Monday, December 13, 2010

Some Christmas Things

Is it as FREEZING cold at your house as it is mine??  This morning Luke woke up and ran downstairs, asking where the presents were.  Somehow he had it in his head that snow=Christmas morning.  Andrew was enamored with it as well.  He has said "no" (snow) and pointed to the nearest window about one hundred million times today.  Ellie has begged to go out in it, somehow I've managed to avoid it by just saying "maybe later."

Tonight I am taking dinner to a couple in our church who have recently had a baby.  I am so very thankful that this was planned, because it forced me to buy some groceries on Saturday (which I didn't want to do at the time), but now I have a crockpot of soup ready to go for them and for our family tonight.  Which means I didn't have to get out and go to the store today.  It's the perfect day to have soup in the crockpot and not have to go to the store.  I still haven't had a shower (it's 2:00, although that isn't super unusual) and I don't know when I will get to it because I don't know if I can manage to take off my sweatshirt, or my warm, fuzzy socks.  Andrew is asleep, Ellie and Luke are playing quietly (for the moment) and I just thought I would say hi and give you a Barber update.

Because of the way I have been feeling, I am giving myself a "Christmas pass" this year.  I certainly want this Christmas to be special and fun for my children, but we will just do the main Christmas things.  Number one being-- pointing them, and myself, to why we celebrate.  I know I have said it once, but I so love our Jesse Tree devotional that we are doing.  I also don't think it is Christmas without Christmas music.  My two personal favorites, "O Holy Night", and "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel".  I have a version of "O Holy Night" that Celine Dion sings and "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" by Selah.  Powerful words, with powerful voices.  One thing that saddens me to no end is to hear such powerful gospel truths sung by someone who does not profess what they sing.  (Not necessarily referring to Celine Dion, although I don't know that I have ever heard of her publicly professing faith in Christ).    

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Although, the best part of that last line, is that he HAS come!   
Rejoice, indeed!!

Moving on...Christmas cookies are a must, right?  My mother has always, always used the same butter cookie dough recipe.  So, she helped me out this year and prepared some and had it in her fridge and on Monday of last week, we went over and made those.  Paired with buttercream icing from Southern Living, they are THE BEST.  Laura Beth also did the same thing at her house and you can click here for the recipes.  Here are some pictures of our cookie day, thanks to mom's camera.

Before I go, I have to give you my soup recipe.  It's called White Chili and it's by Paula Dean.  But that name doesn't really do it justice.  It should instead be called The Best White Chili Ever.  It's easy, and so very yummy.  It's also one of those great soups that is best eaten with Tostitos Scoops.  You can't go wrong with that!  Also, it makes a lot, 10-12 servings.  And it is great re-heated.

5 cups chopped cooked chicken ( I don't actually use that much, just pull apart one rotisserie chicken and it is plenty)
3 (15 oz) cans Great Northern beans, drained
1 (32 oz) box chicken broth
1 (16 oz) jar mild salsa
1 (8 oz) package Pepper Jack cheese, shredded or cubed
2 tsp. ground cumin

You can garnish with cheese and sour cream if you like.

In an electric slow cooker, combine chicken, beans, broth, salsa, cheese, and cumin.  Cover, and cook on high for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to low; simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  

*Basically, dump everything together, stir, and wait!!!*

Saturday, December 4, 2010

War Eagle and Disney Princesses on Ice

I'm sending out the biggest fattest WAR EAGLE ever!!  The SEC championship game tonight was amazing and now we are going to the national championship.  Actually, more specifically, I am going to the national championship game if I can get a ticket.  Last night we were sitting in Subway, (eating out, are you shocked?) and Steven said, you know, if Auburn goes to the national championship game, I'd like to try and send you.  WHAT??!!  I think I dropped my turkey sub.  So... I desperately  need two tickets, one for me, and the other for my friend, Laurahelen. 

You might be thinking, hmmm...she must be feeling better if she's thinking about flying across the country.  And the answer is I am.  I really think I have turned a corner.  However,  I am now dealing with a semi-bad head cold.  But I will take it over the nausea.  I am thanking the Lord for each day that I am able to get out of bed and not first run for a trash can.  

I'm happy to report we have a Christmas tree and some lights on the outside of our house.  We also have a Jesse tree and Ellie and Luke are enjoying our advent celebration each day.  However, I think Steven and I are enjoying it more.  Mom sent me the link to one of her favorite blogs, A Holy Experience, and the author, Ann Voskamp, is giving away a copy of her book, A Jesus Advent Celebration.  It is really, really good.

On a much more superficial note, Ellie and I went to see Disney Princesses on Ice on Thursday night.  A friend had already purchased two tickets and was unable to go, so she gave them to us.  It was a treat.  Ellie was giddy as it was approaching show time.  I was not so excited as we walked through a sea of Disney princess paraphanelia(sp?) for sell.  What they were doing was almost cruel to parents and children and should be illegal. $20-$15 for the rinky-dinkiest little toys.  I'm not kidding.  Ellie was almost in tears, because it was temptation beyond all temptation for any little girl at that age.  Thankfully they had these flags on sticks with all the princesses on them for $6.  I gave her the choice of that or some candy at the concession stand.  She picked the flag and waved it the entire show.

No camera for me right now.  It is not working again.  So updates shall remain pictureless for awhile.  Hopefully we will change that soon.  Please don't forget to hurry back and let me know if you hear anything regarding tickets.  I know it's a long shot, but I have to try.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Shutterfly Christmas Card Promo

It's Christmas card time again.  I really look forward to doing Christmas cards every year.  It's my little Christmas treat.  It's a little stressful, but once I got three good shots, I headed over to Shutterfly to see what I could find.  Lots, actually.  Endless options.  And because I am doing three different headshots of Ellie, Luke, and Andrew, I was skeptical of what I could find.  But there were actually several that I really liked.

 Obviously not my family, but cute card, right?

 Shop for some more Christmas cards here and here.

I was also glad to find plenty of options that said Merry Christmas.  Check it out this week because there are quite a few Cyber deals.  Not to mention, if you blog about it too-then you can take advantage of their special offer-50 free Christmas cards for bloggers who promote Shutterfly. Click here if you want to know how.

Happy Christmas card making!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

First Trimester Woes

So here I am trudging through the first trimester.  I was thinking today that I am very grateful for this pregnancy, but I am not enjoying it.  Those can be two separate things, right?  Because I just really don't love pregnancy.  I love what it means.  I love that God has given life again.  And I am truly grateful for that.  But it is SO not fun.  For example, today we were making our way to a drive-thru for the one millionth time in the past 3 weeks.  I let myself get too hungry and I just couldn't get there in time, so as I was stopped at a red light I reached for a chip bag that was in the car and started throwing up as the light turned green.  I then proceeded to drive through a busy intersection and pull into the parking lot while simultaneously throwing up in the chip bag.  That was a first for me, although I'm sure there are plenty of moms who have done that and much worse.

Steven has been a trooper. He really has picked up the slack.  I think there are parts of it my children prefer, such as eating whatever.  And I really mean, whatever.  On a particularly bad night I was lying down for a bit around dinner time.  Steven said, "What should I feed them for dinner?"  I told him, "I don't care."  He asked if he should try and make it healthy and I repeated, "I don't care, I mean really don't care what they eat."  Just make sure their tummies are full.  So I think in some ways I am a little more laid back and they enjoy climbing in bed with me reading books and watching movies.  Steven is the one to get up every morning and take care of everyone's needs, including mine.  And at night, he is the bath man for now.  I take full advantage of every second he is at home and he has not complained once.  

We enjoyed a few days of some cousin time.  Here are a few quick snapshots from a dress-up session last night.  My camera is broken right now so any pictures on my blog will be stolen from my mother.  

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Great Report

Just wanted to report great news from the doctor's office yesterday.  Little baby was measuring right on at 8 weeks and 3 days.  We listened to a strong heartbeat as well.  Praise the Lord!  Steven, Luke, and Ellie were with me and Luke said the baby looked like a little boat.  He also showed me the stirrups and explained that "Mom, these are for your feet to go in."  Yikes!  Maybe he's been to one too many doctor's appointments.  Hopefully no permanent damage done.  Thanks for all your kind comments and of course prayers. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spilling the Beans

Wow.  Alright, two weeks can go by really quickly.  I can't keep up with my constantly blogging family.  There is news to share, and close friends and family already know.  But I will let you in on it too, blog friends-I am pregnant again.  And this time it is looking quite different.  The nausea has hit in full force.  I am so very grateful for it.  But as my dad said, "The good news is you're sick.  The bad news is you're sick."  I was going to wait to announce it until after we had seen a strong heartbeat.  And while I am still very anxious to see that, I am taking the sickness as a good sign. My first doctor's appointment is on Thursday of next week.  I will check back with you for a report then.

Every single time I do this (meaning do a pregnancy and take care of other children), I think, how am I going to do this?  Well, the answer is you just do it, but also, I have a lot of help.  If you check out my mom's blog, you will see that we had crashed over there for a couple of days while Steven was gone to a missions' conference in Ohio.  Oh, I am so thankful for my mom on lots of days, but especially days when my husband is gone. just never know what the day holds.  Last week, we had the privilege of having the Roells' here in town.  Remember this post,  and when we traveled to Ohio in July, for their son's funeral?  Well, Kendra, just a few short months later, traveled here to speak at a women's luncheon we had at church.  She was phenomenal and we had the best time with them.  Anyway...We hadn't been at the luncheon long and Ellie said her tummy was hurting.  Long story short, Ellie threw up while Kendra was speaking.  I froze for a second and it was one of those "You have GOT to be kidding me" moments.  Got that situation under control(Ellie ended up being pretty sick with a severe cold).  And then on Monday, early around 5 a.m., Luke is screaming from his bed.  I assumed he had already thrown up.  I made my way up there, with the garbage can in hand, sat down on his bed, and threw up myself.  He ended up being fine.  All that to say, when Steven is gone, for obvious reasons, I need back up.

I am well aware that there are so many moms with little ones, who have not much help if there husbands have to be gone, or even if there husbands are not gone.  There just isn't anything like help from your mom :)  

Alright, so that is what is going on.  I look and feel like death warmed over.  My kids are getting cereal or fast food for just about every meal.  But I keep telling myself it is just a few weeks of my life. This will not last.  And I've been thinking about how spoiled I am.  How I hate to be uncomfortable.  And when we are in the midst of any type of suffering we just want "out".  I have not once stopped to ask God to teach me, use me, and show me how He will be sufficient during my time of need.  Although, He already has been sufficent, every minute of every day.  Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of life and for your patience with me!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Happy Halloween

Here is a quick recap of our Halloween weekend mostly in a few pictures.  I stole these from my mother's blog.  Sorry to any family who were hoping for some different pictures.  My camera is not working.  Maybe Santa will bring me a fabulous camera for Christmas  :) 

I tried to do the Wizard of Oz thing this year.  Andrew and Ellie cooperated.
But Luke insisted on being a superhero.
We went to a party early in the day and for that he was Buzz Lightyear.  But for the second go-round, he went with batman.  I guess it was like a bride who wears one dress for the wedding and another for the reception.
 Mom set up a table in her driveway for the trick-or-treaters.  Ellie and Luke had almost just as much fun handing out candy as they did trick-or-treating.  Mom ran out rather quickly.  Her street is definitely one of the happening ones in town.  And it is one of the streets that people bring trailer loads full of kids and just drop them off.  Not cool.
We had pizza and then lots of sugar.  I ate entirely too much caramel corn.  I made it knowing what I was doing.  But what other day of the year is caramel corn more perfect for than Halloween?  Now we have gobs of Halloween candy and I am constantly having to decide "yes or no" when the kids ask if they can have a piece.  A little while ago I asked Ellie what she had already had.  She said, "Just a small piece of chocolate.  It was only 2 feet."  

My children are really into naming things in measurements or numbers these days.  (And are almost always wrong)  Luke compares everything with 18.  I'm not sure why he is obsessed with that number but he is.  For example, if he asks, "How long until we go to church?"  before I can answer, he will say, "18?".  Not 18 minutes, or hours.  Just 18.  And another thing, a way I remember my mom explaining time to me.  I will give them time frames based on TV shows.  One hour would be like watching two Max and Ruby's.  Then they get it.  Or like sitting through a church service.  Of course, then they think that is forever long. 
Hope your Halloween was happy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Salt Dough Pumpkins

I am enjoying a slice of quiet at my mom's house for a few hours.  And also enjoying her beloved Mac.  It is her sixth grandchild :)  Steven took Ellie and Luke with him to the airport in Huntsville to pick up a friend.  Andrew is asleep.  And I finished up a quick, but fun visit with my youngest sister, Kate, who was in town briefly before she headed right back to Chattanooga.  Now waiting anxiously for the Auburn game to start.

This week was the letter "H".  We didn't stick to it very well.  Very hard for me not to do things relating to fall and especially pumpkins.  There are so many cute pumpkin projects online.  I found a recipe for salt dough pumpkins.  Super simple and very basic ingredients.  2 cups of flour, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of salt.  Although, I ended up adding almost an extra cup of flour.  The dough is entirely too sticky with just the called for 2 cups.

You just roll into balls and have at it.  We used toothpicks for the indentations.  I usually am very intentional about letting the Ellie and Luke do their thing and not taking over.  But this one was very hard for me.  So I just rolled a few balls for myself and made my own.  Break a toothpick in half and poke it in the top BEFORE you bake.  Bake at 250 degrees (btw, is there something on the computer for the degree symbol?).   Bake for 2 and a half hours.  Let them cool for at least four hours and then paint.  So, really it is two little projects in one.

Can you tell which ones are mine? :)

I would tell you more about our week, but the Tigers are getting started.  War Eagle!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Think I Might Kill a Squirrel

 Or a deer, even.  I really don't want animals to go hungry, but come ON!  Is there really nothing else for animals to eat besides the stuff at my house?  I used to have really pretty sweet potato vine and the deer ate it down to nubs.  It was growing in pots right by on the porch.  Right by my front door!!  They left little deer prints on the porch.  They came each night and ate until there was absolutely nothing left.  My dad said the smell of human hair would keep them away.  But at the end of the night, sprinkling human hair around my porch wasn't at the forefront of my mind.  So the deer feasted.

Then came the squirrels.  This plant was on its way out anyway, so it wasn't as big of a deal, but still.  One afternoon I looked and the squirrel was just sitting in the pot munching away.  I just think the nerve of the little rodents is what made me so aggravated.  But they crossed a line when they went after my owl pumpkin. 
At least we still have Luke's spider pumpkin and I'm pretty sure they don't eat neon pipe cleaners.  Although, they seem very pesky and will probably pull them out just to make me mad.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Note:  If you are not in google reader, I know my blog looks horrible.  I am wanting to change some things.  Mainly make my pictures larger, but can't figure out how to get a large picture as my header.  Any suggestions? 

There are weeks I feel behind on everything, but lately it has been worse than ever.  Mainly because of the switching of the summer clothes to fall clothes.  I have thankfully been given many clothes for myself and my children but have not quite figured out how to absorb them into our closets and drawers yet.  And then there is the getting rid of old ones and figuring out if people can use them.  So for a few weeks I have had piles in various locations around our house and I am sloooowly getting through them all.

On to much more exciting things, such as the letter "F".  It was last week's letter.  So on Monday we took a visit to the firestation.  My friend Jennifer's brother is a fireman so she so kindly arranged the trip for us.  On the way Luke asked if we were going to see "real, live firemen."  Ellie and Luke were both a little shy about it, but they clearly enjoyed it and I actually learned a few things myself. 

This fall weather is too good to be true.  We have spent so much time outside.  Andrew eats it up.  "Side! Side!" he says.  Ellie attaches a rope to her bike and ties it to the little John Deere tractor and pulls Andrew.  Not super safe, but she tries her best to keep it fairly slow.  He has fallen off several times, but really is so tough.  His legs are covered in bruises and scrapes but it doesn't slow him down one bit.

We are having a fall festival at our church this weekend.  We brought home several pumpkins from the pumpkin patch last week, so I have been at work carving and decorating some.  It's quite an arm workout to clean out a pumpkin.  I got no help from my children, either.  I was ready to let them get messy, but they took one look and said "Eww, gross!"  

I found some adorable pumpkin ideas at  The owl pumpkin was my favorite, though.  So cute and so easy.  Ellie has claimed it as hers.  She wanted it to have eyelashes, I told her maybe we could put a bow on one of its ears instead. 

I am working on a spider for Luke.   I haven't done it in years, but I saved the seeds and toasted them.  Everyone likes them, except of course I don't give them to Andrew. 

This week is the letter "G".  Very behind on most of that.  However, we did make some granola today. You know, "G" for granola? :)  I have never made granola, but have often wanted to.  I thought it would be a fun one for Ellie and Luke.  They could actually measure, pour, and stir since some recipes are really hard for kids to help with.  Anyway, it turned out great.  I put pumpkin seeds in it, but I think if I did it again, I would probably leave them out-it just doesn't really need them.  Found the recipe here.

Luke is having a hard time these days.  He is constantly picking at Ellie, aggravating Andrew, whining, complaining.  It is wearing me out.  Don't you feel as though if it isn't one child it's another?  Not really sure what is going on with him, but I have been praying for a lot of wisdom.  Although most of the time I first resort to raising my voice, and then when that doesn't work, I think maybe prayer would've been a better choice.

Well, after about an hour and a half in their beds with no sleep, I told everyone to get up, which means my time on the computer is over.  I really didn't need to be on it anyway, but I just wanted to say hi! 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Girls' Weekend and Egg Carton Catepillars

So, I am back from my trip to Birmingham and it was pretty much as fabulous as I thought it would be.  I came back thinking, now that was a vacation.  I got to my friend, Laurahelen's house and walked right in, used several of her beauty products, not to mention wore a few of her outfits, just as if we had never left our dorm room at Auburn.  We ate, talked, laughed hysterically, ate some more, and talked a lot more.

These are my sophomore roomies.  We were pretty much joined at the hip from day one at Auburn, I mean, literally, our first or second day at Auburn we had all met and the friendships were instant.  Not much has changed except we've added several husbands, five little boys, two little girls, and Laura (far left) just found out she is expecting her third.  Girls, let's please not wait so long this time before doing it again!

Alright, so I was a bit behind on planning my week when I got back on Sunday.  But I think I've finally caught up on grocery shopping, laundry, and planning for our school week.  

Caution:  About to give quite a few details of our homeschooling thus far...might not be interesting to some.

School is going well.  Here is kind of what it is looking like.  We don't do anything on Mondays since Steven is home.  I really shoot for doing stuff on Tues., Wed., and Thurs. and then usually do Ellie's reading lesson on Friday.  I am using the website for Ellie, and mainly Luke.  LB introduced me to it.  It is free and it takes a letter each week and expounds on it.  I don't do everything, but try to do most.  We take Tuesdays to go to the library and check out the books that are suggested.  When we get back, I usually introduce the letter, the sound, and the vocabulary words for the week.  We read a couple of the books and I let them color a coloring sheet that has the sign language for the letter on it.  I print those off here.  Coloring sheets are their favorites!  It also helps them to listen as I try to read or talk about something else.  I really like doing the composer of the week.  It is so easy to go to youtube and type in the composer and then the music is right there.  Great to listen to while they color.  They also really look forward to that part.  We usually don't get to that until Wednesday.  An art project is by far their favorite, especially Ellie's.  I found this fabulous book on Amazon.  I also bought a science one like it and I try to do one art project a week.  We have only done one Science project so far.

On Thursdays, I try to finish up the rest of the library books, oh, and we also usually read a poem having to do with the letter of the week.  Thursdays we usually do one of the suggested "social studies" activities.  We have a huge map of the world on our wall that I bought at Costco for $6.  Have I mentioned I love that place?  :)  So we usually locate a country, and maybe color a picture of the pertaining flag, and try to read a few facts about it.  I personally like that part because I am learning a few things myself.  I'm pretty terrible at geography.  If we don't do the country, we usually pick one of the animals, and again, do a coloring sheet, and learn some about the animal.  That is pretty much it for "letter of the week".

As for Ellie, for now, I am going with The Well-Trained Mind--sorry, I think I have already mentioned this.  Anyway, the reading curriculum is The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.  This takes about 20-25 min. and we pretty much do this Tues.-Fri.  She is doing well.  No tears in the past few weeks (from either of us).  We are working on two-consonant blends and she is reading sentences such as this, "Next, the man did sit and bask in the sun."  With pauses, of course.  But still good, I think.  So very hard for me to know what is "normal."  Planning on meeting with some seasoned homeschool moms soon.  I am such a beginner with no teaching experience it is not even funny.  But we are surviving it, I think, one day at a time.

Here was a little of our day today.  Oh, what does Andrew do in the mean time?  A few of my friends have asked this question.  

Today, he ate a dum-dum and smarties, while Ellie and Luke made egg carton catepillars.  Don't judge me, it works.

Things quickly went south when I told him he may not have another one.  He found the stash and here he is begging me to open another one.
After I said "no, all done", he said, Fine, I will open it myself.
If you live in the Southeast, you probably heard the scream that followed this picture when I took it away.

Here are the egg carton catepillars.  This is from our art book.  It really is such a great book, and it has all sorts of recipes for great homeade stuff, such as playdough, clay, paper mache, and those sorts of things.  

I thought they were a hit, until we were done and Luke said, "Now are we going to make remote controls to go with them so they can move around?"  WHAT!?  Later, on the phone, Laura Beth said, "Wow, I guess he is ready for some major science lessons."  

Then, we moved it outside for more mess.  The weather is unbelievably perfect. It is an "open up your window" kind of day.   It would be a sin not to spend some of it outdoors.  
Andrew forgave me for the sucker incident when I let him feed himself macaroni 'n' cheese.

I am a firm believer that if you work on one thing and do it well in a day's time, something else gets sacrificed.  Today, we have done well on our school things and have enjoyed time outside. Other things have been sacrificed.  It is just how it goes. 

Enjoy your Wednesday!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The 210 Dollar Rash

A few days before we left for the beach Luke got a rash under his arm.  It quickly spread down his side, like over his ribcage.  Little spots that turned into little sores.  Weird.  We took him in the day before we left so we wouldn't be dealing with that at the beach.  The doctor thought it was bacterial.  $80 for oral antibiotic and anti-fungal cream in case it wasn't bacterial, $25 for the doctor's visit.  Healed quickly.  Then we got back from the beach and there was Ellie's rash.  Same place, opposite side of her body.  Again, weird.  Great, we still have the antibiotics, though.  The ointment was not taking care of it and the rash didn't seem to be responding as quickly to the oral antibiotic.  Responding, just not as quickly.  So we call the doctor to see if they could just call some more antibiotics in.  Nope.  $25 for another visit.  And a different antibiotic that was $80.  The doctor we saw (not our regular pediatrician) also wrote us a prescription for an antibiotic ointment.  She said, "I went ahead and wrote it for the larger size, it's just good to have around the house.  It will take care of any itching."  I was thinking, sorry, Ellie, you will have to survive a little itching.  So, $210 later we are almost rash free.

Just when you think are getting a handle on the money situation.  Sigh.

One more thing.  I spent a chunk of yesterday washing the sheets on our king size bed.  Including the mattress pad.  Last night at about 11:00, I was putting them all back on.  Just now as I was about to hit publish post, Ellie climbed on the bed and said, "Gross!"  I had been putting off changing a dirty diaper so I could finish this blogpost.  And when she said that, my heart sunk.  Andrew had climbed off the bed and left some of the contents of his diaper on the sheets, and also soaking through to the gigantic mattress pad.  Here we go again...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Back From the Beach


The beach was, um, maybe definitely the most exhausting beach trip I have ever been on.  On our way out of town, we stopped for dinner and Laura Beth asked me if it was worth it.  I said, after a pause, "Yes, the kids had a blast."  I'm probably making it worse than it was.  Nothing bad happened and I can't even really put my finger on why it was so much work, it just was.  Pretty much five children five and under is what did it.  I really am grateful for the time spent with family and the opportunity to be on an incredibly peaceful, gorgeous beach.  But I was ready to be home again. 

My sweet Luke turned four years old. 

I wasn't able to say a "blog Happy Birthday" to him on his birthday.  But I certainly don't want to let the four year mark pass by without saying what an incredible blessing this boy is to me.  Sensitive, honest, kind-hearted, cautious, encouraging.  He loves his mama, but he really loves his Daddy. He loves all things boys, right now it is superheroes and cowboys. He has such endearing qualities.  You can't not love him. I pray as I do for all my children that he will grow into a Godly man, actually a boy.  That he would know Christ at a young age and seek Him and walk with Him all of his days.  To know the love that surpasses knowledge.  And that in Christ, his weaknesses would be strengths.

We celebrated on our first day at the beach and Ada, Luke, and Ellie woke up at about 6:00 as if it were Christmas morning.  It has gotten a bit out of hand on birthdays for all the siblings and cousins to receive a gift as well.  I knew we needed to cut back when Ellie was excited about her My Little Pony card, that said "it is good to be the birthday girl". 

We even got Andrew started early with a Thomas train.  No wonder they felt like it was Christmas morning. 
The highlight gift was definitely Woody.  He has not really left Luke's side since this moment. 
The batman and superman capes were a close second, although Andrew took to them as well and here he is modeling it for me.
We enjoyed being with Ada as she experienced the beach for the first time.  Well, John too, but he wasn't such a fan.  Ada had no fear and took to it immediately.  So it worked out well that the water was exceptionally calm. 
Andrew was so faithful to keep his sunglasses on the entire time we were on the beach.  And of course, faithful with his paci.
The beach weather really could not have been more perfect. 

It was also fun to come back to the fall.  Yesterday was the parade and so begins the "candy season".  After this will be Halloween, then Christmas, then Easter. 

In other news, Ellie thoroughly enjoyed her first ballet class.  And I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.
Andrew enjoyed watching too, and when the teacher said, "jump!" he gave it his best shot.

Hope you're enjoying a beautiful fall Saturday.  We are.  Pulling for Steven's bulldogs as they do their best to hang in the game.  And of course, later, I will do my best to cheer on Auburn from our little corner of the South.  No visits to Auburn this season :( and this may be the first season that Steven hasn't gone to Athens to watch a game.  Things are certainly different than they used to be.  But that is okay, seasons of life come, and they go.  I will enjoy each.  And next weekend, I will travel to Birmingham to be with college girlfriends.  To say I am looking forward to it would be a huge understatement.  It will be such fun to step back into that season.  I am in the process of developing a small team of people to run things while I am gone.  Haha...that is what it feels like anyway. :)