3/31/11

If These Walls Could Talk

Anyone else miss that show on HGTV? 

Today, I had my own old house experience.  While cleaning out the pantry in the kitchen, I found this photograph tucked above the door frame.



I have no idea who it is or when the photo was taken, but isn't that so cool?
Todd is a bit freaked out that I framed it, but I love it!

3/30/11

When the Fun Stops

I am a big proponent of letting my children try activities that interest them. 

In the fall, AC decided she wanted to try gymnastics.  I was all for it.  We enrolled and I watched as AC was really challenged physically and mentally for maybe the first time in her  life.  It hasn't come easy and she feels the competitive spirit behind the sport.  It's good for her.  It's hard to watch, but I've watched her sweet spirit stretch to comprehend what she needs to do and it has been a challenge.

At the end of each session, the instructor does an evaluation and determines whether of not you are ready to move on to the next class.  AC is very well aware of the process.  She wasn't moved to the next level and she was shocked.  As painful as it was to see her hurt, I convinced myself that this was a real opportunity for character growth.  The reason being things come pretty easily for AC, which is great, but she is a girl that needs to be challenged.  We all need that, in fact.

When it came time to re-enroll for the next session, she said she didn't want to do it.  Todd and I dicussed it and decided we were going to enroll her anyway beacuse we felt her change in heart was because she felt the sting of not being moved up. 

At the first class of this session, I realized we had made a huge mistake.

HUGE.

I'll just sum it up to say she has made up in the area of comedian where she was lacking in the gymnast area.
The struggle every week has left me deading Wednesday's .  Today on the way to class I was giving my usual pep talk about trying your best and listening to instruction, when AC said, "Isn't this supposed to be fun?" 

Why, yes it is.

The truth of the matter is as much as I am proponent of of letting my children try activities that interest them, I also realize that they will likely not purse these activities as a profession, so the best I hope is they will take away the fact that physical exercise is fun and maybe they will learn some self-discipline along the way.

Oh, this parenting stuff is hard, hard, hard.

3/29/11

The Girls

It dawned on me that I haven't posted pictures of these sweet faces in the past few days

She is her Daddy made over.

 
Sharing a private joke......

Those cheeks, my word, those cheeks......

3/28/11

Growing Up


This sweet girl still loves her baby dolls and likes to sit in my lap, but I have been noticing huge changes in her and it is a joy to watch.
I can't wait to see what God has planned for my determined, optimistic girl.

As a side note, she suggested to me the other day that we call each other "girl", as in, "Hey, girl!" 
Um, no.


3/26/11

Spring Cleaning

Thank you all so much for the emails about how I'm feeling.  I am much, much better.  Maybe because I slept more in 2 days than I have ever in 7 years? 

At any rate, I woke up this morning at 4am ready to tackle spring cleaning. 

I don't know why but every spring I'm ready to get rid of all the clutter and clean!  Well, this year it could be that since T moved his office home (which we love and wish we had done sooner), our garge is bulging with furniture and our house is bulging with primary colored toys (which we love, but must part with some.)

It was a cold, rainy day here so we were able to get everyone's closets cleaned, de-cluttered, and changed over for spring and summer.  Plus, I got a lot of the cedar closet (where we store our out-of-season clothing, since our house older and apparently people didn't have as many changes of clothing as we do today or maybe those mothers had more control when it comes to sweet children's clothes? there may be a lesson here) and attic de-cluttered.  Hoping to get to the rest of the attic tomorrow afternoon.

I have planned out the remainder of my spring cleaning and thought I would share since a) it will keep me accountable b) I would love to have company!  If any of you want to use this list for inspiration and tweak it your own house or share your own game plan, the more the merrier! c) I'm going to do a Caldrea giveaway for those who participate!  If you have never used used these products, believe me they are wonderful.  I love the Lavender Pine and am sad to see they no longer carry the wood polishing cream...it is great and I need it back!  If you a dork and love homekeeping books, like me, read Spring Cleaning: The Spirit of Keeping the Home.  It is really great!  I have seen it at our library (yes, I am a proud owner of this book)  Lovin' the (parenthesese) today!

Ok,, here is the plan:
** I have given myself lots of extra days in some rooms because some need to have doors painted, the whole room painted, light fixtured replaced, etc. and I'm hoping to be able to incoorporate all of this together.  Plus, some days it will just not happen.  Need I say more?

March 25:  All Closets
March 26-27: Attic and Cedar Closet
March 28-31: Kitchen
April 1: Laundry Room
April 2-3:  Outside Patios and Entrances
April 4 :  Laundry Room
April 5-7:  Living Room
April 8-9: Outside Landscaping
April 10: Living Room
April 11-14:  Dining Room
April 18-21: Master Bedroom
April 22-23:  Master Bath
April 24-26:  Hallway- I'm sure this you're thinking, why 3 days for a hallway?  Well, this hallway has the most preious built-in gun cabinet and ammunition cabinet below it that desperately needs to be cleaned out as I use it for wrapping paper, ribbons, tags, and who knows what else.  Plus, it needs to be painted and the lightight fixture is driving me crazy.
April 27-28: B's bathroom
April 30-May1:  B's bedroom
May 2-3:  AC's Bedroom
May 4-5:  Get ready for yardsale
May 6:  Yardsale and take thing to donate. 
May 8-9:  Nursery
May 10-11:  Office- this will get tricky as Todd will be working in the office.
May 12:  Catch-up
May 13:  Catch up
May 14-15: Garage- I have learned that it's best to time this after the yardsale because there inevitably be stuff lingering.....

Whew!  I'm going to be ready for vacation!  Most of you will probably beat me to the finish line but I hope you join me anyway!!

3/25/11

Sick

Oh my word, y'all, I have been sooo sick.

It started Wednesday afternoon- headache, body aches, fever- and by Thursday morning I really thought I was dying....ok, that may be a little dramatic, but it has been a long time since I have run a 103 temperature and it was not fun at all.  I'm on day 2 of antibiotics and am beginning to see a little bit of light.

My sweet husband has picked up my slack- managing all 4 littles, making lunches, putting hair into pigtails.....love him!

3/23/11

Hello!
We have had a great week so far....Coach  brought my grandmother, aunt, and uncle here while they are visiting from New York.  Luckily, the weather has been great, so it was a nice break from the snow they are getting at home.

Grandma Betty took one look at my china cabinet and started polishing silver and managed to get every bit of laundry done while they were here. 

Mary Connor and Uncle Mark reading a book.

Aunt Marilyn feeding the girls their solid food.

Our sweet Coach with Lyla James....we couldn't ask for a better grandfather.


Yesterday, we picked the big kids up from school at half day and went to the park for a picnic.  It was a beautiful day and we had a blast.

I'm thinking these kiddos are going to go through withdrawls after all the special treats and attention!

3/19/11

Spring Break Part 2

Wednesday I loaded the kids and all 20 of our suitcases back in the car to visit my family in Tennessee.  Luckily this trip didn't include flat tires or strange road side assistance men since I was by myself!
This will be a pictureless post because halfway there I realized I had forgotten to bring my camera....ugh! 
We had a great time......My grandmother, aunt and uncle are in from New York, so they got to see the babies for the first time.  The kids were so excited to see their cousins and we got to celebrate Eva's 3rd birthday with her on St. Patrick's Day.
Is it normal to get so homesick when you haven't lived at home for so many years?  Honestly, I cry every time we leave.I just love being with our family and wish so badly that we lived closer.

3/14/11

Spring Break

We kicked off spring break by spending a long weekend in Savannah and Tybee Island.  We had so much fun and weren't ready to come home. 
We left early Friday morning and intended to arrive in Savnnah in the early afternoon, but we had a flat tire and arrived in the early evening instead.  Quite the adventure being on the side of the road with a flat, two 6 year olds, and two 7 month olds.  It was really pretty funny because I refused to let the kids out of the car, so we had to sit very still while the road side assistance guy put the spare on....6 year olds aren't great at being still, you know. 

This picture was at dinner Friday night.  It was 6:30 by the time we got to the restaurant and the babies were beyond tired.  I was holding MC and we ended up wearing my fish taco.  Lesson learned- we ate at 5 every other night.

It was really chilly Saturday morning and the water was about 50 degrees.  AC and B insisted they wanted to get in the ocean.....


Brian pretending he wasn't freezing







We did a safari scavenger hunt around dowtown Savannah.  The kids had to read the clues and find animals in the architecture.  It was so fun and a great way to see everything while keeping their attention.


We stopped at an Irish Festival on the river for lunch. 

Next, we visited the Oatland Island Wildlife Center.  They have plants and animals native to the area and the much to the kids delight, they had alligators in the marsh!  Unfortunately, we had to rush through to make our dinner reservation.



Mary Connor was wiped out after the beach.



Yesterday afternoon we went on a boat ride to see the dolphins.  So much fun! 

Visiting this lighthouse is AC and B's goal on our next trip...we weren't brave enough to try it this time.


We had the best time, but it's good to be home even though I am facing mountains of laundry!

3/10/11

7 Months

Lyla James and Mary Connor, y'all are 7 months old today!


Girls, you both are busy bees!  You are sitting up by yourselves and MC you go from sitting up down to your stomach, if you really want to reach something. 


You all are interacting with each other a lot lately and it is hilarious to watch.  Lyla James, you make this scrunched-up face and blow in and out of your nose and MC cracks up every time you do it.  Which, of course, makes you do it more. 


You both babble and "sing" all the time.  When y'all hear music you both rock back and forth dancing. 
Lyla James, when we say, "love your momma," you put your arms around my neck and your mouth on my face....it is precious and I make you do it 867 times per day.


Lyla James, you have 2 teeth.  Mary Connor, you are still working on yours....hopefully soon!
Y'all are still on a good schedule and typically sleep about 11 to 12 hours at night with 2 to 3 naps during the day. 
You both seem to enjoy solid foods and love sitting at the table in your highchairs.  Anna Cate and Brian switch out who sits with who at dinner every night...it's too funny to watch you all with them!


It is such a joy to watch you both grow and we love you more and more every day!

3/9/11

Under My Nerves

Yesterday I spent some time at AC and B's school so our teachers could enjoy a lunch together.  While on the playground, a girl from B's class came up to me and said, "Mrs. Sparkman, when I ask Brian his favorite meal or his favorite movie, he always says I don't know.  Why will he not tell me?"  Last night when I was tucking him in, I asked him about it.  "Momma, she just gets under my nerves with all the questions." 

Not on his nerves, but under them....which is just so much worse and better suited for some situations, I think.

Way Back When-esday at Twinfatuation

AC and B bundled up for a walk
January 2004

  The first night home with MC and LJ
August 2010

3/8/11

Inside My Mind

If the title has you thinking this is going to be a deep, intellectual post, you are about to be very disappointed.

I have been trying to sort through the massive amounts of outgrown baby clothes we have and pick out things I could get rid of, but then decided I'm just not ready to part with them yet.  Well, last night I had a dream that I went in our attic and up pops a squirrel in a pink smocked bubble and bonnet.  It ran down the stairs and out the front door while I was screaming, "No, you can't take that!"  It's official...I need therapy over my obesession with baby clothes. 

Excuse the lack of posts for the past few days, but we started working on a few projects in the kitchen and I have been consumed. Pictures to come soon....

3/4/11

Our Families

Today at Kelly's Show Us Your Life the topic is our families.  We are so blessed to have such wonderful people on both sides of our familes.

Todd's parents, Nana and Papa, are wonderful grandparents and love our 4 children beyond all measure.  I love to see their faces light up when their grandchildren are around.


Nana's Birthday Breakfast


My parents, CC and Coach to our children, are so much fun to be with and I feel blessed to have been raised by them. 

My dad was a teacher and football coach and retired this year.  I love that the grandchildren call him "Coach" because it just suits him and the way he lives his life.  He is so humble and giving with his time.  

My mom is amazing.....she is full of energy and willing to drop everything when someone needs her.  She is full of energy and accomplishes more in 24 hours than I do in a week.

Me, my older sister, and CC


Coach in action

I am one of 5 children.  My oldest sister (in the picture above) is one of the most loyal and devoted friends I know I will ever have.  She has seen me at my best, worst, and everything in between and she has loved me through it all.  She also has 4 children close in age to ours and they are crazy about each other!  The bond they have with each other is the sweetest and even though we live a few hours away from each other, they are super close.

I have a younger brother Brian Andrew, who our Brian Andrew is named after,  but he passed away when he was 2 from Haemophilus influenzae type b (hib).  I think about him all the time and my Brian thinks it is so awesome that he has an angel in heaven with his name watching over him. 

My younger sister with AC at her dance recital.

Lauren is one of those people that is always there.  She came and stayed with us the first week the girls came home from the hospital, that is true love.  The picture below is with her sweet husband who drove 4 hours to see us in the hospital and back home all in one night.  They also have a puppy, Sulley, who is their first-born child.  Lauren is a wedding/event planner in the Nashville area and she is fabulous!


Finally, the baby of the family, my youngest brother.  The only boy with 3 older sisters....he is precious. He is a junior in college and is planning to attend law school.  I am amazed by his heart and ambition and am so proud to have him as a brother.

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30

3/3/11

Chaos

Before we had children of our own, I remember a friend who is a mother of 4 telling me that when they got sick, their home was like a triage unit.  After yesterday, I'm  going to have to say a huge AMEN to that statement.  Mary Connor hasn't run a fever since Monday and seems to be over the virus.  But after eating their solid breakfast yesterday, she woke up from her nap vomitting and I do mean vomitting.  She had cereal mixed with mashed avocado and pears, all things she has had before and tolerated. After researching it a little, avocados and pears aren't likely foods to be allergic to, but I guess it's always possible.  Anyone have any thoughts? It only lasted about 3 hours and then she was fine, so I don't know what it was.  Surely no stomach virus would come and go that quickly. 
To make matters worse, I don't handle vomitting well.  In fact, I begin gagging at the sound of someone getting sick.  So, we were quite a pair.  Just another glamorous day at the Sparkman's.
To deal with the stress, I decided it was the perfect time to paint our fireplace in the living room.  It's called coping and I apparently cope with chaos by adding more chaos...very logical.


And now that I have turned everyone's stomach, I'm going to share a few great recipes that I made today to take to a family from our church....

Melanie's Pork Tenderloin
This recipe is my aunt's, who is a fabulous cook- it is so good!

2-4 pork tenderloins
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 pkg. dry Italian salad dressing

Mix and pour over tenderloin in a plastic bag.  Marinate overnight and grill.

Pioneer Woman's Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
If you've never made these, you have to....she has great recipes.

Green Beans with Bacon Balsamic Vinaigrette:
A friend from church brought these to us last year while I was on bedrest and they have been a favorite ever since!

2 lbs of green beans, ends trimmed
2 bacon slices
3 tbsp shallots, minced
3 tbsp almond slivers
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup white or brown balsamic vinegar

Cook the green beans in boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until tender yet still crisp. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop them from cooking. Drain well and set aside.
Cook the bacon in a small skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from skillet and crumble; set aside. Add shallots to bacon fat in the skillet, sauté for 1 minute. Add almonds, sauté for 1 minute. Remove the shallots and almonds and let cool. Add sugar and vinegar to the skillet; stir until sugar dissolves. Add the green beans, crumbled bacon, almonds, and shallots then stir until evenly coated.

Miss Wilene's Sour Cream Pound Cake
I was in a rush and didn't let the cake cool long enough and ended up with a huge mess.  So, I made trifle with the broken up cake.

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
3 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Sift the baking soda and flour together. Add to the creamed mixture alternating with eggs, beating each egg 1 at a time. Add the vanilla and pour the mixture into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.

After delivering the meal and coming home to heat up our own dinner, I realized I gave them 2 containers of pork tenderloin and no green beans.  Where oh where is my brain lately?

This afternoon we had a fun playdate at the park with a friend from AC's class.

The good news is I managed to make it home with all 4 children, so maybe there is hope for this tired brain after all!