So, this is supposed to be my blog, right?

Thankfully, I don’t have tons of readers here, or I would feel even worse about this whole blogging thing. I cannot believe it has been almost an entire YEAR since I posted anything. Well, I can kind of believe it. It’s been a busy 10 months. To be honest, I don’t think I’m going to sit and go through the old posts to see where I left off. I can say with 99.9% certainty that all the stuff that we’ve been up to has definitely not been mentioned on here yet! That being said, this is going to be a super long post. There’s a lot to cover and it all intertwines, so I’m going to do my best to separate each thing. Just know that most every part of the topics overlap in terms of chronological order. I don’t really feel like making multiple entries, so if you’re game, then just roll with it!

I do remember briefly talking about how we were looking to put our house back on the market. Back in 2012, we put it on the market for about 3-4 months, but never had any interest. We took it off because the holidays were approaching and I knew I didn’t want to deal with showings during that time. We did a little sprucing up to the yard and got a new real estate agent and put it back on the market in May 2013, probably not too long after the last post I made. We had no open houses, but we had about 5-6 showings over the course of 3 months. We got an offer in August that we countered, then they countered our counter and we accepted. Now, don’t go thinking that we closed that quickly though. No no no no no…. It was a nightmare. We sent off everything where we agreed to all of the stuff in mid-September of last year. The guy buying our house was going with a USDA loan because he didn’t have to put any money down on it and our house was in an area that qualified for that kind of loan. The government decided it would stop working in October for almost 3 weeks, so we knew we would get set back with that, only to find out that they had not even sent our stuff off like they were supposed to have sent it. It was supposed to already be sitting up there for them to start working on when they started working again, but no. Apparently his agents didn’t feel like they needed to do their job the correct way and so we had even longer to wait. On the DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING, we get a call from our agent who says that the government has approved the loan and that the guy wanted to close in two days. Yes, that’s right. TWO DAYS. We had fortunately been working on getting things packed up and moved, but since we had been at a stand still with waiting on the government, we couldn’t move all the stuff we wanted to move because we still needed it. I am still pretty irritated about all of this too. I just cannot believe that someone could be so completely inconsiderate. I mean, we are a family and it takes a lot to get us moved. There is absolutely NO WAY I would have ever done that to someone. Like, EVER. I just cannot fathom putting another person (or family) out in that manner. But, as we all know, there aren’t very many people in the world who work like I do. We had planned on enlisting all this help to get things loaded and stuff, but since it happened so suddenly and on not just Thanksgiving weekend, but Iron Bowl weekend, we ended up with very few of the people that we had asked to help. I am EXTREMELY grateful to all of those who did help. In a big way. But I can’t even begin to describe the stress that it put us through. It was unbelievable. We ended up getting everything out and being done by the Monday after Thanksgiving (we had to be out by 5 pm, and we were done by 10 am). We weren’t closing on our new house until Wednesday and Dylan was still in school, so we had to stay in a hotel for the week.

Backing up a bit, but still house related stuff – we looked and looked and looked to find a house that we felt was the right size and price for us in Mobile County. Dylan was in a really good school over there and since we are so active in our church, I just couldn’t see living more than 20 minutes or so from there. So, we searched and searched and just never found what we were looking for. {Sidenote: After checking house prices in different areas of Alabama, I have decided that Mobile and Baldwin Counties are WAY overpriced for the value. The kind of money that some of the smaller houses were listed for in Mobile would buy you a 2-story, 3000 sq ft house in another part of Alabama.} We finally found a home in Baldwin County that my MIL had been working on. She is a real estate agent in BC and part of what she does is flip houses. She asked us to come look at it to see if we felt like it would meet our needs. We liked it for sure, but the biggest turn off (for me anyways) was the fact that it was across the bay in Spanish Fort. I have never wanted to live in Baldwin County. I have been told over and over how great the schools are, and that would convince most people with kids, but not me. I know what it takes to make the school thing work, no matter where you are, so I knew that was a moot point. For me, it’s more about how we’d fit in with the community, and by we, I mean me and Dylan. If you’ve never met me, or if you’ve only known me for a short time, then you may be surprised to know that I am EXTREMELY introverted. I don’t mind being around people I know and hanging out with friends and stuff, but I don’t do new scenarios very well. I don’t have that ease of transition thing going. Not surprisingly, Dylan has inherited some of that from me. People may feel like we come off as uncaring or standoffish, but it’s just that we don’t perceive things the same way others do. Dylan has a lot of my characteristics when it comes to school, but because he is a boy, it does present itself a little differently. Regardless of this, I was and still am more concerned that my children and family will not “fit in” or be “accepted” because of my particular quirks. Anyways, because we never found a house in Mobile County and because we really knew that the area was better and the school system had a better reputation, we made the executive decision to buy the house that MIL was fixing. We did get to close on the house the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, but because Dylan was still in school in Mobile, we had to wait until Friday to leave the hotel. I registered him in the Spanish Fort school system and he started there the next Monday. As of today, we have been in the house for almost 3 full months, as we were finally able to live in it on December 6. Here are a few pics (one of each main room) of before we got all moved in. We are pretty settled in now. Not living out of boxes much, except for a few things that we don’t really need right now anyway, so they’re still packed away. (P.S. If anyone has any tips on decorating a mantle, I’m all ears! Our TV is in an entertainment center, so nothing is over the fireplace and I have no idea what to do there!)

Laundry Room

Laundry Room

Formal living and dining

Formal living and dining

foyer

foyer

hallway

hallway

Nursery/guest BR

Nursery/guest BR

Girls room

Girls room

Dylan's Room

Dylan’s Room

Master BR

Master BR

Family/Kitchen/Breakfast room

Family/Kitchen/Breakfast room

breakfast area

breakfast area

Kitchen area

Kitchen area

Okay, that takes care of the house stuff. Now on to more fun things. . .  In June, Dylan got to go to Disney World for the first time. His elementary school had been a part of this YES Program for a while. They only offer it to their 3rd-5th graders, but each student who maintains an “A” average on their EQTs (end of quarter tests) for the ENTIRE year of school is eligible to go on this trip to Disney. The only thing the parent has to pay is a $25 deposit for them and then send them with any spending money they might want. Dylan had been eligible for the trip every year he was old enough to go, but you know good and well that I was not about to send my baby on a trip 8-9 hours away without someone I trusted 100% to look after him. So, it worked out this year that I could go with him. I had to pay for my ticket, but since it was through their program, it was much cheaper than a regular ticket. I also had to buy my own hotel room, but that wasn’t a problem either. So, at the beginning of June, we packed up and headed South. Hubs was having to work that week, so the girls split their time between my parents and his parents. I’m not going to go further into detail about it, but it was a really fun trip and I’d love to take the whole family back one day. Here are some pics from that trip.

Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Simba at the Lion King Performance

Simba at the Lion King Performance

Epcot Center

Epcot Center

Coming in on the ferry to the Magic Kingdom

Coming in on the ferry to the Magic Kingdom

Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella’s Castle

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POTC ride

POTC ride

Castle at night, before we left

Castle at night, before we left

The next big thing that happened in June is that Dylan turned 11! I know that’s kind of an unusual number to get excited about, but to my fellow HP fans, you know EXACTLY what it meant. His Hogwarts Letter came! I REALLY REALLY wanted to do a Harry Potter birthday for him then, but with all the stuff we had going on, it just wasn’t going to happen. I certainly plan to do one this year though!

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We had another big thing happen in June, but we didn’t find out about it until the end of July. When I say surprise, I mean it. It was completely not planned, but we were thrilled, nonetheless. We found out that we were adding another member to the family! Official due date is April 1, 2014, so we’ve got about 4 weeks left for this one. And, we are evening the odds this time around with a boy! It has been a rollercoaster ride, for sure. The pregnancy has been unremarkable in that I haven’t had any issues or complications. We’ve just had so much going on that the stress levels have been pretty high. With all the house stuff that has held us all up and then holidays and birthdays, it’s a wonder that I even have anything ready yet. But, we’re getting there.

Let’s see, I think that gets us through the summer pretty much. Dylan started 6th grade this year at one of the best schools in Mobile County, but since we moved, we had to take him out and put him in school over here. It has been an adjustment for all of us. It’s a good school, but they aren’t quite as structured as his previous one and that is making a big impact right now. With Dylan’s ADHD, he really NEEDS that structure to help him develop the kind of school and study habits that will help him as he gets older. It’s a constant thing to stay on top of right now, but I am hoping that we’ll really get to meet and greet everyone next year. I normally like to make an appearance and talk to his teachers, but I just haven’t had the time since the move, and I probably won’t get the time this year. I hope to remedy that when he starts 7th grade.

Bella started taking dance class in August. I don’t have any pictures yet (besides a few on my phone), but her recital will be in June, so I’ll have some then. She loves it and Eowyn loves it too. Eowyn isn’t taking it yet, but she loves watching Bella and copying everything she does!

Speaking of Eowyn, she turned 2 in October, amid all the house mess. She has been crazy about Minnie Mouse for months now. It’s starting to let up a little, but that was her party theme. We just had family over, of course, but it was a good time. Since her birthday falls at the end of October, Halloween is right afterwards. They had the Trunk or Treat at church again, so that’s what we did for the kids. We also took them down to Bellingrath Gardens for their Balloon Glow Halloween thing, but definitely don’t recommend it unless you can get there right when it starts. We got there at 6ish and there were hardly any booths up anymore because people ran out of candy and stuff and just left. Eowyn was Minnie Mouse (of course!), Bella was Rapunzel, and Dylan was Harry Potter (and a dang good one, too!).

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Let’s see. . . I don’t have anything big for Thanksgiving because, well, we were pretty stressed at that time (see above about house stuff). We had a good one, even though it was super stressful. Christmas was the next big holiday for us and we spent it in the new house. I took Christmas pics of the kids at my parents’ house earlier in November because I wasn’t sure when or if we’d get to even have a tree this time, due to all the craziness going on. I ended up slaving away to get everything as normal as possible because Christmas is such a big deal for me. I love that time of year so much, and I had really been struggling with the fact that I might not get to do it all the way I wanted to do it. So, I busted my tail to get stuff done. I’m throwing in a pic of my and my brothers too because it’s a really good one :)

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That’s pretty much the last thing for 2013. Jumping right into 2014, and the first big thing that happened was Bella’s 5th birthday. She is really into Doc McStuffins, so that was our theme this year. Since she’s getting old enough to have real friends, we had a few of her friends from church over during the time period between morning and evening service on Sunday. One of her cousins from down the road came over as well. She had a blast, for sure!

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And now I think we’re finally caught up. The biggest thing that has happened in the timeline lately is Joe (Hubs’ youngest bro) got married over Valentine’s weekend and Bella was one of the flower girls. I didn’t take my camera with me, so the only pictures I got were on my phone. I hope that I’ll be able to see some of the ones the photographer took and maybe get a couple since I know Bella was in them. It was a good weekend in the Destin, FL area. Everything was set up nicely and I think everyone had a great time.

At this point, we’re all just in that final stretch of waiting on baby. I’m doing more prep this time around. I started drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea when I was around 30 weeks. I started taking Alfalfa supplements at around 34 weeks. And, just yesterday, I started taking Evening Primrose Oil. None of these by themselves (or combined) are labor inducers or anything. The tea is specifically supposed to help tone the uterus, so that the contractions are more effective when they start. I was really interested in starting this one because in all 3 of my pregnancies, my water always broke very early on, and my contractions never really got going in a good rhythm. I am hoping that this helps get things going correctly, which will hopefully make the need for pitocin nonexistent. The Alfalfa supplements are to help build up my Vitamin K storage, which will be a big help when the baby is born and will be a help for him, since we’ll be having him circumcised. I took the EPO last time, but only one dose because I didn’t get it until the day of my due date. I know I hadn’t taken enough of it to be sure it was beneficial. It’s purpose is to help soften and ripen the cervix, so that it will be more ready to open and thin out when I am having contractions. I’m currently just taking one pill at night, but will up it to two pills next week. I am really hoping that I can help my body prepare to do this naturally, and not need any medical interventions like epidurals or pitocin.

Anyways, that’s about all for the Donovan Family so far. I may or may not have missed a big update, but at this time of the night, I can’t tell that for sure. I just wanted to catch everyone up on what had been going on for the last 10 months. If you’ve stuck around to read this WHOLE thing, then you are a really patient person! I am going to call it a night and get in the bed. Good sleep comes few and far between at this stage of the game, so good night, good night!

Soul-searching Saturday

Well, I had started doing this “Totes Real Tuesdays” with a friend who had put a link up on her blog, but completely forgot about it this week. I was glad to read today that she had too much going on to really get to hers as well. Made me feel a little better about missing it! 😄 Anyways, I found myself in a heated discussion on facebook today. I don’t really see how we can call it that when I never actually spoke to the person, but whatevs. I’m a little embarrassed to say it started with a link that my preacher had posted. It was about ADHD and how the so-called “scientific father of ADHD” had, on his deathbed, made a statement that indicated ADHD was a fictitious illness. The article itself was a little questionable, in my opinion, but that wasn’t what got my blood boiling. Nope, that was actually done when I read a comment that was made by a friend of his. And, it wasn’t even some awful comment. It was, however, obvious that this person had no real experience with the disorder. Well, for those of you who have known me for a long time, you won’t be surprised when I say that I was pretty unforgiving in my rebuttal of his statements. If you haven’t known me for a long time, well, I hope I haven’t marred your opinion of me by saying that. I am very opinionated and very much an independent thinker. I also have a hard time letting something go when I know i am right about it. It’s a character flaw that I’ve apparently passed on to my son. It doesn’t really matter what the debate was about or who “won” it, but it was another opportunity, that I passed up, to be the bigger person and show love. There are those who would say that my stubbornness isn’t really a big deal and that I shouldn’t concern myself with trying to change that part of me. They’re a little bit right. I mean, it isn’t really THAT big of a deal, in the grand scheme of things, that I tend to be hard-headed when it comes to what I know to be true and correct. But in this scenario, it would have done me more good to have been less opinionated and more compassionate. See, I know that God desires me to have love for my fellow man and to help lead them to Him. It struck me in a big way that I definitely was NOT a good example of Christ’s love when I made those remarks today. I may have been right, but that didn’t give me free reign to be sharp and rude in my responses. I didn’t say anything ugly or call anyone names or anything, but my tone was pretty clear. It wasn’t long after that when I saw another friend’s post that brought me back down. She wasn’t speaking directly about me and she wasn’t even aware of the exchange that had taken place, but God used her post to remind me that I should be striving for His greatness and not my own personal justification. Like the Hawk Nelson song, “Words” says: Words can build us up. Words can break us down. Start a fire in our hearts or put it out. Let my words be life. Let my words be truth. I don’t wanna say a word, unless it points the world back to You. I have always been someone who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. I do try NOT to be rude, but always had the mindset that as long as I was telling the truth about something, it didn’t matter how I said it. Logically, I knew that was untrue, but it didn’t stop me from living like that. I need to be mire careful about the way I use my words. How can I expect to teach my children how to speak and act with God’s love if I don’t practice it myself? So, with all that said, I do apologize to both my preacher and his friend for that show of behavior. I can’t promise that it won’t happen again because, after all, I am a sinful human, but I can promise that I will be making more of an effort to get it right.

Oh, and btw, this is the first ever post that I’ve made with my phone! I’m pretty stoked about that!

Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I’d like to take a few minutes and just say a public “thank you” to all the moms of the world. This job is hard. Much harder than they let on, but the rewards are the best kind. It’s important that we also remember to thank the other influential women in our lives. While this day is technically about mothers, there tend to be a great many more women who play big roles in the lives of children, regardless of whether or not they are mothers.

I’m going to take some time here and give my biggest “thank you” to my mom. She may not be perfect, but she is the perfect mom for me.

Mom, I know you know that I love you, but I hope you know that any card that I give you for Mother’s Day can never fully convey the love and appreciation that I have for you. I know that I was probably not exactly the little girl that you had envisioned me to be when I was growing up. You were hoping I’d be the little girl who loved tea parties and baby dolls and other little girlie things, but I ended up being the one who hated party hats and dresses and pretty much doing any girlie thing that you ever wanted to try. I believe that your reward for dealing with that has come to you in the form of Bella, who loves every single girlie thing that I couldn’t stand when I was little! I know I was not a perfect child and I’m pretty sure that my stubborn attitude caused you a lot more grief than you let on. Rest assured, I’m probably going to pay for that one too. :) haha… Even though I tended to be on the ornery side, you never stopped being the mom that cared. Through the things that I remember about my childhood, I can always look back and see that you were always there doing what you did to make sure I was taken care of and that I was being brought up in God’s ways. You always made sure that I knew what was right and what was wrong, even though I may not have always followed that path. And, when I faced a consequence that was life-changing, you were still there. I knew I had messed up, but I also knew that you still loved me and you would still be there to help me. I knew that my life would forever be different from what I had *thought* my plan was going to be, but I also knew that as long as I had your support, I would be able to get through it. Now that I’ve been “through it,” I realize how big of a sacrifice it was. That’s another thing that’s always been a point of appreciation for me, your willingness to drop what your are doing and be there for us when there is any real need. I know that it’s not an easy thing to do, but you do it anyway. There is no way I’d be able to list everything that you do or have done that cemented your status as “best mom ever” in my book, so I’ll just leave it at this:

Thank you for being the mom that was always annoyingly on my case about everything. I may not have liked it, but now that Dylan is getting older, I TOTALLY understand why you did it.

Thank you for always being the mom that always wanted to know how our day was.

Thank you for not being one of those “I told you so” moms.

Thank you for your emphasis on our education.

Thank you for always being vocal about your faith.

Thank you for being a special needs mom. Having lived with that for all of my life, I can say that I would fully love and cherish any life that God chooses to bless us with. You have been the mom that has fully embraced the “Welcome to Holland” lifestyle and I’ve learned so much from watching your example.

Thank you for being the support that I needed during the trying times before Dylan was born.

Thank you for being a loving and fun grandmother to my kids.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you a thousand times over, for never giving up on me and for always praying for me. I know I’ve made many, many mistakes in my life and my walk with God, but I can say with certainty that I am as steadfast in my faith and beliefs because of you. You have always tried to lead by example and nurture our beginning Christian relationships and seeing how you have always turned to God in times of joy AND pain and in times of trials has helped me form the strong faith in God that I have today.

I’ve spent a lot of this blog thanking my mom for all of the things she has done for me in my life, but my biggest “thank you” is reserved for God. God was the one who blessed me with such a mother. He knew what He was doing when He chose me for her. She has been the precisely right mother that I have needed in my life. I also want to thank God for the other “mothers” in my life – my Memaw and my Granny (who are wonderful grandmothers to me and great-grandmothers to my children), and my late Aunt Pam (who was the best 2nd mother anyone could ask for!). It’s no wonder I became such a strong-willed, independent person with all of these women looking out for me! :) My last “thank you” to God is for this incredible blessing of Motherhood that He chose to bestow upon me. Though my journey into motherhood did not start the way I had intended, it has certainly worked out better than I could have imagined. I am SO thankful that God chose me to be their mother!

Totes Real Tuesday

I need to get back in the habit of blogging on a regular basis. I guess I just always feel like the stuff that’s gone on lately isn’t really worthy of blogging or whatever. I don’t really know….

Anyway, my friend Christy has started up blogging again and she decided to start this link party that she’s calling Totes Real Tuesdays. Basically, the idea is to take a few minutes and blog some “naked truths” about yourself, your life lately, or whatever. There is always some dissatisfaction in our lives about how we don’t feel like we are healthy enough, pretty enough, mom enough, crafty enough and all sorts of other things and this link party is a way for us to let go of all the things we feel we “have” to be, even if it’s just for those few minutes, and be real with everyone. So, here’s my “Totes Real Tuesday” for ya:

1. It’s been over two weeks since I actually “cooked” anything (and spaghetti doesn’t count for me because it’s SOOOOOO easy to fix). The hubs is OOT for his 4th week in a row this week and I don’t do any cooking during the week when he’s gone. The only time I cook anything is usually on Friday night when he comes in and Saturday, and then maybe Sunday. But, this past weekend, I did spaghetti on Friday night and we were at my parents’ house on Saturday night and Sunday, so… no real cooking. I have conflicting feelings when I talk about this. Of course, I want to say that I cook and make sure my kids eat healthy meals all the time, but we’re being real here. I do like for my kids to eat healthy, but when the hubs is OOT, my only real concern is that they at least eat something that kind of matches the category (i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner).

2. With all the cleaning I’ve done over the last couple of weeks, my house is probably cleaner than it has EVER been, save for the day it was bought (almost 6 years ago). I’m definitely not gonna lie about this one. I HATE to clean. Hate it. With a passion. I am usually so tired and un-energized, so I have to FORCE myself to do any cleaning. But, we would REALLY like to sell our house SOON, so I’ve had to bite the bullet and get stuff done. It has been hard, but the house is now clean enough that all I really have to do is daily maintenance. And you know, I think that’s why I have always hated cleaning. You’re NEVER done! Even if you save all your heavy stuff (sweeping, mopping, dusting, vacuuming) for one day, there is still cleaning that has to be done on a daily basis. There are always toys to pick up, clothes to put away, dishes to clean…. Ugh. I’m getting tired just thinking about it. Next topic!

3. I am so ready to be out of this house…. I loved this house when we first got married and moved in. We only had Dylan, so we didn’t have a need for anything bigger. We both knew we wanted to add to the family soon, but I guess we never really thought about how that would change the way things were organized in the house. This is a great house, but not for us anymore. It just doesn’t have enough of the living space that we need. I hate the market around our house right now. There is no way we’ll ever get back what we paid for it. Some of the houses around us are foreclosed and are being listed for amounts that are less than 75% of what our home cost when we bought it. It’s unbelievable to me. I know my house is worth more than the price at which they are listing the others. It makes me very upset, and I’ll just leave it at that.

I know that there is a LOT more that I could probably put in here, but I don’t really have all the time in the world right now. Now back to pretending that I’m the best, craftiest mom on the block!

Late night ramblings…

Here I sit, on the eve of my first ever 5k and I should totally be asleep right now. I’m not tired though. I’ll feel it tomorrow, you can be sure of that, but I’m not tired now. My parents have all 3 of our kids (yikes!) and the hubs is sound asleep right now. I can’t blame him. He’s been up since like 3 this morning, so it’s perfectly alright. I have lots of thoughts running through my head. A lot of them have to do with all the madness in the world recently. Like, I just can’t believe (or rather, I find it hard to accept) that someone would actually place explosives at the Boston Marathon. I mean, really? And then, I find out that the suspects are of Russian descent? I don’t know if you’ve ever seen The Boondock Saints, but wowsers is this a good time to call in our buddies Connor and Murphy McManus! If you haven’t seen it, don’t rush out to find it. It’s actually not the greatest movie ever, but I’m one of those weirdos that loved it. Sean Patrick Flannery was pretty persuasive. :) Anyway, I just keep seeing all this bad stuff all over the place and today (or yesterday, since today is technically April 20) was the 18th anniversary of the bombing in Oklahoma City. I really have a hard time believing it was that long ago.

Also, though this is entirely unrelated in a human life manner, but in about 16-17 hours, tons of people will be gathered at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn to celebrate the long, long life of the two iconic oak trees, under whose branches have been countless celebrations of victories for the Auburn family. These trees have meant so much to every one who even remotely has ties to Auburn and though this celebration will be joyous, it will also be very sad. In January 2011, it was learned that some crazy person had taken out his anger on Auburn by poisoning those wonderful trees. Even though the agriculture department at the university worked long and hard to halt progress of the pesticide, it became clear that the trees could not be saved. So, they will be removing the two oak trees next week. The Auburn family has been called together for one last time to celebrate the memories and traditions that have been carried on beneath those beautiful branches. I wish I could say I was going to be there, but I cannot. I will be there in spirit, singing War Eagle the whole time.

Back to the other bad stuff though… As I thought about the OKC bombing, I remember sitting in school when it happened. I was only 13 years old at the time, so I didn’t really have any idea what was going on. I mean, I knew the basics and that it was bad, but it didn’t really AFFECT me, you know? Then years later when 9/11 happened, it was kind of similar, in that I was still young and didn’t fully grasp how it affected me, but I was old enough to know that it disturbed me. I hurt so badly for all of those people. I did some searching for the video of the Garth Brooks song “Change” that he did after the OKC bombing. Let me tell you, it has been YEARS since I’ve seen it, or even heard the song for that matter. I didn’t realize how much it would shake me. Obviously, I’m a mom now. I have 3 children, two of whom are exactly the ages of the children who were killed in that bombing. I had to stop and just breathe for a minute. I cannot even begin to imagine what it’s like for a parent to go through the loss of a child for ANY reason, much less one like that. But even as the dust settled from that tragedy, the people showed that they are bigger than any terrorist. They showed up to help search and rescue, they provided shelter, they provided food and clothing. On 9/11, they did the same thing. And now, after this tragedy in Boston, they are STILL there. As long as we can pull together and show LOVE to each other in our times of need, the terrorists will NEVER win. They may knock us down and even spit in our face, but we stand united. Our actions in helping our fellow man prove to the world that they will NOT change us.

One hand reaches out and pulls a lost soul from harm.

While a thousand more go unspoken for

And they say what good have you done by saving just this one?

It’s like whispering a prayer in the fury of a storm

And I hear them saying you’ll never change things

And no matter what you do it’s still the same thing

But it’s not the world that I am changing

I do this so this world will know that it will not change me

This heart still believes, that love and mercy still exist

While all the hatreds rage and so many say

That love is all but pointless in madness such as this

It’s like trying to stop a fire with the moisture from a kiss

And I hear them saying you’ll never change things

And no matter what you do it’s still the same thing

But it’s not the world that I am changing

I do this so this world will know that it will not change me

As long as one heart still holds on, then hope is never really gone

I hear them saying you’ll never change things

And no matter what you do it’s still the same thing

But it’s not the world that I am changing

I do this so this world we know never changes me

What I do is so this world will know that it will not change me

Happy New Year 2013

A little recap of 2012…

We had a fairly uneventful year. We had little things here and there that pop up like every other family, but for the most part, we didn’t really have anything big going on. Jack had a wreck at the beginning of May, but it wasn’t serious and it wasn’t his fault. Dylan turned 10 over the summer, which was a little eye-opening. I mean, wow. I’ve been a parent for 10 years now! He’s in 5th grade this school year, so he’ll be making the move to middle school in August. We are trying to get him into one of the Magnet schools next year, but to tell you the truth, I’ve read a few things about homeschooling recently, and it’s looking more appealing than ever. I know that middle school now is way different than it was when I was that age. I also know that this age group is more impressionable than others and that this is the time where beliefs and morals are usually beginning to take root, so part of me wants to homeschool him so I can make sure that he has a firm foundation in what we know to be right and true. I know that the goal of school is to provide an education, but the kids also take away much more than a book knowledge. And, if they aren’t surrounded by the right kind of influences, they can come away with a bad foundation. It’s a lot to think about. I don’t know that I’d be ready to homeschool him for next school year, but I’d be willing to look into it for 7th and 8th grade.

Anyway, another big thing that we did in 2012 was put our house on the market. We’ve known for a while now (like, since Eowyn was born) that our house is too small for us. It’s not a bad house at all, but it’s really more of a starter home or a home for a small family (1-2 kids) or even a home for someone who wants to downsize because their kids are grown and moved out. It’s a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house and it has about 1300 square feet of living space, with a 2 car garage. It’s nice, but we have outgrown it by leaps and bounds. We can’t really have my family over to stay the night (even though it’s a small family) because we don’t have any space for them. Unfortunately, we took the house back off the market before the holidays started. We hadn’t really had any serious  lookers and I didn’t want to deal with all the holiday preparations and then have to stop and to a quick clean and then leave so someone could come look at the house. It may not have been the best thing, but I just thought that would be way too much stress for me to deal with. So, we haven’t put it back on the market as of yet. We do still want to sell it, but we’ll probably just do it by owner instead of listing it with an agent.

I’ve mentioned before that we started attending a church down here that we really like. I moved my membership to this church back in March 2012 and we started to get more active and really making the effort to go more than just Sunday mornings. I joined the adult choir, which has been a great blessing. I used to sing in choirs all the time and it’s been way too long since I had been out of one, so it has been great to be back in that. The kids joined with the Children’s Choir and have loved it. Dylan is doing Bible Drill classes and enjoys them. I started staying in with the Children’s Choir on Sunday nights to make sure Bella would behave herself and it’s turned into me being one of the teachers. I’m definitely not looking to take it over because the leader is a dear friend who does a great job with it, and I am nowhere near as good at it as she is. But now that I’m able to help and be there, I can take over if something comes up and she can’t be there or something like that.

I think the biggest thing that happened for us in 2012 was the job change for the hubs. He had been employed for over 6 years with a local company and though it was good work, the environment had gotten very toxic. Back at the beginning of 2011, the hubs had been offered another job opportunity doing the same kind of work that he was doing, but for a hospital group instead of a company. We would have had to relocate, but the pay was a considerable increase. The only real downsides of the job involved the relocation. We had made the decision to do it because we felt it would be the right move for our family. However, that opportunity dissolved. The hubs was able to stay on with the local company, which was good. Well, not long after all that went down, he noticed a change in the environment of his work space. He was continuing to do the best job that he could do, but it was being shown to him that they weren’t appreciating it the way they used to appreciate it. After his 5 year evaluation, the hubs decided he would change departments, partly to learn a new aspect of the company, but also because he needed to get away from the bad vibes from the other department. He was pretty happy in the change, too. It was a bit different, but he caught onto it really quickly and was able to pick right back up and start being a top performer again. Then, the 6 year evaluation came up. After that one, it was clear how they felt. It was extremely hard for me to see him work so hard and do a good job and be consistently let down and go unappreciated. It was then that he started to do some serious soul-searching and job searching. I can’t remember exactly what month it was, but a job offer came to him from one of his networking sites. He went back and forth with them a little bit and then we talked it all over. They were a company that did the same kind of work that he was doing with this local company. They had a few home offices, but the difference with this one would be that he didn’t actually have an “office” to go into every day. He would travel to hospitals and stuff, doing the same kind of work that he was used to, but when he was not traveling, he would work from home on his computer. We did some serious praying and discussing about this. It felt like it was too good to be true, because it offered almost exactly what we had been hoping and praying for all along. The pay was going to be much better, the travel was going to be less, and he would be flexible with his hours when he was home.  He accepted the offer and his first day of work for that company was the Monday after Matthew’s wedding. It has been an adjustment, and things are done a little differently than he’s used to, but I think it’s been a good move.

That’s been 2012 in a nutshell for us. Bella-boo turned 4 this year. I’ve always been the kind of mom who wants to do a theme for my kids’ birthdays. At first, Bella wanted an Olivia theme. She loves Olivia. I was all about it, but then I realized that Olivia is really a 6 year old, so maybe we should wait on that one. I talked to Bella a little more and we decided she should have a Fresh Beat Band party. She is super crazy about the Fresh Beat Band because she LOVES their songs. It was a pretty easy sell. So, I worked with royal icing for the first time ever (and have since decided that I definitely don’t want to work with it ever again!) and did my best to work on her Fresh Beat Band cake. I scoured Pinterest for ideas and never found one that I wanted to fully recreate, so I chose a few that I liked and just picked out different features to do.

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She had a BLAST and had a great time with her friends from church. The last picture (in the turquoise dress with yellow stars) was taken on her actual birthday, which was the day after her party.

That gets us into 2013 and pretty much caught up. We’re into February now and so far, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. The next big thing that we are anticipating it finding out if Dylan got into the first magnet school that we chose on his application. He also should be eligible for a Disney trip this summer if he can keep making A’s on his EQTs. Don’t tell the kids, but we’re trying to plan a trip down there for all of us at the end of the year. It’s going to take some major planning, but I should be able to enlist Dylan’s help. I plan to get him to help me map out stuff since he will be going over the summer, but I’m going to make out like it’s just for that trip. He doesn’t know that we plan to take the whole family. I may end up caving in and telling him as we get closer to it, but I don’t know. Other than that, trying to get our house sold and buy a new one is at the top of our agenda for the year. Wish us luck!

Unspeakable Joy 2012

Christmas time is here. Families drawing near. Oh that we could always see such spirit through the year.

One of my favorite Christmas songs (from A Charlie Brown Christmas, of course!)…

Yeah, I know it’s February. I’m behind, what can I say.

Matthew and Morgan spend their first Christmas as a married couple in NYC. Am I jealous? Yeah, a bit. I’d so love to go to NYC. Maybe one day…

Back to Christmas. I started what I hope will become a tradition in our family this year. We’ve always read Christmas books and watched Christmas movies and such over the holidays, but this time, I wanted to have a little more organization to it all. I found this link on pinterest about reading a Christmas book each day from December 1 through Christmas Eve. The website has craft stuff as well, but we didn’t do any of that. I didn’t have the exact same books as she did either. I had plenty of books to make it through the whole 24 days. The first book we read was the story of the Elf on the Shelf. If we don’t read that book, then our elf doesn’t come stay with us, and that would be an awful tragedy. So we have to get that one out of the way first. Like I said, we didn’t do any crafts with these. I did, however, wrap them all up individually and numbered them. The only ones I really cared about being in order were numbers 1, 23, and 24. Obviously, the Elf book was number 1. Book number 23 was The Polar Express. We kind of ran out of time with this day, because I had intended to watch it as well, but we didn’t get to do that. I did make my Polar Express Hot Chocolate with this recipe. Super duper rich stuff, if you decide to try it. I did not, however, make my own marshmallows. I may be working on my crafting and baking skills, but I can’t add that one to the list yet. Book number 24 was The Night Before Christmas (of course). We also made sure to read the Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20. We also did a little book where we talked about some of the different names of Jesus. And the kids have their own little Nativity that teaches them about what God really wants for Christmas. My own personal craftiness was tested this time as well. I was tired of my old tree skirt and wanted to buy a new one, but couldn’t really justify spending big money on a tree skirt. So, I found this link on pinterest and decided that I would give it a go with my old one. Unfortunately, my old tree skirt was apparently about 8 inches larger in diameter than the one used by this lady, so I ran out of fabric in a big way. When I went back to the store to buy more, they were out and weren’t going to have any more until AFTER Christmas. I finished up with what I had and went with it. If I hadn’t run out of fabric, it would have looked great. I will say that if you don’t have the time and/or patience to do that type of craft, then don’t even start it. It was SO time consuming. It looks great when it’s all completed, but keeping the burlap from fraying was really hard and I don’t think it will look very good next year. I will probably either buy a brand new one, or look into other ways of creating one on the cheap. Another craft I did this year was making my own mirror garland. There was a link on pinterest (yes, I am slightly obsessed) that mentioned buying little mirror tiles and some silver cord and using hot glue to make a garland. Well, I packed up and went to Michael’s for the mirror tiles. I bought small squares and circles. Then I got my silver cord from Walmart. It was not hard to do this and I made short work of it. The only down side was that our tree ended up being about a foot taller this year than the ones we’ve bought in the past, so I had not made enough to go all the way down the tree. It wasn’t that big of a deal though. Anyway, enough about crafting. On Christmas Eve, we had family come down to our house. My parents, brother, and grandmothers came, as well as the hubs parents and his sister and brother-in-law. It was a pretty large crowd for our small house, but we made it work. It was only for a few hours anyway. We did our normal spread of soups and munchies. Both sets of family left around 4-5 in the evening, which gave us plenty of time to do what we needed to do to prepare for Christmas day and clean up the house some. On Christmas day, we got up, did breakfast and presents and I started cooking my casseroles and then after they were done, we packed up and headed north to my parents’ house. We spent Christmas day with them and left Dylan to stay with them for a few days. Now for pictures!

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