In/Out of the Spotlight

There are those that love the spotlight and others that don't.  I find that every day with my girls.  I have one that would rather sit back and take it all in - never wanting to be seen.  While the other jumps in head first to see what kind of laughs she can get. 

So, I've been thinking about my own light.  I'd say for the most part, I've been a spot light kinda girl.  I like performing - rather it be dance, colorguard, singing, etc.  I use to really like to be the life of the party.  But, not so much any more.  I'd rather sit back and watch - have an intimate conversation and not be the center of attention.   I've played many leadership roles in my 30-something years, but I'm learning it's nice to sit on the sidelines and watch every once in a while.  Not to say that I don't still have opportunities that come my way to take the lead.  However, I'm seeing that with life there are many seasons.  There's a time to learn and a time to teach.  I think the process is on going.  And, I'm in a new season.

God has humbled me many times.  He sometimes has to speak loudly and frequently - I'm a little hard of hearing.  He has also shown me that I am still capable of learning and that He will use me where HE sees fit, not necessarily where I want to be.

Now, let me preface these next thoughts by saying that I in no way want to seek credit in any talent I may *think* I possess.  ;)  God gives and God takes away.  God uses our talents for His glory and when we abuse that, I think He can and will put them back where they came from, so to speak.  But, I also know that God wants to give us the desires of our own hearts.  With all that being said, I want to share with you some exciting stuff!  =)  And, I want to thank God for the opportunity, no matter how short or long the time I am given on this project is. 

Several years ago I was part of a women's quartet at my church in TN.  I honestly don't remember how we formed our group because we didn't know each other that well.  We were all in choir together, knew each of us had some knowledge of music & voice, and had a desire to sing more.  Never did I think such a bond would be formed.  Aside from all the music we made, I know for me, we created lasting friendships that I will never, ever forget.  God worked through us, if for no one else, for the 4 of us.  Yes, we sang several concerts, sang at different churches, and gathered once a week to rehearse the music.  But, had it not been for those 3 ladies, I would have really struggled through some difficult times.  They ended up being the ones I turned to when I didn't know where else to go.  We all went through very similar situations at different times and were able to help each when it was our time to go through the valley.  I, to this day, love those 3 women!  We sang together for roughly 3 years, but eventually we all went separate ways because of life changes (and moves).  I miss them so much!  I have not felt another bond like that since.

Now fast forward to my new life in GA.  We started out at a very small church (similar to all the churches I grew up in) that we loved for two years.  But, with lack of child care, there were very few opportunities for us to attend classes or Bible studies.  I called a local church that I passed every day taking Audrey to PreK.  I saw they had a Women's Bible Study, so I was curious if child care was provided.  To my surprise, it was and I jumped on board immediately.  The first time I went to the study, a sweet older lady asked me to join her.  She has grown to be such a cherished friend.  Anyway, they opened up the study with praise and worship.  Five ladies got on stage and sang the most beautiful harmonies I had ever heard.  And, you could just tell they were truly singing for the Lord.  I got a little teary eyed watching and listening to them that first day.  I had to call each of "my girls" to tell them how much they reminded me of our quartet days and how much I missed them.

I continued going back week after week and was blessed each and every time I heard them sing.  It really made me miss the old singing days with the girls.  I'd be lying if I didn't say there was a longing within me to be up there with them!  Within a few months, God very clearly showed us it was time to move to a new church.  He had already been paving the way to First Redeemer starting with that first day at the Beth Moore Bible Study.  We have been at our new church for a year now.  God has opened up so many doors for us there.  The girls have learned so much and look forward to going every day.

I personally have never been a member of such a large church.  I was afraid I'd get lost in the crowd.  But, I have been pleasantly surprised at how wrong I was.  And, back to that humbling thing I talked about earlier in the post.  ;)  Being part of small churches, I was given many opportunities to sing solos and be a big part of the music ministry.  I think I took a lot of those things for granted.  God has placed me in an amazing music program where the talent is truly unbelievable!  He has shown me just how small I am, while placing me exactly where I need to be and allowing me to grow in spirit.  But, He is also loving and gracious.

A couple of months after joining the church & choir, I auditioned for the Praise Team.  (First time I've ever had to audition for a church thing.  That was a lesson in and of itself!)  Shew.  I made it.  I was a little intimidated at first, but have really learned a lot singing with such great talent!  The end of last year I was honored to be asked to audition for a part in the Christmas program - a small ensemble for one song.  It worked out and the program went great!  In that process, I got to work with a wonderful lady who is also the leader of the women's quintet from our Bible Study that I so adore.  After our first rehearsal, she gave me the sweetest compliment ever --- she asked me to fill in for one of her girls in the group!!  After I picked my jaw off the floor, I graciously accepted.  One of their members was having a baby and they had been praying and looking for someone to temporarily take her place.  After hearing my voice, she thought that I would blend great with them.  I started singing with them this month and it has been the BEST time!  Music aside, these ladies are amazing!  They are the most precious, loving, Christian ladies ever.  The time we spend "rehearsing" is filled with stories, laughter, music, and worship.  It's been wonderful!  Sunday was my first time singing with them for the worship service (we do the Bible Study service on Thursdays) and it was incredible. 

God has shown me, I don't have to be the "it" girl.  I don't have to have all the solos or be in the spotlight.  The gift He has given me is a blending voice.  And, as long as I keep the focus on Him and less of me & the music, He will use me.  I am so guilty of wanting more and more, but I don't need it.  God certainly knew the desires of my heart and mercifully obliged!  I'm not sure how long I will have with the ladies, but I'm cherishing every moment. To be completely honest, I wish it wasn't temporary (that more and more attitude again), but I know God has a plan for me when it's all said and done.  He's still teaching me.  I'm seeking His will and that is the focus.  I'm just grateful for what He has allowed me to do and anxious to see what He will have me do in the future.

Miscarriage - The Truth

I've had some conversations with new friends recently and read some Facebook statuses & blogs lately that got me thinking about a different time in my life.  I rarely talk or think about the past any more.  But, I think sometimes others can benefit from our experiences.  There are some things that need never be forgotten.

For generations, miscarriage was a taboo thing to discuss.  It hurts my heart to think of any woman going through such an ordeal without anyone to talk to.  Thankfully in this day and age, though it may be awkward to some, talking openly about these situations can be therapeutic.  I took comfort in hearing from others that had experienced the same as I had.  I remember after my first miscarriage, I was almost embarrassed to talk about it.  I just didn't know what to say.  It was especially awkward when someone didn't know and asked how the baby was doing.  Honestly, there's no right answer, no perfect response.  People generally offer up heart felt condolences, while others tend to brush it off with "Oh, you're young. You have plenty of time to have a baby."  It may seem insensitive, but I think this is just some people's lack of understanding. 

My first pregnancy was from my first marriage.  I had just turned 24, my father-in-law had just suddenly passed away, and I found out I was pregnant.  It was bitter sweet.  But, I was so excited.  I always wanted to be a mom.  I hadn't felt very well and was super tired.  I had no idea what doctor to go to, so I turned to a friend who had recently had a baby.  She suggested a doctor in Knoxville, who happened to be a high risk perinatal doctor.  It was no accident!  The first doctor appointment went well.  I got my "welcome bag" with all the pamphlets, magazines, samples, vitamins, etc.  The exciting stuff!  :)  After a few weeks, I started feeling a little better and my next appointment went well, but they were telling me I wasn't as far along as they originally thought.  No major concerns, but I was certain of my cycle and a little puzzled at what I considered a "set back".  Ya know, every single day and week counts to a pregnant woman, right?! 

Then came Christmas Eve.  I was about 10 weeks along and feeling "off".  I had some light spotting, so I was just taking it easy.  We had our annual Christmas Eve open house - and I remember wearing flannel pajamas the whole time.  (Funny the things we remember.)  Anyway, Christmas day (which was on a Saturday), I was feeling a little worse and bleeding a little more.  My family and I decided we should take a trip to the ER.  Not exactly how I imagined spending Christmas!  They hooked me up to an IV, filled my bladder (the worst part!), and gave me an ultrasound.  The baby had a faint heartbeat and was only measuring about 6 weeks.  They sent me home with instructions to call my OB Monday morning.  Monday, they told me there was really nothing they could do.  It was just a matter of time.  Tuesday I started having severe cramps and a lot of pain in my lower back.  A few hours later, thinking I needed to go to the bathroom, I actually had a contraction and passed the baby.

There was this brief moment of panic.  I didn't know what to do.  The next thing I'm going to say, I've never told before.  It breaks my heart to say it.  It may seem funny to some.  It may be appalling to others.  But, I truly panicked.  My first reflex was.... to flush.  There, I said it.  That is what I did.  I'm sure it happens every day to women who do not even know they are pregnant.  But, I did.  For a brief moment, I saw this tiny being, about the size of my thumb nail.  And, in my moment of panic, it was gone.  Tears are streaming down my face as I write this.  I have never told anyone - except the nurse when I called her on the phone.  I have always felt so guilty.  I know there is nothing that could have been done.  The doctors office would have done the same.  I've always thought, if I could have taken the baby to the office with me, they could have run tests on him (I was convinced it was a boy) to see what was wrong.  We never got that chance.

One of the hardest parts was sitting in the waiting room of the OB's office for my follow up appointment.  Sitting there in a room full of pregnant ladies with an empty belly, was excruciating.  I was very sad, for a long time.

About a year and a half later, I found out I was pregnant again.  And, boy was I sick!  I was nauseous - a lot.  I had to pull over on the side of the road more than once!  I definitely thought this was a good thing!  The first appointment went well, but my "keeping it real" doctor always reminded me how high my chances of miscarrying again were.  I was pregnant for several weeks.  I even moved into some maternity clothes.  I had a couple of ultrasounds that helped ease the nerves a bit, though once again the baby was measuring behind what it should have been.  I went in for a regular check up.  They were having a hard time finding the heartbeat, so they said I could get an ultrasound.  We were in there for a while and the ultrasound tech left.  I knew something was wrong.  When the doctor came in, my heart sank.  He reviewed the u/s and then delivered the news.  There was no heartbeat and the baby had stopped growing.  Although I should have been at least 12 weeks, the baby was only measuring about 9.  Since the baby was too big to pass on its own, I had to schedule a D&C.  This was on a Friday and they couldn't get me in until Tuesday. 

I think that weekend messed with me the most.  I just kept thinking about the life inside me that no longer lived.  It was such a difficult time.  But, I will say that my doctor was so wonderful.  I didn't realize how big of a deal a D&C was.  I just thought you went to the doctor's office and it was a simple procedure.  I was wrong!  It was an outpatient procedure in the hospital.  I was under full anesthesia.  I remember lying on the table and my doctor came in.  He hugged me, told me how sorry he was that he had to do this, and he rubbed my face until I went to sleep.  When I woke up, it was over.  There was no more baby... again.  I felt so empty.

A few weeks later we received the test results from the baby.  The baby had a chromosome disorder called Trisomy 18 or Edward Syndrome.  The baby would not have survived long.  Additionally, it was discovered that I had an autoimmune disease called Antiphospholipid Syndrome (say that fast 4 times).  What exactly does that mean, you ask?  That my body reacts to a baby as if it were bacteria.  It forms blood clots in the placenta as a defense mechanism to keep any nutrients from getting to the baby.  (This is why the babies always measured smaller than they should have.)  The good news?  It was treatable.  I would have to take daily injections of a blood thinner called Lovenox when I got pregnant again.  That was promising.  But, it would be 3 more years and a new husband before I'd get the chance to find out.  ;)

Honestly, I had a more difficult time with the second loss than the first.  I don't know if it was because I was further along.  Or, just a combination of two losses.  I was depressed.  I had lost two babies... and was also losing my husband.

Fast forward about 3 years....

Baby #3.... a little different.  No real closure.  I was newly remarried - about 5 months.  I took a couple of tests - they were positive.  By this time, I really knew my body.  I knew what it felt like to be pregnant.  The tests were all positive, but by the time I got to the doctor I was no longer pregnant.  I never knew exactly when it happened.  The doctor couldn't 100% confirm it, but agreed he thought it was another miscarriage and added it to my ever growing file.

I got pregnant (#4) the very next cycle.  It's hard to get excited after so many losses.  At one of my early visits, my doctor thought I would miscarry again.  I loved the man, but he was, by nature, a pessimist.  The three doctors at this practice were very different.  Dr. Roussis was the straight to the point, keeping it real, worse case scenario guy.  Dr. Stephens was the sweet, nurturing, we're going to make this work kinda guy.  And, Dr. Bruner, was the laid back, no big deal man.  Anyway, Derek & I cried the whole way home because we thought this was the beginning of the end, again.  We prayed.  We cried.  We prayed.  What could we do?  I took my shots.  Tried to keep my vitamins down.  And, waited.  Week after week we took as one step closer.  The journey wasn't always easy.  There was about 20 weeks of 24/7 morning sickness, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, daily injections, sleep apnea, and loss of amniotic fluid.  I had plenty of "woe is me" moments as I stood there some mornings unable to find an unbruised belly to poke another needle in.  But, I was truly grateful for every single day.

At my 34 week appointment, I was told "you're having your baby today"!!  I freaked out.  This was 6 weeks too early!  Somehow, all of my amniotic fluid was absorbed and GONE.  Not only that, she was breach and they could not try to turn her without fluid.  Since I had just given myself the blood thinner, we had to wait 12 hours for it to leave my system so they could operate.  (I'll share the whole birth story another day.)   The end resulted in a beautiful, healthy 5.8 pound baby girl... that the doctors tell me will be about 5 ft 10 in when she stops growing!  And, a remarkable 2 years and 5 months later, another beautiful 7 lb 10 oz baby girl was born by scheduled c-section at 38 weeks.

I am grateful for every baby, both born and unborn.  I don't know why God chose me to carry those babies for a short time.  I don't know why He gave me Audrey & Maddie.  But, He did.  I truly believe that I will one day meet my angels face to face.  Until then, I will cherish every day with my girls on this earth.  They are a true gift from God.

Thanks for allowing me to share my story with you.

Give Away!!

My sweet friend, Candace, at His Mercy is New is giving away some great books!
Be sure to stop by and follow her.

Project Life Week 4

1/18 - After bath "helper' of the laundry folding.

1/23 - Finally got a picture of the girls in their new dresses.

1/19 - We found a super cool book at the library that showed acrobats making all the letters of the alphabet with their bodies.  Here is Daddy & Audrey making a "P".

1/20 - My nook.  This is where I curl up at night after the girls go to bed while D & I watch TV and I enjoy all those wonderful blogs.  ;)

1/21 - When D's parents moved the rest of their things from TN to GA, they found his original Star Wars toys.  He loved sharing them with the girls.  Audrey especially enjoyed them.

1/22 - One of my favorite "pretties".  My Longaberger cabinet with my favorite mini collectible baskets. 

Overextended. Blessed. Frumpy. Excited. Disappointed. Loved. Refreshed.

Overextended.  Blessed.  Frumpy.  Excited.  Disappointed.  Loved.  Refreshed.

Am I a crazy mess or what?!  I've been a roller coaster of emotions this week.  I've sat down to blog a couple of times this week and just didn't know where to start.  Nothing specifically has happened, just a hodge podge mess of a schedule.  Remember, one of my resolutions was BALANCE and a will to say NO?   I haven't taken on anything new - and have no plans to do so, but the things that I was already committed to have revved back up and I'm having a hard time keeping my head above water.  Yes, I realize I do this to myself, but I'm a work in progress.  I'm still learning....

Overextended.  Ever feel like you're being pulled in so many directions that you don't even know where you are?  That has certainly been me this week.  I've been trying to play catch up from the week off of snow.  Work is a little more demanding.  I've been bringing home a lot of work (which I'm grateful for).  But, since I am the only one working for him now - if I don't do it, it doesn't get done.  I feel a lot of pressure in that regards.  On top of my "day job", I have a paid choreography gig.  It doesn't seem to be coming together as I'd hoped and is taking a bit longer to get through.  Again, feeling pressure to please and there's a time line pushing me.  I think just having a creative type job adds another level of pressure.  Additionally, there is a volunteer choreography gig I committed to some time ago that starts tomorrow.  It should be a lot of fun, but is another sacrifice of time.  Thankfully, Audrey is involved, so it is something we can do together.

Blessed.  Through all the chaos, I do not lose sight of the blessings.  I love my family so much!  My girls are amazing - and so is that wonderful man I married.  ;)  I have been greatly blessed with some wonderful new friendships.  God is so good!  He has surrounded me with some amazing people and I can't wait to see what He has in store!

Frumpy.  Gotta balance the good with the bad.... I've got that old frumpy feeling back.  I really, truly want to get back to working out again.  I miss it.  My body misses it.  My clothes are tight.  I feel sluggish.  I don't like looking in the mirror.  My second chin is back.  Stinks!

Excited.  I guess this really goes hand in hand with the Blessed.  God has temporarily opened a door for me to fill in with an incredible vocal group - which has resulted in some beautiful friendships.  I absolutely love singing with these talented ladies and am completely honored to be a part of it, even if only for a short time.  

Disappointed.  Audrey asked me tonight what the "F word" was.  It breaks my heart to the core.  I am so glad she is open and talks with me about things she hears at school.   But, I want her home.  I want to teach her the right ways.  I don't want to control her, but I do want to control her environment right now.  I need to better equip her for this crazy world.  I can do it.

Loved.  I am loved.  My children love me.  My husband loves me.  Even when I mess up.  When I can't balance everything.  When the dishes aren't done, laundry is piled up, and floors are gross.  I am still loved.  My heavenly father loves me unconditionally.  Through all things, I am loved.

Refreshed.  Amazing what a new haircut will do for a girl!  Such a refreshing feeling.  Kinda reminds me of a new year.  A new start.  Does that sound silly?  I love the excitement of starting something new.  We've started a new study on Sunday nights about the Attributes of God.  And, we're 4 lessons into our Revelation study with Beth Moore.  I'm also reading through the Bible.  I feel this excitement and joy that I haven't felt in a long time.  I just can't get enough!  I'm learning things and seeing things in a light.  It's exciting and I can't wait to share all that God reveals in the days to come.

Project Life Week 3

1/11 - We were snowed in without girls, so we started a big cleaning/purging/organizing project.  These were a few of the containers I emptied out!

1/12 - A rare occurrence in Atlanta - shoveling ICE!  Derek got a great work out.

1/13 - Audrey's art work and our snow day craft - cute decorated clothespins. =)

1/13 - More snow day crafts - we all loved the Mod Podge!

1/14 - Has mommy been taking a lot of pictures lately? Maddie found the old camera and is helping with our Project Life 365!

1/15 - Real life - mounds of laundry!

1/16 - After Audrey's first (and possibly last) guitar lesson.  =)

Painstakingly Shy

Ok, friends, I need some advice.  My 5 1/2 year old is so incredibly shy that it's almost crippling.  I honestly don't know if something needs to be done or if I should just let it go and let her be.  We've always dealt with it as best as we knew how and thought she might grow out of it.  She won't speak or even look at people some times.  It's usually an ordeal each week when we take her to Sunday School (because there isn't a permanent teacher, so parents rotate teaching).  She has a hard time adjusting to change.  She even has issues with people she knows if she doesn't see them on a consistent basis.

I took her to her very first guitar lesson tonight, thinking she might prefer one one on interaction (since she doesn't seem to care for group activities).  She's also been asking to learn to play the guitar - and Santa brought her one for Christmas.  Anyway, she would not speak to her teacher the entire class.  She spent a third of it in tears not wanting to even look at him.  She's always had a hard time talking to people - kids, too, not just adults.  I'm glad that she's cautious and doesn't talk to total strangers, but at what point is it disrespectful?!  She won't answer when spoken to or anything.  But, what can I do?  Seriously, I can't pull the words out of her mouth!

I thought we made some progress - and in some regards we have.  There was a time she would rather go without than have to ask someone for it.  So, one day at McDonald's she asked a person for more barbecue sauce and we were thrilled.  That was a huge deal!  We've had several more instances like that in recent months, but deals like today make me feel like we've taken a big step back.  

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Mod Podge #2

Ok, I'm so getting into the Mod Podge.  Why did it take me 30 something years to realize it's wonders?!  LOL  So, we decoupaged a little box that I bought several years ago (along with the Mod Podge) just as I had planned BEFORE children.  Hahaha!  Who knew it would sit in a craft box waiting for a snowy day WITH children.  =)

The girls really enjoyed helping me decorate it.  We just ripped up tissue paper & covered in MP - then waited until it was dry.  Then we decorated with various scrapbooking flowers & stickers and recovered it all in MP.  Maddie really loved the "painting" with the MP.  I think Audrey enjoyed peeling the dried MP off my hands the best.  Silly girls!

Clothespin Project

So, occasionally the craft bug hits me and I need to make something.  Since we just redid our offices (and possibly classroom), I thought it would be cute to make something to display the girls' art work.  I had seen these on another blog a couple of months ago and knew I wanted to make them.  So, here they are!  Very simple to make.  Enjoy!

Just cut some strips from some scrapbooking paper I had, glued it down to the clothespins & covered it in Mod Podge (my new favorite thing).  Then we just took some scrapbooking embellishments and buttons (hot glued the buttons) - again, covered in Mod Podge. 

The girls enjoyed decorating and picking out flowers & buttons.

I just tacked a piece of ribbon to the wall and used the clothespins to hold the art work.  Fun, huh?

Here's my first attempt! Now I need to figure out how to add to the blog. lol
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No Days Like Snow Days

What a week!  Started Sunday off with a great day at church, had a nice lunch, and took a trip to the grocery store.  That was followed up with a trip to Nana & Papaw's house to help them unload another van full from TN.  They've been in TN all week cleaning out their house they're selling.  We decided to let the girls spend the night since they were going to babysit for us Monday anyway.  Derek & I had plans of going into work early the next morning.  We knew they were calling for snow, but HELLO, this is Atlanta.  We weren't really expecting tons.  Much to my surprise, it snowed almost 6 inches!  Today, my friends, is Wednesday and I still have not been able to get my kids!  It has made me sick to be here all week without them, knowing they're only about 10 miles away.  But, seriously, the roads are not passable right now.  I'm praying that the sun will melt them more today and we can at least get to them this afternoon.

So, what I have done with all this time?  Let's see... I've been purging and cleaning things.  All the bathroom stuff (even a big box from the garage that has never been unpacked) has been purged, cleaned, and/or organized.  I filed 2 years worth of paperwork and bills.  I also cleaned out 10+ containers/baskets of stuff.  Then, at 5:00 last night, Derek & I decided we wanted to switch offices.  LOL  So, we started moving furniture and didn't stop until 9:00ish last night.  There's just something so refreshing with rearranging furniture.  I love the newness - even though nothing is really new, just a rearrangement.  I am excited that I now have the larger room.  =)  Actually, Audrey and I "share" an office.  I have her little desk in there.  And, now we have her chalkboard back!!  When we first moved into the house 3 years ago, this room was originally the playroom and I painted a big chalkboard on the wall.  When we shifted things around, Derek got that room and his desk set against that wall.  Now, it's back open and she can write on it (and Maddie, of course).  =)  Looks like a perfect little home schooling room to me now (wink, wink).  I promise to post pictures as soon as everything is put back in place (hopefully tonight).

What a great day this has been already.  I acted totally out of character this morning, but really should make it part of my daily routine.  I woke up around 7:00ish, took a shower, folded 3 loads of laundry, washed another load, made the beds (the ones not being slept in - lol), put away the clean dishes, cleaned last night's dishes, made breakfast, and had some quiet time with God.  Got me to thinking about my Grandma Bett.  In no way am I comparing myself to her, she was a machine!  lol  But, she always had breakfast on the table by 7:30 and then she cleaned and cooked until lunch at 11:00.  When that was done, she started over and had dinner ready by 4:00.  What a lady!  You could seriously eat off of her floors they were so clean.  And, she took such good care of her things.  She had her furniture for decades, but it always looked brand new because she was so careful to clean and take care of it.  Granted, her house was small and possessions few, but it was all she needed!  If only we still lived just like that!

Well, that's it for now folks.  I'm going to take advantage of the rest of my day and finish up some projects.  Please pray with me that we get to the girls today and bring them home safely.

Project Life Week 2

1/5 Not a good pic, but all I managed to pull out today. Audrey with her Awana group.

1/6 Maddie giving me a puppet show.

1/7 Oh, to be 3 again - this is the life!

1/8 Derek got new glasses - the first time since his Lasik surgery.  The girls had never seen him in glasses so they had a good giggle over it.  They're still getting to use to it.

1/9 - The snow begins!

1/10 - The snow is here!!
Here they are.  Any idea why some of my pictures are coming over sideways?!

A Mother's Heart

I know I've already posted once tonight, but I just had some thoughts I wanted to share.  I've had several special days with the girls lately.  It's made me realize just how much I took my time for granted when I was staying at home full time.  Now that I don't have that luxury, I have to savor my time a little more.  The girls have also enjoyed their extra time together over the holidays.  They've gotten along really well and played together a lot.  They're at such a precious age and I want to just eat them up!

Maddie's entrance into the "3's" has been a little challenging, but she is so stinkin' cute.  I wish I could convey the level of cuteness to you through this blog.  LOL  Derek & I have had to hide our faces through chuckles during some disciplinary actions lately.  She's seeing how far she can push, but she does it with such comedic animation. And, what an imagination she has!  I'm also happy to report that she has successfully gone to bed without crying or fussing 3 nights in a row.  She has also slept in her bed until "the sun comes up" two mornings.  Progress!

Audrey is growing up before my very eyes.  She has such a sweet soul.  I love to just sit and converse with her.  Bedtime is a precious time for us.  She really seems to open up and talk to me.  I like that she asks me if things are ok to say if she isn't sure.  Today she said, "This girl in class had a shirt on that said 'Girls have more fun'. Then, this boy said, 'Akward'.  Is that ok to say?"  I'm proud she listens to me.  We talked about what's ok to say and not over a year ago.  And, she has stayed true to our conversation, asking me when she isn't sure about something.

Ok, so another thought that I'm sure will be a topic of many posts in the new year... homeschooling.  It has been weighing heavily on my heart since June and hasn't really left.  Days like today just fuel the fire.  I hate the thought of missing so many hours of their lives every day.  Not only that, I'm thinking about how many of those hours they are subjected to non-academic, non-healthy (for lack of a better word) crap.  :(  Any time I've been to Audrey's kindergarten class it has been chaos.  Granted, I'm usually there when they're off schedule and doing something fun.  But, the kids don't listen at all!  How can my child, who is the quiet one, possibly be learning enough?  How can she not be consistently looked over for attention going to the ill behaved ones?  My fears, too, is that she is learning things from the other kids that we're not ready for.  I want her to be a kid for as long as she can.  I want to take a bigger part in her education.  No, I'm not a "qualified" teacher.  But, I'm not stupid.  I have a college education, just not a degree.  There are so many wonderful resources out there.  I'd really like to enroll her in a christian home school academy where she would go a couple of days a week (and curriculum is provided).  We can supplement at home and get involved with a local coop.

This may just be my own selfish desires, but I find myself surrounded by so many people lately that are successful home school parents.  Their kids are the most respectful, mature, intelligent kids around.  Their family units are so close.  I want that.  Are all of these people being brought into my life to guide me in that direction?  Or am I just reading too much into it?  I'm currently reading The Heart of Homeschooling.  I will continue to educate myself in the upcoming months and pray God's will be done in our family.  Please pray for us, as well.

Project Life Week

Here it is!  Thanks to my friend, Candace, at His Mercy is New for introducing me to this great project.  I've been wanting to document every day life through photos for a while.  This is a super way to do so!  I haven't ordered it yet, but it is next on my list.  ;)  In the meantime, I will be participating through my blog on Tuesdays by posting my daily photos for the week.  Enjoy!

1/1/11 - We had Christmas with the Norton Family at New Year's.  Thought the girls were adorable with their cousin in their Santa outfits.  =)

1/2/11 - Last day before school started back, so it was a pajama day filled with creative play!  The girls made a bridge through the hallway and into the bathroom with all their chairs and pillows.  Silly girls. 

1/3/11 - One of my favorite pictures.  My mother-in-law made this for us for Christmas '07.  She took pictures of various objects (and found some online) to spell out our last name, then framed them in a nice frame.  This hangs over our fireplace. 

1/4/11 - The first time the girls played with their new Elefun game.  We loved it!

New Year, New Start

I don't normally make New Year's Resolutions, but this year I am!  Why not?  It gives me some things to work for - something to keep me focused.  I'm not setting strict unattainable goals, but more guidelines for myself.  I'll also share some ideas of things I'd like to do.  Derek and I have also talked about some things we'd like to incorporate this year that I'll share.

We both have set a goal to read through the entire Bible and to teach our girls how to study the Bible.  We've been through 2 studies with Audrey and are looking for something new.  Additionally, I am concentrating on continuing to learn more, live better, and surround myself with others that live the same.  They are a great asset to my attitude, faith, and accountability.

As much as I love TV and Facebook, it is also a weakness that prevents me from being 100% productive.  D & I just crash on the couch after the girls get in bed.  But, there are mounds of books on my shelves that need to be read.  I could also use more sleep at night.  There are projects to be finished.  And, there's always a chore to be done.  I could actually live without TV, but I get so caught up in reading blogs and FB.  I just need to limit my time.

As for healthy habit resolutions, I am going to be realistic.  I've always been an all or nothing kinda gal - which has gotten me in trouble in the past.  I don't have to work out like a lunatic 6 days a week.  I just need to consistently make healthy choices and move.  So, that's the plan.  I will focus on healthy habits, which includes preparing ahead of time and cooking at home.  I will also find more active hobbies and work in exercising at least 2-3 times a week.

My word for the year is BALANCE.  If you know me or have read my blog long, you know I struggle with balancing everything.  I need to knock out the All or Nothing attitude.  Everything in moderation!  I am seriously thinking NO to any major projects and commitments outside of home other than the ones I'm already committed to.  There are some important things on my heart right now that will not allow me to over commit myself.  I truly want to get everything reorganized at home and help my girls to understand the importance of taking care of our things.  Audrey really struggles with neatness and picking up after herself (my fault!).  I need to make and stick to a cleaning schedule, work schedule, and activities schedule.  If I can get everything balanced, life for everyone will be much easier.  

Financially, I'm going to continue to work part time.  We're still working towards our goal of paying off our debt.  I have two small debts that will be paid off in March and Derek recently started working on a contract with Coke.  So, any little thing we can do to pay stuff off is great!  I've become a coupon clipper in the last year, so my goal is to be more diligent and organized with that.  It's a bit of a game to see just how much I can save.  This week alone, my smart shopping saved $36 on groceries.  =)  I am also trying to do better with meal planning and cooking.  This has suffered greatly since going back to work.  (That whole "balance" thing again.)  Not only is it better for us, but will save a lot of money.  I started eating out for lunch quite a bit at work, so I will be planning ahead and taking lunch/snacks from here on out.

Some things that Derek and I have talked about doing is a monthly activity.  We're going to set aside a piggy bank and throw our change it in daily.  At the end of the month, we'll tally up and decide what we'll do.  We want to introduce the girls to things we've never done... making things, going places, etc.  Some ideas we're throwing around: soap making, geocaching, going to INK & Autrey Mill, game nights, workshops at Home Depot/Lowe's, unit studies of different countries which includes cooking foods from there, etc.  Please feel free to share any ideas that you have for us!

A couple of ideas for myself include documenting life with a daily photo.  I'll probably post once a week with my daily photos.  I've seen several blogs that do this and think it's a great idea.  It will also help me keep up with my scrapbooking!

There are a few things that are on my heart for consideration this year and I ask that you also help me pray for guidance.  I have never really had a desire to go on a mission trip, but lately I've felt a tug.  I know that we don't have funding for a big trip this year, but if God wants me to go, He will provide a way.  I know that Audrey is really young, but I'd like to take her with me.  She's always been given everything she's wanted/needed.  I'd like for her to learn at a young age that the whole world isn't like that.  She has such a sweet heart and I think it will be a good thing for her.  Another thing that I've been toying with the past year that still weighs heavily on my heart is considering home schooling.  I'm sure there will be future posts on my blog later, so I'll leave it at that right now.  Finally, I am thinking about letting The Colorguard Academy go.  I've been doing it for 10 years, yet only incorporated for a year.  I have 3 camps lined up for the summer, but I don't see how I can realistically do it all while working and taking care of my family.  There's a lot of traveling and is very time consuming with very little compensation.  I've done it all these years because I love it.  I'll be happy to consult and guide those that want to do it, but it may be time to let it go.  My heart just isn't in it any more.

Well, that's it!  Those are my thoughts for the new year.  I pray that you all have a a very blessed, healthy, and happy one!

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