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Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Favorite: 100 Days Smarter (and a couple of almost-100 year olds!)

Hannah Kate celebrated 100 days of kindergarten today.  Well.  I'm not really sure if Hannah Kate has actually attended 100 days of kindergarten yet because we've had four "winter weather" days in which school was canceled during the past week.  But no matter.  Apparently she's aged quite a bit since her first day.
We dug through some old clothes I had put away in the attic, as well as some of the clothes in Hannah Kate's closet, to find the perfect ensemble for an old woman.  She tried on several combinations of pants and shirts and dresses.  She just couldn't bring herself to wear the elastic waisted pants pulled up high with a shirt tucked in.  So she wore one of the dresses in her closet, and I put her cardigan over it.  The "panty hose" are last year's recital tights.  And she hasn't worn those shoes in a year, but I found them in the attic, and they still fit.  The faux pearls were in her dress up trunk.  And we borrowed the glasses from my friend.  I suppose this is a rather modern interpretation of the 100 year old lady. 
I really wanted to sprinkle baby powder in her hair to achieved a "silvered" look, but she was quite skeptical about that so I let it go.  We twisted her locks up into a bun, and she was ready.
I can hardly believe Hannah Kate has been in kindergarten for 100 days!  In a way, it just doesn't seem possible.  It doesn't seem possible that skips out the door every morning, backpack in hand.  It doesn't seem possible that she's actually reading books now on her own with little help.  It doesn't seem possible that she's writing her own stories and drawing her own illustrations.  It doesn't seem possible that she spends her days in the classroom instead of at home with me.  She's growing up.  And all I can do is watch.

Hannah Kate loves school.  She loves her teacher.  She loves her friends.  Her favorite subject is writing.  She loves reading books.  She loves telling me about her day.  It has been such a joy watching her learn so many new things and so quickly.  I have to admit I'm a little more than excited to see how and where the Lord leads my big girl along her academic journey.  For the longest time, she said she wanted to be a cheerleader when she grows up.  More recently she said she wants to be a teacher.  She's also said she wants to be a doctor.  I've no doubt she can be anything she wants to be!

So what does 100 years old look like anyway?

This past December we celebrated Seth's grandmother's 90th birthday.  We all took her out to eat and surprised her with several gifts.  We gave her a crown and a feather boa for the occasion.  
MawMaw Mac is such a sweet, gentle woman.  I can see where she probably had a bit (or maybe a lot) of spunk in her earlier years.  She lost her parents at a very young age.  Her mother died when she was twelve years old, I think, and she came home from school a few short years later to find her father dead in their home.  So it was just her and her sister, Mae.  She's not always had an easy life.  But she loved the Lord and trusted Him through it all.  

MawMaw Mac is a very intelligent woman.  She's traveled a lot.  She still reads the newspaper every morning.  She does crossword puzzles.  She's made some of the most beautiful quilts I've ever seen.  My favorite one has many different Bible verses written by her hand on some of the squares.  She loves to play dominoes and has taught all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren how to play.  She also loves to play cards.  And she still gets her hair done every Thursday.  Every Thursday.  I love calling her on the phone to talk.  She says, "Well, hey, girl!" when she hears my voice.

Seth has so many sweet childhood memories of her, too.  I can't tell you how many times he's told me about her taking him shopping for school shoes.  She took him every year, and she would buy him whatever pair of tennis shoes he wanted, no matter the cost.  So he had every pair imaginable of Air Jordan's growing up.  He talks about her taking him to the zoo.  There was that time that the lion tee-teed on him!  She took him on a train ride to New Orleans.  They'd go bowling.  MawMaw Mac surely loves her family!
        
I told her the same thing I told MeMama when she turned 90 years old several years ago.  I said, "MawMaw, now that you've made it to 90, I just know you're going to make it to 100!"  She chuckled, nearly choked, and her response was the same as MeMama's was:  "Oh, Laaaawwwwwd, I hope not!"

MeMama will celebrate her 97th birthday in March!  Here she is last summer when we went for a visit.  I don't know about you, but I think 96 looks pretty good!      
MeMama loves bright colors and always has on rouge, as she calls it, and lipstick.  She knew we were coming this day, and she was going to meet Ellie for the first time so she made sure she was dressed to impress!  She also loves to keep her fingernails painted.  She always has.  I used to love to go to her house and did through all the bottles of nail polish.  And she loves jewelry, too, especially what we would consider the "costume" kind.  She always wore clip-on "ear bobs," as she calls them.  And shoes!  Oh my, I have no idea how many pairs of shoes she had in her closet.  Or closets.  Every single one was jam packed with clothes and shoes.

I just know we're going to celebrate 100 years with this lady, and I can't wait!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Do you want to build a snowman?

First of all, if you haven't the new Disney movie Frozen, you need to!  It is, hands down, the best Disney "princess" movie they have made in a very long time.  The music is just fabulous!  I immediately downloaded it after we watched the movie.  Hence, do you want to build a snowman?

I have to admit . . . after all the hype . . . after hearing how this storm had some "juice" to it . . . and how we were going to have a wintry mix, including snow . . . and how there would even be accumulation of said snow . . . and how power outages were expected for three to five days . . . we were excited!  Except not about the power outages.  I say we.  I mean, I know better than to fall hook, line and sinker for what Mr. Weatherman says.  Because we all know how that turns out.  But I have to admit . . . one of the first things I did this morning was wash and blow-dry my hair.  Because of said power outage.  And I washed every last piece of dirty clothing from yesterday and even all the sheets (even though Tuesday is not my sheet washing day).  Because of said power outage.  And I made a pot of baked potato soup and vegetable soup.  And cornbread.  Because there's nothing more comforting during a power outage than veggie soup with cornbread all mushed up in it!  I. was. ready.  

The day started out slowly.  I say that.  Ellie did not get the memo that there was no school today, meaning we can sleep late.  She didn't get it at 6:30AM or midnight thirty or 2:30AM or 4:30AM.  At least she was on a predictable schedule.  She's had a fever and sore throat for several days, and I think her stomach was bothering her last night, too.  But anyway.  There was nothing at 6:30AM.  Or 7:30.  Or 8:30.  And by 9:00, Mason asks, "Where's all the snow?"

Oh, it's coming . . . they kept telling us.  So I broke out the Frozen music, and we sang and hummed Do You Want to Build a Snowman? all morning.  By lunchtime, our favorite part was, "Okay.  Bye."  Because apparently there'd been a mistake.  But, no, they told us at noontime.  It was coming at 4:00.  So we waited.  I waited.  My children were over it by that point.  But finally some sort of precipitation in the area between sleet and freezing rain began to fall.  And the tiny ice pebbles began to accumulate.  Sort of.  In a few places.  We found a nice little spot to scratch in the snow and commemorate the epic ice storm of 2014.  Epic for Louisiana, that is.   
And so the explanation at the end of the day was that we did get the amount of precipitation that was forecasted but not in the type of precipitation that was forecasted.  Yeah, that makes total, perfect sense to me.

The trampoline was the only place really to play in the snow ice.  Mason and Hannah Kate jumped around for about three minutes before succumbing to the bitterly cold and coming back inside.  Mason even tried to make a snow angel, but, in his words, "That didn't work too good."
And the baby?  Well, she went out with us the first time.  And when it was time to come back in (meaning we'd been out there all of two minutes), she started hollering and pitching a fit.  I'm not sure why.  I really don't think it was because she wanted to stay out there.  She barely moved and just stood there.  So when Mason and Hannah Kate were getting "suited up" to go out again later, I turned around, and this is what I saw.
And she did. not. budge.  As if to say, "I am NOT going back out there, and you have lost your mind if you think I am!"  I was laughing, Mason was laughing and Hannah Kate was laughing.  Ellie was not laughing.

At the end of the day, we didn't build a snowman.  I know many are hoping (and even believing) that we might wake up to some white on the ground in the morning.  I really don't think we'll be building a snowman tomorrow either!

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Second Chance

Second chances.  I'm so grateful for second chances!  I mean, I need third and fourth and hundreds of chances!  Especially from my children, my husband, my Lord.

And it looks like Louisiana is getting another chance at this snow and ice and freezing rain thing.  Because obviously it was handled like a champ last Friday!  I mean, interstates and bridges closed for 36 hours, my husband went around Louisiana and back in a mere 8 hours on his commute home from work (Do you realize he could've driven to my parents' house in that amount of time?), offices and schools and businesses were closed.  And we're going to do it all again tomorrow and Wednesday! 
Only now they're predicting it to be much worse.  

So far, problematic and unique are two of my favorites the weatherman has used in describing this "winter storm."  They're even calling for snow amounts in excess of two inches and sleet and freezing rain accumulations of a quarter inch or more.  So we'll see.  Either way, I have to admit I do look forward to snuggling up with my three babies these next couple of days since school has already been cancelled tomorrow and Wednesday.  And you'll be happy to know that Seth left early this morning to go out of town for a series of meetings this week.  I sure wish he was here with us, but I'm thankful to know that he should be safe and sound and not traveling around the world and back trying to find a bridge that's open!

In the meantime, we'll see what happens the second time around!

Oh, and did you notice that we'll at least enjoy temps in the 70s this weekend?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Favorite: This is what snow looks like in south Louisiana.


In case you haven't heard, it snowed in south Louisiana today.  Sort of.  They've been talking about this for three days now, these weather people.  And by lunch time yesterday, they made the announcement that school would be cancelled today.  So my children went to bed last night in great anticipation of snowball fights and snowmen.  And this is what they woke up to this morning.
They couldn't wait to get outside and play in the snow on the slide.  So we bundled up as best we could.  Because, honestly, we do not have the clothes for really cold, wet, icy weather.  This never happens.  We finally made it outside, and they took off running through the backyard to the slide.  I'd already told them they couldn't touch it until I got out there and could take their picture with the "snow."  Because I knew what was going to happen.  Mason picked up a handful and said, "Oh.  This isn't snow.  This is ice."
And that's what it was.  Not the soft, fluffy snow they'd envisioned.  Not that they even know what that is!  But it was hard and crunchy.  And cold.  Because we don't have gloves.  I know.  What kind of mother am I?!
So after 2 1/2 minutes, they ran back inside because it was too cold.  As the day wore on, it got a little more exciting.  It rained freezing rain and ice nearly all day.  We had some pretty icicles on the house.
And by the end of the day, this was the best we could do.
But let me tell you.  It may not look like much.  And it wasn't.  But it was enough to cause complete chaos everywhere.  The interstate systems closed.  All of the bridges closed.  

And my husband decided that it was absolutely necessary that he go to work today.  I don't know what time he woke up this morning.  It was still dark, and I didn't look at the clock because I'm going to sleep as late as I possibly can.  I figured that it must not have done anything and that it was fine for him to go to work since he was leaving.  As I was cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, I found out that the bridges were closed.  Realizing I had not heard from Seth, I sent him a text to find out where he was.  He was at his office in Baton Rouge.  The Mississippi River sits in between our house and Baton Rouge.  When he went to work, the bridge was closed.  So what does that tell you?  Turn around and go home!  But not him.  He traveled an hour to the next bridge and took it over and then back around into Baton Rouge.  Apparently he didn't give much thought to how he would get back home.  He left work this morning at 11:30 to come home.  He got home a little after 7:30 this evening.  Eight hours.  EIGHT HOURS.  There's really not much I can say about that.  He's stubborn.  And hard headed.  And impatient.

He didn't want to sit in traffic earlier in the afternoon to go over the one bridge that was open at the time.  So he was going to go down to another bridge over an hour away.  By the time he got there, it was closed.  So he went to the ferry.  The line of cars was four miles long, and he didn't want to wait.  So he left again and went back to the first bridge that he was avoiding to begin with.  Right when he got there, they closed it because of a one-inch block of ice that had accumulated.  Instead of waiting, he left again to go to yet another bridge that he heard was open.  It took him an hour to get there, during which time it was closed.  He finally traveled another hour and a half and found an open bridge.  And then it took him another two hours to get home.  I don't really know what the moral of this story is.  I'm just glad he's home!

And Ellie . . . well, I think she's ready for spring time.  She did not want to wear the sock hat, did not want to wear her other hat, did not want to stay strapped in her car, did not want to go outside.  Can't say I blame her!    



Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Favorite: God is faithful.

If you need encouragement today, this is for you.
God is faithful.  He is unchanging.  He is perfect in all His ways.  He is the Almighty God, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.  He is the God-Who-Sees.  He is the great I AM.  He will never leave you.  He is always with you.  He loves you.  LOVES you.  Yes, you.  As a matter of fact, He loves you so much that He thought you were to die for!  He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you so you could spend forever with Him!

It's nothing to do with me.  It's not about me.  It's HIM.  It's what He's done for me.  It's what He is still doing for me.  It's who I am all because of Him and what He's done in me.

This week was a C R A Z Y week!  I had no idea what God was going to do for us this week, never even saw it coming.  I can still hardly believe it.  He is a GOOD God.  He is a FAITHFUL God.   

O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the LORD always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad,
and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life;
In your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
~Psalm 16:5-11 


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ellie: 18 months old

My Dear Ellie girl:

You are 18 months old today!  A year and a half!  Sometimes I squeeze my eyes real tight shut and wrap you up in my arms.  Because maybe then time will stop for a minute.  So I can hold you a little longer.  Because it's too fast, my girl.  Too fast.

You are a bundle of energy and belly laughs and white blonde hair and morning snuggles and fun.  You were so quiet, so easy going as an infant.  But your personality has blossomed, and it is BIG.  You are feisty and passionate.  You are impatient and easily excited.  You fill my days with pure joy.

You have four top teeth, two bottom teeth and all of your one-year molars.  You love nap time.  You don't necessarily have a favorite toy.  You just love to play.  But anything with music quickly captures your attention, and you begin to sway or bounce or your new thing is "raising the roof."  You love pushing your stroller and the shopping cart.  You love baby dolls.  You also like books and often climb up into my lap with a book in your hand that we have to read over and over until you decide to get down and move on to something else.  You LOVE electronics, and it is difficult keeping my phone away from you and the Kindles, too.  You enjoy your LeapPad, and one day I promise I'll keep extra batteries in your diaper bag so it doesn't go dead when we're waiting at Mason's therapy or Hannah Kate's dance!

You wear a size 4 diaper.  You were a super picky eater for awhile, but now you really do eat pretty much everything I give you.  Except fruit.  You do not like fruit.  And you do not like sandwiches.  So I have to be sure I have left overs on hand for lunch.  You aren't particularly a fan of macaroni and cheese either.  And definitely not mashed potatoes.  I can't say you have a favorite except maybe yogurt and ice cream.  You like rice and corn and chicken and oatmeal.  Not all together though.  You also love to eat with a fork.  By yourself.  You're doing a great job eating all by yourself with a fork and spoon.  You like having your teeth brushed.  You love taking a shower, but you refuse to sit down in the bathtub for a bath.  You have mastered the stairs.  Up and down.  

Your vocabulary is exploding.  Your favorite words are bow, doop, dat, juice, shoes and more.  You love wearing a bow in your hair now, and you ask for a bow every morning (but you don't have a bow in these pictures because it was right after nap time and I just didn't take the time to put it back in . . . but you can tell by your hair that you had a bow that morning!).  You usually hit yourself on the head while yelling, "Bow!  Bow!"  And when you need a clean diaper, you come to me and say, "Doop."  We all know what that means.  But you say it whether your diaper is wet or dirty.  We aren't potty training yet, but I think you're getting close.  You always want "dat."  You point to "dat" all the time.  When you're thirsty, you stand in front of the refrigerator and yell (literally), "Juice!"  That could mean milk or water or apple juice mixed with water.  You have a rather unhealthy shoe obsession.  You love shoes.  Everyone's shoes.  You love wearing shoes.  Everyone's shoes.  And you always want "more."

You are still super attached to the paci.  It's not going to be easy, but we're going to get rid of it one day.  We're trying to limit it to sleep times, but sometimes it's just easier to give in during the late afternoons when you start getting tired.  You love your Wednesday Bible study class and always look forward to going each week.  You are also a big helper.  You love to help clean up and put things away where they belong.  You are also climbing now.  You can get on the sofa without help.  You can also climb up into the chairs without help which means you can climb up on top of the table by yourself.  That's where I found you earlier tonight when I turned my back for 15 seconds.

But most of all, you love your big brother and big sister!  Your favorite time of the day is the first moment you see them after school.  You always let out a big squeal, a grin stretches across your face and you start waving like it's going out of style.  Mason and Hannah Kate love you, too!  They dote over you and hover.  We all do.  Because you are pure sunshine!

You are growing up, my Ellie girl.  Too fast.  Too fast.  My arms ache to hold you again as a newborn baby.  But my heart is so full as I watch you grow and discover and explore and become.  Sharing my days with you is nothing short of exciting.  Exhausting, too.  But just wonderful!

I love you, Ellie girl!
Momma    

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Flying

So imagine my surprise today when Mason's teacher called me to tell me that Mason won an award at the district science fair and invited us to the awards ceremony tonight!  He won 3rd place in the Engineering: Materials & Bioengineering category for his hot air balloon project!
I am so proud of him!  He presented his project at the district science fair yesterday.  The first thing he told me was that he got really nervous when he saw how many people were there.  And if that wasn't enough, he was called back to present his project AGAIN because there was a tie, and the judges wanted him to present again!  Mason was actually competing against not only his fellow 3rd graders, but 4th and 5th graders, too, from the entire district!
Mason was so excited and so proud when his name was called.  I was trying to hold and keep quiet a squiggly little tot named Ellie while also trying to take pictures too far away in an auditorium.  So this isn't the best.  But here he is accepting his trophy.
And here he is with his display board and his trophy.  This is a huge accomplishment for Mason!  And he doesn't even realize it!  A big part of this is the presentation.  And verbal expression is not Mason's strong point right now.  We're working on it, and we've been working on it.  It's a lot better than it was.  But sometimes it's very challenging for him to get the thoughts and information in his brain to come out of his mouth in a way that is organized, coherent and complete.  This is another way dyslexia has manifested itself.  Mason was really excited about this project because he was so fascinated by hot air balloons at the festival we went to last fall.  He also thought it was really neat actually doing the project and watching it actually work.  We worked together on his board.  But his presentation was all up to him.  He never practiced it.  I never once coached him on it, not even for the science fair at his school.  As a matter of fact, my friend asked him this past weekend to tell her about his project.  When I heard his answer, my first thought was that I'd have absolutely no clue what in the world he was talking about if I hadn't done it with him and knew what he'd done!  So yesterday morning I told him to remember that he was going to explain his project to people who had no idea what he'd done and that he would need to explain each step in the correct order.  And then I wished him good luck, and that was it!  He did this all. by. himself!
This has been a huge lesson for me.  I have allowed a diagnosis of dyslexia to define my child, to determine what he can and can not do.  I saw all of the things he wasn't capable of or, rather, the things I THOUGHT he wasn't capable of.  And, boy, was I wrong!  My friend had asked me if I thought he would win anything at the district level, and I told her absolutely not.  When she asked me why, I told her it was because his presentation skills are so weak.  I'm so thankful that this child of mine believes he can do anything!  Because I've certainly not been the one to encourage him in that.  But today . . . that changed.

Last week Mason's Occupational Therapist was talking with me about goals for this semester.  She asked me what I was hoping for.  She asked me that at a time when I was discouraged.  Really discouraged.  I told her that, at that point, I didn't even know anymore.  But more than anything, I was longing for a day when Mason could do this stuff, do school independently and without so much help from me.  Will the day ever come when it's not necessary for me to sit with him every afternoon and help him through homework?  Will he ever be ready one day for middle school work, high school work, college work?  Mason has proved to me over and over that yes, he can, and yes, he will!  It's me that's still a work in progress!

It's also this same sweet Occupational Therapist who told me before Christmas that she was going to help Mason spread his wings and fly.  And that one day he would definitely fly.  Today I saw that.  I saw him flying.  And I'd never seen that before.  Not because he wasn't flying.  But because I wasn't looking.   

I'm not a fan of science fair projects.  At all.  I can vividly remember my 6th grade science fair project.  That was the first year I was required to complete a science fair project, and I was dreading it!  I didn't like science.  It was, hands down, my least favorite subject.  Besides PE.  And I had no idea what in the world to do.  I can't remember the point of my project, but it had something to do with animals in different habitats all over the globe.  I think it was more informational in nature and not experimental.  Anyway, 6th grade was also the time when I decided I wanted to be an artist.  That made perfect sense, especially since I couldn't, and still can't, draw stick people!  But I wanted to draw.  So I got some tracing paper and traced all different kinds of animals out of the World Book Encyclopedia (you'll have to google that if you're under the age of 30!).  And then I colored them with colored pencils.  And then I glued them to my three-sided board.  I can remember thinking it was the worst science fair project ever!  And then I won a 3rd place ribbon.  I figured the judges just felt sorry for me and all the time I'd spent tracing and coloring those silly animals.  It was also after that project that I abandoned my dream of being an artist.

I don't remember what I did for my 7th grade science fair project.  In 8th grade we were given the option of working with a partner for the project.  So I did.  My BFF came over one day, and we spent the afternoon in Daddy's shop putting our science fair project together.  I don't remember much about this one either.  I think it had something to do with electricity.  And we fashioned this wooden box and painted it.  I remember putting some of my brother's matchbox cars in it.  I really don't know what the purpose of those were.  There was light.  But other than that, I can't tell you anything else about it.  And that was the end of my science fair project days.  In high school, science fair projects were optional.  And, of course, I opted out!

So here I am sending my children to a magnet school with an emphasis on the arts, math and SCIENCE.  So, unfortunately, there are many, many more science fair projects in my future.  But I think this one will always be my favorite.

Keep flying, my boy!  Keep flying!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Favorite: Bubble Bread

So I don't have any New Year's resolutions.  Not really.  But there are a few things I would like to do for myself this year.  Well, not necessarily for myself, but there are a few things I would like to do more often this year just because I enjoy doing them.  And blogging more often is one of them.  I even got a sweet new blog design to encourage myself!

I'm going to do (hopefully) a Friday Favorites series.  It will be something different every week.  So for my first Friday Favorite of 2014, I'm going to talk about food.  If you haven't figured it out already, I love to cook!  I love my kitchen!  I love grocery shopping (especially now since we have a Trader Joe's)!  I love cookbooks!

Seth has high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  It's hereditary.  His parents and both of his brothers have been on medication for many years.  Seth is not currently taking any medication.  His doctor put him on blood pressure medicine the first week in December.  When he went back two weeks later for a check-up, he'd lost 11 pounds, and his doctor decided to take him off of the medication for three months to see if his new, healthier eating habits would negate the need for medicine.  As for me, I don't like meat so I eat mostly veggies and salads and pasta and such.  We do not "diet," but we are very conscious about the food we eat.  We eat very little processed, manufactured boxed foods.  I make most everything from scratch.  The best way I know to describe our eating habits is clean eating.  If you don't know what that is, google it.

Last night for supper we had baked chicken, roasted carrots and a roasted corn, zucchini and quinoa stir fry of sorts that I threw together to clean some leftovers out of the refrigerator.  Earlier this week I made a curried red lentil soup that was really good, too. But every once in awhile, we like to treat ourselves.

So let me go ahead and warn you . . . if you are gluten free, dairy free, clean eating, paleo or anything remotely healthy in your eating habits, you need to stop right here.  Do not go any further.  Because this recipe is NOT FOR YOU.  And then you will be mad at me because once you see this, you are going to want it!  So don't say I didn't say so!

We first had this when we spent the weekend with April and the boys back in the fall.  I've made it only twice since then.  One of those times was Christmas day morning.  It's perfect because it's something you can do ahead of time, it's super easy and have I mentioned yet how yummy it is?! This is also something that's super easy and fun for kids to do, which is a winner for me because Hannah Kate loves helping me in the kitchen.  We do not, nor can we, eat like this everyday.  But . . . oh my . . . this is just too good not to share!  It's a yummy breakfast treat for, like, once a month!

Bubble Bread
This is sort of like Monkey Bread but even better!

Here's what you'll need:
24 frozen yeast dinner rolls
1 cup brown sugar
1 (3 3/4-oz) box regular butterscotch pudding (not instant!)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 cup butter, melted

And here's what you'll do:
Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.  Place the frozen rolls in the bottom of the pan.
Mix together the brown sugar and pudding.  Sprinkle this mixture over the rolls.
Mix together the sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle this mixture over the pudding mixture.
If you're using pecans (I don't), sprinkle them on top.
Pour the melted butter over the top.
Place the bundt pan on a cookie sheet and leave it on the counter over night.  Do not cover it.  This is what it will look like:
And when you wake up the next morning, this is what it will look like:
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Be sure to keep an eye on it after 15 minutes or so.  My oven cooks very quickly so mine is done in about 20 minutes.  You don't want the tops of the rolls to get too brown.  When you take it out of the oven, let it stand for 10-15 minutes and then turn it out onto the cookie sheet.  You'll have this ooey, gooey, melty, oozing goodness that is so bad for you but oh so good!  



Thursday, January 09, 2014

New

It's 2014.  The beginning of a "new" year.  Here's how we've spent the beginning of our new year.

I had a lot of fun cooking my version of a New Year's meal.  We had cauliflower bisque, black eyed pea cakes with cranberry-roasted red pepper relish, Brussels sprouts, whole wheat macaroni and cheese and cheddar-jalapeno cornbread.  
If it makes you feel any better, Seth and the children did have a pork chop on their plates.

Seth's grandmother always tells me that whatever I do on the first day of the year is what I'm going to be doing the remaining 364 days of the year.  She doesn't do laundry on January 1.  Well, with a family of five, I can't miss a day of laundry.  Besides, I'll be doing laundry everyday this year anyway!  So besides cooking and laundry, I also spent my day doing this.  
I really do not like to paint.  At all.  After we finally finished painting our house when we built it four years ago, I told everyone they better like the color of their rooms because it wasn't changing.  Ever.  I knew I should not have said that.

When I was pregnant with Ellie, we did not know if we were having a boy or a girl.  So, for that reason, we didn't make any decisions about a room for the baby.  There were too many options, and we didn't really know what we wanted to do.  The baby could share with the bigger kids.  But if we had a boy, was seven years too big of an age difference for a shared room?  Should we put up a wall and a door in the playroom and make another bedroom?  Should we get rid of the formal dining room and make that into another bedroom?  The only thing I knew for sure was that I didn't want to be walking up and down stairs in the middle of the night to nurse a baby.  So we put the cradle and even the crib in our bedroom, and that's where Ellie has slept.

We quickly decided that Hannah Kate and Ellie would share a bedroom.  Not long after Ellie was born, I started thinking about how we were going to arrange the room with a bed and a crib or two beds.  I quickly came to the conclusion that Hannah Kate's room really wasn't the best room to be shared.  Because her room has the balcony, there are a lot of doors in her room and not a lot of wall space.  So furniture options are extremely limited.  Mason's room was the better room to be shared.  But his room was a swampy green.  And Hannah Kate's room was pink.  Mason didn't want a pink room.  And Hannah Kate didn't want green.  So I put off the inevitable and thought I'd paint over the summer.

Summer came, and I quickly found all kinds of reasons to just continue with the sleeping arrangements as they were.  But the main reason was that I didn't want to paint.  So my goal because to get it done by the end of October.  Once school and our crazy scheduled started, I knew there was no way to accomplish such a big project during the school year.  So it was either Christmas break or next summer.  I honestly didn't think it would get done over Christmas break.  But somehow I got inspired.  And I finally started painting.

Hannah Kate decided she didn't want a pink room anymore.  She wanted purple.  I've known this for several months and was trying to find a way around it.  I was even going to go the trendy gray route and accent with purple.  That idea didn't go over very well with Hannah Kate.  I got three paint samples.  Hannah Kate's first choice (the 1st and 4th colors in the picture above) was just too dark and too much purple.  My first choice (the 2nd color in the picture above) wasn't purple enough.  Okay.  So maybe it wasn't really purple at all.  I took that picture with my phone so the color is off anyway.  We compromised on the 3rd color.  Hannah Kate still didn't think it was enough purple, but she was pleasantly surprised after the room was painted.  And so was I.  I actually like it!  

Mason decided he wanted the same swampy green and the same bedding.  So that was easy.  I spent two days painting.  And then it took me two days to get all of the furniture moved and arranged, all of the toys purged and new organizational systems set up.  That proved challenging in the girls' "new" room because that closet is a little smaller than the one in Mason's "new" room.  And with two beds in the room, there wasn't going to be enough space for the night stand, toy box, dress up trunk, vanity AND chest of drawers.  So that means we had to make some changes in the playroom, too.  But I have to say I absolutely love the way everything turned out!  The kids really like it, too.  

Well, except for Ellie.  She wasn't thrilled with her new sleeping arrangements.  And she let us know it!  The first night was a little rough, but she has gotten used to it now, I think.

Besides a new room, Ellie also got something else "new."  I took her last week for her first haircut.  She was even more excited about getting her haircut that she was her new room!  I took her to the fancy schmancy kids' salon for her first haircut.  You can see just how excited she is!
Ellie was so excited to get her very first haircut that she screamed. the. entire. time.  And then she tried to crawl out of the chair!  And all the while the cute little blond is trimming away.  
After all of that commotion, I had no idea what in the world this haircut was going to look like.  It was all I could do to keep her in the chair long enough to have her picture made.  Even with me all cuddled up next to her, she would have none of it!
It seemed like two hours, but this all happened in a span of about two minutes.  And look at that cute little bob!
I wish I had a "before" picture, but there was no time for that.  I was afraid she was going to come out of that chair and on top of her head so I wasn't able to take anymore pictures than the two posted above.  But once I got her down, she was fine!
And then, all too soon, the fun was over with.  Mason and Hannah Kate went back to school on Monday.  Several of the area schools had "winter weather days" on Tuesday.  I was hopeful.  But not us.  The winter weather was just really cold that Louisianians aren't used to.  It was also back to therapy and dance and homework and 5:00am starts to the day.

I have to admit . . . I'm not a big fan of this time of the year.  January and February are my two least favorite months.  It's cold.  Although I really am enjoying the cold this year!  And after the excitement of football and fall and Thanksgiving and Christmas, I guess January and February just don't have much to offer.  And the past two years, these months have been the most difficult for Mason in school.  So it was honestly with a lot of dread that this week began.

I can also say that I'm so glad 2013 is over!  As a matter of fact, don't let the door hit you in the behind on the way out!  It was such a difficult year, such an emotional year.  It was a HARD year for our little family.  I have no idea what 2014 holds for us.  I really don't.  But here's my Word of HOPE:

Do not remember the former things, not consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing.  Now it shall spring forth.  Shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  ~Isaiah 43:18-19

In 2014, I am looking for the road and the rivers!  I can't help but wonder what new things await us.

I knew this time last year that 2013 was going to be a difficult season.  I knew what we were facing.  And it brought me to my knees quick.  Most nights I went to sleep thinking that I could not wake up and do it all over again.  But, not only is January 1 a time for new beginnings and hopes and dreams and goals.  Every DAY is a time for new beginnings and hopes and dreams and goals.  Every MOMENT.

Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed.  Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"  The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.  It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.  ~Lamentations 3:22-26

The Lord's mercies and compassions are soothing balm for the weariest of souls.  I learned a lot last year about the Lord's mercy and grace.  I experienced it!  In 2014, I want to share and show that same mercy and grace to others.

I've been studying the book of Matthew since September.  I just finished Matthew 13.  At Bible study on Tuesday, we spent a lot of time talking about treasure.  I know Jesus is my treasure . . . but there's a truth that I've never really wanted to accept before, never been able to wrap my head around.  Nothing matters more to Jesus than a personal relationship with me.  I am a great treasure to the One person who matters most.  I am a treasured possession to Him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  ~2 Corinthians 5:17

In 2014, I want to rest in the Lord.  I want to LIVE in the newness of life that is mine through Him.  When I look at myself, I see all of the ugly and the bad and the sin and the shame.  But I want to look at myself and see me like He does: forgiven, redeemed, set free, clothes in robes of His righteousness.

As I began studying Matthew, I became overwhelmed by the pure love of Jesus Christ for all of those around him.  Just LOVE.  

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  ~John 13:34

In 2014, I want to see others like Jesus sees them.  I no longer want to see others through self-righteous, boastful eyes.  I've been walking around knocking people out with my plank for far too long (Matthew 7:1-5).  I want to love others with the love of Christ.  Because people need Jesus!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

And so it was Christmas

And so it was Christmas!  And a beautiful Christmas it was!  In spite of a horrible stomach virus that invaded our house at the beginning of December and is STILL HERE and in spite of just being tired from a long, busy year, this Christmas was everything I wanted it to be and more!  I think it's one of my favorites!
Our Christmas vacation began in the kitchen.  One thing I really wanted to do this year that I hadn't done in years was bake some sweets and treats.  This is something I always remember my mom doing.  We never had a Christmas without pralines, divinity and fruit cake (none of which I eat, by the way, but still).  Year after year Mama would make these treats and store them in the big, beautiful decorative tins.  I don't have any of those big, beautiful decorative tins, but I knew exactly what treats I wanted to bake.  My favorite part about this day was having my husband and children in the kitchen with me.  They unwrapped all of the caramels for the sea turtles.
And this plate of delicious-ness was well worth it (including the calories)!  Starting at the top, we made peanut butter stuffed ritz covered in chocolate (I even stuffed some of them with cookie butter, and they were so yummy!  If you don't know what cookie butter is, you need to make your way to the nearest Trader Joe's tomorrow!), fudge (which has always been my personal favorite), pralines (which I still do not eat, but I made them because I felt like I had to) and sea turtles (which was a little time consuming but so totally worth it, especially with the sea salt sprinkled on top).  And the balls you see are butter nut truffles (made with Butterfinger . . . need I say more?!).  Mama got here in time to help me with the chocolate covered ritz and truffles.
On Christmas Eve we made a gingerbread house.  I really enjoyed doing it with Mason and Hannah Kate.  Mason said he wants that to be our new tradition for every Christmas Eve.  I love that idea; I'm a sucker for tradition!




And here they are with the finished product!  It turned out really cute (and, yes, they decorated it pretty much just like the picture on the box).  And, just in case you're wondering, it came from Trader Joe's, too.

We decided to open a few presents on Christmas Eve night.  But first I wanted to get a quick picture of the kids in front of the tree.  These next few pictures require no explanation.






To say the littlest one was not in the mood is an understatement!  First of all . . . no, she isn't wearing a dress.  Her britches were an unfortunate casualty of the nasty stomach virus she was on the tail end (literally) of.  And I just didn't bother to wash them or find a new pair.  So between the stomach virus and lack of a nap that afternoon, Ellie was pretty much unwilling to cooperate with anything or anyone!

Mason and Hannah Kate were eager beavers to open gifts!  They'd made it a habit of checking the gifts under the tree each day to see if any had been added with their names on them.  And, just so you know, I didn't label all of their gifts, only one.  When Pop and Mimi came from Georgia, they also brought with them a lot of gifts from family who always lavish us so sweetly.
One of Mason's gifts from Pop and Mimi was this pair of binoculars.  His daddy told him that he could take those fishing and use them to spy on other boats to see if they were catching fish.  And if Mason did that, I can tell you that his daddy would duck and hide for cover in the bottom of the boat!

Now this would be the loveliest of pictures of my children with their gifts in front of the tree.  Oh.  But wait.  One of my children is missing!
I love the expression on Mason's face in this picture.  He was so surprised!  A few weeks earlier I found a pair of really cool Nike tennis shoes on sale for half off.  That never happens.  Cool and sale at the same time.  So I sent a picture to Seth to be sure they would be okay.  Because his idea of cool is usually different from mine!  He approved.  So I bought them and decided to wrap them up as one of Mason's Christmas gifts.  When I got home that day, time just got away from me, and I forgot to hide them before Mason got home from school.  And the first thing he did was go to that orange box laying on the table and lift the lid.  When he did, his eyes got really big.  And then he slowly exhaled before putting the lid back down and walking away.  I heard him mumble, "Those must be for dad."  That day was Seth's birthday.  Not that Seth and Mason wear anywhere close to the same size of shoe.  But these Nike's were different from the ones Mason has always had.  These have the air bubble thingy for the sole.  So I guess that's why he thought they were for Seth.  Anyway, I quickly hid them, and he never mentioned them again.  So when he opened that box and saw those tennis shoes, he was thrilled!
Since Hannah Kate is all about having her nails done, she got an Orbeez spa for one of her gifts.  It was a hit, too.
I was really curious to see how Ellie would react to opening her gifts.  Of course, I expected her to be all over it!  Since nothing else would do, Mimi helped her open her first little gift.
And then she was ready to open gifts all by herself!  The numbers that you see on the floor are the cutest ever little wooden magnets for the refrigerator.  She loves them, but Mason and Hannah Kate might love them more!
This big, chunky puzzle was one of her favorite gifts that night.  She loves puzzles!
And, of course, big sister had to help her open presents, too.
The next morning, Christmas Day, we woke up, ate a quick breakfast and went to church.  When we got back home, it was time to open gifts again!  But, first, I was hoping for a picture.  Ellie was already not in the best of moods.  And it was only 9:00.  I thought it might help if I put her big gift, her pink anywhere chair, in front of the tree and let her sit in that.  I'll just let the pictures tell you what she thought about that!


And . . . she's outta there!  But this is a great picture of Mason and Hannah Kate!
This would be the best picture I could get of all three this Christmas.  It makes me laugh. It really does.
And I just can't help but show off these two again . . . be still my heart!
Finally.  Presents.  Mason and Hannah Kate decided to dig through their stockings first.
And Ellie?  Well, here's what she thought about her stocking.
I mean, seriously, who wants to dig down into a super cute stocking with an ice skating girl on it filled with goodies?  Not Ellie!
If Ellie could talk, she's screaming, "GET ME OUTTA HERE!!!!!"
She finally calmed down and was willing to see what was in her stocking.  She wasn't thrilled.  But at least she wasn't screaming anymore!
After they unloaded their stockings (which were filled with mostly practical things like socks and undies!), they opened more gifts.  This was their "big" gift this year.  We give them three gifts each since the Magi presented Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
This year their "big" gift was a Kindle Fire.  They have argued over their MawMaw's Kindle for a year, and now they each have their own.  They were so excited and so surprised.  It wasn't even something they asked for.
And this girl?  I mean, who wants to open that mountain of presents when you can be eating cheerios out of a plastic baggie?!?
Because, apparently, the cheerios in the plastic baggie are, as Aunt April would say, MO' BETTER!
So with that plastic baggie of cheerios firmly gripped in her left hand, she decided to take a peek once I got it started for her.
And now she's realized the presents might be better than the plastic baggie!
But . . . wait!  What?!?  More than one?!?  I HAVE TO OPEN MORE THAN ONE?!?  Surely you jest!  It's too much!  I just can't take it!
So somewhere between that picture and this one, we came to a book.  Ellie loves books. So now we're nearing our happy place again.
But there are still MORE presents to open.  So I had to call in the troops to help!
Pop and Mimi gave Ellie her very first Bitty Baby.  Now she and Hannah Kate do not have to argue over Hannah Kate's baby!
Ellie loves baby dolls!  And I'm pretty sure she loves this one!
And then it was time to go to PawPaw and MawMaw's for lunch and more presents!  But before we left, I really wanted a picture of the five of us together.  And the only way we could make that happen was with the paci.  That's something we never let Mason and Hannah Kate do!  They were both done with theirs shortly after their first birthday.  Actually, Mason never liked his to begin with so he was done with it at six months old.  And Hannah Kate thought it would be really funny one day to keep throwing hers on the floor at the grocery store.  I kept telling her to stop, and she would look at me, grin and throw it again.  So when we got home that day, I gathered them all up and threw them in the garbage.  She was 14 months old.  But Ellie is very attached to hers.  That didn't happen until I weaned her from nursing.  She was one.  I let her have it because she really did not want to be weaned.  She'd walk around with that thing in her mouth all day if I let her.  And some days I have because I just don't want to hear the whining!  But one of the things we're going to work on now is getting rid of it, especially since she's talking a lot now.  She's still giving the evil eye in this picture, but at least she isn't screaming and squirming!  
We got a picture with Pop and Mimi, too.  Mason and Hannah Kate were really excited that they were here to spend Christmas with us.
 When we got to MawMaw's, we took a picture with Abbie.
And then we ate.  The food . . . seriously, I'm not sure who all we thought we were feeding!  But it was SO. GOOD. 
We took one more picture in front of the tree before opening presents.  Avery and Beau didn't come until the following day so that's why they aren't in any of these pictures.
These kids were excited to open more presents.
But this kid?  I guess she was tired of presents by this point!
But she did find something she likes!  Since the big kids got Kindles, the little one got a Leap Pad.  So hopefully she'll be content with her own Leap Pad and leave the others alone.  We'll see.
The big kids ended the day riding around on Abbie's new toy.
And as for me . . . well, I got the BEST gifts this year, none of which I asked for!  Okay, except for the new decor that my mom got me upon my request.  I was super excited about the new clutch my bestie sent me!  At the top of my list this year was a new purse.  I haven't had a new purse since Mason was born!  I've always carried a diaper bag.  And because I don't like keeping up with a bunch of big, bulky bags, I just put my phone and my wallet in the diaper bag.  My plan was to go shopping after Christmas for my gift from Seth and the kids.  But we all know that he did his Christmas shopping way early this year and without my permission.  So no new purse.  Imagine my surprise when I opened this!  I was being silly, and Mason wanted to take my picture.
And . . . in case you haven't heard . . . Seth got me THE. BEST. GIFT. EVER!!!!  And he did it ALL. BY. HIMSELF!!!!  Rarely ever am I speechless!  But I. WAS. SPEECHLESS!!!!  I'll be honest though.  I was a little nervous when I opened my gift from him!  I had no idea what it was.  I knew he was excited about it so I knew I needed to be excited about it regardless of how I really felt about it.  I had two gifts, a "little" one and a "big" one.  He made me open the "big" one first.  It was Chef Peter Sclafani's cookbook.  He's the chef at my favorite restaurant in Baton Rouge, which also happens to be "our place," the one we go to when we want a special night out, which isn't very often these days.  I love Ruffino's.  I love to cook.  And I love cookbooks!  So far, so good!

And then I opened the "little" one.  It was a gift card to Chef Sclafani's 5-course cooking class!  After I picked my lower lip up off the floor and wiped up the drool, I asked him how in the world he came up that!  His office is located across the street from Ruffino's, and he saw the cooking class advertised on their billboard.  He thought of me, and that's that.  He did tell me that I could "take a friend," but, of course, I am not doing that!  I told him I wasn't going unless he goes with me.  Besides, he won't admit it, but he really wants to go.  The class is offered two nights a month.  We already know that he will be out of town the two nights in January.  So it will be at least February and probably later before we can go.  But I'm hoping we can go sooner rather than later.  I think I kept saying over and over, "I just can't believe it!  I love it!"  I'm sure he got tired of hearing it.  But he did SO. GOOD!!!!
And that . . . was our Christmas!