Update on Baby #2

Meet baby #2! I had my first prenatal appointment (and ultrasound) yesterday. The ultrasound tech said everything looked fine, but by the ultrasound measurements I was actually showing at 6 weeks pregnant and not 7 weeks. Dr. Desautel said that could change with future ultrasounds, but he will be sticking with the August 15th due date (the ultrasound gave an estimated due date of August 19th).
He said everything looked fine, they did a little bit of blood work and we also talked about birthing options. Gracie was planned as a natural delivery but ended up being a C-Section because she had a big head (only kidding. I forget what they call it...pelvic descent?)
Anyway, Big Sister Gracie was VERY excited to see the teeny tiny baby on screen and HEAR THE HEARTBEAT! It was 135, which I don't know anything about but we're planning on a girl anyway. Or at least, I am.
She was a bit confused about why the baby has to stay in my tummy so long and why my doctor doesn't hand out suckers, but I think she had a good time. Plus we had lunch with my sister and picked out a new baby book also!

One more cute Gracie moment....we had been talking to Tina in the car about a baby brother or sister, and I told Gracie "we don't care" what we have. Meaning, we'd be happy either way. When the nurse came into the room Gracie informed her that "there is a baby in my Mommy's tummy". The nurse asked if she wanted a brother or sister, and sounded annoyed, Gracie said "We don't KNOW!" I had to explain to the nurse that what she meant to say was "we're happy either way!"

My next appointment is Feb 3rd in Prattville. I know they aren't doing an ultrasound, but I'll post updates!

And I have Christmas pictures coming, but with my mom being here until Dec 29th I'm kind of slacking on the posting front..sorry!


Six Weeks

We found out December 11th (via blood testing) that I am pregnant with Baby #2.

My due date is August 15, 2009.

I am six weeks pregnant as of today.

Bryan wants a boy. I'm expecting a girl. Given our family history, the odds just aren't in his favor.


Calling all wives....

If you don't visit MckMama's blog on a regular basis, I strongly encourage you to do so today. Check out her post about her marriage and relationship with her husband.

In a few small words, I have been totally motivated and inspired to check out the book she has been mentioning on her blog. And just an FYI, but I almost feel as if in telling her story she was aiming a video camera at my life. Yikes.

YES to Carrots!

Hey folks!

Want to win some free stuff at Christmas time? Check out my friend Amy's blog and find out how you can win some cool pampering stuff made out of fruits and vegetables!

FYI: I don't think these products are edible. Just for you to use and enjoy.

Good luck and Happy Holidays!

More posts to come this evening....


Miracle on Main Street

Okay, now that I have shared The Big Joke with you I would like to get back to a very important post that I have neglected the last few days. The children's choirs at our church put on a musical/drama production Sunday Dec.7th. To say they did an awesome job would be an understatement. These kids worked really hard and it paid off in the end because they did a wonderful job!

I was informed Wednesday night before Dec. 7th that Gracie's preschool choir would be performing before the actual performance began. Not only did I misplace her choir shirt and tear the entire house apart looking for it, but I was also concerned about whether or not she would actually sing this year - given her track record last year and how vacation Bible school ended in disaster.

Imagine my total shock and surprise when Gracie actually managed to get up on stage and sing! No tears! No tantrums!
You need proof?

That is Gracie on the left. To her immediate right is Noah and to Noah's right is Sabrina. The lady you see in the pictures in Mrs. Diane, their choir teacher.


The Big Joke

Okay, I totally have more things to post about but I wanted so much to tell you about The Big Joke that happened last night. For those of you who are not aware, our church is putting on a production of "The Christmas Shoes". The drama is based off the very popular song performed by Christian artist Bob Carlisle.

This is a photo from the last performance we did of "Sacrifice." Jason Easterling on the left, Mark Knight on the right.

Anyway, my good friend Jason Easterling plays the main role of Robert Layton. I have the unfortunate task of playing his secretary, Gwen. Will Jefcoat is one of our fellow choir members who plays Mark, another employee to Mr. Layton, and my partner in singing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."
Jason and I just have that type of friendship that we are very sarcastic and joke (lovingly of course!) with each other constantly. So during one of our rehearsals to prepare for the show this weekend, several choir members made the suggestion to paste Jason's face on a picture of the Grinch. So I enlisted the help of several people from our church; not just choir members but people handling props and the drama, and also our new youth minister! Edgar should actually take full credit for the photo.

I promise this story will not take as long as it seems....so I had copies of the photos and suggested to our drama director, Martha, that I lay some files down on Jason's desk (in character) before I recite my lines. She agreed. Jason and I discussed it (keep in mind he had no idea about The Big Joke) and decided he wouldn't even look at me when I put the files down.
Before our full run through rehearsal last night, I shared The Big Joke with everybody in the choir. When it was time for my scene, Jason and I walked through the scene again backstage.
And then it happened. We pulled off The Big Joke.
I put the files down on the desk, went through my lines, and turned to go. We had a stand in for Will last night, and as Jason called for Mark I heard the WHOLE choir erupt into a fit of laughter.

Now can I just share with you what Jason was looking at (and The Big Joke that had the choir in hysterics?)

For those of you who know Jason Easterling, he is willing to autograph a copy for free. Just print it off and present it to him the next time you see him!


Thank you! Thank you!

My first-ever award! Ever!

I would like to thank Amy for giving me this lovely award, although I'm sure the only reason she did is because I'm her friend. But that's okay too! So I'm assuming by following along that now it's my turn to tell you about some things that I love:

1. My little family. Bryan and I have been through so much together already, I feel like all the struggles we've faced has made our relationship stronger. People laugh when I tell them I married him only because he can make me laugh - but it's totally the truth. We were friends before anything else, and I think that is always important. And there are just no words to describe Gracie and what she means to me. I think I've expressed much of that here, or at least I hope I have.

2. God. There is no way to describe the feeling of that love and what He gave for us. So much of how I learned about that love was when I became Gracie's mother, and I could understand how you would lay your own life on the line for your children. There is nothing better than knowing that there is always someone there with me to hold my hand, to hold me up, and to wrap me in His loving arms that the love of Christ.

3. Music. I could go on and on about this and why I love it, but it's not something that can be explained easily unless you have that same passion. I have always loved singing. I believe it was one of the most important gifts that God blessed me with, and I want to use that to spread the gospel to others. But there is something in a song that tells a story or sends a message, and when you connect with that message...Wow. That's about the best way I can describe it!

4. Popcorn. Maybe not Amy's lime and salt (ew!!) but popcorn. Just, in general. I could eat it all day long if I would let myself. I eat at least 3-4 bags a week. If we go out to dinner and then to a movie, I will STILL order a large popcorn - even if I end up taking it home with me. I don't know why exactly, but it's the best thing since white bread. Yum. And I just had a bag if you were wondering.

5. Bring the Rain. I might be stealing this from Amy, but she and I have had many a conversation about this blog. We even had a phone chain (ok, just the two of us) going when Audrey was born. It takes someone with very strong faith to share their story in the way that Angie has done, sharing intimate feelings so openly on her blog. But I don't know of any other blog I can go to that I can come away with some kind of perspective on anything. Her storytelling is absolutely amazing, and how she applies it to Christ or just to Bible stories is wonderful. I heart this blog, too, Amy!

6. Other fellow blog sites like Confessions of a CF Husband. The fact that Gwyneth is cute as a button aside, Nate and Tricia (like Angie) have opened their lives up to help others. I knew a little bit about cystic fibrosis before finding this bog, but am so much more appreciative after hearing Tricia's story - and the way Nate shares their day to day life.

7. Friends. I am blessed to call some of the best people in the world my friends. They have been there for me repeatedly, and I just feel so lucky to have them in my life.

8. My church family. Some of these people have become extended family, and I do not know of a better group of people when you need prayer or just someone to lean on. They are THE best.

9. Olive Garden.

10. Jeff Dunham. The language is a little much, but if you can get past that - some of his skits are hysterical.


I am such a bad mom...

I failed to take even one picture of my daughter during our Thanksgiving festivities. Wait, I am lying. I took one of her in my Granny's van yesterday when we were sitting in the car eating Hardee's for breakfast because 1) it was too flipping hot INSIDE Hardee's to eat and 2) it was also too flipping crowded!

Wednesday night we went to visit with my Granny and Pawpaw for a few hours, since I knew we wouldn't see them Thursday. It's nice to see them when I don't make time to go and see them. They don't live that far away, so I don't really have any excuses! But it was nice to visit and have pre-Thanksgiving dinner with them. Then when Bryan got home from work, we managed to drag my mom's artificial tree out of the attic and get the lights on it. Now if we could just make time to hang our ornaments....

Thursday I worked for about three hours, got off and went home to pick up Bryan and Gracie. When Bryan stopped at Entec, we found a "Black Friday" newspaper (yeah!) after searching since 6AM. We got to his Aunt Cathy's house around 10 that morning, and just got to hang out and chat with her while she cooked. (Okay, I napped. In front of the big roaring fire place in a cozy chair.)
After we enjoyed lunch with Bryan's family and Gracie took about an hour nap, we headed off to run home to make some sausage balls before going to my Aunt Gail's house. I never knew sausage balls were so easy! I also packed up the cupcakes leftover from my Girl's Night on Tuesday, and some butterscotch bark I made and was not at all impressed with.

We got to my Aunt Gail's about 5 that evening, and hung out. We also managed to stuff in some more food (ugh!) but had to call it quits before I cleaned my plate. However, I did pack up some food to bring home and our refrigerator is still overflowing with stuff!

Then at 5 Friday morning, my Granny calls to make sure I am up and ready. We had decided over the phone Thursday evening that we would hit Target first. My sole purpose for going there was that they had some awesomely good movies for $3.98 and $5.98 and were just not deals I wanted to pass up!
Being that this was my first EVER Black Friday experience, I felt a little overwhelmed. But because I wasn't like most of the gadget-hungry masses, I found literally everything I was shopping for. After Target we stopped at Hardee's for breakfast and then hit JC Penney's, Bath and Body Works, and Wal-mart. I spent most of my money at Target and JC Penney's, but also found some nice things at Bath and Body Works. If you haven't tried their holiday line - particularly the scented oils - you should try the Frosted Cranberry. My whole house smells like holiday! (If that makes any sense).

Today was a lazy, dreary day spent at work. Gracie requested that we watch Polar Express tonight so that is exactly what we are going to do after a dinner of spaghetti casserole! I am off, I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday! More posts to come!

Countdown to Mawmaw: 10 Days!!!


Thankful Day

Just wanted to drop in for a quick second and wish everyone a Happy Turkey Day. I hope you are thankful for everything in your life, good or bad. I know I am.

I am thankful for good friends, my wonderful family, and for the love of our Lord and Savior.

I am also thankful for my fellow bloggers.

Have a good day and don't eat too much!



Hhm. So either I've been overly emotional lately (given a lot of circumstances) or maybe I'm having one of those "heart-to-heart" moments.
Standing in Karen's house today while I was cleaning gave me the opportunity to think as I cleaned. Sometimes it's good for me, sometimes not. Today was one of those days where it became kind of a toss up.

Have you ever heard "Word of God Speak" by MercyMe? If you haven't you should look it up. As I'm driving home from Karen's, I am absolutely overcome by this strong sense of thankfulness that it's hard to find words to explain it. So much of my life I've spent being angry, holding grudges, and I guess God has taken this opportunity this last year to work really hard at opening my eyes to how wrong that is. So much of my life was lived as I struggled with Poor Me Syndrome. Something about being saved and accepting Christ changed all that for me, and I think it has just slowly begun to become apparent to me.

When I was driving to the pediatrician's office this morning, it was as if I put myself in His shoes. Gracie is in the backseat, unaware of what to expect. And here I am - knowing that a flu shot is looming, know how terrified she will be. And yet, I just continue on my merry way to the pediatrician's office.

After the routine nurse/doctor check up, Gracie asks one last time if she has to get a shot. Not skipping a beat I tell her yes. I see her eyes brimming with tears as she argues me. "I'm not sick," she says. "I don't need a shot."

It's that simple for her to rationalize. But I know that this flu shot - no matter how painful - can be good for her. It can protect her from harm. "It will hurt for a little while, but then you'll be okay." I assure her.

Isn't it funny how I totally took how I was feeling at that moment and related it to the way our Heavenly Father feels about us? He knows what lies in the road ahead of us and sometimes - no matter how painful the situation - he will let us walk into the fire and come out on the other side. We might have battle wounds (or in Gracie's case, a bandaid) and it might hurt for a little while, but the pain doesn't always linger.

And just like I did in that room at the pediatrician's office, He will be waiting with his arms open to comfort and assure us that He's never too far from us anyway.

More prayers, please

In no particular order....

Please pray for one of my oldest (and by oldest I don't mean she's old, I mean we've been friends since seventh grade!!!) Carolyn who just found out in October that she and her husband, Scott, are expecting a baby. I am excited for them - having a child can be nerve wracking and exciting all at the same time!
Oh and Carolyn if you are reading this: I agree with what you said on your blog. People can tell you everything they know about pregnancy and childbirth, and yet every single pregnancy is different. Just keep whatever you are told or what you learn in a little bank in your memory for later use. You'll learn what you need to know as you go through this! I'm excited for you guys And I know your Dad is too.... :)

Also please continue to be in prayer for my brother-in-law Joe and his family. His father died unexpectedly on Saturday and the funeral is late this morning. My mother-in-law says everyone seems to be doing well. They are all strong Christian people but I am sure, as with any loss, while they know he is in heaven it is still a sudden loss to learn to cope with.



Please be in prayer for my brother-in-law Joe's family. As I sat here getting ready to type this, I was going to ask for prayer for Joe's father, John. He went to the ER this morning with chest pains and they ran some tests and discovered a tear in his aortic valve. They took him be helicopter (?) to Birmingham.

I was on the phone with my mother-in-law just seconds ago, and John passed away after arriving at the hospital in Birmingham.

Please be in prayer for his family.


Praise report and well wishes

So Gracie's quarantine is almost over, and she's venturing out tonight to spend the night with Nana Kay. I know she will be excited to go to church Sunday morning, given how ticked she was with me Wednesday when I told her she couldn't go. She is not enjoying this antibiotic, but it's doing it's job.
So far this week she and I have made Christmas cookies and eaten them all (maybe six total) and have watched Garfield and the Grinch repeatedly. She seems to be on her way to a full recovery!

With Thanksgiving staring us in the face next week, I doubt that it will be very likely I'll have any updates these next several days. So I wanted to wish all of you a safe and happy weekend. Bryan and I are dropping Gracie off at Nana Kay's tonight and then heading to Chili's for dinner: just the two of us. This doesn't happen very often, but is a special treat we've begun to look forward to.

While I'm here, I wanted you guys to know how excited I am for Nate and Tricia. If you have been keeping up with my blog, you know I've been asking for prayer requests for Tricia's lymphoma diagnosis and test results. They got their results and it (to quote Nate) APPEARS that the lymphoma is gone. PTL!

So take care of yourselves and I'm sure I'll post turkey day pics next week!


Prayer Request and Info

I'd like to ask that you keep Gracie in your prayers this week. On Monday, we took her to the doctor because last Monday she was diagnosed with a "respiratory virus" and sent home. We were told to treat the symptoms. By Wednesday night she had started refusing to eat a whole lot, even some of her favorite foods. This past Saturday, Nana Kay said Gracie had been complaining of a headache.
I had no indication of any kind of fever or any other symptoms, until early Monday morning when she cried every twenty minutes for no apparent reason. When we took her Monday afternoon, they diagnosed Gracie with RSV.

If you are the parent of a young child or know someone who is, you might want to pass some of the information along to them. RSV is highly contagious and can be more serious in infants, especially preemies like Baby Gwyneth or the Steece Quads.

Gracie had it once when she was three months old and though the doctor did not seem as worried this time, she is still very winded and tired - especially from coughing so much. Her lungs were inflamed so they gave her a steroid shot before we left and put her on a very strong antibiotic she doesn't seem to like.
She has been quarantined to the house at least until Sunday, and can go back to preschool on Monday morning.

Please pray for her and be sure to pass the information along to others you know. You can find more info on RSV here and here.


Praise & Prayers

While Amy and I do our fair share of blog stalking, there are some blogs I visit more frequently than others. And while I know that there are people hurting and in pain all over our world, this family is one that has just touched my heart.
I found them immediately after their daughter was born and Tricia was awaiting a lung transplant. I have posted about them before, concerning prayer for the lymphoma that chemotherapy doesn't seem to be helping with.

Nathan just posted an update last night that you can read here. Thank God for small miracles! I am thankful that the spot on Tricia's lungs is an infection, while I know just from what Nathan stated that her immune system has a harder time fighting off infections because it is weakened. I am just elated to hear that it is only an infection, and not cancer.

I know that Nathan and Tricia are faithful Christians who, as Nate said: As always, we trust that God knows our future and wants the best for us, even when it doesn't feel that way.

Nathan and Tricia, if you are reading this: Know that there is another small soul in this world praying for you and your family. That whatever God's will is for your lives, He will make it known to you. I'm glad to hear that Tricia is feeling better and hope you guys get to close on your house very soon!


Do YOU want to be different?

Someone I know, and I can't remember who either has a quote in their email signature or something that simply states: Be the change you want to see in the world.

And I love that quote. It's one that sticks with me constantly. And when I was checking out Angie's blog the other day about "Seven Prayers a Day" (where she uses Bible passages and adapts them into prayers) one of those prayers really jumped out at me. It reminded me of that quote I've already talked about and when I checked it out in my own Bible, I noticed that it was worded slightly different. That Bible verse is now underneath the photo of Gracie at the top of my blog.

Anyway, all that said I just wanted to share a video that I am not certain I've posted here before. I don't know if it's a God thing or what, but this whole idea of not being changed by this world but living by the example of what Jesus did for us and how much he loves us has just stuck with me like super glue. And no matter how much I try to hide from it or run from it, the idea just keeps seeking me out. So I wanted to share this beautiful song, if you've never heard it before.


What's great about 8?

Disclaimer: Because Amy and I visit most of them same blogs and/or know the same people, I am not tagging anybody. I will, however, share my answers with you. I can picture all of you on the edge of your chairs in anticipation.

8 TV shows I watch
1. Days of Our Lives. Say what you will about soap operas and all that jazz, I totally get that it's not realistic but I am hooked.
2. One Tree Hill. Again, same as number one but this is one of view teeny bopper dramas I can actually sit through without feeling nauseous.
3. Grey's Anatomy. I don't care what anybody says, this is way less depressing than sitting through ER.
4. Friends. Okay, now only in rerun format but they're all still funny to me!
5. CSI. I will not be specific because there are only like three hundred different versions of this show. All good.
6. Reba. I don't know how I missed the show before it went into reruns, but some of her stuff is hysterical!
7. Cosby Show
8. Full House

8 Things that happened yesterday
1. I went to work.
2. Nana Kay dropped Gracie off at work.
3. Gracie and I came home to unload groceries.
4. Gracie and I went to Michael's for scrapbooking supplies.
5. After I fed her a dinner of spaghettios, string cheese, and apple slices (don't judge!), Bryan gave Gracie a bath.
6. Bryan and I had what he called an "old country" dinner - fried ham, scalloped potatoes, cornbread dressing and brussel sprouts.
7. I made cookie bar brownies for dessert.
8. The three of us watched "Garfield:The Movie". Apparently now Gracie is in love with the fat cat!

8 Favorite places to eat:
1. Chick-Fil-A
2. O'Charley's
3. Applebee's
4. Wendy's
5. Olive Garden
6. Moe's
7. Captain D's
8. Home

8 Things I am Looking Forward to:
1. December. Not just because it is my birthday (the 8th) but because ON my birthday, my mother will be coming home from Qatar for that month.
2. Being an aunt for the first time ever!
3. Spending this first REAL Christmas with Gracie, who has just started asking about Santa Claus. I will post later about this issue! Not that I have an issue with Santa, but I want her to understand the real meaning of Christmas: Our Savior.
4. The new season of "Secret Life of the American Teenager." Call me a closet teeny bopper show fan, but I actually liked it.
5. Winter. Cold weather. Hot chocolate and lots of blankets. I love this time of year!
6. My Premier Jewelry party. And I'm not a big fan of jewelry, so that speaks volumes!
7. The next year in the life of our church. I've just seen so many of the possibilities over the last few months with Bro. Bruce as our new pastor....I'm excited about the future of life @ Glynwood!
8. The New Year and whatever it has in store for my family!

8 Things on my wish list:
1. A "new to us" vehicle.
2. A radio/alarm clock type gadget to play my iPod.
3. Be Delicious perfume by DKNY.
4. A new hair cut.
5. Some new winter sweaters. Most of mine are so old!
6. A vacation.
7. Getting back on our feet as a family.
8. To go back to school and get a Master's degree.


Birthday Post (Finally!)

Now that our week has calmed down a little bit, I thought I'd post pictures from Gracie's birthday party. I won't give the recap because most of you know the drill: cake, kids, and presents. The carnival party turned out really nice in my humble opinion. And all the kids seemed more excited with Gracie's kitchen than in watching her open any of the other presents.

I sincerely apologize for the lack of commentary to go with the photos, but in trying to get them up I realized that blogger is not uploading them in order - and I'm being lazy. Plus, Bryan's dad has been in town for the week and we've been super busy. So I'm only posting these pictures at the request of Ms. Leigh, so she can admire her handiwork of the circus outfit. You did an awesome job, Leigh, and Gracie loved the monkey!


Birthday Wishes

Hey folks!

I am not at my own computer right now, but wanted to post in honor of my baby's third birthday today. I promise a more sappy post later, to include pictures. For now be sure and sign the comments section to wish Gracie a happy birthday!


Guess Who's Having a Baby?

If you guess that it's ME, you are WRONG! Play the video below to hear Gracie make the announcement!

That's right, folks, Gracie's Aunt Tara is pregnant - which means I'm going to be an aunt! Yay!

Sorry for the no birthday pics yet.....Bryan's dad got into town early tonight. I will try to post them tomorrow afternoon.


I'm bringing home a baby bumble bee...

I have to admit, while I thought she was much cuter as Dorothy last year, this Bumble Bee costume has grown on me this year. I am not looking forward to the years ahead when she actually wants to fight me on what kind of costume she can wear, so I'm hoping that by teaching her early that she will understand how I feel about Halloween. Number one, I just don't see a point in all the blood/guts/gore of it, much less do I enjoy it. She can be just as happy as a Princess or a bumble bee and still collect just as much candy. Sure, I want her to enjoy the fun in it - but that's basically where it ends. No door to door trick or treating for this family, and that's just my own preference.
I feel much better with the fall festivals at churches, or even going downtown like we did last night. And the kids still had a blast!

Sadly, after hooking my camera up to get the photos on the computer I realized I had not taken a single shot of Gracie from Wednesday night. But it was mass chaos at church anyway, so the pictures from Thursday night will just have to do!

Maggie and Gracie on the carousel.

Is he not the cutest thing ever? And such a flirt....

Gracie and Maggie hangin' out in the wagon.

Another wagon shot!

Gracie in her bumble bee gear.

As if one cute baby wasn't enough, I give you a second one! This is Madison Grace, who - pardon the sour expression - was hungry.



I should have known.

I should have known that for all my detailed planning in my last post, and how easily my morning errands went that something was just not right.

I had been to Target, to Wal-mart, and even treated myself to a Chik-Fil-A biscuit after dropping Gracie off at school this morning.

Kayla was coming to help me clean house for the party Saturday, and she arrived right at 10:30 and we got to work.

So at 11:30 when the phone rang, I didn't think anything about answering.

It was Gracie's school. She was running a fever. Could I come and get her?

Absolutely miserable does not even begin to describe my feverish daughter with her 101.9 fever.

A strep test, a chest x-ray, a blood cell count and two and a half hours later we are back from the doctor's office with an antiobiotic for a double ear infection.

Hey! On the bright side, at least it's nothing contagious! We'll probably let her stay home with Daddy tomorrow, go to our church festival tomorrow night, and then back to school on Thursday.


More updates to come...

Hey folks! I'm not avoiding my blog, I promise. I also promise that the next week will undoubtedly be full of picture taking fun. Let this post set the example for more to come! Here's what our schedule looks like this week:
Wednesday Night
Halloween/Fall Festival Fun @ Church; we dine on hamburgers and hotdogs, free of charge, as long as we bring a bag of candy so the children can trick or treat around the dinner tables. We have some other activities planned for our 4&5 year old Mission Friends class that includes making homemade S'mores! Yum!
Thursday Night
Downtown P'ville does their annual Halloween candy hand out, and then we will be heading over to First Baptist Church in Prattville for their Fall Fest. Maggie and her mom will be accompanying us on this excursion.
Friday Night
A double date with me, Bryan, Brooke, Ryan and we'll be taking Gracie and Mason to Zoo Boo for the night! Dinner will probably be at Chick-Fil-A just because it's all about the kids tonight!
Saturday Afternoon
Gracie's Birthday Party! Did you get your invitation?

And as far as tonight went....

I'd like to share this recipe that shall remain nameless. It was given to me by Tracy @ work. I made my own adjustments, and that is what I will be posting here:
1 lb. rotini pasta
1 lb. thawed shrimp (previously frozen)
2 dashes McCormick Roasted Garlic/Bell Pepper seasoning
4 pieces of bacon, cooked and chopped
one bundle of green onions, chopped
5 oz shredded parmesan cheese
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2-3/4 cup country crock spread
2 tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup shredded monterrey jack cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Using the same pot, cook the butter until foamy and then add seasoning blend, bacon, and green onion. Cook two minutes and then add heavy cream and both cheeses. Cook for four minutes at a low boil. Add shrimp and cornstarch. Cook 5-10 minutes longer if needed. And pasta and toss.
Next time I will probably use more cheese and less cream, but the bacon and onion gave this dish an AWESOME amount of flavor without a need for extra salt or pepper. We had garlic crescent rolls to go with it.

And ever since we took Gracie and Maggie to the fair, I've been dying to get my hands on a caramel apple. Bryan and I have bought two packages of the already made apples (you usually find them in the produce department) and much to our dismay, both times the apples have been rotten. So today I noticed that apples AND caramels were on sale. I bought three apples and the caramels, and just did them at home. It was much easier than I thought! Bryan devoured his, and I cut half of Gracie's into smaller pieces for her. I ended up eating the other half of hers (shown in the picture) and saving the third one. I am glad I decided to do caramel apple SLICES for Gracie's party, I think they'll actually turn out good.

So now that I've shared my yummy dinner goodness, I am off to bed! I have a long day of house cleaning ahead since we won't be home the rest of the nights this week to prepare for the party. If I don't post before then, see y'all at the party!



Okay so aside from Mason, who Gracie lovingly and much to Nana Kay's disappointment, calls her "boyfriend", there is one other soul who takes up much of Gracie's conversation. That is her friend Maggie, who is in her class at preschool and who also accompanied us to the fair that I posted about a few posts back.
This week at school is "Spirit Week", which is generally geared more towards the grade school kids. Suzanne (Maggie's mom)
and I talked over the weekend about Twin Day which was today. After discussing it at length, Suzanne mentioned two Halloween outfits she had that were identical. All I need was black pants and a turtleneck for Gracie and the outfit would be complete. The pictures that follow were taken when I picked Gracie up from school today.

We actually had someone at the fair ask us if they were twins....they actually look a lot alike, except that Maggie's hair is more blonde than Gracie's and I think a little bit curlier.

Love this one. Too cute.


Prayers for Tricia

This has got to be one of THE cutest families ever.

I don't get to check their blog as much as I frequent some others, but I check in on Nate, Tricia, and baby Gwenyth from time to time. Today I got to the blog to discover that Tricia's chemo has apparently not been effective in reducing the lymphoma that if I am correct, occured as a result of her lung transplant surgery.
You know, I just told Bryan that I've been over in my mind the last few days all of my current worries/concerns in my own life. And sometimes, keeping up with my fellow bloggers in the blogosphere turns out to be a great big reality check for me.

The honest truth is, my concerns are miniscule compared to Nate and Tricia's. Here they have this beautiful baby girl who was born prematurely but in reality appears to be doing as well as possible for a preemie. And then they get set for the lung transplant and it comes off as a success. And now they are facing another setback that the cancer treatment appears to not be working.

I know that Nate and Tricia are always in good spirits. They are both Christians, and I'm sure they know God is on their side always. I heard something a few days ago that if you think your life is bad or your situation is unbearable, somewhere else in the world someone is struggling even more.

I trust God, and I know that whatever His plan is for this little family that He already knows it. Be in prayer for Tricia. I'm sure facing this illness, even with God by her side and her wonderful husband and daughter, that this can get scary and can be very draining physically. I don't know a lot about cystic fibrosis, but I know enough. Please pray for Nate, and for baby Gwenyth as well. Keep this sweet family in your prayers.


Quilt Give-A-Way

I'm not one for brown and yellow, but the quilt involved in this giveaway is actually really beautiful!
Go leave a comment if you're interested in winning this quilt!

Spook-tacular plans

Since I haven't posted in a while, I thought I would post about our upcoming plans for Halloween. The first year that Gracie was old enough (I felt) to go trick or treating, I wasn't sure what to do. Our church didn't really offer anything in the way of a fall festival, and I'm just not one to be a Mom who is up for the whole spook/fright side of Halloween. Plus, Gracie is terrified of anything in a mask. So fall festivals and things like that are more our speed.
Well someone told me about how downtown Prattville offers a service on Halloween where they close their shops and the owners/volunteers side outside and hand out candy. This is much more convenient in terms of keeping the children in one central location, and we're not going door to door to people's houses. So Tina begged me to let her dress Gracie up as a ballerina, and we took her to downtown Prattville.
Then we find out that First Baptist Church in Prattville puts on this festival with pizza, popcorn, and all kinds of games for kids. So that first year and then last year as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Gracie's friends Noah and Avery from church accompanied us to the Halloween festivities downtown.
And now, this year, decked out in a Bumble Bee costume from Target and with her B.F.F. Maggie tagging along, we will be hitting downtown Prattville again. Her costume looks something like this one, only in Bumble Bee style. Although according to the comment posted on the website, I may be making Gracie try it on this afternoon.

The stuff downtown is actually happening Thursday night, because Prattville has a game on Friday. And then Saturday after Halloween is Gracie's birthday party!

What are your Halloween plans, if you have any?


Fair-ly well.

Hey guys!
Sorry for the lack of posts....we've been busy. I just got home from spending half the day in Montgomery. After a doctor's appointment (fun) for some routine stuff, I got to do some "Mommy" shopping which meant buying a new purse at TJ Maxx, and then spending forty-five minutes in a grocery store by myself. Not just any grocery store, but the gourmet of grocery stores....Fresh Market. I kid you not, as an avid lover of cooking they have some of the neatest things in that store. I love Fiji bottled water, but only buy one bottle out there because it's too expensive by the case. Then I found this piece of chocolate for Gracie that is shaped like a fish. I also bought her something called "smushed fruit" which actually looks like a cross between fruit leather and a fruit roll up. I could spend all day in that store!
Then I got the pleasure of having lunch with Karen (Eddie's wife) at Chappy's Deli. To steal a phrase from my daughter, it was "Yum to my tum."
And speaking of my little girl....

We took Gracie to the fair last night. And what a treat for Gracie that her bestest buddy from preschool got to meet us there! Gracie talks about Maggie almost as much as she talks about Mason (her "BOY"friend) and they were absolutely thrilled to get the chance to ride fun rides and hold hands while we wandered around the Alabama National Fair. And Maggie's baby brother, Joseph, got to come along for the fun! (Holding him the few times I did has caused me to experience some serious baby fever!!).

Now for the pictures of fun....

Maggie and Gracie getting on one of the rides...it is pretty stationary, but it does go up in the air at one point (we expected both girls to scream, however, they did not.

Maggie was all set to ride the cars after the other two rides were over, so they had fun pretending to drive around in a circle.

Gracie giving Maggie a hug before the circus started. We only lasted halfway through it because when the clown's car backfired, it scared Maggie to death. So we decided to head for the train ride a little earlier than anticipated.

Baby Joseph. Is he not the cutest thing ever? Baby fever, folks....

Maggie loves to go to the livestock exhibit, so when we caught up with her family after a quick bathroom break, Maggie and Gracie were both thrilled to pet the baby duckies.

And speaking of the circus reminds me of something.....Gracie's upcoming circus themed birthday party! (These pics are for you, Mrs. Leigh!!)
These are pictures of Gracie in her circus party dress:


Praise Him

I miss Eddie. I miss him in the most unusual times, or even when he crosses my mind for no apparent reason at all. Like yesterday, when I was on my way out to help Karen clean out her kitchen cabinets. That bright sunshine was so unreal I kept thinking....I haven't seen sun that bright in ages. Maybe that's just Eddie, smiling from ear to ear because he's up there hanging out with Jesus. They're probably still talking about Alabama kickin' Georgia's butt. Does Jesus really talk about football?


Yesterday was hard. It was hard for Karen, and I struggled and felt myself slip from time to time. But we managed to survive yesterday.

It is so nice to work at a job where I am constantly harrassed, and I mean that in a totally good way. But I constantly have to remind myself that while I'm thanking God for a day like today - where even though we are short handed, work has been pretty mellow and fun - I need to thank him for days like yesterday too.

Eddie was a good friend and I'm sure Karen would say a wonderful husband, and while losing him has made me question some things about my own faith, I need to be thankful to God for blessing me with someone like Eddie in my life. Just because Eddie is not physically here, doesn't mean I can't still keep his memory alive. And that's important to me, as well as to everybody else who knows him. So while we continue to struggle with this sudden loss, I want to ask the rest of you a question:

If you praise God for all the good things/times in your life, do you remember to praise him even through the times you might struggle?


Did God Need a Friend?

I can't remember what website I pulled this from, so I don't have the author's name. Should I run across it, I will give the writer full credit. Eddie's memorial service and graveside service yesterday are unexplainable. There are no words. Here was a church family, along with Eddie's own family, gathering to celebrate his new life in Heaven while struggling to understand that his earthly life has come to an end.
I still continue to live day to day, mourning him and thinking with each step through those church halls, I'm going to turn a corner and he will be there. And if I am struggling in my own grief, I can not even begin to fathom the pain that Karen is in. I wish that every single person who ever comes to this blog could have known Eddie Harris. Your life would have been a much brighter place, just by one of what Jimmy Williams called "an Eddie Harris hug that would almost crack your ribs."

Eddie was a hugger who was not afraid to tell anyone how much he loved them. It is my great hope that in losing him, we will grow closer as a church family and learn to love one another more in the same way that Eddie loved all of us. I think that is one of the best ways we can honor his memory.

We love you, Eddie.

Did God need another angel?
Or someone He knew that would care?
Someone who always thought of others
And when needed…was always there.

Did God need another angel?
Or someone to be more helpful in Heaven above?
Even though you were treasured here on Earth
I guess He noticed your kindness & your love.

Did God need another angel?
Or someone He knew was worthwhile?
Someone to share in His spiritual inspirations
And someone with an awesome smile!

I guess God watched you from Heaven
And choose someone He knew was special
Many nights I’ve cried to God in anger
“Why did You need another angel?”

And then the answer hit me & it’s quite simple
For now, I’m no longer saddened,
Because, God DID need another angel
…but he also needed a friend!

Just as you were loved, so shall you be missed.


If You Could See Me Now

Don't know who this guy is....

We love you, Eddie.

Do Not Be Afraid

I told him that I loved him. I distinctly remember that. I told him that we would all be waiting there when he was ready to wake up. But that was not in God's plan for Eddie's life. We will never know why it wasn't, and in all honesty it was never up to us. I remember hugging Eddie that morning right before the service was over. He had told me earlier how scared he was. I told him I loved him and told him I would pray for him.
He told me he loved me. "Thank you for that book," he said with a smile, "And the coin. I love you, I really mean that. And I value your friendship."

There was something much more important that I didn't get to share with Eddie that day. A small passage from my Bible, somewhat of a "reflection" that I just decided to post here. This has been weighing on my heart all week, and I don't know why I didn't get the opportunity to tell him about this.

...Jesus wants you to know that you can trust him as the Great Shepherd. In Psalm 23, David paints a beautiful picture of God making us lie down in green pastures. Without total trust in the shepherd, the sheep will not lie down in the pasture for fear of being attacked. Jesus is your Shepherd, and you are his sheep. He loves you and wants to see you lie down in green pastures of his love.
The Lord's promise is that no matter where you are today, he is walking with you. Tonight you will lie down, and fear will not overtake you. You will not be a slave to anyone or anything because you are precious in his sight because of his love for you. That is a promise that only he can fulfill in your life.

Somewhere in that great, beautiful kingdom of Heaven I can literally picture Eddie. I can picture him free of those knee braces and all that pain he used to suffer with because of his knee problems. I can see him kicked back in a beautiful green field of grass somewhere, held titled up and basking in the warm sun. I know somewhere deep within me that he is in a better place. My heart is beginning to understand that too. I used to joke with Eddie during church services that I had already hugged him once, I wasn't hugging him again - only to go back on what I'd said. And what I wouldn't give to have one of those hugs right about now.
I have a feeling Eddie Harris is at home with his Heavenly Father, already passing out hugs and telling everybody how much he loves them.


Prayer for Eddie & Karen

If you read my blog and go to church with me, you know already who Eddie and Karen are. For those of you not aware who would still like to pray for them, Eddie and Karen Harris attend Glynwood Baptist where I also go to church. Eddie was scheduled on Monday to have double knee replacement surgery, and with the exception of a blood clot the surgery was a success. However, sometime Tuesday morning Eddie suffered a stroke that has greatly affected his right side.

As of this morning, he has more use of his left side but is still not able to talk. What Karen and Eddie had planned would only take about a month to recover from has now become a major setback. Please lift them up in prayer, and continue to pray for them as they deal with what has been laid before them. These are two of the sweetest people I have ever been blessed to call my friends, and Eddie means a great deal to me and has been a good, Christian role model to me. And he's just such a sweet, genuine guy you can't help but love him.

Please continue to lift them up in prayer.


Birthday Dress

This is one of the most beautiful dresses I've ever seen....and thanks to Mrs. Leigh it will be mailed out to us today!!! We are doing a carnival theme for Gracie's birthday, so this dress is perfect.


New Blog Layout, NEW PHOTO!!!

Sorry. I'm only mildly excited. When I went to pick Gracie up from school today, they had the pictures that were taken back in August (the week after school started). I was so worried about this because I know how Gracie can be...sometimes she's all about having her picture taken, and other times (like Labor Day at Pratt Park) she was less than interested in having my camera in her face.

I absolutely LOVE this picture and wanted to share it, even though it's yucked up by all the "proof" seals. My little baby is growing up so fast!!!



Seven years is a long time. As of September 7, 2008, that is the number of years that Bryan and I have been in a relationship. I remember waking up that morning to the TV being on at my apartment. I remember hearing all the noise in the background on the TV, and wondering what was going on.
I remember being stunned into silence sitting on my bed as the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Since that day, I can't physically watch that happen on television. When those buildings fell that day, it was like something out of a huge Hollywood blockbuster.

When I googled September 11, 2001 the first that popped up were images of that day. Images like this one have been forever etched in my mind.

We talked about 9/11 today at work. I doubt there is one person in this country who can not remember where they were. I know that day will be one that made history that Gracie will learn more about in years to come.

If you have a moment, remember with me....


I've been a bad mom!

I forgot to take pictures of her bento box, the one with the cute little PB&J men. I don't know how to use my scanner, so I can't show you the adorable picture I took of her and Mason at Pratt Park on Labor Day.

I've just been busy, and if you work aside from dealing with a toddler you understand that! But I promise I'll have updates very soon!


Before you yell at me....

I'm not a politician. I am a person who is quite possibly, more interested in what is going on inside the cover of People magazine or on the next episode of Grey's Anatomy than in politics.

I have never voted. Not once. Not a local election, not a presidential election. And I used to reason that my vote didn't matter because if I wasn't interested - and I didn't know politics - what did I care?

Then after some long thought and reading some of the information about this upcoming election, I did something drastic yesterday:

I registered to vote.

Aren't you so proud????


Have a good weekend!

Hey folks!
Sorry for the lack of posts, we've just been busy with school and work and falling into a nice routine. I am still hard at work with learning how to build Gracie's bento box properly, and just have not had time to take pictures. My homemade pasta salad went untouched today, so Gracie ended up having some Ritz Bitz for snack.
She seems to really be enjoying school, not being clingy or crying at all. It kind of reminds me of how she has come to be at church, she's grown accustomed to the fact of being left for a while without money. (FYI to Amy Wade-I promise Jackson will reach that point too!).

Anyway, I am off Sunday through Tuesday and we have made plans to go to Pratt Park for their Labor Day festivities, so I will definitely have pictures to post very soon.

Take care!


The "New" Gracie

Okay, so she was cute and adorable before....

But she's absolutely breath-taking after!


Wow is all I can say....

Take Every Thought Captive
by Max Lucado

Today's thoughts are tomorrow's actions.
Today's jealousy is tomorrow's temper tantrum.
Today's bigotry is tomorrow's hate crime.
Today's anger is tomorrow's abuse.
Today's lust is tomorrow's adultery.
Today's greed is tomorrow's embezzlement.
Today's guilt is tomorrow's fear.

Could that be why Paul writes, "Love ... keeps no record of wrongs" (1 Cor. 13:5 NIV)?

Some folks don't know we have an option.

Paul says we do: "We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).

Do you hear some battlefield jargon in that passage--"capture every thought," "make it give up" and "obey Christ"? You get the impression that we are the soldiers and the thoughts are the enemies.

It was for Jesus. Remember the thoughts that came his way courtesy of the mouth of Peter? Jesus had just prophesied his death, burial, and resurrection, but Peter couldn't bear the thought of it. "Peter took Jesus aside and told him not to talk like that.... Jesus said to Peter, 'Go away from me, Satan! You are not helping me! You don't care about the things of God, but only about the things people think are important'" (Matt. 16:22--23).
See the decisiveness of Jesus?

What if you did that? What if you took every thought captive? What if you took the counsel of Solomon: "Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life" (Prov. 4:23).

You are not a victim of your thoughts. You have a vote. You have a voice. You can exercise thought prevention. You can also exercise thought permission.

Change the thoughts, and you change the person. If today's thoughts are tomorrow's actions, what happens when we fill our minds with thoughts of God's love? Will standing beneath the downpour of his grace change the way we feel about others?

Paul says absolutely! It's not enough to keep the bad stuff out. We've got to let the good stuff in. It's not enough to keep no list of wrongs. We have to cultivate a list of blessings. The same verb Paul uses for keeps in the phrase "keeps no list of wrongs" is used for think in Philippians 4:8: "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (RSV). Thinking conveys the idea of pondering--studying and focusing, allowing what is viewed to have an impact on us.

Rather than store up the sour, store up the sweet.


Unanswered Prayers

I have something on my mind that I want to share with my friends in the blogosphere. You know how sometimes when something seems terrible in your life, maybe whatever the circumstances are, when you don't have "that" relationship you question why God would bring people into your life just to take them out?

When we moved from Virginia back to Alabama, we had to live with my Granny and Pawpaw the first year we were here. There were a handful of families in her neighborhood with teenagers around my age, and one of them was Jason Ray. Only Jason was older. He was twenty-one and was interested in dating me.
Being new to this whole experience, I kind of enjoyed being taken care of - taken out to nice restaurants, someone buying me flowers, and I got to experience my first ever prom with a real, live boyfriend. One of those sappy high school stories I'm sure every girl my age (I was seventeen) dreams about. Plus, there was that "he's older" factor too.
I am almost certain that somewhere, I still have some of the letters he wrote me that went home with me each night we left each other's company.

I won't get into the details about why or under what circumstances our relationship ended eight short months after it began, because in all honesty that is not what this post is about. This post is about the absolute shocker I suffered after learning that my very first boyfriend has been battling stage 4 cancer.

I am literally speechless. I feel like I need to do something, and yet...I am not certain as to what. It just breaks my heart for him and his family, because he has been and always will be a wonderful man in my eyes. I am thankful to God for the time we did know each other and spend together, and I am grateful that I shared many firsts (first prom, first kiss, first serious relationship) with him. Please pray with me for his family, he and his wife Angie have two young daughters.


Wendy's blog

Hey y'all! If you are attempting the Bento lunchbox movement with me, check out the latest copy of Parent's magazine. They have a group of lunch ideas in "Laptop Lunch boxes" that I think could easily be converted to Bentos, depending on how creative you are. And also, check out Wendy's latest blog over at Wendolonia! She posted a blog about lunch ideas since Wyatt is on his preschool summer break.

And to add ideas to her list, here are some of Gracie's favorites:

pasta — I have not tried this yet, but Gracie loves pasta salad so I may attempt that one night when we have pasta salad for dinner-just send her with leftovers
cereal bars — Nabisco has something new called a "fruit crisp" bar, and Gracie loves the apple one!


Vanilla yogurt raisins

Salad - okay so it's not "classic" Bento, but Gracie loves salad - so last week I sent her with one and she ate everything but the chicken!


Beef Jerky sticks - okay so not the healthiest of choices but Gracie loves them, and what can they hurt when given in moderation?


Babybel cheeses — this is on Wendy's list, but I want to encourage other parents. If your child likes something (i.e., cheese) try giving them different varieties to explore.
I attempted the "Laughing Cow" wedges in Wendy's bento examples because they fit nicely and are convenient, but Gracie doesn't like them. At all. She does, however, like the original Baybel cheese. This gives them different options when you use cheeses, so they aren't stuck eating the same old kind each time you pack a lunch.

No news is not good news

So I haven't posted in about five days. Gracie did not take a Bento the last two days of school because Wednesday night is church night, so on Thursday she took a lunchable. Friday she also took a lunchable, but it was a hotdog lunchable because the school was catering hot dogs that I couldn't see paying $3.00 for. So I paid $2.69 for a hot dog lunchable.

And I would say that I will be posting cute Bento pictures this week, but that might very well not happen either considering that Gracie was at home yesterday and today. She got sick at church Sunday evening. They came to get me because she felt like she had a fever, and then she threw up in the hallway on the way out to the car. I'm thinking, "Great. Stomach virus." But when I got her home, I gave her Motrin to get the fever down and then tried a popsicle. When she didn't get sick again, I called the pediatrician. I know sometimes with a tummy thing they might run low grade fevers, but something in my gut told me this was more than a stomach bug.

The on call nurse seemed to think so, too, so she advised me to keep an eye on the fever and if Gracie still had one Monday morning to call the pediatrician's office that day. So I checked her temp before I left for work on Monday, and sure enough it was 100.9. They worked her in at 2:15 yesterday afternoon so I left work early to drive to Montgomery. When the doctor finally saw her and heard what the symptoms were, she didn't really feel it was a stomach bug either. So they did a strep test, which came back negative but the doctor noticed how red and swollen her throat was.

So Gracie was diagnosed with a viral throat infection. When I googled that word, it actually gave me some websites that make this illness sound more painful than strep throat! I think "coxsackievirus" is actually what the doctor called Gracie's illness. Thankfully, she seems to be okay until the fever hits her and then she's miserable. And she refuses to eat, which concerns me but not the doctor - apparently, there is a lot of pain in her throat.
We stopped by the mall last night and even got Chick-Fil-A, but she wanted nothing to do with eating. She did, however, down the apple juice pretty fast. And then she started getting feverish, so we left to come home.
The doctor is more concerned with getting liquids in her to keep her nourished and hydrated, and she drinks okay unless the juice is bitter at all. This morning she's had a cup full of ice water, which seems to be okay. And she had a slushy yesterday, plus a popsicle and some apple juice last night. She's just refusing solid food. So I might try mashed potatoes or maybe soup (she ate some Sunday night) and see if that helps at all. The doctor said she could have yogurt, but I'm a little concerned about giving her dairy products with her fevers coming and going.

Right now she is content on the couch watching Diego and drinking her ice water. Keep your fingers crossed and pray that this illness will move out of our house quickly! I hate it when she's sick because I can't really do anything to make her feel better.


Bento Lunch #3

Ladies and gentlemen of the blog world, I present to you my own Bento creation (meaning I've yet to see it be done with a bento!):

I had to run to Wal-mart yesterday for some things you can't purchase at a grocery store (enough said) and while I was there, stopped in their produce department to look for a particular item. They didn't have it. I did, however, pass the bag salads and hesitate. Gracie likes salad. I have little condiment bottles yet to be used for her bento. So I bought a small bag of plain salad mix, and I knew I had everything else at home. What you see in the above photo is fully cooked chicken pieces - Tyson to be exact. She didn't eat much of those. Then the salad with some soft bacon bits on top, the two small bottles of light Italian salad dressing, and a man shaped cheese with a heart (I didn't want to waste any cheese). She literally ate everything but the chicken!



Bento Lunch #2

Not to steal from Wendolonia (mainly because she posted a very encouraging post on my first Bento Box lunch yesterday), but I will give out some good comments myself - I am just in the beginning stages of Bento Box lunches, so if you want some great ideas for lunch items or suggestions on how to pack (I'm still learning) check out her website. I will continue to post each bento lunch this week in a post with other things, but after next week I'll probably just do a weekly recap similar to Wendy's on her blog. It's just easier that way. Then I can also recap what did/did not work for us.

On to the goods....I present, Bento lunch #2! This one was a bit harder to decide on how to pack everything, but in the end I suppose it worked out okay:

Grapes, vanilla yogurt raisins, Mini Keebler fudge stripe cookies, Teriyaki beef jerky sticks, and a small Baybel cheese round. She ate all but two of the beef jerky sticks and a few of the yogurt raisins.

My main issue right now is not what to pack, but how to pack it. I went back to Wendy's blog and noticed that she's not using the little silicon cups EVERY day, just some days. I have also bought bananas, and may pack that tomorrow to see if I can work on packing it just right.
I know it doesn't happen overnight, but I'm quite proud of the two I have packed so far!


Wow. I don't remember knowing what it was like to come to a quiet house for lunch.
Gracie got dropped off this morning at 6:30, and her teacher's aide was in the classroom when we arrived. She hugged me and told me to come back to get her when I leave work. I assured her I would.

I have a picture of her bento lunch for today, but will post it later. Right now I want to talk about my wonderful dining experience at Chili's out at Eastchase yesterday. I'm not even going to be like my friend, Amy Wade and change the name of the restaurant to protect it's image. It was Chili's. Check out their website for more info!

Just let me preface this story by telling you we had plans to see "Dark Knight" at The Rave, maybe a 10 minute drive from the restaurant. The movie started at 12:50pm.

11:30 AM
Arrive at the restaurant. We are seated promptly, the waitress takes our drink order while Bryan jets to the bathroom. She returns seconds later. We are not ready to order, she will come back.
11:45 AM
Waitress (Latoya) returns to take our orders.

Between our order taking and my soup arriving, my drink cup was empty for about 10 minutes.

My baked potato soup arrives by a waitress who is not Latoya, minus the applewood smoked bacon advertised on the menu. I am too hungry to complain. I begin to eat my soup, only to realize my drink cup is still empty.
12:15 PM
The soup waitress returns to fill my drink cup that has now been empty for about twenty minutes. Did I mention my soup was extra creamy with cheese on top? Thirst worthy, I promise.

12:30 PM
Latoya the Waitress returns for the second time in our hour long wait to ask if we are "done". While the look on Bryan's face might have suggested she was insane, he politely informed her we were NOT "done". Looking quite dumbfounded, she says she'll find out what happened to our food.

Moments later....
Enter a very nice looking gentleman in an orange shirt who did not introduce himself. Or maybe he did, but my blood was boiling so much at that point I failed to reason why his name is important in this story. He apologized for our wait, said they were cooking our food and would bring it out shortly. He apologized again, he was tied up with "something else". I thanked him for his apology but informed him our waitress Latoya had been to our table TWICE in the hour time frame we had been sitting. Also told him we had movie plans that were about 15 minutes from starting without us. I inquired if we could get the check when she returned so we could leave when our food was finished. He said not to worry about the check, lunch was on him today.

12:45 PM
We received our lunch rather quickly by the manager himself, and it was at this moment that our waitress Latoya decided to inquire about how our check should be split. I told her to take it up with the manager, HE was taking care of it.

While our food was hot and delicious and free, it does in no way make up for the terrible service we received. And this was only our second visit! There was hardly no one in the facility when we arrived, and it's not like we ordered a T-bone steak and wanted it well done. I had a turkey sandwich, Kayla had chicken fajitas, and Bryan had chicken strips. I did post a message to corporate on the Chili's website and assured them that while the manager did his part in handling the situation, it would probably not sway our decision in never re-visiting this establishment or recommending it to our friends. I said (and I quote) "I would hate for someone I know to receive the kind of service I did today!"

FYI to Amy Wade: I knew you'd enjoy this post after your own encounters at O'Farley's, so I made sure this whole post was laced with sarcastic whit - just for you!


First Day of (Pre) School

Update on the Bento Box: When I picked up Gracie from preschool this afternoon, I asked about her lunch. Ms. Donna said she did not like her morning snack (mini blueberry muffins in pre-packaged pouch) and then opened her lunch box when we got in the car. She had eaten every single thing in her lunch box, with the exception of the confetti ritz crackers. And in her defense, these crackers are supposed to be like cookies - they are so not!

Gracie's first day of school at Victory Baptist was this morning, and while I teared up a little and she seemed kind of hesitant to go sit with the other kids who were "at the movies", she finally let go and then forgot to hug me so she came running back. The morning was pretty much uneventful, I got up about 6:30 to make Gracie's lunch and make sure I had everything ready to go. I had finished up most of the labeling last night of everything she needed labeled. I woke her up around 7:00 and we dropped her off a little after 7:30. This first picture is of her first ever bento box lunch:

There is an apple fruit bar, grapes, 4 little chicken vienna sausages, some confetti ritz crackers, and cheese that I cut into the shapes of hearts and circles. I actually bought individually wrapped slices of cheese, but decided to do the shapes this morning. It only took me about ten minutes to pack the lunch, but that also involved deciding what to pack for her first day. Plus I was warned in advance that the first week is touch and go with how much the kids will eat, mainly because they are only given twenty minutes and there is a lot of excitement the first week. That is the main reason why I packed mostly things I knew she would eat.

On the whole bento box thing....I have had a lot of family members giving me grief (playfully, of course) about this "fancy" lunch box and how/why I bought it. I have known about the bento boxes for a few short months, and up until I found the Wendolonia website, had only seen bento boxes used for sushi style lunches. My main reason for buying this box was because first and foremost, Gracie is not a sandwich eater. She loves fruit - particularly grapes, apple slices, and mandarin oranges. She also likes cheese (several kinds), and she's a big fan of the viennas and also small teriyaki beef jerky sticks. She likes crackers and fruit snacks. And when I saw the Wendolonia website, I realized that I could incorporate a lot of her favorites into this little box instead of packing 15 different things in a ziploc bag. I am no Martha Stewart and this was my first attempt at packing the little box, but I finally worked everything out. That doesn't mean Gracie will be taking a bento every day. She might take spaghettios one day, or a lunchable sometime. Her school also does pizza on most Fridays, and Gracie is an okay eater when it comes to pizza. I just took into consideration my child's eating habits, and decided that while bentos are basically unheard of in our neck of the woods, this would be a useful tool for my family's needs.

Off my soapbox! Now on to the "first day of school" pictures:

Wearing one of the many outfits I bought her at Children's Place when we went to the beach. Victory Baptist doesn't have a dress code, but they do require certain things - skirts have to have shorts underneath (thankfully, this is a "skort") and no spaghetti strap shirts or dresses.

She wanted to try on her sunglasses (from her goody bag at Jackson's birthday party) with her new school clothes.

Sitting down

Tina and Kayla came to see her before her first day of school, and then Tina had to leave for her first day of high school as a junior.

So it was pretty much uneventful except for the almost crying I had this morning. It's kind of weird to be at home now, and not hear her little feet pattering in here to tell me something. Bryan and I are both off, so we might - for the first time since Pursuit of Happiness - be going to the movies this afternoon before we pick Gracie up. That is excitement beyond belief because we haven't been to the movies in forever!


Change of Heart

If you are one of my loyal blog readers, you may know me well enough to know that there has been something going on in my life in terms of my relationship with my husband. In a nutshell, God spoke to me through this radio program the other day and I can honestly tell you it was a hard pill to swallow.

I found myself agreeing with most of the material, and suddenly I realized I was just as guilty as these women who blamed everything on their husbands. He doesn't do this, he doesn't do that. He doesn't appreciate me or love me or he'd do these things. Instead of asking others to pray that God will change his heart, I should be asking God to change ME.

I just wanted to share this with those of you who are married, whether your troubles are constant or for the most part you sail through those troubles. There is hope, but turn the focus on yourself instead of your husband and see how God works his magic!