Yesterday we drove to Parris Island to watch the Marine graduation ceremony of one of Paul's old friends.

Congratulations Matt! We are really proud of you.


Charleston, SC

My time in Charleston was wonderfully fun, but it's great to be back home.
Judah's comment when we walked in the door was; "You missed me so you wanted to come find me?"
Missed you I did dear Judah!

To see more pictures from Charleston you can click on the above picture to see an entire album on Facebook.


Happy Birthday Judah

Happy Birthday my precious three year old! I am learning that every milestone is a time where I sit and marvel at how fast time goes by. And when I think about how fast time goes by it makes me want to sit and enjoy the right now moments. I have enjoyed you so much as a two year old. Certainly, you tested your limits, tested your strength, tested your vocal chords and tested my patience. But dear child, I have cherished this past year of you learning and growing and while I know I will love you even more as a three year old, I am going to miss you being a two year old.

I have learned much about you this past year, and as I wrote in last years letter, it still fascinates me to watch you.

One of the biggest markers of the year was your transition from diapers to underwear. Our whole world focused on that event for a three week period where, at the end of which, you were both completely accident free and self sufficient to go to the potty and simply beckon when you either wanted company or needed to be wiped.

On the second day of potty training I put you on the toilet at your regular time for emptying your bowels. You told me you would not do it in the toilet, you wanted a diaper on. I told you that you would sit on the toilet until you had done it in the toilet.

Dear boy - know this; If I tell you something, I will see it through to the end. But know this also, I will never insist on something unless I think it is important enough to be seen through to the end.
You have taught me that much this past year.

That day you sat on the toilet for five straight hours. I fed you your lunch and snacks there. I sat by your side. We talked. I read to you. You played with your race cars. You cheerfully sat on that toilet for the entire five hours, at the end of which you pooped and from there on out we had no issues and you never did ask for a diaper again.
The determination and stubbornness that you showed that day revealed a lot about your personality and temperament to me and I am glad to have learned that about you so early on. The fact that you remained cheerful during those five hours also revealed a lot about you.
As you grow older I want you to harness those traits for good.
Stand up for what you believe in.
Remain joyful.
Have a sense of humor.
Be consistent.
Your imagination has soared this year- you have taken me to the moon on a race car, we have worn underwear on our heads in the front yard so the bad guys wouldn't see us, you have shot countless bad guys, sung endless amounts of funny, made up songs and have sat for hours in homemade forts.

Your grasp of the adult world both delights and entertains me. Some of the things that come out of your mouth make me laugh so hard I cry. Other things make me sit back and think a bit more deeply. 
Just last week you were looking at my wedding picture and asked me to tell you what "getting married" was. My answer was simple and I said something about a man making a woman his wife.
You thought for a moment and said; "Mommy, I want to go to the farm."
I asked why and you started to sing "The farmer takes a wife..."

How you came to the conclusion that you get a wife at a farm I am not sure, but I like your think-out-side-the-box mentality.

Judah, as you enter your three's my prayer is that your love for people will deepen, your imagination will soar and that your little heart will be drawn to the Lord.

Love you always,


The Beauty at the End of the Day

 Paul is working in Charleston S.C. for a few days and I am down here with him. My wonderful sister is staying with the boys, for which I am very grateful.

I arrived here just before sunset last evening and went straight to the beach.
We come to this beach a few times each summer.
I have never seen it so empty.
So deserted.
So beautiful.

The way the sun hit the water, the sand and the sea shells was breath taking.
I was the only person there, surrounded by all this beauty.

It was the first sunset I have attempted to capture, so it was extra special to me.

Today, while Paul is working, my plans are to roam the streets of Charleston and attempt to capture some of the charm of the city.

But my mind is still thinking of the beauty of the sunset and the One who made it.
Check out more Tuesday's Unwrapped.



I have been meaning to join in the i heart faces fun each week and when I saw the challenge this week was texture I decided now was as good a time as any to jump in!

I captured this mans picture November '08 when I took out my friends dslr camera on a trial run. This man was fishing and had such a captivating face. I know you're probably suppose to add a texture to the picture, but I am submitting this one as I think it has a lot of natural texture.
Check out more i heart faces submissions!


Carrot Souffle

I never did get a picture of the finished product, but here it is in the blender!

One of the ladies at church made this a couple years ago and I got the recipe from her as it is simply amazing. It is very rich and I only make it for special occasions - in this case it was made for Christmas dinner when my whole family was here visiting. I made the recipe as it is written below and even after 8 adults and 2 kids ate it there were some leftovers.
Here it is as written out by my friend:

3 lbs sliced, cooked carrots (i just use 3 reg size cans)
1 1/2 c. butter
6 lg eggs
1/2 c. AP flour
1 T. b. powder
3 c. sugar (i only use 2 c and sometimes I do 1 c sugar, 1 c. Splenda)
1/4 t. cinnamon
Process carrots in food processor or blender and add remaining ingredients--stopping to smooth down the sides. Spoon into a lightly greased 9x13 dish. Bake at 350 for 1 hr or til set.

***I can't fit all of it in my blender so I put everything except the sugar, then pour the mixture and the sugar in a large bowl and stir it til it is blended. It can get a little messy :(  This is an easy one to divide by 3 if you want a smaller dish.

Check out more from Tasty Tuesday


Free Background Images

I found an adorable site with free backgrounds for your desktop and iphone that just had to be shared - check out Pixelgirl Presents - there are tons of charming images to be seen and you can even submit your own work if you want to.
The above owl is my current background, but if it were September or Christmas time the ones below would be up! I love the shades of gray.



On Green Smoothies and Saving Money

We love Green Smoothies in our house and over the last year and a half have discovered a few secrets to making them a bit more cost efficient. I regularly make these for everyone in the house, but I especially love them for the boys as they happily will drink down glasses of spinach and cucumber and beg for more.

Secret number 1: You can freeze baby spinach leaves. You do not want to buy prefrozen spinach (trust me. It's icky!) but if you purchase the large bag of fresh baby spinach from the produce section you can freeze what you don't use. The leaves freeze individually making it a cinch to scoop up what you need to use each time you make your smoothie. Our local grocery store regularly marks the spinach 50 - 75% off regular price up to FIVE days before it expires. When I see that I pick up a couple to keep in our freezer.

Secret number 2: You can buy cans of coconut milk at Asian grocery stores for a lot less than regular grocery stores. In fact I was told they'd cut me an even better deal if I were to buy an entire case of 24 - so it wouldn't hurt to ask if you could get a better deal at your store too!

Secret number 3: The Dollar Tree carries frozen fruit. I was so surprised when I saw it in their frozen section. I picked up a few bags of peaches, blueberries and strawberries - they are between 12 and 16 ounces each which is cheap for frozen fruit. And there is nothing added to it -it's pure fruit. Having used it for the last 3 weeks I can honestly say it tastes just like more expensive frozen fruit. If you're local Dollar Tree has a frozen section check it out for their frozen fruit!


An Uncles Love

 My brother Spencer has never been fond of kids. In fact when he was young he would put up a stink when kids younger than him would come over to our house. He didn't like drool. He didn't like crying. He didn't like that someone smaller than him could be so much cuter than him
Now that he's an uncle he still says he doesn't like kids.
But he bought the boys Christmas presents in October and called to tell me.
And he gets a goofy grin on his face when he sees the boys.
And when he calls to talk to me he always asks about them.

I think he loves them just about as much as they love him. 

Pictures from Our Backyard

 It has warmed up here and we are practically living outside.
Paul is doing much better, but is still taking it easy as he's not quite back to normal. So we sit on the porch and watch our boys entertain themselves.
The boys are loving exploring and digging. They were given some digger trucks for Christmas and a couple of them have made their way outside.

I have been taking my camera out with us a lot. I play a game with myself where I pick one lens before heading out and then only use that lens for the time we're outside. These pictures were all taken with the Nikon 50mm f.1.8

I love this lens!

It was the first lens I bought (apart from the kit lens) and would highly recommend it!

We've got some poison berries growing in our yard. I really should read up on what to do when your child accidentally eats these as I am pretty sure Wesley will attempt to eat them one day. He's funny like that.

Green mossy stuff growing on a rock.

Some sticks.


Paul's birthday didn't go quite as we'd planned. He got food poisoning - we think from somewhere that he ate on his way home on Friday and it hit him rather hard on Saturday.
The boys had already set the table, made a special birthday sign and were excited about wearing the party hats and singing Happy Birthday.
With Paul upstairs in bed the boys wore the party hats anyway and we ate Paul's birthday dinner without him. He very sweetly came down so the boys could sing to him and watch him open his gifts.
I didn't get any pictures of the birthday celebration since there wasn't much of it going on.

Paul was violently ill for several hours and we ended up going into the Emergency Room about 11pm. The tests results didn't show anything, so Paul was sent home and told to take it easy for the next several days.
He hasn't been sick again, however he is completely wiped out.

We are all exhausted so I will be taking a few days break from here.


Chicken Pot Pie

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Boys Playing

I love how they play. Completely unaware of a world around them.
A kitchen spoon as a sword.
A beat up old trike and a car as their steed.
Their imaginations are growing and I love to see that.


Atlanta - Where to Eat pt 1

As most of you know Paul and I spent a wonderful long weekend in Atlanta just over a week ago. We had a lot of fun on our child free weekend and I thought I would devote a couple of posts to sharing some of things we did, where we ate and where we stayed while in Atlanta, as well as any money saving tips we used while on our vacation. 

One of our favorite things to do is to eat good food. Not high end, expensive food. But good, unique food. Places that have a story. Places that might be a little out of the way. Places that not everyone goes to, but if everyone knew about them everyone would be wanting to go to them.
We love to eat out because we love to recreate the dishes at home for ourselves.
While in Atlanta we discovered some really neat places and if you are ever in the area you must check these places out!!  So as not to be overwhelming with food pictures and details I am only going to post two places we ate at today.

The first place I had read about in a magazine a couple months ago and tucked away the page in case we ever went to Atlanta.

West Egg Cafe was everything we could have wanted - all day breakfast for Paul and other menu options available for me. Paul loves breakfast foods and I don't share his passion - so a place that does all day breakfast and makes fabulous sandwiches is a perfect compromise.

The full menu and prices are listed on their website, but let me share with you what we ordered. Photos compliments of Paul's iphone.

Eggs, biscuit and bacon. It doesn't take much to please that man.

I opted for the Turkey, Bacon, Gouda on Marbled Rye. It comes with soup or salad so I chose soup, which I wasn't crazy about but the sandwich was amazing.
There was marmalade on the bread. It added an amazing taste to the entire sandwich and is something I am going to be trying to replicate at home. The sandwich had, of course, turkey (sweet tea basted), bacon, smoked gouda cheese, onion, marmalade and dijon mustard. It was an incredible sandwich and there are many other unique sandwiches on the menu.

But the best part was this:

A Coca Cola muffin - I had read about these in one or two different magazines and we had to try one. We regretted only buying one. It was delicious. Definitely worth stopping by to pick one up!

This next place has several locations open in 12 different states. It was our first time ever going to California Pizza Kitchen and we were both amazed.

The pizzas are all in the $12 range and we opted to each get one. Paul easily finished his and I came close. If you order a soup or salad on the side one pizza could feed two people. You'd be eating a tad bit healthier, but not saving much more money.

All of the pizzas are unique and we had a really hard time deciding! Paul finally chose the Goat Cheese with Roasted Peppers which, on top of those ingredients, also had grilled eggplant, mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions, parsley, tomato sauce and bacon. To me it was a really heavy, woodsy pizza. I don't know how a pizza can be woodsy, but it was. It was good, but I liked mine much better.

 I chose the Pear and Gorgonzola pizza. It was amazing and is one I shall soon be attempting at home. The pears were caramelized then there was the Gorgonzola, Fontina and Mozzarella cheese, caramelized sweet onions, and hazelnuts. They topped the whole pizza with field greens and Gorgonzola Ranch dressing.

It was simply amazing! Check out California Pizza Kitchen for the full menu and to see if there is a location near you. If you enjoy pizza this is a must try place! I just saw that they carry their pizzas in the frozen section at the grocery store - has anyone tried these and are they any good?

A Castle

"Mommy, I am going to build you a castle. A castle for you and me."
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