The Junior Graduate

GraceAnne is...well, shall we give the report we got from her Pre-K teacher last week? GraceAnne is somewhat bossy. She's given to not listening when she doesn't feel like it and she'll crack jokes at the most inopportune moments. She riles the other kids up and she corrects them like a mother. She's annoying and likes to argue. She also has a temper from you-know-where. Can you see the attitude DRIPPING from that face up there? She is SO her mother's child!
But despite those quirks, GraceAnne is so many awesome things, too. She is the rock I broke myself on. She broke me down and taught me what it was to really live a life outside of yourself. She taught me what love truly is and because I wanted better for her life than I felt my own had been, she brought me to my savior. She bonded me to her daddy and she is the greatest sister, (little AND big!) She is the seed that started this whole amazing life I lead!

GraceAnne is sweet, loving, kind, giving, HILARIOUS. She's intellectual beyond her years and wise to boot. She's so incredibly perceptive with a fantastic memory and she'd do anything to make the people she loves smile. Did I mention she's smart as a whip? I'm sure you've heard me brag on her before, but she's reading and writing and draws better than any of the other kids in her class. She has a vocabulary that matches some adults and she can problem solve with the best of them.
Today was a great day for GraceAnne. She could have cared less about the ceremony, but she is SO excited to be a Kindergartner. She tells us about 20 times a day that she will be 5 soon and she's going to be big. She can't wait to get into school and make new friends and learn new things. She's toured the Kindergarten center and thinks it's awesome. But the first step of that was getting her "diploma." So there she is at the podium being awarded. They said a few words about each student. GraceAnne's favorite colors are pink and purple. Her favorite food is macaroni and cheese. Her favorite thing to do at school is to make crafts and she wants to be a mommy and go grocery shopping when she grows up.

Here's something that just cracks me up about my child. Check out her sweet girly dress and her frilly girly socks and trust me when I say that under that cap she had her hair all dolled up in a hair tie and two bows. But her shoes! Vans slip-ons with black cats on them. I love her! Girly and functional all at the same time! We're so proud of her today! She has really grown up this year and I know it won't slow down for a second. Everyone says I will cry when she goes to Kindergarten, but I don't think so, because she is SO darned ready and excited for it and she really flourishes when she's in school.
Thanks for taking a peek at my big girl. I hope you all feel as Blessed as I do today!


A Veeery Merry Unbirthday!

The girls' birthday party was done in Alice in Wonderland style...A Very Merry Unbirthday tea party. We had cookies in the shapes of flowers and crazy faces and white rabbits. There was tea-but this is Texas, so it was sweet tea and we had finger sandwiches. The tables were adorned with a plethora of tea pots and tea cups. It was very cute, but we got rained out, so we were on the porch instead of in the yard, but we made the best of it!
We were SO BLESSED to have so many great friends come to help us celebrate the girls' birthdays. I really enjoyed having both of their parties together and I hope we can do it again next year. I feel like this will make it easier on people rather than coming out in May and in June for 2 different parties. Did I mention it was FABULOUS to see all of our friends and to show off the house a little bit and just to have good conversation? I really love hosting things here, even though I'm a terrible host.

The kids painted sun catchers. Even the teenagers took a turn after all the kids did 2 each. They were in the shape of flowers and butterflies to honor the Wonderland theme.

Violet very much enjoyed getting new toys! She got a cute new outfit and a new swimsuit and lots of fun new toys to play with. Miss Emma got her these sand toys because she knows just how much Violet likes to play and EAT in the sand.

But...the shoes are always the best part of any occasion. What kills me is she loves everyone else's shoes but hates to wear any of her own!

Miss GraceAnne got the hook up! She got a new shirt and some jewelry, (cuz she's a big girl now!), and some new earrings! She got some new cooking tools from Mommers, which is just perfect since she loves to cook and bake and she got a couple new pony sets. She was in her glory with all her new stuff.

Tonight we fired up the grill for the first time and Allan grilled us a FEAST! We didn't have anyone over tonight, but it was a great dinner anyway. He made steak, burgers, brats, hot dogs, corn and zucchini. And our LAST PIECE of halibut. ***PAT...we NEED some more!*** Strangely enough, even though my mother-in-law mails us halibut every year, this is the first year I have eaten my husband's halibut since we met in Fort Hood. I can't for the life of me figure out why I haven't eaten anymore until now. I swear that halibut is part of the reason I fell in love with him! He was so excited to cook on the new grill. He wasn't the only one:

Here is a very happy customer. She also tasted the zucchini and said it was VERY tasty, but didn't want anymore. She ate a bite of halibut and immediately asked for more. She said daddy's halibut tastes like chicken and was very excited to add fish to her short list of foods she enjoys.

Violet is easily amused with any piece of meat, but she was overly thrilled with her brat tonight. After they ate, the girls shared ice cream. I'm about to swoop in for some corn on the cob, (it wasn't done when the rest of it was...why do I ALWAYS forget to put the corn on first??), so I can have my own ice cream. I hope you all had a great day, too and thanks for taking a peek at my sweet babies!
Oh, and a Very Merry Unbirthday to all of you, too!


Happy 13th Birthday, Lolita!

If you look at the list of blogs I follow, you can see that one of those is Living Proof Ministries, which happens to be Beth Moore, (the bible lady). Her daughter recently went on a mission trip with Compassion International to Kolkata India. Because of her blog posts, we decided to sponsor a child, too.

Her name is Lolita and today is her 13th birthday. We picked her for a few reasons. They are because she has been waiting almost a year for a sponsor. She is Rhiya's age and likes sports like Rhiya does. Her family makes approximately the equivalent of $60 US dollars per month. Our little donation is more than half of what both of her parents bring in. I hope that by hearing that she got a sponsor, God's love and Blessing was so evident to her.

Sponsoring a child is easy and Compassion is a fabulous organization. 100% of your donation goes toward the family. It's only $32/mo to supply a child with adequate food, clothing, an education and Chrisitan ministry. They have children all over the world to choose from. You can pick based on birthdate, gender, country or just have Compassion pick a child for you. You can sponsor as many as your budget can handle and you're encouraged to write frequent letters to your sponsored child. A lot of times our letters are the only encouragement these children recieve.

I hope you'll all join me in praying for Lolita and also sponsor your own child. God calls us to help those less fortunate and while we frequently help people in our own community, it's never life-altering. Knowing that we can change a child's life for so little amazes me. God is so good!


The Graduate

This wonderfully smart and determined hubby graduated from the University of Texas-Southwestern with his Bachelor's degree in Prosthetics & Orthotics last week. His awesome family sent him some SUPER COOL gifts. Here they are:
A beautiful new grill from Great-Grandma Polly and Trish. It's a 60,000 BTU stainless-steel beauty! Very exciting as we've been grilling on a table top grill, (with no table to put it on!), for the last 6 years. Can I get a WOOT!?

Here are the beautiful grates and you can see the 4 stainless steel burners on the inside. Stainless is better for us down here because cast iron rusts out in our wet, humid climate. Yes, we live in Texas, but it's only hot and dry for 3 months of the year. Then it's wet and humid.

A burner! This was my requirement so I can make mac n cheese while we grill meat. Other stuff will be cooked there, as well, but I don't want to heat the kitchen at all if I don't have to.
Of course we also got a grill cover so it stays nice.

Allan's super awesome cousins, Lauren and John, sent him a huge package of Omaha Steaks to cook on the new grill. I can't wait to try them! I've been wanting to order from them forever now!

And then his mum sent money for us to buy some Pampered Chef grill accoutrement. This is what we picked out:

BBQ basting bottle. The BBQ sauce goes in the bottle and comes out the silicone basting brush! The silicone is heat safe to 650 degrees, so it won't melt when we put the sauce on and it won't fray like the usual BBQ brushes.

Jumbo turner, for turning great big old steaks!

BBQ grilling basket for slicing up squashes, mushrooms, etc and giving them that awesome grilled flavor, too.

Outdoor caddy for entertaining. I LOVE PC!!!
So CONGRATULATIONS, ALLAN!! You rock! And thank you to Allan's family for getting him such an AMAZING graduation gift! We will be using it LOTS!
Prayers, please, as we make this transition from students to working class. Allan starts his residency at the Dallas VA on June 22nd. Thankfully the house is done and we can relax during his time off. Anytime we've had time off until now has been spent frantically trying to finish some house project before he had to go back. We're planning to take a couple road trips, but we'll see how finances and time pan out. We love and miss you all!!

Fresh, New and Ours!

It's amazing what some trim and a coat of paint will do! Here is the hallway to the 1/4 bath and the side door with the trim up and the hall painted. That color will extend all the way upstairs via the stair well and also be the upstairs hall color. It ties the rooms together very nicely.

By the way...take a look at the finish on the trim as you go through the pictures. Allan absolutely hates the gloss. I think it looks AMAZING with the flat wall colors. Make sure you post your opinion. I'm hoping it will eventually grow on him.
Here's from the front door looking into the library and further back, the dining room. The library is going to be so fabulous to read books in!

Here's the window trim and the mantle in the library. The mantle will be switched to wood as soon as we save up the money to do so.

Here is the stairwell, updated from yesterday. Looks pretty awesome, doesn't it? Especially considering it used to be just a piece of plywood.

The top of the stairwell, looking down. We argued our case and won for a 36" rail. Apparently 42" is to code, but with me being only 5'5" it was about up to my chest. I don't think either of my kids can dive over a 36" rail right now, and by the time they are old enough to do that, they should know better or else they can call the ambulance themselves. HAHA.


Happy Mother's Day

Our new stairway

Trim in the kitchen, primed and painted.

GraceAnne's new earrings.

Well, today we celebrate mothers. ALL mothers, as my husband learned many years ago, not just your own! (Thanks Pat & Trish!)


There are a lot of moms who have impacted my life, but none so much as my own mother, of course. My mom is my hero in a lot of ways because she showed us how to always make the best of what we had, even if that wasn't much. She taught us that no matter what, family is the most important possession we could have on this earth and to treat it as such. Of course sometimes those lessons were lost on we 3 girls at the time, but rest-assured, mom...I try to make the most of them now. My mom taught me that children are to be the priority, even if that means sometimes going without the newest electronics or the nicest clothes. My mom was strong when I know she could have been weak; she was brave when I know she was scared-as-heck, she was beautiful when the world was hideous to her. So many times in my life I've been angry with her for being less than perfect, but now that I'm a mother myself I truly appreciate that she was human herself. I love you for being you, mom--even if you are stubborn as a mule, impossibly bratty and moody as all get-out sometimes.

Enough of the sentiment...what did we do today? Well, we started the day off with a walk to church and the sermon was really very good. The pastor talked about Mother's Day at Jesus' house. It was a touching message and I can appreciate Mary all the more. Then we bid (and won!) in a silent auction on a flower pot that GraceAnne had decorated last week. It is beautiful, let me tell you what! After church we took GraceAnne to Claire's and got her ears pierced. She is a big girl now! There were 3 rows of earrings to choose from, but the moment I saw the pink flowers I knew that she'd pick them. That's my girly girl! After we got over the blubbering we went to the Darst's farm. I'm sure you've seen me blog about it before. We are in heaven out there. Everything is so laid back and beautiful. We went out to the garden to pick cabbages, lettuce and onions. The kids picked strawberries and ate them. The babies mewed at the new kittens and we enjoyed hamburgers and the company of great friends. As soon as we got home the kids were plopped in the bathtub and they are now in their respective rooms humming about their days. Allan gave me my present earlier this week. I get a 30-minute massage, a hair cut, eyebrow waxing and something else I can't remember, but who cares, cuz it's a spa day for mommy! WOOHOO! I'm so Blessed to have a man who loves me so much.

I hope you all had as wonderful a Mother's Day as I did, and if you didn't, remember that I wish you a Happy Happy Happy Mother's Day and God thinks you're a great mommy, too! He's wild about your kids and the way they're turning out and He's proud of you for doing so well with them, even if you feel like you're not. We LOVE and MISS you all!!


A Day in the Life of a Mischievious 1-Year-Old

Today our tiniest one turned a whole year old! And what a day it was. I thought I'd give you a glimpse into her life for a day and show you how wonderful/exhausting it can be. We started off the day with a nice breakfast. Until Violet pulled the box off the table and dumped all the Trix all over the floor. Naturally, she was overjoyed by this.
Then she was quiet for a few minutes after I sweeped up the Trix and changed her diaper. I should have assumed something was up, but sometimes, as a mom...you just have to enjoy a few seconds of quiet. Even if that means losing half a box of wipes.

While I cleaned that up, she ventured upstairs. Her new favorite place in the house is the bathroom. That's because all of mom's cool makeup is under the sink and it's great fun to throw it all everywhere and put it back in the bag and throw it everywhere again.
Then we got a nap in and escaped the noxious fumes from the trim being stained. We went to Chick-fil-A where we got an awesome lunch and my big girl ate TEN chicken nuggets by herself. Oh...and let's not forget the half container of fruit. I got some great pictures there, but they're on my phone and until we're officially moved back into the house, I have no cord to download those pictures with, so you'll just have to trust me when I say it was awesome. haha.
We dropped by HEB and picked up some cupcakes and a present for the birthday girl, (her gifts are all put away for the big party on the 16th, but she HAD to have something to open on her birthday!), then she napped in the car on the way home and waited for daddy to arrive.

Daddy came and we got to tear into the cupcakes. Violet LOVES chocolate cupcakes. She kept saying MMMMM and shoving it into her mouth. I think she ate it in record time. After I took the wrapper off for her it was all over.

Then we got to open our present...Shhhh...it's a Little People Airplane.

Then we got to play with our new airplane with big sister! She really likes rolling it back n forth on the linoleum. GraceAnne really likes trying to steal it from her. This would be GraceAnne's first birthday in the house that's not hers. She's trying to deal with it gracefully.

Then we got perdy and went to eat at our favorite pizza buffet. Yes...you counted right. This is her THIRD outfit of the day. That's pretty typical for her. She's the ultimate tomboy already. FILTHY to the max 5 minutes out of the crib in the morning. She's still cute, though ;)

Then we came home and got ready for bed. Violet says, "It's not fair! You guys get to stay up and watch a movie and I have to go to bed! It's MY BIRTHDAY!" It's really not fair, but mom's gotta rest sometime!

Besides, she didn't argue for long. Awwww, a sleeping baby. A sleeping *birthday* baby! Not much cuter!
It doesn't seem like a whole year has gone by. So much has changed this year. So many things that have been for so long are changing. Allan graduates in 3 days, our house will be a home in 2 weeks, we're preparing for yet another baby. It seems like just yesterday we welcomed this one into our home and now she's making us laugh (and cry) while she walks around talking to everyone. She is such a joyful girl and I am so grateful to have her in my life. I really am the most Blessed mommy!
Happy first birthday, my sweet, funny little Violet. May God Bless all your days and make his love and plan for you evident early in your life. I'm so glad I get to be your mum!