Sunday, December 16, 2012

21 Months

My heart is heavy as I write this post. There are many families who will not write about their child's next birthday because of the sin and evilness on this Earth. My words are not always so eloquent, so I encourage you to read: She has put things into the words that I want to say. My prayers go up to the families of the victims of this horrific tragedy.

Onto my sweet boy....he turned 21 months on Saturday. I can't believe we're quickly approaching age 2. He is soaking everything up and I love him more and more every day.

Our sweet boy has an opinion. He is now trying to eat what he wants to eat, meaning cheese crackers, for every meal and every snack. We may have a small fit every time it's a meal or snack time. No big deal. Though he has his moments, he's a pretty chill little guy. He is best with a routine and he does well following directions. (Knock on wood.)

He's been really sick during the past few weeks. He's had a really bad cold that we're treating with all natural cold medicine and a humidifier. Thankfully, just in the last few days, he seems to be on the upside, but it's made his normal great sleeping patterns not to great. The past week has been tough at nights, but I know he will readjust.

Jude has learned a lot over the last month. He can identify 25 letters (V stumps him up) and he knows the colors white, black, brown, blue, purple, and yellow. His favorite is brown, including his brown cow and brown M&M's. He can count to 2, haha. He continues to love his animals and he's enthralled by the Christmas tree and ornaments. He's pretty excited about riding a bus, choo choo, and aiw pwane next week to visit family!

Jude is also doing well with making his needs and wants known. If I say something he doesn't want, he'll let me know. He also requests, "Mommy do dat" if he wants me to help him. If I try to help when he wants to be independent, he'll say, "No, Jude does it." He talks about his friends from school, Sutton, Andrew, and Reece being his best buddies. He also loves going to church...they have a train table in his classroom, haha. He does talk about singing about Jesus when we pick him up.

Because of his bad cold, his appetite hasn't been awesome this month, so he seems scrawny to me. :( He's in 18-24 month clothes. The lengths fit him well, but he usually needs a belt at the waist. He may be skinny like his Daddy.

Without the cold, he usually is in bed by 8:15 or 8:30 and awake around 7. He naps for 2-3 hours after lunch every day.

I can't believe how big our "baby" is. After the holidays, we will be moving to a "big" bed. Bap (his paci) will soon follow and potty training will be my spring break mission in April.

Happy 21 Months Sweet Baby Jude. We love you so very much!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jingle Bells

 Though this wonderful mother forgot to press "record" on her camera, another mother did not, so I was able to get copies of pictures and video of Jude's first Christmas program. He and his class "sang" Jingle Bells, aka, jingled bells while the tape played, haha. Jude did great. No tears, but  no smiles either. There were a few hams that were trying to run around the stage and Jude just sad there quietly. He did not seem amused.
 Here he is jingling his bells.
Justin and I were quite proud of how well he behaved. We also think he's pretty stinking cute with that crazy hair of his. He continues to learn and grow so much. I can't believe we are celebrating his 2nd Christmas and I am thrilled to spend my days with this sweet boy!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My "First Son"

Jude and Mason, being best buddies

Before Jude was born, our blog frequented our "first son" Mason much more. I guess he gets put in the shadows to Jude man. I don't think I've ever stopped to give credit where credit it due to this faithful friend of ours.

Let me begin with stating I was never a dog lover growing up. I always had dogs in our house growing up, but I could take them or leave them. I loved them and didn't want harm to come to them, but I didn't spend a lot of purposeful time with them. However, while in college, I worked for a family who had a beautiful golden retriever and I fell in love with him. I think part of it was because he was so good with my client who had special needs. He was so patient and loving and it made me realize how much dogs really understand about us. I knew then that I wanted to get a bigger dog eventually.

When Justin and I married, he also wanted a dog. He always wanted a Plott hound, which is the state dog of North Carolina, our home state. They're also from German decent, and so is Justin's family, so we decided to go with this breed. (They're also a very loyal, intelligent, and gentle breed.) Justin found a breeder and in July of 2007, we became "parents". Mason was a very good puppy. He was house trained easily and had tons of energy. He was a typical puppy, in that he would chew certain things (my crocs and Justin's socks specifically) if left for him to chew, but he never did some of the crazy damage you hear of other puppies doing. We grew to love him quickly and he became a part of our family, making the haul to NC from AL every trip we made.

A year after we got Mason, he some how got into some really heavy poison in our neighborhood and we almost lost him. I had just found out I was pregnant with Jude and I was so emotional. He was in the ICU for 3 days, but our boy pulled through. (I won't mention the bill to his vet visit.) After that, Mason had to relearn many things and he's never been quite the same. I do thing he suffered some permanent damage, but he's still so loving and gentle.

When Jude was born, Mason was impressively possessive and protective of him. From the beginning, where Jude has been, Mason isn't far to follow. They play and wrestle, share dinner more than I'd like to admit, and bring much laughter to our home.

I must also add that Mason has endured our many adventures of moving. He did great in AZ, with the exception of his MANY escapes from our back yard while our neighbors dogs were in heat. He's also done well with adjusting to apartment life. He's always had a pin or open yard so we were unsure of how he would do. He does need his daily walks, yes, plural, walks. Just going outside to go potty does not do it for him. He must have at least 30 minutes of hard, go all out play to be manageable inside, but he's worth it.

Though the immense amount of black hair and the extra time it takes can sometimes drive me up a wall, I am so thankful we brought this black sweet baby home with us. He is involved in so many of our wonderful family memories and I am thankful that God gives us relationships and companionship in ways we sometimes forget.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Taco Casserole and a Litte Tip

It's been a long while since I've posted a recipe so I thought I would add one for this week. :) If you know me at all, I enjoy cooking. I love finding or creating that perfect recipe, making it, and having people I love enjoy the final product. I don't even mind cleaning up...a little bit of my OCD kicks in.

When we moved to WA, I realized quickly that I wasn't enjoying cooking any more because it took time away from Jude. I already feel that my time with his is so spare during the week days that I actually got emotional about it one night. So, starting in September, I went back to my routine when I coached volleyball and started cooking yummy meals on Sundays that make good leftovers. I try to make something for Monday/Tuesday, then something for Wednesday/Thursday, and EVERY Friday is our weekly pizza or chicken nuggets. :) Sometimes these meals include crock pot meals like Taco soup, Ranch Chicken, or a roast. Mostly though, our meals consume of casseroles or lean meats with sides. It is such a good feeling knowing that all I have to do when I get home is put something in the oven or on the stove prep needed.

This week, I've prepared a yummy recipe that I forgot how much we enjoy and how good it is as a leftover. I hope you enjoy:

Taco Casserole

-1.5 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
-1 package low sodium taco seasoning
-1 can refried beans
-1 can crescent rolls
-1 cup shredded cheddar
-Optional toppings, in which I use all: sour cream, salsa, black olives, jalapenos, & shredded lettuce
*1 shredded zuchini. See disclaimer below. :)

-Cook and drain meat. Add 3/4 cup water and taco seasoning. Let simmer
-Grease 9 x 13 casserole dish and spread crescent rolls in dish, pushing together seams. Bake according to package directions. (375 for 10-12 minutes I think.)
-spread refried beans over cooked crescent rolls
*place shredded zuchini over if desired
-Spread meat over
-Top with cheese
-Bake for 6-7 minutes at 350 or until cheese is melted
-Serve with toppings and tortilla chips! YUM!

*Thankfully, sweet Jude is a really good eater. He will eat just about anything, including lima beans. However, my husband is not a great veggie eater, ok, but not great. I have found that my boys don't like the same veggies. Jude likes green beans and lima beans--Justin despises both. Justin enjoys asparagus, which is WAY too expensive not on sale so that doesn't happen often. He also likes zuchini and spinach salads, neither of which Jude likes. I can't get either one of them to touch broccoli. With that said, I can't do all or none, so I've started sneaking in veggies in EVERYTHING. Zuchini, steamed carrots, and spinach are the most inconspicuous so I've started using my electric chopper (not as gross as pureeing them, though I will do that for soups) and add them to just about any recipe. I've put one or all veggies in recipes such as chicken pie, spaghetti sauce, corn cassrole, and taco meat. The key is to make them chopped fine enough that there are no chunks. Any who, I've been doing that since the summer and it's working well and I feel better that both Justin and Jude are getting veggies every day. :)

Enjoy the recipe!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Holiday Festivities

 Thanksgiving came and went for us quickly. We enjoyed the day off just being with each other. I made pumpkin bread, a pecan pie, and a yummy dinner, just for Justin, Jude, and me. We had a friend and her son come over for dessert and for the boys to play, but other than that, if felt like an ordinary day. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE spending time with family and miss our family terribly. But, every holiday since we've been married, we have to travel. Though I would have loved to be with our family, it was also nice not having to deal with the stress of long drives and flights, traffic, living out of a suitcase, blah blah blah. I'm ready to be close enough for a day visit! Hint hint, wink wink Justin!

We woke up this morning, well, I woke up this morning, ready for Christmas. Justin and I always promised each other that we would never decorate or get in the hype of Christmas until after Thanksgiving. We don't judge those who do, but we both feel that life is so stinking short, let's not rush something away. Justin, Jude, and I joined friends at the Seattle parade this morning. Jude LOVED it. The bands were great and he especially liked the "big dinos" (dinosaurs), dancing cupcakes, and the reindeer! He was so stinking cute. We got soaking wet, but it was fun.
 When we got home, I was ready to decorate. We pulled out all of our decorations, turned on the Christmas music, and started. Jude was really into it with us. He had bows all over him and played with the ornaments as we got them out. He really liked the Duke basketball ornament I bought him last year but didn't quite get we shouldn't throw the "ball" because it might break.

Justin's mom started a tradition for him and his brother that I also started for Jude. She got them an ornament every year that she used on her own tree and she tried to get them things that were personal for that year. For example, when Justin was in high school, he had longer hair his senior year and people started calling him Ringo from the Beatles. That year, she got him a Beatles ornament. When we got married, she graciously handed over the ornaments to us to use in our own home and I LOVE the tradition! Jude has a "baby's first Christmas" with his picture from last year, as well as the Duke Basketball one. I thought it was cute. :)

I am pleased to say that I think our tree looks lovely!

Also while putting decorations up, we of course got out our nativity scene. As we put up the scene, Justin went through the story with Jude, one that we've read to him before. However, by being able to see and touch the characters, Jude really got into it. We also have a tiny little one just for Jude's room to make his own. If you notice from this picture, Baby Jesus is missing. Jude wanted to nap with him. (For Baby Jesus to take precedence over Big Horse and Brown Cow, that's a big deal in our house!) I sang Christmas carols to Jude while I rocked him this afternoon, and as he sat there holding Baby Jesus, I couldn't help but tear up. I was reminded of the verse that we must come to Him as innocent children, and to hear Jude's innocent voice refer to our Savior as Baby Jesus simply moved me. He is beginning to understand and recognize already. Oh what a job we've been give. To point our sweet boy to our Savior!

I am so excited about the upcoming festivities. We have several things planned in the community and with friends before we fly home for Christmas. I know this season will bring lots of joy and happiness, filled with memories we will cherish forever!

"O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. The hopes and fears of all the years, are met in thee tonight."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

First "School" Picture

Coming from a child who when Mommy brings out the camera says "no" and runs away, or usually frowns, I can't believe how darn cute this turned out. He looks like such a big boy and makes his Momma's heart melt. Muah baby boy and Happy 20 Months!

Monday, November 12, 2012

In A Name and 20 Month Updates

Let me start this post with "We are not pregnant." but we have SEVERAL friends and family members who are. With that said, the names of new little ones have been on my mind, and if you know me at all, you know I'm obsessed with names. When I was in the 3rd grade, I requested a baby name book for Christmas because I wanted all of my animals and dolls to have just the right name. As Justin and I hear new names and think about what we would like to use when we do get pregnant again (which I hope to be sooner than later :)), it really reminds us that we want our children's names to have meaning. *We do not judge those who do not share this feeling by the way. However, we all know "those names" that you look at it and think, "did they really name their child that?"

When we got pregnant with Jude, we had several boy names lined up and only 1 girl name. As we tried to make a decision, we knew we wanted to use Aaron as the middle name, since that is Justin and Papaw Derrick's middle name. Justin and I agree that we like using a family name some how and then using part of the name to be just that child's. A little new with a little old. As we researched the meaning of the SEVERAL boy names we liked, we decided on Jude for 2 main reasons. 1. We liked the meaning and 2. Jude and Justin would have the same initials. (Jude was the only J name on the list). So, without further ado, Jude's name literally means:

Jude (praised) Aaron (enlightened) Dellinger (quiet place in the valley)

We pray that Jude will live a life worthy of praise in the eyes of the Lord. That he would follow in Christ's footsteps and love others with a powerful love. The actual definition of enlightened means "having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook/being spiritually aware". In the world in which we live in, I can't think of a more appropriate way we would like our son to be, to be well-informed, rational, yet spiritually aware in the decisions he makes. So, there you have it, what's in Jude's name.

For fun, Justin means "justice" couldn't have guessed, right? Nikki means "victorious" and Elizabeth (my middle name prior to getting married) means "consecrated to God". I really like the meaning of my name. :)

I do want to fill in with Jude's 20 month updates. He will be 20 months on the 15th, which is super bittersweet for me. This little guy is cracking us up. I don't know his height and weight, but at his 18 month visit, he was in the 50% for height and 75% for weight. Unfortunately, this past month he had hand, foot, and mouth and went 72 hours without eating anything except watered down juice and milk. I'm sure he lost some weight during that time but I'm not sure if he's put it all back on or not.

Jude is doing well at school. He has friends that he talks about at school and he's still obsessed with animals. I don't use the word obsessed lightly. He also enjoys watching Veggie Tales and Elmo. There is a youtube video called "Big Red" about a horse he enjoys too. We try to let him watch these for about 15 minutes a night to minimize his tv time and he seems satisfied with that. He still enjoys reading and playing hide and go seek. He is learning new words like crazy and has started to use a cup without a lid. He continues to eat and sleep well. He usually goes down around 8:30 pm and wakes around 7 am. Unfortunately, depending on when I have to be at school, sometimes I have to wake him up during the week and he does NOT like to be woken up. He is very happy in the mornings if he wakes himself up, but not so much if he's woken up. He only takes his bap at night during the weeks (none at nap at school) but he does get it during naps at home. His teachers swear he goes right down without any problem for them without it, but not for us. Oh well. Here are some of the cute things I love that he's doing now (some of this he's done for a while, but I haven't blogged about it. Please remember the blog serves as a memory tool for me too.):

1. Telling everything "night night" before bed, including Jesus when reading our Bible story
2. He folds his hands and waits to eat before meals to say the blessing
3. When you ask him "Who made you/the animals?", he'll respond with "God"
4. He loves to run and dance. 
5. He is a good helper. He wants to help feed and water Mason, carry in groceries, push the cart at the store, etc.

Here are some of his favorites:
1. Food: cereal, preferably, organic mini wheats
2. Candy: M&M's which he calls just M's and he likes the brown ones best
3. Color: yellow
4. Animal: horse
5. Song: Old McDonald
6. Book: I'll Love You Forever and Animal Bible
7. Game: Hide and Seek, Ring Around the Rosies
8. Activity: Looking at animal cards with Daddy and sliding at the park
9. Best friend: Reese at school
10. Movie: Veggie Tales "God Loves Us Very Much"

I feel like there is so many details I need to write down so I won't forget. Please know, our child is not perfect. Whew, we had a super tantrum just his morning, but he is so loving and 95% of the time, a pleasant little one. We are so thankful for this beautiful blessing and we can't believe Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fall Whirlwind

As I have posted about before, Fall is my favorite time of the year, and this year has proven that it continues to be just that. however, this year, October has flown by and Thanksgiving will be here in just a few weeks. Holy Cow! I had a wonderful birthday a few weeks ago, celebrating yes, 27 wonderful years. Justin and I had our first date night since our anniversary, (that would be since July), so it was long over due. The following weekend, some special friends from Arizona visited with us. Cash and I taught together in Globe and honestly, there were some days, without him, I don't know if I would have made it. He was a great Christian guy and introduced us to his adorable fiance, now wife. :) He was in Seattle for a conference any way, so Melissa flew up for a long weekend. We enjoyed visiting the Space Needle with them! It was an amazing view and we really enjoyed spending time with them. We also went to the Market and had some great seafood and thai food with them.
Here is one of the views from the Space Needle. Jude enjoyed looking at the boats and "choo choos" down below. There was a rugby game going on and they looked like ants playing.
Our sweet friends, the Veo's.
Cash and Melissa left on Sunday and the following Thursday, my Mom (Mo Mo) and sister (JJ) flew in! Talk about a visit I longed for. It was so great to see them and have a piece of home here. Don't get me wrong, this transition has been easier for me than our move to AZ, but I still miss them so much. It was also wonderful celebrating my sister's birthday with her and getting to feel Baby Eli move in her tummy. While they were here, we did some shopping, also visted the Market with them, and took them to the Salmon Hatchery, which Jude loves. Above, here is Mo Mo and JJ checking out the fish. It's a pretty neat place to see where the fish spawn, watch the fish ladder, and learn about the process.
Jude got the tiniest bit spoiled while they were here for a week. Not only did he not have to go to school, he probably got to watch Elmo a little than he was used to, as well as nibble on M&M's and cheetos. Something we don't usually have in the house. :) He loved playing with them and showing them his new "tricks". When you ask him "What does JJ say?" he'll respond with "No way!" because she says it all the time.
While at the hatchery, we took advantage of the beautiful fall colors for a mini photo shoot. This picture above is probably one of my favorite pictures ever of Jude It totally captures his personality. His whispy blonde hair that never lies down and the sweet sparkle in his eyes. He loves to run around the house, dance, and play with his animals. He also is picking up EVERYTHING. Just last night, I asked him if he wanted to snuggle and he said, "yes, snuggle" and he refused to eat the cranberries in the pumpkin mummets (his word for muffin) because he said they were bugs. He's a hoot!
Jude has also learned to make leaf angels, which Mommy loves since it gets his good clothes good and muddy. Thank you Daddy. He will throw the leaves around and anything he does, he wants everyone in the near vicinity to do with him. He'll point and say "Dada leaf." "Momma leaf" "Mo Mo leaf" and so on.
We had a wonderful time with my Mom and sister. We played around, laughed, ate great food, and made memories that I wish we could do on a weekly basis. I have so many friends that live near family and complain. It may be different for me if we lived super close, but coming from a girl on the other side of the country from her family, nothing bothers me more than to hear someone complain about spending time with family. I would love to have the opportunity.
Here is us being silly. Justin and I have an engagement picture just like this one so I love the fact that Jude is here to share in this particular picture.
Jude climbing trees like Daddy. :)
And, lastly, my Mom and sister's last full day was Halloween. This little tiger was pretty darn cute. When we first tried on his costume and showed it to him in the mirror, he growled. They all came to school with me to meet my students and friends at work. Since I teach at a middle school, we had a spirit day and all students were welcomed to wear their costumes. My kids LOVED seeing Jude. I was so excited to see him interacting with my kiddos. He even did a reading group with a few of them!

He did super with trick or treating. We walked around our neighborhood to about 15 houses. He did so great and got some yummy treats. He mostly just likes his M&M's, so we give him a few every couple of nights for dessert. He knows what it means to wait and he's done well with finishing dinner to get his treat.

My family left the following morning. They went with Justin to drop Jude off at school and we all balled. He was crying for Mo Mo and JJ when they left and when I picked him up, the first he said was "Mo Mo gone." and "JJ gone."

The good news is that Christmas will be here before we know it. He goes around and looks at pictures of all our family, and knows everyone by name. I know he will be ready to see everyone at the holidays!

Well, there's our whirlwind. Weekends go back to normal, but it was wonderful having our visitors.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Time and Maybe a "Vent Session"

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "The days are long, but the years are short." Well, I've been struggling with this. My sweet little guy isn't so baby'ish any more. Though he is still very young (19 months) he's walking and talking and doing minimal chores and developing his own personality. Though he still wants to snuggle and cries when I leave, I know these moments are fleeting. I don't want to bask in nostalgia, but enjoy these moments, and the moments to come.

With our most recent move, I started a new teaching job, that though it's very rewarding, it's also very challenging and I had to leave my wonderful 4 day week at my old school. I had the opportunity to stay home with Jude for 4.5 months after he was born and then only teach 4 days a week at my new teaching position while in AZ. I became very spoiled. I had no idea the shift of going back to 5 days a week would effect me this much, emotionally that is. I miss Jude. I mean, I truly LONG for my time with him in the evenings. Justin and I almost argue over who rocks him to sleep, who bathes him, and who gets to wake him up in the morning (except on the weekends :)). With that said, my desire to be at home has gotten even stronger. I know that due to Justin's PhD and job position, this is not possible for us now, but I am thankful that it is something we're working for in the future. (For those who don't know, I do EVERYTHING in the books to make it "work" but with a husband in school full time, student loans, and air fare, I have to work. I coupon, we own only 1 car, we have no cable, limited cell phones, shop at thrift stores, I give the boys hair cuts, etc. Judgers, judge a way.) I do not judge Mom's who choose to always work, mine did, but for me and our family, I know that I want this for a season while our children are small. I'm sad that I won't be able to have it for all of Jude's young years, but I am hopeful God will provide this in the future.

This week, Jude contracted Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease from day care. (Almost every single child in his class got it.) For those who don't know, it's not related to the animal disease Hoof and Mouth. :) Though it's not terribly serious, it's extremely uncomfortable, and for Jude, has cause blisters all over his mouth and throat. I know it's a childhood thing, but my baby has been pitiful. With that said, as much as I long to be with Jude every day, I've been forced to do just that this week while staying home with him. And you know what, I haven't taken advantage of it. I think of my to-do list often, checking off chores, budgets, looking up news, especially about the election, and even being tempted to waste time on FB. I pray daily for God to provide for our family in His timing to allow me to stay home and to minister and love on my children full time, and when He gives me that, even if it is because Jude is sick, I don't take advantage of it. Can you say "discontented heart"?

As I was rocking Jude today to get him to nap, I was singing to him and praying over him and the Holy Spirit spoke right to me. He said, "Enjoy this." Simple. Yes, Jude was sweaty and sleepy and whiney. But I am home for the day, exactly what I know my heart really wants. Who cares if the sheets are in the dryer or the dishes are in the sink. I get to hold my sweet "baby" boy for a little while longer. I'm beginning to understand why my Mom said her house would be kept when her children were grown.

Speaking of the devil, my sweet baby is waking now and I get to be with him! :) Not at 4:30 this afternoon like usual, now, at 3 pm!

On a lighter note, we had a wonderful weekend last weekend with sweet friends from AZ who came to visit and Mom and Jillian will be here tomorrow night! Picture post will be soon.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Carkeek Park

 Last weekend, we drove into Seattle and visited Carkeek Park. We had a great time. It's a nice park with lots of trails and right on the Puget Sound. You have no idea you're in a major city. It has a nice playground, including this amazing salmon slide. It was a little intimidating at first, but Jude really enjoyed it and kept asking "Again!" over and over.
 This indepedent little fellow loves these rocking things at every park...another hit for the day.
 After the playground, we walked onto the beach area, which was wonderful. The water was lovely and there were boats, geese, and ducks. We also saw 3 "choo choos" which made this little guy very happy! He played with the sea weed and crab shells and got really close to the geese. Jude enjoyed the sand and sticking his feet in the frigid water.
 He loved splashing in the puddles..
 And, watching the boats with Daddy. We had a small temper tantrum when we had to leave.

After the park, we went to UW's bookstore, which has an amazing selection of children's books. We had a great time there and Jude picked out some things for Christmas. On the way home, we stopped by Ezell's, a fried chicken place that was yummy! It was a taste of home...fried chicken, yeast rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy, and sweet tea. Justin and I both agreed it's one of our favorite family memories. We had a wonderful time and it's so amazing to watch Jude continue to grow, learn, and develop his own little personality.
And yes, today is my birthday. I have enjoyed home made (by Justin!) Peanut Butter crossiants for breakfast, a wonderful service at church, and a friend is watching Jude tonight so Justin and I can have our first date night since our anniversary (July 19th). It's way over due! I am one lucky gal! (I also bought some new Seattle attire with birthday money!) :)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Utmost Concern

It's October, already? Holy Cow! For people of know me, you know that Fall is my favorite season. Everything about Fall, I love! Pumpkins, the changing colors to orange, yellow, brown, and red. Football. Fashion. (I am a huge fan of cool enough to needs jeans and scarves, and the occasional boot, but not of frigid air.) The smells or cinnamon, sweet potatoes, and pears. The noise of crackling leaves, fire pits, and a light breeze. Ah, everything. And, not to mention my birthday. I'm so excited, yet nervous about this season...nervous you may ask. Well, Seattle's fall is much different than the South's fall. Apparently, the rainy season is coming. We have had GORGEOUS weather since we've moved. Nice, crisp mornings with highs in the high 60's to mid 70's. Lovely. But, the rain is coming. I'm nervous. Fall may not be the same for me any more...

Ok, back to the title of my blog. When I was pregnant with Jude, a parent of a student of mine at the time gave me some wonderful parenting literature by a wonderful conservative couple, Michael and Debi Pearl. I've enjoyed their thoughts and words of wisdom on raising children according to God's words. As I was reading in a new book I just started, they wrote this prayer and I wanted to share it (it's praying over our children):

"May they be lovers of God, co-workers with the Holy Spirit, and a friend to the Lord Jesus. And when their trail ends, may it end at the throne of God, laying crowns at the Savior's feet."

Oh, how I need to be in prayer over Jude continually, that he would grow in the knowledge of God's love and goodness and grace. I am so thankful that the Lord placed Justin and me in a families that taught us God's word and I pray that Justin and I will continue this heritage of faith.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Year and a Half Already?

 Our sweet little man turned 18 months yesterday. Wow...our new family pastor said it well last week in Sunday school, "Sometimes the days seem long, but the years go by so quickly." Amen.

Without becoming too nostaglic and longing for time to slow down, I'll give an update on this little guy. In the past month, Jude has gotten into his new routine and is settling in as a temporary Northwesterner pretty well. He talks up a storm and can tell you pretty much any animal. No joke. His favorite books now are his Eric Carle books, including the whole Brown Bear series and the "Can You Do It?" Book. He really enjoys thumping his chest like a gorilla. He points at everything and tries to say the word. He also likes telling us that "I Jude" while pointing to himself, and pointing at us and saying "Momma" and "Dada". He is continuing to eat well. This month, he has gone away from not wanting any water, actually refusing it, and wanting only milk...hmmm....I have broken down a few times and given him really watered down juice because drinking 24 oz of milk a day at this point is not only expensive, but just seems like too much. Not sure? He also trying new things. He is eating small salads with lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots (and plenty or lite ranch), as well as more whole wheat pasta options.

He loves being outside and usually pitches a fit when it's time to come in. He loves his bathtime and playing with puzzles. His favorite game is hide and seek. He'll pull at us and say "Ga hide" and wants us to hide with him with the other finds us. He will "shush" you while hiding but then start giggling himself. His new favorite word is "No" and we're really having to press upon him that there are very few times when telling Mommy and Daddy no are truly appropriate. It's tough, "Do you want water?" Jude says "No" and that's ok. I ask, "Jude sit down please." and he responds "No", not ok, disobedience.
 Last weekend, this little guy was really sick and ran a high fever. He stayed home with Daddy on Monday and I took him to the dr. that afternoon. We found out that he had his first DOUBLE ear infection, poor guy. He stayed home on Tuesday again and seems to be doing much better. We are so thankful this was only his 2nd ear infection ever, knock on wood.

He continues to be a sweetie. He wants to snuggle before every nap and bed time, which I certainly don't mind. He only gets his Bap (paci) while in his crib or snuggling in the rocking chair right before which I'm really proud of. We don't take it anywhere with us. His usual bed time is around 8:30 (9 on the weekends) and he will sleep til 7:30 if we let him. Unfortunatley, during the week I have to wake him up by 6:45 to get to work on time.

Jude is in all 18-24 month clothes now, with the exception of a few pair of shorts and summer shirts that are 12 months. He wears a size 5.5 shoe. He weighed 26 lb. 10 oz. at his appointment last week but we have our actual 18 month check up tomorrow.
Jude is becoming so independent and has a helping heart. He helps feed and water Mason every day and if I need him to get something, he can follow 2-3 step directions. He's really good at getting my purse or shoes from another room if I need him to.

Something you can't quiet tell from pictures is his crazy hair. He's definitley a blondie and has wispy hair like I did when I was little. Because it's so fine, it sticks straight up at his crown. We will wet it down but the second it gets dry, it goes right back up. It's pretty darn cute and almost everyone comments on it.

Jude, we are so thankful to have you in our lives. We are blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity to raise you as our son. We love you!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Woodland Park Zoo Visit

 We have been enjoying the beautiful summer weather in our new town. Not a drop of rain since we moved in 3 weeks ago. It's been in the low to mid 70's every day with beautiful clear skies. This weekend, we went to one of the local zoos. I really enjoyed the lay out because the enclosures are closer together and the animals are much closer and easier to see. This little guy LOVED it! He didn't want to leave any exhibit and we had to keep telling him we were going to see more animals. He loved the exhibit with the snakes and lizards and he hissed the whole time.

 Jude was really brave and fed some birds. He wasn't so sure about petting the goats and sheep at the petting zoo though.
 He was zoning in on the monkeys.
 One of his new books has a macaroni penguin so he was pretty excited to see these guys. He also liked being able to watch them go under water in their tanks. The otters did that too and he would jump back every time.
And, I was able to snap a picture of Jude doing his skunk face. He adds in the sound "shew" too and it's pretty darn cute. We are planning an aquarium visit soon and I'm pretty sure this little guy is going to have some similar interests as his Daddy's, at least for now. :)

Elijah Mason

The soon to be Mommy and Daddy

 In the midst of the craziness of summer and yet another cross country move, I have not been able to blog about my sweet nephew who is due in January!!! In May, my sister texted me a picture of a positive pregnancy test while I was at school and I screamed when I checked the text. Later that afternoon, I showed Justin the picture and he said "Does that say positive?" and I said "yes". He then asked, "Who peed on that stick?" with a look of sheer horror and I busted out laughing, assurring him it was Jillian's. Any who, I am thrilled to know that my sister is getting to experience the beauty of motherhood and the fact that Jude will have a cousin so close in age (22 months apart) to play with and share memories with!

We were SO lucky to be at home when Jillian and Phillip had the ultrasound to announce the gender of the baby. Because I won't be back home until Christmas, I wanted to throw them a Revealing Party with the help of Mom, Phillip's Mom, and his step-Mom. We had a great time and it turned out really well!
 The delicious spread!
 Phillip's Mom did a great job on this adorable fruit basket. I was super impressed!
 Everyone was supposed to wear their color of gender guess and team blue out voted team pink. Aunt Brenda, Phillip's cousin and me were the only ones to go pink. Of course, my Mom tried to cheat and wear both.
 Phillip and Jillian played a matching game where there were different things on the cards to represent either a boy or girl. For example, there were 2 football players and 2 purses matched up. After the ultrasound, they took out on picture of the gender the baby is so leave 1 picture unmatched.
 Aunt Debbie, Gerri Le, and Jamen also got to "attend" the party via webcam. I love modern technology!
 And, of course as we know, it was a boy! Jude was pretty stoked to see "bababalloons" regardless of the color but he was definitely the ham of the party.
We had a great time and it was a great way to kind of finalize our wonderful summer at home. I have been busy going through Jude's clothes that we can hand down to Eli in hopes to take them home over Christmas. Since he will be born in the winter and Jude was a spring baby living in hot areas (AL and AZ) some things won't match up because of season, but having birthdays only 2 months apart allows for some clothes to overlap. From what I can tell, fall and winter clothes will be good but since Jude is on the smaller side his 12 month clothes were all summer and Eli will be in the dead of winter at 1 year. However, we have some really cute snuggly new born and 3 month clothes Jude never even wore that Eli can wear since it was so unseasonably warm the spring Jude was born. (87 degrees on March 17, the day we brought him home.)

I am so super excited to meet this new sweet little man in our family! We can't wait to meet you Eli and we are so happy for Jillian and Phillip!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

 Ok, so we're officially settled. Settled into our 5th home since being married in our 3rd state, and yes folks, we've only been married for 4 years. I can honestly say "God is so good." When I allow myself to stop and think about the many blessings that I have, the hundreds of things I have to be thankful for, I don't have as much time to complain. Didn't Paul say that he "Learned to be content in all things."? Well, that's what I'm doing. It's definitely a learning process.

Justin made his treck from AZ to WA state 2 weeks ago, just him and Mason. Talk about a tough trip. No big deal that he lost his wallet in the airport, which thankfully was returned but only after I had called and cancelled our bank and major credit cards. Some where in Nevada he got a flat tire on the moving truck. Then, after being in WA for less than 2 days, lost his cell phone, which was also graciously returned and had 2 flat tires on his bike, his only means of transportation. All I had to do was fly across the country with a toddler, who did do great by the way. Oh, and speaking of thankfulness, you learn to appreciate the small things when on your 5 1/2 hour flight from Atlanta to Seattle you get an open seat beside you and a wonderfully sweet grandfather of 7 sitting by you. It makes your life truly so much better!

Sorry the quality of this isn't great but yes, this is Jude's first day of "school". We've had a hard transition so far...some may think it's a normal transition but it's been hard for me. We were so blessed for Jude to not start any kind of care until 5 months old and then he went to a person's home with only 1 child. And of course we had sweet Ms. Debby who came to our house every Wednesday. To have 3 teachers and 15 other toddlers in the room with lots of stimulation was hard on my little man. The first 3 days, he refused to eat for them and took awkward timed naps but thankfully, he no longer screams when we pull in the parking lot and is doing much better.

I too am starting school again and I am so excited to be at an AWESOME SCHOOL. I have moved from high school to a middle school but I am really looking forward to working with some truly great professionals. Though my heart longs to be home with Jude, if I have to work, I'm glad I'll be working where God has opened this door.

Justin is doing great with his new project and we both have fallen in love with the scenery in this area. We live within a 10 minute walk to a great park on the lake that offers a playground and swimming area, as well as a fantastic dog park for Mason.

Lastly, I do want to through in a 17 month shout out to sweet Jude man. Though I'm bias, this kid is pretty awesome. His vocabulary continues to soar. He has learned several new words this month, including balloon and moon. He wants to see the moon every time we go outside, including first thing in the morning. He can tell you all kinds of animal noises/associations, but my personal favorite is when you ask him what a skunk does, he'll hold his nose and say "shew". Too cute. His new favorite books are the "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" series and Justin is totally stoked that in the "Panda Bear, Panda Bear" one there is a red wolf. :) Jude has become less picky, knock on wood. He's never really been picky but kinda strange about textures, but so am I. However, this past month he's started to try new textures including rice, beans, and green beans. He has started stretching out his night time hours from 9 to 9.5 hours to at least 10, sometimes 10.5, which has really been nice. He still sleeps 2-3 hours every afternoon after lunch. He is a very strong willed little guy with an intense personality, but he is so sweet and will always give hugs and kisses when asked. He still enjoys and prefers to be outside. His favorite toys, other than his animals, are his Race car slide thing and his helicopter. It's really fun to watch his personality form. He still sleeps with his Lamby and/or Monkey and we've moved to only have his Bap (what he personally named his Paci) to his crib. When he wakes up, we tell him to give his bap to his animals in the crib and most of the time he willingly drops it in and says "Bye bye bap".

Any who, that's what's been going on...the last few weeks have been a whirlwind, but a good one. Students start back on Wednesday and a "new year" officially begins for me...yep, my 5th year teaching...whew...

Friday, August 10, 2012


This summer has come and gone far more quickly than I ever imagined. I have spent the last few hours spending time praying and writing to Jude and thinking about the many things I have to be thankful for. The list is so long. Just about more than anything, I am thankful for time. Time with family and friends, time to be still and rest, time to make priceless memories with the people I love the most.

This summer has been filled with laughter, comfort, accountability, great conversations, time spent basking with my sweet little man, all day, every day and rejoicing in the things the Lord has given me.

I am so excited to say that we have another new blessing being added to our family. We found out last night that my sister and her husband will be adding me my first nephew, Elijah Mason Ball "Eli", sometime around January 13th. We had a fun revealing party last night to share the news.

To be thankful just doesn't seem like enough. I am so blessed, it's hard to think this place isn't our home. This Earth doesn't even begin to touch what our eternity will be like with our Lord.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Good Ole Rocky Top

 Over the 4th of July my Mom, Jude and I took a road trip to Tennessee to visit my Mom's side of the family. Even though we've always lived 5 1/2 hours apart, I am still very close to this side and always look forward to spending time with them. While there, we enjoyed just catching up with family and spending quality time with everyone. Of course, we did venture out to the lake a few days to let Jude play with his cousin Jamen. They're only 4 months apart and I really wish that we were closer so they could grow up together.
 My cousin Jeff is a personal trainer and actually does lessons on the paddle board. I paddled around the small island and played around a little on it, but of course, my adventerous son wanted to try it too. Surprisingly, he stood up on it alone for a few seconds.
 The 4 cousins chillin'.
Jamen and Jude
Whenever we go to TN, we always stay with my Mamaw. She is such a hoot and I love spending time with her. She is my only grandmother living and I think we all have a lot to learn from people of her generation. She grew up very poor, got married at 15 and was a mother of 4 by age 23. She survived stage 4 cervical cancer at the young age of 27 and has had 2 heart attacks on her 65th birthday. She is such a fighter and talk about a lady who loves her family and adores her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I am so blessed to have my Mamaw in my  life and I am thankful for the time Jude was able to spend with her this summer!

We had a great time with family and I hate to think it may be next year before we see this side of the family again. :( I can't think of that now though...we'll focus on the wonderful things happening now!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Trip to Auburn

 I want to start this blog with a short history of why Justin and I moved to Auburn. When we got engaged in November of 2007, Justin had already applied to several schools to pursue his Master's degree. With that said, once we got engaged, he totally got me involved in making the decision of where we moved. In case you don't know, getting a Master's in Wildlife Biology is much different than some Masters programs. It's not just taking the GRE and getting into a school. You must have a professor accept you into their personal lab with funding for your field or lab research. With that said, Justin had gotten accepted to several programs, but had to wait to see who had funding.

It came down to Virginia Tech and Auburn University. Justin and I took road trips to visit both professors, campuses, and communities. When we left Auburn, I told my Mom "This is where we'll be moving." Justin and I had no doubt that God was calling us to move to this area. Doors opened, including me being offered a Special Education Position at Auburn High School in February of 2008 before I even graduated from UNCW. I could go on and on about what led us to Auburn, but bottom line, God's plan was being revealed and the Holy Spirit spoke directly to our hearts.

We moved South the day we got back from our honeymoon. Us two 22 year olds, starting brand new stages of life with jobs, school, and a marriage, all in a new town. Well, let me tell you. We were embraced. Not only did I have a great community at Auburn High, but the people in our church and community were amazing. After our 3 years in Auburn, it had truly become our home. Justin and I developed friendships and made memories that have impacted our lives and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives.

I am so thankful to have the flexibility to be able to go visit this summer. Most friends I have not seen since we moved, nearly a year ago, and talk about a wonderful reunion! It was like I was never gone and the time I was there was such an encouragement and blessed experience. It was also wonderful to see friends' babies who I had not met and let everyone see the little boy Jude has grown into. Most of our time was having play dates, letting our kids get to know one another and girl time just chatting, catching up. Of course I was able to get some of my favorite food from our favorite eateries, but the best part of course was diving back into our relationships.

I know that over time, sometimes friendships fade away, but I honestly don't know what I would do without some of the people in my life from Auburn. Their prayers were coveted during our short season in Arizona and I am so thankful to have these people in our lives!
 2 of my best friends with the babes, minus Asa who was napping.
Our sweet neighbors on Dumas Dr....the are our adopted grandparents.