Tuesday, July 22, 2014

10 things I love most about your dad?

I love your dad.  He has always been amazing at loving me and you girls.  Here are some things I love about him and appreciate about him:

1. He loves me unconditionally.
2. He is very patient with me.
3. He has always supported and encouraged me.
4. He never wants to put pressure on me as far as needing a job goes.
5. He supported me in quitting my job even though inwardly he was terrified of what that was going to look like.  We had no game plan on how we would make enough money.  Daddy was still in school getting his Master's Degree in Pediatric Nurse Practitioning from UNC Chapel Hill.  He had not been hired with his new degree, yet.  He also had no idea when he would be hired or what kind of income that would bring in.  However, he wanted so bad for me to be happy that he willingly let me quit. 
6. He believes in me.
7. He works very hard for us every day.
8. He wants the best for all  of us.
9. He is very hard on himself and although this can be very tiring to deal with, it makes him have high expectations of himself.
10. He still tells me that I am beautiful...even when I am still in my pajamas and just have gotten out of bed.

A Typical Day in the Life of Mandy Alford

During the time of writing this, I would say that a typical day in my life is busy and very involved, but to anyone else who reads it, they may think my life is boring.  I would say that is a word that definitely does not describe the season of life I am in.  There is never a dull moment and I rarely have a moment when there is nothing to do.  I should also say my day is ever changing.  Some days are more productive than others.  Some days mommy gets up earlier, like she should, and some days she sleeps in.  Some days mommy is a rock star and sometimes she feels like she amounts to nothing.  So with that said, here is my typical day:

My goal wake up time is 6:00.  When I do actually get up that early, it is amazing what I can get accomplished and how good the day goes. I can also tell you that by the time you girls are in bed, I am completely and utterly exhausted But on the days that doesn't happen, I can tell you I do not feel like anything has been accomplished.  I feel just as tired as I do when I get up early.  It is funny that I now call 6:00 am early, because back in my teaching days, that was sleeping in! 

Anyway, let us pretend I wake up at 6:00 am every morning. 
I try to get up and do my workout immediately.  If I don't do it then, it most likely won't happen. 
Then I go to the shower to get cleaned and dressed for the day.  After that, I retreat to my chair and ottoman to read the Word.  I LOVE this time.  This quiet time is what prepares me, strengthens me, and encourages me throughout the day.  Without God, I amount to nothing...I am nothing.  With Him I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

Usually by this time it is 7:30 or close to 8:00 am.  I usually hear Sally crying up there in her crib and it is time to go grab her and give her some food.  At the time of writing this, Sally is 5 months old and she is eating 5 oz. in her bottle and it is mixed with 2 1/2 teaspoons of rice cereal.  Typically, as it is with any bottle, she gulps it down and then for the next 2 hours can be seen playing in her exersaucer, play mat, and Bumbo while spitting up all over herself.  Sally you can go through about 3-4 outfits per day.  You, my dear Sally, are the reason for my laundry woes. 

At 8:30 am, I hear the Ava Bean waking up and playing in her crib.  So, up I go to get her. Ava getrs her diaper changed and gets dressed for the day.  Ava is 19 months at the time of writing this blog.  Usually, she goes immediately into her highchair to eat her breakfast.  She eats various breakfasty foods, but she almost always has a yogurt and some type of fruit, among other things.  I do have to say that Ava hardly ever finishes a meal.  She is not much of an eater and sitting in a highchair is too confining for a little girl who wants to go, go, go! 

After breakfast, we can be seen playing in the family room.  We might be playing with our teaset, our piano, our linky cubes and magnetic letters, our alphabet train, cookie sheet, balls, etc.  We could be dancing to fun music or singing song to God.  Who knows, really?  But what we do know is happening is a lot of fun!  I am also trying to feed Sally some pureed food during this time.

Around 10-10:30 am, Sally usually has another bottle, gets her diaper changed and gets put in her crib for a morning nap.  She will typically sleep until noon or half past noon.  During this time, Ava and I will usually cuddle on the couch and watch a movie (moomee) and she drinks some milk during this time.  This is our calm down part of the morning that gives mommy a little bit of a breather.  I will say the TV is often on in the background of our day because I like the noise...I prefer tv noise rather than music for some reason.  It is something I would like to change in myself but can't seem to find the strength to do. 

Around 11:30 we do some more playing.  We also like to go outside with the baby monitor during this time if the weather is decent.  If we go outside we play with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, the water table.  During the summer we may fill up the inflatable pool with water and get wet.  We also like to chase bugs, pick things up from the ground and all other sorts of what not. 

Around the time Sally starts to wake up, I get Ava her lunch together.  It can include a variety of foods, but at lunch it almost always includes cheese and, of course, a fruit.  While Ava is eating, I quickly grab Sally and get her fed.  After lunch, diapers are changed, and play time resumes.  During this time, Ava will usually play by herself and Sally plays with her things and I get some reading time in.  I love to read, so anytime you girls will actually play quietly and by yourself and I can sit there and read is welcomed. 

Ava may have a quick snack and will drink more milk before her nap. Ava gets her teeth brushed.   I take both of you upstairs and lay Sally in the boppy while Ava sits on my lap in the chair and we read 2-3 books.  Sometimes, depending on how tired Ava is, 1 book is all that is required to settle her down for a nap.  Ava almost always goes willingly into her crib for naps and bedtime.  Thank you  Ava and, more importantly, thank you, GOD!  You know how much this mommy needs a good sleeper. 

While you are napping, I do many things...or not.   It depends on how tired I am and if some much needed rest is calling my name.  If I am resting that could mean I am taking a nap myself, reading, or watching some tv.  If I am not resting, I am cleaning, organizing, marking things off of my to-do list.  I usually have 2-3 hours to accomplish something here.  If I don't have a freezer dinner ready or leftovers, than I will also use this time to make dinner.  However, I am trying really hard to be good at making freezer dinners 1 day a week that will last us a month. 

Usually Sally wakes up before Ava.  I grab Sally and feed her and change her diaper and outfit, if need be.  Then Ava wakes up.  I can usually hear Ava from downstairs because she bangs/kicks/hits her crib and it resonates throughout the house.  When Ava first started doing that I thought someone was in our house or trying to get in our house desperately! 

When Ava gets up she plays while I finish getting dinner cut up and put on her plate. Ava likes to play in the kitchen Tupperware cabinet or the cabinet I recently cleaned out and has nothing in it.  She also likes to drag things into the kitchen from the family room.  I guess she is just trying to stay close to mommy.  She will eat dinner and Sally will play with one of her toys.  When we all are sitting down to eat, Sally starts to fuss.  It is like she smells the food and realizes it is time for her to start acting up. 

After dinner, we play for a little bit.  Then around 7:45 you girls will go up for  a bath.  Ava gets a bath 3-4 times per week and Sally gets a bath about 2 times per week.  Then Ava gets more milk and gets more books read to her  after her jammies are put on her.  After all the milk has been drunk, Ava gets her teeth brushed and then we read one more book and say our prayers and go to bed.  Sally usually gets one last bottle at 9:00 and then we put her in her jammies and put her to bed, as well. 

After the girls are down in their beds, we usually go downstairs and put all the dishes in the dishwasher and start running the dishwasher load to be cleaned.  We also pick up the toys and clean up the kitchen.  After that is done, we like to have a small snack and something to drink and watch something on TV.  Then we get ready for bed and sack out! 

There are some nights that Sally will wake up around 2:30 or a little later.  Usually a pacifier will be the only thing we need to get her to settle back down for a few hours.  There are some mornings where Sally will wake up around 5:30 and I will typically feed her at this time. 

On the weekend nights (Friday and Saturday) daddy will take care of any night time wake ups (unless he is on call). 

I like to take you girls to play dates during the week and I am finding myself more and more involved in Bible studies and such.  On daddy's on call weekends, we spend a lot of time with mimi and papa and often will go to church with them on Sunday. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sally Jean is 5 months

Dear Sally,

Oh baby! You are 5 months already.  This has been the month where I have seen things with you really take off. 

Sally with Mommy
Sally with Daddy

Sally Jean you are... (drum roll please....) SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT...mostly!!!!  Goodness!  God has surely blessed this mommy with 2 great sleepers.  In fact, you are also taking 2 naps during the day that can last anywhere between 2 1/2 to 3 hours!  And...the 2nd naps lines up with your big sisters nap.  Woo hoo!  I do have to note that the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby helped me get the ball rolling when it comes to getting you on a schedule.  But, really all the credit goes to God and His ability, grace, and kindness to answer my requests.  It is amazing!!!

You are eating mostly 6 bottles per day with 5 oz. formula  and 2 1/2 teaspoons of rice cereal mixed in because you just weren't gaining weight at the rate we were wanting you to.  I have noticed your size 1 diapers are getting snug and you can't wear 3 month clothes that have footies anymore.  You are  getting too long.  But, I still look at you and you seem like such a peanut.  You are wearing 3-6 and some 6 month clothing.  Dr. Hight  wanted me to try feeding you some pureed food.  I knew you weren't ready for this.  It took you a lot longer than your sister to strengthen that neck and sit up in a BUMBO.  I have tried to give you some apples, but you don't understand that you need to open your mouth when the spoon reaches your lips and so I end up wedging the spoon in between your lips.  You will smack your lips as if it tastes good, but you just don't get the concept yet.  So, we will try again in a week or 2. 

Silly girl, you  have to be pacified during burps.  I think this is the funniest thing.  You can't stand to stop drinking your milk just enough to be burped that I have to give you a pacifier to let you suck on so you won't cry and will actually let a burp out.  You are such a mess. 

We can tell you are just itching to get on the floor and play with Ava.  It is really obvious to us that you want so badly to be able to do things Ava is doing.  Ava is so cute with you and your face lights up when you see her.  She plays with you and brings things to you.  You seem to enjoy your exersaucer and bouncy seat, as well as, your play mat and BUMBO.  Every day, I notice you are playing for longer stretches.  You are also a wiggly worm!  You scoot yourself all over the place while laying on your back using your back legs.  You are all over the place.  I remember your sister doing this.  Unlike your sister, you are extremely wiggly while being held now.  Sometimes you can be rather unenjoyable to hold because you do not lay still.  I still love ya!

You are not a fan of the pool so far.  You do so-so when the water is a warmer temperature.  For a while you would scream during your baths. Scream. Bloody. Murder.  But, you have been taking baths with Ava and your are handling it a lot better.  It is almost as if now that you have seen Ava can do it and enjoys it, you can do it, too. 
Sally with cousin Jack at the pool

You're still super loving.  You love to just look at whoever has you completely study their face.  I feel like half of the time I am looking at you,there is a small grin on your cute, little face.    Those eyes of yours are absolutely stunning.  I am your mommy, so I may be a little biased. 


Some of my favorite things about this month with you:
-seeing those eyes light up when you see someone you recognize
-soothing yourself to sleep
-sleeping through the night
-playing with your toys
-scooting around the room
-smacking your lips

Sally, we are so blessed.  I know I say this in your monthly letter every time, but I truly believe it and mean it.  I can't imagine our lives without you.  Thank you for blessing our lives so immensely.  I cannot wait to see the great things God has in store for you.  I pray you will always allow Him to guide you.  I hope you see how special you are to Him and see yourself the way He sees you.  May God write His name all over your heart!

Love you,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How did I feel the moment I became a parent?

Ava and Mommy

Sally Jean and Mommy

The moment...oh.that.moment.  When I became a parent I remember thinking and feeling a multitude of things.  I was ecstatic, thrilled, shocked, joyful, content, at peace, complete, terrified, nervous, frustrated, overwhelmed, fearful and tired. 

So many emotions took over me.  I was thrilled and ecstatic because we had longed for children.  I had wanted to be a mommy for about as long as I can remember.  I was shocked because I couldn't believe you were finally here.  I was joyful because I was so blessed to be given such a gift from God.  I was content because this was what I wanted.  I felt such a peace within me because I felt God's loving arms wrapping around me as I began this adventure.  I felt complete because my heart was so full and bursting at the seams.

But, on the flip side, I was terrified.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I was nervous because what if I did everything wrong, disappointed God, wasn't good at the mommy thing.  I was frustrated because this mommy thing was a lot harder than I had ever imagined.  I was overwhelmed because being a parent is a never ending job.  I was fearful because this world is sick and scary and there is so much to protect you from.  I was tired, well, because  you are a full time job. 

I wouldn't trade any of these emotions.  They have all been necessary in order to make me learn a few things and give up a few things to God. 

I cannot tell you how much joy you continue to bring to me.  You light up my life.  Literally.  When you wake up in the morning and I hear you, I can't wait to see you.  When you are crying for one reason or another, I cannot wait to comfort and hold you.  Your cheeks are more than I can bear and they just have to be smooched all the time.  I love to attack you with tickles and sneak some hugs in there, too. 

I don't have everything figured out.  In fact, there are days I think I don't have ANYTHING figured out.  But day by day, God clears the clutter out and guides me through our day.  I make mistakes. Constantly.  I disappoint you and I disappoint myself.  Those things will continue to happen because I am human,  with filth, dirt and grime all over me.  But, I promise you this, I will never stop striving to be a perfect mom for you.  I will always look to God for His guidance and only perfect knowledge He can give. 

I love you and I love being a mommy to you.  God put you in the perfect family. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Favorite Holiday!!


Fall & Christmas 
It is July and I am already looking forward to the coming fall months with the fall scents, the delicious recipes, and jolly music!  I know fall can't really be considered a holiday, but to me it is!  I love the changing colors of the trees, the cool breeze outside, the lovely candle smells that make their way on to the shelves.  I can't wait to begin traditions with you girls.  I hope that you will enjoy this season as much as I do.  There are so many fun things to be a part of.  We can go trick or treating, we can go to pumpkin patches, we can write our reasons to be thankful on our cut out leaves, we can make lots of delicious baked goods, we can use our pumpkin soup bowls for some amazing soups.  We can watch Harry Potter a LOT!  We can plan out our 25 Days of Christmas movies ourselves since we got rid of cable.  We can drink hot cocoa, apple cider, and have delicious homemade potpourri cooking on our stove.  We can make lots of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas crafts!  We can decorate our trees and the rest of the house.  We can string lights, if daddy will help.  We can listen to Christmas music all day long and even in the car and not feel guilty about it.  We can go to the stores and  look at all the lovely Christmas displays.  We can recall each night before bed the reason for the season.  We will get to do all these things and more as we make our own traditions. 
I am so excited for this fall and winter season with you, my loves.  I hope that when you grow up, will love it as much as I do and will carry on our traditions with your family and make a few of your own!   

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Where is my favorite place to vacation and why?

DISNEY WORLD!!!!! Oh my goodness, how I love this place!!!!  I could go there every year for my vacations and be completely content and satisfied with that.  It is such a magical place.  Everything...EVERYTHING is better at Disney World.  The grass is better, food is better, the heat and humidity is better, the air is better.  Heck, even the exhausted, argumentative families are better there.  At Disney, you can be a kid again.  You can get swept away in the excitement that overwhelms the place.  You can be silly and you will be silly.  Disney doesn't offer a choice other than silliness, complete happiness, and pure joy.  I can't think of many times where a frown appeared on my face during my time there (expect on Mission Space...that ride and I are NOT friends).  You feel like you are in a Disney movie just upon entering through the gates.  There is so much character in the buildings everywhere around you. 

The Magic Kingdom-If you visit Disney, this place is a must!  Not because it has the best rides, because honestly, if you are into big rollercoaster type rides, the Magic Kingdom doesn't have too many to offer.  I love the Magic Kingdom because it exudes the dreams Walt Disney had for this magical land. The buildings are precious, and make you feel like you have stepped back into time.  The castle...UNBELIEVABLE!  Everywhere you turn you will fall in love with the place.  This is the best park for the little ones.  The rides are made just for them (except for Space Mountain and there are a couple others).  They have great places to eat and I love the bakery on Main Street.  There are of course great places to shop here and overall, lots of fun to be had.  The parade at night, use to be called Spectromagic Parade (but the name has changed). There is a great fireworks show there, as well.  I haven't been there in like 4 years!!!!!  So I know a lot has changed since, but I know its magical appeal will always stay the same. 

MGM Studios-This is my second favorite park!  I love it because there are so many different things going on.  During the day you can be whisked away into an act with the actors that meander down the streets.  You can shop til you drop in some of the really cool shops.  You can take the rides of your life on the Rockin Rollercoaster and Hollywood Tower of Terror.  There are lots of shows you can catch there, too.  I love the Muppet 3D show.  It doesn't matter how many times I have seen it or how old I am, I still have to see it and I still laugh like a 5 year old.  There are some great shows at night there, too!  Fantasmic...THE BEST!!! It is a must if you go there. 

Animal Kingdom...LOVE IT!  The safari, Mt. Everest, and It's a Bug's Life are my absolute faves there!  I also enjoy the food and the Kilimanjaro Rapids...Just a fun place.  I feel like I like this place best when it isn't as hot.  For some reason, I feel like I get the hottest there.  I also love the area where you can get your picture taken with Pooh Bear, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore.  There are animals of all sorts on the safari and around various places in the park.  By taking a small, adorable train, you can go visit a petting zoo, too.  Another great show to see at the Animal Kingdom is The Lion King.  It is really well done! 

Epcot-Epcot is a lot of fun!  There are some fun rides like the Test Track, Soarin (which I have heard is leaving or changing), and for those of you who aren't claustrophobic or throwing up, you may enjoy Mission Space.  Of course, you have to go through the big ball...you know...the golf ball.  And you have to go through the Finding Nemo ride and walk through the aquarium and visit the talking turtle...which I can't remember his name at the moment.  On the other side of Epcot, there is a lot to see and do.  You can get a taste of culture there.  There are different restaurants that host cuisines from different countries.  You can visit Mexico, Norway, Canada, Germany, Japan, China, France and many other places.  It is a lot of fun to get a small little something from each country to try and taste at their little snack stands.  They have an exceptional fireworks show at night, as well. 

If you go during the summer, be prepared for downpours of rain almost every day....at least that has been my experience...

I can't wait to experience all the magic Disney World has to offer with my girls!!!

10 People Who Have influenced/taught me and why?

1. God- God has been a part of my whole life.  It is just now that I am realizing just how much I depend on and count on God.  I need Him all the time.  Without I Him, I am nothing.  I have become very close to God as I have gotten older.  I have learned a lot about who He is, who I am to Him, what He wants to be for me, who He wants me to be, etc.  I have many things here on this Earth for which to be thankful.  However, I don't deserve any of them. The only thing  I am deserving of is death.  That might sound harsh, cruel, or drastic, but it is the truth.  It is the truth for all of us!  I owe my entire being to God.  I thank God for His gift that He has never withheld from me. Not even for a second.  There is nothing I could say, nothing I could do that will ever amount what you have done for me. 

2. My Dad- My dad has influenced me in a way I don't think he even knows.  I was always encouraged to try things if I wanted to.  He never pushed me or discouraged me from doing something that was appealing to me.  I knew he always believed in me and loved me no matter what.  With my dad, there isn't anything I could do that would keep him from loving me.  He has taught me how to love others even when it is hard.  He has shown me what it is like to have an encouraging, supportive parent, which in turn, has made me want to be that to my children.  My dad has also helped me to good at biting my tongue.  Even if I really want to say something, he has shown me through example when it is best to lay low and love anyway.  I really appreciate this because I tend to steer more towards the foot and mouth disease.  There are not enough words to express the gratitude I feel for my dad and the things he has taught and continues to teach me through example.

3. My Mom- My mom has been a big influence in  my relationship with God.  During my childhood years, into high school and college, my dad travelled with his job a lot!  My mom was left to take charge of the homestead most of the time.  She showed me how you can be strong and independent.  She showed me that a relationship with God was important.  My mom is who she is and that influenced me to be who I am.  I am proud of me and never felt a need to be someone different...except for a couple of times in middle and high school.  She influenced me to be strong willed and to demand a man of moral character and godly values.  I thank God for my mom and for putting me in her arms on February 1, 1982.  God certainly knew what He was doing when He picked this family for me. 

4. My Siblings- My siblings, Kelly and Jeremy, have been influential in my life.  They have taught me how to be protective of those I love, to laugh at myself, and to be confident in who I am.  They accept me for me and have loved me and guided me through roads they had previously travelled.  When they got married, I was young.  Kelly is 12 years older and Jeremy is 10 years older.  However, they continued to include me in their married lives and the lives of their kids.  I love them so much and they have no idea how blessed I am to have two siblings that look after me and are always there for me.  I only wish I was that for them as they are for me. 

5. Curtis-Curtis has influenced me to love unconditionally.  I am not good at...AT ALL!  But he is so unconditional to me that it motivates me to keep trying every day.  He is also devoted to me and has shown me what true devotion looks like.  When someone lets go of a habit/addiction because he knows it will destroy him-spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically- which will completely destroy his wife, that is true love.  Curtis has influenced me to try to be a better wife and mom.   I am so blessed to be his wife and can't imagine my life without him.

6. My girls-Ava and Sally have influenced me to be someone I never thought I could be.  Although I am not anywhere near who I want to be when Jesus calls me home, they encourage me to keep on trying.  They have influenced me to take better care of myself.  They have influenced me to closely knit to God.  They have influenced me to be involved in church and with church friends.  They have influenced me to protect very important relationships.  They influence me to be a person who I never have dreamed was possible but don't want to give up striving for.  They give me purpose, deep purpose and meaning in this scary, crowded world.  I am forever grateful for these little gifts from God that I get to call my little girls.  I cannot imagine my life without those precious, smiling eyes looking back at me and those contagious giggles that completely take my breath away. 

7. My Providence Road CoC Lifegroup- These people walked with me through so many different roads my life took.  They truly lived life with me.  They were there every step of the way.  I have never met a group of people that was like family, but really were not blood related.  They influenced me to grow in my relationship with God, to believe in the power of prayer, and others need to have non family members love and live life with them.  I could never thank them enough for the memories I have of them. 

8. The Dean Family-The Dean's took my husband in when he was a youth ministry intern at their church over the summer in Jonesboro, Arkansas.  I met them and fell in love!  Immediately.  They taught me so much about marriage and family.  They taught me what  it really looks like to love a spouse and to teach their children how to be love to others.  They showed me what hospitality was and how to make a house a home.  I am eternally grateful for the little life lessons that I learned from them and the impact they made in my life and my husband's. 

9.  The VanGurp Family-This family has been in my life since their college sophomore was 2.   I have learned from them the importance of date night, the love of each other, that friends are extremely important, that it is very possible to be joyful at all times.  They have shown strength as they trudged through the trenches of their little boy being diagnosed with leukemia.  They have influenced me to  have faith, even in the hard times.  I love this family deeply and thank them for allowing me to be a part of their lives for all these years. 

10.  Laurie Thrasher Bradley-Laurie has no idea and she is so humble she would never accept this.  But, Laurie has influenced me with her selflessness and amazing listening ear.  She has such love for others that she is willing to sit silently and just listen, even if I dominate the entire conversation, which I tend to do.  She is a humble servant of God with a beautiful smile and an overwhelmingly huge heart.  I have never told her this, and I ought to.  She deserves to know.  I am so thankful that God placed me in that youthgroup so I could meet her.  She has made such an impact on my life! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

3 passions

What are 3 passions I have:

God:  God is the reason I have anything.  He is my everything and it has taken me 32 years to realize this and, even then, I don't always understand, believe it, or accept it.  God has blessed my life to the fullest and He never ceases to amaze me.

My Children: I love those little critters more than life itself!  I want to be the best I can possibly be for them.  I hate when I fail, but rejoice when I see fruit either from them or myself.  I can't imagine what else on earth I could possibly be doing with my time right now.  I am truly blessed to be a mother.  I am so thankful.  Those kiddos will be my passion until I die. 

Teaching: I was made to be a teacher...whether it is to a classroom full of first or second graders, a Sunday school group, or my own little critters.  I am very passionate about the influence a teacher can have on kids and the importance of good teachers and teaching.  Even though I no longer am in the teaching career, I do not underestimate the difficulty and utter exhaustion of the job along with the pure joy and excitement that can be found in it. 

What is my dream job and why

This is such a hard one for me.   I like to try new things and have some accomplishments...

I can't narrow it down to one so I will tell a couple of mine:

1.  Be an orphanage mom- I think this is an awe inspiring job!  I would love to make a positive impact on those children and to love them when they have no one there for them.  I love kids and have spent my whole life surrounded by them.  This would be a perfect job for me. 

2. Run a horse camp for kids with special needs/health issues.  I love horses and I love kids...What better job than to be able to be around 2 things I love at the same time!!!!

3. Be a professional shopper.  I love to shop but being a stay-at-home- mommy the funds are low.  I would love to shop for others and get to pretend I was shopping for me. 

4. A Food critic-I love food.  I wake up every day and wonder what I am going to eat.  When I go on trips, I can't wait to try some of the new, authentic foods they have to offer. 

5. A zookeeper-taking care of the baby animals...how sweet for someone who is an animal lover. 

Genie in a bottle

If I could wish 3 wishes they would be...

1.  I wish for my family to leave a godly legacy behind.  I want for us to strive to be who God has purposed and planned for us to be.  I want us to be His eyes, His hands, His feet.  I want words of love and life to flow from our mouths.  I want us to be a light in the darkness.  I want us to be honest and true.  I want us to be holy and pleasing in God's sight and to never strive for anything less. 

2.  Good health and many, many years for me and my family.  Although I want to go to heaven and I want Curtis and my girls to go to heaven, I don't want to miss experiencing things with them on this side of heaven.  I want to watch them grow up to be confident, godly women.  I want to see them get married and I want us to be a part of their children's life. 

3.  To have a horse again.  I would love to be able to own my own horse again and to ride with my girls.  I would love to share the joy that is found in mucking stalls, grooming a horse, braiding mane and tails, picking out their shoes, the smell of horse and leather, and the pure excitement of taking off in a gallop.

5 things that make me most happy right now

1. God-With God my cup runneth over!  I am so happy I have Him in my life and I am thankful for the gift of grace and redemption He has given me so freely.

2. Family-my kids light up my life!  My husband is my best friend.  They are my world. And I can't forget my pets!!!

3. My parents, siblings, and their kids-Even though I don't see them every day, I know they are always there for me.  I have a great support system.

4.  Friends-I am thankful for all the happy memories I have with old friends and the new ones I am making with new friends!

5. Kisses from Katie- a book I am reading that has truly opened my eyes and my heart!

10 things I would tell my 16 year old self ( if I could)

1. Understand that God sees  you as spectacular.  He made you to be the way you are.  Don't try to be someone different.
2. It is okay if you don't know what you want to be when you grow up.
3. It is also okay if you have dreams...in fact dream...dream a lot!
4. You will love being a mommy...it will be a job made perfectly to fit you.
5. Don't care what anyone else thinks of you.  Be proud of you.
6. Learn how to cook! If you don't you'll wish you had.
7. Be wise and frugal with your money now! It will help you out in the long run. 
8. Stay active and fit!  You don't want to be a tired, exhausted, out-of-shape 32 year old.
9. Don't worry about meeting Mr. Right in high school, he will come along in college.
10. Don't be afraid to love...it is what God wants in you and has given you the capacity to do...because God is love and God lives in you. 

My relationship with my Spouse

It was a hot summer day in July in Arkansas when I first saw Curtis.  I was walking down a stairwell with my friend, Erin.  There he was.  Dark hair, dark eyes, tan skin, bright green polo shirt, adorable smile.  And I said, "Erin, I am going to date that guy!"  Hahah!  Little did I know what God had in store. 

Over the course of our first semester, we had an eight o clock class together and we never talked...mostly because I never made it to class.  That's a story for another time.  Anyway, I remember walking across the front lawn of Harding University to see Curtis sitting on blanket with a blonde haired girl.  I was crushed.  So, first semester fades into second semester of our freshman year.  To my delight, Curtis started hanging out with my group of friends.  However, after getting to know him and being around him, he drove me crazy.  All he did was pick on me.  I remember thinking "Never mind!"

Over the summer I met someone in uptown Charlotte and went back to Harding with a boyfriend.  I remember Curtis not being too fond of the guy (and for good reason).  Eventually, I realized this other guy wasn't good for me and called it off with him.  Curtis and I started hanging out a lot just the two of us and became super close friends.  By Christmas of that semester, we were officially dating.  It was the HAPPIEST time in my time there at Harding.  He was my best friend.  I told him everything and we did everything together (as best as we could...Harding was full of strict rules).

A year went by and we were seriously dating.  By November of the next year, we were engaged and transferring to Charlotte because I was dying to be close to my family and new nieces and nephew. 

We got married about a year later on August 2, 2003.  It wasn't my dream wedding due to funds at the time, but it didn't matter.  My wedding day is only one day and  I was marrying my best friend for the rest of my days. 

It's been 11 years since then.  We have shared struggles, victories, and miracles.  We have been happy with each other, upset at each other, annoyed with one another, and in awe of each other.  We have encouraged each other, disappointed one another and laughed at each other mistakes and silliness. 

We have lived in 4 different houses/ apartments, changed churches, made and lost friends,  opened our home to a few pets, and welcomed our home and our hearts to our 2 daughters. 

We have seen each other through different jobs, through schooling,  and through careers ending.

Curtis has always loved me in a way I don't feel I am capable of.  He loves me unconditionally.  I love my two girls in that way, but it's a struggle with my poor husband.  He loves me even when I criticize, roll my eyes, vent my frustrations, nag him, disappoint him, and even hurt him.  He has walked with me through my own set of fears and filth.  He has supported me in my teaching career and choice to end that.  He encourages me in my role as a mommy and wife.  He sees me like God sees me. 

I think that we have a very healthy relationship.  At the end of the day, we accept each other for who we are, we love each other even when it is tough, we help each other, and we know we are blessed by the life that God has given us.  We take our commitment very seriously and are extremely devoted to each other.  We never let a disagreement go to the next day.  We listen and try to understand where the other is coming from.  Sometimes, we just agree to disagree.  And that is ok. 

There he is.  I know that God planted Curtis in that room that one, hot summer day for me to see.  I know He planned for us to meet one day.  I never would have imagined how blessed I would be for that one, hot summer day in July in Arkansas. 

3 huge fears of mine:

3 huge fears of mine:

1. Spiders-I can't stand them.  I can't even kill them, they scare me that badly.  I don't know where I began fearing spiders like I do, but the fear is huge!  Their eight legs are disgusting and the way they move just grosses me out.  I can't stand them!  Uck!

2. Cancer-I have a huge fear of either myself dying of cancer or my kids or husband dying of cancer.  I also can't stand hearing of a family or friend being diagnosed with this disease.  I HATE this sickness.  I wish it would all go away.  I don't know why I fear it exactly, but I see it happening all around me.  Everything we eat, use, and put on our bodies seems to be linked to the disease and I just can't possibly keep up which scares me. 

3. Missing possibilities placed in front of me- I have always been scared that God will place an opportunity in front of me and I will be to self absorbed to see it.  I don't want to miss a chance he is giving me to be who He wants me to be or who He wants me to serve.  I am afraid if I miss these things, He will not love me anymore.  While I know that is not the God I believe in, I do consider myself unworthy of His love all the time. 

20 random facts about me:

20 random facts about me:

1. I am deathly scared of spiders.  I scream, panic, run, and almost die of a heart attack when one is near.
2. I do not like the smell of the outdoors in my home.
3. My nose is super sensitive to smells.
4. I do not like the smell of reheated chicken (especially chicken heated in the microwave)
(Can you tell I have a thing about smell?)
5. My favorite thing to eat is a nice juicy steak.
6. I love brownie, cookie, and cake batter.
7. When I was a little girl, I had to wear an eye patch because I went cross eyed all of a sudden.
8. I was born in Houston, Texas.
9. If I could retire anywhere in the world, I would love to retire in Roatan, Honduras or St. Martin.
10.  I am extremely claustrophobic.
11. I am horrible at math and anything involving numbers.
12. I was 32 years old before I read the entire Bible through.
13. I do not use foul language.
14. I am not a perfectionist when it comes to crafts and artsy things.  I am a it-looks-alright- to-me kind of girl.
15. I can't stand for anything on my body to hang off of the bed and my feet have to always be under the covers.
16. I self medicate myself with food.
17. I make rash decisions.
18. I love the beach and mountains.  I can't think of which would be my favorite.
19. I love to read!!!!
20. If I watch a scary movie, I have to follow it up with a funny TV comedy or movie.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Happy Independence day

4th of July 2014


What a fun, exciting,  and busy 4th we had this year.  It started off with a bang!  We were invited by some friends , the Blacks,  to go to the Waxhaw parade and we thought that sounded like a lot of fun.  We tailgated at the parade and everyone brought breakfast type foods to eat.  The kids played and I noticed all the other kids were minding their p’s and q’s… all except for one little peapod named Ava.  She was into everything, taking off everywhere and just all around misbehaving.  I am sure my friends think we have no control over her, and there are days when I don’t think I do.  We try, though.  In between all the general misbehaving, she did really enjoy herself.  She got to play near the railroad tracks where we got some precious candid pictures of her. She got to see cool cars, lots of kids, get candy and such thrown at her, and my favorite, HORSES!  We had a really good time with our friends and hope we can make that an annual thing we all do. 
Me and my friend Caleb!  Isn't he handsome?
Jennifer Lowke and Miss Sally Jean at the parade


After we left there, we had time for lunch and a nap before it was time to head over to my sister’s for a cookout.  The cookout was fun.  Of course, I enjoy any time I get to spend with family.  I love watching the older cousins jump right in and play with Ava and look after her.  It is really sweet and cute.  They are all really good with her.  We got to eat some incredible food.  Whenever the cooks are my sister and brother in law, you always know you are in for a treat.  They got to see Ava do her silly dance twirl where she tries to keep her eyes in one spot, kind of like she is chasing her tail.  It is hilarious!!!!

My mom and Sally Jean

Then, we headed to fireworks in Waxhaw.  My sister and her kids came and we met some of my friends there.  Ava and Sally really enjoyed watching them!  It was a wonderful time.  When you watch those fireworks you can’t help but look at them with awe and amazement because they are so cool. And then you start thinking about all the men and women who have made so many sacrifices for all of us here in America.  We are truly blessed to live in this country. 

Thank you to all those serving in any of the military branches and to their families!  Your love for this country will never be forgotten and I know, as far as the Alford family and Wright Family goes, you will always be appreciated! 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ava 19 months

I don't know when you stop referring to your child as however many months, but I am guessing I can until she is 2 years old.  Ava is such a stinker.  I just love her spunk, but sometimes when I am around other parents who have children around the same age as her, I feel like I have a child out of control.  She doesn't stop.  Doesn't.  DOES. NOT. STOP.  EVER!!!  She is busy, busy, busy! 

At the fourth of July parade, our friends children were being well behaved, sitting on the blanket or chairs, while Ava was climbing every ones chair, running circles around the cars that were parked, sliding downhill to the railroad tracks, running half way down the road in the blink of an eye (literally).  When we say she is non stop, a hundred miles a minute we honestly and truly mean it.  She is a work out, why I am still carrying around sooo much baby weight I'll never know because you would think running after her all day would do the trick.  But Nope! 

Ava is still into looking through books, blowing bubbles, playing in water, loving every second outside, dancing and twirling, running as fast as she can, climbing on  everything, running circles around the house, throwing fits when things don't go according to her plan, not eating her food (but hey...that lint on the floor looks good enough to eat).  I swear, if we just put her food on the floor she would be more likely to eat it.  I just can't get myself to justify any possible reason that would be ok.


She is still a wonderful sleeper.  Thank you Jesus!  He knew we needed our sleep so He gave us a good sleeper (and I must say, her sister isn't too far behind her now!!!)  Anyway, she sleeps now once during the day (for like 3 hours!!!!) and then goes down for bed between 8-8:30.  She LOVES her bed and always has.  I am so thankful for the  peace we have when it comes to putting her down to sleep.  She doesn't mind it one bit! 

When Ava does eat, which is really few and far between, she will eat pretty much any fruit you give her, it's a hit or a miss when it comes to meat, and veggies...that's not even a hit or miss, it always a miss!  I give her pouches which are best given to her when we are out somewhere.  She doesn't like eating those home most days and we also give her V8 splash with vegetable and fruit servings to make up for the lack of veggies she eats at lunch and dinner.  She drinks white milk but only with ovaltine mixed in.  She no longer likes eating her yogurt in the morning, even if I let her use a spoon with it and do it herself she still doesn't really want it.  She does have a sweet tooth...I wish for her sake she didn't.  We don't offer her too many sweet things besides fruit.  Every once in a while she can have a dessert, like frozen yogurt or if I make brownies, but really we try very hard to not give her those.  Plus with her milk, she is getting enough of that.  Thankfully, the Ovaltine has lots of vitamins! 

She got to go to her first parade...she liked it, but like I said earlier, she was crazy!!!! She also got to watch fireworks, and like I thought, she loved them!  Even her little sis was into them.  At the pool, she is FEARLESS.  She was going under the buckets with her cousins, letting them take her under the mushroom and not caring one bit of the water that was creaming her in the face.  I love her fearlessness. 

She is something else!  I love her so much!  She just loves life and I love that about her.  It's reigning her in sometimes that is hard.  But with prayer and consistency I know we can do this!