Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Letters

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Dear Sophie, My new favorite thing is to watch you color, or to hear you explain your drawings, or even to thumb through them after you leave a stack near my bed. Ella has always liked coloring books and writing stories, but I don't think anybody loves copy paper as much as you do. I can almost always find you with a crayon box stuffed under your arm and you love to ask us to spell things or to write things down for you to trace and copy. You have such a vivid imagination when you tell us the stories behind your drawings and the color and composition is always so beautiful! I am so hopeful that this isn't a passing phase. Let's plan to keep making beautiful things together. Deal?


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Monday, October 27, 2014

Last Minute Halloween Treats // Spider Cookies & Free Printable

As usual, I waited until the last minute to start thinking about what to make for the girls' friends at dance for their Halloween party tomorrow night. Sophie's first request was bat shaped cookies and I thought I had her convinced to just buy the Little Debbie brownies shaped like bats, but when Gran send us {this} super cute suggestion. It looked simple enough, but I decided to try using Double-Stuf Oreos since we can't bring peanut butter and I figured it would be easier than spreading each individual one. It turns out, this was one of the easiest food crafts we've done in a long time. If you waited until the last minute like me and still need treats for your class parties, follow along and see how we turned Oreos and pretzels into an adorable spider cookie!

What you'll need: Double-Stuf Oreos, stick pretzels, black icing, candy eyes, cello bags, coordinating ribbon and the printable file at the end of the post.

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It doesn't hurt to have an excellent helper to cut out the circle tags and punch holes. I am not the best cutter and who likes to punch holes?!

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We started by sticking pretzels in between the layers of the Oreo, four on each side, to make the spider legs. The Double-Stuf ones are just thick enough to allow for the pretzels, but we learned later that we'd need one extra step to keep them from falling apart!

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Next up, I used store-bought black icing to stick on the candy eyes. I thought about using M&Ms or chocolate chips, but I had these in the pantry for creative lunches and we thought they looked the very best.

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When we started attempting to package them, the "lid" of the cookie kept sliding off, so we ended up squeezing a little extra icing in between the layers to hold them together a little better. In hindsight, I wish I had bought white icing for this step.

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We used standard cello bags and tied these printables on with orange ribbon to finish them off! They say: "Enjoy these Itsy, Bitsy Cookies & Have a Happy Halloween!" 

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I made this printable to share with you and left a space for you to write your little one's name in. Just click and drag the file to your desktop or right-click and save the image below. 

HALLOWEEN TAGS - PRINTABLE

Happy Halloween Week!

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Church Words

Can we talk about church? I'm not sure what I can and can't say without ruffling feathers or feeling overly emotional, but it's really been on my heart to share what we're going through. I'm struggling to stay invested in fellowship while at the same time desperately missing that "family" like crazy. It's unbelievably hard when your head and your heart are in such completely different places.

No denomination is perfect. I know that Baptists have a bad reputation and are generally thought of as "bible thumpers" or unnecessarily conservative. I also know it is altogether possible to be fully invested in the doctrine and at war with the current climate. There is such a dichotomy between those who thrive on tradition and an entire generation of young people who are craving revolution. I grew up in a baptist church and have defended it mightily. I don't secretly long for flashing lights and music or hipster preachers, I just want it to seem relevant and to teach my children the truths that will change their lives forever.

We started attending our current church when I was in the first grade. We found ourselves there, in a neighboring community, surrounded by people we didn't know. I don't remember much about our previous church, but I do remember my first service here, in a big new sanctuary. I remember that my Sunday School teacher's name was Mrs. Knight and that I didn't know what a paragraph was when I was asked to read a passage aloud in class. I remember Bible Drills and learning 2 Timothy 2:13 in the King James Version. I remember children's choir and summer camps and youth choir tours. I was married in the same church where I was baptized and later watched my own daughter stand in that same baptismal pool. I am invested in my church and all of the best memories of my life are centered around those rooms. That emotional attachment is what makes what we are currently experiencing so overwhelming.

I remember when Josh agreed that we would go to my church together after we were married. I had worried for months about where we would worship and if I could survive leaving what I considered home. For years we worshiped side by side, but he was hesitant to become a member. I was sitting next to him in the service one morning, when he took my hand and walked me up to the altar. I was so excited that he recognized why membership was so important and so proud that he could one day serve as a Sunday school teacher or deacon. The thought of having babies and being a family in the same church where I was raised made me giddy with anticipation. It makes me sad to think that might not be what God wants wants for our family.

The state of our fellowship has been in flux for quite some time. We have had amazing leaders who nurtured our hearts and taught us so many wonderful things and have made available to us so many exciting experiences. When you see people who are supposed to love each other start criticizing one other instead, you begin to question their character and their motives. Being embarrassed by your friends and family is a bitter pill to swallow, but sometimes it's necessary to oppose them and stand up for what you know in your heart is right. 

We've continued to serve in empty rooms and attended more tension filled meetings in the last year than I can begin to count. I'll admit I don't always do my part. There have been many Sundays when I'd rather pull the blankets over my head and enjoy the laughter of my little girls than to walk into the unknown. It is beyond hard to keep running when you have no idea what the finish line looks like. We don't ultimately know where God will lead us to worship. We are keeping our ears and our hearts open to him and trying not to run from his nudging, even when it is foreign and unfamiliar. Today, we know he has us standing in the gap for our friends and in support of our leadership. And as uncertain as it seems, I'm looking forward to the amazing things I know he has for us in the coming days.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Smoke & S'Mores

I know I've said this before, but I love my parents' house. They love to entertain us and both have such a knack for making this place feel like home, even when I haven't lived there in almost half my life. In the fall, the sun sets at just the right moment in their backyard. You can just see the cotton field through the trees and if you're quiet, you can just hear the coyotes howling from afar. The Texaco sign on the barn is all lit up and the entire place smells like a campfire.

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We eat hot dogs and doritos and drink gallons of sweet tea.

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We do our homework around the fire and complain a little because mom forgot to bring us warm pajamas.

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We chase this little guy and keep him from falling headfirst into the fire. We play kickball until it's too dark to find in the woods and complain about being too full after dinner.

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We burn marshmallows and make s'mores with pumpkin shaped Reese's Cups. We laugh because after giving a speech on how we are doing it all wrong, my dad's marshmallows slide off the stick into the fire.

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We make fun of these two for being twins with their iPhones, but that's only moments before I join them to post a few pictures on Instagram. The first official campfire of the season can't go undocumented.

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We are all smiles because our aunt is in town for the week and she'll indulge all of our stories and our giggles and our silly songs. We show her our math skills and try on the new clothes she brought and make spend the night plans for later in the week.

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We will regretfully load up our trunks and head home in the dark because it's a school night and their feet are black from playing outside barefoot and we still have chores to do before bed. It's late and we're tired, but I can't think of a better way to spend a Monday night at home with my tribe.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Letters

Dear Monday, Thanks for showing up so quickly. You always manage to ruin the perfect weekend.

Dear Alabama Football, Thanks for being much kinder to us this weekend. Our Saturday was filled with good friends (and pretty babies), corn hole and more barbecue that one could possible eat. The day was going to be pretty much perfect anyway, but a 59-0 finish over Texas A&M certainly helped.

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Dear The Most Amazing Dry Shampoo of All Time, Thank you for making me look completely put together and CLEAN, even when I'm not. I have successfully worn three-day hair to work on numerous occasions in the last few weeks because of you.

Y'all. It's time for a very important public service announcement. This dry shampoo is THE BEST. For reals. It cost me less than $10 at Walgreens, it's tinted so no more granny white hairs and it let's me go an extra day between shampoos! < Wait. You wash

Dear Jerry Seinfeld, Why can't I seem to find the bit I'm looking for on YouTube? You know, the one you've opened with every time we've seen you live? Where you talk about making plans for something in the far off future sounds super fun when you buy the tickets, but then you wake up and say, "Wait. That's today?!"

Dear Cask + Drum, You were a pretty fantastic little music festival. Even though Josh pretty much gave me that Seinfeld routine up there verbatim, he was all smiles once we got to the venue. What is not to love about food trucks and good music?! We even got cool t-shirts and made it home in time for kick-off. Roll Tide.

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photo by Andi Rice via Cask + Drum's Facebook Page -- see us on the front row?!

Dear Jamestown Revival, Thank you for being just as fabulous on stage as we knew you would be. Thanks for taking a photo with this cheesy mama of two and for helping me feel a little less embarrassed about the fact that my husband asked you to get off stage and pose with me. Thanks for catchy songs to dance to in our kitchen when we're cooking dinner and the promise of great things to come.

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Dear Heated Throw, You were worth every bit of the $20 I spent on you at Wal-Mart last week. Thank you for keeping me warm in my office, even though I kind of look like a grandma all wrapped up when people come by to chat. I was tired of battling off frostbite from the comfort of my office chair.

Dear Sweet Fluffy Angel Wing Pillow Sent Straight from Heaven Above, How how we lived without you for the last 34 years?! First Josh bought you for himself, but I've been secretly sleeping on your tiny corner after he falls asleep. I swear I hear harps and babies laughing every single time I lay my head down. I've since electronically transmitted the $37 necessary to make you mine.

Dear Amazon Prime, Please {dear sweet baby Jesus} deliver the aforementioned pillow safely to my doorstep on Wednesday.

Dear Spotify, Again with the monthly subscriptions to glorious things, but thank you for delivering pretty much every album of all time for the nominal fee of $10 per month. I will never overspend on iTunes ever again.

Dear All the Friends Who Recommended Spotify, You were right. Thank you and good day.

Dear iPhone 6, I am still longing for the day I get to make you mine. Just fourteen days and counting.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Small Town Friday Night

This is one of those posts that I write every year and I feel like I say the same thing over and over again. Do you mind?

Living in a small town is one of my favorite things. It has its disadvantages, certainly, but there are so many wonderful things that we choose to focus on those instead. High School Homecoming is the highlight of football season and everybody in town turns out for a full week of events. With dance pretty much monopolizing our lives, we had to opt out of the weeknight activities, but boy did we shop up on Friday. 

We don't send our girls to school on Homecoming any more because it is always too hard to get them checked out and either lined up for the parade or camped out downtown to watch. Josh sat in a carpool line for hours one year and vowed to never do that again! I took a half-day off this year and they were pacing the floor when I walked in the back door! Armed with a blanket and our brother-cousin, we walked a few blocks from home and found a nice place to sit and wait on the sirens to round the corner. 

Did I mention it was smoking hot?!

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We usually sit on the other side of this railroad bridge because my favorite part is to finally see the police cars come under the overpass, but we opted to hang out here this year. The crowd was thinner and we were a block closer to home. I promise you when K and I walked these three tired, sugar-crazy kids home we were glad not to have that extra block to contend with.

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Of course, every girl's favorite part of the parade are the firetrucks full of cheerleaders. I remember loving that as a little girl, too! 

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Now my favorite part is scoring a Blow-Pop while the kids are fighting over Tootsie Rolls and Skittles!

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We were planning to walk to the high school for the Pep Rally after the parade, but they were hot and sweaty and everyone agreed what they really needed was a shower and a nap! We had a few hours at home in the cool before it was time to don our black and gold and walk to the Annual Alumni Tailgate. That is definitely one thing I'll miss about this neighborhood -- we just packed up our wagon and walked down the street!

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Sophie was promptly greeted by all kinds of sweet faces. There was never a girl who loved her friends more than this one.

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And those cousins! Soph and Blakelee take dance together this year, so they are pretty in love with each other. Blakelee's mama even said she was worried Sophie wouldn't love her new shirt! Could they be any cuter?

What is Homecoming without our family photo op. Can't you tell how happy J is taking this one? I promised him if he would just pose for a few minutes and get it over with that I wouldn't bother him all night.

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I can assure you that this meal was NOT Whole30 approved. We had BBQ, pringles, brownies and buffalo chicken dip. The Dr. Peppers just might have been endless, too...

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I always love to get a good picture with my mama and my sister. Lucy (not my mom's real name, but I still call her that most of the time) wasn't happy with this one because of her head-tilt, but it was my favorite. How pretty are they?

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We won the game, but not on Friday. The weather turned bad after half-time and the refs post-poned the finish because of lightening. They waited patiently for quite awhile before deciding to resume the game on Saturday night! We were at home watching the miserable win by Bama over Arkansas, so we missed the big finish, but we won the game, which is always nice on Homecoming.

And because we all know I like a good comparison, here are my favorite family photo ops from the most recent Alumni Tailgates.

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2012 -- click here to read

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2013 -- click here to read

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2014