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!


Still hangin' around....

We're still here!
There has just been a lot going on since my mom went back to Qatar. I will try and post later tonight about Gracie's upcoming "1st day of Preschool" and her first ever Biscuits game last night. Plus I have some other stuff I wanted to lay out there....anyway, we're still here and enjoying what is left of the summer. More to come later!