Character Witness

Are you ready for the Holiday Season?  Its already begun in case you haven't noticed.  My six-year-old has informed me.  Actually, she won't let me forget.  I haven't brought it up with her much, so they must be talking about it at school.  A has told me what she wants for Christmas, when Christmas is, and ALL about Santa.

It bothers me a bit.  I feel as a parent, I should be truthful with my children.  I expect them to be honest and I want to model that for them.  Santa is one of those parenting issues.  Either you believe or you don't.  What do you tell your kiddos?

Personally, I wasn't a Santa believer as a child.  I knew other kids where, but we knew gifts were from parents and relatives, not a character.  I don't feel like I missed out on anything magical.  Christmas was and still is a special time of year.

I want to be honest with A.  So I sat her down and we talked about Santa.  She told me how he comes in a sleigh, down the chimney, and has a bag of presents.  I listened and told her that is a really nice story.  

She looked at me and said "Santa is a person."

Obviously, she knows about characters and people.  We've talked about  characters in movies, books, and games.  She knew what I meant.

"No, honey, Santa is a character" I replied.

"Mommy, Santa is a person.  Mario is a character.  Princess is a character.  H (her brother) is a character." she smiled.

I have my work cut out for me.  She know's what I mean but she is choosing to believe Santa is a person instead of a character.  I can tell by her facial expressions.

So a a few days later, my hubby took the kiddos to the mall.  I was at work, per usual.  Apparently, they looked around that their favorite stores, but the kids wanted to see Santa.  My hubby tried to dissuade them, even offering to go to the arcade, but to no avail.  The line was a hundred feet long, so I heard. Amazingly enough, the kiddos waited patiently for their turn to see the fat man.  When their turn arrived, A asked for a princess doll.  H asked for a dinosaur-dragon.  Obligatory picture was obtained that looks decent!

Once I got home from work, A and H were elated to tell me about Santa.  Of course, being the realist person I am, I asked what kind of Santa they saw. "Did you see a character?"

  A looked at me and said smugly, " I saw a person Santa, Mommy."


I am thankful

This is the time of year we are more mindful of giving thanks and I am no exception.  We didn't do a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year, as our house was on the market and I didn't want an unnecessary mess to clean up in a rush.  To Medieval Times we went!  The kiddos had a blast and I didn't have a mess.

That turned out to be an amazing decision, as we had showings every day that week, with two on Wednesday.  Wednesday night, we heard an offer was imminent.  Friday it came and Saturday we were under contract!  I am acting surprised, but I shouldn't be.  My husband and I asked God to sell it for us.  I have a job offer, but I couldn't accept and move without selling the house.  We decided to pray it in.  We asked God to have the house under contract by the end of the month.  We asked for a specific dollar amount.  We thanked God for answering us.  He is good.  The house sold in 10 days and the buyers want to close on the 29th of December, so we have lots of work to do!

So tomorrow, I discuss with my future employer the timeline of my start date.  It might be tricky with the holidays coming up.  I'll have to consider school letting out, giving my current job notice, moving four hours away, setting up a new apartment, oh and Christmas!

Next on my prayer list: job negotiations, new living arrangements, finances to fall in order, firm closing date without hiccups.  And of course, giving thanks for the goodness of God!



Some months feel fly by swiftly and drag at the same time.  This is one of those seasons.  A few weeks ago I took my MPJE for NC.  I was a nervous wreck, its been five years since I studied for my SC MPJE and I was afraid I forgot how.  I had loads of odd questions and felt like I failed, but 4 days later I found out I passed with flying colors!  I started the process 5 months ago and it will be a relief to have it completed. Tomorrow, I travel to Chapel Hill for my license and I'll officially be able to work in NC (read: find a job in NC and expand my search criteria).

Meanwhile, I've been had interviews and (another offer!) that came faster than I expected.  Too fast, I suppose, as I'm not in a place to accept them just yet.  We decided to list the house and sell before moving to avoid the two-mortgage/rent-per-month hassle.  Its the wise thing to do, but I'm so done with current work drama/issues its terribly difficult to be an adult and suck it up.  I don't want to talk about it on the Internet, especially while I'm still employed.  Maybe a juicy post will come later.  All I want is to complain, whine and storm out, but I'm trying to think of my family and the long-term solution.  The last few weeks we've tackled painting, yard work, de-cluttering, and packing up unnecessary things to ready the house for showings. Tomorrow, the house goes on the market.

And of course, my kiddos continue to grow and blossom.  My baby boy turned FIVE.  My daughter is talking up a storm and doing well in school.  My husband keeps me grounded and nurtures our family.  We have positive events despite the storms we are weathering.

The few years have been rough, but there is a change coming.  I pray it will be a good one for myself my family, and my career.  Please pray with us that our house will sell quickly.  Please pray a job opens up in a location that is best for my family.  Please pray I don't lose my mind before either one of those come to fruition.


Beauty Favorites: Hair/Skin Care

I've mentioned before I'm obsessed with finding the perfect beauty products.  Here are my favorite finds of the moment.

Face wash: Boots Botanics Shine Away Mattifying Cleansing Mousse.  I use this in the shower every morning.  I love that it is gentle, removes my makeup and isn't over drying.

Hair Care: Oribe Signature Shampoo and Conditioner.  Its a bit pricey, but I think its worth it, especially if you have longer hair.  It gently cleans my hair, doesn't dry, doesn't weigh it down.  Smells great (which is really the key)  Love it.

I use Fresh Seaberry Moisturizing Facial Oil immediately after I get out of the shower.
Using it on slightly damp skin helps seal in the moisture.  I follow up with an eye cream.  In the morning, I try to do a light one, usually a sample I've received. Then, I use Malin and Goetz vitamin e face moisturizer. I love how it is light, absorbs quickly, and doesn't leave my face greasy.  Plus, it doesn't cause breakouts.  ok, so I mainly used that in the fall/winter.  once it warmed up in the south it was too much moisture for my skin.  This summer, I discovered Elta MD Suncreen upon a recommendation from my esthetician.  Its the BEST sunscreen I have ever used.  It doesn't smell or feel gross.  I use it as a primer and for the obvious reasons of sun protection. Finally, I use Jouer Matte Moisture Tint (porcelain).  Its a tinted moisturizer with SPF 15.  It evens out my skin tone enough that I don't use foundation, and I love how my face doesn't get shiny.

Before bed, I have a slightly different routine.  I love using Seventh Generation Refreshing Facial Wipes in Lavender (ugh! they've since been discontinued!) followed by the same Fresh Seaberry oil as in the morning.  Then, I also use Kiehls Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado.  I'm lazy, so the wipes provide a quick and easy way to clean my face, plus the lavender scent is relaxing.  Kiehls Eye Treatment is really thick, so I only use it before bed. When I'm feeling particularly indulgent, I also like Clark's Botanicals Smoothing Marine Cream.  Its the most expensive beauty item I've ever bought, but it is amazing.  It really smooths and softens the skin and I love the scent.  I don't anticipate using it much this summer, nevertheless, I really utilized it last winter.  I think the container has lasted me about five months so far and still going strong.

What are your favorite skin care products?  Isn't it funny how we get in a routine?  I find that once I figure out what works for my skin to minimize break-outs I'm hesitant to switch anything up.  And now that I'm in my 30s, I'm much more eager to keep my skin moisturized to help prevent premature aging.

None of these brands know who I am.  I like reading about "real people" beauty habits, favorite things, and WHY they like/do what they do, so I thought you might too.  I just like to write for fun, I'm not getting paid. ha.


Still on the Hunt

Nine months ago, I posted about looking for a new job.  I've been frustrated in my current situation and finally worked up the guts to do something about it.  Its been an emotional ride.

When I graduated, six years ago, I didn't have to look for a job.  I didn't even interview.  I was offered a position with my current employer.  I was happy with my work, my co-workers were happy.  Heck, I knew people that had worked in the same field for 30 years and still loved it.  I figured I would do the same.  Well, things changed.

I didn't know where to start.  Many factors have changed on the job front, and my once in-demand career is even starting to level out.  I sent out resumes and tried to discreetly ask around.  A local hospital finally called and I had several interviews that led up to a job offer.  Finally!

Unfortunately, I had to decline the offer. There wasn't room for negotiation.  I couldn't forgo health benefits for my family or take a drastic pay cut.  While I am so ready for a change I can almost taste it, I have to be responsible and think of my family.  Durn grown up stuff.  I so desperately wanted to throw in the towel.

Fortunately, I am able to reduce my hours at my current job.  Oddly enough, my salary is still higher than the job offer, plus I retain all my benefits.  While its not my first choice, it will help for the time being.  Now, I'm working on a new plan.

  • Pay off student loans.  I despise these suckers.  If we didn't have them, I could take a drastic pay cut.  Nevertheless, I have a renewed passion to kick 'em to the curb.
  • Finish getting my NC license.  It will make me more marketable and I won't be locked in to my current locale.  End of story.
  • Rethink what I want.  I need this job to work for me and my family as much as I need to work for it.
  • Pray!  I chose this career to glorify God.  He desires for me to use it for Him and provide for my family.  He will guide me to my next step.


Everyday is a Princess Day

My daughter is going through the "princess" phase.  I find it absolutely adorable.  It's only fitting since her nickname has been Princess from day one.  Anyway, she has princess dresses in just about every color and cycles through them throughout the day.

She rides her bike in a pink princess dress adorned with flowers.

She has Hello Kitty sparkle shoes to complete the look.

She needed an Elsa dress and an Anna dress from Target.  We had to visit them before I finally caved and purchased them.

The ladybug dress "flew away" aka got thrown away because it was disintegrating.

Fortunately, Princess dresses are "at home wear" and aren't worn to school or running errands.

Sunday was a scorcher, so she and her brother were playing in the backyard in a small plastic pool.  Previously, they had been drawing with sidewalk chalk on the back porch and needed to take a "bath" to wash off the chalk dust.  A realized the chalk would dissolve in the water (she's been in trouble for doing this before).  So, of course, she chose a new glitter chalk (obviously it was pink) to experiment with.  She swirled it around in the water making pretty patterns before dunking herself in the pool.

Why, might you ask?  To be glittery and sparkly of course.  Princesses are sparkly in case you didn't know.


Near Perfect

Today was one of those rare perfect days.  I feel the need to document so I can remember this on a dreadful day that's bound to come.

I got to sleep until I woke naturally.  It was raining.  My ideal lazy morning.  The house was quite as my hubby had taken H to preschool and A was still snoozing in her bed.  Hubby brought home coffee.

When my daughter awoke, she came down stairs in a lovely mood.  She even let me brush her hair and braid it.  She went up stairs to play by herself. I lounged around reading blogs and taking pictures of my loves.  The dogs played together, gently.  I even got to capture a video, after all, Oliver will only be a puppy for a short while.

We had lunch as a family once H was home from preschool.  Hubby took a nap, I planned and started dinner.  I daydreamed about what I want from life while doing a few chores.  Almost decided to paint, but opted to wait for a time when hubby isn't home to ask questions.  H took a nap.

Hubby said I was sexy, despite me still in my pajamas and lacking a shower.  I may not feel it, but its nice to be reminded.

Made dinner with two vegetable side dishes!  Hubby and A made cookie dough.  Woke up H to join us for dinner.  Kids actually ate protein AND tried some veggies!  Of course we bribed with cookies, but there were no tears!

Hubby and I had a conversation about family goals.  It feels good to continue the discussion of what we want for our family and how we should proceed. It really helps to put the hard-life stuff in perspective.

I stole a few bites of cookie dough.  Don't tell. (its a sin to my hubby, something about wasting the final product?)

And I still have a few hours left in the day!  I might be able to squeeze in a soak in the tub and a DIY facial and still turn in early!


Trust your Gut

Have you ever had one of those gut feelings where you know you are right?  But you're sure those around you think your wrong?  It's a horrible feeling.  Especially when you don't have a solid piece of evidence to stand on.

The last few months I've been dealing with this gut feeling.  My gut says my daughter needs help with speech.  She needs help finding the right words to communicate with her world.  My gut says she simply needs extra help finding the key to unlock her language for learning.  Those around me said she was broken.  They said she doesn't fit with other kids, she's not smart enough, she's not this, she's not that.  Lots of finger pointing.  Lots of can'ts.  Surely, I've noticed she's different.  Surely, I've thought she's Autistic.

May I tell you something?  She's not broken. She's not average.  She's God's creation.

Monday, we had another appointment at MUSC in Charleston.  We met with an Autism specialist.  I didn't want to.  I put it off.  I tried to talk myself out of it.  But I knew we needed to go.  And I was afraid.  I was afraid my daughter would have a label for the sake of putting a diagnosis with a symptom.  My gut says she doesn't have Autism.  My gut says she has a language delay.  But who trusts my gut feeling?  No parent wants to admit their child has a fault, isn't perfect, etc.  I should want the extra services for school.  I should want to be able to put a finger on why my daughter doesn't talk.  I should want a simple answer to explain to people.

In your deepest fears you learn what makes you tick.  I poured my soul out to God.  I cried out on behalf of my daughter.  I don't want her childhood stolen from her.  I want her to live to her fullest potential; to be what God has created her to be.  And I don't want my pride to stand in her way.

Our appointment lasted nearly 6 hours.  We had interviews and evaluations.  We were in the room while our daughter was being tested.  We saw the same things the evaluator saw.  I am proud of my daughter.  She cooperated.  She had fun!  She did better than I expected.  And the preliminary results are too close to call.

So for now, we have no diagnosis.  We can't check off all the boxes for Autism.  Yes, she has some delays and barriers, but not enough. The team will provide us with an in-depth report in the next few weeks, and for now the recommendation is to re-evaluate in 5 to 6 months.  They would like to gather more information once she's back in school and see how she does in Kindergarten.  So far, my gut is right.

I am relieved.


Fresh face

Ok, so I love cosmetics.  I enjoy fixing my hair, trying out makeup, tweaking my morning routine.  I want to feel my best, but look like I didn't try too hard.  I think that's a bit challenging.  Have you noticed beauty products are expensive?  I am forever frustrated by purchasing a product, trying it, only to discover that it doesn't work.  Or its not the right color, it gives me a rash, or causes my face to break out.  I like to experiment, but not the price tag that comes along with buying products.  Not to mention the clutter it can bring.

Fortunately, I discovered Birchbox a few years ago.  Its a subscription service (like a magazine) that sends you curated beauty samples once per month.  Most are small sample size products, although occasionally there is a deluxe or full size product.  I've sampled skincare products, hair care, fragrance, make-up, and even candy!  I love how I've learned which brands and products work for me, what is worth splurging on versus what I can save.

About a year ago, I was introduced to face oil.  I think I even blogged about it.  Despite my initial reluctance, it has become a product I can't live with out.  So that initial product I did end up purchasing.  It lasted quite a while, but now its no longer available on the Birchbox website, and I'm having a hard time swallowing the price tag.  I tried a few other facial oils, even plain coconut oil, but they just weren't the same.  Until I found Fresh Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil.

I love it so much.  It works just as well as the other, plus its less expensive! (and more in the bottle)
I put it on every morning after I shower and at night after I wash my face.  I still follow up with eye cream and moisturizer, especially in the winter.  On days I don't wear make up, this is all I do to my face.  I love how my skin instantly feels soft and moist, but not greasy.  It evens my skin tone and doesn't cause breakouts.  In fact, I think it helps keep breakouts at bay.  If there is one thing I put on my skin every day, this is it.

Have you tried face oils?  What beauty product is your must have?


I know What I Like...

It has come to my attention that I'm a bit picky.

I'll pause why you pick your jaw up off the floor.

I know, I can't believe it myself.

Anyway, of course my adoring hubby was the one that kindly pointed it out to me.  I was in denial for quite a while, but recently have come around to accepting it.  I mean, I do like what I like and the opposite holds true.

I don't like cheeseburgers.  I like hamburgers.  But I like cheese on my chili.  Or on my french fries.  Or nachos and pretzels.  Just not on my burger.  It really annoys me when a fast food place ignores my request for  hamburger.  NO CHEESE.

Onions and I have a similar relationship.  I enjoy onion rings, but don't really like them on my sandwich.

Lately, I've been challenging my hubby with my preference of whipped cream.  No, this isn't a dirty joke.  We get coffee most mornings and I enjoy whipped cream on my hot coffee.  But please don't top my iced coffee with whipped cream.  It doesn't melt the same.  Plus, then you have the tall lids.  Ugh.

Anyone else out there with contradictory tastes?  I know I'm not the only one, but at least I'm starting to admit it.


How was your day?

So as you may have gathered my daughter has a speech delay.  Her IEP also says she has a developmental delay.  Coming to terms with it has been one of the most challenging and painful parts of motherhood.  There aren't answers for the "why" or "how" questions concerning its origins, and we will probably never know.  My hubby and I each feel a great deal of blame, even though we realize there's probably nothing we could have done differently to prevent it.  We tell ourselves it's not going to do any good to dwell on the past, only to think of the future.  Overall, our daughter is a healthy and happy girl, so what's the big deal?

I'll tell you what's the deal.  My baby didn't answer questions.  Ok, so maybe she did, but her answer was always "NO."  But that's not all.  She also didn't ask questions.  As a former nanny and baby-sitter, I was waiting for the moment for my child to enter into the "why" phase.  I recall my former charges repeatedly asking me "why" every two seconds.  It drove me nuts.  But now,  I'm earnestly waiting for my own daughter to ask.

Speaking to my child seemed fruitless.  She often didn't respond, and if she did, it was negatively.  If I asked what she wanted for dinner, her response was always "No",  even if I knew she was hungry.  She didn't know how to respond.  This in turn made it difficult to discipline.  Because of her lack of communication, I didn't know if she truly understood my directions.  Perhaps she really didn't understand I told her to pick up her clothes or not to throw her toys.  Or maybe she was just defiant.  I couldn't tell.

For the the last four months, she has been in a child development program at our local elementary school.  She receives speech therapy twice per week.  We didn't know what to expect, so we waited and watched.

A few nights ago, I went in to kiss my Princess "Goodnight" after I got off work.  It was one of my 12 hour days, so I really hadn't seen the kids at all.  A was still awake as she often is.  I gave her a kiss, or maybe a dozen.  I told her I loved her and asked about school.  You know, normal stuff.  She paused and didn't say much.  She looked at me and searched my face.

"Mommy.....did.   Mommy, did you have fun at work?  She finally gets it all out.

I about cry.  Actually, no, I did not have fun at work  I hate it, remember?  It was a long day, I still feel sick and I can't remember how many times I got yelled at.  But I couldn't tell her that.  I was too happy in this moment that she asked me a question!  "Yes, Baby, Mommy had a great day at work, but I missed you.  I'm glad to be home and kiss you goodnight..."

Today, as I was leaving for work, A arrives home from school.  She and her brother excitedly ask to ride bikes.  They wait in the garage (with daddy) while I get in my car.

"Mommy has to go to work" says A.  "Bye, Mommy!  Have fun at work!" she waves.  Her brother parrots the same "Have fun at work, Mommy!"

Finally, conversation!  Initiated by my own daughter!  I know its small, but its a start.  I'm so proud,  my heart is bursting for this girl.  We'll get through this curveball yet


Birthday Girl

Another year has gone by and my daughter finally decided she didn't want to grow up! Yay!  No kidding.  As I tucked her in bed I asked if she was excited for her birthday and turning six, and she replied with "No, five".  I held up six and fingers and she pushed the sixth finger down!  Finally!  My little girl will stay little forever!

While she isn't thrilled about being six, she did enjoy her party.  This is the first birthday party we hosted with classmates.  A is finally putting enough words together to respond to questions, so we were actually were able to have her input on what she wanted for her party.  Her choice was to go swimming....at the beach.  haha, Little One.  While we are in the South, it still isn't warm enough for swimming in early March.  Although I have no doubt A would try if given the chance.  Instead, we settled on an afternoon at Chik-fil-A.  Three classmates plus a few siblings joined us for playtime and chicken nuggets, plus ice cream and cupcakes.  They donned striped party hats and ate off Angry Birds plates.  Apple juice and lemonade were the beverages of choice.  And we can't forget about the jumping and dancing with Mrs Cow.  The meltdowns were minimal and the joy was palpable.

A is the oldest of her classmates, and all had speech and language difficulties.  Nevertheless, it was apparent the kiddos were happy to see each other and share this experience.  They communicated with each other the best they could and they got it.  They accepted each other where they were at.  It was an amazing lesson to watch.  I'd say we had a good day.


Blue Diamonds

I don't get to tuck my kids in bed every night, but when I do we have a sweet tradition. About a year ago, we started saying goodnight prayers.  At first, I would pray and thank God for my child, and we would pray for our family, grandparents, etc.  I did this individually with each child.  Gradually, I would have the child repeat me, and now Princess will pray own her own with minimal prompting.  Handsome still needs some help.  We primarily thank God for family members and pets.  Occasionally, we will pray for healing or to be brave.  My intention is to have them be comfortable talking to God and to learn about being thankful.

Recently, I have started asking the kids what they are thankful for.  This might have started around Thanksgiving (for obvious reasons) but we have continued it.  Of course, they needed prompting at first, and I often give an example for what I am thankful for. Usually, grandparents and Daddy top the list.   I think I may have been mentioned once.  But this is what I love the best.  I never know what they are going to say.  Last week, Handsome what thankful for orange juice.  And milk.  He is ofter thankful for dinosaurs, and last night he was specific with which ones (terrasaurs, i think.  probably not even spelling that right)  Princess is also thankful for orange juice, kittens, peanut butter, and most recently, blue diamonds.  Yes, that's right, LARGE blue diamonds, specifically.

Me too, girl.  Me too.

Ok, so the disclaimer is that I DO NOT have a blue diamond.  I can only dream.  But Princess loves watching "The Rescuers" and has seen it a million times.  She adores Penny.  My Princess likes to wear "penny tails" and wants to find the blue diamond so she can be 'dopted and have a family.  So while, I assure Princess she already has a family that loves her, she still wants to find the blue diamond.  Oh, and Princess pretends her Winnie the Pooh is Teddy. Haven't seen "The Rescuers" lately?  I can fill you in.



So there must be a seven step process with coming to terms with job hunting.  Kinda like the same process one goes through when quitting smoking or dealing with grief.

I've been through the fear-of-starting stage and I overcame that.  I made a choice to really start looking and create a resume.  I spoke to family/friends and wore everyone out.  But actually make the choice was exhilarating, liberating.  I got an emotional rush.

I think I had a sub stage or something about possibly moving. I couldn't find any good leads for a local position so I had to come up with another plan. Got hubby on board, spoke to the family, and actually drove around to possible locations to scout them out. It was fun to dream.

Suddenly, moving seemed terrifying.  Its a lot of work; plus trying to time starting a new job, selling a house, and kids school schedules seems impossible.  I spoke to a contact about a local job that might work, but it turns out she quit that facility.  And she wouldn't recommend me going in to it, it was that bad.  So while I appreciate her candor, it was disappointing.  She told stories of colleagues that can't find jobs or are spending months and also have to move.  So then I became depressed.  I don't really want to go through the stress or expense of moving, but I might really have to.  Plus, the job market is difficult and I'm in a part of the country where I still don't have a lot of contacts.  So while I have been throwing myself a pity party I've come to terms that the actual timeline of events might be messy.

So, I am also facing the choice again, how bad is it for me to really change jobs?  I really want to do something different.  I need a change.  This whole process is teaching me patience on a new level.  I can't go buy a new job, or new work environment.  I can't ask someone to buy my house and it be done the next day. This part of life is definitely a dance, and I'm unfamiliar with my partner.

Ok, that's three stages, right?  I wonder how many more before the end?  Anyone else know which stage is next?


Picture Failure

So I tried to make Christmas Cards this year.  Or last year, rather.  We had family pictures taken.


I didn't even buy any yet.  None I want to share of the family.  We did get a few cute ones of this kids, but out of 300+ pictures taken, maybe seven I would buy and share.  None were really spend-more-money- on-custom-Christmas-card worthy.  In fact, the best one was a photo I captured on my iphone afterwards.  But of course it is a bit blurry and too low quality to have printed.  Of course.

So I did what any normal mom would do.  I tried to bribe my hubby to help me take some of "just the kids".  I dressed them up, brought props and bribes, and took them to a photogenic place.  Maybe some unsuspecting nice person would walk by and I could get them to take our family picture.

Oh sweet failure.  We know each other so well.  Of course we would meet again so soon.

Why does Pinterest and card companies make family pictures look so effortlessly blissful?  Better yet, why do I feel so compelled to recreate my own picture of family happiness? Anyway, while I wallow in self pity for not being able to capture the sweetness of my kiddos, here are a few of the photos for you to snicker over.

Thanks to World Market for the oversized candy canes.

This might be the best one.

He's so handsome!  But no sister....

A tad bit more realistic...

So we had to move on from just candy canes to the lolly pops.... maybe the props were becoming too much of a distraction?

Totally enamored with the candy.  But at least they aren't running around.  Two kids in the same frame is the goal, right?

So we decided to lay on the sidewalk for a while...

And here is my princess.  Its hard to choose between candy and flowers.

No words.

And this is what happens when I try to get a picture with my babies.  Actually, I have about 9 pictures like this.

I'm exhausted and my kids had a sugar high.  My hubby was not amused by my idea of a photo session and we went through a whole package of baby wipes to clean up the sticky.  Isn't life wonderful?  Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, or Happy Valentine's Day, which ever holiday is closest by the time I end up posting this!  Hope you have just as much fun documenting your family as I have with mine!


What comes first?

Ok, so operation "find a new job" is underway.  I am relieved to have hubby on board and we have come up with a tentative plan on how to proceed.  I mean, a really loose idea that could change any moment.  Problem is, now we have sooooo many options its almost terrifying.

We have determined we will probably have to move.  There really aren't any viable options in our current city.  That, coupled with other factors, has led us to search out relocation options.  Here is our wish list:

  1. Close to family.  Both our parents are 3-4 hours away.  We would like to be closer, maybe in the middle?  Or in the same town as one set?  Our parents are only going to get older and it is a priority for us to be close enough to provide care for them.  Plus, there is the free baby-sitting.....
  2. Large-er size city.  I am a city girl at heart, I like being close to shopping, entertainment, good schools, etc.  I want an easy commute.  Plus, hubby may eventually go back to work and we need job opportunities close by for him and me if I need to change again....
  3. Better schools for the kiddos.  They aren't *horrible* here, but need to be at least as good if not a better opportunity for the kids.
  4. Laws and regulations governing my current job are ridiculous.  Those vary from state to state and even if I find another job in another city within the current state, I'll still have to deal with the frustrating laws and consequences.  I don't intentionally break the law, but I feel the ones out there are making it difficult to focus on the people I am here to help.  Instead, I'm more often forced to spend the majority of my time on those that are trying to skirt the system and abuse medications.  I just want to help people, not be a cop/detective/shrink.
And that's it.  See, its really not that specific, so there are plenty of options.  We've pretty much narrowed it down to Charlotte, Greensboro, or Raleigh.  The next part is where I am having the most difficulty.  I need a job.  We don't want to move until A is done with school.  So that puts us to June.  I need to get licensed in NC before I can get a job.  Plus, we need to sell our house. Timing the logistics of all those things is daunting.  So what do I do first?  Getting a new license can take a few months, so obviously I need to get started on that.  But should I start applying for other jobs even though my license isn't completed?  Isn't it understood that I will have an active license in the state I am to work?  Should I just add that to the cover letter?  I don't think we will put our house on the market until I have a job offer; to me that makes the most sense.  I don't want the house to sell before we move and not have a place to live before A finishes the school year.  I could just try to transfer with my current company and then find a new job once we move.  Then, we could just plan on moving this summer and the kids settled before a new school year.  But I really don't like my current position.  See where I am torn?  Plus, I'm not telling anyone I work with of my plans.  Not until I have something more concrete planned out.  Does that make sense?  I should give them more than two weeks notice, especially if I am transferring within the company, but I don't think they need 6 months.

It helps to write it all out.  I realize most of you reading probably don't care one way or another.  Its a lot to think about, especially since the decisions I make affect more people than just me.  Last time we moved, we just had to worry about finding a new place to rent.  I transferred within the same company and we were renting to begin with.  We had to pay rent for two places for two to three months, but we were able to budget for that.  Now, we have to add in selling a house, finding a new house, plus figuring out schools, in addition to a new job.  My mind is spinning.

The good news is that I'm excited.  My job is slightly more tolerable since I *think* I have an end in sight.  I love to dream and I'm dreaming of a new, better life.  I know I need to be thankful for the life that's right in front of me, but I am eager to make it better for my family.  Honestly, I haven't been that happy since moving here.  And for the first time in three years, I have hope that may change.



Today, its been nine years.

There isn't anyone else I would rather spend that much time with.  We've only been apart and handful of times.

I love you.  I don't want to imagine those nine years any other way than by your side.



Oscar came into our lives on Sept 20, 2013.  He was an unexpected surprise, but just what our family needed at that time.

The month leading up to Oscar's arrival was VERY eventful.  A had started school and the evaluation process to get her qualified for speech services.  She also began asking for an "orange kitty".  Whenever we would visit a pet store, she always wanted to look at the cats for adoption, specifically looking for an orange one.  While taking our other cat,  Coco, to the vet for her check up, I inquired about rescue cats.  They said they would call if an orange kitten was turned in to them.

The week prior to Oscar was very trying.  A's school had called and emailed.  She was refusing to eat her lunch at school.  She was reported to be disruptive in class, the school wanted her evaluated for Autism.  We had heard enough.  My husband went to school to observe the class, teacher, etc.  It was not pretty.  Our daughter was separated from the other students.  Her desk placement did allow her to view the teacher.  The other students shunned her.  She was completely unlike her self, did not eat, did not play, sought ways to leave the room.  She had checked out.  It was devastating for my husband to watch.  We were both in agony, because we knew our daughter did not have the speech and language  capacity to tell us what was happening.  She couldn't say the kids were mean, or she couldn't see the teacher.  She didn't know how to ask for help.  She did not return to school the next day.  We made an appointment with our pediatrician to seek more guidance and drafted a letter to withdraw her from school.  My husband and I were sick.  We felt we failed our daughter as parents.

The morning of the 20th, we took A to the doctor.  We briefly explained what had been going on over the last few months and wanted her opinion.  We received a referral to a developmental pediatrician and hope that we may get answers.  We left optimistic.  While we were out, the Vet's office called.  Someone had brought in an abandoned orange kitten.  It needed a home, were we interested?  Well, of course!  We drove down to take a look.  A and I went in to check out the kitten.  And oh-mi-gosh, my child was beside herself with glee!  "An orange keetee!" she cried. There is no way she could smile any wider.  I about cried myself.  After the emotional week, here was my daughter, still full of joy and excitement.  We took the little orange kitty home, and A chose the name Oscar.  She loves him and he tolerates her.  September 20 was also my birthday, so in a way, the joy he brings my Princess is my birthday gift.

Funny how I wrote this a few days ago, and now Oscar hasn't come home in 24 hours.  He usually doesn't stray to far, but we had a really warm day and didn't think too much of it.  Now a cold front is coming through and we are starting to get worried.  We've done the walk around the neighborhood calling for him a few times.  Keep him in your prayers because I know A would be devastated if he doesn't come home.


Resolution? Goals? Self Help Promises?

I don't really like New Year Resolutions.  To me, they conjure up images of empty promises and failure. I'm not sure why I feel that way, I've sensed it since I was a child. Therefore, I never really make resolutions as I don't want to set myself up for failure.

I believe I need to remedy this ideology.  Setting goals and ways of attaining them is part of my identity.  I love to make lists and check off tasks.  I enjoy the sense of accomplishment.  It only makes sense that I should identify specific goals (nothing lofty) with a plan in place to achieve them.  Writing them down is my first step, along with publishing them.  Even if no one reads this, there is that possibility, and thus the motivation factor of someone else knowing besides me.  Does that sound like I'm trying to blackmail myself? Anyway...onto the meat.

Financial:  Pay off the credit card.  Ok, so this is a goal revisited.  We have been working on paying off the debt for a few years now.  We've come a long way, but the last few months we've been carrying a credit card balance again.  I'd like to have this done in 6 months.  We will focus on our cash budget system again ( it really helps! especially with saving!)  Once the credit card is done, we will focus on the car payment.  Then only two more hefty student loans.  I feel that we will never have my student loans done!

Blogging:  I aim to blog twice per month.  Instead of online shopping maybe I can write a few posts.  The more often I write, the more the words seem to flow.  The more time between posts and my daily life seems insignificant, destroying my desire to write.

Personal:  Take more pictures, and not just on my iPhone.  We have a nice camera, however, it rarely got used last year.  Since we always had our iPhones, we rarely found the time to dig out the bulky camera.  However, when it came time to make our yearbook, I didn't have enough high quality pictures.  I'd also like to learn more about the settings on our camera, so I'm more confident in my ability.  Plus, it would be nice to have well-lit, in-focus images the majority of the time.

Personal:  Increase my physical activity.  Do something outside three times per week.  Ideally, I'd like to get the kids involved, but I think I will start with myself first.  We have a dog that is always up for a walk, I can ride my bike, or I can escape to walk alone.

House: Paint the entryway.  Hire someone to paint the high stuff.  Participate in the Cure at Apartment Therapy and set more goals for the house based on that experience.

Work:  I'm not sure about this one.  Either I need another job, or I need to come to terms with the one I have. I had a trial period of working less hours last fall and that will become permanent at the end of January.  I've always wanted to work less and I'm fortunate to have this opportunity.  I really hope it brightens my outlook for my current situation.  However, I am really unhappy with my job and there aren't really any better prospects close by.  Moving would be a drastic option and a hard sell to my family.  This is an area I need to intensely pray about.

Spiritual:  Find a church home for the family.  Seriously.

Hmmm, I suppose that's a good start?  Perhaps I should set a reminder on my calendar to check in on these in a month or so and see how its going?  I feel I run the risk of forgetting once I hit post...


2014 begins....

Wow, its been quite a year.  I've barely blogged, yet life has been full.  I have missed blogging, nevertheless, I am always able to come up with an excuse.

The last year has been an eventful one, although its painfully obvious I haven't documented it.  Here's a recap:

January: tried to blog, failed miserably. Also, I cut my hair, from middle of my back to bob length!

February: started working solely at one store.  I love having a set schedule, but the 12 hour days are hard on the body and soul.  The pharmacy isn't overtly hectic and I am able to form relationships with my patients.  It takes a while, but by the end of the year I experience some really sweet bonds.  Who knew some of these customers had something to teach me and help me out personally as well.

March: my Princess turned five!  My brother and sister-in-law visited!

April:  we got a dog, I think.  Maybe we got him in March.  Anyway, his name is Duncan and he is a Collie.  We got him for two reasons, Hubby has always wanted a dog and I promised we could get one once we moved to South Carolina, owned a house, and had a fenced in yard.  Also, because Princess is terrified of dogs and we wanted to help her overcome it.

May:  I can't think of anything terribly eventful.  I did yardwork?  Went to the beach.

June: Princess graduated from Preschool! Also, traded our Versa in for a Forrester.  A tiny car felt smaller with two kiddos and a growing dog.  And Hubby got a sun roof, its the small things, right?  Oh, and Chipotle came to Myrtle Beach!

July:  Hubby turned 31.  Family trip to Greensboro to visit the in-laws and more beach time.  I worked on house projects (painting living room, spray painting coffee table, you know, fun stuff)  Pay off a student loan!

August:  This month was difficult.  Princess started Kindergarten.  We chose to send her to a Catholic school, but that didn't turn out to be a good fit.  We knew she had a speech delay, but didn't realize how severe until school started.  Cue lots of emotions, testing, questions, fears, etc.

September: Evaluations continue for A.  I reduce my hours at work.  We eventually pull her out of school after a morning observation.  It was a parents nightmare.  Thank God my husband and I are a united front with our children, I don't know what I would do without him.  I may blog more about this, as I can't go into much detail here.  I also turn 32.  We also adopt a cat, Oscar.  Its another story worth its own post.

October:  We continue to homeschool and have A evaluated to see what her special needs are, if any.  Luckily, we have some counsel from one of my patients who is a retired teacher.  God really looks out for us.  Kiddos dress up at Superman for Halloween.  Both of them. Another haircut and color change. Sometimes your outward appearance it the only thing you can change in your life.

November: Handsome turns four!  He is obsessed with dinosaurs and sharks and cars.  A's evaluations are complete.  We decided to keep her in preschool for another year and enroll her in a Child Development Preschool in our district.  She receives Speech Education at school and turns into another child.  She blossoms.  Spend Thanksgiving at my Parents house.  Breathe a sigh of relief.

December:  Its a whirlwind of a month.  Finally settle into a school routine with A and see steady improvement.  We still have a ways to go, but know we are on the right track.  Enjoy vacation time from work and tackle a few more house improvements (more painting, room re-arranging)  We celebrate Christmas twice and my children are beyond blessed, spoiled?  I might need to place limits on gifts, seriously.

This year my children were my blessing and my pain.  Parenting is more difficult with each passing year, yet still holds great rewards.  Some days they are the only thing that keeps me going.

A enjoyed riding her bike in the neighborhood.  We had some special times, riding just the two of us.  It was the first experience I had of enjoying something together and not just doing some for her enjoyment.  She loves Duncan and Oscar.  She also enjoys drawing, dressing as a Princess, and playing video games.

H has lived the year of the dinosaur.  He has watched some many documentaries on Netflix he sometimes speaks with a British accent.  We have to remind him he is a little boy and boys don't growl or crawl on the ground.  He also loves sharks and race cars.  He also is learning to ride a bike and enjoys riding with Daddy and Duncan.

2013 has been a roller coaster of a year.  I can't imagine what 2014 will hold.