Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Potty Time

We decided to potty train Luke the week after Christmas.  Actually, we started the day after Christmas.  We set up camp in the kitchen ... complete with an Elmo potty book, a stack of underwear and a giant bag of M&Ms.  (Chocolate is Luke's love language.)
As we did with Claire and David, we went with the "cold turkey" method of potty training found in this e-book.  I don't even have my copy of the book anymore I've loaned it out so much.  But I pretty much remembered the drill.  I did not remember, however, all the pee-pee I would have to clean up.  Luke had a lot of accidents that first day! 
We pretty much hung out in the kitchen for the day to avoid cleaning up any accidents from the carpet.  Luke actually went pee-pee on me twice that day while sitting in my lap.  Thanks dude!
And one month later, that little potty is still sitting in my kitchen!  (The dirty laundry in the background is not.)
{I did a little photo editing so as to not expose any private parts.}

Luke had a lot of accidents that first day.  And he did not love sitting on the potty (even for a treat).  Day 2 was a little better.  Still a few accidents, but more control.  Day 3 was better.  He had pretty much stopped having accidents at that point, but still wasn't really good about telling us when he had to go potty.  Day 4 and 5, it really started to click.  He went back to preschool on January 7th (12 days after we started potty training) and other than a few accidents with aim on the potty, he has done really well.  Our next big hurdle is using public restrooms.  We've still got quite a ways to go!!
Oh my cuteness!  Look at his little bottom in that BIG BOY underwear. 
As much as I would love to add a 4th child to our brood, I could not potty train a 4th.  This really did me in.  And I feel like we have moved on to a new phase in life ... a phase where no one is wearing diapers.  (Both boys still wear a pull-up at night .. David may still be wearing one when he goes to college at the rate he is going.)
The Elmo book was a big hit on the potty.  Lots of "potty" songs included.  A perfect Christmas gift from the grandparents.  He would ask for it when he sat on the potty.
My friend Emily was potty training her 2-year-old shortly after we started potty training Luke.  She read the same e-book we did.  She wrote an excellent blog post on potty training if you would like some encouraging words before you get started!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: January 28-February 3


I am currently on DAY 21 of the Advocare 24-day challenge.  I still feel great, but the scale is stuck at a loss of 3-4 pounds still!  And I really want so bread.  Or a potato chip.  Or some cheese for crying out loud. 

I made these yummy smores cookies last week for a pajama day party at David's preschool.  I may have eaten four one of them.  The kids really liked them too and a couple of mom's asked for the recipe.

We have a crazy busy week this week.  So dinner may be kind of sporadic.

Here is the dinner plan:

Monday: Leftover Taco Soup, fritos (I have book club so I will eat a salad a Panera)

Tuesday: Spicy Orange Beef, brown rice, steamed broccoli

Wednesday: Dinner at Chilis with this Kids Eat Free coupon

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Buffalo Wing Turkey burgers (with lettuce "bun"), sweet potato fries
NOTE: I made these last week and they were good. Except I forgot to put the shredded zucchini in the turkey which would have been another serving of veggies.  Oops!  I topped mine with just a teeny bit of ranch dressing on top of shredded lettuce. Don't tell the diet gods.

Saturday: Pan-fried Pork Tenderloin with mustard sauce, green beans, creamed cauliflower

Sunday: Leftovers or eat out with a coupon for lunch.  Homemade Chili for our Super-Bowl party.
Check out Laura's blog for more Menu Plan Monday.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: January 21-27


I am currently on DAY 14 of the Advocare 24-day challenge.  So far, I have felt great, had no headaches and lost 3-4 pounds. 

I'm still eating on my Italian white bean soup and homemade tuna salad for lunches.  Now that I'm through the 10-cleanse portion of the challenge, I can add in a few whole-grain items like oatmeal for breakfast and whole-wheat pitas for my tuna salad.  (I love Trader Joe's brand pitas.)

Here is the dinner plan:

Monday: Chicken taco salad (I cook chicken breasts in the crockpot with homemade taco seasoning and then shred; top lettuce with chicken, black beans, tomatoes and guacamole)

Tuesday: Ginger and cilantro baked tilapia, brown rice, green vegetable

Wednesday: Buffalo Wing Turkey burgers (with lettuce "bun"), sweet potato fries

Thursday: Spicy Orange Beef, brown rice, steamed broccoli

Friday: Eat out with a coupon or pizza night

Saturday: Dinner with Will's annual golf trip buddies and spouses

Sunday: Leftover buffet
Check out Laura's blog for more Menu Plan Monday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Weekend Visitor

David started his new 3-day class at preschool this week and right off the bat, we had a school project to complete.  Meet Mack the Monkey.  He is the class monkey who got to come spend the weekend with us.  (And I got to make a little scrapbook page about all the happenings.)
David has loved his new class so far.  We went to a classmate's birthday party on Saturday and he had so much fun playing with all the little boys from his class.  A friend of mine who works at his preschool told me she has never seen him so happy and excited to be at school.  That makes this mama happy too!  (Of course, it also makes me a little sad that my little shadow enjoys spending so much time away from me now.  Sniff, sniff.)  I'm glad he is having such a good time.
And I hope that Mack the Monkey comes to visit again soon!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: January 14


The first menu plan of 2013. 

I am currently on DAY 7 of the Advocare 24-day challenge and Will is busy with work stuff all week (so he won't be dining with us).

So, here are a few things I will be eating.  (When I "extreme diet", I try to fix a few things I can eat on for lunch and dinner all week.)

Ginger and cilantro baked tilapia

Italian white bean soup

Chicken taco salad (I cook chicken breasts in the crockpot with homemade taco seasoning and then shred; top lettuce with chicken, black beans, tomatoes and guacamole)

Lettuce wrap turkey burgers

Chef salad ... top lettuce with hard-boiled egg (chopped), tomatoes, deli turkey

P.S. Hopefully the menu will be a little more interesting once I get thru the 10-day cleanse of my 24-day challenge.
Check out Laura's blog for more Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What might have been ...

We spent a lot of time last fall building a house.  It was supposed to be ready to by December 2012.  It's probably ready now, but unfortunately, we were not able to sell the house we currently live in.  Fortunately, we were building on a contingency, so we didn't lose any money by backing out of the new house, but we were sad.  The kids were sad.  I felt like we had wasted a lot of time and money putting our current home on the market and showing it about 30 times to still be in the exact same spot we started out in.
Here is the model home.  Our home was to be the same floor plan, but a different elevation (exterior).
Here is our lot.  We loved that it backed up to wooded common space.

My sister and I spent a couple of hours one Saturday morning picking out flooring, cabinets, counters, etc.  I'm thankful she is an interior designer.
The kids loved driving by the house to check its progress.
Praying over our lot.

I stopped by one day and saw them laying the foundation.

Foundation is finished.


Almost to drywall.

Here are the kids in their rooms.

Almost finished.  This is what the house looked like when we backed out. 
My prayer through this entire process was for God's will to be done.  If he didn't want us in this new house, make that clear.  If he wanted us to stay put, make that clear.  And I think he did.  Our house didn't sell.  We got tired and frustrated having it on the market for almost 6 months and all the work associated with keeping it clean (while still living here with 3 small kids).  We didn't want to give our house away.  We re-evaluated and decided to stay put for now. 
I have no doubt that we are exactly were God wants us to be, but I'm still a little sad to think about what might have been.  It would have been nice to be in a new, bigger house.  It would have been nice for all of the kids to have their own room and a guest room.  It would have been nice to have hardwood floors, a bigger closet and a 3-car garage.  (I realize that these are all first-world problems).  But, it's even nicer to know that we are seeking God's will and are exactly where he wants us right now. 
And even though we didn't get the house, I wanted to document the process here since it was such a major part of our lived for the last half of 2012.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sewing Spree

 I went on a little sewing kick during Christmas.  I sure was nice to have Daddy home!!
I made these Christmas pajamas for the kids.  I accidentally purchased this aqua dot fabric online (for a real bargain) only to discover it was flannel instead of cotton.  So I saved it for PJ pants and had just enough to make 3 pairs.  (Well, not quite enough ... Luke got cuffs on his pants!)
I hand stitched the tree appliques on tees and ... voila: Pajamas.  (I am hoping to post a tutorial on the hand-stitched tees soon.  I have made several and they are really cute!)
I used this free pattern download for the pants.  It was a quick sew!
I also made 3 pairs of ruffle pants for Claire.  Two pairs were to match tops (formerly dresses) that she already had (see below). 

I love this cute Riley Blake snowman fabric!  She's had this pillowcase dress for 3 years now.

I also made 2 outfits for next fall/winter (and made my first knot/apron dress).
This outfit is for Christmas next year.  I need to shorten the straps a little.  They seemed too short when I was cutting them out so I made them a little longer.  Clearly, I should have just followed the pattern measurements!  I love these fun, non-traditional Christmas colors.
This is a knot top without the apron and the 3rd pair of ruffle pants I made.  Cute, cute!  I love this fabric so much!
The knot dress/top and ruffle pants came from Little Girls, Big Style book.  I highly recommend this book if you have little girls to sew for!  It has a ton of variations 4 basic patterns (2 tops, 2 bottoms).
I also made a pair of grey dot ruffles and matching tee for my niece for her birthday, but forgot to snap a picture before I gave it to her!
I have several other little projects in the works so I hope to be posting more finished projects soon!

Monday, January 7, 2013

30 Books in 2013

30 books in one year?

That is a lofty goal for someone who only finished 17 books in 2012.

But 30 books a year is about 2.5 books per month, which seems doable.

This is my list.  There are not 30 books on it.  I'll leave some room for extras since I am in 2 book clubs and I never know what will be chosen by the group from month-to-month. 

Here is what I am planning to read in 2013.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
A Casual Vagrancy by J.K. Rowling
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (re-read)
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walker
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Peony in Love by Lisa See
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
My Antonia by Willa Cather

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle (releases in February)
Love Does by Bob Goff
No Other Gods by Kelly Minter
Unglued by Lisa Tyrkhurst
The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells (re-read)
A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon by Sophie Hudson (releases in June)
Dixieland Delight: A Football Season on the Road in the Southeastern Conference by Clay Travis
BossyPants by Tina Fey

Friday, January 4, 2013

Almost White Christmas

We had super-cold and generally yucky weather over Christmas break.  We finally got a little dusting of snow on December 29.  We let big kids go out and run around in it for a little while.  They had a nice little snowball fight with the snow piled up on the back porch, cars, etc.

Will supervised and tried to stay out of the line of fire.

Note to self: David needs a new snow hat!  That one is a little small!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

To Africa With Love

For the past 2-1/2 years, we have supported a family from our LifeGroup who are missionaries in Cape Town, South Africa.  They have 4 young children and sold all their belongings and moved their families over there to serve with an organization called Living Way.  You should read more about the Lankford Family.  You will be moved. 
Will went on a mission trip to South Africa (and worked with Joey's agri-business) in February 2011.  I fully expected him to come home either (1) wanting to adopt, or (2) wanting to move to Cape Town.  He didn't.  That his not his calling at this time (or maybe ever).
Another couple from our LifeGroup, Brooke and Tate Elder, visited Cape Town with an organization called Sweet Sleep in November 2011.  Their lives were forever changed.  Yesterday, we put them on a plane to Cape Town, South Africa.  With their 2 girls.  Where they will serve for the next 3 years.   I love their story ... their call.  They will arrive (after two long days of travel) in a couple of hours and start the task of settling in to their new life.  I'm excited to be partnering in prayer with them and hope we can visit them and serve with them in Cape Town sometime in the next 3 years.
Here are some pictures from the airport farewell yesterday.
Lots of luggage!!  18 bags/trunks I believe.  Pretty much all of their remaining earthly possessions.
Their sweet girls (the 2 on the right side of the photo).
Beginning the long check-in process.
Lots of luggage helpers.
Our old Wednesday night church girls group.  (Or our "Wednesday Wine" group as one of the hubbies calls it.  I promise ... we don't drink wine at church!)
Most of Brooke and Tate's family were at the airport to say good-bye.
I'm so excited to see that amazing work that God is going to do through the family!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year ... New Routine

I hopes to get a little more caught up on blogging in December but that just didn't happen.  I may try to go back and catch up a few things, but I'm trying not to get bogged down in "catching up" and just moving forward instead. 

This new year brings some MAJOR changes for our family because today, I am officially going back to work.  I will still be working from home until Claire finishes up her first grade school year, but I will be working 30-35 hours/week as opposed to the 5-8 hours per week I have been working for the last 2 years.  David will be moving from a 2 day to a 5 day program at his same preschool and Luke will start a private preschool program (all day) for 3 days per week and finish up the school year the other 2 days in the program his is in now (where David is too). 

I am excited to be going back to work more.  Not because I necessarily love my job or it fulfills me on anything like that.  But because being at home full-time is WEARING ME OUT!  I feel like I am always yelling at my kids and constantly depressed and in a bad mood because 3 kids full-time (plus homeschooling and trying to work a little) is EXHAUSTING.  And hello ... have you met my VERY ACTIVE 2 year old?  He needs much more attention than I can give him with my older 2 kids here.  I think he will thrive being in a program all day with kids his own age.

I will certainly miss having my boys around all day everyday, but hopefully these changes will make it easier for me to focus on work (during my work hours) and easier for Claire to focus on school during her school hours.  Little brothers are very distracting!  I honestly don't know some families homeschool multiple children!  Their kids must be more independent and disciplined than mine!

All this to say ... if the blog seems a little neglected over the next couple of months, its just me getting settled into our new normal.