The purpose of our family blog is to share our life journey with family and friends. Our family consists of Ben and Barbara (married Dec 2002), Caroline (born Sept 2006), Andrew (born Feb 2009) and Dixie (our dog). We hope that you will enjoy following us and all of our adventures and mishaps!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cinderella and Her Cowboy

I must admit, each year that passes does only get better!  Ben and I both agreed that 3 & 6 are the perfect ages to have fun trick-or-treating.  We enjoyed hitting up all of the festivities.  We started off at Publix (actually because we needed cash, and I thought the lighting would be good for pictures).  We were amazed at how entertaining trick-or-treating at our local Publix could be - they had booths and games set up all around the store and they had the BEST candy and treats!  After we left Publix, we headed next door to our church to participate in Trunk or Treat.  We ate Chick-fil-a, enjoyed a hay ride, jumped on inflatables, roasted marshmellows and of course got lots of candy!  Then we whisked the kids off to Gigi and Papa Joe's house, where the kids surprised them by knocking at their door.  We ended the night at the Barber's house where we trick-or treated in their neighborhood, enjoyed yummy treats and the kids had even more fun handing out the candy (We all witnessed first hand, that it is better to give than receive). 

Fun Quotes of the Night:

Andrew to the Trick-or-Treaters:  "Would you like 2, 3 or 5 candies?"

Kids (mostly teenagers by this time of night):  Umm...can I have 1 - thank you (looking up at all of the adults).

Caroline: Walking down the neighborhood streets, reciting Isaiah 40:31 in her most boisterous voice, "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary..." This is her verse from kindergarten that she was reciting for us.  And once she saw people were listening, she only belted it out louder (Ben and I just chuckled and beamed with pride).

Caroline: "You know what they say, Halloween is just a fun time of make believe, or a bigger way of saying it, is that it is " is not real."

By the end of the night, Andrew was so tired (missed nap getting ready for all the festivities) that
on the ride home after 9:00 p.m. he started crying and said, "Trick-or Treating was no fun.  I don't like Halloween anymore.  I had nooo fun." 

We all chuckled at his sleepy talk, considering he had such a good night.  He chatted to all of the adults and kids alike.  He enjoyed running door to door (and for the first time, Ben and I were able to let the kids run up to the doors alone).  He really had the BEST time and enjoyed every minute of it!

We really had a great time as a family last night.  As we strolled through the neighborhood and watched our two running up to doors, giggling and waving bye and thank-you as they accepted candy, Ben and I looked at each other and both felt very BLESSED.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Elephant In The Room

That akward moment when you take your child to a classmate's birthday party and realize your child is the only child NOT wearing a costume (heartbeat begins!). As I held Caroline's hand and the other kids came into sight, I quickly realized my cute, little 6 year old was about to be in tears...and there was absolutely NOTHING I could do to prevent the tears from flowing (stomach sinks, I shrink in composure).

Yep, this was our Saturaday evening fun.  Caroline was invited to a birthday party at a park that is about 25 minutes from our house.  We arrive to discover, it is a costume party.  The invitation was sent home in her school bag.  It was a "Brave" store bought invitation.  The kind where you simply fill-in the blanks.

With Caroline hanging on my leg and on the brink of tears, I walk us down to the pavilion to speak to the other moms.  Immediately, I say, "Well, I guess I missed something.  Is this a costume party?"  I am feeling like the worst mom in the world at this moment.  The other moms get out their invitations and say, "Yes, it said it on the invitation, but it was written on the other side.  You probably just missed it."  I start out saying, "I'm pretty positive ours didn't have that on it"...when I realize the mother of the birthday girl is overhearing the conversation and Caroline who is now sobbing from embarrasement.  She says to me, "Oh, I didn't think to remind folks since I put it on all of the invitations."  Thankfully, I tamed my tongue and just turned to Caroline where I proceeded to apogize and tell her Mommy had messed up and I was sooo sorry. 

I wanted to run to Wal-mart and buy her a costume.  Fix the situation.  Make it all better.  But, I knew that wasn't the best option.  I told Caroline that she had a choice to make: We could stay at the party and she could have fun with her friends, OR we could just go home.  About this time the other kids ran up and were begging Caroline to come and play (thankfully, no one said, "where's your costume?" Or "what are you suppose to be?").

The mother of the birthday girl, then remembered her daughter's costume had a cape that she was not wearing.  She asked Caroline if she would like to borrow it, and Caroline said through tears, "yes."  Next thing I know she is off running and playing and having a great time with her friends - whew, Ben and I are relieved!

Of course, the first thing I did when we arrived home - check the invitation...

And I'll have you know, "Wear a costume" was no where to be found!! 

Thankfully, Caroline fell asleep on the way home from the party.  And I opted to just let the whole fiasco rest with her, hoping she doesn't remember the time Mommy "messed up"...(BUT, not really).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hooray for Fall!

I must admit FALL is my favorite time of the year.  I love the crisp cool nights, watching the leaves turn their beautiful hues, going for picnics at the park, long walks, s'mores, hayrides, pumpkins, hot tea and everything else that comes with this time of the year!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dare I Enter?

This weekend I took the time to actually "read" the free Parents magazine that arrives each month.  As I got to the end of the magazine, I commented to Caroline that I love reading the last section of the magazine where kids are quoted saying all kinds of silly things.  Caroline asked me to read the comments out loud, and so I did.  We both chuckled at the funny things 2-6 year olds have to say.

Then Caroline asked if she had ever said anything funny enough to send in.  And so I thought for a moment and two comments quickly came to mind -

Caroline, age 2

Checking in on Caroline while she was down for her afternoon nap, I noticed that she was not asleep yet.  I asked her, "Why aren't you asleep?"  She quickly replied, "Because my eyes are open, Mommy!" Duh!

Caroline, age 4

Driving through downtown Atlanta, I pointed out the state capitol to my 5 year old daughter.  Her response back, "If that's the "capital" then where's the lower case?"  We both laughed.

Who knows, you may see one of these in print one day.  Perhaps I'll actually submit them.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

And Now She Knows!

Last Wednesday on the way to church,  Caroline was talking about babies.  She has never been into baby dolls, but lately she has developed a new love for them.  With her new interest comes many questions.

Caroline:  Mommy, what was it like when they cut your tummy to get me out?

Me:  (thinking uh, how do I put this and where is this conversation going)
Well, I didn't actually have my tummy cut.

Caroline:  If they didn't cut you, then how did I get out?

Me: (gulp, here goes)  You actually came out down "there"

Caroline:  You mean out of your "bottom?"  (yes, she still refers to her girl part as her lil' bottom)

Me:  Yep, out of your bottom.

Caroline:  And Andrew too?  (giggles)

Me:  Yep, and Andrew too.  (I begin to wonder what the next question or thought from Caroline will be).

Caroline:  Well, I hope you didn't pee on me!  And I'm glad I wasn't in the room when you had Andrew - You might have pooped on him (explosion of giggles).

I conclude the conversation and use it as a teachable moment (hoping she won't go sharing her new knowledge with all of her friends).  She went on to ask the obvious question, "How in the world does a baby fit out of here (pointing to herself)?"  and, "Will I be able to fit a baby out of me one day?"

I tell her that yes, God specially designed our bodies so that when it is time for us to have a baby, our bodies naturally stretch in all the right places.  This is yet another amazing blessing from God!

She seems happy with my answers and we move on to the next subject and then park and run into Mission Friends.  I on the other hand, walk away from the car thinking, thank you God for providing me with all the right words and for the moment I just got to share with Caroline.  I pray we can always be so open with our communication and that she never hesitates to come to me with her questions.  I just love that lil' girl - even if she does make me giggle (and wiggle just a little on the inside)!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Don't Blink!

Teach me to number my days
And count every moment before it slips away
Taking all the colors before they fade to gray
I don't want to miss even just a second more of this . . .
It happens in a blink;
It happens in a flash;
It happens in the time it takes to look back.
I try to hold on tight,
but there's no stopping time.
What is it I've done with my life?
It happens in a blink . . .
~BLINK by Revive~

I can't even begin to count the numerous times I have heard this song on the radio.  Each time I hear it different images flood my mind -
I pray for a child for a year. BLINK. I am pregnant. BLINK. We find out we will have a daughter.  Her name is chosen.  She will be called "Caroline." BLINK. Caroline is born. BLINK. We are celebrating Caroline's 1st Christmas. BLINK. Caroline says her first word, rolls over, crawls and then walks.  BLINK.  Caroline is one! BLINK. I am pregnant again! BLINK. Andrew is born. BLINK. Andrew is one! BLINK.  We still don't have to worry about kindergarten until "next year." BLINK. "Next year" is here, and Caroline is in KINDERGARTEN! Double Blink. :)
~Idea totally stolen from my bestie, Julie - who did a post like this when her son, Mason went to kindergarten~

By Monday morning, Caroline was very anxious to start kindergarten.  Public schools in Gwinnett County started two weeks back so she was ready for it to be her turn!  Last Thursday, the school held it's kindergarten open-house.  I was very impressed with her new teachers Mrs. Zellner & Mrs. Holcombe.  Mrs. Zellner was the transition kindergarten teacher last year and recently completed her Master's in Education.  Mrs. Holcombe is new to the school but not new to teaching.  She has previously served for years as a kindergarten para-pro in the public school system.

Over the summer, I have doubted our decision to send Caroline to kindergarten at our church many times - doubts that were mainly triggered by other inquisitive parents. They would often ask, where is Caroline going to school?  But, I knew what they were really asking...why are you paying for private kindergarten when you can go to public school for free? (especially when most people know me to be very frugal).   And I must also mention that we live in a great school district and have awesome public schools in Gwinnett County.

Well, here is why...
> I know that my child will only be little for so long.  I desire to spend as much time with her as possible.  A half-day kindergarten program will allow me to ensure she is provided the education she needs while providing me with time I so desire.
> Did I mention the program is a 1/2 day program (9-1) whereas, public schools go a full day?
> I feel like kindergarten is the spring-board to learning.  I want Caroline to be enthusiastic about learning, and I think a smaller environment can help to ensure this.  Plus reading and math foundations are vital to her educational success.  With a student/teacher ratio of 16:2, I am assured she will receive the attention and support she needs.  My decision was further confirmed when I heard that many of the Gwinnett Co schools no longer have para-pros in kindergarten and have 19-23 students and only 1 teacher.  Hence, the reason the church's program only needs to be a 1/2 day - they don't have to start and stop a multitude of times a day, deal with bus/carpool lines, lengthy potty breaks, cafeteria time, etc.
> Speaking of foundations, I love the fact that Caroline will continue to have chapel time each week, learn of God's love for her and be taught in an environment that will help to shape her character to be more like that of Christ.  Not that these things cannot be achieved in public school (given the right teacher and guidance from us), but it is a real plus and might I add comfort to me knowing she is in this environment while she is at school.
> Okay, I admit it... the schedule  just works!  Andrew will also attend the preschool at our church so their drop-off and pick-up times are aligned.  It makes it easy and convenient for myself and all the grandparents.

Well, there you have it - my list of reasons for sending Caroline to North Metro's Kindergarten program.  Please know my heart, and know that none of what is stated above is to condemn public schools or anyone else's education decisions for their child.  I love public school.  I am a product of the public school system and a child of very grateful, retired teacher who survives off a teachers pension :)  My sis-in-law is also one of those GREAT public school kindergarten teachers I mentioned above - which any child would be blessed to have as a teacher & influencer in his/her life.

Okay - well, I know you must be wondering how the 1st day went.

It went exceptionally well!  Caroline slept through the night (Ben and I both predicted she would wake up early over-excited about the first day of school).  We actually had to wake the lil' sleepy head up.  She loved that the night before I painted her finger and toe nails pink.  And upon waking up, immediately looked at her freshly painted nails.

We had not planned to go out for breakfast; however, when Ben asked her what she wanted for breakfast, she exclaimed, "Dunkin Donuts!"  How could I resist - Ben and I are a sucker for their coffee (and what cute pictures it would be)!

After breakfast, the whole family drove to the school.  The first day, we walked her in (carpool starts on Tues).  Caroline walked right in without hesitation, found her hook for her bookbag and then immediately found her seat.  The kids had name strips sitting at their seats and were instructed to decorate them.  Mrs. Z (as she calls herself) told the kids that they would be making the strips into hats to help her and Mrs. Holcombe learn their names.

After that, Ben and I (and Andrew) scooted out of the classroom and were escorted to a special parents breakfast. Such a nice touch! We enjoyed a brief welcome by Mrs. Scates (the Director of the school) and a yummy (homemade, might I add) breakfast.
Ben left for work after breakfast and Andrew and I hung out together until time to pick Caroline up at 1:00.  At pick-up, Caroline still had a smile on her face - and I knew it must have been a GREAT first day!  She chattered all the way home about this new friend and that new friend, centers, playtime, their tour of the facilities...and of course, her special class treat - which she and all the other kids enjoyed!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Berry Sweet Birthday Party!

The theme for Caroline's 5th Birthday party started many years ago - back when I was a little girl and had my own collection of Strawberry Shortcake figurines. Funny to think that these are now considered vintage toys! Thankfully, my mom saved my figurines and Caroline has enjoyed playing with them at my parents house. Of course, she prefers the new "Sassy" Strawberry Shortcake, but I couldn't plan a Strawberry Shortcake party without including "my girls!" I think for many of the moms at the party, they brought back fond memories.

I really ran WILD with Caroline's 5th Birthday Party this year! The theme started with her mentioning she'd like a Strawberry Shortcake themed birthday party (the day after her 4th Birthday)!

I really enjoy designing my own birthday party invitations (plus it saves $). This invitation was super easy. I just googled Strawberry Shortcake images, grabbed the image I liked best, and added a border and text boxes - Quick & Easy! I then printed onto heavy card stock and bought envelopes at Michael's. Invitations: CHECK!

I started looking for decorations at Party City, Michael's, Wal-mart, etc, but only found slim pickings... so I turned to my "go to" for cute stuff - I was so excited to find a downloadable Berry Birthday party template from Dimple Prints that was "just what I was looking for" & the price was perfect (a steal at $10). From the printables, I was able to make a banner, lollipop sticks for the muffins, food labels, signage for the house, and even come up with a fun craft idea! Not bad for $10, eh?

So here are the details you have been waiting for -

1. The Welcome Sign: I used a printable from my awesome etsy find and then visited the Dollar Store for a 50 cent piece of posterboard, pink boa & ribbon. Total cost: around $2, and oh so cute!
2. I borrowed a friends cricut to create these super, cute berry friends (my daughter thought they looked like the Berrykins from the Strawberry Shortcake cartoon). I used this to embellish the banner I made & personalize the decorations.
3. I borrowed this idea from my sis-in-law (thanks!)...I picked up a bag of red & pink polka dot balloons from Hobby Lobby, and decided to just blow up the balloons and forgo the cost of a helium tank. HUGE HIT w/ the kids - they could toss the balloons around, not to mention they were great ground cover for the house and really added to the party decor!
4. I used our outdoor flag stand to hang extra berry pennant sign.
Want more details...I thought you'd never ask!

5. When the guests arrived, we used our playroom as the "holding room" - where the girls colored Strawberry Shortcake pictures while they waited to have their nails painted.
6. All of the guests received rose colored, strawberry glasses - another BIG HIT (Party City find)! We also had a Strawberry Shortcake movie playing in the living room.
7. In the dining room, we had 2 youth painting the girls finger &/or toenails. They really turned out cute! They used red paint as the base, added white polka dots and topped the nails w/ a green stem (Voila! strawberry finger nails for all).
My daughter is crazy, crafty (not sure who she gets it from (Ha!)), so I knew I had to come up with a craft for the party. Who says you can't have a Berry party when Strawberries are out of season? One idea I saw was to have the kids take home a strawberry plant, but since this party was held at the end of August, that was not an option, so we made our "own"strawberry plants - Much More Fun!! First the girls painted their own clay pot, then they took colored craft sticks & glued strawberry pictures to them and last, they got to embellish their pots with pink crinkle grass (Dollar Store find) and fun, berry stickers (clearance at Hobby Lobby).

In addition to making the strawberry pots, we also had a sack race using burlap sacks (borrowed) and had fun with parachutes. The kids also played on the outdoor play equipment. I even pulled out my sewing machine and made, adorable strawberry bean bags; however, we forgot to play the toss game (oh well! they were at least fun to make).

How yummy does this cake look? This is the recipe that my friend's grandmother made for me when I was a child. It turned out GREAT! I did use a strawberry, cream cheese icing recipe to help cut the sweetness.

Creating the menu for the party was very simple. I started off with trying to center the foods around the names of Strawberry Shortcake's friends, but quickly realized they were all "sweet, dessert" names and that wouldn't do! Instead, I just took off w/ the Berry theme! Here is the menu I selected:
Menu for Strawberry Shortcake Party:
Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jam Sandwiches (cut using Pampered Chef press)
Blueberry Muffins (decided to use the cupcake tower to display & add height to the table).
Strawberry Marshmallow Pops (super easy and so Yummy!)
Regular Potato Chips
Tray of Washed Strawberries and Whipped Fruit Dip
Strawberry Applesauce
Pink Lemonade, served in red cups with red fun, straws

Guests left with a good bag (courtesy of Party City) filled with all kinds of Strawberry Shortcake trinkets and candy.
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