For any friends and family who may be wondering, we are okay.  We made it through the storms with little damage to our town directly, though our outlying areas and most of North Alabama in general are in bad shape.  We have been without power since Wednesday and expect to wait a couple more days for it to be fully restored.

The latest I am hearing is that there are 208 confirmed deaths in Alabama, and over 1700 injured.  We are so grateful to have all our family accounted for, enough food to get us by, and our homes intact.  Many people here will go to bed hungry tonight and have suddenly found themselves with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Thank you for all the thoughts, prayers, and phone calls!


Bunny Foo Foo

We had a wonderful Easter weekend, though it was packed just about as full as it could get!  I left work at lunch on Friday, and Jeremy and I went to finalize our decision on new living room furniture.  We got that done and came home to meet my best friend Kelly and her family, who stopped by for an afternoon visit while they were in town.

The county fair is in town this week and Jeremy and I had planned to take the girls Friday night.  Kelly, Justin, Wyatt, and Brenna decided to tag along, and my sister (who was home from college for Easter) and my mom met us there.  It was fun to experience a fair with my best friend and our children, after all the fair trips she and I have had over the years.  After we got tickets for the kiddos and once we were pretty sure Jeremy wasn't actually going to have a heart attack over the cost, we got the Three Musketeers settled for their first ride.  They were happily playing with the steering wheels, shouting "Ride!", until Wyatt hit the button for the horn and this happened:


And just like that, Addison was DONE.  Mackenzie got upset seeing Addison so upset, so Wyatt took the first ride alone.  Luckily, he didn't mind.  Mackenzie got on the next ride and ended up having a really good time riding the cars over and over, but Addison was having none of it.  She did eventually go down the massive slide--where I got my workout in for the week by carrying each child up the steps over and over--and rode the carousel a few times before we left.  We didn't leave the fair until 9:00, and A & M didn't go to bed until 10:00 pm!!  We are getting crazy around here, I tell you.


Saturday morning, Addison was up first, so she and I went with my mom and sister to check out the yard sales in town.  We didn't find anything noteworthy, so we did the next best thing...we picked up Jeremy and Mackenzie and went out for breakfast!  The girls thought it was funny that they got to wear their "jammies" to breakfast.

Breakfast in PJs



I may or may not have let them run up and down the ramp in a local store while we waited for the others to shop.  And Addison may or may not have had one of her falling-in-the-floor fits when it was time to leave.

The busy morning combined with the late night at the fair meant we ALL needed a nap, so we had to skip the Easter egg hunt at church.  After a glorious nap, we headed over to the campground where Jeremy's family spends their summers for an egg hunt and dinner.  I think I got some really cute pictures of the girls hunting eggs, but unfortunately, I left my good camera there so I don't have them yet.  We had a great time hanging out with family, and the girls had a great time eating chocolate from their Easter baskets.  They each got a new stuffed bunny, which we promptly named Bunny Foo Foos, and they have been attached to those bunnies all weekend.

Sunday was church and lunch at my mom's.  We attempted to get a couple of quick pictures with the girls after church, but they were not in the mood...which is just as well, since I didn't have my good camera anyway.

Happy Easter



By the way, the dress I wore for Easter is the dress I decided to wear to the wedding next weekend.  I bought it recently at a local shop that carries lots of unique items, and I realized it would be just right for the wedding.  I asked Jeremy to take a full-length picture so I could tell if I liked the shoes I had on or not, and this is what I got:


I guess he did get the shoes in there, which is what I asked for, right?

P.S.  We are taking a beating from Mother Nature here today, with round after round of tornadoes and strong thunderstorms...I would appreciate any prayers for safety today!

P.P.S.  Anyone else have a touch of Royal Wedding Fever???



I have to say, I am loving age two so far...temper tantrums and all.  I think someone told my sweet Addison about the terrible twos, because she has learned to pitch a fit like nothing I would ever having imagined just a few weeks ago.  We're talking hands flailing, gasping for air, flat-out anger here, people.  It's crazy!  We are following the "ignore it, and do NOT give in" method, which seems to wear her down faster than trying to figure out how to make her stop.  Mackenzie just sort of stands back and watches right now, and gives us a look that says, "What is her problem?!"

While I don't particularly love the fits (although they are quite amusing sometimes, and I find myself turning away to hide a smile), I do love the little bit of freedom we have been embracing lately.  Over the past several weeks, we have taken a few opportunities to do things that would have seemed impossible a year ago.  We have delayed naptime, allowed the girls to stay up past their bedtime, and taken off on an afternoon adventure with little notice and even less preparation.  And guess what?  We have all survived.  Even after staying up late a night or two, A & M still sleep about eleven hours a night.  They still go to bed around 8:00 on a normal basis.  Even with the delayed nap schedule for busy weekend days, they have no problem taking their regular afternoon naps as usual.  After nearly two years of living on a schedule and analyzing every little trip for its compatibility with our routine, it feels SO GOOD to loosen up!

Last weekend, we loaded up the car and headed to Noccalula Falls, a park my family visited often when I was a kid.  I hadn't been in several years, so when my aunt told us they were having a BBQ festival, we decided it was a good opportunity to get the girls out for a new adventure.  Since I knew we would be gone most of the day, I did some preparation and loaded us down with snacks, drinks, PBJs, and other necessary supplies.  I knew we would likely be pushing naptime back a bit, and I was just praying they would be tired enough to sleep solidly the whole way home (a little over an hour trip).

Family photo...even if two of the four of us aren't looking at the camera.




I am so glad we took the opportunity and enjoyed the day!  We all had a great time watching the girls soak in all the new surroundings.  It didn't hurt that it was a beautiful spring day, just perfect for a day outside. We walked around enjoying the scenery, feeding ducks (including one with only one foot, poor thing!), snacking on goldfish, hanging out in the petting zoo, and of course, riding the "choo-choo" that goes around the park.  The choo-choo definitely topped A & M's list for the day.  They talked about it for days.  Can you see the excitement?

Train Ride


I feel I should mention that the girls are not sunburned in these pictures.  They inherited their daddy's skin that tans very quickly and easily, but they also inherited my propensity to flushing bright red in the heat.  I did use sunscreen and though they were left with their first farmer's tan from the day in the sun, neither Addison or Mackenzie was overly exposed.


"Wait--you want me to put my hand in there?  Are you crazy?!"





My two very hot, very tired girls fell asleep almost as soon as we left the parking lot (at nearly 3:00 pm...nearly three hours past the normal naptime!).  They slept for the entire drive home and for quite awhile after we got home.  The day was most definitely a success, and I look forward to sharing many more days like this making memories with my favorite people.

Busy day



Nightly Refrain

A snippet of some of the recent bathtime conversation in our house...caution, you may be exhausted just reading it!


---Sit down!  Keep the water inside the tub.

---Addison, do NOT pull your sissy's hair.  It hurts.

---Mackenzie, YOU can't pull sissy's hair either.  Didn't it hurt when she pulled yours?

---Tell sissy you're sorry.

---Do NOT hit.  [Usually playful hitting, but still...]

---We do NOT bite mama.

---Water stays in the tub.  STOP SPLASHING.

---Do NOT bite your sister.  Where did you learn biting?  Does someone at school bite?
          ---Their response?  "Aly!"  [This is also the response when I ask, "Who is your best
          ---For the record, no one in their classroom, including A & M has been bitten as far as I
             know.  They aren't actually biting each other, but are pretending to try it.  I think they are
             testing the limits to see if I will let them get away with it.

---Thank you for your help, but I can handle washing sissy's hair all by myself.

---Please don't pour water on sissy's head; soap will get in her eyes and it will hurt.

---[Cough, cough, sputter...]

---Are you okay?  It's not too smart to pour water on your own face, either.  [I might be a little
   unsympathetic by this point in the evening.]

---Who's ready to get out?

---A & M:  "Play!"

---You have to get out if you want to watch tv before bed.  What are we watching tonight?

---A & M, while simultaneously trying to scramble out of the tub:  "Woody!  New one!  Blue's
   Clues!  Choo-Chooooo!"  Then they agree:  "Woody!  New one!"--meaning Toy Story 3, of
   course.  It's the current obsession.

---Addison, potties are for pee-peeing, not for standing in.

---Get out of that cabinet!  [Mental note:  Buy child locks for bathroom cabinet.]

---Put that potty down.  It does not belong on your head!

---Get over here so mama can put lotion on you.

---Leave your diaper on!!

---Oh, Mackenzie's gone to night-night...  [As she pretends to go to sleep on the towel in the floor]

---Do not stand in the potty!!

---Yes, I will put some booty cream on you...but do not put your hands in it!  [Diaper rash
   cream...they love it]

---Addison, which pajamas do you want to wear tonight?

---Mackenzie, leave your diaper ON!!

---Okay, all done with bath and jammies.  Let's go get milk and watch Woody!

---A & M:  "Teeth, brush!  Teeth, brush!"

---Oh, we're already out of the bathroom and we're all dry...we'll skip it just this once.

---A & M:  Bordering tears, "Teeth!  Brush!  Teeth!  Brush!"




So, the birthday party...

Last year, I was so on top of things for Addison & Mackenzie's first birthday.  I had the party planned weeks in advance, including handmade accents and personalized dresses.  I hired a photographer to capture every detail of the party--a decision for which I am grateful every time I look through those fantastic pictures.  I was (still am) very proud of the party I threw to celebrate my girls' first year of life (and our survival of it!).

Pancakes and hot dogs for breakfast, at the request of the birthday girls



This year?  Well, let's just say the party was a little more true to our family's style than last year's soiree.  I did a lot of thinking and list-making in the weeks leading up to the party, picking up a few supplies here and there.  I didn't have a good picture ready for an invitation, so I picked up some blank invitations and planned to print them myself.  Naturally, I ran into printer issues and ended up just hand-writing invitations on some cute blank notecards.  I also used Facebook to notify our guests...is that a sign of a 21st-century birthday party, or what?



We had planned to have the party here at home like last year, and I will readily admit that we were dreading the pre-party cleaning and preparations.  I began to seriously question the sanity of this decision when I saw the weather forecast for the week leading up to the party.  Rain was predicted for literally every day that week, except for Saturday!  We needed the backyard for the party, there was no getting around it.  Finally, on Wednesday, I gave in and admitted that the weather was not going to cooperate.  Thankfully, it was relatively easy to orchestrate a last-minute move to our church, which has plenty of open space and a great outdoor play area.

A rare picture of me and both girls!


Despite my relative lack of preparation, everything fell into place and we had a great party.  I picked up supplies to make the girls' birthday shirts and threw them together Friday night.  They turned out great and coordinated perfectly with pants we already owned.  I ordered cakes (separate ones this year!) from our local bakery, and they were delicious.


Mackenzie and my dad, in deep discussion about cars

Best of all, Addison and Mackenzie had a wonderful day celebrating with friends and family.  They looooved the attention and of course, the cake...which they had been talking about for weeks beforehand.  The only problem is that my silly girls don't seem to understand that "birthday" is gone until next year!




Friday Brain Freeze

I guess I am still wiped out from the craziness of last week, because my brain is fried right now.  I am so looking forward to the weekend...and SO hoping the tiny little cough Addison has does not get worse.

In light of my current mental state, all I've got in me are some random quick thoughts for this Friday afternoon...
  • We are going to a barbeque festival tomorrow at a park I haven't been to in years.  I am so excited for the girls to see and ride the little choo choo train and pet some animals.  I have high hopes for tomorrow to be a fun family day...we'll see how that works out!
  • I'm still in a very ranty (it's a word if I say it's a word.  Ha!) mood regarding my state government (and yes, they are still trying to screw me, in case you're wondering), and now that mood has been extended to the federal government.  I try to keep my political feelings to myself most of the time, but come on, people...get the social politics out and get a budget passed!  Okay, end of political thought-sharing for the day.  Promise.
  •  Are y'all watching the Extreme Couponing show on TLC?  I haven't watched an episode yet, but I've read lots of summaries and commentaries and I am familiar with the couponing methods.  If you're watching, what do you think?  Are these people out-of-control hoarders?  I am all for a good deal, and I know many people who use these couponing techniques to stretch a grocery budget while feeding their family good, wholesome meals.  But it seems to me that the further some people get into the "couponing craze", the more it becomes about the competition and the thrill of it all.  It nearly ceases to be about the food at all.  (I heard one of the women featured this week bought something like 60 jars of mustard to get her "good deal"...and she doesn't even like mustard.  I'm sorry, that's a little nuts.)
  • Speaking of good deals, we found ourselves a little short on summer play clothing this year, so I have been waiting for a good sale to stock up.  I ordered 18 pieces of clothing (a lot of summer items, but also some long-sleeve basics for the fall) from The Children's Place for under $90.  The total price averaged $4.77 per item.  Score!
  • I have been stuck in a reading rut the past few weeks, thanks mostly to a couple of books that were not really my cup of tea.  When I get through a substantial portion of a story without flat-out hating it, I have a hard time quitting it, even if it's not something I am particularly enjoying.  I finally finished the main novel I was reading, and now I have ripped through Room in just two nights.   It is an intriguing story, and I (obviously) found it hard to put down.  I think I might visit the library after work today to pick up something fun for the weekend.  What is the best book you have read lately?
  • A friend shared this article on Facebook today about what Barbie might look like if she were real.  I had heard the part about having to walk on all fours due to her proportions, but seeing that life-size doll is just infuriating.  I didn't play with Barbies much at all, and I have high hopes that A & M won't either.  (Not that Barbie is totally to blame in the self-image problem that way too many young girls have...I just don't particularly care for Barbies!)  It makes me so sad to think of what 7 and 8 year olds today consider "normal" behavior and image.  I hope and pray that I can raise my girls to love themselves just as they are, just the way God made them, and to realize that they aren't supposed to be like everyone else.
  • The Barbie/adolescent girls/self-image thing reminded me of this post I meant to share a couple of weeks ago.  Now, I feel the need to state here that I am very open-minded and I am a proponent of individualism.  I am not declaring that my daughters will only wear pants and long sleeves, never be seen in public in a bathing suit, etc.  Far from it!  It just really made me think about the way I want my daughters raised:  to love and respect their bodies, hearts, and minds. If you have a daughter and you cringe when you see the way girls are dressing and carrying themselves today, go read it.  Trust me.
  • One last question, then I am really turning my brain OFF for the next two days.  Does anyone have any recommendations for an outdoor playhouse?  I am looking for one that is good quality and will last at least three or four years, but doesn't cost a fortune.  I like this cute pink and purple one, but investing that much money takes a lot of thought.  Thoughts?
Happy Friday afternoon!  



On Saturday, we celebrated Addison and Mackenzie's second birthday.  I have so much to share about their party, the two-year-old attitude, and of course, the obligatory reflection on how far we have come in the last two years.

Tonight, though, I am still exhausted and trying to catch up and get this house back in order after such a busy weekend.  Here's a sneak peek of the cutest little two-year-olds I know:

Birthday Girls
Being the birthday girl is hard work, you know...

I also just realized that today marks two years since we brought A & M home from the hospital.  I would not want to repeat that night again!  The memories of that first night home literally still make me shudder a bit.  There is just no way to describe it until you experience it firsthand, am I right? 

Look at us, so blissfully unaware...

Going Home


All together now, "Awwww...."

Luckily, that torturous newborn stage passed quickly and life these days is more fun and fulfilling than I ever could have imagined.  I can't wait to see all that the third year has in store for us!