Easter and all its trappings

Growing up, Warren and I had a very “Preacher’s Kid” type of Easter.  Some of those Sundays I remember vividly… mostly they run together.

I know that we always had a sunrise service and back in the 80s, this service started BEFORE sunrise so that you could actually WATCH the SUN RISE as you were meeting together.  Parham Hills (the church we grew up in) had this service OUTSIDE unless it was actually raining.  As PKs I remember getting there early (like really early) to help set up the chairs and such.
We dragged the sound system out (once we had one) so that there could be special music… this might be where I fell in love with Sandi Patty’s “Was It A Morning Like This”.  What better way to hear that song than being outside on Easter morning.

Then, we did some sort of breakfast.  Early on, I seem to remember going and picking breakfast up with my mom and bringing it back to church.  We had Opening Exercises (pledge, etc) at 9:50, Sunday School at 10 and church at 11 so there was no reason to go home after Sunrise Service.  Eventually, I think we started having some sort of breakfast at the church on that morning, but it may have just been donuts and coffee.

Parham Hills also had these fabulous wooden cribs that were built as one unit.  I can’t adequately describe them and I don’t have a picture, but they were such sturdy things that I’m sure one of the men in the church built them instead of buying baby cribs.  Once people had gone home after the Sunrise Service (the non-preacher’s family people), Warren and I often slept in the cribs.  I remember having to curl up into a ball to fit in one, but I still napped in them until PHCC relocated the nursery and those cribs were no longer.

Here is what I have NO RECOLLECTION of from my childhood Easters… getting an Easter Basket.

I know that we did… I remember the candy and such, but I have no memory of waking up to find them or coming home from church to find them.
So I called my mom and asked her about this.  Turns out, we got our Easter baskets on Saturday.
Apparently she had an arrangement with the Bunny that since we weren’t home on Easter morning, and he was too busy to bring our baskets to church, he’d just swing them by the day before.  She says the we had “Easter Saturday” and “Resurrection Sunday”.  (Christians still call Easter Sunday Resurrection Sunday).


This year was our 4th Easter with Ella.  The first we just dressed her up pretty and took her to church.
Oh, we DID get a picture with the Easter Bunny that year, too.

Ella’s second Easter, she got a farm set from the Bunny (instead of a basket) and also got all dolled up for church.


Last year, she got her first Easter basket as well as getting dolled up for church.

 But this year, something was nagging at me.  She needed to start to understand the REAL meaning of Easter.  Not that spending time with family isn’t great… or that getting candy and treats in a cute basket isn’t fun… but that isn’t the meaning behind Easter.  I needed to start my own tradition with her that will help teach her that Easter is about Jesus rising from the dead… the other stuff is fun extras and not what is important.


As I sat on the sofa with Jeff on Sunday morning waiting for Ella to wake up to get her baskets I agonized over how I could make this year be the start of putting Jesus first in our Easter and not having Him seem like an after thought.  Suddenly, a God-inspired thought crossed my mind.  We had gotten her the Jesus Storybook Bible not too long ago and she really loves the stories in it – every single one has Jesus in the story, even those from the Old Testament.  So, when I heard her waking up, I jumped up and ran to her room, pulled the book off her shelf and we read the story about Jesus rising and the tomb being empty.

She even let me take the picture of her holding the book open to the picture of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Thank you GOD for giving me this thought.  We WILL read the story of the resurrection on Easter morning before leaving the bedroom… this WILL be our new family tradition so that we’re sure that JESUS comes FIRST.

Now, girl did get her baskets… one from her Great-Aunt Carla and one from the Bunny-dude (on whose lap she will not sit)…

Most of Bunny-basket is spread out; package in middle from her Granny Mac (a book) and basket from Carla on bottom right with lots of candy in it.  Glad that bunny didn’t include any candy in the one he gave her!!!
And then, we set off for church… 
This year was different.  We weren’t at the church I grew up at where all the kids would get together for group pictures on Easter…
Back row: Jeff Crenshaw, Pam Walls Strong, Lisa Walls Harford, and (little) David Felts
Front row: Robert Mason, Billi Jo Walls Byers, Arressa Mason Hudson, John Felts, and ME

And we weren’t at the church where Ella was born… where the people have been more like family and not just “church friends”…

Thad, Charlotte, & Troy Rich with Ella – 2010

 This year, we were at our “new” church.  We’ve been attending Fairmount Christian Church since January 1, 2012.  It has been quite a change.  Ella’s class has 10-15 kids in it on Sunday morning and she’s in a little choir for kids ages 3-early 4.  Jeff and I have found a Sunday Night small group that we really enjoy.  It is strange to walk into church each week and not know most of the people… but we’re really liking it there.
We even took a picture in front of the living cross on Easter morning – a tradition for families at FCC.

Change is hard… and God knows that.  Jesus went through changes – from Heavenly to Human… from perfect to sin-filled (our sin… not His).  But change brings growth and I believe that this Easter, I grew more as a Christian than I have in years past.  This year, I was able to focus on Christ and the message brought by Rick.  In the past couple of years, I’ve been so “busy” at church that my focus had shifted.

I pray that God will continue molding me through the changes life brings.
I pray that the tradition started this year, reading the Resurrection Story on Resurrection Sunday, will be one that I will not only make last, but that it will be passed on to Ella.

Granted, I am not passing on the exact same traditions that my parents created with us.  After all, I couldn’t remember when or where we got our Bunny Baskets.   

But isn’t that in itself a testimony to my parents keeping the focus where it should have been on Resurrection Sunday?
Where was YOUR focus this past Sunday?  
Where is your focus this coming Sunday?
If you don’t have a place to worship, I invite you to come to Fairmount and worship with us.  
The church is located immediately off I-295 on Creighton Road.  
Here is the physical address:  6502 Creighton Road  Mechanicsville, VA 23111
The sermons are real and the people are wonderful.
I just pray that when Ella is 34, she remembers more about Jesus than about the bunny…

In case you missed it on facebook…

We are indeed having a boy…
This is bringing about some mixed emotions.
Don’t get me wrong – I stand firmly in the camp of “any baby is a blessing”.
I was just SO SURE I was pregnant with a girl.
Funny the way things work… the first time I was pregnant all I wanted was a boy.
When they said “It’s a Girl”, I was in shock and made them check again.
(We have two picture’s of The Speck’s man-parts because I reacted similarly this time)
Ella is thrilled…
She told me this afternoon (we’ll nearly squealed at me) that she was SO EXCITED to help me out with her baby brother.  This is much better than how I reacted when asked if I wanted my mom to have a boy or girl.  I was nearly 4 (or barely 4) and replied that if my mom had a boy, I would “throw him out into the street on his head and let a big-rig truck run over him.”  I’m pretty sure that is a direct quote.
She had a boy:
I like him much better than I thought I would…
though the years he was in middle and high school I’m pretty sure I didn’t like him much.
I adore him now…
Some of my sadness is that we came up with an adorable girl’s name that we love (not going to share that publicly).  It was a nod to two females that have had/still have great meaning in our lives.
Anyway, to keep myself positive about adjusting to the opposite sex, I’m telling myself that Ella and The Speck will now be so incredibly special just the way I was to my granddad.
You see, my aunt had two boys herself and then my mom had me.
Then, my aunt married my uncle and became the mama of FOUR BOYS.
Then, my mom had Warren.
My granddad (who we called Dad, but that seems to confuse people) would always pull me aside, telling me he had a secret that I couldn’t tell anyone else.  Then, he’d tell me that I was his FAVORITE granddaughter.
I’d laugh and remind him that I was his ONLY granddaughter… but it never cheapened how much I meant to him.
Rocking Ella the other night, I realized that if this baby ended up being a boy, then she would be and would remain my favorite daughter… and that The Speck would be my favorite son.
If this baby was a girl, that distinction wouldn’t be allowed or maybe even possible.
So I’m thanking Heaven for little boys… with all their snips and snails and puppy dog tails
(J.J. did guess that I was having a puppy…)
So, you must be wondering, “if they dyed an egg blue… did they dye an egg pink just in case?”
We did!
Actually, we dyed three egg pink (It’s – A – Girl) and three eggs blue (It’s – A – Boy),
but Maggie was left unattended in the house (while the blue “Boy” egg was getting dyed) and managed to snag the blue “It’s” and blue “A” and eat them both (including most of the shell… 
her gas was already bad – now, you can just imagine).
So, the green eggs got dyed late last night.
We have had three pink eggs.
I had an egg salad sandwich for lunch today…
I’ll eat the third one another day…

Let’s Try This Again

I long to be a good blogger.  I want to sit here everyday and open a window (not a door, though) into my mind and my life and share it with others.

Why don’t I?  Because it takes time and dedication.  Most days, those things are cherished gifts.

Most afternoons (Mon-Fri) you will find me sitting here at my desk and on a computer, but I spend a lot of that time working on church related stuff.  I love being the AV/Techie person at church, but after working on that, updating my facebook, and then reading the blogs of all the other “good bloggers” that I follow I find that I haven’t taken time to update my own blog.  Awful of me…right?

Oh well… I’ve decided to re-dedicate myself to my blog even if that means I play Mahjong Titans a bit less (seriously, I can veg on that for a good long while).

This week has been an interesting one…
Sunday was a beautiful day… it started off early with me playing a VBS recruiting video in our first service, then whisking the computer off to praise team practice.  Sunday School followed that…
Then the 11:00 service.  We were singing one of my favorite songs this week called Distracted.  This is a song that I, myself, brought to our group.  Of course, I brought it on the day that a friend was subbing for our regular guitarist (who is a LEGEND in the Richmond Area: Danny Hughes).  My friend KNOWS Distracted – as in plays and sings it without music and without hesitation.  I am not that comfortable with the song and neither is the group.  Well…our discomfort showed when we false-stared it TWICE…during the service…with visitors in the audience.  So embarrassing!!!

Sunday night The Bean got sick after showing no evidence of it coming.  That led to a sleepless night for me.  She didn’t get sick again, but I jumped up to check on her with every noise she made.  Fun.
Monday brought more sickness (of the opposite end) from El, but only for four hours.

Tuesday was a nice day.  We got together with some friends after Ella had been “sick-free” for more than 24 hours.  They were willing to take the risk of exposure and (thankfully) no one in their clan got sick.

Wednesday we chilled at home and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned.  We even washed the dog.  She was NOT happy…
But I was happy and the house smelled better so that is what counted.  On a side note- Maggie turned 11 years old on Monday!!!  She was my first “baby”.
Wednesday night I went to church to facilitate a Bible Study (loving leading…a new experience for me!  Will have to write about that tomorrow, maybe.)  While enjoying conversation in our small group about the book of Revelation, I got a text from Jeff that El’s dinner didn’t stay down.  Huh?
Anyway – still no fever or any other sign of illness and this time no “other” sick stuff.  I did sleep better last night.
Today brought running errands this morning and then heading to church to run the bulletin.  One of those errands was picking up toner for the big printer/copier at church only to find out once there that we didn’t need toner…we needed a new imaging unit.  So, we’ll be back at church tomorrow to print the bulletin and such.  Not like we could meet friends to play – not sure what is up with The Bean and whatever the “illness” is.
Even with all that – I still Love My Life that I’m living.  (hence the new blog title)
We Love OUR Life because the life I blog about isn’t just mine.  First, it is God’s and He is just letting me live it.  I’m going to start doing my best just for that reason.  Second, since Ella gets mentioned a lot I figure it is her life too.
I’m toying with paying the $10 to make my blog have its own site instead of having the .blogspot part.  Trying to come up with a good permanent name (that isn’t evieloucronin).
So there you have it… it is Thursday afternoon and I just realized I never ate lunch.  Why do I do that?  So busy feeding The Bean I forget to feed myself…
Oh – just because the pics are too cute not to share.  We had BEAUTIFUL weather in Richmond on Friday.  It beckoned us to Maymont to see the animals and enjoy the sun.  We met Amy & Jackson and Melissa, Skyler, & Emerson there.  Here are some pics:
Ella & Skyler watching the fox

Skyler, Jackson, & Ella in the eagle’s nest

Ella stealing love from Amy during lunch
Okay…here’s to me being a better blogger!

Happy Birthday, Ella Louise!

My baby is two today…
I’m not sad…just in disbelief that it has really been two years since:
Two years ago I discovered love as I never knew it existed.
Ella Louise Cronin!
We had her party this morning.  It had a ladybug theme & the whole place was red & black.  Even the tables got decorated as ladybugs.
Two Years ago there was no cake…this year, I baked & decorated a cake:

And since we had another cake left over after we altered the design, we decorated a 2nd cake: 
 Each cake part/layer had a different flavor.  The “Ella Louise is 2” was French Vanilla Cake, the head and top of the ladybug were Chocolate cake and the bottom of the ladybug was Fudge/Vanilla swirl.
It was a lot of fun filled with family & friends.
We are blessed:
Ella, today as you turn two here are some things you need to know:
You love to play.
You LOVE to sing and dance.
You like ladybugs, but this was your bday theme because your mom found that costume cheap and decided it would be great for your party.
You almost know who Cinderella is.  (This is very important.)
 You like to kiss your friends goodbye – this causes a great stir.
You like to sing the ABCs and make me sing it faster & faster.
You love “Where O Where is the Red Stop Sign” and insist I sing it over and over as we ride in the car.  You’ve gotten good at pointing out stop signs, too.
You love to run and laugh when you fall down (most of the time).
You are learning your right from your left.
You love all our pets and never hold Monkey’s crabbiness against him.
Your playmates are Jackson West, John Kottmeier, Becca Hatcher, Juan Esteban, Nate Brown, Hannah Shelton, and Taylor Boothe.
Of those playmates, we call Jackson your “boyfriend”
You adore Katie Quinn, Charlotte Rich, & Caity Brightwell and never mind that I leave you with them.  You just say, “Bye Mommy” and never cry.
You also adore your “Aunt” B.Jo – who loves you just as much.
Your Pop dotes on you like there is no tomorrow.
Your Mac thinks the sun rises and sets on you.
Your Papa becomes a teddy bear of a man like we’ve never seen.
Your Nana loves to find the cutest things for you
 (like the ladybug socks you’ve worn this week.)
Your Daddy thinks all day about coming home and playing with you.
Your Mommy can’t imagine a better life than being your mommy.
Your aunts & uncles adore you.
Uncle Warren & Aunt Ray-Ray can’t wait to live close enough to be at your parties every year and to visit you often.
You are blessed to have three great-grandmothers living: your G.G. (mommy’s grandmother), your Nanny (daddy’s grandmother), and Grandma Cox (daddy’s other grandmother).
You also have a couple of Aunts who would treat you like their own grandchild instead of as a Niece – Aunt Margaret & Aunt Carla.
And you have a great-great-aunt who never misses anything you do – your E.E.
You are one incredibly LOVED child.
Happy Birthday, Ellabean!!!
Mommy loves you.


Okay, so I’m over my bellyaching and have wrapped up my pity party.  I’ve put on my big girl panties and I’m dealing with the world.

TODAY IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY!!!  I am currently sitting at the computer next to a wide open window.

Ella and I started the day differently than most…I had to wake her up!  We had things to do and people to see, so she needed to get on out of bed.  I should’ve woken her up 15 minutes earlier than I did because we ran a solid 15 mintues late all morning.

First, we headed to the gym.  If you’re not on facebook (or you aren’t one of my facebook “friends”) then you missed my new lease on life…my list of positive changes!  We have been members of the YMCA for over a year now and I’m going to get accomplished what I set out to a full year ago.  Sure, I went strong at first, but then I met these great moms and started having lots and lots of playdates.  I’m going to apologize to those moms now because playdates are going to be less frequent or we’re just going to be late a lot since I’m determined to hit the gym at least three times during the week.  Yep – I’m going to get there by 8 a.m. (goal), drop Ella off with those lovely ladies in childwatch, and head to the ActivTrax machine to get my designed workout.  Which reminds me…I need to do the ab work I didn’t get to this morning…
So far this week I’ve done three FULL BODY workouts – 20-30 minutes of cardio, weights, and ab work.  After that I’m disgusting so I also take advantage of those non-water-saver showers in the locker room and get dandied up before we head elsewhere for the morning.  Ella is in childwatch for a full hour and a half to close to two hours and she LOVES IT!!!  Those ladies take great care of her and she has lots to do and lots of friends to play with.

Today after our (shortened) workout, we headed to the church to get my church work done.  I started singing U2’s Beautiful Day (since it wasn’t on the radio) at the top of my lungs with my windows down.  Ella found this quite amusing as did anyone we passed as we slowly exited the parking lot.  It just really is a beautiful day!

Over the past couple of days I’ve had at least two friends (on facebook) post about being positive in the day.  “Waking up on this side of the grass” means that I’m alive and I owe God my happy thankfulness no matter what else is going on.  I’m determined to make that my mantra.

Here are a few more things that I’m looking forward to happening in the next four days:
Tonight – my friend Angie’s baby shower.  I get to celebrate another tiny God-creation.  And I just found out my friend, Angela, is pregnant and she’ll be at the shower tonight so I get to hug her and just love on another momma-to-be.
Tomorrow – a Mom’s Morning Out bike ride with some Richmond Mommies.  This was so much fun two weeks ago that I want to do it every week.  It is a good workout with some new friends followed by excellent coffee at Starbucks.
Sunday – Ella is MOVING UP TO TODDLERS at church.  Yes, a bit early, but she’s so much older than the other babies in the nursery and her development is on par with one of the kids who is older than she is.  I’m a little sad that she’s not a “baby” any more, but so excited that she’s going to get to learn Bible lessons and make Bible crafts.  I have her little backpack ready to go with diapers, a sippy cup, and her little Bible.
Monday – BACK TO BIBLE STUDY!!!!!!!!!!!  We’re going to study Beth Moore’s Revelation Here and Now, Then and There.  SO EXCITED!!!  It is really a blessing to spend two hours each Monday morning with a bunch of ladies of all ages talking about God and praying together.

Before I leave you, I ask that you remember tomorrow the very unexpected sacrifice made by many Americans 9 years ago.  I will never forget where I was when the terrorist attack happened.  I also ask that you remember that not every Muslim is extreme.  Just like not every Christian feels the need to blow up an abortion clinic. 
I also want to ask everyone to continue praying for our troops overseas.  Today, many news outlets are saying that President Obama has concluded U.S. combat operations in Iraq.  My cousin, Hailey, is currently serving in Baghdad, Iraq and she says that this is not 100% the truth.  She is afraid that Americans will take their eyes off of Iraq not realizing that the troops there are still in grave danger.  They still carry their guns as they go about business.  They are still attacked.  There are still bombs.  Please pray for our troops – whether or not you agree with the war or if you did or did not vote for the current or past president. 
I’ll get down off my soapbox now.  Hailey, I love you and I’m praying for you always.

And two months fly by…

I know…I know…  I resolved at the turn of the year to blog once a week.  I also admitted that I’m not a great blogger.  I want to be!  I really do!  But I have so much competition that it is hard to do.  “What competition?”, you may ask…

I’ve recently fallen in love (read: become obsessed) with reading other mom’s blogs.  These blogs are by women PAID to blog!  They have advertisers and business cards and the like.  I’ve just happened upon them through references by other moms.  For one, there is the ever-amazing Kelle Hampton.  Her blog alone makes me question who the heck I am thinking I can write enough inspirational and/or funny mom material to encourage people to read my blog!  Lately, I’ve found a few others.  One is Stark. Raving. Mad. Mommy.  HYSTERICAL!  Her letter to Dora the Explorer made me nearly pee my pants on a bus full of teens.  I was laughing so loudly that I ended up having to read it out loud to those sitting nearby so that that were able to appreciate my laughter.  There are others, but they are bookmarked at home and not on this laptop.

Today, I just feel like writing so I am.  I usually don’t write because I’m not sure if what I have to say in interesting or worth the time others would spend reading it.  Today, I don’t care if this is interesting or worth your time…I just feel like sharing.

Last night was one of those priceless nights in life.  I was exhausted…I still have not recovered from the sleep deprivation that comes from Music & Drama week and Ella took very short or non-existent naps this past week, so there wasn’t much down time to help in recovery.  Anyway, I was exhausted and therefore a bit impatient and not nearly jovial enough to chase Ella up and down a hallway 100 times.  However, I was in a simple trailer on the Currituck Sound for dinner with my grandmother and her friends.  Let me further explain – at dinner last night were my grandmother, my great-aunt, my aunt, my mom, me and my daughter (as well as three other very good friends of those listed above).  How often in life do you get to have four generations of females all from one family sitting at dinner together?  How often do you get to watch your not-quite-ninety-year-old grandmother hug and kiss on her not-quite-two-year-old great-granddaughter?  Granny (now called G.G. since she is Ella’s G.reat G.randmother) will be 90 in October and very shortly after, Ella will be 2.  Beautiful.  Mom and I fall in between them.  My great-aunt Evelyn (where my name comes from and now referred to as E.E.) crawls along the floor, runs through the house, and plays all sorts of games with Ella.  It is amazing to watch this spry 86 year old play with a child with such ease.  She has more energy than I do!

Then last night, I sat on the bed with my mom and aunt just talking.  I love these times.  They can’t be duplicated or recreated.  They just are.  We talked about raising children – they’ve raise six between them (not counting grandkids who lived with Carla at times) and I’m raising my first.  Their words of wisdom are appreciated and welcome (even if I’ve heard them before and I’m sure I’ll hear them again).   This morning, the four of us went to Dunkin Donuts for coffee & breakfast before Aunt Carla headed home.  It was nice and something I want to do over and over again with Ella.

And it isn’t just about MY family.  I LOVE the women in Jeff’s family.  I want to spend time with them – just the girls – as Ella grows older.  I want her to have a strong sense of the women who travelled this earth before her, preparing it for her.  I also want her to know the men in our families, but today I am very focused on the women.  Why?  Because I am one and one day she will be one too.  Her last name will change to something not nearly as wonderful as Cronin just as I left behind McCrickard.  I never had the name Stewart or Edwards (my mother and grand-mother’s maiden names), but I wear them with pride.  From my dad’s side, I have the Maxey nose….from my grandmother.  I also have a touch of her temper, but I try to keep that in check. 

I want Ella to know her family.  Deeply.  I want her to know their stories and it scares me that she may not ever have the same long conversations that I have had with my Granny.  Of course, she’ll have her own long talks with HER Granny Mac. 

I didn’t want a girl.  I wanted a boy.  So badly that when they told us at the ultrasound that it was a girl I had them recheck it.  NOW, I only want my girl.  If we were to have another…I want another girl!  I LONG to be the mommy of two girls.  I almost feel crazy saying that…but then I think about last night.  Yes, it would’ve been just as wonderful with a toddling boy running about…I’m sure.  And I don’t want to get slammed by all you moms of boys – I love you!  God knows it!  My mother in law had three boys and I swear she’s an angel in disguise for doing it!
But last night was MAGICAL!  Four generations of WOMEN from ONE FAMILY line….

Thank you, God, for my family.  Thank you, God, for my Bean.

Summer 2010

No, “SUMMER” has not actually started in Richmond, VA…but for us it is HERE!
First of all, after WEEKS of hitting yard sale after yard sale, my mom convinced me to post on Richmond Mommies that I was in search of a toddler slide for Ella.  I had to be convinced because I had already seen about 5 exchange custody on the Buy/Sell/Trade/Free forum so I was pretty sure my late to the game request wouldn’t get a response.  Well it did – within 30 minutes!  I snagged a great little slide with a good size platform (my major requirement) for $10!  Yes TEN DOLLARS!  So cool!  And Ella LOVES it!
She slid and slid and slid – all day only heading inside when DRAGGED for lunch, naptime, and dinner.
Since it has been rainy here, we also ended up quite dirty that day…

I’ve discovered that dirty knees = FUN!
Not only that, but at one of those above mentioned many yard sales, I snapped up a bike seat for Ella for a mere $15! It was meant for my Canondale, but won’t go on it.  Jeff is now even more convinced that we paid far too much money for my bike (which I’ve barely gotten to ride since I have Ella and no bike seat to take her along with me).  However – when I was sick yesterday he discovered that it does fit HIS bike.
So Ella went on her first bike ride with her daddy…and is now addicted.  So is Jeff.  He’s hoping to get off work ontime tonight so there is enough daylight to take his girl out for a ride after dinner.  Maybe (since I’m feeling much better) I’ll get on my pretty bike and ride along.  Now that sounds fun!
After reading my FAVORITE blog by Kelle Hampton, I’m formulating a “to-do” list for this summer:
1. Visit my brother in Los Angeles (he’s been out there 6 years and I’ve yet to go)
2. Go to the San Deigo Zoo when in California (I’ve always wanted to go)
3. Get that green bike to fit me, too, so Ella and I can go for rides during the day.
4. Get a personal trainer at the gym and 
5. LOSE MY BABY WEIGHT (I’ve lost 0 lbs in 18 months)
6. Spend a week at Nags Head in my mom’s trailer – just us gals
7. Bake more – why do I buy store-made cookies?
8. Plan a girl’s night to go CLUBBING (thanks, Kelle!) – oh I used to love to dance!
9. Start my own bookclub (will check that off in June)
I’m sure there are more goals I have that I’m not thinking of, so more may be added later.  That last one is a kicker.  I saw the cutest green bikini last night at the mall (walking around after I felt better) and was dying to be small enough to be in a bikini again…I will be!  I will be!
So…COME ON SUMMER!  I’m ready for you!

All about Ella

So, I’ve been letting Ella cry it out (CIO) for naps lately…
Some people find this to be cruel.  I can see why.  I wasn’t sure if it was something I could/would do.  I wasn’t sure it was something I even wanted to try.  Then bedtimes became unbearable.  It could take hours to get her to go to sleep.  She was mad…I was exhausted…  It wasn’t pretty.  She started “sleeping through the night” at 10 weeks.  To me, that meant I got more than 5 hours of solid sleep.  Then, the trouble started at around 8 months.  She just wouldn’t go down.  I’d end up holding her while I watched t.v. until she finally fell sound asleep.  I wanted more than anything to be able to lay her down (drowsy, but not asleep) and have her drift off into sleepy land.  At 10 months, I finally bit the bullet and decided we’d try the CIO method.  It took three nights.  That’s all.  The first night: 45 minutes of crying.  Night 2: 20 minutes.  Night 3: 5 minutes.  Night 4: nothing.  We’ve been pretty good since then.  Other than a few instances of getting thrown off…
Naps have been another story.  She rarely has napped longer than 30-45 minutes.  I did post a while back during a TWO HOUR NAP.  It was crazy – and hasn’t happened again.  So, last week I decided to let her CIO.  So far, she’s still only taken 30 minute naps.  Today, she’s been quiet for 15 minutes.  I decided to post quickly just in case the jig was up at 4:30.  And yes, I already am aware that some children just don’t need those long, solid naps.  I just still hopeful that Ella isn’t one of those.
Other than this one hiccup, she is amazingly cool.  She has figured out just what that baseboard heater is for:

Amazingly, it hasn’t fallen off the wall (yet).
We have made some good friends (who I’ve posted about before).  For my birthday, Jeff gave me my one requested gift…a family membership to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.  We’ve been twice (and will get there again one day this week).  Last week, we went with a few other mom’s including my friend, Amy, and her son, Jackson.  Jackson and Ella take good pictures together.  Here, I believe they are conspiring to be chefs one day:
And just because I think she is so cute, I had to include an upclose shot of my pretty-in-pink princess.  Just don’t fail to notice the grass/mud stains on the jeans.  They won’t come completely clean, so these are now play jeans.  She may be a princess, but she can totally keep up with the boys.  (That’s MY girl)  The adorable bass guitar shirt was purchased by my dad (Pop) since Jeff plays the bass.  So cute:
I will admit that I CAN remember what life was like pre-Ella.  It was a good life.  Going out for dinner and to concerts whenever we felt like it.  Never needing a babysitter (except for overnight things – and then it was a petsitter).  I remember going out with friends for the entire day.  Deciding to go out to dinner on the spur of the moment and grabbing nothing but keys and money.
Ella was a huge surprise.  A historic surprise.  It altered the entire universe for me. 
SHE altered the entire universe for me. 
NOW?  I’d alter the entire universe for her. 
I have big hopes and dreams for her.  Will she fulfill them?  Maybe…
All I know is that she is amazingly cool and that parenthood is definitely the best experience.  Parenting with Jeff is fun.  He is a really, really cool dad and I love to watch them together.
Will we go for #2?  Who knows….maybe…someday…
For now, we’re just ALL ABOUT ELLA.


I’ve been thinking a lot about “perfection” this week.  First, there is this entry on my sister-in-law’s blog.  I have been deep in prayer for her over this since she posted.  I have so little to offer her.  As my good friend Amy said (while we were out on my birthday), I had the “perfect” pregnancy and no room to every complain to anyone about it.  I agreed with her whole-heartedly.  The comment to me came after another mom-friend said, “I just never can understand those women who say ‘I loved being pregnant’.”  I was THAT mom.  I loved being pregnant.  I never had morning sickness (well, twice, but I call that never).  I didn’t swell to odd proportions.  I didn’t bloat in my face to the point you couldn’t recognize me.  And I didn’t have a rash covering my body (all my love to Amy & Katie K here) and making me miserable.
The conversation that night continued on about labor & delivery.  Whit was hopitalized two weeks before she delivered and knew everyone in the maternity ward when her time came then ended up having a c-section.  Katie told me stories that blew my mind.
Now, I had a not-so-short delivery.  They induced me (broke my water/gave me pitocin) around 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday night and Ella didn’t make her appearance until after 7 a.m. the next morning.  HOWEVER, I was also comparing birth stories to my mom, aunt, and grandmother whose longest labor (i.e. from “I think it is time” to “Baby’s here!”) was around 6 hours.  I was hoping that was genetic, but it was not.  Of course, I was induced and none of them were…inductions always seem to take FOREVER.  There was only one major problem during my delivery – Ella’s cord was wrapped around her neck.  This wasn’t known until she made her entrance and instead of being placed on my chest, the doctor quickly unwrapped the cord (as horror appeared on my mom’s face) and handed her off to the nurses to be checked over.  She passed her Apgar with FLYING colors.
I had the “perfect” pregnancy and the “perfect” delivery.  And now, I have a PERFECT child.
I am lost in reflection on this after being pointed to a blog by a women who delivered a Downs Syndrome baby girl in January.  I posted the link to her daugher’s birth story on facebook yesterday.  I have since taken time to continue reading through her blog.  I’ve only gotten through January’s posts and haven’t started Februarys yet.  I read and I feel a bond with her.  I know – not normal, as we have little in common.  We each have at least one daugher.  That’s it.  Here is where my emotional tug is…
Before I was pregnant with Ella I attended the funeral of a child.  I had been friends with his dad and dad’s extended family from years ago.  This child was a precious, special child.  I didn’t know him.  I only went to show support for his dad and that extended family.  I sat there like stone listening to what people had to say about this precious child of God.  I believe he was autistic.  But that isn’t what people talked about.  They talked about how special he was to the world of people around him.  How he laughed.  How he smiled.  How he made you feel special.  I carried that day with me.  I had worked in special education as a substitute teacher in our county.  I was one of the few who willingly signed up to sub in special education classes.  I loved it.  I loved working with kids who needed that extra attention.  I wonder all the time what has happened to the class of kids at one Elementary that I can to work with every week and loved dearly.  I was allowed special permissions to know their stories because I was working with them so closely and so often.  Have you ever heard of chiari malformation?  I hadn’t.  It is amazing.  Can you imagine have a child that never sleeps?  That is one unique strain of chiari malformation.  One of the girls in that class had it.  She had no body fat.  She was restless.  Her mother slept while she was at school.  It was their only way to cope.
Two of the kids had severe emotional disorders.  I watched one throw a computer through a window.  The other and I became good friends.  When he got mad, he threw desks.  When he got mad, if you sat in a chair right in front of him and put your face within a foot of his and started counting backwards from 100, he’d calm down.  I loved learning that.
Two of the children were downs syndrome.  Oh, how I loved them.  The sweetest beings alive – full of hugs and loved playing hide-and-go-seek.  Oh, how I loved those children. 
Why does this consistently weigh on me?  Why do I always, ALWAYS think about it?  I have no idea.  I can tell you that one day during my pregnancy, I became acutely aware that something was going to be wrong with Ella.  I just knew it.  I never told Jeff.  I still haven’t told him.  (Hi honey)  I knew…I just knew.
But there is nothing wrong with my child.  She is SMART.  She is BEAUTIFUL.  She is IMPORTANT.  (Sorry- I read The Help recently).  She can say “two” after I say “one”.  Of course, all numbers are “2” and all letters are “E”.  She can recognize her name when it is written down.  She can repeat “E” “L” “L” “A” when prompted.  There is nothing wrong with my child.
People have been asking me lately when we’re going to have #2.  Today – it could be tomorrow (well, after April).  Yesterday – I only wanted Ella.  We may get there…
People have also been asking me what I’m going to do for work once I return to work (do I ever have to?).  I think, perhaps, that God hasn’t been speaking to me about MY child, but instead about others’ children.  I think I might go into special education by choice.  I’m not so sure I want to teach in a regular school.  I think I’d like to work with specific children.  I’m not going to make up my mind yet.  But I had to get it off my chest.
To my sister-in-law, Kristen – you are a wonderful mother.  Your son adores you.  Your son is perfect.  Your delivery was not.  Please don’t let it define your motherhood.  Motherhood is so much more than that.  THAT is what I wanted to say.  It just took me a week and this blog to find the words I wanted to say.
To you- my friend & reader…I leave you with two pictures of my PERFECT CHILD:
 Here she is conducting her own business meeting in our living room:
And here she is getting ready to run the rounds with my parent’s cat Cricket:
And now my angel is crying to me from her crib.  She took a near two-hour nap there today.  See – perfection.  Gotta go!

What a great weekend…and it is only Saturday night!

Just had to post that I am having a fantastic weekend.

First – I got to spend a lot of time yesterday with my friend, Bobbi Jo.  We have a good time when we’re together and I always laugh a lot around her.
Then – last night was Christie’s Panty Party.  It was less about embarassing her with lingerie for she & Andrew (though we certainly did and with lots of laughs) and more about getting to celebrate my really, really close friend before she gets married.  This is such a special time and I’m so excited for her.  I wanted to make her feel special last night and I think we accomplished that.  Thanks to our friends who came out to shower Christie with laughter & lingerie.

Overnight was not pretty since Ella isn’t sleeping well and she & I were up battling it out between 11:30 pm and 2:30 this morning.

BUT – I woke up at 7:30 this morning next to my beautiful baby girl.  Then – I got to get ready and head out to breakfast with my friend, Melissa – who I feel like I never get to see and we used to go out at least once every weekend when she & Jay first moved here.  It was so wonderful to just sit with her and chat for a couple hours in a local coffee shop.  So needed!

Then, lunch today was a celebration of mine & my dad’s birthdays.  My grandmother, great-aunt, and aunt came in town from Newport News to eat with Dad, Mom, Jeff, Ella & Me.  We had a good time and Ella got to show off a bit.  After lunch we went back to mom & dad’s apartment and hung out while Ella really showed off how much fun she is to be around.  So good to have Ella spend time with her GG, EE & Aunt Carla.
Tonight, we went to Jeff’s parents for dinner in a late celebration of Jeff’s mom’s birthday (Feb 3).  It was great since all three boys (Jeff, Jerry & Gabe) were all able to be there with no schedule conflicts.  Kristen & I were there, too, but the most fun is watching Nana and Papa interact with their two grandkids.  We were all together.

It has been a great two days and tomorrow is lining up to be fantastic too…
I actually get to go to church at United tomorrow.  I feel like it has been a lifetime since I’ve been there and for me it has.  The last time was January 24.  Church was snowed out the 31st & February 7 and then Jeff & I were away last weekend (Feb 14).  I can’t wait to hear my dad preach.  He is my favorite minister…and it isn’t just bias.  I feel that he preaches from the heart to the heart and I love that about him.  Tomorrow’s theme: God as our shepherd.  So excited!
Then tomorrow night is my book club meeting.  I haven’t posted about book club before…not sure why not except I just post so little…
Tomorrow night we’ll be discussing the book, The Help.  It was a GREAT book that I recommend to anyone interested in a fiction story set in a all-too-real 1960’s segregated Jackson, Mississippi.  I had to remind myself that Mae Mobly and Aibileen weren’t real people.  Oh, little MaeMo – your nanny Aibileen loved you.  It has been a month since I read the book and I can’t recall what MaeMo called Aibileen in the book, but it tugged my heart strings.  SUCH A GOOD BOOK. 

I’ll have to do posts on the books I read since I have become a voracious reader.  I read the bookclub book and then find as many other books to read in the remainder of the month.  I can’t stop and I love it.  I’ve also found that I’m currenly very drawn to stories (fiction & non-fiction) set during the 60s that focus on segregation and integration.  I find it fascinating…okay – that is another post too.

Well – that’s it.  It is a great weekend and I just found the desire to share that with you.  Thanks for reading!