Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School 2014

Could it be?! A new blog post? Maybe this time I'll get on a roll and stick with it... maybe.

It's that time of year! Back to school! Last year we sent the kids to preschool. Avery went 2 days and Parker went 4 days. This year, Parker is old enough to go to Kindergarten but we had decided to hold him back and do TK (transitional kindergarten). Avery was going to do preschool 4 days a week but our hearts never felt comfortable with this decision. After a lot of prayer and research, we pulled both kids off the preschool registration list and registered our playroom as a home school! 

We have chosen "My Father's World" Kindergarten curriculum for Parker along with some supplementary math, science, writing and reading to mix it up. We'll do Kindergarten this year and hopefully keep up with the pace so he can start 1st grade next year but if we need to take it at a slower pace, then we have that freedom. Avery is participating in a good number of his activities currently as well as doing some preschool workbooks, activities, and educational games during school time. She has the attention span of a squirrel so keeping her engaged seems to be our goal right now!

We started half pace homeschooling 2 or 3 weeks ago to get our minds dusted off and started full pace today. So far, so good... minus one epic brawl over who got to put together the elephant during the magnet shapes/color/critical thinking game. Should you be wondering, Avery won. Parker went for the head with his fist but Avery brought the nails to the face which wins every time. 

Even though I wasn't sending my kids off to traditional school this morning, I still made them snap a few 1st day of school pictures. Last year I would have fought Parker to not wear his Spiderman costume but this year, I've chilled out a lot. If letting him dress himself means our mornings start off on the right foot, then sure.... wear lime green and red. Pajama shirt with plaid shorts? Love it. A Spiderman costume? Awesome. 
2014. When he grows up, he wants to be Spiderman! Shocking, I know.
2013. When he grows up, he wants to be Iron Man!
2012. He wants to be a cow when he grows up! haha
2014. When she grows up, she wants to be Avery! I have a feeling, she'll succeed.
2013. When she grows up, she wants to be Parker!
It took a few tries to get Parker to take his mask off. Otherwise this would have been this year's back to school picture.
I suppose it is a true portrayal of where we are in life right now!

After our back to school mini photo shoot, Avery and played in the driveway in a slightly misty rain while Parker stood in the doorway all sorts of upset that we were getting wet in our clothes. #sensorykidproblems

This little lady is so full of life and such a ham! I thank God every day for these 2 precious treasures that I get to spend my days with! Seeing everyone's back to school pictures this morning in the 6 and 7 oclock hours made me SO thankful that we've chosen to home school! Wise Academy starts after breakfast... which they eat after they wake up at their leisure. Can I get an Amen?!

I hope your back to school days have been/will be great as well!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Natural Bloom Photography Shoot

I can't wait to share Parker's birthday party pictures with you but I know that's going to be a lengthier post so until there is time, I wanted to share some fun pictures a local photographer took. 

Remember the lady I met in Old Navy that I overwhelmed with my "shocking enthusiasm" for all things photography? Well, we met up one morning 2 weeks ago and snapped a few springy pictures for the photographer's media pieces. It was the day after daylight savings so we were a little off on the "good light" but still got quite a few keepers. 
It was a tad chillier than we had hoped since winter just doesn't seem to want to let go but Avery was a trooper for the most part. It's amazing what bubbles, balls and whacking your head with a stick while dancing behind the photographer will get you!

I love this Persnickety outfit! Girl clothes are SO fun!

 This is Avery's default face... we see this face MANY times during the day. Sassy little thing!
 I picked Avery up to change her outfit and she latched on like a Koala... could be because it was like 40 degrees. Thankfully, any time Avery has a photoshoot, I always coordinate in case I need to be in any pictures to get her to smile or keep her safe (ie, heights, in a tree etc...)
 I love my sweet girl!

 I finally got the little booger changed but she wouldn't let me put her down! I certainly didn't mind the snuggles :)
 This floral dress is from Cheeky Plum on facebook. They have sales as they have inventory but you better be fast! They sell out in minutes! A similar company I've also been purchasing from lately is SweetHoney. Their outfits sell out in 1 minute or less.... literally! It gets my heart pumping... so really, online shopping with them is basically cardio! Check them out... or don't.... I wouldn't want you decreasing my chances of scoring one of these pretty frocks!
Target of all places is rocking it out this spring with adorable little girl shoes! 
 I hope she always lets me hold her like this. When I'm 60, I hope my 34 year old daughter will let me pick her up and she'll snuggle into my neck. You think I'm kidding...
It wouldn't be a photoshoot with a 2 year old without an outtake or 12....

Sorry I'm not sorry for photo overload. I'll never get tired of blasting this blog with pictures of my treasures from heaven! 

If you're in the Charlotte area and are looking for an affordable family photographer, check out Natural Bloom Photography!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Witching Hours

4pm until bath time at 6:30 used to be our witching hours. I dreaded them. The kids were whiny, I was trying to make dinner and do a last minute clean up before Daniel came home from work and by the time he did come home, I was tapped out. That is exactly how I felt most days at 4pm, Avery... distraught.
 But as the kids have gotten older, those witching hours have become less frequent (with the exception of tonight! haha) and I'm finding myself really enjoying late afternoons with the kids.
 We've had a few sneak peaks lately of spring weather and we've spent what was once our witching hours on the walking trails, playing fairies in the woods, snapping pictures in new spring clothes and swinging at the park while the crock pot makes dinner for us!
 It sure beats cooking dinner with 2 kids crying at your feet because you put on the wrong Barney episode because they asked for the one with a dog but there are like 13 dog episodes and you have no idea which one is the "dog episode" they want but it so obviously is not this one...someone has a potty accident while your hands are covered in Parmesan bread crumbs and egg yokes for the dinner you've promised your husband because he has been so gracious to eat the chicken nuggets you've microwaved him for 2 nights straight... someone spills water all over the kitchen trying to self serve himself water that he's asked for 12 times but you're too busy cleaning poop off the couch when your husband walks in and asks "How was your day?"
 At that point you basically want to cry or maybe you do because you've tried so hard and it looks like you've failed... big time.  Sound familiar? Well guess what....
 You know those obnoxious middle age ladies with college kids who tell you every. single. time you go to the grocery store to savor every moment because it will pass?
 They're right. It does. They do pass.
 They quit wanting to watch Barney {thank you Jesus!}, they learn to poop in the potty, they quit spilling drinks quite so frequently and your husband will, in fact, survive on chicken nuggets until you can get it together enough to cook an actual meal.
The savoring part.... I'm not sure you can truly savor those tough moments until they're gone or less frequent but I've certainly learned to laugh at them. The tantrums that used to leave me in a tizzy, now make me giggle because they're fleeting and few and far between. I can't say we'll miss them because those tantrums have turned into toddler sass which will likely prove to be equally as challenging...or dare I say hilarious. Just listen to what these tiny humans say with their dramatic hand gestures! It's so hard to take anything seriously.
So next time you have to walk out of Target with a crying toddler under your arm because you won't buy her a $40 owl treehouse or even the beaver family accessory pack... yes that does actually exist and yes this did happen tonight... take a deep breath and giggle at the hilarity of it all because those grocery store ladies who smile at my tearful toddlers who can't seem to cope with the Harris Teeter cookie box being moved from the front door into the deli are right...
 It's gonna pass....
... and those witching hours are going to turn into frog hunting by the creek, playing fairies in the moss beds and bike riding at dusk.
 Today, if you carried a toddler out of a store under your arm, your husband came home to a greasy haired wife wearing a days worth of spit up, frozen pizza is for dinner again and you haven't a clue what's going on in the Middle East but you're fully up to date on all things Bubble Guppies.... take heart! There is light at the end of the tunnel!
I can see it! I promise it's there! Hang in there, mama!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Worth it?

Yesterday it was so windy that when Avery and I tried to walk Ivy, she physically couldn't walk straight. Bless her 2 pound heart but I just couldn't be inside! The crisp breeze was just warm enough to give me visions of summer days spent on the lake. It's so close I can smell the sunscreen! Of course, today, I'm back in a bedazzled sweater because this weather just can't make up it's mind but I promise, warm days are here to stay soon... all the ads in my inbox for bikini sales aren't letting me forget! 

Speaking of bikinis... or in my case these days... tankinis.... remember when I wrote a post about how I'm seriously considering buy a long sleeve, Duggar Family style, Lands End because I'm apparently now middle age, swim top? Well, I wasn't kidding. My new found affection for not getting cancer...again... made me think of a friend of mine who is passionate about this very subject! 

I met Cayce through my husband who worked some with her husband doing computer things that I don't understand but I DO know what they ate for lunch. You've heard of ladies who lunch? Well they are men who lunch... on wings and other man food. Cayce is a blond, curly headed, avid runner and cyclist so we're pretty much the same person.... except completely opposite... but we have 3 major things in common. We love God, our families and are cancer survivors. I asked Cayce to share her story because, frankly, we all need this reminder with warm, sunny days ahead... and because a friend told me she went to the tanning bed the other day... you know who you are!!!! 
I’ve always had a penchant for talking no matter the subject.  I enjoy a good debate because I love going head to head with an opponent in a good, hearty argument.  But it wasn’t until the last 8 years that I truly began to feel like I had a platform from which I could share, and share passionately, about a cause in which I truly believe.

I spent the first 5 years of my life in Orlando, FL.  We all but lived on the water doing everything water related; swimming, fishing, sunbathing, etc.  When I wasn’t on a boat, I was running around the yard in a bathing suit, or shorts and tank top.  I have blond hair, blue eyes, and very fair skin.  I barely remember a time that I wasn’t “sun kissed.”  I very clearly recall many blistering sunburns, the pain they caused, and my mother rubbing me down with aloe from our very own aloe plant. 

As a young teenager, my sister and I would slather on baby oil and lay in the sun for HOURS!!  She always walked away feeling satisfied with her bronzed skin; I walked away hopeful that after the blisters appeared and my skin itched and peeled, that I would have at least a tiny little something to show for all the misery that I knew would surely come. 

When I got my driver’s license, the first thing on my agenda was to visit the tanning bed.  All of my friends were going and had a base tan that seemed to help them in a couple of ways.  First of all, it seemed to help their popularity status.  Considering I was average and often overlooked (I wasn’t an athlete, I wasn’t exceptionally smart or good looking), I firmly believed that getting that elusive tan would help me get noticed.  Secondly, their base tan seemed to helped them get even MORE tan when they laid out in the sun.  That was it!  I was going to be popular AND tan.  I could hardly wait.  I started small; I laid in the tanning bed once a week for just a few minutes, but increased my time with each visit.  It didn’t take long to see results, but it wasn’t exactly the effect I was going for.  Instead of a golden glow, I looked more like a strawberry.  Once the redness faded, I was just as white as before.  Most people would have given it up, but not me.  I was determined!  I kept going to the tanning bed and worked my way up to the full 20 minute time limit.  Sadly, the end result was the same.  I stayed a nice shade of red for longer than I can remember, and never acquired that infamous base tan I’d heard my friends brag about.  When I wasn’t laying in the tanning bed I was still slathering on the baby oil and laying out in the yard.  I can very distinctly remember driving to my aunt’s house, pulling out a big quilt and an AM/FM radio, and laying out with her for hours just singing our hearts out and getting baked.  Good times.

In November 2004, I was engaged to be married, and was at David’s Bridal trying on a wedding dress.  As I turned around to check out the back and the train, I noticed a dark spot about the size of a pencil eraser right in the middle of my back.  My biggest concern came more from vanity than health.  I made an appointment with a dermatologist, and he didn’t seem too worried about it.  In fact, he was just going to leave it.  At my request he went ahead and removed the spot and sent it off for a biopsy.  His parting words to me were, “No news is good news.”  Less than two weeks later, he called to tell me that my biopsy results were back.  Melanoma.  Cancer.  My world stopped.  I couldn’t breathe.  I had no idea what it all meant, but I knew cancer wasn’t good.  I turned to my trusty friend Google.  I don’t recommend that, by the way.  Ultimately, I was very lucky.  I had surgery to remove all of the tissue around the tumor site and a handful of lymph nodes removed.  My melanoma was caught early.  A few years later, the matriarch of my family, my Granny, wouldn’t be so fortunate.

In December 2008, Granny went to the doctor for what appeared to be an infected wound on the bottom of her foot.  After a series of antibiotics, antifungal medications and debridement treatments failed to work, she had a biopsy.  When the results came back, we were floored.  Melanoma.  She underwent a relatively new procedure at Duke University Hospital in May 2009 and we felt like she was on her way to recovering, but by September she just wasn’t feeling very well.  Her doctor admitted her to the hospital and on the morning of Thursday, September 17th she was taken down for a PET scan to determine if her cancer had spread and how far.  That evening her oncologist delivered unimaginable news.  The melanoma had metastasized throughout her body.  He said the PET scan lit up like a Christmas tree.  Granny, 78 years young, had just weeks to live.  On September 27, 2009 at 3:15 AM, the strongest woman I knew took her last breath. 

Somewhere in the course of my grief, I knew that I couldn’t be silent anymore.  If you spend enough time around me, you quickly learn that my passion is Melanoma Awareness.  It is the most preventable cancer.  According to www.skincancer.org, just one indoor tanning session increases a users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20%, and each additional session during the same year boosts the risk almost another 2%.  People who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by a whopping 75%!

On average, one person dies of melanoma every 57 minutes.  Survivors of melanoma are about nine times as likely as the general population to develop a new melanoma.  A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns, and one or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life.

I visit the dermatologist every 6 months, and likely will continue to do so for the rest of my life.  My doctor knows me by name now.  I have had more biopsies than I can count.  I was recently diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and underwent a procedure to remove all of that cancerous tissue.  This is my life, for the REST of my life.

I read an article recently that was written by a young woman who is dying from melanoma.  In her story she matter-of-factly stated that she paid to be in the position she’s in.  That really resonated with me.  I paid for this.  I paid to hear the words “You have melanoma.”  I will leave you with this final thought:

Would you pay for breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, or colon cancer?  No.  So why pay for melanoma?  Protect the skin you’re in.  It’s the only skin you get.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Facts, Random Ramblings and Questions

I have a whole bunch of random things to blog so I figured we'd call this post "Fact"... all random and factual things swimming around in my head.

Fact 1: The "Pandora Hillsong" channel is killin' it this morning. Swiffering my floors has been a spiritual experience this morning.

Fact 2: Avery started calling me "mom." I'm really missing the extra "m y." Thankfully, my almost 5 year old is still hanging tight to "mommy." They can call me that when they're 45 and I will be delighted.

Fact 3: I cannot for the life of me make my new floors look clean without streaks. Help me out. What's the best way to clean dark laminate wood floors?

Fact 4: We removed all of Parker's car seat pieces to clean it after our backroads mountain car sickness extravaganza and I JUST put it back together a week later because it is wildly overwhelming and too many parts. Thankfully, I can still squish him into our extra Britax convertible but good night those things are a PAIN to clean. I wish there was a car seat cleaning, putting back together and installing service. I would pay good money for that. Thank God for You Tube videos on how to do darn near anything.

Fact 5: My neighbor's tree dumps like 9 million acorns and leaves all over our backyard and our neighborhood squirrels didn't even put a dint in them. The best way I could find to remove said acorns is $395 which seems a lot to eradicate my neighbor's acorns. I tried making it a game called "squirrel" for Avery but she only lasted 7 acorns. Do I ask my neighbor's property management company to cut the branches that fall over our property line? Ask for them to pay for said $395 acorn remover? Or do nothing while begrudgingly removing them? (Note: my neighbors are SUPER sweet but renters so it isn't their decision)

Fact 6: I am seriously considering buying this swim shirt. Is that super dorky? Too Duggar family? I'm thinking it may be nice for chillier pool days and for skin cancer concerns. I mean, lets be honest... it's a big jump from bikini to long sleeve swim shirt but I think it's kinda cute and super practical! Thoughts? I know Cayce B will be ALL FOR this shirt and it comes in other patterns, albeit some are a bit matronly.
Fact 7: I'm in a pretty serious dilemma... I LOVE having 1 Dr. Pepper a day... 2 if the kids are driving me nutso and I need a few blissful, bubbly non-alcoholic moments. BUT. and it's a big but... or maybe butt.... hehe... I drop 4ish pounds every time I quit the DP. We're going on a cruise in May and I wanna look not bad good. So... do I quit the DP and loose 4ish pounds or keep the DP and wear aforementioned long sleeve swim shirt? Pretty big life decision right there.

Fact 8: Y'all need to answer these questions for me. No really. Comment here on the blog or on facebook. ;)  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Midweekish Confessions

Good morning! I slept about 11 hours last night after driving to the mountains, snow tubing for less than an hour and driving back. It was MUCH needed rest and I feel much more refreshed today. My whole family slept on the car ride home and since I'm the "rallier" of the family, I drove back, the whole time jealous of their sweet slumber. Who knew snow tubing for about 45 minutes would be so exhausting?

Lets do some confessing!

1. A random lady walked up to Avery and I at Old Navy the other week and asked if she could use Avery for a photoshoot for her photography business media pieces. She was super nice so I gave her my information. She touched based with me and in my excitement about springy pictures, I sent her endlessly long FB messages about ideas, outfits etc... Hi my name is Taylor and I like to wildly overwhelm people.  It took her about 2 weeks to respond to me and she thanked me for my "shocking enthusiasm." Whoops.

2. While I got ready this morning to take the kids to preschool, Avery self served a super healthy breakfast of a fudgesicle. I have obviously instilled very healthy eating habits into my children.

3. I had a clean clothes pile waiting to be folded and a dirty clothes pile in my room. They have merged and now I'm not sure which is which.... so I've done nothing instead. I am mostly writing this blog to avoid said laundry.

4. You have to be 3 to go snow tubing so we taught Avery that when people ask her how old she is, she needs to say "3." I know... stellar parenting. Fortunately, she usually answers "8" because LEGO junior builder boxes say ages 4-8 and Parker says he's 4 and Avery can be 8 so she can play too. That way, my 2 year old isn't lying about her age, her 29 year old mother is. SO much better.

5. I bought Parker Avenger bed sheets the other day (something I said I'd NEVER DO!) because when I wash his sheets, I have to put them back on the top bunk before bed and without Daniel, that's SUPER difficult. I literally fell backwards into the LEGO table last week while Daniel was out of town trying to put clean sheets on this darn bed. Parker was SO excited about his Avenger sheets that he asked to go to bed an hour before bedtime. I'm going to try it with Avery. I don't even care what the sheets look like if it gets that child to go to bed an hour early and with enthusiasm.

And the winner is...
6. I had my hair cut at a salon called "Pretty Little Thang" this morning. You see, my split ends were getting out of control so this morning after preschool drop off, I went to my usual hair place (and by usual I mean, I go there 3 times a year because I don't properly take care of my hair and wait until it is downright awful to be cut). I walked in, sat down and started looking at hair magazines but they weren't the look I was going for.  Bless my obivilous heart. I was called to the chair and this SUPER friendly older gentleman asked me how I wanted my hair done. I told him just a nice trim to get the dead ends off and he looked confused but rolled with it. He immediately began talking to me and we chatted it up for a while about his son, the state of Montana and how Indian Trail was once goat fields. I don't have a clue about any of those 3 subjects so I smiled and listened. He was SO friendly!

It took me a solid 30 minutes to realize that every station had those super hot curlers, that he was brushing my hair with a pick and that all of the pictures on the wall were featuring different braiding and styling techniques.

That is correct my friends, I had my hair cut at "Pretty Little Thang" the neighborhood African American braiding and styling salon. At the end he told me "I don't have this kind of cut on my menu so how does $15 sound?" Umm... it sounds great thank you very much. Despite some unusual techniques and his lack of a curling iron that wouldn't burn my hair off, I actually REALLY like the cut. He was super friendly and for the price of Great Clips, I just may be his only 3 times a year white client.

Who's got some confessing to do today?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Birthdays, Balloons and Butts

1 week ago we were covered in 12 inches of snow and yesterday I wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt. I LOVE living in North Carolina! Today the windows are cracked, the doors are open and I'm soaking in the musty post thunderstorm smell. Our local weather man forecasted more cold weather next week but I'm choosing to not believe him. 

My Goddaughter, Makenna's, 2nd birthday is just around the corner and yesterday morning was her 2 year photoshoot. Her mom had a bunch of balloons blown up for the pictures so yesterday afternoon, we decided to take the kids to a local neighborhood clubhouse and snap more pictures of the kids playing with the balloons because we were gonna get her $20 out of those balloon gosh darn it. Helium is expensive these days, y'all! 

The birthday girl. Isn't she the cutest?!
As soon as Tabitha told me what colors the balloons were, I knew exactly what outfit Avery could wear to coordinate! A girl's gotta coordinate with her friend's birthday color scheme, right?!
Really mom, we're taking MORE pictures? I don't know how I feel about this...
Toddlers and Tiaras are calling... they want their pose back. Why she poses like this, I do not know but it's hilarious.
Love her!
Parker had a blast climbing the rocks and taunting me with coming as close as he could to falling in the pond. 
I kept asking him to turn around so I could get a picture of his face and not is hiney. He thought that was hilarious so I got about 15 pictures like this:
How fitting is it that this photo sequence is to commemorate turning 2?

I die. She even threw in a "no mine!" which makes it even more awesome! Welcome to your 2's, Makenna! No wonder why her parents call her "sassy!" 

Sweet friends
Can you believe Makenna is 10 months younger? They look the same size!
Happy 2nd birthday, sweet Makenna! We are so blessed to live 2 doors down from you and live life with your family!