Things I've Done

It's a good day for a list, don't you think?

I am 29 years old, and I have...

1.  Visited London, the city of my dreams.

2.  Worked for eight different employers since age 14.

3.  Had seven different cars/SUVs, three of which were Hondas.

4.  Had two significant car wrecks.

5.  Learned to play the flute and piccolo.

6.  Read thousands of books, including almost fifty this year.

7.  Nursed my babies.

8.  Attended the same church my entire life.

9.  Been baptized and given my heart to Jesus.

10.  Been inside the White House.

11.  Taken three cruises (Bahamas, Mexico, Mexico).


12.  Won a spelling bee.

13.  Taught a college course.

14.  Ridden in a horse-drawn carriage.

15.  Made many, many mistakes.

16.  Been forgiven.

17.  Seen a cow give birth (Random, right?!).

18.  Gone fishing with my dad.

19.  Played slot machines in Las Vegas.

20.  Had three dogs and at least a dozen cats over the years.

21.  Had my heart broken (or so I thought at the time).

22.  Been to Disney World.

Thanks to Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop for the inspiration!  Check out more posts on this week's topics here

How many of these things have YOU done??


Down with Pacifiers

When Addison and Mackenzie were born, I was fanatical about some things (sleeping, feeding, routine), but relatively laid-back about others.  One thing I was very relaxed about was the use of pacifiers.  I was NOT one of the mothers hoping my babies wouldn't get attached to them; rather, I had the attitude of if it gets me more peace and quiet...let 'em have it!

And boy, did my girls get attached to their pacis.

We didn't use them in the hospital, but I remember on the first night home, after I had dozed for a few minutes, my mom told me that she and Jeremy had opened a package of pacifiers, sterilized them, and given them to the girls.  At that moment in time, it was a blessing.  I remember how HUGE those first pacis looked against the girls' tiny faces.


Their little heads slowly caught up in size, and the attachment to the pacifiers grew stronger.  We were so proud when A & M learned to maneuver their pacis back in their mouths by themselves.  Reaching into the backseat to retrieve a lost pacifier a dozen times a day got really old.  And, oh, when they learned to find the pacis in their bed at night...life got so much easier!


But now, two and a half years later, I am ready to kiss the pacis goodbye.  They have served their purpose, and I am now over it.  We have tried multiple times to cut the pacifiers except for bedtime, but we have not been very successful so far.  The girls have not had them at all at school this year, including for naps, and I thought that would help us at home, but it really hasn't.  My mom reports that on some days, the first thing the girls do when she picks them up from school is request a paci.  And of course, they each only want a certain paci, in a certain shape, size, and color...so we have to keep up with the same two pacis all the time.  Ridiculousness!

I will admit that I have been willing to take the easy route and just hand over the paci when they get whiny and start demanding it....but I have just about reached my limit.  I am sick of pictures like this:

Rainy day activities

I want to see my girls' faces without a paci in the way! 

Ugh, how I dread fighting the fight though.  The whining and begging may very well drive me insane.  It's got to happen sometime, and I have a feeling it wouldn't be much easier in six months.  The potty training has stalled for the time being (thanks for the great comments on that post, by the way...it helps to know we are not alone!), so maybe now is the time to go ahead and focus on ditching the pacis?

We have thrown around a few cute ideas/rewards for giving them up, the most appealing of which is taking a trip to the zoo, then leaving all our pacis for the baby animals who "need" them.  I just don't know...it's going to be rough any way we go about it, I have a feeling.  I can feel myself getting more and more ready mentally, and that's at least half the fight, I think.

Any ideas for me??  If you've fought the paci fight, how did you do it?  Anyone want to take my kids for about two weeks and bring them home paci-free??


As we say in the South, "bless her heart!"

One of the reasons I love reading a good YA (young adult) fiction story is that I love to relive the awkwardness and innocence of those adolescent days.  No, they are not always fun, and yes, the awkwardness is often painful.  But being here, on the other side of the young adult trials (what would you call these years?  middle adult?  ughhhhh...), makes it easier to remember those times a little more fondly.

A close second to YA fiction is a story in which a once-awkward teenager gets to redeem herself as a capable and confident adult.  A Cinderella story of sorts, I suppose.  Who doesn't like to see a 'nerd' or outsider finally get the happy ending he or she deserves?

Kristan Higgins's Until There Was You is an example of my favorite kind of romance novels:  light, enjoyable, and with just enough drama and subplot to keep it entertaining.  Best of all, the awkward schoolgirl got her happy ending.

While the "heartthrob" Liam took awhile to grow on me, Posey is a loveable, relatable character from the beginning.  I want to give her a big hug, then take her shopping because from the description in the book, this girl is in desperate need of some new clothes!  The minor characters--Posey's brother Henry and his partner Jon, her friends Kate, Brianna, and Elise, and a slightly neurotic family kept the plot moving and added a lot to an otherwise predictable plot. 

The next time you're in the mood for a fun, light-hearted and romantic story, I recommend Until There Was You.  Beware, though, it just might bring back a few less-than-stellar high school memories.

So, tell me...did you feel as awkward in high school as I did?  Don't we all have people we'd like a "do-over" with, to prove how awesome we turned out once we outgrew the teen years?  Any embarrassing stories to share??

**ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley.  Until There Was You will be available 10/25/11.



We have had such a busy fall already.  It seems like every weekend is packed full of places to go and people to see.  Not that it's a bad thing...it would just be nice to have a free day in the midst of the go-go-go.

For instance, this weekend alone we...

Attended our town's Homecoming parade

Ate "messi-cans" (that's A&M-speak for 'Mexican') with family

Went to the Homecoming football game

 Homecoming game

Took a Saturday morning trip to the library

Visited with my sister (who made a very quick trip home) until late in the night

Made a short shopping trip for a birthday gift

Went to church (a little late, as usual)

Taught Sunday school

Ate lunch with the family at our favorite Sunday restaurant

Attended a Sunday afternoon birthday party

Skipped naps

Left the party early because the girls were grumpy


It's tempting to complain about the constant rush of this season, especially knowing that it only gets worse the closer we get to Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But there's one more thing we did this weekend:

Attended the funeral of a precious two-month-old little girl, taken too soon from a family that adores her

...that really puts it all in a different perspective.  And I remember, again, how blessed we are and I am grateful for every single second with my family.


Evolution of a Photograph


Isn't this a cute picture of my four favorite toddlers at the pumpkin patch last Saturday?  (Left to right, that is Wyatt, Addison, Mackenzie, and Brenna)  

Are you curious how we managed to get all four little faces through the holes at the same time?  It wasn't easy!

Here's a look at the process....


We started with one little face and an extra set of fingers.


Hey, there are three of the four!  Just gotta get the baby up there.


There's Brenna, but we are losing Wyatt.  Not bad overall, though.


Oh, did Jeremy want to be in this picture?


Oops, there goes Mackenzie.  The other three look great!

Aren't toddlers fun??


Potty training may be the death of me

I swore to myself a long time ago that I would NOT stress out about potty training.  I would not get all worked up trying to get them to train on my schedule, and I wouldn't rush the process.  Other milestones have been relatively easy for us, so I thought if I just let it happen in its own time, surely potty training would be too.

To which I now say:  HAAAAAAAAA.

I realize that A & M are still relatively young; there are lots of kids who are not potty trained at two and a half.  I'm still choosing not to stress and still trying to believe that the girls will use the potty when they're ready. 

See, the thing is, I think they ARE ready...they just don't want to do it.

The girls have an interest in wearing "big-girl panties" and they seem to be tired of wearing diapers (they fuss about the diaper fitting wrong, etc.).  They know all about the process of using the potty, and Mackenzie had a day or two last week when she went and was excited about it.  The biggest sign that tells me they are physically ready, though, is the fact that their diapers are staying dry so often and so consistently.

Both girls wake up every single morning with dry diapers...and they sleep an average of twelve hours a night!  They hold it several hours at a time during the day, often not even needing a diaper change during school hours.  Mackenzie especially will tell us when she pees, and will often demand a new diaper immediately. 

Even with all these signs, and even with the offer of nearly any treat imaginable...they STILL don't even want to talk about using the potty.  And if they happen to be in panties and need to poop, forget it...they are going to beg for a diaper.  Ahhhhhh, so frustrating!!  They're ready physically, but not mentally, I guess?

So what should I do?  Is it time for a potty-training boot camp, where I just throw out the diapers and spend a few days letting them feel the consequences of not using the potty?  (I feel like Mackenzie is even closer to being ready than Addison...she even wore panties overnight and stayed dry one time last week...so I'm not opposed to doing it one at a time.)

Ideas?  Opinions?  Suggestions?

Help me!!


Last Vacation Post, I Promise

So, after our marathon first day at the beach, the rest of our short vacation was pretty low-key and, dare I say, even relaxing.  We were only there for the long weekend (Friday-Monday), so we really had no agenda other than to just let the girls enjoy the things they wanted to do...and eat a few good meals, of course.  (If you know me at all, you know that the number one thing I do plan for vacation is where we are going to eat!  Priorities, you know?)

We hit the pool first thing Saturday morning and basically stayed there until lunch and nap time.  A much-anticipated visitor arrived mid-morning, and was greeted with shouts and hugs from her nieces...



We had a great day playing at the pool and beach, grabbing some take-out lunch, and taking a long nap.




Mackenzie took a little spill in the ocean...

Saturday night, Jeremy, Laura Jo, and I were able to go out for dinner while the girls hung out with their grandparents.  We had a delicious meal at The Original Oyster House, one of our favorite places (crab cakes--yum!).



Sunday, the three of us got a chance to sneak away again and go back to the outlets in Foley to finish up some shopping without so much "help" from the girls.  I think we were a little early for the best fall sales, but I did get a few things for the girls...enough to get them through fall, I hope.

That evening, we took the girls to an amusement park, where we stayed for hours letting them ride small rides and playing games.  After a last dinner at our favorite place (Sea N Suds), we enjoyed a final, low-key evening together.

All in all, we had a fantastic trip.  Jeremy and I seriously prayed that the girls would sleep well, since we knew that would make a big difference in the way everything went.  I also think it helped that we didn't have much of an agenda, so we never felt rushed, and neither did the girls.  We largely followed their cues on what to do and when, which is just about the only way to travel successfully with toddlers, I have decided!  We had so much fun that we're actually looking forward to doing the same trip again next year, except maybe staying a day or two longer (the weather was perfect for the beach this time of year).


Maybe this trip will help erase the memories of our not-so-fun beach trips in the past...it certainly gave us hope for successful future vacations!


This post may be longer than our vacation

After some debate, Jeremy and I decided to drive mostly during the night on the way to the beach again this year.  We were terrified of 6-8 hours in the car with bored children, and traveling while the girls slept has worked for us on the other trips to the gulf coast.

When we put the girls in the car around 2:45 a.m., they were naturally a bit confused.  We got them all tucked in their car seats and whispered for them to go back to sleep, that we were leaving for the beach.  Addison and Mackenzie grinned and giggled and perked up more than I ever imagined they could in the middle of the night.  They requested that I turn on Shrek and they laughed and squealed for over an hour, before finally falling back to sleep.

The trip was blessedly quiet and uneventful after the initial excitement.  We met up with Jeremy's parents (his stepdad also works the night shift, so they were driving through the night too) for breakfast at our usual McDonald's in Bay Minette, then made it into Foley around 10:00 or so.  The plan was to shop at the outlets in Foley until after lunch, when we could check into our condo in Gulf Shores.  It worked out pretty well, and the girls had a blast playing on the playground and riding the carousel (at $3 per kid, per ride!!) at the outlet center.  By the time we ate lunch and loaded up to make the 20-minute drive to Gulf Shores, they were exhausted.

This is the face of a girl who is dying to close her eyes, but is seriously afraid of missing something.

And the one who gave it up...

I had this idea that they would take a long afternoon nap at the condo, allowing the rest of us a few minutes of much-needed sleep as well.  Guess what?  It didn't happen.  The girls were so excited to check out the condo and the beach views, and there was just no way they were going to miss it by going to sleep.  After nearly an hour of struggling to get either of them to close their eyes, we admitted defeat.  We left NiNi and Grandpa to take a short nap, and Jeremy and I changed into our bathing suits and headed down to the pool with Addison & Mackenzie.

Ready for the beach

The condo had a zero-entry pool (you know, the kind where you just walk in and it gradually gets deeper?) which was fantastic.  Our girls are normally a bit overwhelmed and nervous in large pools, and they cling to us desperately the entire time.  Not so with the zero-entry pool, thank goodness.  About half the pool is under two feet deep, so A & M could walk around, sit, splash, and play. 







We spent the majority of our time at the pool, until the girls were solidly worn out from all the swimming.  We did get down to the beach a few times, but after a few minutes of playing in the sand and at the edge of the ocean, Mackenzie would ask to go back to the "big water up there"--that is, the swimming pool.


After the girls got their first visit to the beach and pool out of the way, we all changed and headed out for dinner.  We were all pretty exhausted by that point.  Mackenzie had slept the few minutes it took to drive from Foley to Gulf Shores and was feeling okay (it helped that she was getting to hang out with her NiNi, whom she looooooves).  Poor Addison had not closed her eyes all day, and it finally caught up with her at dinner:

Despite a little stressing on my part about where/when/if the girls would sleep, everything went better than I could have expected.  There was a teeny tiny "sleeping" room at the front of the condo, barely big enough to contain a set of built-in bunk beds.  The bottom bunk was the perfect size for A & M to sleep (I put them at each end of the bed, so that their feet met in the middle).  Because the beds were built-in, there was a wall at either end and along the back side, leaving just the front open.  We were prepared with a toddler bed rail that fit perfectly along the front.  We tucked the girls in, hyping up the idea of sleeping in their very own "bunk bed clubhouse", and to my surprise and relief, they went right to sleep and slept the entire night.

After such a long day, I desperately needed a shower and when I got out at 8:30, everyone except me was sound asleep.  We live such an exciting life.  : )

Part two of our vacation coming tomorrow!


Sneak Peek

There are many more to come, but here are a few of my very favorite pictures from the beach last week...


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Actual post coming soon!  : )