Thursday, March 29, 2012

Apparently We Have a Dazzling Dolphin

It's a happy day in our home. We are the proud parents of a Dazzling Dolphin! You may remember from this post and this post (btw, check out how little Eli looks in the pic) that it is a pretty big deal around here to be a Dazzling Dolphin. Eli and Sarah were both chosen at the end of the school year as Dazzling Dolphins of the year. We were proud. Well, in much the same way that Sarah had to wait and wait and wait to be Dazzling Dolphin, I kept waiting for Kate's turn. They do a weekly Dazzling Dolphin and there are 54 kids in Kate's class so I kept telling myself it might just take awhile.

Several months ago I attended a party for Eli's class and his reading teacher started talking to me about Kate. She asked me if she is my wild child. She said it would be totally unfair for me to get two kids like Sarah and Eli and not have a wild child. I took that as a compliment but also secretly thought that she hadn't been around to see Sarah in all her wild child glory days. I won't lie, Eli was born with that easygoing, compliant personality and I've always felt like it was a gift for choosing to have another child after Sarah. Please don't judge. Just believe me when I tell you that Josh and I worked HARD to mold her into the sweet, well-behaved child she is.  I'm sure I could find a multitude of witnesses from grocery stores, to church parking lots, to restaurants to hospitals who could testify of what I speak. I don't share this to bad mouth my firstborn. I'm just speaking the truth. That girl has got a strong will and I praise God because I've seen how He's worked in her life and I know that He has big plans for that strong will.

But, that takes me back to Kate. It never occurred to me I would have TWO strong willed children. I mean really, I think that anybody who knows me and Josh probably found it shocking we could create 1 child with a strong will. Seriously, look at me the wrong way and I will cry. Tell Josh you're disappointed in him, he will completely rearrange his life to make you happy. Tell Kate to tell her teacher goodbye.....well, that's another story. We had a rough spot with Kate this year, but I won't bring that up again. Sarah brought it up at supper one night with Josh's parents and Kate said, "I don't wanna talk about it and I don't want anybody else to talk about it."  Well, there you go. So I won't talk about it. I will just tell you that the day Eli's teacher asked me about Kate being a wild child I thought, 'NO! She's really laid back'. And she is. She was one of those babies who would smile at strangers and could entertain herself for hours. But just this year I've had a realization. She is strong-willed in a different way than Sarah was. Sarah was just outright rebellious. She would do things just because you had just told her not to. Kate is more subtle. And I have to admit, she gets this from me. She will NOT do things because we want her to. This  became a problem when Kate's teacher started asking her to give her a high five as she was leaving for the day. Kate wouldn't do it. Just flat out would not do it. There was a day when her teacher had a talk with her about how if  she wanted to be Dazzling Dolphin she had to respond when she was spoken to. I thought for sure that would work. Nope. So, I decided that day we just probably wouldn't be getting Dazzling Dolphin this year. 

Well, we've turned a corner. Apparently, Kate speaks to her teacher when she leaves. Apparently, she is a Dazzling Dolphin. And apparently, I say apparently a lot. Because Kate's reaction to finding out she had been chosen was, "Apparently I had to wait to be Dazzling Dolphin."  She may not always choose to bless us with a response, but when she does, it's priceless!!!!

Congratulations Kate! Apparently God gave you to us to fill our days with joy!  :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dance Moms

It's official. I'm a dance mom. *shudder*  Let's face it, thanks to a certain reality show, I know the reaction my admission brings. I'm sure you immediately begin to imagine  me in a sequined top, downing martinis and screaming at other mothers. That's my first thought when I hear "dance mom".

Sarah participated in her first dance competition last weekend and I won't lie, I had a lot of reservations about it. In all of my years of dancing I never entered the world of competitive dance. I've always been one who just wanted to dance for the enjoyment of it. We weren't planning for Sarah to compete this year, but I was talked into it and before I knew it my child was equipped with stage quality make-up, a warm-up suit and a blinged out pony tail holder. We were making plans to travel to competitions.

Friday I checked Sarah out early from school and we hit the road headed to Birmingham. I had never driven that before and it felt like it took FOREVER to get there. I am so not used to driving in traffic at all. The weather was bad too, and at one point we were pulled over at a rest area waiting for Josh to read the radar to us and tell us what was going on as I heard on the radio that the tornado sirens were going off in Dothan, where we just happened to be minutes from arriving! Thankfully we made it safe and were soon checking in to our hotel. Before the trip I had researched nearby restaurants, as I was hoping to be able to walk as much as possible and not have to drive. I was really wanting to try this Greek restaurant I found, but I didn't know if anybody else would be on board with that. As soon as we got there everybody else who was already there was starving and ready to eat and they had already decided on the same Greek restaurant. I was so excited! After supper the girls were dying to get in the pool. 
Soon it was time for bed and I was glad!! I was so nervous I wouldn't be able to fall asleep, but it didn't take me long at all. Before bed Sarah opened her gift from her secret sister.
I had big plans for Saturday morning. My phone was dead and I only had the car charger. I had been too scared to go to the parking garage the night before so, I was going to get up, get myself ready and head to the Jeep and get back by 7:30 when we were supposed to meet the other girls in Sarah's trio to do hair and make-up. Well, that didn't happen. At 7:10 there was a knock on the door and one of the girls and her mom were already there. I wasn't dressed! It didn't help that I took linen pants which was the worst.idea.ever. Even after they were ironed twice they still looked like I slept in them. Anyway, I threw on my clothes and we got started on hair and make-up. I seriously thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown trying to put Sarah's hair in a ponytail. Who knew that was such an anxiety provoking activity? It was supposed to be parted on one side and no matter how  many times I parted it, it would be bumpy when I went to put it in the ponytail. Maddening! Eventually I got it and we moved on to make-up. The girls had to wear fake eyelashes and despite my own words of encouragement to the other moms that they should practice that ahead of time, I had not. :)  So, maybe I glued my child's eyelid together at one point because I realized after I put the glue on that I had picked up the wrong eyelash. It happens, right?  I think it turned out okay. Of course, it helps when your model is naturally beautiful. :)
We had just enough time to grab some breakfast at the hotel, and by just enough time I mean we ate in 2.5 seconds. Then it was time to catch our shuttle to the theater.
The competition was held at The Alabama Theatre and it is gorgeous, y'all. It had the craziest backstage I have ever seen though. I was seriously concerned I was going to get me and the girls lost back there!
We had plenty of time for the girls to stretch, reapply make-up and run through their dances.

Before we knew it, it was time!! I haven't played a huge role in the competition dances. Barbie choreographed all of them, but I have been in charge of rehearsing this tap trio for the last several months. Not only was this the first competition for our studio (remember, we are less than 2 years old!), but one of these girls is in her first year of tap. As we stood in the wings and watched the first several numbers I kept watching their faces, waiting for the nerves. Maybe fainting, puking, hyperventilating. Nope. Those girls went out on that stage and danced like they've been doing it all their lives. Sometimes it is hard for me teaching Sarah. I know I am harder on her. And I know that the dance teacher comes out in me and tends to focus more on what needs to be worked on than the good parts. But I have to tell you, a tear came to my eye watching her. You just don't understand, this is my child who used to be terrified of even getting up to sing at church. This is my child who used to have to watch the teacher during the whole dance. And there she was in front of an audience of people she didn't know and 3 judges and she danced like a pro. It was a proud Mama moment. 

They danced early in the day so we had the rest of the day to watch all of the other numbers and snack. :)
It was a long day, but really fun. We had lunch at a New York Deli and I had the most delicious falafel sandwich. We don't have a ton of restaurants in our little town so it's always exciting to go to big towns with new restaurants.  As you can tell, I just went to eat. :)  

Finally it was time for awards. Like I said, our studio is less than 2 years old. Some of our girls had a little bit of dance training before coming to us, but most are totally new to the world of dance. We didn't go expecting much, but we were very proud of our girls. I was worried Sarah would be disappointed if she didn't get a trophy, but when she came down from the stage she was soooo proud of this ribbon!
We had to head back that night to be at church the next day. It was 7:30 when we got back to the hotel so we had to head out! As I pulled out of the parking garage I realized I did not have reverse directions and I was pulling out on a different road than I came in on. I'm telling you, God had to lead me to I-65S because I had no idea where I was going!!! We stopped to get some Chick-Fil-A and fill up with gas and then Josh talked me through Montgomery. We got home at 2:00am and crashed!

Overall, it was a great experience. No dance mom drama. No tantrum throwing children. Just lots of eating and dancing which happen to be two of my favorite things. :)

How do you feel about dance moms? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gone Are The Dark Days

Is anybody else as excited as I am that today is the first day of spring???? I adore spring. I love the sunshine, the warm weather, the excitement of something new. It does something for me to be able to wear sandals everyday. Spring is my happy place. I feel this way every year, but there is something about the start of spring when you've had a tough winter. Granted, I live in Florida and I don't know that we ever even experienced "winter" as most people know it, but we had our share of cold, rainy, yucky days, what felt like never ending sickness and we had to wear real shoes. And socks.

Anyway, I'm just basking in the bliss of sunshine and bright colors. And I'm thanking God for bringing me through another winter. Not just a physical winter, but an emotional winter of sorts. For the last few months my moods have seemed to match the dreary weather. I can't even really say why. I think a lot of it probably has to do with all of the changes I've been going through. Who knew saying good-bye to Diet Coke would send me into a pit of despair. :)  I'm just kidding. Kind of. On top of health issues, I am praying about some other decisions I need to make. A month ago that decision caused me so much stress, but now, I have peace about it, even if I don't have all the answers. I now have peace because the sun is shining? Could be, but I don't think that's it. 

Josh has been working on a new logo for our church and the slogan he keeps coming back to is, "Where the Son Always Shines".  Perfect for a church that is literally two blocks from the beach, right? I really want to show you the design, but it hasn't been officially voted on, so I better wait. :)  The reason I share that is because today as I contemplated the changing of the seasons, it dawned on me that no matter what season I am going through personally, I have the light of the Son in my life. No matter how dark the days seem, He is not only the light of the world (John 8:12), but He lights our own personal path as well (Psalm 119:105). 

When we first started talking about the slogan we thought it was catchy and would go with the design. But today it really spoke to me. Because I know the stories of the sweet people who call that church, home. Because I live next door to that church, 2 blocks from the beach. Because I know that the "sun" doesn't always shine. There has been heartache, anxiety, fear, and stress. No human experience is free of those things. But, I also have witnessed how the "Son" has shone in those same situations. 

Life is full of seasons. Some happy and exciting, some difficult and trying. The more dark days I've experienced the more I've learned how important it is to depend on the Son to be the source of light in my life instead of relying on other people or expecting everything to always go just the way I think it should. It won't. True joy and contentment come from knowing Who is in control, rather than seeking to control everything in our lives. True peace is knowing Who is in charge of the road trip even when we aren't even sure where we are going. The Son begins to shine in our dark days when we fully grasp Who has ordained all of our days, the dark ones and the sunny ones. Even in the darkest of days, we are not alone. We are not helpless. We have a heavenly Father who asks us, " Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons[c] 
   or lead out the Bear[d] with its cubs?" Job 38:32. Basically, He reminds us of His power and that what He is capable of is so much more than any problem we face. He reminds us that He shines, even in the darkness.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hippie Chick

Despite what you might think, the title of this blog does not refer to the fact that I didn't shave my legs for 4 days. It is true that I didn't shave my legs for 4 days, but that is due to the wretched sunburn I have, not any hippie desire I have to be as natural as possible. Trust me, I draw the line at braiding my leg hairs. But y'all this sunburn is BAD! I posted a pic of my cankles on FB the other night and had to take it down because I couldn't stand to look at it so I figured nobody else wanted to either. Have you ever sunburned so bad your ankles swelled up? My feet look 9 months pregnant!! I will say that despite the pain I did shave the day after I got the sunburn. Josh and I had a date and I was NOT going to have hairy legs. But let me tell you what, it was not a relaxing bath that day. Have you seen "Get Smart?" Well, my day in the bathroom looked and sounded a lot like the scene where Steve Carell's character is shooting himself with darts.

Anyway, this post is not about my hairy legs. I just threw that in there because it is such a fascinating story, right? Also, I'm not one to nag or lecture, but let me just encourage you that in the moment when you are deciding if you want to be white or old looking, go with white. 

Okay, so the real reason for this post- I am going to share with y'all some of my new favorite things. And, they kind of make me seem like a hippie named  Rainbow who likes to pick daisies and sing "We Are the World".  Oh well. Whatever floats your boat. The reason I'm really sharing is because I know several of my blogging buddies have shared their health and weight loss struggles and I've been wanting to share some things that have really helped me. I have been diagnosed with endometriosis, which is pretty much a chronic illness that borders on an autoimmune disease like Lupus. I try to spare y'all a lot of medical details, but as I research and read more and more I realize that there are SO many women suffering from similar problems to what I've experienced. I was going to have surgery over a year ago and didn't. I'm so glad I didn't. I know many women benefit greatly from surgery, but thankfully I have been able to make lifestyle and dietary changes that have made a world of difference for me. I've also fallen off of the wagon and know that my health and well-being are very dependent on this being a lifestyle change for me. 

Basically, I have to live as naturally as possible (while still shaving my legs). This has been a long, slow, baby step process for me and that is why I haven't talked about it more. I know that I still have many changes to make and I also know that what works for me will not necessarily work for someone else. But, I have learned so much from other women who have shared the things that they've tried, so I thought it might help somebody else to read about the changes I've made. And anyone who knows me well knows that if I can do this ANYBODY can do it!! 

First, I have given up dairy, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, refined sugar, processed foods, and I limit my wheat and red meat. I take a multi-vitamin, a calcium supplement with vitamin D, a B complex and Biotin in the morning and garlic oil and a probiotic at night. I'm still figuring out the whole supplement thing, but basically I've just been working to get my immune system back in shape. You can go HERE to see the website that sparked this journey for me. I first tried this diet change last spring and I thought it was going to kill me! It didn't. It really helped me. Like made me feel like a new woman. Then, I decided to cheat and it all went downhill from there and I ended up feeling even worse than I had way back in the beginning. The truth is that if you can survive the first 2 weeks of withdrawing from caffeine, sugar and dairy, you really won't crave it. I'm serious. I am a girl who would go get 2 candy bars every night because I was CRAVING them. I couldn't live without them. Now, sometimes it is hard to be around desserts, but it's more of a mental wanting them. There is no physical craving for them. I also found other ways to satisfy my sweet tooth. This is my go to, on the run, need a snack, food. 
I'm eating this right now as I type. :) Nuts and seeds are really good for you, they fill you up and the raisins are the perfect sweet touch. Bananas and celery and peanut butter are also "desserts" for me.  I know a lot of people who worry about the fat in nuts and peanut butter, but most of it is good fat, and really when you can't eat sugar, dairy or processed food, you don't have to worry too much about eating some nuts. 

It would not be possible for me to do this if I didn't have convenience foods like my trail mix, but I am trying really hard to eat more and more fresh foods. Something that I read I needed to eat was barley and lentils. Y'all I didn't even know what those are. Nobody at the Pig knew either. Finally I found the barley in the section with grits and oatmeal.  I found a couple of recipes for barley and realized that I really like it. Just this last week I made this barley and lentil soup. I won't lie, I wasn't holding my breath for culinary excellence, but again I really liked it. Soups are great to make and have for lunch throughout the week.
Source: via Emily on Pinterest

The food has obviously been a big change, but I soon realized that I didn't need to just change what was going into my body through my mouth. Last time I drew the line at changing my hair and skincare products. I mean seriously, I can't eat anything and my hair has to be frizzy????? I am still working on this one. I recently ordered two new products that I have been so happy with. The first is Theraneem shampoo. Everybody in my family has started using it and Josh and Eli were the two who told me how soft their hair feels now. :)
The second is Neem and Turmeric face wash. I LOVE this face wash. It is organic and it makes my skin feel amazing. I created my own hair product using sunflower oil and vanilla. I know Josh thought I was crazy, but now he uses it and thinks it is the greatest thing ever. It doesn't take much at all and I love using it on Kate's hair to calm the frizz and make her curls shine. I love knowing that it is all natural.
In addition to hair and skincare I've totally changed how I clean. I was always under the impression that my house wasn't clean unless it smelled like bleach and Mr. Clean with Febreze. I don't know if my cleaning products were causing any problems for me or not, but when I started reading about cleaning with vinegar and baking soda I got so excited about coming up with new stuff that I decided to give it a try. I use vinegar to clean my toilets and rubbing alcohol to clean windows and mirrors. I get ridiculously excited about using vinegar and baking soda to clean the drains and stains on the carpet. They fizz. :)  I'm pretty sure Josh thinks he's married a mad scientist. Or a witch dr. Or a girl who needs a life. Whatever. My most favorite cleaning product is this one I found on Pinterest. It is so easy to make and cleans so well. It makes everything shiny. It is also super cheap to make.
(Kate washed the dishes for me tonight and you can see how much dish soap I have left. :) I haven't used the essential oil in it yet because I don't have any and I have yet to find any in our neck of the woods. I did find this set today and it brought about an excitement that was once reserved for new purses and haircuts. I'm telling ya, I've gotten really weird. :)

New projects I'm researching now are deodorant and facial moisturizers. Have any of you tried any natural products? What was your experience? Is there something you would like to try?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Whatnot Wednesday: Anybody Still Out There????

Seriously, I don't know if I've got any readers left out there. Seems I took a little blogging vacation. I don't even know where to begin. After declaring that I refused to accept anymore sickness in March, I came down with a cold. I saw one of my girl's from dance at the grocery store with her family and her Mom told me, "She was so worried about you. She said you couldn't breathe. She thought you were dying."  I assured her I thought I was, but I'm still kickin'! So, here's what's been going on.

* We spent the night with my Mom last weekend and helped her with a garage sale on Sat. morning. Y'all, I thought we were going to have a fight over a 25 cent broken robot. I was accepting a woman's quarter when another lady snatched it from her and informed her she had already chosen the robot and placed him with her things. Thankfully, the one lady just handed it over. It could've gotten ugly. I became sentimental over the dresser mirror that was in my room growing up. That mirror witnessed a lot of concerts performed by moi. I'm talking "I Will Always Love You", some Toni Braxton. "It's just another sad love song". Oh my, I am amazed the glass never shattered..........

* That day we also got to meet our niece, Layla! Our sister, Leah, is here from Italy with her sweet 7 month old and this was our first time meeting her! I actually was never able to get a pic of all the kids together so this is from a get together.

* Monday officially began our spring break, so this is what we were up to....
I wish I could tell you we completely scrubbed the house down and finished all of our spring cleaning in one day. But, the truth is everything we did is already undone and I've decided I'll just attempt the cleaning when everybody goes back to school.  BTW, I gave my kids the option of going outside or helping me clean and they CHOSE cleaning. Where did these kids come from?

* Speaking of that, later that night we went to the park while we waited on supper to finish in the oven (I got ridiculously excited about being able to start supper before 7:00) and Eli couldn't leave until he ran a lap around the track. I had to ask Josh where he came from. We don't run unless somebody is chasing us. I decided it must be all of the Gatorade I drank when I was pregnant with him. 

* Even later that night I was working on this Texas Sheet Cake  and I realized I didn't have any powdered sugar. I went to Mr. Cheap Butts and they didn't have any either. I googled and read that I could put sugar in a blender and it would turn into powdered sugar. Brilliant. Did I tell you this cake calls for SIX cups of powdered sugar in the frosting????? I couldn't try it, but Josh just said, "It's really sweet." Ya think?  :)

* Tuesday I got to go shopping with the other women in Josh's life, his Mama, Mammy and his sister. And of course, Layla! :)  We went to Destin and they have an outdoor mall and the weather was perfect. Josh kept my kiddos and I have to tell you, walking in the sun, browsing through stores, enjoying good company. It was what the dr. ordered! After our last few months of quarantine and yucky weather, it was SO nice! I even found a shirt for Eli at Old Navy that was on sale for $.47. That is 47 cents, y'all. Josh told me that is one of the many things he loves about me. That I'm cheap. :)  I'm not sure what the other things are. Maybe that I put 6 cups of sugar in my frosting?

* I got home that day just in time to get ready and head back for a reunion with the church family that Josh grew up with. There were so many babies!! I just love holding people's babies and then giving them back. :) Josh and I were talking about how old our kids are compared to everybody else's and I was saying we started a decade earlier than everybody else. We had to laugh because we are two of the biggest procrastinators ever. Look at the one thing we did NOT procrastinate about. :) I took the sugar coma cake and Josh had made some jambalaya and y'all, it was good but I was pretty sure I had smoke coming out of my ears!!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought I was going to start breathing fire. We took a bunch of pictures and that was an adventure.
Oh my goodness, this pic cracks me up. I especially love that it looks like Kate's headband is on Josh's head. :)

* Today we met my Mom at the beach and it was so nice. I love meeting her at the beach because I can totally lay around and do nothing and know that my kids are being photographed watched at all times. :) I couldn't believe the kids got in the water. I didn't find out for myself, but I know from past experience that March ocean temps are NOT warm. I don't do cold y'all. But the kids had the best time and talked Nana into wading in the water with them.  My goal for the day was to no longer look like a cast member of Twilight. That was accomplished. I now look like one of the little piggies. I am BURNT. Feel free to lecture me now, but believe me, I'm suffering enough!!!!!!!!

* Today marks 2 years since we walked into Highland View Baptist Church and Josh preached his first sermon here. I cannot believe it has been 2 years. I feel that I should devote a whole blog post to such a big moment, but I still can't wrap my head around it. It made me think about this picture that I took on our first Sunday. I still remember taking it. I remember how new and fresh everything felt, from our house to the church to the fresh start in our lives. My babies have really grown up in 2 years.....
So have me and Josh!!!

That's what's been goin' on around here. What's new in your world?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Adventures in Baby-Sitting

Well, I'm pretty much a blogger drop-out these days. I just felt the need to share my baby-sitting journal from when I was 11. I came across it this last week and got a great laugh out of it.
                               Such a foreshadowing of motherhood for me!!!!  (Well, except I got paid more then. :)