Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
I finally got my girl's scripture dolls in the mail right after Thanksgiving, and I could not be more pleased. It's too late, obviously, to order for Christmas, but I cannot recommend this store enough. Such detail, such quality, and so precious. I'm hoping these are treasured by my girls for a long time.
Here's the sister dolls, one dark brown, and one light brown, just like my girls. Notice that Presley's light headed doll has curly pigtails...I love the detail!
Each doll has a felt heart shaped pocket on their tummy, and inside is a tag that you personalize. I wondered before getting them how secure this pocket would be, and if this tag would be falling out all the time and hanging loose, making it likely to get detached from the doll. I can tell you it's very sturdy, and tight. The tag will only come out if you take it out.
This is Presley's tag with her scripture on it:
"Blessed is she that has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
I love this verse, and it holds special meaning to me with regards to my Presley. I want both my girls to not only believe *in* God, but to also believe that He's everything He says He is or He's nothing at all.
This is Mattie's tag with her scripture:
"And I pray that you being rooted and established in love may have power, along with all God's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge so that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" Ephesians 3:17-19.
Another favorite of mine, and another thing I pray for both my girls. To know the love of Christ, to really know how huge and awesome His love is for us, and to grasp hold of it and cling to it and stand on it and claim it and live it.
They're all wrapped up and under the tree. After that, they will be going on high shelves to protect their longevity until they can really be appreciated. I could post some scary pictures of how dolls have been mishandled in this house. Hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
1. I am officially done with my job. As bad as I wanted to leave, and as ready as I was to go, I still found myself getting a little choked up at times on my last day. It was a very bittersweet day for me. As much as I had imagined myself skipping away into the sunset with a smile on my face if I ever did leave, that really wasn't the case. I worked there for eight years, and made some very close relationships in that time. You get very close with the people that you work day in and day out with, through good times and bad. I had some very sweet emails and phone-calls that day from people that I hated to say goodbye to, and it all got a little emotional for me. The company I worked for had locations all over the US, so many of the people that were a huge part of my day, I had never even laid eyes on, but they were friends just the same. Some people I will stay very close with, but there are those that I know I won't ever have much contact with anymore. It's hard to say goodbye to all of that. But, all in all, I'm very excited about the change and ready to move on.
2. Little Miss Presley is a force to be reckoned with. The child never slows down, and anyone who has spent any amount of time around her would testify to that. She tears my house apart several times a day, and I find myself so exhausted at the end of the day after I get her in bed. She is MUCH different than Mattie was at that age, and I told my mom today that Presley is the child that I should have had in my 20's and Mattie is the child I should have had in my 30's, not the other way around. I'm too old for this! Not only is she full of energy and into everything, she weighs nearly thirty pounds, so carrying her around wears me out!
3. Mattie is going to be Mary in her class Christmas program and I have never seen her so excited. We have been busy reciting lines, and practicing songs. This child was born for the stage, I think.
4. I think I have accidentally turned Presley into a rocking baby. For the first 12 months of her life, I was able to put her to bed awake, and she'd put herself to sleep. But somewhere around her birthday in October, she got sick and we had several nights of restless sleep where we did lots of rocking in the night, and then it turned into rocking before bed just to get her down, then that went on a week or so, and then here we are two months later, and still rocking every night before bed. She would probably give it up, but it might be me that's hanging on to it. It's such a sweet time, and with a child that goes, goes, goes during the day, it's nice to have some quiet moments. I still lay her down while she's awake most of the time, but first we rock a while and sing a while, drink some milk, and then we call it a night. Sometimes she falls asleep on me, sometimes not. We'll see how long this goes on.
5. I took Mattie to see the new movie "Tangled" the night before Thanksgiving, just she and I. Cute movie! We had a great time of just us, and the movie was a good one for little girls.
6. Our Thanksgiving was great this year! With so much to be thankful for, it would be hard not to enjoy it.
7. We are doing the Elf on the Shelf this year. He showed up the weekend after Thanksgiving. This is a very cute thing to do with your kids if they still believe in Santa. I will admit that he is kinda creepy looking, but Mattie has really loved it! You're supposed to name your elf when he shows up, and Mattie named ours "Coco". Not like the drink, she said...just Coco (like Chanel, I think).
8. I have had the hardest time coming up with what Mattie was going to get for Christmas. Whenever we would ask her, she would say "I will love whatever Santa brings me". Perfect, right? Somewhere around the time our elf showed up, she went from that line of thinking, to suddenly wanting everything she saw. We had a very ugly incident in Walmart last weekend over a Cinderella doll that she not only wanted, she wanted right then! SO, Coco brought a letter to Mattie from Santa this week in an attempt to reign her in a bit. I'll have to post the letter soon, b/c it's pretty cute, and she LOVED it and she seems back on track.
9. That's all I can think of for now, but I hope to post more regularly now that life has slowed down some.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Flash forward to exactly one year ago, and I was back in the same position; nearing the end of my maternity leave with my second baby, and wanting with every fiber in my being not to go back to work. I can't explain why, but my heart broke even more the second time I had to do it. I don't love my children differently, but going back to work after having Presley was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Many, many, many tears I cried, and looking back on it, I was probably depressed for sometime in the months after. Things at my job were not good, I was not being treated well, my maternity leave had been mis-handled in a way that was very unfair to me, and to go back into all of that while at the same time leaving my baby just broke me. Yet, quitting was not an option. We needed my paycheck, and no matter how we turned our budget inside out and upside down, we could not make it work without it.
I began to pray even more earnestly "God, make a way for me to come home". To be honest, when I prayed that prayer, I thought that maybe I could find a part time job, and continue to work some, but be home with my babies too. I looked for part time jobs with morning hours, so that I could work while Mattie was in preschool, and maybe be home in the afternoons. Just anything to have a little more time at home with my babies. But, nothing. I put the word out to everyone I knew that I was looking for a job change, and yet nothing ever panned out for me.
And then back in the early spring of this year, I got my sewing machine out. The one that had been collecting dust for quite sometime. The extent of my sewing to that point had been to make burp cloths, and a few other easy things. I wanted to make a simple dress for Mattie, just to see if I could. And I did. So I bought another pattern and made another dress, and it was so cute! I made her a dress for her birthday party, and got rave reviews on it. Then I got the crazy idea that I would make my girl's Easter dresses this year, and I did. And they were great. I was hooked.
I became addicted to fabric, became obsessed with cute patterns, and my mind was (is) buzzing with tons of ideas.
And then people started asking me if I'd make their little girl something. So I did.
Then I thought "I wonder if I could sell anything on Etsy?".
So, step by step, I got a shop up and going.
And slowly but surely people started finding my shop.
And I made my first sale (thanks, Melissa!). And then my second. And my third. And so forth. And today, just four short months after opening it, my shop hit 100 (quickly followed by 101 and 102) sales. I don't think words can even explain how unbelievable that is to me.
I have worked harder at my little business venture than I ever thought possible, and I have seen the hand of God upon everything I have done. I have sewed and sewed and sewed, and then sewed some more. I have stayed up way too late way too often, used every lunch hour, every nap time, every extra minute to sew, all the while working a full time job. I have become a master of time management and making the most of every spare minute. And I can say it has been worth every minute...I love what I'm doing. There is something so fulfilling about taking a pile of fabric, and turning it into something lovely.
This has been an eventful week for me at work. It started out horribly, as I got news I wasn't expecting about some pretty big changes that were being made that were not going to be good for me. It was definitely a "just when you thought it couldn't get any worse..." situation. So all the sudden, out of nowhere, I was being faced with some tough decisions. Do I stay and continue to take it? Or do I go, with no new job waiting, no job prospects, and not a lot of job opportunities in this wonderful economy? Of course, I prayed. And Matthew and I had a very long and thorough, open and honest discussion. And I prayed some more. And then we talked some more. And then we prayed some more. And then we finally decided that it was time for me to quit. So, Wednesday morning I gave my two week notice, and after Dec. 1, I will no longer be part of Corporate America. I have not been able to wipe the grin off my face all week.
As my sewing business has grown, I have felt for sometime that I was getting close to being able to leave my job, but I have been too scared to make that leap. At one moment I would think "this could actually work", and the next I would be filled with doubt and insecurites. My Etsy business is not "guaranteed" money like my paycheck is. You can't predict how well it will do, and one week may be great, and the next may be a flop. It is a HUGE step of faith for me to step away from a job I've had for eight years and say goodbye to a paycheck that we have depended on. We are counting on God to show up for us.
This fall in my women's bible study, we did the "Faithful, Abundant, True" series. There were two weeks where Priscilla Shirer taught on the following scripture, and although I have loved this verse for sometime - it's one of the ones I held tightly to when I was waiting on Presley - it became fresh to me as I related it to my job situation:
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than all we could ever
ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be all
the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever" Ephesians
God has done more than all I could ever ask or imagine. He has moved mountains, entirely on my behalf. He has taken the impossible and made it possible. He has taken a dusty old sewing machine and made the prayer of my heart a reality. To Him be all the glory forever and ever.
The next few months will be an adventure in budget cutting for us as we attempt to really make this work. We will be losing daycare expenses, which is huge (!), but we'll also be doing things like cancelling gym memberships, downgrading cell plans, cancelling our home phone (since we never use it), and so forth. I would love to hear any money saving tips anyone might have! And I would covet prayers for us as we make this huge transition from two stable incomes to one. And I would encourage you that if you have a mountain in your life that needs moving, cry out to the One who can move it for you.
Monday, November 15, 2010
But one thing I do know is where I'm getting my cards from. I'm in love with Shutterfly's designs this year. One thing I really love about Shutterfly is that they have a "Religious" section, which a lot of other card sites don't. Here are some of my favorites:
I think this one is very classy in black and white:
I love the whimsical look of this one:
This is so modern, I love it:
Shutterfly also has great options for gift ideas. These photo mugs are so great, and I know they've been a hit with my kid's grandparents. And who wouldn't love a photo calendar full of precious pictures.
If you haven't yet, check out Shutterfly....you'll find exactly what you're looking for:
So, I'm all set to do my cards, just as soon as I get that elusive picture!
Friday, November 12, 2010
I don't know the shop owner personally, but she was extemely helpful to me and very accomodating. These will most likely be more of a keepsake type thing for my girls, instead of a doll that gets wagged all over the house, but I'm hoping it's something that's cherished for a long time.
One other thing I wanted to share. I recently came across a blog that has quickly become one of my favorites. You'll see the link over on my sidebar, and I would encourage you to check it out. I hate to decompress something so profound to just a few sentences, but the short version of the long story is that Kristen, the writer, was able to travel to Kenya earlier this year as a Compassion Blogger, and her heart has been forever changed, or "wrecked" as she puts it. God is using her (and her family) to do something amazing in Africa. They are currently working to open a maternity house in Kenya called The Mercy House. You can find some startling statistics on The Mercy House website that expose exactly why a house like this is so desperately needed. I am so struck by how "normal" of a family they are, yet they are taking such an "unnormal", huge leap of faith. They are trusting God so fully and completely to be their providence, and he has been so faithful to do that. One of the ways they are raising funds to open The Mercy House is through an Etsy shop that is run entirely on donated goods. I have donated a dress to the shop, and am hoping it sells for them. One hundred percent of the proceeds from any sale go directly to benefiting the opening of The Mercy House. I donated this dress:
This has been a best seller out of my own shop, I think I have sold around 30 of them in just the couple of weeks that I have had it listed, and I'm hoping it will sell for them. If you've considered buying it, would you consider buying it through this shop:
Or just go check out some of the other things they have listed. Lots of neat things, and you can buy with the knowledge that you are funding a very worthy effort.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
We had the best Halloween this year. I looooove Halloween, and although I know that there is a bit of stigma attached to it, for Christians anyway, my personal feeling, for our family, is that it's harmless fun. We dress up, we indulge in candy, we decorate with pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns, and that's it. I really look forward to it every year, and this year was great!
I reaaaaally wanted my girls to wear matching costumes this year. I wanted them to be ladybugs, or bumble bees, or cats, or anything that matched. But, strangely, I could not get Mattie on board with it. She usually loves matching outfits with her sister, but not for Hallowing. I gave up on the matchy costumes, and we ended up with a Southern Belle and a baby zebra, and I personally don't think they could have looked any cuter.
We had so many people gush and comment on Mattie's costume, but the truth is it came off the Halloween aisle at Wal-mart and was less than $20. She LOVED the costume, although she really had no idea what a "Southern Belle" was, and even had trouble remembering that title when people would ask her what she was going to be for Halloween. She finally resorted to telling people she was going as a "Pretty Lady".
And my little zebra did not want to wear her hat at first. It is all I can do to get her to leave a bow in her hair these days, so I knew the hat was going to be a long shot, but I did not expect this protest:
Zebra Presley...I added the bow to the zebra hair b/c I wanted to distinguish her as a girl zebra...but she still got called a "he" a few times:
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Hilarious kid. Such a sweetheart. Smarter than her Mama already. A heart of gold beats in her chest. Wittier at four than most adults. Such a clown. Thinks she has to pose if a camera is pointed in her direction, and that pink gloves complete any outfit. My beloved firstborn, who I'm absolutely crazy over.
So imagine my dismay last week when her preschool teacher walked her out to my my car as I waited in the pickup line to tell me that Mattie had not had a good day. She went on to describe some pretty bad behavior, that had not only been going on that day, but for sometime leading up to that point. Apparently that day had just been the breaking point in what had been a steady escalation of behavior issues. I was stunned and very caught off guard, but I can't say I was too surprised. We had been seeing and dealing with the same escalation at home for sometime, but I never considered that it would carry over to school. Mattie has always been a teacher pleaser...eager to earn favor and be the "pet", so I was shocked to hear of her disobedience in the classroom.
Among her offenses were things like bossiness, being whiny or falling apart when not getting her way, lots of unnecessary tattle-telling on her friends, but most of all, ignoring her teacher or having to be told three or four times to do something. Blatant disobedience. And like I said, we had been having some of the same issues at home...having to tell her several times to do something, whining when she doesn't get her way, falling apart over the least little thing. A huge departure from the kid we had known up to this point.
After finding this out, Matthew and I talked about it and came up with what we thought were some appropriate punishments for her. We had a very stern talk with her about what was going on, exactly why she was being punished, exactly what was expected of her at home and in the classroom, and what would happen if the bad behavior continued. And honestly, we thought that would be the end of it.
So, imagine my even greater surprise later in the week when I had a message from her preschool teacher to please call her that night. Because not only had Mattie not corrected her behavior, it had gotten worse. If you've never had such a message from your own child's teacher, let me tell you that the anxiety you will feel upon hearing said message will possibly cause you some degree of gastrointestinal upset.
I am not a cryer. I hold it together well, under most circumstances. It takes a lot to get me upset. But this phone conversation left me in tears. The way she described my child to me, the problems she was having with Mattie, the way she described Mattie's friends not even wanting to play with her because she was so awful...the picture she painted of my sweet Mattie left me in a puddle of tears. How? How did the sweet girl I knew get to this point? Where had Matthew and I failed in our parenting to let this happen? Was there any hope in correcting and redirecting her at this point or was this our new "normal"? The most frustrating thing to me is that I KNOW Mattie knows better. I KNOW she's capable of better.
Matthew and I had another very lengthy discussion. We were both so dismayed...I don't think we're under any dilusions about having a perfect child. Clearly we don't. But we were both so shocked and saddened by this. We came up with some even sterner punishments, even worse consequences, and planned to talk to Mattie in the morning since my conversation with her teacher took place after she was already in bed that night. I went into her room that night and cried as I prayed over her. Father, please show me how to shape her.
The next morning I informed Mattie that I had spoken on the phone with her teacher, much to her shock, and that I was very aware of what had gone on at school. We went on to talk about her new punishments and consequences, and when I told her that her teacher now had Mommy's cell phone and would be calling me the moment she got out of line again so I could come to the school and discipline her, she fell apart. She was absolutely broken, and just fell into my arms and wept and wept and wept. It was like something finally clicked with her that this was serious. I gently reminded her that Mommy and Daddy still love her, even when her behavior is not great, that there are ALWAYS second chances with us, and that we KNEW she would do better from now on.
I am so struck by the parallels between this situation and my relationship with my Heavenly Father. How many times has he looked at me in frustration and thought "I KNOW she knows better than this". How many times have my actions disappointed Him? How many times have I fallen short of His expectations for me? And yet there are alway second chances with Him. I try very hard to remember God's grace to me as I parent my little loves, particulary in these tougher situations. And in the same way that we are moving on from this with Mattie and not holding it over her head, the same is true with God...there is no record of wrongs. Only boundless grace, endless mercy, tender love and complete forgiveness. How thankful I am for that.
I am happy to say that we have seen a dramatic turnaround in Mattie's behavior, at home and at school. Her teacher's exact words to me were that she has made a 180 degree turn in her behavior, and that the child we have sent to school the past few days has been a delight. Exactly what we wanted to hear. Something we said or did must have gotten through to her, praise Jesus.
Interestingly, someone told my sister that preemies tend to display these behaviors more because they start out life as little fighters. At five weeks early, she was no micro-preemie, but she did do her share of fighting in her early weeks. Should I be surprised that this girl is now somewhat headstrong? Perhaps not?
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
1. That an entire cabinet in my kitchen is dedicated to nothing but bottles and sippy cups.
2. The smell of Johnson's Baby Lotion.
3. That I can't fit much on the backseat of my car because its full of carseats.
4. That my arms are frequently sore from carrying my 27lb baby around.
5. That I rarely leave my house without a sippy cup.
6. That in my purse, at all times, there are crayons, at least one pacifier, wet wipes, and usually some sort of snack food.
7. That my iPod has music from "The Sound of Music", "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Annie", "The Wizard of Oz", and all the Disney movies on it because they're my girl's favorites.
8. Wiggle hugs and eskimo kisses.
9. That the glider in my baby's room is showing signs of wear because it has been so heavily used.
10. Being called "Mama" by two of my favorite people in the world.
Friday, October 15, 2010
With that said, I decided there were a few details I wanted to to make special, and the rest would kinda fall into place. I decided a few months ago we would do an owl theme, for no other reason than I found a fabric I loved and wanted to use, and it happened to have owls on it. With all the sewing orders I've had stacking up, I knew it was going to be near impossible to squeeze in sewing for my girls, but I decided to just pencil them in on my schedule just like a regular order a few weeks ago, and had it done way before the party. Old Ashley would have waited until the night before. Part of me wanted to applique a big "1" on this outfit, but I decided against it so that she could wear it longer and it not look like just a party outfit.
I was recently asked by one of my favorite pattern makers, Little Lizard King, to test a super cute skirt pattern, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to make Mattie something to wear to the party. She LOVED that she got to match Presley for her big day, and she declared days before the party that ONLY people that had owl outfits on could help open presents....clever girl. No other owl outfits showed up!
I ordered Presley's b-day invites from an Etsy shop I found. She designed them, sent me the file, and I printed them at Wal-Mart. If you've never done this, I hightly recommend it. Very inexpensive way to get cute, custom invites without the high cost or hassle of doing them yourself. I even sent her a pic of my fabric, and she matched the colors to our party. Much easier than the handmade invites I've done in the past, and just as cute, I think.
I did make Presley's party hat, and I did wait until the night before to do it. But, super easy, super quick, and she actually wore it!!
I opted to do cupcakes instead of a cake this time. I did these the morning of the party, and I thought they looked great on the cupcake stand:
These cupcake toppers were another Etsy find. I LOVE them, and again they were very reasonably priced, and she matched them to my fabric and they're personalized with Presley's name. Who doesn't love a cupcake?
Here's the party table. We did the party at a beautiful pavillion at our local arboretum, and the weather could not have been more beautiful and perfect. You can't see it well in this picture, but I printed off all of Presley's monthly pictures, and had them on the table.
When we had Mattie's first birthday, she barely touched her "smash" cake. She's always been a girl who didn't like a mess, but I had a feeling Presley would dive right in, and I was right. She knew just what to do, and smash it she did.
Her smash cake was something I threw together very quickly from my leftover cupcake batter and icing. That is to say, it was very, very basic and kinda pitiful looking, but I figured it was a going to be smashed anyway, so who cares? She ate a pretty good portion of it!
I've said here many times, and it's the truth, what a good big sister Mattie has been. This entire year she has gracefully grown into her role of big sister, and we have seen little, if any, jealousy or acting out. Well, it seems that she must have been bottling all those feelings and saving them up to spill forth at Presley's party. We have had issues with Mattie at other birthday parties when it comes time to open presents...she wants to be right up in the middle, with her hands on everything, and has even been so bold at some parties as to tear into gifts before the birthday girl or boy can get to them. She just can't help herself when it comes to the presents, and Presley's party was no exception. We had agreed with her beforehand that she would be allowed to assist Presley, but she would not take over (even if she was wearing an Owl suit!). And about the third or fourth time I had to tell her to stop it or get back, she fell apart. Meltdown fit. Not pretty, not cute, not fun for anybody. I know it had to do with all the attention Presley was getting, and it was sad to watch. I had her remove herself from the party and go sit on a bench outside of the immediate party area, which only made her cry harder, and this went on for a little while until a grandparent took her for a walk to calm down. She even missed singing "Happy Birthday" to Presley and seeing her eat her smash cake, which made me sad because she would have loved it, but it is what it is.
My little walker:
And that was about it. Matthew and I got Presley a two seater wagon for her gift, and my girls have made me pull them miles and miles in it already. I think this will be my new workout...dragging 70+ lbs of children all over the neighborhood as they lounge comfortably in their wagon seats, eating goldfish and sipping juice while they watch the passing scenery and I huff and puff up hill after hill. Sounds about right.
Happy Birthday, little PK!! You are greatly adored by everyone who knows you, but no one loves you like your mama does ♥
Monday, October 11, 2010
I remeber worrying some about how I was going to handle a 3 year old and a newborn by myself since I was having Presley right in the middle of football season, and Matthew was absent most of the time due to his coaching duties. I was right to worry about that...it was hard. But thanks to lots of family support and help, we made it. And here it is football season again, and we're breezing right on through it...what a difference a year makes.
Presley and Mama, love at first sight
How I lived this long without her, I'll never know.
Presley and Mama, one year later and still in love