currently holds 17% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics are skewering this movie. But for some reason, actual movie goers are loving it. And I was one of them.
If you are expecting a Hangover style comedy, in which all of the moms get hammered and black out and lose all control, this isn't it. Nor, do I think, would we want it to be. Something about watching that on screen would put a lot of people off. If you are OK with looking at motherhood and family from a Christian perspective - and anyone that goes to watch this movie would know it's a faith based movie, so all of the people who went and were surprised, sorry! - it's going to be right up your alley.
Let me be very clear. I am not sure how all of my church friends might feel about me saying this, but I laughed the whole way through The Hangover. Well, I laughed the whole way through this one, too. This movie was funny. If you've ever been apart of a church, where you are the one showing up, half dressed with three out of control kids and are just so excited to drop them off in childcare to get an hour of adult time, this movie will make you laugh. If you've ever woken up to a child yelling "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" (which I do every morning), this movie will make you laugh. If you've ever retreated into a special part of your house and eaten an entire bag of chocolate and avoided how messy your house currently is, this movie will make you laugh. If you've ever felt like you are making up for a crazy wild past by being a prim and proper leader of your church, this movie will make you laugh. If you've ever had a really hard time with being a mom, even though you love your children, and even though you know how lucky you are, if you've ever struggled with never feeling like you are doing it right, then this movie will make you cry. If you've ever struggled with the question of why God ever chose to give you children when you feel like you have no clue what you are doing, then this movie will make you think (and cry).
As I write this review, I have a 3 year old attempting to sit in my lap, pulling at me to get her a breakfast bar and wanting me turn the channel to watch a different movie every three minutes, who woke me up by getting a toy gun from her brother's room and shooting it, non-stop for 5 minutes, with two dogs who also want my attention, who jumped up in bed on me, while my daughter somehow found one of my favorite pieces of jewelry and was swinging it around as a lasso as she entered the room. I am in my living room, staring at four stuffed animals, two pairs of my daughter's shoes, an empty Capri-sun pouch on the floor, three hair bows, and watching Tangled for the 100th time, while my husband is doing work at the church. What I'd really love to be doing is waking up at 10, then go get some breakfast, lazily taking my time at a restaurant, then coming back home and maybe watching some HGTV or something that I want to watch, or to just go where the wind takes me. I know the feeling of just wanting a few minutes to myself and feeling like the job I am doing isn't enough. This movie spoke to me in many ways and gave me a message I really needed to hear - that God didn't make a mistake when He gave me my kids and that what I do is important. Sometimes, we moms need to hear that. Whether you are a stay at home mom, a work at home mom, a full time work out of the home mom, a homeschool mom, a single mom, or any other type of mom out there - you need to hear that you are doing a really great job and that God equipped with being you for your kids - and despite feeling like you are failing, you are exactly where God wants you to be and doing what God wants you to do. Even though the job is never ending and even though you sacrifice a lot of your freedom, and body, and clothes, and career (sometimes), what you do matters. We all know that, sure. But sometimes, we need to see it. We need to see other women who are having the same feelings. We also need to see that sometimes, the scale upon which we weigh our value and success, is a scale we ourselves create and make it impossible to measure up to. As Trace Atkins (Bones) said, "You are not enough for you" when she explains that she isn't enough for everyone else.
The one thing about this movie I didn't care for what the way it dealt with the husbands and the men. My pet peeve, my biggest pet peeve, is when moms refer to dads as "babysitting." You want to get me riled up, say that. Dads aren't babysitting - they are parenting their own children. But, this movie really set the men up as doing just that. But I don't know if I was upset at the portrayal because the movie doesn't give husbands and fair shake, or if it's because the movie actually portrays what most situations would look like with the dad in charge for a night. My husband is a very capable dad - he was a single dad for a few years after his divorce, which maybe why he is so capable? - so this movie, to me, wasn't an accurate portrayal of how our house is when I get time to myself. But I have seen how difficult it can be for some women to get time alone, to leave their kids with their fathers, either because they feel guilty or because the husbands aren't supportive of the idea of them leaving. This gets into a whole other aspect of husbands and wives so I won't go into much, but I will say that this movie does touch on men's inadequacies when left alone with children, which I don't think is always accurate. Just take it with a grain of salt and enjoy the movie because it is pretty hilarious. Especially the seen towards the end with the police officer when he pulls over the minivan full of kids. I laughed hard at that part.
 One other thing this movie touches on, briefly, is the pastor's wife. Patricia Heaton is the pastor's wife, and during a bowling scene, explains that this is the first time in 5 years anyone has asked her to be a part of a night out like this. Women, ask your ministry wives to your house. I am guilty of it too, but we need to remember that those women in your church who you feel like get asked to do everything, really don't. Not just ministry wives, but all kinds of women. Fellowship with each other - it's so important.
So, with all of that said, I highly recommend this movie. This is a movie I will own and will watch, anytime I am feeling exhausted and frustrated. It's encouraging, it's really funny, and it reminds me of God's plan for me as a mom.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Busy Day in the Life

I actually like days where we have a lot on our agenda that requires us to get out of the house. Sometimes, when I have Avery, I feel like she is so bored. These are the times I want to have another sibling - so she can have someone to play with besides me or her dad all the time. When her brother and sister are here, we never see the child. When it's just us, I won't lie - it's hard find stuff to do with a 3 year old all the time.
Today, we had a full schedule. I didn't take a picture at every single place, but here are a few.
Our mini-van needed some routine maintenance that apparently can only be done at the dealership, so we started the day spending a little over an hour waiting. Good thing I had my fully charged tablet and the dealership had really good Wi-Fi! Since I knew she'd need to be well behaved, I bribed her in the morning with some donuts. Donuts really aren't a regular occurrence at our house, not that I think they are bad, I just always forget that we have a shop close to our house! Luckily, we got an extra free one "for the cute little girl."
After that, we had to go to Discount Tire because we had a nail in our tire so we stopped in for a patch job. Avery had to write down orders like the guys who were working. She was even getting water for the people waiting. I have nothing if not a social kid!
We also had to stop by Office Max for some ink and paper. I realized I had an Office Max discount card for being a Realtor, and boy, WAS it a discount! So we saved some money, and I didn't feel guilty about taking her out to eat twice in one day! Off to Wendy's! I have to say - this visit was less than pleasant. It's just not worth the calories sometimes because it's just not as good as you'd like for it to be. But, the Frosty was amazing!
After Wendy's, I had to stop at the store to get some new summer working clothes. Avery loves to go shopping. She was organizing the empty hangers. Terrible picture I know!
Then, we did some grocery shopping, for which I didn't take a picture. I did, however, find a Kroger with a gas station, and I had like 300 fuel points that were about the expire, so I also saved some money on gas today. Enough to pay for a few new skirts that I needed, woo-hoo!!
So now, Avery is spending some quality time with her dad, while I get ready to start celebrating Mother's Day.
Movie night with my girls!!! Happy mother's day to all you tired, hard working, tired, hard cleaning, tired, grocery shopping, tired, play date organizing, tired, watchers of swimming lessons, tired, jungle gyms for your kids, tired, Frozen-watching, tired, wonderful moms in the world!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What is the NACA program?

I recently became a qualified Realtor for a home ownership program called NACA, which stands for the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. I am pretty passionate about this program because I personally know how difficult it can be to qualify for a mortgage these days and this program, while not easy and not "free money," places home ownership in the grasp of many who might otherwise not be able to have it.
I thought I would give a few points of the program!
1) NACA is not a "low-income" program, a grant, a subprime mortgage program, or an entitlement program. It is actually quite the contrary.
2) NACA doesn't look at your credit score, but rather your most recent two year credit history. If you have been through a financial hardship, such as a divorce, four years ago and your credit score has suffered because of it, but you have positive payment history in the last two years, this would be a great program for you.
3) Since this program qualifies people for homes they can afford based on budgets and bank statements, a down payment from the buyer is not required to show seriousness of paying your mortgage. The two banks used for their mortgages are Bank of America and Citibank. The rate of foreclosure in this program is less than 2%, so banks are more than willing to lend to those who show responsible borrowing. The bank pays for your down payment and closing costs. The only amount the buyer is responsible for are prepaid amounts, like home owner insurance and taxes.
4) There are no income restrictions or maximums to be a NACA member. However, the maximum NACA will qualify any member for on a home is $235,000.
5) The current interest rate for a NACA mortgage is 3.45%, for any member who completes the program and is approved. ANY member. While a down payment isn't required, a member can buy down their interest rate. Every 4% you pay at closing gets you 1% off your interest rate. So, on a $100,000, if you put down 4%, your interest rate would go from 3.45% to 2.45%. The difference in monthly payments would be $50 a month for the entire life of the loan. On a $200,000 loan, the difference in monthly payments is $100 a month. If you put down 8%, your interest would go down 2%. Yep, you heard that right. And it's not a catch.
6) Approval is based solely on the buyer's willingness to show fiscal responsibility. If you are someone with great credit history and steady income, you could be closing on a house within 60 days with no down payment or closing costs. It's as simple as that. If you have a little bit to go to get there, they will work with you to see that you will get approved and put you on a plan.
7) Membership dues are $20 each year until you close on a home, plus the $10 cost of your credit report. If you close on a house this year, you will not pay any more membership dues.
If you are interested in getting started, let me know. I would love to help anyone would is ready to buy a home, but perhaps would have trouble coming up with the 3.5% for an FHA loan or 5% on a conventional loan. This is also great for people who would like to sell their house and buy a new home, but simply can't lose a lot on the sale of their home, plus pay a down payment and closing costs for a new home.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Swimming Lessons

Avery started her very first swimming lessons today!!

She was really excited and has been for weeks....

Until she realized she actually had to get in the water. She freaked out a little bit, I was really worried. But then, I found the right bribe (a snowcone) and in she went. I didn't take any pictures of the actual class because I didn't want to be a distraction, but it's 5 kids and Avery is the only girl!! Ha ha. She did really well and we did get a Sonic slush because the snow cone stand turned out to be closed! Here's hoping of 7 more classes of cooperation and learning!

I still can't believe his big girl is this same girl...

and this same girl...

and this same girl (this was last summer, Sophia was 8. Recognize the bathing suit in the picture above and below?)

Have a good Monday night!!

Bad Blogger!

I have just really fallen behind on the blogging lately! Not that anyone cares or anything :-) But it's not like we haven't had stuff going on these last weeks!!
Our city got a new Dairy Queen and we are all pretty excited about it. Like, really excited. Like, you'd have thought the Royal Wedding came back through our town or something. But, we had to go and get a Blizzard!!
Avery had her first ice cream of the season from the ice cream truck. We won't be getting ice cream from him anymore, either. $7 for two things, I don't think so! But Avery liked it, as evidenced by the dribbling of chocolate down her shirt (and shorts. and shoes.)

Avery loves my heels. LOVES them. The other day, she was aggravated because I was wearing them to church and she didn't get to. "Cam I wear them, mom???" (Cam, not can!)

Our town had a very cool festival the other day and we got to go! Avery is 4'2 and can ride all of the rides. My stepdaughter wasn't 4'2 until the third grade! Insane! She loved most all of the ones we tried except the little roller coaster. She did NOT like that. But she rode this little motorcycle ride a bunch!

Avery and I went to the library and she got to read. I am looking forward to story times this summer for sure!

Avery came into the kitchen and proudly announced this was her super cape. Looks like one to me!

We got to hang out with our Colbi the other day while her mom was at work! I looked around in the car and saw them playing footsies. So cute.
They look so big. Of course, Avery wasn't happy unless she was wearing her Tangled dress.

They look so big. Here they are when they were little. Avery is actually about Colbi's age in this picture!
Colbi loved trying on my shoes!

Apparently these kids like to try on their uncles and aunts shoes because Avery did that with Dave, too.
We went outside and collected things in our basket!

My parents also did some gardening the other day and Avery helped them with the "dugging."
And got to water some plants!!

Such an exciting time!