Thursday, October 31, 2013

ROAR! {Happy Halloween from a Dinosaur!}

As you know, Wesley was a dinosaur for Halloween. We had truck or treating at our church on Sunday night and went to a youth group party after. We basically were all Halloween-ed out after Sunday!

Today is his school Halloween parade and party with his little friends. I had my first mama duty - bringing snack for the party. I chose the "treat" and would have brought something incredibly healthy (perhaps with carrots hidden in them!) but of course I needed to bring something store-bought. They will likely end up with cookies with frosting to go with juice boxes and PB&J. And they will all survive!

Wesley is having a rockin' halloween and I hope you are too!
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Wesley's Activities in New Jersey

Last week I traveled with Wesley to New Jersey. I wrote about our flights to and from Newark and today I'm going to write about what we did! It was a unique trip for us for a variety of reasons.
  • Jarrod didn't go with us. He was home taking a mid-term, going to class, working, writing, and watching nerdy movies holding down the fort. 
  • It was both personal and business. I had a 3-day business trip in the middle of our traveling. I left Wesley with my dad and stepmom for those few days while I drove 90 minutes down the road to work. 
  • It was a long trip - 7 full days!
  • We were there to visit family, not sightsee. 
Our first full day in Jersey was rough. Wes and I were both exhausted. He loved exploring dad and Marie's house, playing with new toys, and not napping. We also visited my grandmother and he loved her (pretend) dog. 
One of the days I was with Wesley, my dad and I took him to the Crayola Factory. He was a little young for most of the activities, but LOVED this climbing area. It was a 3-story high tower of nets, slides, and little boy fun!
Of course I was a nervous wreck on the ground watching him. But he did a great job! If you look at the above photo really closely, you'll see his tongue sticking out. Kid is concentrating!
The other area he loved was this kid-sized lite brite set! He moved the pegs around. He wasn't quite tall enough to really get the full experience, especially because there were big kids and grabby kids everywhere, but he seemed to enjoy himself!

While I was at my conference, Wesley had a great time at a few local parks.




One special day Wesley got to meet my cousins kids. He LOVED playing with sweet J and baby E! He loves big kids and babies, so it was perfect for Wesley! I am sad I wasn't there for this meeting, but am thankful I got to play later in the week!

Wesley also had his first bounce house experience! He LOVED it. There were just two little girls there and they were very patient with him. He loved falling all over the place and I literally had to drag him out to leave! We did this the last thing before we went to the airport to leave. It made him tired, but not tired enough to sleep on the plane! 
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Debt Freedom Disaster

I had such awesome plans for our debt-free life. I also had really practical plans once we achieved our goal. I am really thankful to be debt-free, but not at all for the reasons I thought. Since we paid off our debt in July, our cars have taken all of my dollars. The following is a random stream of consciousness about how our money has been spent over the past 3 months... At least with regard to our cars...

I knew we'd be paying for graduate school for Jarrod and focusing on our emergency fund. What I did not expect was to pay for random things on our cars. Since July my car needed a new air conditioner thing. You know, a thing that is needed for the air conditioner to work. In July. In Texas. Not optional or a luxury. $595.84

Ugh.

We continue chugging along. We're thankful we're debt-free, but worried about how we'll pay for seminary. It made things very tight. But what else could go wrong?

The window in my car literally fell into the door. Driving without a driver's side window isn't a luxury. We priced it out and used a coupon to get it fixed. And for the first time in a long time I had a window that rolled up and down at the touch of a button! $239.96.

Ugh.

We laugh at the craziness of the whole thing. We pay off our debt and my car literally falls apart. Random troubles. Nothing predictable except that cars wear out. This has to be the end, right? We can do this! We have officially paid for seminary for the semester and have started putting money into our emergency fund.

October 1st was a big day for Jarrod. He officially became Rev. Jarrod. We went to lunch near my office. About 15 minutes after he dropped me off he called me. Car is dead. Literally driving down the road and all the lights come on. Yikes! He drives immediately to the shop to get it checked out.

After a stressful 24 hours, we get the report back. A belt broke. Belts NEVER break, but this one did. Completely broke. $633.33.

Ugh.

Are you keeping track? That's $1,469.13 in less than 3 months. We didn't touch our emergency fund, but paying for these repairs definitely set us back a little bit. By mid-October Jarrod and I thought we were in the clear. We went back to putting money in our emergency fund and thought we were finally in the clear.

On Sunday the 13th I was in a car accident on my way home from church. It wasn't bad, Wesley wasn't with me, and it wasn't my fault. However, it did some damage. Thankfully it was easy to have it towed and I was put in an awesome Rav-4 the next morning. Car insurance is so important!

We prayed the car wasn't totaled. Buying a "new" car is stressful. We did this in December and feel like we got a lemon. We didn't want to have to get another beater but we aren't in a position right now to move up very much in car. Jarrod was stressed about the whole thing and really didn't want the car to be totaled. He mentioned it every time anyone called.

It was 10 days before we heard anything. I'm sure you can guess by now what happened. Totaled. The car was totaled. This doesn't mean much damage was done, there wasn't. Really it just means my car wasn't worth much.

So, we're back at the drawing board. I am incredibly thankful to be okay, very grateful for car insurance, and beyond thankful for a budget and financial plan. I'm so thankful that none of these things caused any real stress in our family. (Don't get my started about sharing a car, though!)

BUT... This sucks. This is not what I wanted to spend money on. This is now how I wanted to get a "new" car.  Researching cars is not how I want to spend my time and buying a car is not how I want to spend my weekend. These situations always make me feel very rushed, even when we've prepared. We're a 2 car family. My travel schedule necessitates it. Part of me feels a little crazy and thinks perhaps we can make it through the end of the year with one car. We could use that time to save and move up in car. We could rent a car on the days that things are just too crazy for one car. This might not be practical for us, but it's something we're thinking about.

So there's that. :-)
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chewy and Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love chocolate chip cookies. I make them all the time. I've got it down to a science. I've been using the same recipe for nearly 3 years. I made some last night and realized that I'd made several changes to the recipe I use and never shared the changes with you!

So, here's the recipe I've been using with the changes in italics.

This post originally appeared on April 7, 2011.
One of my favorite responsibilities at work is providing hospitality to volunteers. I am in charge of making sure that volunteers who travel to Louisiana for a week-long mission experience feel at home. For me, this always means food. I started out buying a huge tub of cookie dough and making batches of cookies each week from the tub. Easy and cheap, no doubt. However, this wasn't putting nearly enough love into sharing hospitality as I'd like.

A few weeks ago we had huge groups of volunteers - about three times our normal volume - so I decided to kick it up a notch and made chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter and chocolate chip rice krispies treats and delicious chocolate caramel brownies. Of course they were a big hit. And naturally, I didn't get any pictures of the process.

I had a slow afternoon so I decided that it was time to make a few more batches for the volunteers coming to town next week and the following week. I know things are going to get very busy around here next week and I won't have time to bake, so I decided to double my normal recipe and make twice as many cookies.

I have tried Heather's recipe before but altered it and didn't pay much attention to the directions. This time I was committed to reading every line and following it exactly.

Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies(Source: Baking Illustrated, courtesy of Heather Drive)

Makes approximately 18 large cookies I make smaller cookies. 18 cookies would be HUGE! I usually make 24-36 cookies, depending on how large they are. The recipe would make 24 large cookies and 36 smaller cookies. And probably 40+ small cookies. 

Ingredients:

- 2 cups + 2 tbsp. (10 5/8 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
- Occasionally I'll reduce the white flour and add wheat flour or oats instead. 
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm Rather than melt it, I just leave the butter on the counter for an hour or so before I'm ready to start baking. 
- 1 cup packed (7 oz.) light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz.) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips I use half milk chocolate and half semi-sweet. The difference is delicious! 

Directions:

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray. I never line them and never ever grease the sheets. I use silpat and non-stick cookie sheets and have never had trouble with sticking. 

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

 


4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. This is where I ran into some trouble. I don't think I properly placed the halves back together. I never do this anymore. I use a spoon to roll out balls of about 2-3 tablespoons. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.


5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

 They didn't turn out quite turn out as pretty as I'd planned. I don't think I really had the knack of splitting the balls and then putting them back together. I'd do it differently next time. And maybe cook them at a little higher temperature and for a little less time. I ended up baking them on the really long side just to get them cooked all the way through.

Thank goodness everyone else in the office was out for the afternoon because when all was said and done, I was left with the kitchen looking like this:

 

Thankfully I had plenty of time to clean up after myself before folks came back from meetings. I don't think they would have minded much anyway - the whole office building smelled delicious! 
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wesley the Dinosaur! {Toddler Dinosaur Halloween Costume}

Wesley loves dinosaurs. He watches them on TV, reads about them in books, and pretends he is one. His room is decorated with dinosaurs. I ADORE Halloween and have been planning Wesley's costume for months. Jarrod's not as into Halloween so I pester him to get his ideas on what we should be as a family.

Dinosaurs!

Um, what? How can we all be dinosaurs? I don't know how to do that...

Obviously there are lots of patterns out there to make toddler dinosaur costumes, but they are expensive, hot, and involved. Who knows if my son will even wear his costume... I want to make it as easy on him as possible. I also want to be sure that I spend as little as possible in case he doesn't wear it!

After a TON of pinteresting, I found literally nothing that I liked. Nothing that I thought I could recreate for my boy. So I decided to go rogue! After seeing a cape-turned-shark, I decided I could do that with a dinosaur!

I found this cape pattern and went from there! The entire costume cost me less than $15! It took about 3 hours to make, but most of that time was thinking through the concept. The best part? Wesley will wear it!
I tried to get him to try it on while I was making it, but he wanted nothing to do with it. His little girlfriend was over the other day and I tried it on her. From that moment forward, he was sold. No struggling to get him to wear it!
The cape is awesome because he can wear whatever he wants to under it. I hoped for a lime green t-shirt, but couldn't find one in his size. The XS is still too big for this little guy! He can wear a long sleeved shirt if it's cooler on Halloween.

I used ric-rac for the teeth and sewed it into the hood. The spikes and toes are fleece. Everything is doubled. The green was super-cheap cotton that I scored for about $2.50/yard. The shoe covers were easy too and might be my favorite part of the whole costume!
The spikes were a challenge because obviously a cape doesn't have a center seam down the back... And spikes need a seam. So I created a seam and just folded a small 1/2" crease for the spikes. In retrospect, I should have accounted for that in the lining, but I'd already sewed the cape. If I were to do it again, I'd either make the cape out of 3 pieces of fabric rather than two and sew the two pieces together with the spikes in the middle. Or I'd make the lining about 1" shorter than the outside to account for the seam for the spikes.

Unfortunately I didn't capture any pictures as I went, but I think I can accurately describe what I did. Here we go!

Supplies:
2 yards of green cotton fabric (or one yard for the outside and one yard for the inside)
White ric-rac
scrap fleece for the spikes and toes
scrap white and black fabric for the eyes
Matching thread - I used green to avoid changing with each color
Velcro
Length of the cape - measure from the nape of the neck to wherever you want the cape to fall. For my boy it was about 20".

Fold your fabric in half and cut down the center. Take the two halves and fold them in half. Stack on top of each other. Use a pencil and a string protractor-style to create a curved line the length of the cape. Start the pencil at the fold and curve to the unfolded side.

Confused? Check this pattern.

Cut along this line through all 4 layers of fabric. Parallel to this cut, cut 2 1/2" off the opposite corner. This is for the neck. This will be the cape. Put this fabric aside.

Use remaining fabric to create the hood. Trace an existing hood onto the fabric. Trace it about 1/2" larger than the hood. I used a simple sweatshirt hood for Wesley's. You need 4 pieces of 1/2 hood fabric. Put aside.

Cut fleece into triangles. I needed 5 triangles for Wesley's costume, so I cut 10 total. Sew the two short ends together and flip the triangles.

Sew two spikes into the hood's center seam, sewing together the outside seam of the hood, right sides together. At the same time, sew the middle seam of the lining of the hood as well. Continue sewing the hood by attaching the ric-rac to the seam around the face of the hood. You'll want to attach the ric-rac to the right side of the outside and lining of the hood. I followed this tutorial to learn how to sew ric-rac. Turn the hood right side out. It should be complete except for the bottom. Set aside.

Take the top of the cape and line up 3-4 more spikes in the center of the fabric. Fold the fabric over and pin in place. You essentially created a dinosaur cape/spike sandwich! Sew the spikes in place. Line up right sides to right sides with the outside and lining of the cape. Sew around the sides and bottom, leaving 5" open at the bottom.
At this step I added velcro straps to the hood. I hoped the hood wouldn't need them and I could attach the velcro to the hood, but Wesley needed a little more room. I just created two short straps by cutting rectangles, folding, sewing 2 sides, flipping, and attaching to the hood. The velcro can go right on the strap. Be sure to pin them to the hood before you sew the hood to the cape. 
Right sides together, attach the hood to the neck of the cape. You'll need to be careful to attach the lining to the lining and the outside to the outside. This was the most complicated step for me! With the hood inside the cape, sew along the neck of the cape. Pull everything through the 5" whole at the bottom so that it is right side out. Topstitch along the entire bottom of the cape.

If you didn't add velcro straps, you can add velcro directly to the hood or cape at this time. Try it on your child to see where and how much to add.

Cape done!

I decided to go the extra mile and make shoe covers. It was fairly simple. I traces Wesley's shoes and used paper to create a model of what I wanted. I made two rectangles and two half ovals (all lined!). They were all lined. I sewed little spikes (toes) into the curved part of the oval. Then I sewed the flat part of the oval into the long side of the rectangle. I sewed velcro onto the short sides of the rectangle and bam! Dinosaur feet!

He's definitely the sweetest dinosaur at the pumpkin patch!
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Pumpkin Trick-or-treat basket

I made Wesley's Halloween basket last year and posted about it last year. It's almost Halloween again and I cannot wait to get out his basket (which has to be somewhere...) for him to use to trick-or-treat! It's not too late to make your own Pumpkin Trick-or-Treat basket!

Post originally appeared on  October 2, 2012

When I made Wesley's Easter basket, I had the genius idea that I wanted to make a pumpkin for Halloween in a similar style. I thought he'd look so cute carrying a little pumpkin to collect his candy and knew I wanted to make something special for him. No plastic pumpkins for my little man!

It actually took me MONTHS to make this project. I bought the supplies and did the first few steps and then stopped. I would pick it up again every couple of weeks and feel the pressure to get it done. I finally finished the last week in September. Literally 4 months since I started. Now that it's officially October and pumpkin season, I thought I'd share it with you!

I promise it won't take you as long. :-) The actual hands on time was more like 4 hours, not 4 months. And I did it all while watching TV. I am very proud of it.

Supplies:
cord - I used a bag and a half of Wright's 12/32" cotton cord filler
1/2 yard of orange fabric
1/4 yard of green fabric
green thread
orange thread
needle
The first thing I did was cut the fabric into strips. I did the orange first. I cut them into long skinny rows about 2-3" wide and as long as the fabric.
I also sewed the two cords together to make one longer cord. Once it was covered by the fabric there was no way to tell they were ever two pieces.

Notice that my hands are green. From this project. Yeah, it took me a LONG time to make this basket! 
Once the strips were cut and the cord was sewn together, I sewed one end to the end of the cord. I tried to loop the fabric around the end of the cord so it completely covered the cord. That's when the fun began.


I started winding the fabric around the cord. I kept it as tight as I could while wrapping it around. There's really no strategy in this. I was okay with it being a little rough - the edges were raw and that was fine with me.

I kept winding and once I was done with one strip, I sewed it to another strip and kept winding. If I needed to stop, I simply put a straight pin in the end to hold the fabric tight.

Lather, rise, repeat. I did this for nearly the entire cord. I left about 2" at the end.

That's really where I stopped and let everything sit for several months. When I finally picked it back up again, it was time to wind again! This time I was winding the cord. I started at the end wrapped in fabric and began to make a spiral.



I used the orange thread and made stitches every so often to hold everything in place. I found that making 'X' with the thread worked best. Imaging taking two steps forward and one step back when sewing everything in place.
I continued to go around and around until the bottom of the pumpkin was as wide as I wanted. I chose to make the bottom flat so it would be easy to sit without it rolling all over. I tried to make the pumpkin round in shape. I found this challenging, but just took it a few inches at a time, sewing and checking out how the shape was coming.

Once I was down with the basket and it was the size and shape that I liked, I sewed the end in place. This pumpkin is 6 rows from the center and 13 rows tall.
Of course a pumpkin wouldn't be complete without a sweet little handle! I decided to double up the cord and then wrap it with the green fabric. I needed much less so I only cut one long strip of the green. I wrapped it just like with the orange and sewed it on the inside of the pumpkin.

The last part was very easy. I am really pleased with how it turned out. I was concerned with the shape but found it easier than I thought. I might have done it differently if I were to make another one, but I love it. It's the perfect size for our little man. Maybe someday we'll pass this one down to a little Johnston and make a larger one for our big boy.

I haven't decided what we're going to be for Halloween yet, but at least our little man will be collecting candy in style! Of course this pumpkin could always be made to hold flowers, candy, or other items as decoration around the house. But ours will be used to collect candy by the sweetest little man.

What do you do for Halloween? How do you collect candy? Is a pillowcase still the best option? :-)
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Friday, October 18, 2013

We made it!

I've been meaning to write this post all week. Coming back after a week of vacay/business trip was tough. I was exhausted and busy this week, but I wanted to give you an update of our trip to New Jersey. If you missed part one, check it out the first half of my trip of traveling with a toddler alone.

Thankfully, we made it home safely without incident! We arrived at Newark plenty early. I navigated getting out tickets printed and our luggage checked with Wesley in his stroller. He wasn't thrilled, but we got it. We made it through security easily. I knew a little better what to expect this time and felt much more confident. Shoes off, laptop out, stroller folded, everything on belt, and carry Wesley through the detector. Then do it all in reverse. Bam.

Once we were through security, we began walking. The terminal was incredibly small and we did about 15 laps before settling at the gate. We got on the plane and found an empty row. I prepared myself (and prayed for!) rowmates, but they never came. Jackpot. We had the whole row to ourselves! It was amazing. Of course Wesley still had to be in my lap for take-off and landing, but during the flight, we had plenty of room to spread out. He loved pulling the magazines out and tearing them up. He loved tossing his books on the floor and jumping around. He loved sitting in the middle seat and watching Dinosaur Train. He ate a ton of snacks and near the end of our trip he gave up and went for a walk up and down the aisle. We also attempted the bathroom on the plane. Not my finest moment, but you do what you gotta do. Definitely no room for changing a diaper in there! So I changed him in the row. Couldn't have done that with others in our row!

We arrived in Houston around 6pm local time. We had 2 hours to wander, eat dinner, and walk. Wesley was getting loopy from lack of sleep - no nap and it was bedtime. We shared a piece of pizza, changed into his dino jammies, and began walking. It was a larger terminal and we walked it over 10 times. About 3 miles according to my pedometer!

By the time we got on the plane, Wesley was exhausted and I was running on fumes. I was 7 days into single parenthood (minus the time with my family, which was AWESOME!) and I was ready for Jarrod. We waited to get on the plane and Wesley almost drifted off to sleep. No such luck. We got on the plane and he started to lose it. He didn't want me to hold him on the plane. But obviously, he didn't have another option. The flight attendants were asking everyone to find a seat, it was a very full flight. Fabulous. I silently prayed for the person or people that would be forced to sit with a crabby, overtired toddler.

Our seatmate sat down as Wesley screamed for me to put him down. I looked at her and told her that she was very brave. Long story short, God blessed us with the most wonderful seatmate. She'd just left her fiance to go back to Scotland and she was flying back home to Dallas. They'd be separated until Christmas and were getting married in April. Bless her sweet heart. She was a nanny in college and had a fabulous view of church. She asked me if I'd read Jen Hatmaker. Obviously that won me over. :-) We sat on the runway for nearly 30 minutes and it went so quickly. What a refreshing end to our trip.

Wesley did great on the flight home. He didn't like waiting on the runway, but once we were in the air, he watched dinosaur train and we were home! The flight was very bumpy, but Wesley wasn't phased at all. It scared mama to death, but I toughed it out. Before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to our new friend and headed out to see daddy!

We were exhausted, but made it! We were both so happy to see Jarrod. He had flowers for me and hugs for both of us. We slept in on Sunday morning and skipped Sunday school. We made it in time for church, but Wesley was still drowsy enough to sit in my lap during church. It was unusually awesome.

I'll write more about what we did on our trip and share some amazing pictures next week. I may also write about the car accident that I was in on my way home from church on Sunday. (Don't worry, I'm fine, Wesley wasn't with me, and I'm driving in a killer awesome rental.) I may also right about the incredible pitfalls we've had since becoming debt-free.

Thanks for hanging out with me. I promise to write more soon. There's a lot going on in my world!
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Friday, October 11, 2013

3-day for the Cure - It's almost here!

On Friday morning I had a stack of t-shirts and was $248 shy of my minimum donation required to walk in the 3-day for the Cure in November. I was determined to meet my minimum before the end of the day. Rather than sell the remainder of the t-shirts, I decided I would give them out for each donation I received that day. No donation is too large or too small!

Donations literally started rolling in! Four hours later and I'd met my goal! Ten people donated to help me raise that money and I had 10 t-shirts to pack up and mail!

I went to the store after lunch, picked up some envelopes, and started packing up the shirts!
I am so excited that our shirts are literally all over the country! I hope that everyone wears them with pride - this month and every month!

There are a few other ways you can support us as we walk as well:
  • Be in prayer for all the walkers November 1-3rd as we cover Dallas in pink and walk 60 miles. 
  • Before October 23rd, mail a little card to:
    • Susan G. Komen 3-Day Camp Mail 
    • ATTN: Leanne Johnston, Courtney Boone, or Susan Arnold
    • P.O. Box 1856 
    • Frisco, TX 75034
  • Check this website for more information about how you can attend opening or closing ceremony. In a few weeks there will also be more information about cheering stations. This is one of the best ways that you can support the walkers. Come out and cheer! Bring your kiddos, dogs, and family. It's one of the most amazing experiences for the walkers, but it's also life-changing for the cheer-ers. It's how I decided to walk! :-) 
I cannot tell you how thankful I am for you. Thank you for supporting me, believing in a cure, and giving your time and money to such a fabulous cause. This will be my 7th walk. That's over $16,000 dollars raised and 420 event miles walked. I have no idea how many miles I've walked while training, but I estimate it's over 10,000 in 7 years. I am incredibly honored. 


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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

We're halfway there...

When I turned 21 a few of my precious sorority sisters took me out for my midnight drink(s) and on the way home I belted out Livin' on a Prayer. Since then, I've had a love-hate relationship with that song. 
Tonight I am halfway through a journey. Yesterday Wesley and I left Jarrod at the Dallas airport and flew to Houston. The flight was packed and Wesley didn't have a ticket (because he is under 2) so he sat on my lap the entire trip. He was a champion! He didn't like when we first boarded and everyone was getting on the plane because I wouldn't allow him to walk around. But he thought take-off and landing were the funniest things ever.

In Houston we stayed on the plane but were able to "stretch out legs" for about 10 minutes. That meant jumping on the seats for Wesley while I frantically got all of our things organized. I switched him into his jammies (but didn't change his diaper, because I thought that'd be gross...) and told him it was night night time. Our flight from Houston to Newark left at 7:30pm Dallas time. It was getting dark and thankfully we had an empty seat next to us. Wahoo.

After take-off, we switched on Dinosaur Train and snuggled down. I prayed he would sleep. He didn't sleep, but he did ace the second flight. He got pretty angry on the descent because I had to turn off Dinosaur Train. I think I literally prayed for 2 hours and 51 minutes until the wheels touched down in Newark and he was fine.

He did great when we got off the plane, switched to the stroller, and went to baggage claim. He did great when we got into Granddad's car and started heading home. He fell asleep about 15 minutes before we arrived home - at about midnight Dallas time. I carried him to his room, changed his diaper (for the first time since we left Dallas!) and went to place him in the pack 'n play all ready for him. And he screamed. Bloody murder. He literally wouldn't lay down in it. He screamed until he gagged himself. Repeatedly. So I did the only sane thing I could think of after traveling alone with a toddler for 9 hours. I carried him into my bed. And he slept with me for the first time since he was 2 weeks old.

So we're in New Jersey visiting family for the week. I'll leave Wes with my dad and his wife while I head to the shore for a conference tomorrow. I'm praying he does well. Putting him down for a nap today and to bed tonight was more of the same screaming fit. I've never experienced anything like that with him before. He definitely stalls and screams sometimes, but never for 90 minutes straight. A white noise machine and just completely ignoring him and he was finally asleep. Praying he sleeps until at least 8am!

While I'm incredibly thrilled that we made it here without incident, we're only halfway there. We need to make the return trip - everything we did yesterday, but in reverse. Except we actually have to change planes in Houston. I'm cautiously preparing for the return trip. Definitely not confident enough to lose the 25 lb. bag with 15 snack options and 25 diapers, but potentially a little less anxious about it.

In case you're wondering, here's what we did on the plane:

  • Snacks while we waited for everyone to board. Crackers, gogo squeez, hummus, cheddar bunnies, water, and bananas. 
  • Paci during take-off and landing. Attempted to read books. He hated it and threw them. Awesome.
  • Once we could turn electronics on we fired up the Kindle and watched Dinosaur Train. He downloaded an entire season. We practiced at home with our new Kidz Gear headphones and he did GREAT! I rigged the kindle case to the closed tray table. It worked GREAT.
 I appreciate your prayers and kind thoughts as we continue to travel in Jersey and head home this weekend!
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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September 2013 Goals Update

Can someone please explain to me how it is already October? This is insane to me. October is my absolute favorite month of the whole year. In Texas October is typically when the weather has finally come down out of the 100s. This means I can walk during the day and not just at the crack of dawn, which is awesome. Work is somewhat slower and we settle into a family groove. I'm hoping this happens soon!

Here were our goals for September:
  1. Complete fundraising for the 3-day for the Cure
  2. Jarrod reads one non-fiction & Leanne reads one book
  3. Try a new recipe
  4. Go on one date
  5. Have one family activity
  6. Leanne walk 75% of days
I need to make a goal for next month or maybe every month next year - type up the monthly goals and look at them during the day! I know what they are in my head, but think we'd do a lot better as a family if we were working towards them intentionally. All the same, we did a decent job this month.
  1. Nope! But I still have t-shirts left, if you want one! All proceeds will go to helping me meet the minimum. Want to make a donation? Click here!
  2. Yes and yes! I read A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master" and On Becoming Toddlerwise this month. I also listened to Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Toddlerwise wasn't as good as I'd hoped because it was geared more to stay-at-home mamas, but Biblical Womanhood and Daring Greatly were both incredible! Jarrod is reading exclusively non-fiction for school. And a lot of it!
  3. I don't know that we necessarily tried a new recipe, but I played around with some old recipes! I added rainbow chard and water chestnuts to my brown rice and chicken casserole and it was AWESOME! 
  4. We did! We had Jarrod's folks watch Wesley and we went to a morning meeting, went to lunch together, did a little shopping (for Wesley!) and went to a concert for work that night. It was an awesome day. Especially the shopping. Jarrod and I rarely get to do that without Wesley, so it was nice. And we got a lot of great stuff for Wes!
  5. We took a lot of fabulous trips to the park this month! We went to Ikea one afternoon and checked out the food trucks near work. None of it was especially memorable, but we did make time to leave the house as a family! 
  6. Yes! I've started trying to train more and up my miles for the 3-day which is in just a few weeks! 

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