Sunday, July 31, 2011

52 weeks

This time last year so many things changed forever. One of these things will always bring Jeff & I both to tears. Here is a little bedtime story.
On a October day in 2005 Jeff and I welcomed our first precious baby girl into our lives. She was brindle, would eventually weigh 60 pounds, and was a slobbery mess. Man did we love her! Lola Bear Moran was my gift to Jeff for our one year anniversary.
He had spoke to me several times about wanting his "own" dog and that he had dreamed of wanting a bulldog. So I searched and searched and found a breeder in Prattville. We drove over one night and looked at the new pups. They weren't ready so if we chose to buy one of them we would have to come back in three weeks. In three weeks we drove back over and took our pic of the liter. A bouncy, fun, energetic plump runt of the group. She was precious, sweet, snuggly, and our new baby.
Over the next couple of years she grew in our hearts and into our family. She was ours! Jeff especially loved her so much. Lola loved for Jeff to hold her and rub her belly. She would grunt and groan with so much happiness and love. Lying around on the couch or on the cold tile was her hobby, talent, and past time. Lola loved Ashlyn Kay and Ashlyn Kay loved Lola. Our family was complete.
Once the twins surprised us and we knew we were going to have to move to Cincinnati for a period of time we had to find a place for both of our dogs temporarily. Foxy would be staying in Wetumpka with my uncle and Lola would be going to a home in Tennessee for a while. Unknown to me she would not be returning. I said goodbye to my dogs but with intentions that I would be returning to them. I, about a month later, found out that Lola had been adopted by a young couple in Nashville, TN. I was devastated and angry. Jeff made the heart breaking decision to let her go. With the unknown about the girls he felt that I would not be able to care for her properly while caring for three small children. Eventually I would realize he made a wise decision.
Today he reminded me that 52 weeks ago he dropped her off and said goodbye forever. He willingly will admit and he cried like a girl. He has contact with the owner via facebook and wrote her today. I had never looked at the message's between him and the owner and he convinced me too tonight. After reading about two messages I broke down crying and didn't read anymore.
Although it was the right decision it still doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. I miss her big butt and sadly her toots every night at bedtime. She was always happy and welcoming. She loved us with all her body fat.
For those reading this that don't have pets or have never known the love of a cat or a dog it is unexplainable. They give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside that says, " You are amazing in every way." No other human can provide you with that feeling at any moment of any day and with a rub of the belly their life is complete and you were the one who completed it for them.
I love you so much Lola and I will always miss you and your snaggle tooth!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

mommy moment

Yesterday a dear friend and her husband welcomed their two very healthy baby boys into the world. I was so happy and excited for them. As if I had the boys myself. I find myself feeling this way a lot lately or more so after I had kids. Maybe it is once you make, grow, nurture, care for, and mentally and emotionally love that beating heart before it even arrives that gives you a sense of entitlement to all joy experienced by new mothers of the world. As a mother you sometimes forget that euphoric joy the first time your babies face appeared in your line of vision. It is especially hard to remember it when your child disobeys every single command you have issued that day.
So when I found out that my friend was in labor I wanted to run outside onto my driveway and yell.."Hey people my friend is in labor". Then realizing that if anyone heard me they might ask. "Who are you even talking about Kristen and why are you yelling to us about it." I would obviously respond, DUH! don't you know my friend? she is the one having twins (thinking to myself that everyone should know everyone that is having twins). Despite my desires to shout with joy on my front porch I instead shouted to my husband. He promptly told me to calm down because I was acting as if I was having the babies. Well I sort of felt l was.
Which sort of brings me back to the reason I was writing this blog. Once a mommy always a mommy. You feel what they are feeling. You can almost hear those first small tiny cries. Everything rushes back to you and you wish you push a rewind button and experience that one moment all over again without the 9 months of pregnancy, labor, and sleepless nights to come. I am so proud of my friend who carried twin boys to 38 weeks, labored 24 hours, and pushed those VERY healthy boys out all by herself!
Congrats Amy & Adam! You have brought back a mothers memories and will now get to experience a wonderful double blessing!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Looking back

One year ago today I was getting ready to board a plane and say goodbye to my friends and family and heading to Ohio. I can look back and remember feeling sad to say goodbye but I was ready to feel safe in Ohio with the doctors I was depending on to take care of my girls and myself. It was the beginning of another new stage in our never ending journey. Being able to look back now is such a relief.
Reading over my post from that day it was actually short and sweet. If you know me or read these post nothing is short and sweet for this lady. I guess I was much more nervous than I letting on. It could have also been God's arms tightly wrapped around me and constantly reminding me to take a deep breath and trust in him. For once I am glad I listened.
Knowing now that the next day would be a very hard one and probably the hardest atl that point I wish I could go back in time and prepare myself. Our first appointment once we made it to Ohio was not good.
First off I had to lie in a MRI machine on one side for over a hour. For those of you that have been pregnant lying in one position for any amount of time is never fun. Now imagine your body has two babies, entirely too much fluid, and its hot (good Lord it was hot). I can recall sweat running down all parts of that big body and crying. I finally had to tell them to get me out of there or I might go all "Wetumpka" on them and even though they didn't know it that is not what would "make their day". At the end of our appointments that day the doctors were not hopeful. They anticipated a delivery that week and both girls not surviving. Boy were they wrong!! It is moments like that when I am thankful I get to take by girls back one year later and say "told ya so!"
In 11 days our girls will be 1! 1 people. Oh my good gracious how far we have come. Grab your kleenex, snuggly blanket, and a open heart because on August 9th I will recall the most horrible, worst, no good, very bad, wonderfully AMAZING day of my life!

Monday, July 25, 2011

adventures into manual mode

Jeff gave me a really nice, super duper, amazing, what
else....oh camera for christmas in 2009. I literally got down on my knees and begged for it so I was very happy when it was presented to me. Over the last couple of years I have gradually and when I say gradually I mean two years later I am still learning how to use this darn thing. I have watched DVD's, read instruction books, and poured over you tube videos. I am currently saving up money to take a course at "click". From what I understand manual mode is where its at. I believe after much practice I might be on way to finally being able to take decent photographs. Here is mine and AK's little session today! BTW I would pay big bucks to bottle up her hair color!
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

A birthday on a budget

If you know me at ALL you know I go ALL out for birthdays! I live by the philosophy that the day you are born is pretty special, so shouldn't we celebrate with coordinating paper products and amazing cake. I do believe so! Who wants to have a party where the paper products don't match the theme or for goodness sake there is no theme at all! THE HORROR!!!

AK's birthday was Dora themed (sort of). Everything was planned down to a tee. I obviously intend to do the same for my precious twins. Ashlyn Kay's first birthday was a extravaganza to say the least. There were about 50 people invited, hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, baked beans, a wonderful huge cupcake shaped cake, coordinating paper products and a child who could have cared less. Ha!
Not wanting to skimp on the twins I wanted to do the same, but being a stay at home mom of three rather than a working mom of one I have no time, no energy, and have gotten a little more sense of reality. So in thinking of their party (which I started mentally planning in Jan.) I opted for a family party. It will include all of my family, Jeff's family, and some very close friends who should be family. I want it to be special though for several reasons.
The first which is obvious...its their 1st birthday. It only happens once.
Second, their birthday was a little bit, how do say, chaotic. Not really your idea of a happy occasion. I feel like they were jipped last year, especially Palmer. We were so focused on Blake she didn't get as much attention.
Third and final reason is because we have made it through the hardest year of our lives (so far) with twins and Blake has by far surpassed our expectations and she can now be considered a SCT survivor!
I mean when I look back at all of those reason we should actually hold a town parade with a concert to follow. Note to self...find band, animals, floats, and beads to throw-ha.

So with all this being said I want to make it perfect but economical too. This is where birthday on a budget comes in.

Items needed: invitations, cake/cupcakes, paper products, food, decorations.
One good thing about having a family party you don't have to do party favors. So that is a budget savor right there.

1. Invitations. These can be expensive or cheap but not tacky. I chose to look on etsy for a invitation that came in a PDF file then you can print off just the amount you need and buy plain white envelopes at a office supply store.
I purchased a custom invitation PDF from etsy for $12.00 and printed them on cardstock which I already had.

2. Cake/cupcakes. Fortunately if you are having a one year birthday and have signed up for a baby club at a grocery store such as Publix or Winn-Dixie baby club, they typically send you a coupon for a free dozen cupcakes or a discount on a cake. I received two vouchers for two dozen cupcakes from Winn-Dixie. Yay-cupcakes are going to cost me $0.00.
Every one year old needs a "smash cake". You can opt for a single cupcake or a small 5-7" round cake. These are easy to make and you can decorate them however you choose. I actually found someone here in the Birmingham area who makes cakes out of her home. She is doing the smash cakes for the twins at the reasonable price of $12.00.

3. Paper products. I will purchase pink and green plates from dollar general or party city. You can normally find a coupon too.

4. Also, to add a little flair I order cupcake wrappers from etsy that coordinate with the color scheme. They were $8.00 for 24. You wrap them around your finished cupcakes for a super cute look. I also ordered a jar of sugar pearls which were $4.50. I will top each cupcake with one large sugar pearl. Just for cuteness.

5. Decorations. Depending on where you are having it you can always do a vase of fresh flowers (gerber daisies) are always great for kids or their favorite toys if its trucks/trains/cars. Add a small chalk board on a picture frame stand with their name and their age in fun colors. If you want some type of banner there are plenty of felt banner patterns online for free. So many cheap options.

6. Food. Make sure to go kid friendly. For our party we are doing lunch. I have opted for bbq chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and fruit. I will purchase these items in bulk from a wholesale club. Don't forget lemonade, tea, or water. Lemonade is pretty cheap.

With all this said you should be able to come out $50.00 or less. I am going a little higher just because we have a large family and will have about 20-25 people here. I will post pictures on how it turned out!

the grand total...

If you happen to catch my previous post on my adventures into couponing land then you will be able to notice my pile of stuff that I basically got for free. Several of the items I did receive for free.
AK and I loaded up after aerobics class and took the list and coupon dora ziplock baggie into the local Winn-Dixie. Now I am a tride and true Publix gal, but Winn-Dixie is having double coupons right I'm in!

I had made a list on my "ALL OUT" list pads. Which are a-maz-ing BTW. They are pads with a magnet on the back that you slap on the fridge. It has just about every item you might need and then for those with some strange items you have a blank column. You check your items, tear it off, and off to the store you go! love it!

After making our way quickly through the store with a melt down by AK along the way. Short story:
Child wants cookie
Child is offered free sample
Child want pink sprinkle covered cookies that only come in a dozen
Mom sees no on list and says no
Child sits down in disgusting grocery store floor and cries with crocodile size tears streaming from face as we make our way to the checkout counter.

I place my items with the help of the cashier onto the moving belt. Hand over my rewards card and my coupons.
Starting total $79.00. Drum roll please..........................................................

$29. 60!!!

So for 29.60 I bought:
2 boxes of Cheerios cereal (one was free)
2 Jif peanut butter containers
8 pack of Bounty
8 pack of Charmin
10 jars of baby food (I buy the meat because I can't bring myself to grind up chicken) yuck
1 container of Gain detergent
2 boxes of plastic baggies (free)
1 container of hand soap(free)
3 boxes of kleenex(free)
1 package of little swimmers
3 packages of uncle bens ready to serve rice
I vote today as a success. I intend to do much better as I continue on this new journey of mine. I want to get to the point where I owe 0.01!
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Couponing challenge

I recently couponing. I have always enjoyed a good bargain, but have no problem paying full price. Sounds insane but when I need something I need it then. Seeing as the house we live in is packed to the brim with "stuff" I don't really have a need for more "stuff". Conquering chaos post will come later so stay tuned for that big adventure.
Yesterday I went through the weekly circular, picked out the items I had to have, such as toilet paper, paper towels, etc. Then I shifted through my box o coupons. Pulled the coupons that coordinated with the needed items on my list, totalled my expected savings and put my list and coupons in a nice little Dora the Explorer zip lock bag courtesy of "meme the great".
Here is my list:
Beechnut baby food-10 for $5.00-$1.00 coupon=$4.00
Huggies little swimmers diapers-$7.49-$6.00 coupon=$1.49
Merita Bread-BOGO (no coupon)
General Mills cereal-BOGO +$1.50 coupon
Gain detergent-$3.99-.50 coupon
Jif peanut butter-BOGO (no coupon)
Gillette fusion razor-$8.99-$6.00 coupon
Bounty paper towels & Charmin toilet paper (12 roll packs) $15.99 for both and receive
napkins, kleenex, ziploc bags for free + .25 coupon+.50 coupon
Uncle bens ready rice-3 for $5.00-$1.50 coupon

I'm estimated by total to be somewhere in the $20.00-$30.00 range.

Stayed tuned to see how the first big attempt at couponing goes! Who knows if I succeed you might see me on TLC oneday. LOL!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Growing up

(AK on her birthday)

This past Friday, my biggest girl turned 3. 3! people. I know that when the life span of most the ladies in my family is in the 90's, three doesn't seem very big, but to a woman who vividly remembers every moment (well all the moments I was awake) of her childbirth, three seems insane. Jeff asked if we should go ahead and get a car for her since she would be turning 16 soon? Ha! Time has flown by. Which is understandable when you have three kids in three years.

Friday we celebrated right from the start of the day at 6:30 a.m. She woke up to her parents singing her happy birthday like fools. If 18 Kristen could talk to me now she would probably say, "what is wrong with you lady". "Leave the kid alone". Then she got to get her first official birthday gift, which was a aqua kidcraft pretend kitchen. She loved it!

My mother, sister, Mary-Ross, and I took her to the Galleria and let her ride the merry-go-round, then she headed to the American Cookie Co. to have a sugar cookie, topped off with some chick-fil-a. The next adventure was the train that rides around the mall. She loves that train so much. Her yaya thought it would be a good a idea to let her go to build-a-bear and build her very first bear. She was more concerned about the computers over in the corner where you register your bear rather than the actual building of the bear. Finally she picked out a panda bear. She stuffed it and then proceeded to accessorize this bear with purses, sunglasses, beds, shoes, and everything else. Her panda bear was not complete without a bear as well. She named her bear "allie" and then we dragged ourselves to the checkout line.

I believe these people at build-a-bear go as slow as possible so the children continue to walk around the store and find stuff then whine and complain in the line until they are certain that they will be going home with the needed item. Ashlyn Kay happened to find a poodle which was dressed in a University of Alabama outfit, she had on shoes and roller skates, and lease and collar around her neck. This allowed AK to dragged this poor poodle all over the store. Now her mind was not focused on her once loved panda bear allie but on this poor poodle. After having a fit and much explanation I told a lie to the child on her birthday and we escaped with our panda and no poodle. Whew! Close call.

The following day she had a pool party. It was so much fun and great weather. She thought everyone was her cousin. Great day!

Now after the making of cake pops, push up pop cupcakes, chocolate/sprinkled covered pretzels I have officially retired from the bakery business. For the twins birthday I am having someone make the smash cakes and cupcakes. No more baking for this lady!

Birthdays are a big deal to me and go completely over the top but I want each and every birthday to be a the best day of her life. Life should be a celebration so that is exactly what I intend to do each and every year. Blow it out!

Now she is three and its hard to say. What is even harder to say is that in a short three weeks I will have two 1 year olds to add to the bunch. Off to plan the monkey's party!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fireworks go Boom!

July has been a busy month and its only day 9. We started off the month with a visit to the river in Gadsden, Alabama. Ashlyn Kay was invited to a birthday party at the scenic pool so this was our next stop for the day. Everyone had a wonderful time. Blake found her love for all things peach and Jeff proved he can still do a double flip off the high dive. First adventure for the month proved to be a plus!
On the 4th of July we again loaded the trusty silver bullet with our 3 large bags packed full of only God knows what inside of them and ventured out to Lay Lake. My bestie Shena invited us to join in on their family day. Ashlyn Kay has decided she wants to be a river rat. She swam all over that lake. Palmer would like to join in with her. We had to keep a close eye on Miss P because she would kick herself in her little float away from everyone and try to escape. The first boat ride for the twins was a success and AK says tubing makes her feel like baby Jaguar. Not positive how the tubing and baby jaguar are related but hey she had a good time so I guess it doesn't matter much.
Tuesday was Clampets go to The Ridge on Lake Martin. My mother, my sister, Mary-Ross, Ashlyn Kay, Palmer, Blake and myself all loaded the bullet again with what seemed like the full stock of buy buy baby and drove the hour trip to The Ridge. We visited with the Bradley's from Ohio and had so much fun. My grandparents joined us for dinner at their house. It was a fantastic time of good food and good friends. Kudos to Amanda for her banana/chocolate chip cupcakes!
The next adventure which if you lost count we are now on day #8 of the month, was a trip to Wetumpka for my grandfathers 75th birthday. BBQ chicken, baked beans, corn, and a yummy snickers DQ birthday cake made it a wonderful day. At the end the grand kids and great grand kids took a picture with papa to commemorate the day. It was one man, 3 grand daughters, and 4 great grand daughters. That is alot of women!
After 8 days of traveling, water, fireworks, and good times mama needed a break. A babysitter was hired and Jeff & I headed to dinner and a movie. Yay for adults!
Even though this month has just begun we have much more fun to come. Ashlyn Kay will be turning 3 on friday the 15th. I just can not believe this time three years ago and I was walking like a woman on fire to get her to drop like a fly out of my belly. We will be celebrating the birthday with a pool party and lots of cake. Jeff and I bought her a kitchen and my parents/grandparents bought her a Dora the Explorer Jeep Wrangler Power Wheels. I am expecting a moment of total mindless jumping and screaming when she sees these two items. I can't wait! Pictures will be posted.
The twins just turned 11 months old. This also is mind blowing to me. This week last year I was having one of my many trips to the hospital for a overnight stay or two due to contractions. We were preparing and packing for our unknown journey to Ohio. So glad to be on this side now. I took some pictures of the twins today with their 10 month circles on and will take a couple in a about three weeks of them with their 11 month circles on. I don't feel like their faces change much but their need for speed sure does. At one point today, Blake climbed onto the seat AK's pottery barn anywhere chair, onto the back, and threw one leg onto the end table. All this before we could make it across the room to stop her. She was aiming for a DVD so she could again play it like a tambourine. OMword! I say NO maam a lot these days. They are hilarious though. Dancing, babbling, and crawling, standing, and climbing. Loving it!