the time is now

i’m not getting any younger.
my kids are not growing any slower.
the space between the here & hereafter isn’t getting any further away.
i’m not being morbid or melancholy.
sometimes reality smacks you in the face & you realize the time is now.

the time to love my husband & enjoy our youth together while we have it is now.

stop yelling at him for where he leaves his dirty socks.
praise him in private & in public.
tell him at least once a day that he rocks as a father/husband.
smile at him. laugh with him.
hug him ’til he has to pull away to go do something dumb in the garage.
pray with & for him. he needs it as much as you do.
love him.

the time to enjoy & give my all to my children is now.

stop rushing.
bend down, look into their eyes & tell them you love them…you adore them…they are special…they are wonderful…praise them ALWAYS.
get silly, wacky even. who cares? you’re building their memories more than your own.
how do you want them to remember you?
“mom had it all together, all the time.” OR “mom was the best. she laughed & hugged & kissed me ALL THE TIME.”
i know which one i’d choose. the dishes can wait…read them a story.

the time to grow in the Lord, live completely Kingdom-minded is now.

i have 3 titles. that’s it.
i have only 3 things to do exceedingly well in my lifetime…
be a faithful, respectful, loyal, loving wife to my husband…
be a loving, nurturing, protective mother & role model to my children…
be a genuine daughter of the Most High God.

now is the time to get to it.

a mother’s love letter…

dear isla rae,

let me tell you a story.

once upon a time, there was a mommy and a daddy. they had broken hearts. a baby the mommy had inside her belly was taken to heaven, and it made them very sad. the mommy cried and cried. the daddy held her tightly and told her everything would be okay. that was late august of 2010.

months passed and skies were gray for the mommy. in october, for the mommy’s birthday, God gave her a miracle. on her birthday, her 29th birthday, the mommy found out that God had given her and the daddy another baby. this healed their broken hearts.

the mommy was very careful and watched over this new baby for a long time. it took 41 weeks for this beautiful baby to grow inside of her belly. she ate lots of healthy foods. she especially loved blueberries, which were very good for the baby too.

on wednesday, july 6th, 2011, at 11:12am, the mommy gave birth to her little miracle. the miracle’s name is isla rae.

she was perfect and healthy, just like her beautiful sister, ava lee. her name means “bright and shining one,” and it couldn’t be more fitting, because her sweet eyes sparkle like sunshine.

the mommy and daddy took isla rae home. she made their lives more complete.

the mommy and daddy still love their “heaven baby” and will hold him/her someday when they go to heaven, but they are so very, very thankful that God turned something sad into something beautiful. He took the mommy and daddy’s hurt away and gave them sweet Isla to have and love for all the days of their lives.

we love you forever, isla rae. we thank God for you, sweet baby.

i journal for my babies.
one day, i won’t be here, but i can still share with them a bedtime story…
try it. i promise, you won’t regret it.

you are my sunshine, my little sunshine.
you make me happy when skies are gray.
i hope you know dear how much i love you.
you’re my sweet, little isla rae…

the S is SILENT

what does this remind you of?

how about this one?

if you said the “beach,” close…if you said “an island,” even better! now think of the word “island.” how did you say it? now, drop the n & d. yep, just drop them…throw them out the window. drop ’em. now say what’s left…”isla.” hey! what do you know…that’s my daughter’s name! “isla” say it w/me “eye-la,” “eye-la,” “eye-la.” yay! good job! now spread the word! haha i know it’s my fault, but i get “iz-la” at least once a week.

funny story…we’re sitting around the dinner table w/my in-laws (who sweetly brought dinner)…she’s like 4 days old & my father-in-law is holding her, lovingly staring into her eyes & says, “ice-la.” yep, he thought her name was “ice-la.” granted, we didn’t talk about her name much, nor did we frequently address her as isla until after her arrival…but even our own family didn’t say her name right. the doctor’s office butchers it monthly. i fear it will never end. sorry, sweetheart. guess i should have named you “apple.” 🙂

no…isla fits you perfectly. in greek it means “bright/shining one” & this sweet baby surely does sparkle. her eyes light up my day. she has the countenance of an angel. i love her & i love her beautiful name. so i just wanted to share her beautiful name once again w/you, so maybe you can call around, throw it into random conversations you know at like the post office, school, grocery store, hair salon, gas station. like…”hey, yeah, i really like the shade of your car. it reminds me of the ocean. you know what else reminds me of the ocean? my friend’s baby’s name isla. it’s spelled w/an ‘s’ you know, but it’s silent, like in ‘island.'” they’ll probably look at you like you’re nuttier than a fruitcake…but you never know…that person just may encounter an “isla” in their lifetime & you may have spared them from calling her “iz-la.” better yet, it may be my little isla, or isla fisher, that you bump into at the grocery store b/c she’s in town filming “wedding crashers 2” or “confessions of a reformed shopaholic,” & you ask her for her autograph & you say it right & she’s like, “wow! no one says my name right!” & she gives you – i don’t know – i’m not witty enough to think of something fabulous, but she does & it’s all b/c you read this crazy blog…so worth it.

is it annoying that i took something that could have been stated in one sentence – “the ‘s’ is silent” – & turned into a whole diatribe…no not really a diatribe, b/c i’m not bitter about it, but it is a crazy ranting of sorts…anyway, i’ll make it up to you by showing you some more great photos from our honeymoon…you’ll like them…

like this one…isn’t it pretty? the church, not the mcdonald’s people…are you craving french fries now? sorry…

i like this one. i really like that man standing next to me. 😉 i like that outfit. i can’t find it. i think it’s hiding in the closet i have to share w/ava…i think i stashed it in a bag of “i WILL wear this & look good in it again someday” clothes. i should try to find it…i should really be exercising…

oh & this one…

haha – sorry i had to…funny, though, huh? this was actually a popular look down there in mexico…i tried to talk my hubs into wearing one, but he was too bashful…good thing i guess…someone as cruel as me may have posted him on the internet! gosh i hope my mystery speedo man doesn’t come across this & scold me…or worse sue me! geesh…the things i’ll do to make you laugh! haha

ok, ava’s up from her nap…TWO hours early…there’s a downside to potty training…no longer will your child sleep peacefully in a semi-wet diaper…

isla’s been chatting w/me while i write this, which inspired me in the first place. we decided her nickname will be “izzie.” totally her idea… 😉

a GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold. ~proverbs 22:1

it’s a mom’s life…

so, hubby’s big 3-0 bday is tomorrow. i had the fabulous idea to go out this morning with a 21 month old & a 2 month old to “get daddy a birthday balloon!” “yeah, ok.” that’s what my almost 2 yr. old says to everything appealing & she especially loves balloons. she cracks me up. as i type she’s actually sitting next to me coddling her sippy cup, “i hold you.” haha she’s a trip. guess nurturing comes before eating her chicken nuggets…

anyway, got said kiddos in the car…drove 15 mins, passing lots of backed-up traffic, to the party supply store that mysteriously closed down who knows when…on to plan b. the other supply store is now 30 mins in the OPPOSITE direction & i can’t throw in the towel b/c ava will ask about daddy’s balloon for the rest of the day. lovely.

break out the garmin. thank you, Lord for that little invention, (since i still have a “dumb” phone). find an alternative route to avoid that traffic jam i passed on the way…drive 20 more mins to the other store…spend waaaay too much on supplies, but rationalize it b/c my 2 yr old picked out a $6 balloon amoungst a truckload of other fun things, & what kind of a mom would i be if i didn’t get the stuff she picked out for daddy’s big day?! ok…leave the store w/2 kids in tow…forgot the double stroller btw…thankfully, i had the single & a free arm…

get the gang in the car…fight w/the ridiculously over-priced, but totally necessary balloons that wanted to follow the breeze out of the car…stinkers were persistent, but i won…buckle everyone in…baby cries…15 mins past feeding time & out of gas…adding to plan b…or would it be plan c now?

pull into nearest gas station….80 cents off! woo hoo! makes up for the ridiculously over-priced but necessary balloons…pump gas…overflow the tank all over my right foot trying to hit an even 50 bucks…baby now screaming…

find an inconspicuous parking spot…climb into the backseat w/the girls (my car has no middle seat mind you)…nurse screaming infant on a 10-inch-wide plastic hump while keeping the older one happy by discussing french fries…she really enjoys french fries…put baby back…hit up a drive thru to acquire promised french fries & chicken nuggets…forgo plans to grocery shop b/c it’s now past naptime…arrive home…eat fries…abandon chicken nuggets to nuture the sippy cup as mentioned above…too late now for naptime, b/c we have a doc appt in 40 mins…reality of evening errands & impending tantrums thanks to no nap set in…tis a mom’s life & i love it…

ava & isla’s first family vacation top 10 memorable moments…

10 – changing isla’s massive diaper explosion in a vacant lot across the street from “clay’s beach house” of one tree hill…

9 – major public milk leakage in a 50’s style diner…oh the joys of being a nursing mother…

8 – making smore’s in the microwave with my mother & sister-in-law while the kiddos snoozed & the hubby was pier fishing…a mess that was never more worth it…

7 – watching the dolphins swim & play every morning & spotting a sting ray in the shallow surf…

6 – seeing the girls in their matching bathing suits that i bought before isla was born & realizing this day had finally arrived… *tear*

5 – family game night…my in-laws are hilarious…hubby’s pretty comical as well…”sounds like coast ricky” (clue given for “costa rica” in catch phrase. hmmm…) 🙂

4 – taking ava into the ocean & a wave hitting us in the face. thought she’d cry, but we laughed & licked our lips instead… 🙂

3 – saying good-bye to the beach & “jesus’ pool” in the moonlight while fireworks went off overhead. perfect ending…

2 – strolling along the shoreline looking for shells w/isla sleeping peacefully in my sling…about the only time she slept btw…

1 – watching ava & her chubby little legs run & play on the beach w/her daddy & cousins…
i miss that scene so much already…

i love my girls & i’m so thankful we could take them on vacation. i can’t wait until next time!

daily blessing…

thanks to a christian friend, i receive these “daily blessing” e-mails. today’s was especially good at ministering to me. i have, like everyone else, encountered some pretty major blows & disappointments over the past several months.

a particular family situation has left me especially down. i force myself daily not to think about it or tell myself i don’t care. as soon as i let reality strike though, it’s right back to that plethora of undesirable emotions…disappointment, sadness, disbelief, & most unfavorable…resentment & a truckload of bitterness.

i found this article on bitterness, b/c i think it’s at the root of the lack of forgiveness i feel at times & the hopelessness when i consider reconciliation as possible & it had some pretty good thing to say about finding victory over bitterness…

The Holy Spirit fills you & controls your life when you have no unconfessed sin in your life. You can trust the Holy Spirit to reveal sin to you when you commit it, or even before. When the Holy Spirit is in control, He produces His fruit (Gal. 5:12). the fruit of the Spirit does not include heaviness, bitterness, discouragement, disillusion, anguish, sadness, dejection, or loss of productivity. Consider these points:

* love is free from bitterness.

* joy pushes bitterness out.

* bitterness can not coexist with peace in the soul of the believer filled with the Holy spirit.

* long-suffering gives the ability to deal with bitterness & other troubles.

* gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, & temperance are fruits of righteousness, which is divine good. divine good takes the place of bitterness.

so, although my struggle is w/those emotions, i will be praying these points rather than battling those feelings. bitterness, resentment, sadness, unforgiveness, discouragement…
they will all fade away if i let the Holy Spirit take control over helping me develop the fruit of the Spirit in my life.

here is my “daily blessing” – hope you find it useful as well…

Dealing with Disappointment

Though the fig tree does not bud & there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails & the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen & no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. – Habakkuk 3:17-19

After preaching a sermon on disappointment, several men & women approached me with the same reaction: “I desperately needed to hear those words.” Countless people feel defeated & let down by disappointing situations. But our response can make all the difference. Frustrations can be either an opportunity for spiritual growth or a destructive blow.

A right response to disappointment begins with resisting the natural tendency toward bitterness. If someone else was involved in the situation, don’t be quick to judge his or her conduct. We can’t fully understand what is going on in others’ lives or what motivates them to act as they do. Our second step should be to ask the Lord, “How am I to respond?” God can guide us to a wise & righteous reaction because He has all the facts.

Third, follow His direction, even if it isn’t what you want to do. Oftentimes the Lord’s way contradicts our own desires & the advice of friends. However, His plan is the one that will bring about growth & result in our greatest good.

And finally, keep your focus on God & His higher purpose in your life. People are prone to dwell on their hurts & the harm that comes to them, which is what makes disappointment so destructive.

There is only one healthy method for dealing with letdown—pursue the Lord’s way & His will. Though human plans can be derailed, nothing alters God’s purpose. No matter how deep your hurt goes, He will shepherd you through setbacks & sorrows while growing your faith.

Charles Stanley

anticipating the arrival of isla rae!

well, i went to the doctor’s this am for my 1st exam of this pregnancy expecting the “nothing’s going on” kind of feedback (which happened every exam w/ava, even up until the day of her birth), but instead i heard “you’re 2cm dilated.” what??!! yay!

but then it hit me when i came home that i am no where close to ready house-wise or nursery-wise & the reality sent me into overdrive & panic. i have accomplished a lot today though…laundry is complete, just needs put away. floors are swept. all of my hundreds of mini piles of papers & magazines that plague our dining room table have been sifted & sorted through. dishes are done. bags are packed. sheets are fresh. toilets…scrubbed. dinner is sitting out, ready for the grill & brownies are eaten. well, all but a small slice i left for baby’s daddy… 🙂

i think all i have left, besides the nursery is some ironing, dusting & charging the cameras.

i really want to take some time over the next few days though to soak in ava bean. although i’m excited to bring this new member of our family into the world, i’m just a little sad that my days of solely focusing & doting on my little angel are coming to an end. it was a very quick season of my life. i know this change is a wonderful one, but i’ll have to make a serious effort not to lose track of mommy & ava time in the shuffle. poor hubby has already taken a backseat… i need to work on that aspect of marriage & family.

i’ve noticed also that as the pregnancy is drawing to a close, i’m a little nervous about the delivery process again. ava’s was so fast! i dilated 6cm in just 30 minutes! so, the fact that i’m 2 already has me a little on edge. but, like everything else in this pregnancy – what if everything labor-related is totally different?!? will i recognize labor? will the contractions be the same? will it happen just as quickly?

plus, i couldn’t have an epidural w/ava – b/c of how quickly i progressed, so i’m opting for the good ‘ole naturale approach again. it’s what i know. i’m gonna stick w/what i know… but, that certainly makes it all the more nerve-wracking… ugh the pain i am in for again… pray for us!

i remember i barely said anything, but i did ask hubby for ice cubes over & over again, only to call him back to my side before he took 2 steps & i repeatedly apologized for not paying any attention to him – labor can make you weird! 🙂

i’m curious as to others’ experiences the 2nd go around…similar to the 1st time?

don’t leave me hanging – who knows how much time i have until i find out! 🙂

save me some money!

who doesn’t LOVE to save money & these days, for that matter, who doesn’t need to save money? i know we do.

so, i’ve come across some outstanding deals, blogs & websites thanks to some friends & some literal cyber-stumbling…& why keep a good thing to yourself?

i think most if not all of the websites i frequent are now listed in my “daily treasures” column to the right.

if i’m missing a link, i’ll get it there soon. check out the buttons on the right…

some of my loves are www.moneysavingmom.com – boy does she have it together. i’m inspired. also, www.ourbestbites.com. no, it won’t save you money, but b/t the cooking/grocery shopping advice on msm, the recipes from the pioneer woman & this site – you will have freezer meals to count on for weeks! hallelujah!

i just made the greek marinade. we’re having it for dinner on chicken – grilled & pita-ed. i’ll let you know what it tastes like. w/the left over garlic, last night i made a traditional version of the stuffed pepper recipe w/spicy tomato sauce – boy am i hurting in the reflux dept today, but i knew i would be & fortunately, it was worth it…maybe i’ll get around to posting my recipe. i used the food processor for easy mixing of the filling and added portobello mushrooms and carrots. so, tomorrow, b/c i’m not feeling that energized today, i plan on taking the remainder of the garlic cloves, mushrooms, carrots & an onion & chopping them in the processor to split into 1/2 c. portions to freeze for easy ingredient grabs… i’ll also chop my onions and do the same. the remainder of the bell peppers i bought a sam’s club are already done & in the freezer. btw – a bag of 6 assorted bell peppers (red, yellow & orange) were the same price as the green. i LOVE the red – they’re so good & i think they may be better for you too. plus, they’re usually 3.99-4.99 per lb. at giant eagle & the whole bag of 6 cost me $4 & some change…

getting off topic here, but my brain’s all over – speaking of sam’s…i finally did the math & if you can find normal tubes of colgate toothpaste for less than $2 a tube, then you are actually beating the sam’s club price. i plan on figuring out the same for some other items. i bought 2 6lb. bags of their frozen chicken for about $10 ea (tyson was almost $23 for a 10lb. bag), so i got more chicken for less $ (about $1.67/lb.). it’s not portioned like tyson’s bag, but i came home – boiled half of one bag of the chicken in the stock pot with an onion & clove of garlic then divided it into 1lb. portions shredded. freezer-bagged it – done! now, i’ve been pulling it out for meals. the chicken i left in whole breasts, i’ve been using to freeze in marinades (like the greek one we’re having tonight). that way, hubby can grill it up when he gets home & all the dirty work is done!

ok – back to coupons…i’ve got some coupons i’ll be throwing out here b/c i know i won’t be able to make use of them before they expire, so if you want them, let me know & i’ll get them in the mail to you…

1 – i’m a tanger member, so i get the $5 coupon book free EVERY time i visit the outlets. i currently have an extra – it’s your’s if you want it. if you just want a specific one like for a restaurant, trolley museum ticket, pirate ticket, etc. i can give you that specific one too…

2 – carter’s – 25% off purchase of $30 or more expires: 6/20/11

3 – babies-r-us – $4 off (2) 22oz powder formulas & $7 off purchase of huggies value box of diapers & wipes. both expire: 6/30/11

4 – dressbarn – 20%off ends this sunday, june 19th…

5 – oshkosh – savings card already stamped once (stamped every time you make $20 purchase), so $80 to go & you get a $10 savings card for your next purchase. it’s stamped TWICE on tuesdays, so you could spend as little as $40 if you went each tuesday left this month… expires: 7/2/11

6 – enfamil – i have 5 $2 off any enfamil or enfagrow product. expires: 6/30/11

7 – huggies – several huggies products (for signing up for something…) .50-1.50 of diapers, wipes & swim diapers… expire 7/9/11

8 – johnson &johnson baby wash – .75 off @ giant eagle expires: 7/12/11

9 – uppercaseliving (the wall products i used to sell) is currently running a special…”Through July 15, buy any two items and get any additional item of equal or lesser value absolutely FREE!*” my contact demonstrator is kathy nassar & you can visit the site kathyswords2liveby.uppercaseliving.net to check out the products, contact her & order items…love this stuff!

10 – finally…my favorite…FREE money if you’re expecting…
i won’t be having a baby shower, but i’ve signed up for a couple registries to save us money later when we make those trips to get the baby needs (babies-r-us already sent us our 10% off one day entire purchase coupon). well, the other day i got a welcome baby catalog from target (i had registered for a few items there like nursing supplies, extra bottles, diaper genie refills, etc…) & in the catalog was a peel off card for a free $20 gift card for starting a registry! i took it in today to redeem. all you have to do is show them a print-out of your registry. i ended up getting a nursing/pajama top, a maternity tank & a dress off the clearance rack, infant pjs for a friend & diaper genie refills. not bad for free!

so anyway…got to get this printer of our’s working b/c had i been able to print, i could have used a $3 liz lange target coupon today too! boo!

ok – that’s all for now….

oh wait! one more thing…i’ve joined a rebate site – also thanks to money saving mom’s advice & a button w/ a link is there to the right…look for the one that says “ShopAtHome.com” above my “daily treasures” links & jj heller… 🙂 I don’t buy a lot, b/c things are tight, but just the few purchases i’ve made recently i’ve made through them & have already made our family $15 in cash back rebates… i’m also a member w/another rebate site, but the percentages are never as high as ShopAtHome… they send you a check in $20 increments. free money coming back to you that you had to spend anyway! check it out!

ok, now off to make a pasta salad to go w/our greek chicken…