Don't worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and then thank Him for all He's done. Phil 4:6

I have been clinging to this verse for several days now.  Waiting patiently is not something I do very well.  I haven't advertised much of what I've been dealing with because I didn't want to bring about needless worry.  It's easy for me to go online and research all the "bad words" my doctor said it could be or enter my symptoms on a website only to be given "worst case scenario" to freak me out.  I will say that the thoughts have consumed me, but I've truly had a peace that no matter what, God was in control and we would take any diagnosis as it was.  I serve a faithful God and He holds the future, MY future, in His hands.

Let me back up a bit and tell you how this journey started and why I felt like I was living an episode of House, MD.  Two weeks ago tomorrow I had a doctor appointment to check on some issues.  I was due another physical, so I called a couple of weeks prior and made the appointment.  I'll spare you all the details, but six and a half hours later I was leaving the hospital from having an emergency CT Scan.  Thankfully, there were NO blood clots in my lungs!  I was sent home with orders for a brain and neck MRI, blood tests, and appointments to see an ENT, Cardiologist, and Neurologist.

Today was my "results" appointment and I am happy to announce things are not as bad as initially thought!  The main praises at this time are: it is NOT Lupus, MS, or Cancer!  Thank you, Jesus, I am so grateful!  There are still more tests and specialists to see, and although results are not 100%, for now she is saying it is chronic mono. My spleen and liver are enlarged and some small lymph nodes are present in my neck, but given my blood counts are normal, she did rule out Leukemia.  We will recheck in a few months.  My sugar is slightly elevated, but not Diabetic.  I will be put on a small dose of meds to hopefully help my sugar, liver, and spleen.  The worst of my results, according to the doctor, is my neck.  I have several bulging discs and pinched nerves, which could explain the loss of sensation in my arm.  However, it is the wrong arm according to the findings.  :/  Again, going to the neurologist for further testing.  Additionally, I have a deviated septum and swollen sinuses, which would explain the lack of sleep and breathing.  I will be doing a sleep study soon.  The doctor will let me know if he suggests surgery or treat me for Sleep Apnea.  Not much I can do on my own about a crooked nose.  Haha!  I also still have to see the Cardiologist just to cover all the basis.

Ok, so there you have it!  Probably way more than you ever wanted to know about my medical history.  But so many asked, so there it is!  I'm so looking forward to feeling 100% again and I know it's just around the corner.  :)

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the prayers and sweet notes.  I love you all! I'm giving God all the glory.  I do believe He brought healing.  I am convinced
that my doctor expected worse.  She said she was very pleasantly surprised at how good my blood work was, especially with some of the other findings.  So, I'm saying my God is bigger, my God is Greater!  Booya!

Chosen Says YES to the Dress

Whoa!  What a whirlwind the last few days have been!  I have to share with you one of those once in a lifetime moments that I experienced today.

First of all, in my last post I talked about how precious friendships are and that sometimes I wish I could bring both of my worlds (longtime childhood friends and special friends made later in life) together.  Today would have been one of those times, but since I can't physically do that, I want to introduce you - via my blog - to a few of my closest friends.

This is quite a love story of a beautiful couple to which I am honored and blessed to call friends.  Since their story will more than likely be shared on national television for the whole world to see, I'm sure she won't mind if I tell a few of you.  ;)

Let me introduce you to Chrissy.  Chrissy is an extraordinary woman who is beautiful both inside and out.  She is a caring, dedicated mother to 3 wonderful kids, one of which is Audrey's BFF.  For 16 years Chrissy was a faithful, loving wife to quite the comedian and guitar player, Hank.  The last five years of their marriage Chrissy sacrificed everything to care for Hank as he battled cancer.  He lived an honorable life that ended as perfectly as it possibly could - surrounded by family and friends praying with him as he left this earth.  In his final days, he made sure that his family was taken care of and gave his blessing to Chrissy to move on when she was ready.  He did not want her to live the rest of her life alone.  They were merely 39 years old when Hank passed away.

I can tell you that Chrissy has been one of the strongest, most amazing examples of faith I have ever seen.  She has kept her family going every step of the way.  She sings weekly with Chosen, helping lead worship and giving God the Glory in all things.  Chrissy is stunning and full of grace.

Now, let's fast forward a couple of years.  Chrissy meets a man named Joe.  Their stories and similarities are a bit on the eery side.  Joe's wife battled cancer for five years, passing away at almost the same time as Hank.  She also left behind 3 children.

Long story short, Chrissy and Joe fell in love.  Her friends (known as the director and lead singer for Chosen) put him through the ringer to make sure he was fit for our queen.  He passed the test.  He asked Chrissy to marry him. She said yes.  Now the wedding planning begins.....

Not only do we, Chosen, sing together every week, but we are very best friends.  We love each other, help one another, and just enjoy hanging out.  What an honor it was when Chrissy asked us to go wedding dress shopping with her -- Ms. Shabby Chic Fashionista herself!  (Did she really have a
choice?!). We went last week to a local bridal shop and had a blast.  Unfortunately she did not find the perfect dress.  So, she applied on a whim to "Say Yes to the Dress - Atlanta" from TLC.  They contacted her the next day (Thursday), approved her Friday, and we taped today (Tuesday)!  Everything happened so fast!

The experience today was awesome!  We have been praying through the whole process that our testimonies would be upheld and that God would be glorified through it all.  We had a few opportunities to sing while we were there.  (Seriously, how cool would it be to sing on national television?!)  We openly spoke of our faith.  And, we had a great time helping Chrissy find the perfect dress!
Chosen with Lori & Monte and Chrissy's daughter, Ansley.
I've never laughed so hard at times.  And, of course, we shed some serious tears at times.  It was an emotional day.  If drama and backstabbing is what they wanted, that is not what they got.  But, they did get a real life, heartfelt story of an amazing couple.  We had our share of silly moments, too.  Who knows how some of our craziness might be misconstrued for tv.  Of course, the hosts of the show really played on the whole church music gig with "Can I  get an 'Amen' from the choir?" and "Can the choir say 'Hallelujah'?" My prayer is that our words come across as genuine as they were in our hearts.
All of us with Chrissy's dress consultant, Flo.

Will they choose Chrissy and her Chosen posse to air on Season 7?  That, nobody knows for sure, but I will tell you that I have truly seen the hand of God working through this whole experience. Whether we are televised or not, we made some serious memories today!  And, I pray that we touched some lives in the process.
Mic'd up and ready to go!

Forever Friends - Part 1

This time last week I was sitting in a restaurant with friends I haven't seen in a few years.  We had just celebrated the life of an amazing woman.  She lived a beautiful life and I am beyond blessed to have known her for 23+ years of my 37.  It's so hard to say goodbye, even when we don't see each other often.  She was like a second mom to me.

It was great seeing childhood friends with their families. For some, I was meeting their children for the first time, which is always exciting.  It's fun to see how kids grow from visit to visit. Sadly, time does not stand still between those visits so I miss a lot of the growing steps.

This trip really got me to thinking about the value of friendship.  I consider myself a fortunate soul to have so many lifelong friends such as these.  I've known these guys since I was 14.  We were pretty much united by marching band (Go, Band!) and stuck together through the years.  Many miles now separate us, but thanks to outlets such as Facebook, we can communicate easily.  And, although we may seriously disagree on issues such as politics and religion, we're still friends.  No matter how many years we're apart physically, we can pick right up where we left off.

I've spent holidays with these friends.  We've been through many birthdays & celebrations, marriages & divorces, births & deaths.  I know at any given moment if I needed anything, I could pick up the phone and call one of these guys.  My prayer is that everyone has a friend like that!

Life has changed a lot over the last ten years.   I've remarried, had two babies, and live in another state.  I don't get to see these precious friends very often, but I'm still very thankful for them.  I love each and every one of them.  If I could hand pick my family, I'd give the 19 Kids and Counting crew a run for their money on the number of siblings I would have.  :-)  I am a little sad that my husband and kids haven't had the chance to get to know them all as well as I have.

Don't get me wrong.  I am incredibly happy where life has taken me.  Again, God has richly blessed me with fantastic friends in my adult life.  Sometimes I wish I could just selfishly bundle everyone up and keep in one place together forever.  :)  Oh, wait!  That's what Heaven's gonna be like!  Well, until that day comes, I know Mama Joyce is getting a great feel for the place and anxiously awaiting having all her "kids" back for a Thanksgiving feast.  RIP, sweet lady!

Guilt Free Schooling

We are a little over two weeks into school and the girls are loving it.  Audrey is out of bed and dressed before we can even come in to make sure they're up?  Maddie is not so enthusiastic at 6:45 am.  I am switching off carpooling with a neighbor and its really nice.  The kids get to sleep an extra 45 minutes since they're not riding the bus.   Two days a week I have time to make a hot breakfast (and maybe catch a few extra z's when they leave).  One morning a week I help in Maddie's class for an hour then head out for coffee and grocery shopping.  I've also enjoyed having a few lunches and breakfasts with my husband each week.  :)

I thought I would feel very guilty for not homeschooling this year, but honestly, I feel like I'm a better mom and wife right now.  I'm not stressed to the max.  I have more time to stay up with house work, meals, errands, chauffeuring girls around, and all of my volunteer work.  Audrey is thriving in the classroom.  She is taking her homework very seriously.  We've been spending about 30 minutes to an hour together on it each night and she's putting a lot more effort into her work.  I'm really proud of her.  She asked me today if they could go to school there next year, too.  It makes me happy to see her so happy!

Maddie's situation is actually going to be changing.  I got a call yesterday that in an effort to reduce the number of kids per classroom, they are taking a few kids from each class and creating a new kindergarten class.  The new teacher will start Monday.  Maddie was one of the kids pulled.  I'm not crazy about it because she's finally gotten into a routine and I was really happy with her teachers.  I know everything happens for a reason and God is in control.  I'm just praying for a smooth transition next week.

The girls' extra curricular activities are up and going.  We've eliminated a few and think we have a good balance.  Audrey is taking an hour of hip hop and an hour of drama/music each week.  Maddie has her cheer practice twice and tumbling once a week.  Our Wednesday night church activities will start back mid September and then we'll be full swing into our year.  Let's do this!!

On a totally different note, I feel the need to say how blessed I am to have such a great husband.  So many wives struggle to do it all because their husbands don't help or have much to do with their children.  Derek is an amazing dad!  He's tough, no doubt about it!  But, he loves them and enjoys spending time with them EVERY day.  He sings to them each night at bed time.  He cooks for them, plays with them and teaches them.  I am very grateful!

Here's to a relaxing weekend!  Enjoy time with your family!

Updates, Updates, and More Updates!

Hello, Friends!  It may appear that I have slipped off the face of the earth, but in truth, it has just been an amazingly awesome and busy time in our family.  I have so many changes and updates to share.  So, let's get started!

Our summer was amazing.  Truly!  We only had one week of "nothing".  The girls did swim team this year.  That was great!  Audrey amazed me with her growth there.  She went from a flailing sea creature to a graceful mermaid in about 5 weeks time.  They promoted her to the competition team mid season and she did fantastic!  Definitely something we will continue to do.  Maddie has also vastly improved.  I'm very proud of her!

We spent 8 days at a resort in Destin, Florida.  It was a super trip!  Ironically, some of Derek's family from Dallas was in a wedding at the same resort the end of our stay.  It was  fun to see them.  The girls absolutely adore their cousins.


Later in the summer the girls and I spent 8 days in TN for the Pure American Girl National Pageant.  What an amazing opportunity!  Maddie took home the National Talent Award and Runner Up Model of the Year.  I believe she could have placed higher in the Queen division, but she turned into a little monster.  LOL!  After the first day of competition she basically decided she didn't want to do it and was a handful to deal with the rest of the competition.  I can honestly say, I've never seen her act that poorly before.  I'm praying this is just a short phase of life and she'll be out of it very soon.  (I think she's making up for not going through the Terrible 2's or 3's!)  It is breaking my heart right now.  Anyway, Audrey had a phenomenal week.  For those that don't know her personally, it will be hard to understand just what a huge step and growth she went through this summer and in this pageant.  Many firsts happened that week.  She spoke on stage for the first time in her life.  She did forget some of her words and paused to regain her memory once, but I thought that was amazing.  She could have fallen apart and quit right then, but she didn't.  She pulled herself together and kept going.  She also had her first panel interview.  She felt really good about it, so I take that as another success.  Her modeling progressively improved.  By the final day her poise and confidence were clearly evident on stage.  But, the greatest accomplishment was her singing a solo on stage for the first time in her life.  She LOVED it!  That's what she has talked about the most.  She actually came off the stage and told me she was proud of herself.  Money can't buy that, folks!


So, all in all, it was a fabulous experience.  We have learned that Maddie will not be doing any more pageants any time soon.  Audrey has one the end of the month.   And, I am the new State Director for the Pure American Pageant System.  I'm very exited about this opportunity!

We couldn't leave TN without a trip to Dollywood, The Wilderness Water Resort, Hollywood Wax Museum, and Country Tonite musical.  Great trip!

Of course, our summer included a week of VBS and Arts Camp.  There were a few sleep overs and lots of play dates.  Truly a spectacular summer!

The biggest change this year is in our schooling.  Maddie is in Kindergarten and Audrey is in the third grade.  We have decided not to homeschool this year.  It was a huge decision and not one we made lightly.  I struggled with it and will spare you all the details, but in the end I have complete peace about that decision. The girls started last week and are absolutely loving it!  I'm volunteering in both classes and plan to be as involved as I can.

I am coaching cheer again this year.  I'm still with the little ones, which I love.  They are doing fantastic!  Maddie is on the squad, too.  Audrey has decided not to cheer this year.  She is concentrating on singing, dancing, and acting which is turning out to be her love.  I'm totally fine with that and will nurture those gifts as much as I can.  Tonight is her first night of dance - 2 1/2 hours of hip hop, tap, and jazz.  Theater starts Thursday.  Maddie, on the other hand, is all cheer and gymnastics.  She had her first tumbling class on Saturday and loved it!

It is going to be a wonderful year!  I hope you'll join me on this adventure as I recommit to blogging.  :)

Sweet Girls Update

Shew!  Is it seriously May already?  How did that happen?  I better not blink because the next three weeks are going to fly by even faster.  There's so much happening as we wind down all of our activities and start our summer.

This weekend is our Children's Musical at church.  We'll have dress rehearsals Friday and Saturday with two performances on Sunday.  Things are coming together beautifully and I can't wait to see the final production.  My prayer is that there will be people in the audience that will really get the message and take it to heart!  The kids have worked really hard so I know God will bless those efforts.

In addition to this musical, the girls are finishing up classes at the dance studio soon.  They have recitals (one for ballet and a separate one for their theater class) the 18 & 19 of May.  I am sooooo excited!  I know Audrey has absolutely loved her class and is super excited about being in Alice in Wonderland.  And, when I picked Maddie up from her mini theater class her teacher said she did super.  She told me she is a natural dancer.  I'm so proud!!  I can't wait to see my girls on stage!

Both the girls started swim team this week.  In only two 30 minute sessions, I can already see huge progress.  And, they are loving it!  It has been the first thing they ask about when they get up in the mornings.  They're totally bummed that they can't go tonight because we have church.  Maddie said, "I wish we could skip Awana tonight."  "But, God is more important than swimming," I said. "Yeah, but God is at the pool, too!"  Hahahaha!

Another little Mama brag:  My girls both got their first modeling gigs yesterday.  Audrey has been asked to do a head shot to model a hair piece.  Maddie is getting a sweet dress to model, which I'm hoping will be something she can use in a pageant.  Doubly duty!

I want to share with all the mamas out there an awesome app we just got on my iPad for the girls.  I rarely purchase or subscribe to apps, but I gave into one recently and it has been fantastic!  Remember the old PBS show, "Rading Rainbow"?  I'm pretty sure it's still on air, but they also have the app.  I believe I paid $30 for a 6 month subscription, but has been worth it.  My girls have been through so many books.  They each have their own "backpack" that they fill with virtual books from their library.  They can hold 5 at a time.  Many of the books are interactive, so they can click on a picture and it moves.  It's super cool!

Spring Has Sprung

Well, it is officially spring here, though it certainly doesn't feel like it.  Looks like it may be a weekend of cold and rain.  Thankfully, all of our weekend activities are inside!

Tonight was the the final performance of Beauty and the Beast.  This is the third year that I have had the opportunity to write and teach the choreography for the Conservatory's musical productions.  This one is definitely my favorite!  I'm really proud of the kids and the whole show in general!

A friend at the show asked me how I got nvolved in choreography and I've been reflecting on that a lot  tonight.  I am so thankful for the gifts that God has given me. What an honor to serve Him doing something so fun and enjoyable.  I never would have dreamed that 20+ years of marching band and Colorguard would lead to a ministry like this!

I truly believe God gives each of us certain gifts to use for His glory.  There are those that are called to serve in the trenches, in the plains of Africa, and in the streets - just to name a few.  Each job is important no matter how big or how small.

What joy it is to sing, help lead in worship, and travel with my closest friends.  Each "concert", mission trip, and opportunity to share in song is a special gift.  Every dance step, movement, and  rehearsal in theater, cheerleading, and children's choir is ordained by God Himself.  What an honor that He chose me as a vessel to deliver His message through these unique opportunities.  I am so unworthy to have such skills and responsibilities, but I'm very grateful for each and every one.

Amid the busy weekend of theater performances, I also went to a cheerleading coaches conference.  It was a great time of reflection on our past season and rejuvenation for the upcoming season.  One thing I walked away with was the realization of just how important my role is, not necessarily as a skills teacher, but as a spiritual example and leader.  These are huge responsibilities.  Please pray with me for each little girl that comes through our program!

Look Out, Honey Boo Boo!

It's time to share another adventure with you, friends. I'm sure you're thinking, "What could they have possibly gotten into this time?!"  That would be an acceptable response.  HeeHee.  I am confident that my choices may present some controversy to my fellow readers, but that's ok!  Bring it on!  :)

My girls have asked for awhile now to do a beauty pageant.  Nothing glitzy or over the top, just a natural pageant.  I admit, I have done a few in my day.  I never even made the top ten when I was a kid.  I don't think I even enjoyed them back then. But, when I was 13 I decided I wanted to give it another try.  Much to my surprise, I was crowned the 1989 Miss Jefferson County Fair.....

Ok, you can stop laughing now!

I did it again a year or two later and failed miserably, for the record.  LOL. In high school I participated in Junior Miss and got 2nd runner up & a congeniality award. It was less of a beauty pageant and more of a scholarship, talent, physical fitness, grades, combo deal.  I will say that it was one of the more memorable experiences of my high school days.  I truly enjoyed it.  Several years later I helped choreograph the program and eventually directed the Knox County program.

I tell you all this to say that I do have some knowledge of how these things work.  This was not an uninformed, uneducated decision.  I weighed the pros and the cons.... And this jury voted in favor of the pageant!

So, we took off Saturday to our first pageant adventure, the Miss St. Patrick's Day Pageant.  Maddie was not thrilled about it, but said she wanted to do it because her sister was.  I quickly realized that this may not be the avenue for her, at least not right now.  She totally reversed roles and played the bashful one - completely out of character for her.  She looked absolutely beautiful in her outfits though.  She ended up winning Most Beautiful Smile and 2nd Alternate.

Now, Audrey took me by surprise.  Those of you that know Audrey understand her introverted personality. She is incredibly shy and isn't much of a talker.  I saw a whole new side to my child this weekend!  She was completely in her element.  She modeled for the judges and the photographer beautifully!  She was having so much fun.  On the down times, she asked to go talk to her new friends. This is HUGE, people!  She got 2nd Alternate in her division, too (it runs in the family).  Sure, she was disappointed she didn't win, but she bounced back very quickly saying she was ready to do it again.  I have never seen her so excited to do something. Ever.  So, as long as she is having fun and building confidence, I will continue to encourage her and do everything I can to help her succeed in reaching her goals.

Haters, don't be hatin'.  I know you wish you had  tiara, too.  Go on down to Claire's and buy yourself one.  ;).

Baby Steps

Hello, Blog Friends!  After my last happy post I kinda fell off the cliff again.  My apologies!  Our week took a crazy turn.  After all the expensive van repairs we made that Monday, someone busted the passenger window out of my van that Thursday night.  I was parked right outside the entrance door at church and they busted out the window to get Maddie's purse, which was very clearly a child's purse.  We couldn't use the van again until they could fix it that following Monday.  What a blessing that we had just bought the new car a few days before!!

We are still struggling daily with Maddie being fearful, but there is some progress.  It has been 3 weeks today.  She still will not sleep alone.  She also talks about it every day, but not as frequently.  I am sure it is very scary for her.  Twice in 16 months our van was broken in to - once at home and once at church - the two places she should feel the most safe.  We are teaching her to pray when she is fearful.  It seems to be helping some.  Although she brings it up daily, it doesn't seem as severe.  And, she does put a positive spin on it.  Baby steps!

Ok, so I have to share something exciting with you.  My mom found a website recently for aspiring writers.  She has dabbled in writing off and on her whole life.  I think she is really good!  Anyway, this site offers a weekly writing challenge at different levels (beginner, intermediate, advance).  They give you one word each week.  You have one week to write and submit an entry for that topic.  I have been proofing Mom's work.  This time I thought I would get in on the action.  We just received feedback on the week of my first entry.  Imagine my surprise when I saw my name in the 2nd place spot!!  I had to giggle when I saw my Mom's name listed right under mine in the 3rd place spot.  What a great week!  I may be hooked now!!  Be sure to check out my entry here:


Production Junction

Whoa!  Two posts in three days... can you believe it?  Seriously though, it feels good to be back to the blogging board again.  Life doesn't seem to be quite as hectic right now, so I feel like I can sit, relax, and reflect through my blog a bit.  I need to spend some time reading and catching up on my friends' blogs, as well.  One thing at a time though!

I feel so good today!  It isn't often that I end a day thinking that I accomplished much.  I usually complain to myself about all the things I didn't get done.  Today I'm changing my tone and am going to share about the things I did do!  Let's see.... Started out the day with a shower, which is always good!  Hee-Hee!  I loaded the doggies up and carried them to the groomers.  They smell soooo good! I didn't have the heart to cut Oreo's hair yet since it just grew back, so they just trimmed around his eyes.  He is one soft dog!  (And he's snuggled up next to me as I type this.). Ok, back on subject.... I finally took the van in to be serviced. It's a whole lot easier to do that kind of thing now that we have 2 vehicles!  $715 later I have a new tire, new battery, aligned & balanced tires, and fixed brakes.  Looks like next month I'll be getting a new radiator, too.  Ugh!

In addition to the big things that had to be done, I actually cooked two meals today.  Hot dogs count, right? I got all the doggy bedding cleaned.  I mean, you can't get your dogs cleaned and bring them home to a dirty bed!  Which also means that all the floors needed to be cleaned.  I might as well get the kitchen cleaned, dust some furniture, and do another load of laundry, too.  I will also mention that we unloaded, cleaned, and organized my new shelves in the living room I found on Craigslist.   New furmiture is always a good motivator to get things done. Afterwards, was ballet for Maddie, picking up the newly fixed van, and a choreography rehearsal with the Beauty and the Beast cast.

So, what is the secret of my success today?  The girls spent the night with grandparents who also took them to classes this afternoon.  Hahahaha!  I had morning until 3:00 to accomplish  all those things.  I absolutely missed my girls today, but I am so grateful to have had a day to get things done while knowing they were being cared for and having a good time!

Here's to more productive days ahead!

Renovation 101

New stuff is happening in the Norton household.  I am so incredibly excited, blessed, grateful - you name it!  First of all, I think I have shared with you all before that we sold D's car a year ago October.  We decided we didn't need two cars and that we would use the extra money to pay off other things.  Yes, it was inconvenient at times, but we survived!  D has really been wanting a Kia Soul for at least 3 years. So, when he recently came across one that was just a year old, maxed to the fullest, and got a sweet deal (that our bank negotiated for us so we didn't even have to deal with that), we realized it was time.  We picked it up today.  WooHoo!

I jumped into a new adventure this week that I'm excited to share.  Ya'll know I love to sing. I am super, duper passionate about it.  Although I have sang most of my life, I realize that there are a lot of things that I need to improve on.  I can't tell you how much I have learned singing with Chosen and being part of the choir and praise team at First Redeemer.  But, I want to be better - take it to another level.  I started voice lessons Thursday.  They had a slot open at the same time as Audrey's ballet class so I jumped on it.  It was awesome!  She was very encouraging and said there was great potential.  I will find that big voice hiding behind that timid, soft squeak.  :)

This weekend marked five years since we bought our house.  We have been very happy here, although quite honestly, had not originally planned to be here this long.  We moved here not knowing  the area and not looking for our "dream house" at the time.  But, we love our neighbors and the area.  We have decided to stick around longer and are now ready to do some renovating and make overs.  I am in HGTV watching mode right now.  So, here's what we're doing:

1.  Home repairs.  We met with a guy who is doing a lot of those annoying-but-has-to-be-done kind of stuff.  He'll be repairing a leaky shower and fixing the rotted wood from said leaky shower.  He is also going to fix our gate that our new canine child has learned to escape the back yard from.  Ok, so that's the not so exciting stuff.

2.  Painting the exterior.  As much as I love pink, I don't want a pink house.  Ours has a very faint tint pink that really isn't cute..  He will start in a couple of weeks, so I am frantically trying to choose colors so they can be submitted to the HOA for approval.

3.  Pressure washing, mending, and restaining the deck.  Can I get a Woot!Woot! Please?! Seriously, if you have ever been to my house and seen my deck you know it Ain't Purty!  It is actually a little frightening.  He will make some needed repairs, as well.  And, I am so tired of looking at the hideous lattice wall.  That baby is coming down, down,down!

4.  Painting the kitchen & living room.  Hallelujah! Hallelujah!  We have never painted anything on the main floor of our house.  We still have one million nail holes in the walls from the previous owners (ok, so I could be exaggerating a little).  Not to mention the lovely, and I use that term very loosely, grapevine border across the top of my kitchen.  I am still very much open for suggestions on a hip new color.  I am really digging blue right now, which is the color of all my dishes and pottery.  But, I also have to think about my living room furniture that is green and mission style since the two rooms are open to each other.

5.  Last, but not least... new hardwood floors on the entire main floor.  We truly wanted to do this before we moved into the house, but we had to sink several thousand dollars into our TN house to sell it.  Ugh!  But, five years later, we a gonna do it!  No more 4 types of flooring when you walk in the front door.  Seriously, you walk into our house onto a hardwood entrance, look to your left and there's carpet, straight ahead to the kitchen is linoleum, and to the right is a bathroom with a different linoleum.  Crazy!  Here's to some cohesiveness!

So, if you try to call, write, or find me in the next few days - I am either on Pinterest or Houzz, at Sherwin Williams, or watching HGTV!!  And, do not fret! There will be plenty of pictures!!

I'm Alive... Really!

If there are any followers left out there, thanks for sticking around.  I am still alive, just took a blogging break.  I'll give you a few highlights from the last couple of months.

Christmas: A few days before Christmas we took off to Gatlinburg.  We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge with the awesome indoor water park.  We spent one day in the water.  We also took one evening and went to Dollywood to meet Santa (the best one ever!) and check out the lights and a Christmas show.   Before and after our trip, we got to spend time with our new sweet niece, Maya.  As for Christmas day, we had a nice time at home.  We were kinda quarantined because Maddie had the flu.  :(  We enjoyed our low key Christmas.  I just haven't been to able to celebrate with my family yet.  :(

Cheerleading:  We fought our way from the bottom all the way to GA State Champs!!!  I have never been so proud.  It was amazing!!  We went to Nationals in Orlando the first week of January and finished our season ranked third nationally.  It was a great year!  Here is a link to our state championship performance:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AutQOoxYyBg&sns=em

Homeschooling:  Confession... I was strongly considering sending Audrey back to school this semester.  I was feeling very guilty for not giving her enough attention.  She is struggling a loy with her spelling. We were butting heads a lot.  I just didn't feel I was getting through to her.  But, in the last little while, I feel we have made some great progress.  She has been working more diligently and with a better attitude.  I have spent more time working with her.  She even got all of her spelling words correct on her test today.  That is huge!!  Derek & I both agreed that finishing the year at home would be better.  I want to get through everything we have started this school year. I honestly do not know what next year holds for us.  Part of me feels this may be the end of our homeschooling season, at least for awhile.  Yet, I still do not have complete peace about that decision yet.  I also have Maddie to consider since she will start Kindergarten in the fall.  In fact, just this week I met with her preK teacher and she said she was doing amazing.  She's at the top of her class.  She even made mention of possible enrichment class needs later on.  So, I have a lot to think about.

I will close there since it is so late.  I have a few more thoughts to share, but I will save those for next time.
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