Monday, January 30, 2012

Does teething ever end???

I went to pick Ashlyn up early on Thursday because she was being extra inconsolable.  She had not slept well the night before and her cough sounded so terrible on Thursday morning.  We went for a quick visit to the doc.  Just a cold...lungs sounded fine.  We went home with a prescription for steroid cream for a particularly bad spot of eczema that her diaper had irritated though.  Her school had an in-service day on Friday, so Uncle Joe babysat that morning.  That was a hoot!  She adores her Uncle Joe.  We told her that morning that Uncle Joe was going to come play with her.  She immediately started looking around the room, saying "Joe, Joe???"  So funny!  She had lots of Daddy love in the afternoon since David took the afternoon off to hang out with her so Mommy could stay at work. :o)  Saturday was a fabulous day!  We all slept a little late which was SO nice!  We got up to an absolutely beautiful day!  We took the doggies for a walk, then David made a very Yummy pancake breakfast  David had an evening job, so Ashlyn and I took the opportunity to go visit with Papaw and Mimi in Birmingham!  We didn't get any pictures, but we had such a great time!  We watched a movie about a Zebra racehorse...not sure of the name...Ashlyn had the best time picking out canned vegetables off the shelf in the kitchen and taking them into Papaw in his room.  He would collect a few and then get her to take them back to the shelf.  I love watching her learn to do things for herself.  I love seeing the excitement in her face when she knows she accomplished something.  Sunday after church we went to Mary's for my "Birthday Dinner".  Richard, Mary G. and Ella came and I got to hold Ella for SO long!  She is such a sweet little baby!  I don't think she cried for more than a total of 5 minutes for the entire 2 1/2 hours we were over there.  Ashlyn loves to hug her and rock her in the swing.  It is precious to watch.  The whole weekend bucket fulls of spit were flowing from my child's mouth.  My baby is teething again.  I think her eye teeth are coming in now...she cries when I try to brush her teeth.  It feels like the teething process will never end...I just feel bad for her...poor boogie.  I can't say I got a great deal accomplished this weekend, but we definitely got some family time in, so I say it was a successful weekend.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You are not alone.

My dad had been saying for several days that he thought he had the "flu".  I told him the last couple days that I didn't think it was the flu and that he should go to the doctor.  He kept putting it off.  Last Thursday, I got a call from my step-mom.  She said my dad wasn't remembering some things that he should - like the fact that the boat he used to have is not at the house because he sold it 11 years ago.  I told her I was on my way - we finally got him the hospital and they diagnosed him with an elevated Ammonia level which caused Hepatic Encephalopathy.  They admitted him and the doctors confirmed that he has severe liver damage and the toxin had also damaged his bone marrow.
I've faced adversity from many friends and family members for years because I refuse to abandon my father.  You see, my father is an alcoholic.  I don't remember a time when he wasn't.  I remember good times and I remember bad times, but all the times, there was alcohol present.  I have been proud of my dad and I've been embarrassed by my dad, but at the end of the day, God placed me under him as a member of his family.  My sticking around was my own choice and I have no judgement to place for someone who makes a different decision.  These are very personal decisions.
According to instruction given by Paul in 1 Timothy 5:3-8 "Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.  But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.  The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and ask God for help.  But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.  Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame.  Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
This is why I choose to stay.  I feel God has called me to stay.  Now please don't misunderstand.  I mean this is no way as advise to anyone dealing with an alcoholic.  I am sharing this because Paul gave some more advise to the church.  He said: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
One of the basic principles you learn in al-anon is that you are not alone. 
As I've shared my story with friends, I've been overwhelmed by how many people have a story of struggle with someone they love consumed by the demons of alcoholism.  This last week has reminded me that through the painful trials that I've experienced over the last thirty years...there has been purpose.  I am continually opening my heart to let God sift through the filth and teach me a new way to live...a way where I walk with peace in my heart, compassion for others and joy in my step.  Everyday hasn't been peaceful, but each day I learn one more new thing, I let go of one more ugly thing, and I praise God that He hasn't given up on me yet.
We all have painful struggles.  We are all dealing with something.  We are all imperfect.  But God knows that.  He loves us anyway, and He puts people in our path to help us feel His comfort as we stumble along the paths of life.  He doesn't want us to hoard His comfort.  God comforts us, so that we can share that comfort.  He wants us to share our stories with others so that people will finally realize....You are NOT ALONE!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy Birthday to ME!

Monday, the 16th, I celebrated the BIG 3-0!  I've been asked several times what we did to celebrate...well...GrandMary and Papa Chuck babysat last Friday night, so we went out to dinner at Ruby Tuesday.  I ate so much at the salad bar that I didn't even have room for my dinner!  I slept late on Saturday, then we went to pick boogie up from her grandparent's house.  My step mom and step sister got here Saturday, early afternoon to visit this weekend.  Sunday we went to church, then to Jalapenos for lunch.  SO YUMMY!!!!  We went to dinner at Mary's house and Teresa was there so we got to visit with her too. :o)  We came home and Lindsey kept me company while I started going through all the stuff in the craft closet.  Monday, I got to SLEEP LATE AGAIN!!!  I woke up to a bunch of Happy Birthday texts and voicemails!  Jacque cooked me a yummy birthday breakfast, and I decided that I wanted to spend the entire day in my pajama pants and so I did.  Ashlyn must have known it was my birthday, because every time I turned around she wanted to sit in my lap.  I sat on the couch, with her in my lap, and we snuggled while we watched Little Bear, Olivia and Bubble Guppies.  We ate things that are not on the pizza for lunch...and ended the day with a Birthday Reese Cup Blizzard from Dairy Queen (that David went and picked up for us so that I could accomplish my goal of getting through the entire day whilst staying in my own house in my pajama pants).  This may not have been the busiest birthday of my life...but it surely was the most relaxing!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


ROLL TIDE!!!!!!!!

I almost can't believe it...seriously...someone pinch me!  National Champions for the 14th time!!!  Roll Tide!!!!  As much as I'm NOT an Auburn fan...I am proud to say that the National Championship Title has been held in my home state of Alabama Three Years Running!  I know for the majority of the's just a game...but in the South football is a BIG deal!  When I was in college, you couldn't even give away your $5 student ticket to an Alabama game.  We were so bad, people didn't even want to pay $5 to see us lose...I'm enjoying winning so much more!!!  In the last 3 or 4 years, I don't remember sitting down to watch an entire game.  I'm one of those annoying fans who watches the first quarter...sneaks away for 2nd and 3rd, then comes back to watch the 4th (if we are losing I don't even watch the 4th quarter).  Now don't get me wrong...I've stood proudly proclaiming that I bleed Crimson for my entire life, regardless of how good or bad we were.  I watched most of the championship game in 2009, but it wasn't the same as this year.  I sat glued to the television for every minute of this game!  I LOVED seeing us drill the LSU Tigers!  Thanks to Nick Saban's superior coaching skills, we are BACK BABY!!!  21 to NOTHING!  Nothing, hear me!  We didn't just beat them, we SHUT THEM OUT!  They didn't even make it over the 50 yard line until the 4th quarter. 
I was interested to see who has won the most National Championships (or it's equivalent) historically.  I was disappointed at first to find that The University of Alabama was actually third...I was convinced before I looked it up that we would, of course, be number ONE.  I started looking a little more carefully at the dates though...Alabama's first football team wasn't even formed until 1892.  I found this information quite interesting.  Comparatively...I think we pretty much ROCK!

ROLL TIDE!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 has arrived...and is now well underway!

Wow!!! 2012!!!!  When I was a kid, we talked about 2012 with a futuristic, sci-fi, kind of reverence.  Well, it's here now.  I guess we'll be flying our individual space pods around in 2022 instead.
Just like every other New Year's Eve that has come and gone, I felt the almost mystic air of anticipation and the appreciation that comes with a "wipe the slate clean" day.  David and I spent a little more time than usual planning for our goals for 2012.  I know that the fact that my thirtieth birthday looming around the corner had a lot to do with my need to plan a little extra for this year.  I've always considered 30 old.  I know it's wrong, but it's the truth.  Now I'm about to hit "old".  Now I know it really ISN'T old...but you know I'm weird about "even" things...and 30 is one of those "even" milestones.  It is a reminder that I've made it this I on track to accomplishing the goals I set for myself 5 or 10 years ago (other "even" milestones).  I already know I'm weird, I don't need anyone else to tell me that. :o) 
Well to share a few of our goals for this year...we have started a "Whole Foods Diet".  It's not really a "Diet", so much as a decision to change our lifestyle.  The main idea is to get back to eating food the way God created it.  It really is a simple concept, but in our's really kind of hard way to live.  Try watching TV for an hour...they don't typically advertise for collard greens, broccoli and's ads for cereal, sodas, and candy.  None of which are part of a whole foods diet.  Even when you walk into the grocery store...they set up a tables and displays in the very front of the store advertising all the "sale items" - few of which are things we are choosing to eat.  This diet also entails that we cook most of our meals, so we are having to prioritize cooking and planning meals.  You can't eat like this 'by the seat of your pants'.  You can't stop at McDonald's or Arby's and grab a '#3 Whole Foods Combo'.  We've eaten out a few times and of course it's impossible to eat perfectly every meal...but on the whole we've done really well so far!  It may be weird, but I feel like our second goals compliments our first.  We want to get healthy physically, but we also want to get healthy fiscally.  By that, I mean that we have renewed our goal to pay off all our debt.  A lot of people consider installment payments just part of normal life as an American, but we don't.  We recognize the freedom that we can enjoy by creating disposable income to spend on current purchases and giving, as opposed to living in a cycle of being stuck paying for what we bought years ago.  We've already paid off our credit card debt, but we still have student loans, tax loans and car loans.  We have purposed to have "budget meetings" weekly so we can stay in constant communication about our progress.  The hard part to this is that we have to stick to the decisions made each week.  As long as we've been together, we've always just kind of gone with the flow...spent money where we needed to and figured it out later.  Now we have to plan our meals out and our meals in, plan our dates and events with friends, and plan our home improvement projects and crafts and Stick To The Plan.  I know we will grow in maturity and wisdom as part of this endeavour.  Maturity and wisdom don't come without hard work and sacrifice though.  We are ready for the challenges because we have each other to lean on. 
We have spent the last month going through our stuff.  You know the stuff that gets stuck in every nook and cranny and you just have it because you have it.  You don't use it or really even look at it.  It stays tucked away in the closet or drawer...but you know you have it.  If by some chance you actually have the opportunity to use can't find it because it is hidden underneath all the other stuff you've accumulated and crammed into the same closets and drawers..yes that STUFF.  It is taking forever to get through all the stuff.  I'm not a sentimental pack rat or anything, but I struggle with the fact that if I get rid of something, and then need it in the future...I will have to re-buy it and I HATE spending money on purchasing something I already had, but got rid of.  I am making progress - but I can't say it's been easy or fast.  We've tried to organize as we go so when, by chance, we need some of this STUFF, we can find it easily and quickly.  I know this isn't a one time deal...we will need to constantly evaluate..."do we really need this item" to keep our house uncluttered, but it will be worth it in the end.  We made it through cleaning out the storage unit (there's one bill off the budget!-no use paying someone for a room to cram more stuff into), the garage and the kitchen.  I've never sold anything on Ebay or Craiglist before, so I'm a little nervous...but I'm going to give it a go.  Wish me luck!  Hopefully I'll have updates on our progress throughout the year and will enjoy lots of acheivements toward these goals!  Here's to Two Thousand and Twelve!!!

Christmas Trip to Oklahoma 2011

We were so happy to be able to make the trip out to Oklahoma City again this year!  It was SO GOOD to get to see my Mom, my Grandparents and my Uncle and Aunt!!!  Ashlyn did so incredibly well on the drive out.  We left home about 3:30 in the morning and David drove the whole way!  He is such a trooper!  

Mom had a little chair just Ashlyn's size to play with!...along with a million other toys!!!  She had a blast playing there! 
 The first night we visited with my Grandparents, Ashlyn arrived asleep...I think she really enjoyed being held by her Great Grandmother! 
 She woke up before too long and it was Great Granddad's turn to play!  I hope she knows how special she is that Great Granddad busted out "Monkey"!  We were excited to show Granddad her "Monkey Leash".  She loves that thing!  She WANTS to put it on when she sees gives her so much more freedom than a stroller.
 We loved our "picnic" at my Grandparent's house!  Granny made her famous Tuna Salad.  I don't remember a time that I've been to Oklahoma that she hasn't made it for me!  I love it!  She made her cream cheese stuffed celery and cookies too!  Food, Chalk and Bubbles Galore!

 My Mom babysat one evening so we could visit the Devon Ice Skating Rink in Downtown OKC.  Neither David or I had ever been ice skating before.  I'm hooked!!!! I LOVE it!  I had SO MUCH FUN!  David only fell once and I don't want to brag..but well...yes I do...I didn't fall at all!
 Granddad took us to "Pops".  It's this really cool gas station/diner.  We ended up eating at Braum's because they had an HOUR LONG wait!  Eating at Braum's was definitely ok with me though because it's one of the places we always visited when I came as a kid, so we always make a point to go to Braum's at least once during our visit.

They did have normal flavored soda pops, but these were some of the large selection of quite interesting flavors...

I love seeing my Mommy and my baby girl playing together.  We worked on our sign language skills while we were there - this is a sign language puzzle.  Ashlyn liked it so much that she stashed a piece in one of our bags.  We brought home the letter "K" as a memento.  Mom said I can bring it back next year. ;o)
We had a pretty good ride home.  For me the ride home always seems longer than the ride there.

Christmas Day - Part 2

Bright and early we headed over to David's Mom's house.  David and Mary cooked our traditional breakfast casserole and we drank Mimosas, while Papa Chuck and Ashlyn danced to Christmas music.

 Ashlyn knows what to do with presents now...just about to crack into one in this picture.
 Uncle Joe got Ashlyn a Princess purse, keys and cell phone set.  She loved them...especially the keys!
 Ashlyn's cute little Christmas Day outfit.  The little silver dots on the skirt are snowflakes.  No snow this year though!
 Merry Christmas Y'all!
 Papa Chuck took the opportunity on Christmas morning to make the men work for their meal.  They moved the big bear claw tub into the bathroom they have been renovating.  It really caused quite the commotion.  Papa Chuck and GrandMary have a gift for restoring these old houses to their former glory!
 Chillin' by the fire.  Cell phone in hand, I might add...
 GrandMary and Papa Chuck got Ashlyn a shopping cart for Christmas.  Ashlyn LOVES anything she can push about.  She pushed it around backwards for a while.
 Then she figured out how to roll!!!
I LOVE her smile!
Since Christmas was on Sunday morning this year, we headed off to the service after presents had been opened and breakfast had been eaten.  Ashlyn stayed with GrandMary and Papa Chuck since Ashlyn was in DIRE need of a nap.  I really enjoyed the service.  We had beautiful music, a children's church nativity play, and a great reminder of why we celebrate Christmas.  In all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, we do remember that Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.  The day that began the one greatest display of Love in the history of the earth.  The day that the man who would live a sinless, blameless life on this earth for 33 years and then willingly lay down (with great pain and suffering) that life for all our sins was born.  Happy Birthday, Jesus and Thank you.

Christmas Day!

I will now take the time to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas...I know it's a little late...but the sentiment is still there! :o)

 Santa came to visit!!!!
 The stockings were hung by the chimney (or gas logs in our case) with care!
 Ashlyn's first look at all the presents!  Yes...that is a vacuum...and yes, Mommy did ask Santa for it and was one of my favorite gifts and yes...I know that means I'm officially old when I actually want cleaning appliances as a holiday gift!  It's tiny and weighs next to nothing and is great for the bare floors!
 Ashlyn LOVED her Santa gifts!  She would have played with just them for hours before she realized she had more new stuff!
We weren't planning to stay home all day though, so we encouraged her to start opening the wrapped gifts.
 She is TOTALLY like her Momma and NOT a morning person.  Who else would cry when opening presents?...yep me and my baby...two peas in a pod. :o)
Thankfully she recovers quickly!!!  I had to put this picture in.  Baseball was David's "First Love" - so Ashlyn got a pink princess baseball glove and ball this year.  It's a little big, but she'll grow into it.

P.S.  Santa also got Mommy a Kindle Fire!  I'm LOVING it too!

Christmas Party at School

I just have to say that this Christmas Season went by WAY too fast!  So many fun things to do and not nearly enough time to do them all in!  Ashlyn's class had their little Christmas Party on the 21st.

 Ashlyn gave all her little classmates a coloring book and crayons that Mommy helped her make.  You melt regular crayons in the oven into the shape of a Reese cup.  I found that project on Pinterest and was really excited to make them!  You are supposed to use old broken crayons...but we don't really have those lying around yet, so we had to use new ones.  Daddy even helped make them!  He cut the paper and I peeled and broke them into the muffin tins.  We had fun family time making them!
 These were the Big Kid favors that I brought to work and for Ashlyn's teachers.  My family calls it "dogfood".  Gross, I know...I've since learned about 6 other names for the concoction.  Whatever you call won't go wrong calling it YUMMY!
This is Ashlyn's class, minus one little girl who came later.  She LOVES her preschool!  She gets visibly excited when we get there and usually wants to play for one more minute when we come to pick her up.

 Ms. Angie is her morning teacher.  She LOVES Ms. Angie!  Angie is such a sweet, kind, caring person!  She also goes to our church, so Ashlyn gets to see her in nursery too!  Angie smothers these babies with so much love and affection and I am so glad she is Ashlyn's teacher!
 How cute are those dangly little feet!!!
 All the kids brought one wrapped book to exchange.  Ashlyn got a book about Katy Duck.  She has gotten so good at opening presents!
 Ms. Amber is Ashlyn's Lead Teacher.  Ms. Amber is SO Wonderful!  She lovingly challenges these little babies to move to the next step in their development.  She is a kind, funny, and smart lady and I am so glad God placed her in this role for Ashlyn.  Ashlyn LOVES Ms. Amber too (even though you can't tell it from her face in the picture - this picture was taken about 10 minutes before NAPTIME)!
David is always a big hit with kids!  The little girl in his lap is the daughter of some friends of ours that go to church with she knows him...but all the other little kids kept coming up to play with him too.  He has been so great with kids for as long as I've known him!  I feel old right now because I'm remembering my 10-year (almost 11 now) old niece when she was this age sitting in David's lap!  Ashlyn is so blessed to have a Daddy that makes the time to participate in her events.  David is blessed to have a job that enables him to participate.  I am blessed to have them both in my life.  I love our little family of three and all the memories that we are making together!

Zoolight Safari 2011

This summer we registered for membership to the Birmingham Zoo - so we made it a point to visit Zoolight Safari this year.  It was still pretty cold out, but not nearly as cold as the night we went to Homestead Hollow.  Can you tell we appreciate Christmas Lights???

 Ashlyn was not interested in taking a picture...she wanted to go see!

 Ashlyn's Very First Carousel Ride!  I think we were riding a tiger.
Daddy LOVES showing Ashlyn the farm animals!  She's so funny though, she'll run after them, but she DOES NOT want to touch them!
We walked all around the zoo and saw the MILLIONS of lights!  We had hot chocolate (Ashlyn had a little taste of hot chocolate poured in with her milk) and popcorn.  We rode the train - We had tried to visit Santa again at Homestead Hollow...with no better luck than her previous visit, so we just walked right past Santa's room at the Zoo.  She got a little freaked out when Santa was waving at us on the train from his camp site, but she recovered quickly.   Hopefully she'll be a bigger fan of Santa next year. :)

Homestead Hollow and Christmas in Birmingham

My step-mom, my step-sister, Ashlyn and I decided to go check out the "Homestead Hollow's Christmas Light Spectacular" this year.  We had a fabulous time looking at the lights.  It was SO COLD out that night!!!  I love that we got to bundle up and it really felt like a wintery Christmas event!  It was nice to get to visit and Ashlyn always loves getting the extra attention!

We spend Christmas Eve Day in Birmingham.  We went to my Dad's house and opened presents and ate such yummy food!  I know I tried at least 4 different desserts (not including the little chocolate mice)!  I don't often get to see all the step siblings together now since we are all pretty much grown, so that was fun!

This isn't a picture of the actual mice we ate...but they look JUST like the one's Jacque makes.  I think they are too cute!!!

We left Dad's for a little while to go over to see Bonnie, BJ and the kids.  Please note my sister taking a picture of her "genius" plan to get Ashlyn a loud toy!  A Minnie Mouse music band set (including a drum and flute).
 Now please note that I've had ten years of practice and three harmonicas trumps one drum in terms of level of sound ANY DAY OF THE WEEK! :o)  Better luck next time Sista!  Love you!
Aunt Bonnie and Ashlyn.  I love the little hair clip she got for her.  It was a little Santa hat and Ashlyn actually left it alone in her hair (for the most part).