Thursday, December 30, 2010

Recap of 2010

Phillip proposing to Jillian over Thanksgiving
My boys getting ready for an Auburn game.

4/5 Fab in Auburn + Mason

Boof and me at Matt and Amanda's wedding in June...wow, I do love me with darker skin and blonder hair!
June, Justin was finally home from his 2nd field season!
Mason loves warm spring weather and thick grass to roll around in!
Mother's Day 2010 at Mamaw's
Valentine's Day at the Biltmore Estate
Girls' Weekend in Auburn in January

I honestly can not believe that 2010 has come and gone. As a child, I remember my grandfather saying, "It feels like we have 5 Christmases a year because the time goes so quickly." and now I understand what he meant. As a teacher, I definitely believe in reflection; not harping on the past, but learning from it and looking forward to the future. I also believe that memories are so important and since this blog is one way I keep up with things going on in our lives, I love blogging about the high lights of our year. So, with that said, enjoy as I reflect and recap of all the things God has done in our lives in 2010.

January: 1.) Mom and Jill came back to Auburn with me after Christmas for a girl's trip since Justin was in Mexico for 3 weeks doing research. We had a wonderful visit together! 2.) Because I was having so much fun over the holidays and with family visiting, the morning after they left, I realized I was a week late and took a pregnancy test...indeed, I was pregnant!!! I was shocked. We had been using protection and by no means did this make sense to me. Justin was away and I couldn't call him. "Holy Cow" is all I could say. 3.)Justin got home and we began to celebrate in the surprise of this child. However, on January 21st, God had different plans and at 8 weeks pregnant, our baby went on to be with Jesus. I really don't like the term "miscarriage" because it sounds like a mistake and God's hand was in this the entire time. The next few weeks and even months were defined by this event in our lives as God really began to work on my heart about surrendering my hearts' deepest desire to him and Justin and I both grew significantly as a couple. We also were able to see how wonderful our families and friends were during this time.
February: Valentine's Day trip to Asheville, NC! Justin's grandparents always give us money for Christmas and we had decided that we wanted to use this money to go on a trip. We had no idea how much we NEEDED this time. It honestly was one of my most precious times with Justin. We enjoyed the cute shops and amazing places to eat. We visited the Biltmore Estate and museums. It was a very romantic and intimate weekend for us as a couple. While there, we also realized that God was placing on our hearts a peace about beginning a family. We both realized that we had "our plan" but that it was different than God's plan for us. Though we always thought we would wait to have children after Justin's Master's program, we both knew at this time that God was really asking us to trust Him, so we decided that we would begin "trying" to have a baby and see what God had in mind.

March: Love, love, love the spring time! I had my annual "girls weekend" at OIB in NC with my college best friends and enjoyed the warmer weather and began to really get back into shape. Justin started P 90 X and though I have excercised religiously through out college and since then, I got really focused on wanting to be in the best health possible before I got pregnant. God was continuing to do A LOT in both Justin's and my heart and we were learning a lot about trusting Him.

April: Justin's family visited for their annual Easter trip and we continued to enjoy the spring. Justin's grandparents also visited at the end of the month. We always enjoy family coming into town. We enjoyed taking Mason to the dog park, going to baseball games, working in the yard, and reading under our magnolia tree in the afternoons after work.
May: Justin left for his 2nd field season, leaving Mason and I to have some bonding time. We spent Mother's Day weekend at Mamaw's house (which was very difficult for me this year, after having lost our first baby and not being pregnant yet) so it was really great to be with Momma and Mamaw that weekend. Mason and I watched the month fly by as the school year came to a close and spending all our afternoons going on long walks and keeping the house tidy without Justin there to make things dirty. :) Mason celebrated his first birthday and got to each a whole pork chop! On Memorial Day weekend, Zach, Jillian, and Phillip came to visit. We had a great time and Jillian got to stay with me for the week afterward, moving into June.

June: Jillian started the month off with me laying by the pool, eating lots of Tutti Frutti, and going shopping. We headed north back home and I started my 3 week visit to NC. I was able to attend 2 college girl friends' weddings as well as Mason and I spending some much needed time with Justin in the Outer Banks. I was also able to visit with my family and friends from home and it was wonderful.

July: Justin and I spent the 4th of July in Auburn with friends. Beth, Natalie, and Candice visited Auburn and it was so nice to have a piece of "home" in Auburn! While they were here, we found out after 5 months of lots of prayers and waiting, we were indeed pregnant!!! It was so great to have close friends from home to share the news with us. Justin's birthday came and we almost lost Mason to poison. We also had our 2 year anniversary, which was bittersweet as well as we awaited news if Mason would make it or not. Praise the Lord, he did and our "first son" was back home with us. It took him several weeks to get back to his old self, but we were so glad to have him back home with us. Justin and I enjoyed the rest of the month relaxing and enjoying the summer with wonderful Auburn friends.

August: School and volleyball season came too quick for me, but it was a good transition, even though I was in my first trimester. Fortunately, I did not have to worry too much about morning sickness, I got more sick at night, but my exhaustion was like nothing I had experienced. Before getting pregnant, I honestly thought many women were kind of wussy when they talked about being tired and sick all the time and I ate my words. Though I vowed I would never complain about a single symptom in pregnancy since it's something I so deeply wanted, I really was the most tired I have ever been. Justin was a champ and helped me so much during this time.

September: Justin's parents visited for a football game and we enjoyed our last official days of summer. However, I was pumped because fall is my favorite time of year! We did lots of yard work and enjoyed the cooling nights, football games, and fall foods. We also enjoyed a visit home to celebrate in the wedding of some good friends in Shelby, as well as celebrating the wedding of good friends over Labor Day weekend with friends in Auburn.
October: I celebrated my 25th birthday, as well as finding out we were going to have our little boy, Jude. What a blessing and the best birthday present ever, to know our son was healthy! We carved our 4th annual jack-o-lantern and enjoyed home made pumpkin bread for Halloween. (One of Justin's favorite traditions.) Justin's grandparents were also able to visit! Unfortunately, volleyball season came to an end, but not without us going all the way to sub-state, winning the Area Tournament, coming in 2nd in the Regionals, and ending up in the top 16 6-A teams in the state. I was very proud of our girls!

November: My parents came for a visit and we had a great time. We enjoyed going to the Calvary Museum in Columbus and prepared for cooler weather. We officially put the flannel sheets on and put Mason's "warm" blanket in his pin. We enjoyed long walks together at night and snuggling on the couch. My exhaustion was much better so I finally saw after 9 pm again. :) We enjoyed Thanksgiving with Justin's family, as well as a quick visit from Jillian and Phillip. The very end of November brought great news to our family, we were gaining a brother in law...Phillip had proposed to my baby sister!

December: After decorating the house and listening to my first Christmas song of the season, I was in official Christmas mode. December was really great for us! We picked out lots of gifts and spent a lot of great quality time with our friends in Auburn before leaving for the holidays. We also had the nursery painted and the crib set up, so when we get home after New Year's with the rest of Jude's furniture, his nursery will be almost finished. It's really beginning to set in that 2011 will be totally different once our little man arrives!

Each day is so quick to pass and I am reminded of the importance of making each moment count. Sorry for the long post, but after looking back, we have so many great memories to be thankful for so many people have touched our lives in 2010. Thank you Lord for your many blessings.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas from North Carolina

Christmas 2010 has come and gone, but it's been a wonderful one! We started our Christmas break with 2 baby showers for Jude, 1 in Shelby and 1 in Asheboro with family and friends. We feel extrememly blessed to see people's love poured out over us as we welcome our first son!

Before Christmas, Justin had to go to Virginia Tech for a few days to finish up some collaboration with researchers there, but it gave some time for me and Jillian to catch up on some girl time during the day and have family time at night with my family. On Christmas Eve, we enjoyed a day full of games and hanging out with family and lots of baking and then we had a great dinner. On Christmas morning, we shared in the family tradition of Daddy reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 and having prayer, then we all opened gifts. Again, we are so blessed. To think of all the many families, especially children who don't have anything to open on Christmas breaks my heart. However, the saddest part is that so many people have no idea of WHY we celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Savior. I think that's one reason why I love giving gifts, because it's a symbol of God's great love for us, His greatest gift.

Justin's parents got us a new camera, which I really love and have been taking lots of pictures with (and I also got a LOFT gift card to use in the spring after Jude is born! Already looking forward to shopping, post baby!) My parents were great "Santa and Mrs. Clause" this year, getting exactly what I asked for with a few surprises. I wanted new black boots and perfume, and they're great. My siblings also showered us with gifts and they all also bought Jude some of his first Christmas presents. At first I thought it was strange, but my Mom made an excellent point; Jude is just as much alive right now growing inside of me as if he were here, and I totally agree with her! Of course...God has given him life since the minute he was conceived, one of our greatest blessings, our son!

I officially cooked brunch for the whole family with sausage, biscuits, eggs, and hashbrowns and Mom topped it off with her amazing home cooked chipped beef gravy!!! YUM! The rest of the day we hung around the house and had a dinner with my extended family. Around 7:30 pm, the snow began to fall and we officially had a white Christmas.

This morning we got to enjoy our 7 inches of snow and we have lots of fun pictures to share when we get home. Tomorrow, after wedding dress shopping with Jillian and Mom, Justin and I will go to Shelby to bring in the new year and spend time with his family. What an amazing Christmas, one of the best!

Merry (late) Christmas from North Carolina!--Pictures to come!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mary's Attitude

The following excerpt is from a women's devotional blog I use often (see it on my "Friends" section"). This is the devotion for today (written by: Marybeth Whalen) and it really struck my heart and brought about deep conviction. I wanted to share it, especially to my women friends:

“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”Luke 2:51

Not much is known about Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is obvious from the Scriptures that she was a young girl who loved God and was willing to obey Him at all costs. We don’t know how God chose her to be the mother of His Son — we just know He did. Her response to the angel when she finds out about God’s plan for her is our first clue as to why God knew she would be a great mother for Jesus: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).

Recently, my children and I were reading in Luke where Jesus goes missing as a young teen, and His parents find Him in the temple. After searching for three days! As parents, we panic if we lose track of our child for a few minutes in a store. Can you imagine searching a city for three days for your 13 year-old son?

When they finally found Jesus, He was in the temple and wondered what all the fuss was about. The Scripture says that He told them He was where He should be, in His Father’s house. “But they did not understand what He was saying to them” (Luke 2:50).

As my children and I read this passage, I tried to put myself in Mary’s shoes. Her son had been missing. I am sure she vacillated between trusting God and panicking. And this was how I know that I would not have been a candidate for the Mother of Jesus award: as I tried to picture my reaction to finding Jesus in the temple after searching for three days, I pictured myself joyous and relieved. Then I pictured those feelings giving way to anger and questions.

Okay, so that was before the days of cell phones. He truly had no way to let His parents know where He was. But why didn’t He stay with them in the first place? I got angry for Mary! And then I read the next verse: “But His mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51b).

The last time we saw Mary treasuring an event in her heart was right after her son was born. Once again, things were not going the way I would have wanted. She had given birth in a cold stable in dingy surroundings. Again, I was reminded of how accepting of her circumstances she was, and how her attitude reflected that.

Our verse for today reminds us of a young woman at peace with her circumstances, trusting God no matter how things would work out. Fast forward 13 years later and she is still that kind, gentle woman — no yelling at Jesus, no threats, no yanking Him by the ear when they finally find Him. Instead, the Scriptures tell us that she treasured “all these things.” Would I have been able to treasure that dirty stable? Would I have been able to treasure that seemingly errant teen?

As I pondered these two times where Mary is seen treasuring her circumstances, I began to wonder how often things go wrong in my life and I react instead of reflect. So I’m allowing these two Scriptures to seep into my heart. Is my attitude, “May it be to me as You have said,” or is it, “Okay, God, this is not the way it’s supposed to be and I want You to fix it right away.”
As we go through this season of celebrating Jesus’ coming, I plan to work on my attitude when things don’t go right. I plan to practice accepting God’s plan when it doesn’t match mine. I plan to learn to treasure and ponder instead of whine and complain. I plan to grow in my love and appreciation of Jesus, just as Mary did. I plan to marvel at His coming and revel in His glory. And most of all, this Christmas, I plan to search for Him everywhere, just as she did — and never lose sight of Him again.

Dear Lord, thank You for sending Your Son into this world. As we celebrate His birth, help me to focus on who He is and why He came here. Help me to be the kind of servant to You that Mary was and for my attitude to reflect that each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Friday, December 17, 2010

Early Christmas in TN Pictures

Jeff, me, Justin, and Zach after church
Jamen and Cousin Zach

Me and sweet, little Jamen

Daddy and Jamen with Cousin Justin

Jamen with Great Aunt Dee Dee

Because of our crazy holiday schedule visiting family and friends, Justin and I travelled up to Athens, TN the first weekend of December to visit my Mamaw and Mom's side of the family. :) Momma and Zach were able to meet us there as well even though they get to go back after Christmas. :) Though we'll greatly miss our Christmas Even traditions with everyone we still had a great time and we got to meet the newest addition to the Cantrell family, Jamen!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stormy Weather

We have been doing a study of Jesus in Sunday School and last week, we focused on Jesus being God. We read Mark 4:35-41, the story of how Jesus calms the storm while sailing on the Sea of Galilee. Please take the time to read this short passage. If you've grown up in church at all, you're familiar with the story, but the details we can pull out as adults are so awesome.

First of all, in verse 35, Jesus tells his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side." (meaning the sea) and they all went. They didn't call home to tell everyone where they were going. They didn't need to cancel their own plans or pack a suit case, they just went. They trusted Him and went. Then, as, they're sailing along, a violent storm comes up and Jesus stays asleep. Of course his disciples are flipping out, but he's tired. After they ask him to "Don't you care if we die?" he gets up and with 1 statement "Quiet! Be still" the storm stops. The author of the commentary compares this to a parent with a child, except, Christ has this power over a force of nature.

I wanted to write about this story and what I've learned from it because of the simplicity of holding onto Jesus. Well, I say simplicity, but it really can be a struggle. In "stormy" times of our lives, weather it be loss, heartache, health issues, or immense stress, we so often want to fix things ourselves and not allow God to take control. I am trying to get in the mindset of the disciples in Mark 4:41, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!"

When we question the world around us and the issues that are tearing us apart, the same man that commanded the waves to be quiet has that authority in our lives...that is something to be excited about!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Pic Out Takes and a Few Others

If only he would behave...oh how much more difficult it will be with Jude in the mix. :)

Some potential
My Sweet sister who is almost a nurse!!!


Since my current camera is broken and Santa is bringing me another one, I am at the mercy of others to take pictures of me and my family and send them to me. Sweet Jillian took some cute ones while in Shelby but in the midst of finals, finally got them to me. Thanks Jillian! Love you!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tis So Sweet

There are so many things on my mind right now. I fear that this blog will be a vent/rambling session. Oh well, here it goes:

As Christmas quickly approaches, God has really placed on my heart how richly blessed we are. I hear of people have death and sickness in their families, as well as so many homes that will have little food and gifts this season. As I sit here and type, I sense God asking me to really love on people right now. We should always do this, it's kind of a big deal, but especially right now. Justin has been absolutley amazing the last few weeks as he's been placed under such stress at school/work, but he's really stepped it up at home, in spite of what's going on inside. I can feel Jude moving around like crazy right this second and I am reminded of the precious gift God has given us...our first son.

On days when I feel like complaining or being rude or just frustrated, I have to remember how richly blessed I am. Justin and I both have good jobs, we have a safe home, reliable vehicles, a healthy baby growing inside, a loving and supportive family, I mean, seriously, the list could go on and on, yet I often question Him!?!? "What if this happens?" or "I don't want that." are so quick to come to my mind, but God is asking me to trust Him with the details. To really surrender.

As I was doing a quiet time yesterday, for some reason, the old song "Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus" came to my mind and I've been singing it every since. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the "little" things of life that I forget that my purpose here is to bring Him glory. I am learning, it really is so sweet to just trust Him.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Our Christmas Tree, 2010

Justin and I had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving holiday in Shelby, NC this past weekend. After a hiking trip with his friend Walter and the dogs, Justin and I met up in Shelby Tuesday night to start off a great trip home. Jillian and Phillip came to Shelby for a visit on Wednesday, which was great. We did a little shopping and had a great lunch, but most importantly, it was so nice to spend some time with them! Oh, how I miss my baby sis!

On Wednesday night, we all decided to go see a movie so Justin, Derrick and Cody went to see the new movie with the Rock in it. They seemed to enjoy it. However, Gina and I went to see "Love and Other Drugs" with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gellenhall. We both were really pumped about it. Though I really did like the story line, there were the most innappropriate amounts of nudity and cursing. I mean, they must have said the "F" word 500 times and I'm talking almost full frontals of women. It was terrible. At one point, Gina and I were going to walk out. I would not recommend this movie to anyone unless you are desiring to watch soft pornography. Looking back, we should have walked out. We pretty much covered our eyes for 1/2 of the movie.

On Thursday, we had a great lunch at Mamaw Evelyn's and then dinner at the Dellinger's. Justin's family is really big and it's always fun to spend time with them and catch up. Friday was a good "lazy day" watching football (Go Tigers I might add!) and hanging out with family. We also went to the Shelby High School football game that night with Justin's family...they're off to the state semi-finals next week! Go Golden Lions!

When we got back on Saturday, I really wanted to go ahead and decorate....our last Christmas without little ones. So we did and above you can see a picture. I am really excited because the first 2 years or our marriage we just had a little tree and this year we have a big one, with all the ornaments Gina has gotten Justin through out his whole life. Each ornament represents a different special thing in the year it represents, so that's very special. :)

Lastly, to end our Thanksgiving break with a bang, my sister called me yesterday to tell me that her and Phillip are engaged! I am very happy for them and pray God' blessings over them as they enter this new season of life!

So, now that Thanksgiving is over, it truly is ONE OF the most wonderful times of the year...

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Silly Students

I guess you could say that I have really "popped" in the last 3 weeks. I am officially 23 1/2 weeks pregnant and until about week 21, I could tell I was pregnant, but everyone else insisted that there was barely a bump. Well, Jude is definitley growing. At my last appointment, I was measuring perfectly and was right on target for healthy weight gain. Most importantly, Jude's heart beat was healthy and he's definitely moving around like crazy. You can see my stomache move and it's so neat to think about who our sweet son will become and how God is going to use him.

Any who, last week I wore a fitted shirt that really showed off my growing stomache and one of my students decided to tell me, "Wow. Mrs. D! Your baby is really growing!" It was too funny!

Jude is very low. Pregnancy has really shown just how long waisted I am. Most people by the 5th month have their belly button protruding and I'm into my 6th and it's not even 1/2 way out. Like I said, I'm measuring perfect, so it's not that I'm smaller, it's just he has a lot of room before he get's into my ribs.

I apologize for a lack of pictures. My camera broke and I'm hoping to get one at Christmas. Mom took pictures of me at 20 weeks when they visited, but has yet to send them to me. Hopefully, Jillian will take some on Wednesday and I can share then. :)

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Jamen!


My cousin Jeff, who has always been like a brother to me and a great friend, and his wonderful wife whom I love dearly, Gerri Le, had their first son early this morning! Jamen Alan Cantrell was born at approximately 1:30 am in Athens, TN. He weighed 5 lbs and was 18 inches long. (He was 6 weeks early.) He is doing absolutely wonderful and so is Momma!

Jeff and Gerri Le, we are so happy for you. Praise God for His unspeakable gift! What a blessing! Justin and I are so excited that Jude will have a cousin to grow up with so close in age! I feel him kicking right now as I'm typing about Jamen!

Gran Deb (aka, my Aunt Debbie, my Mom's sister) and Papa Roggie are also the proud grandparents! YAY!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween! (Belated)

Our Jack-O-Lantern for 2010

I really enjoy the holiday of Halloween. Though I DO NOT like scary things including costumes, movies, tricks, etc., I think that Halloween can be a fun time to let children be creative with fun costumes and socialize with the community while getting candy. There is a lot of controversy about Christians participating in Halloween, but I believe that it is something that can be very appropriate and fun for kids of all ages when taught accurately.

I'm not going to lie. I was disappointed last night! Since I LOVE Halloween and seeing all the kids dressed up and such (we have a lot of great Lamb family memories from this holiday) I cannot believe we missed out on trick-or-treating in Auburn. Our first year living here, Halloween fell on a Friday and we had plans to go to the AHS football game. Apparently, there is a big shin dig for families down town on the Thursday before Halloween that I was told took the place of trick-or-treating for most families in this community. So, just to be sure on Halloween of 2008, Justin and I lit our Jack-o-lantern, turned on our porch light, and left a bowl of candy for any kids who dropped by. When we returned home, there was very little candy missing from our bowl so we assumed that people were right and the kiddos had their fun in Auburn a day early.

Last year, Halloween of 2009, we were living in a different house much closer to down town and we were told that many families will hit up the neighborhoods after the shin dig down town. (Again, the the Thursday before Halloween that fell on a Saturday that year.) So, I went out and bought a TON of candy because I was pumped to have trick or treaters. We had 2 come by our house! Talk about disappointed. Again, the light was on, the jack-o-lantern lit, and 2 stinkin' kids.

So, this year, Halloween fell on a Sunday and we were sure no one would come by our house. The "shin dig" has already taken place for Halloween 2010 in Auburn on Thursday, so we made dinner and began to carve our jack-0-lantern for this year. Nothing lit yet (we were a little late on the carving this year) and NO light on. I'm serious, we had 15 families with at least a total of 40 kids come through our neighborhood and over 1/2 of them stopped by our house. The first few we actually answered the door and told them we were sorry, we had no candy, and then eventually we stopped going to the door. What happened? Why was this year different? The one year I could have had trick-or-treaters, no one relayed the message to me that kids were doing it differently this year and I missed out. Super disappointed. Any might I add that poor Mason was mortified at kids dressing up as "strange" beings knocking on our door. Needless to say, he did a great job protecting the fort last night.

Oh well, 3 years, no luck...next year we'll have little Jude out and about ourselves! :) And, yes we've already decided, Justin is going to be Steve Erwin and Jude is going to be a crocodile!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Jillian

Jill was such a wonderful "auntie" even after Mason ate her first "from scratch cake.
Jill at 16 and me at 19.


God has blessed me tremendously with 2 wonderful siblings, including my baby sister Jillian. I can't believe she is 22 today! We have shared so much in life including playing Little House on the Pararie, me making her be my pretend model (that's how I got to be good at doing hair and make up) and lots of fights, especially in high school. However, she is truly a part of me. Plenty of late night talks, laughing til we pee ourselves, and crying hysterically has helped me become the woman I've become today.

She was one of the first people I told I was engaged, she stood by me as my maid of honor at my wedding, I called her as soon as we found out we were pregnant...all of these important mile stones we have shared. I love you very much Jillian! I hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

18 Week Pictures, even though I'm 19.5




The past week, Jude has really began to pop out so these pictures don't do him justice. However, while trying to use my camera this morning in a lesson, my lens officially broke so I don't know how I'm going to take update pictures until hopefully Christmas, when we get a new camera!

Justin and I went to Columbus last night to register at Babies R Us. We had so much fun! Justin was way cute about everything! I didn't know if I would want to do a theme, but when we found "Jungle Babies" it was too perfect for Justin's son. :) It's kind of crazy to think that this time next week, we'll be half way through my pregnancy. Holy Cow!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Flowers and Birthdays




Jude has already taken my birthday thunder since we found out he was a he the day before it, so I am just now getting to blogging about my 25th birthday. That's right, on October 14 I turned a quarter of a century old, haha. Honestly, having the news of a healthy baby boy could not have been any better of a present, but along with that wonderful news, I did feel extremely loved and appreciated. I got lots of cards and money (thank the Lord I can get some new glasses now) from family and my sweet friends at work and students had me a cake and a few surprises. Justin was super sweet and bought me some fall flowers for the yard, which is what I asked for. We got some new mums and pansies to keep the yard bright until winter. We also went to Dreamland BBQ in Montgomery the following weekend.

Thankfully, my birthday is not marked with bad luck like Justin's. 2 years ago, he hit another truck on his birthday and this past year was when we had the terrible poison scare with Mason, so next summer on Justin's birthday, we're staying inside all day, no accidents! :)
Happy Belated Birthday to me. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jude Aaron Dellinger's 1st Debut

This is his whole body, while standing on his head.
His sweet little profile.

Knees bent and something in between. Definitely a boy!

That's right! God has given us a beautiful and healthy baby boy! He is looking perfect and healthy, praise the Lord. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and joy! Justin and I are so excited to start a family with a son! We are praying for a continued healthy and safe pregnancy, as well as the hope that Jude will follow Christ's plan for his life at an early age. I'm so excited to be able to call him by name now, instead of Tater. :)

Mason is hysterical. I have read that dogs can since when you're pregnant and be very cuddly and protective. Well, on Sunday afternoon, Justin and I were snuggling on the couch and started kissing. Mason started barking and literally jumped on the couch and tried to get in between us. He would snuzzle his nose in between our heads. This went on for 5 minutes. He was so funny. He also has a routine that he is allowed to get on the bed ONLY with his blanket down over our comforter (can't stand dog hair in the bed, yuck) and he can only do this when we're lying in bed with him reading and/or watching t.v. Once we're ready to go to bed, one of us will tell him "bed time" and he'll go get in his kennel. Well, last night, I put his blanket in his usual place and he refused to lie there. He pulled it with his teeth to right beside me, rather than at the foot of the bed, and cuddled up next to my stomach. It's amazing to see how they sense things.

I guess I'm outnumbered. I have Justin, Mason, and Jude! So fun...a house full of boys...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Loves Me or Loves a Good Deal? :)



I think it's because he loves me! Justin won the "Best Husband" award today for sure. If you know my husband at all, you know he hates shopping, could care less about buying anything other than food, books, and camping gear, and knows nothing about babies. However, today he really pulled through!
The Kids Clothing Connection is a semi-annual consignment sale that comes to Opelika. They allow 1st time Mom's to come a day earlier than the general public if you pre-register, but the time is during the day while I'm at work. I asked Justin if he would be willing to go and he agreed to it. I research all of our "big" needs/wants for the baby and their retail prices. I then researched good consignment prices. And, off Justin went with a list of words and numbers he knew nothing about.

After 7 phone calls, this is what he came home with: (A few pictures are above)

1. Chicco Cortina Stroller, Car Seat, Base Set, Retail-$329+tax, with an additional base, retails at $75, total retail, approximately $425, including taxes

Our price=$120! And it's in excellent condition
2. Chicco Ultrasoft Baby Carrier-Retails @ $80, got it for $25! It still had the tags on it and was in the original packaging. This is what Justin is most excited about!
3. Gracco Pack-n-Play-Retails @ $70-$120, we got one for $25.
4. Bumbo Seat + Eating Tray-Retails at $45 and we got it for $20
Needless to say, God is good. He always provides! We spent $190 and the stroller itself is so much more than that! Yay! I'm going tomorrow to look for other good deals!
Justin was so proud, he even came by my classroom so I could go outside and see the items! He did a great job. I think this was his first big step into Daddy-hood.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wonderful Wedding Weekend and Bump Pics

Justin and me at the Cherka/McPherson Wedding
10 Weeks-nothing yet

15 Weeks, 3 days, definitley a bump. I've had to begin using the rubber band trick on some of my pants!

We spent a wonderful weekend in Shelby, NC visiting family and celebrating with our sweet friends, Matt and Amy, in their wedding. I took the day off on Friday to go to our appointment aforementioned on the blog then we hit the road by lunch to spend some good, QT with family. We enjoyed dinner with Justin's parents, as well as my whole clan in Charlotte and it was soooo good seeing everyone. This was the first time we've seen our families since we've found out about our addition and it was so good to actually just "be with them".

On Saturday, we drove to Denver (NC that is) and spent a few hours with each set of Justin's grandparents. I really enjoyed our time together and loved seeing them. We got to bring home some of Mamaw Joyce's apple butter and Mamaw Ann's strawberry fig preserves, so that was a treat!

On Saturday evening, we enjoyed the wedding, which was beautiful! Matt's mother is an amazing cook and she actually catered the whole thing herself. Needless to say, Justin was happy. Good food=happy Justin. :) We did have to get home in time to watch the 2nd half of the Auburn game with Justin's family, but I fell asleep, oh well. :)

Sunday we were able to see many of our Shelby friends again in Sunday School and we enjoyed a yummy lunch with Justin's Mom and Dad and Cody. After lunch, the boys all took a nap while Gina and I went to the mall for a little while, then Justin and headed back south. Though it was a short trip, it was so good to be "home".

God has so graciously blessed us with a "home away from home" in Auburn and amazing friends who feel like family. However, nothing beats grandma's cooking or hugs from your own Momma and Daddy.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tater Update...

We went to the doctor on Friday and everything looks perfect! I'm measuring right on target and Tater's heart beat was 155 beats per minute. We will find out the gender on Wednesday, October 13th, the day before my birthday! Please be praying that everything looks great on the ultrasound....an update about this weekend with family will come shortly!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Breathe

Lord, I don't want to be in control. I want to trust You. I want to relinquish control of every detail of my life and let you shine through me. I want to be LOYAL! No matter what happens on this earth, I will serve You. Please, help me to stay strong. I love You and want to trust You. When I am so unsure of what is going to happen, help me to believe that You have already paved the way for us. You will direct our steps. May Your will be done through me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

If Only We Would Ask...

"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16b

The Lord has really been teaching me how and why to pray. As Justin and I enter into some exciting months ahead, with major decisions that will effect our family, we have realized the importance of taking every detail to the Lord. While learning this, I wanted to share with you some thoughts, as well as a personal example of what God is doing through prayer.

We had the priviledge of hearing from a couple, the Jane's, in Sunday School last week. They gave their testimony and talked about the importance of prayer in marriage. They emphasized WHY it works and HOW we should do it. It could not have been a more perfect lesson for Justin and I. We have been really convicted about having more prayer time together as a family and seeing the fruition of it in others' lives really hit home.

As I look back in my life and see the things that I have really sought God after, it truly is amazing how powerful and effective our prayers can be, if only we ask. I've seen healing, restoration, salvation and so much more. Honestly, however, some of my favorite things is to see the details. There was 1 time in college that I needed exactly $100 to cover the rest of my monthly bills, so that's what I prayed for. No kidding, the next day, a family I babysat for gave me $100 for a "summer bonus"! Talk about being faithful. He will always provide what we need.

Recently, I have been burdened about how we would buy Christmas presents. God has richly blessed us with my job and Justin's graduate school, however, we are on a budget, especially now with our Tater on the way. Our first year of marriage, we were blessed enough to have a ton of gifts cards left over from our wedding to buy gifts. Last year, Justin sold his student season tickets for a large sum that more than covered the cost. However, that money this year is going to pay for a trip out west for Justin to look at Ph.D positions. So, here we were, thinking, how much do we need to save for the next 4 months to buy Christmas presents?

Some would say, "Don't worry, it's not a big deal. Families understand with a baby coming." However, those people obviously don't know me. The way I show love and appreciation towards others is giving. I love to make things, bake things, and surprise people, even with little things. So, to think of a Christmas that I didn't go out seeking the perfect gift for each person I love the most would honestly be torturous to me. I also love a deal, so I actually enjoy working with a budget. So, Justin and I discussed exactly how many people we would buy for and how much we would spend on each. With that said, I gave it to the Lord and asked that He would provide. Provide He did!

Last weekend, a dear, sweet friend of mine, Mindy, got married. I was given the opportunity to do her hair, as well as her bridesmaids. I was able to make just enough to cover our Christmas present budget!!! I could not be more excited or thankful! Again, if only we would ask, He always provides!

Thank you Lord, for your faithfulness.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Students' Take on the Oil Spill

After teaching a science lesson on the oil spill in the Gulf, here are some of my students' responses:

Question: Describe ways people use oil.
Answer 1: They use oil for cooking, cars, and cutting grass.
Answer 2: They use oil for fried food and to make food not stick also.

Question: How would you raise money to help people in the Gulf?
Answer 1: I raise money like having a concert like Jimmy Buffet did.
Answer 2: I would raise money by getting tithes and offerings.

Some things never cease to amaze me. :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Auburn Volleyball

I have started my 2nd year as the assistant volleyball coach/conditioning coach at Auburn High School. I also help with the JV and middle school teams. I realized that I've never shared this passion and joy on the blog before! We're going in full swing with our season so I wanted to dedicate a post to my wonderful players and co-coaches.

I have had the priveledge of coaching with 3 wonderful other coaches, Jan, Mindy, and Abby. We work great as a team and have a ball when we're together.

We also have a GREAT group of girls this year. They work hard, push themselves, are so respectful, and have really fun, laid back attitudes. Being a student athlete myself growing up, some of my favorite memories of my life are on the volleyball or basketball court or the softball field. I know how important these memories are to these girls. Not only is being an athlete something that's important, but as a coach, I also have the opportunity to share my faith and my life stories with these girls. I know some of the most influential people in my life (for good or bad) from the ages of 10-18 were coaches and I hope I can spare some nuggets of truth for these girls to take with them. I pray for them each every day and feel so blessed to be a part of this team. Right now we're 3-4 but we have some great games this week, including Ben Russell tomorrow night! Any who, coaching has become something I love, almost as much as playing and I am so thankful for this opportunity!

Friday, August 27, 2010

170 Beats Per Minute

That's right...that was Tater's heart beat at the doctor's office today! Everything is looking healthy! Thank you to everyone who has been lifting us up in your prayers. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Far Away

Living, He loved me.
Dying, He saved me.
Buried, He carried my sins far away.
Rising, He justified, freely forever
One day He's coming, Oh glorious day!

This is one of my favorite choruses...it's been on my heart. How richly blessed I am to have a risen Savior. No matter what the circumstances, God does indeed work together for good. Every day, I see His hand. Thank you Lord for your many blessings and unspeakable gift!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

School has begun...and Sausage and Cheese Muffins

I can not believe that the 2010-2011 school year kicked off today and is already over. I am really excited about this school year. I have 11 students in my self-contained special education classroom, with 2 para-professionals and several other members of our SPED team. :) I am totally stoked about really focusing on functional skills like learning the public transportation system, money sense, and every day shopping and living. I love preparing my "babies" for the read world. They are too funny and never a dull moment. I also announced to them today about "Tater". Their faces were priceless! My para-pros and I joked that would be the most quiet moment in our classroom all year! One student, knowing "How you make a baby!" almost asked, "Who's the daddy?" before remembering that I'm married. I assurred them, "It's ok, remember, I'm married." Another student told me her Mama would fuss her out if she came home pregnant. I told her that her Mama was right to do so. :) So, with all that said, 2010-2011, here we come!

Sausage and Cheese Muffins
(These are one of my most favorite things in the world to make ahead of time, put them in freezer bags, and use as needed. They are Ms. Denise's (Martha's Mom) recipe.)
Ingredients:
-1 lb. lean spicey sausage, cooked and drained
-2 1/2 cups bite sized pieces of 2% velveeta cheese (I just chop up about 1/2 of 1 large block)
-6 Whole Wheat English Muffins, cut in 1/2

Directions:
1. Melt cheese on low heat in skillet and add sausage.
2. Spoon onto english muffin halves
3. Broil for about 4-5 minutes on cookie sheet
4. Allow to cool, serve or freeze for later.

Monday, August 2, 2010

1 Samuel 1:27


"I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted me what I asked of Him."


God has chosen to bless us with a beautiful baby! We could not be more excited, scared, nervous, or overjoyed! Such a rush of emotions and gratitude. At our first visit, everything looked perfect and "Tater's" heart beat was 126 beats per minute. (Justin decided tater would be short for Tater Tot, since that's about how big he/she is. Please be praying for me and our precious little one!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

10 Reasons Why I Love my Hubs...




1. He is the hardest working person I know...pulling 15 hour days to him is no biggie.
2. He is so willing to learn. When we got married, he didn't do laundry, dishes, any kind of clearning around the house. When I got home Tuesday night from volleyball, the laundry was folded, the dishes were put away, and the kitchen was clean. :)
3. He takes constructive criticism. He is not proud of puffed up when I ask him to work on something. He listens, takes it it, and tries to do better. (*I still am working on this trait.)

4. He doesn't care what other people think. He is who he is and if you don't like him, your loss. (*I myself am a people pleasure through and through. I need to grow some tough skin.)

5. He is driven. He knows what he wants and has surrendered that to the Lord.

6. He's funny. Justin is always cracking jokes and picking.

7. He's a terrible driver. We won't mention the speeding tickets, the bump ups, the deer...but he's ok with that. His attitude is, "Oh well."

8. He's a family man. He knows all of his parents, grandparents, and great grandparents birthdays and he actually reminds me to mail them cards. He loves his family and time with them and their opinions and advice are very important to him.

9. He's HOT...let's be honest, my hubby does look pretty good. :)

10. He loves Jesus more than he loves me. I have no doubt in my mind that Justin absolutely adores me, but I know that his walk with the Lord is first in his life...I can be so much more confident as he leads our family knowing this.
Love you Justin!

Monday, July 19, 2010

What a Weekend....



The birthday boy, in typical form...

Our little fighter...


So, this weekend was quite an adventure. Saturday was Justin's birthday, but instead of doing a tone of celebrating, we spent a lot of time worrying about Mason. For those who have not kept up on Facebook, Mason got into some kind of commericial agricultural strength insecticide Saturday morning and became extremely sick. Justin rushed him to the vet where he peed uncontrollably, vomitted every where, and had convulsions. They quickly put him on the IV's and began treating him. At one point on Saturday night, the vet told us there was nothing he could do, it was up to Mason and the Lord and as of last night, he is officially out of the woods! Praise the Lord! They kept him today to keep him hydrated but he should be back home with us tomorrow morning!
As for the rest of Justin's birthday, he did get to open cards from family and I surprised him with a pair of Choco's...he has really been wanting a pair and after this summer, he's certainly earned them! Our sweet friends, Jason and Rozi, invited us over for dinner with Matt and Katherine, and it ended up being perfect because having a birthday dinner at home without Mason would have been awful. We had a blast and Justin loves playing with the Dover boys....he's hysterical with them!
Yesterday was a good relaxing day, but it still wasn't the same without having Mason around. As Justin and I talked and prayed about it, it really put things in perspective for us. Fortunately, the only people I've lost in life have been 3 of my grandparents and though it's still sad, it's normal. As we talked about how it would feel to lose Mason, we began to really feel heart broken for those who lost humans in their lives. I can not imagine that pain. I hope that this experience leaves us filled with more compassion and sympathy with those who are grieving.
And lastly, today is our 2 year anniversary! I can't believe it! Justin took me to a picnic at Town Creek Park where we ate and played gin under the gazebo. It was so nice. We are about to enjoy a yummy dinner at Long Horn and spend the night cuddling. Justin got my rings put together for our anniversary earlier this summer and they look beautiful and don't turn on my finger as much, so that was a wonderful gift! I am so thankful to have a wonderful husband who is so eager to try, willing to learn, and loves me with all he has. Happy Anniversary Justin!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Lovin', Havin' a Blast

Pure deliciousness!
4 of the 5 + Mason in Auburn!

Whew...so sorry for the drought of posts. I thought I would have MORE time to blog but boy was I wrong. Since I last wrote, I have been to Gulf Shores with the Varsity volleyball team, and let me say, though we're young this year, we will be very good! So exciting!

I also had 3 of the Fab 5 visit Auburn. Beth, Candice and Natalie got to spend 4 days with me and it was wonderful. We enjoyed long jogs in the rain, sprints through Town Creek Park's sprinklers and other Auburn favorites like shopping down town and eating at local hot spots like Big Blue Bagel, Bizilia's, Niffer's, and Tutti Frutti (twice!). Most importantly, we just got to spend some great quality time together, watching chick flicks and "sharing life" again for a few days. It was great! *We did miss Martha though...too bad it was her 1 year anniversary and so what if she had a math conference in Atlanta!

Lastly, I wanted to share about mine and Justin's swing dance lesson we experienced last night. We went with Matt and Katherine and Ryan and Amy to the Jan Dempsey Art Center. I have been totally pumped about trying this all summer and we finally were able to go last night. Let's just say, awkward it not quite enough to describe this at first. We got in a circle and instead of staying with our husbands, the men rotated partners, so I got to dance with perfect strangers, including one creeper in particular. However, when the night was over, we had learned some moves such as the "pot picker", the "Elvis", the "inside turn", and the "dip". When it was all said and done, we had a really good time, enjoyed some great laughs, and now we have a little something to show off at the weddings we have coming up in September!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Back in Auburn and Breakfast Casserole

Whew...where did June go? After enjoying some amazing time with family and friends in North Carolina, Justin, Mason and I are officially back in Auburn for the rest of the summer! July is special for us since it's Justin's birthday month, as well as our anniversary. We've jumped right into the swing of things with getting some very much needed yard work done (it's crazy what 3 weeks away will do), visiting the Thomas's and sweet Baby Thad, and enjoying Justin's intramural basketball games. They play in the semi-finals next week! :) We really did have a wonderful visit at home, but it's always good to get back our home away from home...

Breakfast Casserole (there are several versions of this, but I'm pretty bias and think mine is pretty good :))

Ingredients:
-6 eggs, scrambled, salt and pepper to taste
-1 cup skim milk
-1 package reduced fat Crescent Rolls
-1 lb spicy sausage, cooked and drained
-2 cups 2% sharp shredded cheese
*Optional; spinach leaves, diced cherry tomatoes, can of drained Rotel, diced onions and/or green peppers

Directions:
1. Grease 9x13 baking dish
2. In large bowl, mix eggs and milk
2. Roll out crescent rolls until flat in bottom of 9x13 pan
3. spread cooked sausage over crescent rolls
*If you decided to add any of the optional ingredients, do so now. I usually add spinach leaves and diced tomatoes to give us some veggies. :)
4. pour egg and milk mixture evenly over sausage
5. Spread cheese over eggs
6. Bake at 375 for app. 25 minutes or until eggs are light and fluffy and rolls are golden brown
*This is great for a brunch or can be made ahead and baked later...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Help Please

I'm wanting to set up a side bar with my recipes...sections for appetizers, desserts, etc. I'm totally blog illiterate. :( Can someone help me/guide me on how to set this up? I thought it would be easy for others to find different recipes they've seen on my blog. :)

Thanks!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Momma's Amazing Banana Pudding

This is a great summer time dessert. It's light and you can make it completey fat free and/or sugar free (or at least reduced fat! Look for the lower calorie options to make it.) This too is one of Justin's favorites! I've made him a double recipe because HE WILL BE HERE IN 3 HOURS!

Ingredients:
-4 ripe bananas, sliced
-1 3.5 oz Banana Cream Jello Pudding Mix
-1.5 cup milk
-4 oz. cream cheese, softened
-1 tsp. vanilla
-1 container Cool Whip
-1 can Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
-About 1 box Nilla Wafers (*this is the only item I don't do reduced fat...they don't soften well)

Directions:
1. Beat pudding mix and milk on medium speed until creamy
2. Add cream cheese, vanilla, and condensed milk. Blend with mixer until creamy
3. Fold in 1/2 container cool whip, blend
4. Fold in bananas
5. Layer Nilla wafers in bottom of serving dish, layer banana pudding, repeat twice
6. Top with remaining Cool whip and sprinkle crushed Nilla wafers on top
7. Let stand in fridge for at least 4 hours before serving

Friday, June 18, 2010

Veggie Burritos and Other News

This is one of Justin's favorites for me to make. (If you really don't want to do veggie, just add lean ground round or ground turkey to the mixture. :))
*It looks like a lot, but it's super easy!

Ingredients:
-1 cup brown rice (cook according to box and set aside)
-1 can black beans, drained
-1 can pinto beans, drained
-1 can white corn, drained
-1 can Rotel Original, drained slightly
-1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained slightly
-1 package taco seasoning mix, low sodium
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2%)
-1 8 count package of whole wheat or spinach wraps
-sour cream (fat free) and salsa to top with are optional

Directions:
1. While rice is cooking, add beans, corn, tomatoes, Rotel, and taco seasoning in large skillet and let simmer.
2. Add rice to mixture when done and cover. Simmer on low for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Pour into wraps and top with cheese and sour cream. Roll like burrito and eat up!
4. I serve mine with quacamole and tortilla chips! Enjoy

In Other News:
I'm really enjoying my time at home. Mason and I have been really lazy, catching up on my great reading (I've already read South of Broad, The Pact, and Crazy Love. I recommend all of them, but South of Broad was pretty racey at times.) While my parents and siblings are working, I work out, lay out, read, catch up on One Tree Hill shows because for some reason Auburn doesn't air it, and clean up around the house for Mom. We've had great nights playing games and having dinner together. It really has been so good to just be at "home". I've also been able to study more in God's Word and look into some lesson plans for next year. I know, I'm not good at being still.

Good news is, Justin will be completely finished by next Thursday! That's right, he's over 2 weeks ahead. God is soooo good! I read Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O'Martian and I have been praying specifically that God would bless the work of Justin's hands and bless his time in the Outer Banks. It's been amazing to see His faithfulness and we give Him all the glory! I can't wait to see him!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Learning & Praying...

God continues to reveal so many issues of my heart to me as I try to seek Him more. I am currently reading Francis Chan's book, "Crazy Love", and it has deeply convicted my complancency in my walk with Christ. It is so easy to get comfortable in our walk and think we're doing ok, but I need a reality check to remind me of my sin and my great need for Him. One quote that I'm meditating on right now is this, "God does not NEED us, yet He always WANTS us. Quite the contrary is true of us. We rarely truly WANT Jesus, yet we always NEED Him." Oh, how I'm learning to need and want Him more, to love Him deeply and passionately, as He molds my heart to be more like His.

Lord, I know the my circumstances stir deep emotion. Sometimes I worry. Sometimes I obsess over things I cannot control. Yet, my circumstances can be disruptive. I want to have a heart that has no need to fear—anything. I want to find delight in the things you ask of me. So I will begin with what I know and will be obedient to You today, for my faith knows that being blessed is being forgiven. Offering myself to you is the best application of my faith. So I will delight in You! Amen

*This is a prayer that I got off of PC3's devotions last week...it really hit home to what I'm dealing with now and I wanted to share it with you all. Check out their daily devotions at their website: www.portcitychurch.org. (This is the church I attended while in college.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are...

My journey to NC has begun. After a wonderful short visit with the family and enjoying Matt and Amanda's wedding last Saturday, Mason and I left to visit Justin last Sunday for a few days. I honestly did not realize how primitive of a place he was in. WOW. Though the "bunk house" is a much better habitation than his 1 room shack from last year, the closest grocery store was 40 minutes away and were were surrounded by a lake on 1 side and corn fields on the other 3 sides with a terribly bumpy road running right down the middle of it. (I promise, pictures will come soon enough. :))

When Mason and I got there on Sunday afternoon, I got to run into Justin's arms. He looks like Noah from The Notebook again and I honestly don't think Mason knew what to think of him. He showed me around the house and we went on a boat ride on the Pungo Lake, which was beautiful. It was Mason's first boat ride and he doesn't typically like water, so we had a fun time. We then went on a nice walk around the corn fields to get our legs a good stretch and let Mason get some energy out and it was so nice to just hold hands and talk with Justin in person. I missed him soooo much! While on our walk, Mason did see his first Timber Rattler though...yes, there is a species of rattlesnakes in Eastern NC.

We enjoyed pizza for dinner and enjoyed snuggling on the couch. On Monday morning, Justin took Mason "in the field" until lunch while I slept in, cleaned around the bunk house, and sun bathed out by the lake. After lunch, we drove to the Outer Banks (with a few stops along the way to see some wolves in captivity and to see some of Justin's work sites). We decided to stay in Kill Devil's Hills at a dog friendly hotel. Mason got to see the ocean for the first time that afternoon as we enjoyed a few hours on the beach before dinner.

At the hotel, we had a king size bed and needless to say, Mason thought he was going to be able to boot us out of it! Keep in mind, at home he stays in his pin at night so on vacation he just sleeps on a blanket on the floor. However, with a bed this big, he thought he could pull one over on us...he was so cute!

On Tuesday, we got to go to Jockey's Ridge, which is a state park of the largest dunes on the east coast. It was so pretty and we all enjoyed climbing and running down the dunes. We then drove to Cape Hatteres to see the light house and spend some time on the beach there. The Outer Banks really is a beautiful and historical place to visit!

On Wednesday, we spent a little time on the beach in the morning before driving to Manteo, which is where our nation truly started. It's where Virginia Dare was born, the first English settler born in America and it's where the lost colony was last located. Beautiful town! We enjoyed some some of the sites there before heading back to the bunk house.

Once we arrived back, Justin decided to take me for a drive to see what he sees every day. Needless to say, we saw black bears, foxes, raccoons, wild turkeys, more rattlesnakes...it was like driving in a zoo! No wonder my husband loves his job. It was so amazing to see all the different wild life literally in their own habitats!

Thursday morning we got up and I went in the field with Justin to help him look for scat. There is a reason I'm not his field assistant. I was bored out of my mind, it was hot as blue blazes, and the bugs were terrible, but I got to spend a little more time with my sweetie. (Mason also enjoyed playing with the turtle he found as well as the dear carcass.)

Now, I'm enjoying the my time in Wilmington with friends Haley and Lee who so sweetly let me stay with them while in town for Kristen and Cam's wedding on Saturday! We had Kristen's Lingerie shower last night at Kirsten's house and it was so much fun! The skies are blue and the weather is perfect, so I am on my way out to Wrightsville Beach!!! More fun is to come!

Blueberry Goodness--Recipe of the Week
*This is the easiest recipe and is absolutely delicious!!!
Ingredients:
-1 large can of crushed pineapple (undrained)
-1 carton fresh blueberries, washed
-1 box yellow cake mix
-1 stick melted butter

Directions:
-Pour and spread evenly all ingredients in 9X13 baking dish in the order in which they are listed above.
-Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes or until golden on top.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ritzy Chicken Casserole and Other Things

Jillian, Phillip, and Zach all visited me over Memorial Day weekend and we had a GREAT time. I love hosting and having family and friends at our house, so it was a real treat to enjoy the weekend with them. We enjoyed yummy food from Big Blue Bagel, Tutti Frutti, and Whispering Oaks. We saw the campus and went to church. And, unfortunately, because of all the rain, we played a lot of Blockus and Catch Phrase, but it was still great to be cooped up with them. The boys left on Monday but Jillian has stayed with me to enjoy long walks with Mason, some much needed relaxation by the pool, and LOTS OF SHOPPING!

Recipe of this week--Ritzy Chicken Casserole (This is one of my favorite things to make, because it's easy and one of my favorite things to eat, because it's super yummy!)
Ingredients:
-1 lb chicken breast (boiled and cut into small, bite sizes pieces)
-1 cup chicken broth
-1 can cream of chicken (Fat Free of course)
-8 oz. sour cream (fat free as well)
-1 roll whole wheat Ritz crackers, crushed
-1 stick melted butter

Directions:
-Spread chicken on bottom of 9x13 casserole dish (salt and pepper lightly)
-Mix broth, soup, and sour cream well in seperate bowl, pour over chicken
-Mix crushed crackers and butter together. Crumble on top of chicken and mixture
-Bake at 375 for 25 minutes

ENJOY!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Oreo Balls & Mason's Birthday

1st Post of the Day-Oreo Balls:
As promised, I am going to do 1 recipe a week this summer to share with you some of my favorite things to eath and make. This one is from my friend Tiffany, so I must give her the credit. She shared them with me at Special Olympics and I made them for my family, who are visiting this weekend...super easy and way decilious! ENJOY!

Ingredients:
-1 package of oreos (You could do reduced fat, but I do double stuffed!)
-1 8 oz. package of cream cheese-softened (fat free of course)
-1 box of Baker's White Chocolate Bark

Directions:
1. Crush/crumble oreos in a food processor until tiny (You could put them in a zip lock bag and use a rolling pin, but a food processor does get them smaller.)
2. Gently blend cream cheese with oreos
3. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls
4. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes
5. Melt White Chocolate Bark
6. Dip balls into white chocolate.
7. Cover cookie sheet with wax paper and place dipped balls onto it. Keep in refrigerator until hardened. Place in air tight bag or container and keep in fridge until eaten. YUMMY!

Thanks again Tiffany!!! :)

2nd Post of the Day-Mason's Birthday:
Today is our sweet boy's 1 year birthday. I can't believe it's been 1 year since we knew we would be bringing home our first family pet. Though owning and loving a dog does add to monthly expenses and our daily time, it has been well worth it. Mason has been WONDERFUL for our family. Justin takes him on a morning run every day. I walk him in the afternoons when I can and we almost always take him on a nightly walk together as a family. It's really held us accountable to being in shape, as well as giving us more intentional time together. Besides, Mason is just so darn cute! He is such a funny animal and loves to chew on his bones and play tug. He loves wrestling with Justin and snuggling with me. He's been such a wonderful addition to our family! Happy Birthday Macey Boy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

End of the Year Evaluation

As an educator, I believe that reflection in all facets of life is key to evaluate what works and what doesn't in lessons and projects. I gave an evaluation to my students to try and see what they thought worked this year and what didn't. Enjoy the responses (I have kept exact spelling for purposes understood. :))

Here are a few examples...

1. What is something you DID NOT like about school?
RESPONSES: "I don't not like doing work.", "I did not like when I got in trouble this year but next year it will be better.",
2. What are things you learned this year? "I learned math and tiping (typing).", "We are learned about no smok is bed for u." "Time table, devision, motablecation"

As of 3:00 tomorrow, my summer will officially begin! :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Apple Dapple Bread

I have been baking a lot here lately so I thought I would share some recipes. :) I hope to do one a week...Enjoy...

Ingredients:
Bread:
-1/2 cup butter
-1 cup sugar
-2 eggs
-1 tsp. vanilla
-2 tbsp. low fat sour cream
-2 cup flour
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. baking soda
-2 cups granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
-Chopped pecans and raisins are optional
Topping:
-2 tbsp. butter, melted
-2 tbsp. flour
-1 tbsp. cinnimon
-2 tbsp. sugar
Mix all ingredients until crumbly.

Directions:
Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in remaining ingredients, mixing until thoroughly blended. Fold in apples. Grease 9 X 5 bread pan. Pour batter into pan and sprinkle with topping. Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing. Can be wrapped tightly and frozen up to 4 month. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cody--5th in NC High School State Golf Tournament


Just wanted to brag a bit on my sweet brother-in-law! Congratulations Cody! We're very proud of you! (And, he's just a sophomore!) And, Shelby High School came in 4th as a team.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chick-fil-a Leadercast and a Few Other Things...

I had a great Mother's Day weekend with my Momma and Mamaw (and my two wonderful siblings and other family members...Daddy had to stay home and preach). I have been richly blessed with wonderful women in my life, especially my Momma and my 2 grandmothers. (My Mimmie, Mary Lamb, went to be with Jesus on November 2, 2006, my junior year of college.) My other grandmother, Mamaw, Peggy Brackett, is still kicking it quite well! I have had 3 amazing examples of 3 women who truly do seek God and though they may not always have the answers, their vulnerability, persistance, and unending love, have carried me along life's topsy, turvy waves.

I also have to admit that Mother's Day was somewhat difficult for me. We did not go to church, and I appreciate my family being so sensitive to my emotions this year. I just wasn't sure if I could make it through all of the announcements of motherhood, knowing that our little one went to be with Jesus in January. Though I do rejoice in the precious life God has blessed other families with, I cry quite often when talking about babies these days. If I had been in Auburn, I think I would have been ok, maybe, since it's my home church, but visiting my aunt's church with a lot of strangers would have been very awkward. My Mom, also having had a miscarriage before my brother and having struggled with fertility, encouraged me to stay at home, which we did. We enjoyed our talks with just our family about the Lord and spending quality time with our Momma, something that we don't get very often any more.

Ok, so now moving past the emotional things, I wanted to share about a great Leadership Conference I went to on Friday before leaving for Tennessee at Auburn University. As you can tell by the title, it was hosted by Chick-fil-a in Atlanta and we watched it via simulcast. Some of the guest speakers were: Connie Podesta, an expert in the psychology of human behavior and leadership development, Tony Dungy, retired head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Mark Sanborn, best selling author, and John Maxwell, leadership expert and best selling author. (These are just a few of the speakers who happen to be my favorites of the day.) I wanted to share some of the key ideas/just good quotes that I thought some readers might enjoy as food for thought...

From Connie Podesta:
-Ask yourself these 2 questions: Am I proud of the professional choices I'm making? and Am I proud of the personal choices I am making?
-She emphasizes there is NO seperating personal life and professional life and that leadership is a way of life. Every decision we make effects our leadership abilities

From Tony Dungy:
-When asked, "How do you get your players to follow you as a leader?" his response was, "Character has to be inside someone. Though a leader can help enhance certain qualities, the individual must buy into doing the right thing."
-He also encouraged leaders to remember that there are certain things that are simply out of our control. We have to surrender those to the Lord (yes, he said this! oh how I love his testimony) and do what we can. **This directly comes from the Serenity prayer I blogged on in an earlier post.
-His Pep Talk: 1. God has put YOU here for a reason. 2. You are impacting people whether you realize it or not. 3. Encourage others to always be ready to "Be the one".

From Mark Sanborn:
-Ask yourself the question, "Are people better because of knowing me?" WOW

From John Maxwell:
-CONNECTING is the ability to identify with and relate to people in such a way that our influence increases with them. We must CONNECT with people to communicate and effectively lead them.
-Here are a few tips on CONNECTING:
A. Connecting is all about others, it's not about us.
B. Connecting requires energy...at times we must work at it.
3. Connectors find common ground...effectiveness in leadership is based on similarities, not differences.

Until next time...how can you be a better leader? At home? At work? With your friends? At church?...

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Couple's Retreat" Review

So, in an attempt to enjoy a Sunday evening snuggled on the couch, Justin and I went to "Red Box" to rent Avatar last night. Unfortunately, Red Box doesn't have it yet, but they did finally have Couple's Retreat (the one with Vince Vaughn) so we were excited to see the comedy. If you haven't already watched this, here is the basic synopsis:

There are 4 couples who are all best friends. Jason and Cynthia (struggling with fertility and trying to convice the other 3 couples to go on this vacation with them), Joey and Lucy (Lucy is played by Kristen Davis--they are high school sweethearts who are now waiting until their daughter graduates to get a divorce--never communicate and both are thinking of having an affair), Charles (I think, his name has escaped me) and Jenifer, who have already divorced, so he is having a fling with 20 year old Trudy, and then Dave (Vince) and his wife Ronnie (the only happily married couple with 2 adorable boys). Any who, the whole premise is they go to the couple's resort to try and "fix" Jason and Cynthia's problems, everyone else just wants to go for fun and help get the group rate. While there, they endure terrible therapy sessions and ridiculous "couple building" times. Though the movie is very scattered at times, it was hilarious and actually had some AMAZINGLY GREAT moments in it!

There there was never any mention of God at any time, Vince's character and his wife are completely devoted to one another. When his other guy friends are struggling with thoughts of having an affair, he stands up to them and doesn't even want to hear about it. Jason even questions Joey with "How would you feel if Lucy cheated on you?" Wow, the Golden Rule is mentioned, rather than the usual, "Do what you want, when you want it and forget about your wife."

Vince also challenges his friends with this thought (after they end up on the single's side of the island where there are a lot of 1/2 naked bodies and jello shots) "You can live this life of being alone, of being staying drunk and crazy, or you can choose marriage. You can't have both." He then shows his committment to his wife by saying he does choose marriage and family and he goes to find his wife. They end up sitting by a waterfall, discussing their committment to one another and their families and how important this is to them. By the end of the movie, all 4 couples are back together and working things out.

Again, though there is no scriptural basis in this movie what so ever, I was relieved, almost excited, that a secular production company would come out finally with a movie that promotes marriage and family and portrays families who want to work through their problems, whether it be infertility, adultery, or just going through a "wild spell". Though I do believe that Christ alone can be the center of one's marriage, this movie shows that all families will have difficulty and running away from the problem is not the answer and there is hope.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Easter Pics

In downtown...
The Delliner kids

On Easter morning...
We had a great visit with the Dellingers over Easter. Take note to new pics on the blog from Easter too!



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Springing Up...




These are some of my favorite blooms this time of year and they're all in my own yard! Tulips, a Japanese Magnolia tree, and azaleas!
Spring time is officially here. Though our cars, porches and sidewalks are colored with yellow from the pollen, there is a reason why spring represents life. There are new trees, flowers and plants coming up every day. There are new bugs and animals buzzing and sneaking around, ready for a new year. There is so much LIFE! And, when we can't take the pollen any more, there will be rain, rain to wash it all away. We may seem remnants of yellow here and there, but without pollen, we could not have these plants. We must live with it at times to experience the beauty of spring.
As we just celebrated a wonderful Easter with the Dellingers (pictures are to come), I was reminded of the new life that I am given through Christ and the washing away of my sins. What an amazing gift! In Luke 24, we can read the story about the Jesus' resurrection. As the women went to lay spices on Jesus' body, they were frightened by 2 angels saying, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!" Then, they remembered what He had said.

That's right, my Savior is not in a grave, he's not an idol I can see, he is alive and active in me! He is the risen Lord, mighty and powerful, who has saved me from my sin. I am nothing without Him. I fail every day. saying things I shouldn't, doing things I shouldn't, but God's grace has covered me. Like the new flowers coming up, I am a new creature in Christ. Like the pollen that stains our yards, it can and will be washed away. Praise the Lord.



Monday, March 29, 2010

By My Everything...

It's amazing how God speaks right to our hearts, how He calls us to Him, how He gives us exactly what we needs. During our worship service yesterday, we sang a song I had not heard in a while, but it was exactly what I needed to say to my Savior.

God is my dreaming, God in my watching, God in my waiting, God in my hurting, God in my healing. By my everything!

I need Him to be my everything. In a time when I see so much new life, I am so excited for my friends who are experiencing this special blessing, but I can't help but feel a tug at my heart and anxiously await when that time comes for me. It's a daily process, but how wonderful it is to sit in the palm of my Creator's hand!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Break 2010

A sunset at Ocean Isle
My view while walking around UNCW's campus.

One of the wonderful things about being a teacher is you have a students' schedule. I honestly think I appreciate spring break more now than I ever did in school. We ended our school week with a fun time at Special Olympics Bowling Practice and a pizza party and then the break officially began! I stayed in Auburn the first weekend of spring break to spend time with Justin and Mason and get some things done around the house. We enjoyed going to Keisel, snuggling while watching movies, and watching baskbetball. (Justin had to stay in Auburn to get work done and it was my first time ever being away from Mason for more than a few days. :()

After lots of errands and cleaning on Monday, I left early on Tuesday to head to NC. I bought a box of doughnuts from D2 for the fam to enjoy. I spent the next few days shopping with Mom and catching up on my Law and Order SVU and CSI:NY shows with Mom, Dad, and Zach. Good times of relaxation! On Thursday I headed east to Wilmington and spent the evening with Jill and the Alberts. Man, do I miss that boy! It was so great to see them all!
On Friday Jill and I enjoyed the beautiful weather at the loop! Then, my girls weekend began with eating at 2 Guys Grill on Friday night and catching up! It was so great to see Nat, Martha and Boof (we missed you Candice!). The weather was perfect and we enjoyed laying out on Saturday, shopping at the Outlets, and eating yummy crabcakes for dinner. Such a great time!

There is a reason why the Lord said to take time and be still and rest. This past week was a wonderful time with family and friends who are greatly missed. Only 44 more days of school!