Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: The Little Farmers

Today a few of us stay-at-home moms got together and went to The Little Farmer. By few I mean there were four moms with twelve kids all ages 6 and younger. The kids were 6 and under. We won't say how old the moms are!

Anyways, we fed the goats, played in the playground, ate apples, and just in general had fun!

The Little Farmer!

Getting ready to feed the goats

The Little Diva surprised me by LOVING feeding the goats

The goats loved being fed

If you look very closely, the Little Diva is behind the steering wheel!

Sitting in a really big chair - the Little Diva was not impressed

My handsome Smiley Monkey

This is my friend, Sarah...she's actually older than me. Mother of FOUR boys.
You'd never guess it, right?

Riding the tractors!

Such pretty pumpkins!

My favorite little pumpkins!

Eating an apple!

A chilly but fun day :-)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Mommy's Little Helper

Yesterday, I heard my two year old daughter in the kitchen singing "Clean up, clean up." Immediately I was concerned. It turned out I had good reason to be.

The Little Diva had found the Ajax under the kitchen sink, dumped it all over the floor, and was using a kleenex to "clean up."

The Little Diva using the Ajax to "clean up" the floor

Needless to say, the kitchen floor is now very clean. And the Ajax has found a new home on the top shelf of the pantry.

Showing Mommy her "messy" hands

All in a day's work for a mommy...but at least my Little Diva is helpful!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Award Winning Smile

A couple months ago my sister told me about a little girl from her son's class that had just been diagnosed with cancer. I recognized her name as one of my nephew's little friends...a sweet, funny girl from all accounts. A precious child who had already had more health problems than seemed right or fair, yet still maintained an upbeat attitude.


When I found out little Mercede's mom had started a Facebook account to keep people updated on her fight with leukemia I just had to add her. It was probably the best friend request I have ever made. Over and over I have been convicted and inspired by this amazing little girl. Looking through her pictures I was amazed to see that she was smiling in nearly every picture. A smile that was real...not just put on for the camera. At one time some people believed that having your picture taken captured a piece of your soul. Looking at the pictures of Mercede makes me believe it. A piece of who she is shines through in every picture. Sometimes she looks tired. But you can see the life and the courage and the joy emanating from those beautiful eyes.

Helping with Ice Cream Sundaes

Snuggled in her bed

Nothing inspired me or convicted me more than a recent update from her mom which read "A quote from Mercede today 'Mommy, if I ever win an award for anything, I want it to be for having the biggest smile of any kid that ever had cancer!'"

That quote stabbed at me. Yes, my life is difficult right now. My husband is deployed. I'm trying to balance a life as a single mom and yet not a single mom. To be a good wife from what feels like a million miles away. To keep my marriage strong. To just survive this next year. And it is so easy to get discouraged and complain. Too easy to have a "woe is me" attitude.

Here is a little girl who is in a fight for her life...trying to beat the odds against a disease that is raging through her small body trying to drain the life out of her. And her desire is to be known as the child with the biggest smile of any kid that has ever had cancer.

Mercede with her Dad

Kind of makes all my problems seem rather minuscule in comparison. Over and over, when I am having a bad day, those words come back to me, reminding me that there are people going through bigger struggles than I am and yet keeping a positive attitude. There is a little girl with big problems than mine who is still keeping a smile on her sweet face. It's shaming really. But inspiring.

When I messaged Mercede's mom asking for permission to use her pictures, she told me that people have told her that she is a strong mother but she attributes her strength to watching her daughter.

Here is a little girl who deserves our prayers. She deserves to beat the fight against cancer. She deserves to live. And she deserves that award for the biggest and most beautiful smile of any kid that ever had cancer!

An awarding winning smile!

**If you want to do something to help Mercede and her family, please consider helping them with their Light the Night Walk. And - of course- Pray, Pray, PRAY!!!**

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Date to Remember

"Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?" - the song lyrics pose the question that is frequently asked especially as the anniversary of the fateful September 11th is drawing close.

I was on my way to school when I heard the news that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers. When I arrived at school they gathered us all into the auditorium, pulled out the small TV and we watched the tragedy unfold. I will never forget watching people throw themselves out of the burning building preferring a plunge to their deaths over being burned alive. Or watching the towers collapse and the crowds make a desperate run to escape the falling debris. I will never forget the heroism of those that rushed towards the burning, collapsing building intent on saving lives even if it cost them there own. Nor will I forget the heroism of those on Flight 93 who over took the plane and sacrificed their lives to make sure that those terrorists would not succeed in their evil goal. The images and events of the day are permanently etched into my mind and soul.

I had no idea that a little over 600 miles away a teenage boy, whom I had not yet met, was watching the same graphic images as I and filling with a desire to rise up and do something. A desire to join the military and fight back. It was a desire that would not be acted upon for years but always there in the back of his mind.

Eventually that young man and I met, fell in love, and married. Less than two years into our marriage he joined the Army - fulfilling the dream he'd had since high school. A dream that had started as a result of the tragic events of 9/11.

But not all my memories of September 11th are sad. This year, on the 11th of September, we will celebrate the first birthday of my son. One beautiful year of one precious life. A life that I am so thankful for.

My son is such a happy little man. When he smiles his whole face lights up. And he smiles a lot. He has the kind of giggles that make you want to giggle with him. And when he is naughty, and he frequently is, you have to fight from smiling while you correct him...Like when he starts crawling for the bathroom (where he knows he's not supposed to go) and turns to see if you're watching him; when he sees that you are he gets a big grin on his face and takes of crawling as fast as his little hands and legs will take him practically laughing all the way! He reminds me so much of his father...and they both light up my life!

This year, and every year to follow, I will take a moment to remember the heroes who died, the families who lost friends and loved ones, the lives that were drastically changed on 9/11. But I will also take time to thank God for the precious son that he gave me - the life and joy he bestowed on my family.

September 11th is a date to remember. A day both horrific and beautiful. A day filled with tragedy in the past and yet hope for the future.

Daddy and Son Bonding Moment 
My little man one week before his 1st Birthday!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Do NOT Attempt This at Home...Or Maybe Do. You Might Have Better Luck

My son's first birthday is quickly coming up. I still cannot believe that he is almost one! Due to a ridiculously busy schedule for our family this month, last Saturday was the only day that we could celebrate with all the family together. My dad and brother-in-law, also September birthdays, got in on the celebration as well.

I was so excited. I love birthdays. I love celebrating them. I love planning on them. I love getting creative with the ideas. And I especially love them when they are for my children.

Since my son is also my Little Monkey, I decided to go with a monkey themed birthday. I know - cute, right? Only, monkey stuff is a lot harder to find than I thought it would be. But I still managed to find cute stuff that worked.

My next major great idea was to do Cake Pops for the kids. Its the new rage and they are super cute! I looked into ordering monkey cake pops but it was way too expensive for the amount that I needed. And, really, how hard could it be to make my own?  According to the step-by-step directions I read it would be a piece of pun intended!

Cute Cake Pops

I figured I would do mostly solid colored ones, some spelling out "Happy Birthday" to my Little Monkey, and a couple monkey heads and it would be so cute! And the only difficult ones would be to do would be the monkey head ones...right?


All those people that said it would be "easy" are a bunch of liars!!!

I did three things very wrong:

   1) I used "whipped" frosting instead of the regular stuff...I really do think that it made a big difference
   2) I just refrigerated them instead of freezing them. Again, big difference
   3) I attempted this without the magic touch of my sister, Christi, being there. Definitely the biggest difference!!!

My first clue that it wasn't going to go as smoothly as I had believed was when I started rolling the cake mixture into balls. They weren't sticking together as well as I thought they should. My second clue was when I tried putting the sticks in the balls and some of them started falling apart. My third clue was when I tried dipping the balls into the candy coating and the stick went through the other side of the cake ball and the cake ball itself went less than a quarter of the way into the candy all went down hill from there.

Some cake balls look too adorable to eat. Mine looked too atrocious to eat. They were sad pathetic little things that turned out nothing like I had envisioned. Not the little balls. Definitely not the monkey heads. I just couldn't figure out what went so terribly wrong.

And that's when it hit me. Christi wasn't here to help.

Somehow the crafty gene skipped my oldest sister and myself and landed all in my middle sister. Are her cakes "bakery" quality? Not really. But they always turn out so cute and nearly perfect. Every time. How silly of me to have tried to do something cute and creative without her.

Despite my grave disappointment in the way my first attempt at making cake pops turned out, everyone seemed to really enjoy them. Especially my son. Which was, of course, the most important part!

So, if you still feel that you absolutely must try making your own cake pops...attempt them at your own personal risk and do a trial run. And? Find someone who is creative to help!

Monkey heads in the freezer - before the candy coating

trying to redeem the cake pops and failing miserably!

The monkey heads - bottom right one turned into a vampire overnight!!!

Monkey heads, a few of the other Cake Pops, and the monkey gummies :)

The Birthday Boys :)

My Little Monkey enjoying his cake!!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wordless Wednesday and Thankful Thursday...All In One!

One of my biggest fears with my husband's deployment was that our two-year old Little Diva would forget her first love - her Daddy. She has always been a little Daddy's girl but two is a very young age and a short memory span. Especially with so many changes as have taken place in a very short time.

Two months into this deployment, I'm starting to think that I need not have worried. We Skype, we talk on the phone, and there are pictures of Daddy around the house. Her little face lights up when she sees her daddy on Skype and she promptly has to give the computer hugs and kisses. And when she knows that I am talking on the phone to Daddy she has to repeat "Hi, Daddy!" over and over until she gets a response. Then she gives my phone hugs and kisses. Every day my Little Diva has to give "Daddy" hugs and kisses before naptime and bedtime. This, of course, consists of the pictures that are by her bed. Every night we pray for Daddy as he is deployed that God will keep him safe. After we pray I tell her I love her to which her response is "Daddy loves me."  ::tears::

Today she said "Daddy Kuwait?" I told her he was. Then she said "Ana Kuwait?" I about fell apart. She misses him so much!

Nothing was quite so endearing, though, as when she decided to carry around the picture of Daddy for a day. He even went out with us to the store and to get some supper. It made me happy and broke my heart at the same time.

I'm so thankful that she still remembers and loves her daddy. That she misses him. That she knows that he loves her. And I'm thankful that she has a daddy that is worth being loved and missed!

Daddy going for a ride with his Little Diva