10/31/11

Happy Halloween!

We started the day off with green monster smoothies....

When I gave B his, I said "It's a green monster smoothie.  Are you scared?"
He looked at me and with his dry sense of humor said, "Terrified, just terrified."

Because their class had projects due for a book of their choice, they had to dress as a character in their book.
Brian chose Caps for Sale
and AC chose an Amelia Bedilia book.

We had big plans to trick-or-treat downtown this afternoon, at our church's trunk-or-treat, stop for a quick dinner, and then I would get the baby girls to bed while T and my dad (thank goodness he was here! the extra hands were appreciated and loved!)  took the big kids out in our neighborhood.

This pretty much sums up the result of those plans...



It was proclaimed to be "the best Halloween ever" and now they are all tucked in their beds anxious for the Great Pumpkin to make a visit, take away their candy (minus 7 pieces, because they are 7 years old) and in return, leave a little happy.

Happy, happy Halloween to you all!

10/29/11

Saturday Ramblings

It was a chilly morning at the soccer fields this morning.


 The girls were entertained by B and his friend who pushed them up and down an empty field "playing soccer."  They were so funny kicking their legs and shrieking with delight!

At the fall festival yesterday, AC and B won a certificate for a free goldfish a local pet store.  Since we have given the dogs a new home, they have been begging for a pet. Nana and Papa were here visiting and bought them each an additional fish.
Meet Isabella and Elizabeth

and Phineas and Ferb.

Really hoping these fish are lower maintanence than the 2 puppies were.  At least they can't eat through the HVAC lines 3 times in the middle of the summer, so I like them already.

10/28/11

Phew!

Today was our school's fall festival....
as I whipped my camera out to capture the delights
, of course, no memory card was flashing on the camera...
at this point it's funny how often this happens.

So, I will capture the highlights:
  • the kiss the pig contest, which included a 80 lb. pot-bellied pig wearing a gold and turquoise dress, a wig, and painted toes and lips was a complete hit and had the kids so excited!
  • The weather did not work with plan and the cold, drizzly weather meant we had to rework the plan...it went off beautifully.
  • I left feeling absolutely blessed to be part of this school...it is a rare and beautiful gift.

10/27/11

Goodness, where has the week gone?
Is it really Thursday already?

Between after-school activities, projects at school, appointments, homework, church activities, home projects (nothing exciting enough to share just trying to clear out the attic before Hoarders awards us as their next contestant), I don't know where the week has gone.

So, I leave y'all with a photo dump and great excitement for a fun (slower- paced?) weekend,







10/25/11

A Great E-Book

I have enjoyed reading Melissa's fresh and authentic approach to decorating at The Inspired Room for years, so I was super excited to have an opportunity to preview her new e-book, which is available today at http://notadiydiva.com/.


As a not-so-great-diy'er, I love the title!  Melissa's down to earth approach and advice to making a home beautiful is so refreshing at a time when many of us are bombarded with elaborate projects on Pinterest and shelter magazines...


Congratulations, Melissa, your book is fantastic!

10/22/11

Small(er) Town Living

When looking to relocate T's business and our family 4 years ago, we had the opportunity to choose anywhere in the Southeast....one of the small list of privleges in owning your own business during these times.
 After visiting many places we visited our current town...and then we visited again...and again.
We both agreed it just felt right for our family.
It wasn't a suburb (nothing wrong with the 'burbs, it just wasn't what we wanted), the pride of community was amazing, and it was very family-focused.
As we walked around at our town's fall art show and festival today, I was reminded of how blessed we feel to be part of this community. 
We know every other person we pass:  hugs are exchanged, we see teachers, Sunday School teachers, old friends, new friends, many laughs are exchanged because B dumps his funnel cake all over the baby girls in the stroller, a sweet friend has a booth with cameo lockets which AC has been dying for...
They know our story, we know their's.
It isn't perfect,
we have shed a lot of tears..over babies born too early, not at all...marriages that were facing trouble, marriages that didn't make it...financial troubles, children trouble, you name it.
But as we left the festival, T and I both looked at each other and said how happy we are with our decision to move here.
After 4 years, it still just feels right.

10/21/11

The Week in Pics..

This week is our school's homecoming, so the kids got to dress up every day for spirit week.
I'm especially grateful that we wear uniforms after the drama one of my children caused over finding an appropriate outfit for every day!

 Blast from the past day- the love for this costume hasn't faded.
Brian went as a 1980's boy, but he wasn't in a picture taking kind of mood Monday.
Tuesday was tacky twin day.  B and his 2 friends who also play football planned to wear their uniforms...done.
AC and her friend spent a hour on the phone coordinating....a very exhausting hour that had me thinking it might be best if we move to a deserted island for the teen years.

 Wednesday was crazy hair day.....they asked me to make thir hair really big...
 what they didn't know is I'm quite efficient at teasing seeing that I was slightly of the generation who had "the bangs."

 Thursday was dress as your favorite super hero, book/movie character.  B went as a Marine.
Apparently MC is loving the uniform and B is super happy.

 AC as Kit Kittredge and as equally happy.

 Today was spirit day and since I didn't get a picture this morning I got one at the pumpkin patch this afternoon.

 This is the best of the bunch for a group shot.  Fitting, really,  as it seems we are headed in a million directions lately.

a shot from last year at the pumpkin patch...

LJ was loving these little pumpkins, so she of course came home with one!
So excited for a great weekend and hope y'all have one too!

10/20/11

Surprise!

Nana and Papa surprised the big kids by being here for the afternoon and B's football game today...
 The babies love their Papa and love having him read to them so the big kids can do their homework


 Showing off (with Nana's assistance)

 T rallying the troops...love how they are all facing differnt directions

 LJ's sweet companion who made sure all of her toys were within arm's reach

 the huddle

making new friends...

10/19/11

Just want to share

I always knew my addiction to reality TV would pay off.....

This summer while watching one of my favorites, Flipping Out, the salon owner, Chaz Dean, mentioned something about his haircare line of products.

Everyone I've mentioned this to says, "Oh yes, I've seen the infomercial a million times."  Well, as stated previously, I apparently live under a rock because I have yet to see the infomercial.

But, I did go to Chaz's website for line, Wen and ordered.

This stuff is amazing, really!
It took me a little while to get used to it since it's just a creamy-conditioner-like thing and then you just rinse it out...no shampoo and then conditioner.

But I noticed immediately that my hair looked a lot healthier, seemed thicker, etc.

It's about $30 a month which includes the cleanser, deep treatment cream, styling cream, and texture cream...so not really more than any other good product out there.

I think it goes without saying, but I wasn't paid or reimbursed for this post, just wanted to pass on a great find! 

10/17/11

Dear MC,

I love watching you grow and change, but please do me a favor....

never loose these precious legs that so adorably bubble over your Mary Jane's.
I am a little obsessed.
Love,
Momma

10/16/11

A Boy's Weekend

Cousin B came to spend the weekend with Brian and AC went to spend the weekend celebrating Cousin L's birthday. 

These boys are best buddies and so easy!  They climbed trees, dug for worms, rode the zip line, played Donkey Kong and played with the little girls so sweetly....
 B has little ones at his house too, so he thought nothing of lending in a hand in getting MC dressed...such a sweet helper!

This cracks me up...the little girls look so confused as to why the boys are in their exersaucers.

I took them to see Dolphin Tale...I don't usually like going to the movies, in fact I can't even think of the last one I went to see, but this is a really great one!  So many life lessons to take away from it- perserverence, finding a passion, loyalty. 

The girls are doing really well with eating with a spoon, though they usually use both the spoon and their hand so it's nice and messy.

Hope y'all had a great weekend too!

10/14/11

Today

Last night AC, B, and I set out to spread a little Halloween cheer in our neighborhood.


We put lots of candy, halloween stickers, straws, and erasers in pails along with the you've been booed poem and We've Been Booed sign for them to hang on their door so other's will know.  The instructions say you have 2 days to boo someone else in the neighborhood. 
AC and B thought it was so much fun!  It would prooably be better if you went when it was dark since you are supposed to leave the treats and run, but they go to bed at 7:30 so we went when it was still light....they still thought it a blast!
I printed the signs from Tom Kat Studios...they are supposed to be purple and orange, but apparently our ink is low.

MC is loving that she can walk...she laughs and laughs the whole time.  LJ watches and claps...such a sweet sister...but that doesn't mean it's stirring her to try.  MC took a pretty big fall today and busted her lip...poor baby!

Todd went to meet my dad this afternoon to exchange kiddos so the cousins can have a weekend together.  He offered to take the little girl's along with him, so I could take dinner and visit with a friend who just had twins. 
3 whole hours to mysef! 
 Well, things didn't go as planned.
Suffice it to say, the afternoon included breaking into my own house and climbing in a window after locking myself out, and then praying no one called the police because a woman was crawling in the window at the Sparkman's.
All in a day's work, right?

10/13/11

Story Time

I took the liitle girls for story time at the library this week and they loved it!  The librarians do a great puppet show and sing songs.  We will definately be going every week.
As I was sitting there,I was reminded of a story time that went a little differently....

AC and B were newly 2 and we had been going to story time at our library and they really loved it...lots of moving around, a puppet show, singing.

Well, we moved to a new town and so we went to that library's story time.  We, of course, got there right as it was starting.  Each child was to sit criss-cross-applesauce on their piece of rug that was placed in a semi-circle around the librarian while she read a stack of books.  The parents were to sit in chairs behind the children. 
At this point I began to sweat.  I had no clue what criss-cross-applesauce even meant and had to look at the other children before folding AC and B's legs.  They wanted to sit together on a carpet together, but no, we were told that was against the rules.  The only parent's chair was at the very back in the middle, so knowing this was not going to go well, I went and sat down. 
The librarian picked up the first book and began to read. 
At our old library, we started with a song.  So, before I know it my little sweets are singing a very loud rendition of "Hello How Do You Do", while clapping their little hands. 
A few minutes into the book, they both stood up and walked to the front to get a closer look at what was being read. 
AC had recently started saying, "What will happen next?", while shrugging her shoulders and holding her palms up whenever the page of a book was turned.  We thought this was not only adorable, but absolutely brilliant. 
The librarian did not.
She looked at my duo and said, "If you can't stay on your carpet criss-cross-applesauce, you will need to leave."
I knew it was time to go.
So, I walked to the front and picked a very unhappy AC up while she screamed, "No!  I behave! I behave!  NO! I do it myself, Mommy!"  This was her favorite phrase during her second year.
B apparently knew his turn was next and seized the opportunity to escape.  He began running around the circle as fast as he could.  So, with AC in my arms, I began to run around the circle trying to catch him.  I'm pretty sure we looked like we playing a heated game of duck-duck-goose. 
Finally I wrestled them both to the car, got them strapped in, and began crying.  I called T at work and he patiently listened to me sobbing that we were failures as parents and how were they ever going to be able to go to school if they couldn't even sit criss-cross-applesauce on a carpet?  And don't you know, we went home and practiced criss-cross-applesauce for the rest of the morning....I even considered getting some squares of carpet. 
Thank goodness that town had more than 1 library and that I can laugh about this now!

10/12/11

Consequences...

I believe in them.  In parenting, I think they are essential. If you fail to uphold a responsibilty or make a bad choice, you must face the consequences.

When meeting with the big kid's teacher about what to expect in 1st grade, one point that was clearly driven was they would be expected to become more independent....they would be responsible for writing down homework assignments in their homework folder and they would be responsible for loading that folder into their backpack along with their lunch box and snack bag.  I'll be honest, my alarms were going off because I knew this was going to be a challenge for my duo.

And, it has been.  There have been many days that one has forgotten their lunchbox, parts of their uniform, and now one of them has forgotten their homework folder twice.  The first time I gave a warning and made a copy so they would be able to complete the assignment.

The second time happened today and I feel we must go big here to make a statement....If you forget your homework folder, you will get a zero and sit down during recess to complete the work (this is the class rule, not mine).  

The fact is, we are trying to raise these children with the plan that they will leave our home with the skills and morals to do good in the world and in their spiritual life.  At the same time, I have a tendency to want to keep the peace and keep everyone happy, because it's easier that way isn't it?

Easier, in the short term but not in the master plan.

After talking it over with my husband, we feel like this is the only way to drive home the importance of upholding responsibilities.  But it's hard.
 
This child gets very upset when "punished" and doesn't want to disappoint.  Through tears and worries for what the teacher will say, I had to stand my ground. 

I couldn't help but think this issue is probably going to seem very insignificant compared to other challenges we are likely to face in these growing up years, but here's hoping they will be teenagers who can keep up with their homework!   

10/11/11

Look Who's Walking!

Yesterday Mary Connor took her first steps!
She does not like to fall, so she is very cautious- one little wobble and she slowly lowers herself down on her bottom.  She is so funny!
The big kids were so excited they got to see her take her first steps and spent the day trying to get her to walk to them.
Lyla James is not at all interested in walking and who can blame her?  One peep and her brother runs over, picks her up, and takes her to wherever she wants to go.  Really, why exert yourself?

10/9/11

As of Thursday at noon, the big kid's were on Fall Break, so we headed to the mountains for a long weekend.
About 10 minutes into the drive it hit me that I had forgotten baby wipes, so after a quick detour to Kroger, we were on our way.
Our first stop was the Georgia Mountain Fall Festival....
The big kids could not believe this was what a school room looked like...no smartboard or anything...

They were super excited to watch the Swamp Master's demonstration on how to catch and handle an alligator.  At the end of the show he posed the question to the audience, "So, if you were to meet an alligator while driving down the road, what is the first step you would take?"  AC raised her hand and said, "Run over it!"
Watching them hold this tiny gator was a little unsettling, espesially since B, my little animal lover, put his face right up to the gators' saying, "Don't worry little buddy.  I'm not going to hurt you."
We need a pair of these at our house....
it wore the kids out!
Exploring the cabin's grounds with Daddy.  The cabin we rented was great....this pond
and view was the front yard.  It also had a game room complete with ping pong, air hockey and pool.

We knew at least one Sparkman would fall in the pond during our visit and sure enough Brian went in right along with a heavy rock he was trying to toss into the the water....within 20 minutes of us arriving.

Because eating out isn't so easy for us these days, not to mention the expense, we tried to plan ahead and cook in the cabin.  I knew we would be out all day Saturday so I brought along my crock pot to make taco soup for Saturday night's dinner.  The cabin rental company said the kitchen was "fully equipped"...unfortunately that does not include a can opener and even more unfortunately, taco soup involves about 8 cans.  Driving back to civilization wasn't really an option since we had planned activities, so sweet T opened all of the cans by pounding a steak knife with a meat mallett around each of the cans.  Thankfully, no cuts.  On a side note, if you ever have a few minutes Google "how to open a can without a can opener"...intriguing.
Feeling very resourceful, we went apple picking.


We tried so many unusual varieties, including one-the name escapes me- that tastes like strawberry, banana, and apple mixed together.
The baby girls' loved their apples....
In fact, they ate 2 whole apples while we looked around the store!

For lunch we had a picnic in the park and browsed around an art festival being held in the park..

After some face painting, I was thrilled to meet an Atlanta portrait artist.  We have been looking for someone to do the kids' portrait and we finally found her!  Her work is beautiful and I can't wait to get started.
After a quick afternoon nap, the big kids and I set out for a little hiking on the trails surrounding our cabin's property.  I wish I could say I was right there with them prancing down the trail....
but the reality is, I was on the look out for snakes and bears.  Nature girl, I am not.
Oh, how they love to make their Momma a nervous wreck.
This morning we decided to visit a nearby swinging bridge.  After looking at the map, I thought I had a basic understanding of the bridge's location plus, I was counting on there being signs.
  Well, after driving for over a hour, all of us feeling nauseous from the twists and turns, and a very unsettling stop for directions, and a long 3 mile drive down a very bumpy, non-signed road...
we found it!  My understanding was that this was a quick little walk from the road to the bridge. 

I obviously misunderstood and I for some reason decided ballet flats were the best shoe for hiking... my feet felt every rock and tree root for the 20 minute hike.
But, in the end, this view was so worth it!


Thank goodness he is strong!
This spot is a favorite of campers and they were so excited to tell us they had seen a family of black bears about 15 minutes earlier playing in the river...

AC and B were on the watch for them as made the trek back to the mini.

We had the best time.  Isn't it amazing how a quick get-away can leave you feeling so refreshed and thankful?