Friday, May 30, 2008

Whenever I See Your Smiling Face...

These are recent pictures of Evan and Ella Grace that just make me smile!


Check out the air under those feet and that huge smile on his face! Pure joy I tell you!


After all that jumping, Evan enjoys a refreshment. What a life!


I have written many times about how Ella LOVES hats. She converts anything into a hat! Well, check out her newest creation. This is one of my t-shirts she got out of a drawer herself. I was pretty impressed that she put her head through the armhole to make this ensemble. She wore it around the house for a long while so proud of herself. She is so into clothes and shoes and accessories already. She will say "cute" after I dress her! Too funny!

Happy Friday bloggy buddies. I hope all ya'll have a GREAT weekend! Derek has been at summer camp for two weeks (whaaaa!). I didn't mention it since we were home alone, but he is coming home TODAY, and I couldn't be more excited! Mommy's tired!!! We hope to take the kids to the pool this weekend to make up for our rainy trip on Monday!

Love and hugs!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

One of My Favorite Rooms

Kelly is hosting a "My Favorite Room" post, and I wanted to share along. I am the biggest homebody you will ever meet. I LOVE to be at home, especially when Derek, Evan and Ella Grace are here with me! Since Derek and I have been married, I have converted him into a full fledged homebody, and now Evan and EG are homebodies, too. We will only be gone from home a couple of hours and Evan will ask to go to the truck and Ella Grace will start saying "home." I get excited about thinking of going on vacation, but sometimes I think my ideal vacation is just spending time at home with my favorite trio with nothing on the agenda. I'm glad my family enjoys home so much, but I'm thinking I really need to get us all out more. Ha!

One of my favorite rooms is the kitchen. I guess that is because it is where we are a lot of the time. It is full of memories...eating at the table (well sometimes...I think I ate every meal standing over the kitchen sink while Derek was deployed...ha), preparing baby bottles, endless snack stops, pitter patter of little feet running across the tile, and greeting Daddy when he comes home from work. It's just a great spot!

I'm not a decorator. I love looking at magazines and coming up with ideas, but it is just hard for me to pull it all together. Luckily for me, my sister, Melinda, is quite the decorator, so she did a lot of the kitchen for me. She is great with using things you already have, so you are not out a lot of money buying new stuff, which I think is GREAT! She has helped me with four rooms in my house. She really has a talent for it.

This is the kitchen from the hallway.


I'm not big on a lot of "stuff." So, if I don't use it every day, it's in a cabinet.


I really enjoy this smooth stove top and the oven/microwave combination.


I have enjoyed our granite. I really like the colors of brown and black with the flex of silver in it. This is one of my very favorite pictures I have ever taken of Evan (he was three there). I also wanted to show this candle holder. My sister took this bowl, put hazelnut coffee beans in it with the candle, and now it is a cute little candle holder that smells AMAZING!

I like these little napkin holders. Melinda found them by the tassels at Wal-Mart. I would have never thought to use a tassel as a napkin holder on my own. I think they turned out so cute and added a little bling! :)


This is the breakfast area.

I also like my dining room a lot now that it has the portraits of my monkeys on the wall. I think I'll like it even more when my curtains are hung (STILL waiting), and the afternoon sun is not so bright. My sister also made that flower arrangement. My mother-in-law bought the vase and flowers for me, and Melinda put it all together.

I would love to see your favorite room!

Another Blogging BFF

I have another new blogging BFF. This BFF has been a BFF of mine for a long time. Kim is one of THE sweetest people I have ever known, and one of the most beautiful. I am so happy she has started a blog. She has two adorable children that are very "active." I am always cracking up at the stories she tells about what Anna Elise and Joseph have been up to. Kim and I have been friends since Junior High School and were on drill team together. We have had a lot of fun together over the years! She has just recently moved into my neighborhood, which I am so excited about (although we haven't laid eyes on each other yet...ha!). Please stop by her blog and welcome her to the "sisterhood." You can visit her here.

Have a great day ya'll!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Crazy Monday

It was a crazy day Monday. For Memorial Day, we decided we would take the kids to the swimming pool. We have a fantastic community pool that Evan LOOOOOVES, and we knew Ella Grace would be equally excited about it. So, we spent the morning searching for a swimsuit for me (I just sold all my old ones in a garage sale. It amazes me why anyone would ever buy a swimsuit at a garage sale. Anyway, I digress.).

Shopping for a swimsuit just makes me mad. It is just NOT fun for me. For one thing, why in the world are all the bottoms soooo small? For a woman that has had two babies, I just can't for the life of me even think about bottoms like that! I need coverage! Ha! After A LOT of looking, I finally found something I thought would work. We go home for Ella Grace's nap and decided going to the pool later in the afternoon would be great because it would be cooler and the crowd would have thinned out by then. Well, the weather had other plans. It started thundering and then raining. Derek didn't even get to finish mowing the lawn. By the time he came in and showered, it had cleared up. I was so excited because I really thought we were going to miss out on taking the kids swimming. We got them all dressed in their swimsuits. They looked so cute! We headed over to the community center to buy our passes. Evan was having a fit because he was READY to swim. As Derek made his way back to the car, I called to make sure they were letting people swim because it had thundered recently. Anytime it thunders or lightens, they make everyone get out of the pool for 30 minutes. Well, we had about 20 minutes before the next swim time, so we went to Sonic to get Evan a Coke. He was not a happy camper. Then, we called again and the clock had again been reset. We had 15 more minutes to wait. We drove around for just a minute and then saw lightening. Neeless-to-say, it just was not going to happen. We went home and the kids played in the backyard. They ate spaghetti and fruit cocktail on the patio, and they both really liked that. Evan jumped on his trampoline, they both played on the swingset, and Ella rode her tricycle. They had a ball anyway, so I guess that's all that matters.

A couple of crazy things did happen today. When we were on our way home from the swimming pool escapade, we saw a handsome cab randomly coming down the main street to our subdivision. It was so strange seeing it. I could understand if there had been a wedding or soemthing like that, but it was just a horse and buggy in the suburbs. So strange. Then, while at Wal-Mart, a man asked me out on a date. He was about five inches shorter than me and seemed like the type that probably asked a lot of women out on dates. After a creepy conversation about how tall I was, what my name was, and whether or not I was married, I was out of there! It was funny to tell Derek about it though. Hee hee! Then, I was off to pick up take-out from Carino's. We decided it would be fun to eat later when the kids were in bed. When I got home, Derek had a picnic set up for us in the living room. We had Italian nachos, pasta, salad, bread, and cheesecake (that we didn't eat until today). It was so yummy, and I enjoyed the company more than anything.


I'm such a bad blogger. I didn't take my camera today, so no pictures of the handsome cab, the kids all dressed in their swimwear with no where to go, or the creepy man at Wal-Mart (I really don't want that picture anyway), but I did manage to get a picture of our picnic and this picture of EG when I went to get her from her nap...

She had taken off her shorts and converted them into a hat, of course.

Even though our plans didn't go exactly like we thought, it was still a fun day with my family.

On another note, we had our meeting with the school district today to determine Evan's placement for Kindergarten. I was very pleased with the outcome of the meeting. We know where Evan will be going to school, and I think it is going to be GREAT. I am now getting excited about him starting big school. The best thing about the meeting was that the school district coordinators thought Evan has a lot of capabilities and were wanting to put him in a placement that was challenging for him as well as met his needs, rather than a less challenging option. I was so happy about that! Evan is so smart and capable. It's so nice when others see that, too. Yeah, Evan!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I am so thankful for the brave men and women that have fought for the freedoms we enjoy (and often take for granted) today. Memorial Day is time to be off work and go to cook-outs, but Memorial Day has a different meaning for me these days. While Derek was in Iraq, three of his friends were killed when their helicopter what shot down near Baghdad. These three brave men left behind families that I know miss them so much, especially today. My heart breaks when I think of the void they must feel daily. They were all outstanding men! I am so thankful for what these men and their families have sacrificed so that my children can live in a free nation. I am also reminded of all of those that have sustained injuries while fighting for our country. I will never forget!

Maj Michael Taylor, 1st Sgt Tom Warren, Sgt 1st Class Gary Brown

Derek knew all of these men very, very well and thought the world of each of them. I have had the privilege to get to know Gary's (third picture) sister through e-mail. I thought I would share how she ends each of her e-mails. I get tears in my eyes every time I read it.

"Proud big sister of SFC John Gary Brown,
Killed In Action,January 20,2007 - East of Baghdad,Iraq
He served his God and his country well.
He desired to be a blessing to others; he was."

Please remember these families in prayer today. They have given the ultimate sacrifice.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

It Must Be Nice to be this Loved

Whether Evan wants it or not, he has a constant companion. Ella Grace is everywhere Evan is. She asks for him throughout the day. She says Evan is at "work." I guess she has that confused with where Derek is during the day. :) EG is always very excited when it is time to go get Evan from school. As soon as she sees him on the playground, she says his name, starts to wave, and kind of jumps up and down. I know Evan loves his sister, but he does not share her enthusiasm. :) As soon as we get home, Ella is on Evan heels. He has a little shadow the rest of the night. She giggles with delight if she thinks he is chasing her (he usually is just walking behind her but she thinks it is a game). Sometimes, I think Evan just wants her to leave him alone. The other day he was trying to play on the computer and I guess she was in his way. He had closed the door to the office, and she was trying to open it to join him. When she got the door a little open, he said, in a little high pitched baby voice, "Watch your fingers." It was sweet (even though he was trying to keep her out...ha!). While I was pregnant with Ella Grace, I often prayed that she would have a tender heart towards her brother (especially because of his autism), and you know what, I think she does! Ella Grace loves Evan so much, and I know she will always make a big difference in his life (as he will make in hers).

I took this picture this week while we were getting ready for school. Evan was quietly playing with some toys, and Ella sat down right beside him, had her hand on his back, and said, "Awwwww."
Such sweet times!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Blogging BFF

I am tickled as can be because one of my BFF's in real life has now become a BFF in blogland! Abby is the cutest thing on earth! Besides being incredibly cute, she is hilarious, sweet as can be, and has the best sense of style. I'm serious...she is definitely a fashionista. We have been friends since Junior High, and I don't think I have ever seen her wear the same thing twice! Not only is she all of these wonderful things I just mentioned, but she also has the cutest kids EVER and an equally cute husband. I sure am using the word "cute" a lot, but that's just the way it is with Abby. Everything about her is cute! Please go check out the cuteness for yourself here. I'm so excited she is blogging. She may have done it just so I wouldn't bug her about it anymore. I just knew she would have the best stories to tell!

Steven Curtis Chapman

I am so saddened by the news of Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter. I'm sure you have already read Kelly's blog, which is how I found out about the tragedy. If you have not, his youngest daughter (adopted from China) was accidentally ran over by her brother as he was coming in the driveway, unaware little Maria was there.

Derek and I LOVE Steven Curtis Chapman's music. Myheart breaks for their family. I went to his official site, and they have videos of Maria with Steven. If you are interested, here is the link.

I just can't imagine what they are going through. So very sad.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

19 Months

Ella Grace is 19 months old today. Today...

  • She insisted on wearing her beach hat to take Evan to school today. She LOVES accessories.
  • She cries (I mean sounds like her heart is breaking) EVERY time I put her down for a nap or to bed. Today she wanted to take "Baby" and "Bunnit" (Bunny Rabbit) to bed with her. She clutched "Baby" under one arm and "Bunnit" under the other, let me lay her down, and then with her little hand waved "Bye Bye" to me. I wanted to snatch her up right then and tell her she didn't have to take a nap, but I didn't. It just melted my heart.
  • She bossed Evan around a bit by telling him, "No, no." She is such a little mother.
  • We read her favorite book, "Things I Love," A LOT.
  • She ran toward me several times, arms outstretched, saying "Hugs." She wrapped her little arms around my neck so tight. Oh, I love this age!
This is when Ella Grace first met her Daddy. She was two days old. She came early, so Derek couldn't make it home from Iraq in time. He cried when I told him over the phone she was already here. He hated that he missed it, but I was just happy he got to come home at all! Believe me, they have made up for lost time! :)

Here she is at 5 months. You can't tell in this picture, but she sported a "Eddie Munster" hairline for a long time. :) She pulled it off beautifully!

Here she is today. My sweet girl.

And, here she is with the beach hat she HAD to wear to take Evan to school.

Evan and Ella are the joys of my heart.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Like Mother, Like Daughter

I promise I don't let my little girl drink Coke all the time! I had taken Evan to an appointment and left Derek with a napping Ella Grace in the car along with my Sonic Cherry Coke. When EG woke up, she asked for a drink, so he let her try it. This is what happened. These are my same facial expressions when I drink a Cherry Coke from Sonic, especially the third one.

Needless-to-say, she loved it! That cup is about as big as she is!

TV

I have two guilty pleasures on TV right now...Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelorette.

I LOVE Dancing with the Stars, and this year I was so excited that Kristi Yamaguchi was a contestant. I have always been a big fan of professional figure skating, and Kristi Yamaguchi and Ekaterina Gordeeva were my two favorites. Derek even surprised me one year with tickets to Stars on Ice when they came to my home town. We had seats right on the ice, and I got to see my two favorites skate in person. It was so exciting! At the end, some of the skaters came by to shake our hands, but the two on our side weren't Kristi or Ekaterina. :( I even have a Kristi Christmas tree ornament. Ha! One thing I did learn about KY while watching DWTS was that she was born with a club foot. I never knew that. In spite of it, she became an olympic gold medalist. Wow! Anyway, Kristi has not disappointed on DWTS. She has been flawless every dance. I kind of expected it because I'm sure her dancing on ice has only helped. Plus, she is in fantastic shape. It's hard to believe she has had two children (people like that kind of make me mad...hee hee). They announce the winner tonight. I never call in to vote, but I hope my Kristi gets that ugly trophy!

While Derek was deployed last year, I really got into The Bachelor. I was so disappointed at the end of the series when hunky Brad did not choose either of the final two girls and sent them home packing. I wanted him to choose Jenny because I thought DeAnna wasn't very nice to the other girls on the show. I was actually really surprised she made it to the end. Now, DeAnna is the bachelorette, and she is kind of growing on me. She has a good group of handsome men, but some of them showed their true colors really quick. Some were just weird! How about Spero? I think I would have just said, "Thanks, but no thanks. You can get back in the limo now." Oh, and the guy with her name printed on his underwear. What in the world??? My favorites so far are Jeremy and Jason. So cute! We'll see what happens!

Anyone else out there watching these shows? Please humor me, so I don't feel like such a geek!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fun at the Park

Friday Ella Grace and I met Abby and Michelle at the park to play. Abby and Michelle are two of my oldest friends (not in age...just in years...ha!). They each also have a boy and a girl. I love that I have been friends with Abby and Michelle over half my life and that we now have children that play together. It's just so neat!

Ella hasn't been to the park since she was itty bitty last summer. This was really the first time she has been big enough to play. Evan was at school and would have been so jealous had he known what we were up to. I told Ella to keep it a secret. :) We'll have to go again when he is out of school.

Ella Grace was a little shy at first, but ended up having a great time. She especially loved the swing and the slide. After about an hour and a half, she was just standing there kind of swaying, so I knew she had worn her little self out. She took a really good nap after our fun day of play.


Just a swingin'. Every time I would come near her, she would say, "No." She DID NOT want to get out of that swing.

Ethan was so sweet to swing EG. When she finally did get out, she would just watch him and say, "Swing." Ethan had made a new buddy. :)

Getting some hugs from Fletcher.

Ella's newest pals...Scarlett, Maddy, Ethan, and Fletcher. Aren't they all just adorable!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Portraits

I finally got Evan and Ella Grace's portraits! It's the best Mother's Day gift EVER. I just love them. It took us a while to decide where to put them. Derek got them hung for me, and I can't take my eyes off of them.



I love these collages. I couldn't pass up putting pictures in these that are "so" my children. The pout on Ella's face in the first picture is an expression we see A LOT, and the shot of Evan's sneakers and the last picture on the right are just my sweet boy. That's what I love about Christy, the photographer. She somehow is able to "get" my kids. (They are kind of blurry...Since they are already framed, the flash on the glass made them difficult to see.)


We have had a lot of pictures taken of Evan and EG in the last six years, but they are not framed or hung. So, Derek is on a mission (or has put me on a mission) to get them all framed. This one is first on my list. Christy also did this one of Ella Grace. We had these pictures taken when Ella was two weeks old, and the day before Derek left to go back to Iraq for the remainder of his tour. He was able to come home a few days after EG was born and stayed for two weeks before he had to head back. She was so little, and now she is so big! :)



I'm going to get an off-white shabby chic kind of frame made for it and hang it in her room. By the time I get all the pictures framed, my house will be an official E & E shrine. So, if you come over, just be prepared to be on Evan and Ella overload! :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lunch and a Playdate

Today I had lunch with one of my dearest friends, Holly. I met Holly back in 1995 when we both started working for a telecommunications company. I instantly knew we would be friends. Holly is beautiful, smart, funny, and has the singing voice of an angel. She is also a friend that prays, and that is the very best kind!

Derek snapped this picture of Ella Grace and me before we left for our date.

Holly has a beautiful daughter, Heidi, and we had planned for Ella Grace and I to come to their house today for lunch and a play date. Well, Derek was off of work today and I told Holly I would probably come alone. I could tell in her voice this might be a disappointment to Heidi, and she told me about Heidi's calendar that had a picture of Ella Grace and me (that Holly had gotten from my blog) and that Heidi had been marking the days until we came. How cute is that? So, needless-to-say I told her EG WOULD be there.

This is Heidi posing with her calendar. If you look close, you can see EG and me on Wednesday. I think I am going to steal this idea! What a great way to show small children what will happen each day of the week! When I asked her when she was going to do something, Heidi would refer to her calendar. It was so cute!

Holly's husband is a builder and has built them several beautiful homes. I hadn't yet visited this house yet. It was absolutely amazing. I don't think I have ever been in a 5,000+ square foot house before. I almost needed a map to find the bathroom! It was really amazing! Holly made us all a yummy lunch and after that we watched the girls play and just caught up since it had been a while since our last meeting. It never matters how long it has been since I have seen Holly. We just pick up right where we left off. I just love her to pieces.

Ella can sometimes be a little shy when she is around people she doesn't know well, but it took her no time to warm up to Heidi. EG loved watching Heidi and loved her toys. Poor Heidi barely got a chance to get in her car. Ella was in it practically the entire time. She loved it.

The girls eating their lunch. Notice Ella watching Heidi's every move. EG loves "big kids!"

Holly is an extremely talented vocalist. At one point, she sang with the Arkansas Symphony. I have been to her recitals, and she blows me away when I hear her sing in Italian. She is wonderful with operatic pieces! I'm serious. She has the voice of an angel! Here, she is playing for us (in between little girl interruptions) a song she taught herself on the piano and singing along. I told her she should have been on American Idol (except now we were passed the age limit). Ha!

Thanks, Holly, for a wonderful afternoon with you and your precious Heidi. I treasure your friendship! Love you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My First Client

My sister, Melinda, asked if I would bring my camera to our Mother's Day dinner and try to get some candid shots of my niece, Sarah. I love photography, so I jumped at the chance. Plus, taking pictures of Sarah was the easiest thing in the world. She is such a beautiful subject, that there wasn't a whole lot I had to do. I really enjoy pictures that aren't posed. I love natural expressions. Here are just a few I really loved...


Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

I had a fantastic Mother's Day. We pretty much celebrated all weekend. Saturday night, we went to my sister's house for a pizza party to celebrate with my Mom. The pizza was delish and I made Kelly's Double Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake for dessert. Can I just say YUM! It was a hit. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Kelly! We had a great time visiting and playing with the kids. I hadn't seem my nephew and niece since Easter, so I was ready to see them!

This is THE cake. If you have never had it before, stop reading this and make it. You will not be sorry. My friend, Tonya, had just told me about making a similar version of this cake and then I ran across Kelly's recipe. Divine I tell you!

Us moms...my sister Millicent, my Mom, me, and my sister Melinda

My Mom and Dad. I love that they are friends even though they are divorced.

EG playing with my Dad aka "Pappy."

My nephew Stone got my camera and took some pictures. I had no idea they were there until I started looking through them for blogging. They just cracked me up...


Sunday, Derek's family came over for lunch. Derek said he didn't want me to have to cook on Mother's Day (oh, I love him), so we just got Corky's barbecue. It was so good! It was nice to get together with the Hortons. Derek's mom and dad gave me a very sweet card and a gift certificate to the Hallmark store. I love me some Hallmark store, so that was perfect!

Derek, Evan and Ella Grace were so sweet to me (as always) all weekend. My Mother's Day gift was the portraits I had made of Evan and EG. I was a little disappointed because I was supposed to get them Friday, but the framer wasn't finished with them, so I have to wait until Tuesday. I can't wait to see them and get them hung on the wall. They also gave me two very sweet cards, which I loved.


I hope you all had a great day. I thought about all you moms in waiting, and I pray you all aren't waiting much longer. I also thought about all my friends celebrating with their precious children. How blessed we are! I pray I never take one day for granted with Evan and Ella Grace.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I am...

I love being tagged! Meagan (one of my newest blog friends whom I have come to adore) tagged me to tell a little about what "I am..."

I am... a blessed mom to two great kids and a wife to a wonderful man.

I think... things through way too much sometimes!

I know... children grow up way too fast, so enjoy every minute.

I wish... there was a cure for autism.

I dislike... inconsiderate drivers, rudeness, dieting and being cold.

I miss... my Papaws.

I fear... illness in those I love.

I feel... extremely blessed and happy.

I hear... silence. The children are all tucked away in their beds.

I crave... hugs and kisses from my children and my husband.

I wonder... what my children will be like when they grow up.

I love... Jesus, my family, my friends, chocolate, swimming pools, photography, pizza, and the beach.

I ache... for three families I know that lost their loved ones in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

I care... about the environment.

I always... tell Derek, Evan and Ella Grace I love them every day.

I am not... a big risk taker or thrill seeker.

I sing... "Row Row Row Your Boat" with Ella Grace every single day.

I cry... a lot, especially if it is anything related to Evan.

I don't always... wear my seatbelt (bad, Leigh Ann).

I write... thank you notes.

I win... just by receiving unconditional love from my family.

I lose... my patience with inconsiderate people sometimes.

I never... eat seafood.

I listen... only to KLOVE on the radio.

I am scared of... Derek being called back for another tour in Iraq.

I need... to get more organized.

I hope... that one day soon there is a cure for autism and cancer.

I tag.... all my blog friends that would like to share more about themselves.

Friday, May 9, 2008

My Heart is Full

video

In recent weeks, Ella Grace has started to say, "I Love You." This is the good stuff of life!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Happy Kids Do a Heart Good

Evan LOVES his new trampoline. Derek had it all together except for the safety net by the time Evan got home from school. Evan couldn't wait though! He jumped while Derek finished it up. He was so happy! I think it's the best thing we have ever bought! This will definitely provide hours of summer fun!

Happy Boy

Happy Boy in Action

Today Derek was off work and we went to the mall to shop at Gymboree. They were having a good sale! While we were there, we took Ella Grace to Build a Bear for the first time to get a bear made for her. She loves babies and stuffed animals, so we knew this would be something she would really enjoy.

She wasted no time picking out a bear.

She watched intently as the Build a Bear worker stuffed her bear.

The sweetest thing was when she looked up at Derek and told him, "Thank you," (with no prompting) as she loved on her new friend. She is such a sweet girl.

The three of us along with a new bear in a jazzy summer outfit.

I just couldn't resist this as I was walking behind Derek and EG in the mall. How sweet!!!


It's been a great day!