Black Friday Mania

Well, I have no idea where I have been the last 33 years {yes, I’m 33}, BUT…

I guess I didn’t know what “Black Friday” was really all about.

For example, I had no idea that people REALLY camped out in front of places like Toys R Us, Target, and Walmart. I mean, I have heard about such stuff, but I really didn’t think SANE people did this, just the crazies who were DESPERATE.

But was I sure wrong.

I was shocked beyond measure when my dear sister-in-law Brittony informed me that she and her boyfriend, Shawn, were going to wait outside of Walmart all night long in order to buy a video monitor. And then my good friend Alisha excitedly told me that she and her husband were getting up at 4:30 am to be at Target by 5 am.- just for fun, she loves the excitment. These are sane people. Wow. {Oh yes, must mention that Alisha managed to get me the portable DVD player that we have been wanting…thanks Alisha!! xoxo}

And then there was me.

I did get up early…very early for me. 6:30 AM to be exact. That’s a good 1/2 hr – hour earlier than I usually do, and let me tell you, it was tough. My alarm hasn’t seen that early hour in a long time.

But I was up to do some shopping of my own…ONLINE. My very favorite baby shoe seller, Mia Joie, was having a sale at 7AM, and this is what I got {picture courtesy of Mia Joie}

These are the best shoes ever- they go with everything, and I was soooo happy to snag a pair in Evy’s size, as she has outgrown her others.

But there is more.

If you read my Thanksgiving post you heard that my old washing machine kicked the bucket. So after my online shopping spree, we very begrudgingly went to Lowes to purchase a new one. I say begrudgingly because when you aren’t expecting it, and you are saving your money for your car’s air conditioning to be fixed, the last thing you want is to buy a new washer… but buy we did- at 1/2 off!! Here’s our new washer {Don’t look too closely at the baseboards, you will see the water damage from our old one…ugh}:

I love it!!

And since Brandon and I could not stomach the idea of going to Target at 5am, we thought we would go at 11:30, just see what all the hype was about and to get some last minute items for our trip to Florida on Monday {we’re going on vacation!! whooo hooo!!}.

It was STILL chaos at 11:30, THANK GOD we didn’t go earlier… I would have DIED.

Anyway, we managed to get a couple new DVD’s on sale for Jake. Here he is completely mesmerized by Kung Fu Panda. Seriously, I don’t think Jake has sat this still for …. well, for maybe NEVER. If you know Jake this is a big deal… He loved it!

And one more exciting thing… Evy is getting ready to crawl! Hasn’t gone anywhere yet, but is getting up on all fours! Oh I love her…

So that’s my first Black Friday “experience”. I’m curious, did you join in on the Black Friday Mania?

And oh yes, are there any Florida people out there who could tell me what the weather is like?

xoxo

Happy Thanksgiving

What a beautiful Thanksgiving!

This year, as we did last year, we ate our Thanksgiving dinner with my parents at Wine and Roses, a quaint hotel and spa in Lodi. It was five years ago this month that we had our wedding reception in the ballroom, where the Thanksgiving buffet was set up.

Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord in all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth”, so today….

…despite the fact that my washing machine called it quits last night right in the middle of me completing my 15th load of laundry {wow, where’d that come from? ha}…

I will thank the Lord for my family – my handsome husband, my precious babies, and my extended family. Brandon and I have lost too many close friends this year… their families are missing them this holiday season. I feel very blessed to have my family here with me.

Thank you Jesus for all your blessings in our life. We are so very fortunate to have eachother.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours….

The most important part…dessert. Looks like Jake is chowing down already! :)
Jake and his plate
Evy’s first Thanksgiving…
Us…bloated and full…
My dad on his SECOND plate…no joke. He has the metabolism of a teenager.
Thanks Mumsy and Gramps for such a wonderful dinner! We love you!

Being Thankful for the Little Things…

I know it’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, but yesterday and today I have been thinking about how thankful I am for my husband, my kids, my family- parents, siblings, in laws….

I have been so blessed. I never want to forget to thank God for them. Ever. Life is too short.

This morning I saw the following interview on msnbc.com. I have not followed NieNie’s blog long, just a few short months, but I have been inspired by her sheer joy of being alive and being thankful for the little things. Not to mention her unashamed attitude about her faith. It should convict all of us to be more outspoken about our own beliefs and faith.
If you haven’t heard of her, or read her blog, you should check it out. Here’s the interview:

So today I am thankful for a beauitful day in the park yesterday with Bryony and Scout. So fun to be with them, I wish they lived closer!

Our little monkeys…

My precious girl, all bundled up and still so very happy…

And here’s a picture I stole off our cousin Wayne Miraflor’s facebook. It was taken at cousin Jena’s wedding. How much cuter could these two be?

And I am thankful for one more thing that I think, if you know me, will surprise your socks off…

Walmart Pumpkin Pie!!

I know, I know, I despise Walmart {and actually refuse to step foot in their store}, but my in laws brought one over on Sunday night and I have say I have devoured a piece a day. I’m very close to saying it might be better than my homemade pumpkin pie.

Dear God, what has happened to me?? :)

Happy Thanksgiving week to you all! May God bless your week! xoxo

Bad Habits

Let’s see…

Tonight I didn’t brush Jake’s teeth, even after he ate two full plates of fries, a half a cheeseburger and an entire vanilla ice cream dish from Leatherby’s. See, he fell asleep in car after the wedding, so to be honest, I didn’t even wash his hands, even after he had been crawling around the floor at the wedding or after he had probably touched everyone and everything at the resturant.

Nope, we used a good ole’ fashioned wipee after dinner, put him in the car seat and drove home.

Ok, I did get a nice hot, soapy washcloth and try to rub his hands clean after we got home and had put him into bed.

But I did not brush his teeth.

In fact, on regular days, I only brush his teeth at night, if it could be considered that, after I wrestle him to the ground and try my hardest to get past his lock jaw to scrub the back teeth. I do try though. So if he comes down with cavities, please don’t blame me.

Furthermore, I did not feed my child any fruits or vegetables today. Pancakes and eggs for breakfast, cheese quesadilla for lunch and the above mentioned for dinner. And a few pieces of cake at the reception.

God forgive me. I hope my kids don’t turn out mental or deranged. Amen.

Highs and Lows

I have come to realize that parenting has it’s highs and lows.

Yes I have.

For example, I don’t think I have mentioned that my brother in law, Bryson is getting married today. Yes, tonight at 7. So last night we had the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner afterwards.

This is a little of what my “high and low” day looked like:

3:00 AM- went to bed…a  big LOW- Yeah, I worked all day long Thursday making a special gift for my new nephew Lincoln who will arrive in March. I will post about that gift very soon. Anyway, I finished at midnight Thursday and then started cleaning my very neglected house until 3. Only got the Living Room cleaned, but I guess that is was a start, guess I will count that a HIGH.

7:00 AM- Brandon’s alarm goes off. He is working on a fence job on his day off, which means I will have no help finishing up the housecleaning-another big LOW, but we made a bunch money off the job, which means we can pay our property taxes next month, BIG BIG BIG HIGH. Thank you Jesus!

8:00 AM- I’m cleaning. Thanks to my little munchkins, I only finish cleaning their rooms and the guest room{which I guess is a HIGH?}. I still have the most daunting task left, the kitchen and the family room {which is piled high with about 20 loads of laundry}- LOW.

1:00 PM- Bryony, David and Scout arrive. I don’t think I mentioned they were coming? Well, they are here! BIG HIGH! :) Big LOW, however, that they can’t find a place to sit in the family room due to the laundry and can’t wash their hands in the kitchen sink due to the dishes… *SIGH*

3:00 PM- kids down for a nap…HIGH!!!  I finish picking up the kitchen…HIGH!! Brandon gets home and is S.T.A.R.V.I.N.G…..for some reason he has forgotten to eat ALL DAY LONG!?! How in the world does one forget to eat? Must be how he keeps his figure. Anway, big LOW that I have to stop folding laundry and make him something {he can’t even make a PB&J- no joke}.

4:30 PM- Put together a pasta dish with the 5 ingredients I have in the fridge and pantry. I have not been able to make it to the store in 3 days, we have no food- LOW. My pasta dish, however, was devoured by everyone and labeled “the best pasta ever”… big HIGH! :)

5:00 PM- start getting kids and myself ready for the rehearsal, which is in Sacramento. I change myself and Evy 3 times- LOW. I dress Jake in his skinny tan cords, baby blue polo, forest green Crewcuts sweater and his Chuck Taylors…he looks like a stud, he makes me smile- HIGH.

6:00 PM- Throw everyone in the car-literally, and drive like a maniac to Sacramento, we are a little late {no surprise there} – LOW

7:00 PM- I leave the kids with Brandon and I go to the mall for some R&R.- HIGH. Brandon keeps calling me during the walk around the mall telling me to hurry; LOW.

7:45 PM- Pick up family and head to Bucca Di Beppo for a FABULOUS dinner hosted by my in laws. They seriously out did themselves. So yummy. BIG BIG HIGH.

8:15 PM- Food has not even arrived yet, and Jake is hopping from chair to chair. We sit him next to the 3 Meeks boys {as in Harry and Melissa Meeks} thinking that will help keep him occupied. Big mistake. I look over about 10 minutes later and find the 3 Meeks boys sitting calmly playing with their toys and EATING THEIR SALAD {kids eat salad?!? wow} while my son is in his chair jumping up and down like a Mexican Jumping Bean and screaming “Taaa daaa!”.

I make a mental note to order more discipline books from Dr. Dobson. Big LOW.

9:15 PM- dessert arrives {ice cream cones and cheesecake} it was too die for. HIGH. Jake gets one cone {even though he never ate dinner} and keeps asking for more. We tell him no. Ten minutes later I turn around and notice he has one. He went to every table and asked for one until someone had mercy on him. LOW. Double LOW when I find out it was his THIRD one.

9:45 PM- Pile everyone into car. Drive home. Brandon is exhausted can barely keep his eyes open, thanks to the $$ fence he built today. I realize we have no milk, so must stop at store.Get to store, walk around trying to remember my forgotten list {of course} and come back to car to find that Brandon had climbed into passenger seat and was dead asleep, along with Evy. Jake however, thanks to the 3 ice cream cones, was wide awake and singing Hillsong United at the top of his lungs. UGH…this whole comment is a LOW.

11:30 PM- Arrive home, we put kids in bed. Brandon goes to sleep, I clean up kitchen.

12:30 AM- Bed HIGH, HIGH, HIGH.

2:00 AM- Bryony, who is pregnant tries to open the window in their room because I forgot to turn down the heater, there are three people sleeping in the guest room and its like a furnace in there and did I mention she is pregnant? Bless her heart. The house alarm goes off when the window opens. My husband sleep runs to turn it off, Bryony feels horrible, and I feel like DIRT. Why didn’t I think to turn the heat down?!? LOW

4:30 AM- Evy cries. Normally I would let her cry it out, but with guests, I feed her. LOW

5:30 AM- Jake comes into our room. He had peed through the diaper. I change him. He sleeps with us. LOW

6:30 AM- Evy cries again, I feed again. LOW

7:30 AM- Jake wakes up. We make him play quietly in our room. LOW

8:00 AM- Evy wakes up. I’m so tired, I just let her whine. LOW.

8:30 AM- Get Evy. I’m near tears over the fact that I was up almost every hour. Brandon slept through everything, and probably would have slept through the house alarm if I hadn’t pushed him out of bed. I don’t think it even phased him. LOW

But then this morning, while I was laying there in bed, soo soo tired, and praying to God that I could have a few more minutes of sleep, my little, precious boy rolls over, pushes his face into mine and says, “I love you, Mommy.”

That makes all the emotional highs and lows worth it.

And then I go and pick my little girl up from her crib and she smiles a big toothless smile. Even though I had just made her wait for me for 30 minutes.

Again- makes it all worth it.

So God, I guess I will take all the highs and lows if it means watching these precious babies grow. They are so wonderful, even through the lows. They are our treasures. It’s worth it, God. Grant me wisdom to raise them, give me strength to keep going, and keep the highs and lows coming.

I love you, Lord; you are my strength.” Psalm 18:1

And since I can’t ever seem to write a post without a picture, I thought I would go down memory lane for a minute and share my favorite picture of Brandon and I before kids, during our first year of marriage. It was taken in Ventura while we were visiting Bryony and David during their couple year stay there. It was taken by David, of course.

Even though we look so skinny, in love and RESTED..ha!…I would still never trade my kids. Well, ok, maybe I would for a day of rest, but I would definitely want them back. :)

And no, I won’t apologize, SoShawna…I promise!! hehe :) xoxo

Do you Crock Pot?

One of my blog friends, Ann over at Auntie Ann’s, did a post on her crock pot and asked all her readers for their favorite crock pot recipe. She got some fabulous recipes!

Well, that got me thinking…

I have the best pot roast recipe EVER. Ok, I’m sure its not the best ever, but my family loves it, so that makes it the best to us, I guess. Ha! I made it up right around the time Brandon and I got married, and I have not stopped making it since. It is a simple recipe and very forgiving{I have left ingredients out and it STILL tastes good}, yet it is fancy enough to serve on a holiday or to a guest of honor.

Pot Roast

1-2lbs meat {we prefer tri tip, but chuck roast works fine too}
1 yellow onion quartered
1 pkg Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1 1/2 C. Red Wine {I buy the cheapest, it really doesn’t make much of a difference}
1 1/2 C. Chicken or Beef Broth {Either one will work, I usually use Chicken since its what I always have}
1 C. water

Rub meat down with salt and pepper, or use a seasoning like Blue Star Seasoning . Place meat in pot, cover with onion soup mix, add onions and then liquid. Cook on slow for 10hrs. I have done 8 hours, but it is so much more tender when cooked longer. I serve with mashed potatoes and steamed carrots and add some chopped parsley on top.

Now here’s the sad part. This is the only thing I really use my crock pot for!! I have tried other recipes, but none that I really like….

So I am curious, what is your favorite crock pot recipe?

In closing, here is what you get when you give a very antsy almost 3 year old a thrift store synthesizer. Its a life saver, really. ‘Course you’ll probably go nuts from all the noise, but at least he’ll sit in one place for 30 mins

Singing our fave song from the Aristocats and picking his nose at the end of course…


My Best Friend…

Lately I have been pondering the following two statements:

1.  I have the best husband ever.

2. My husband is a pro at the most important action ever: FAITH

When I married Brandon, I knew we wouldn’t have a lot of money {since he is in the ministry}, but I knew that he would work very hard to take care of us, and that God would provide all we needed. Throughout our marriage, I have held onto Matthew 6: 25 -34, my favorite passage of scripture:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

The last couple of days, I have been blown away by how God takes care of us. Several prayers have been answered, needs have been met, and unexpected events have brought me pure joy. I know that this is all God, working on my behalf.

But, I have to give credit where credit is due.

Brandon has held onto faith even in the darkest hours. He really, truly, believes that God will not fail us. And I believe that, due to his faith, God never has.

I am so thankful for a husband who fights all our battles with sword of faith. It means so much to me. He sets such an incredible example to our family. To coin a phrase made famous by Kirk Franklin- one that exemplifies Brandon’s outlook on life:

“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold.”

Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with my husband. He fulfills me in everyway. He is my best friend.

I love you, Babe! xoxo

The following pictures were taken by our good friend Sam Hassas. Sam was photographing Brandon, and a few other men, for our friend Ryan’s custom clothing line, R.Douglas- If you are in need of a good suit, you should check him out. Both Ryan and Sam are extremely talented individuals who we are blessed to call friends.

The guy in the middle is Ryan of R. Douglas

My Baby Loves

I have the best babies in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD!

Ok, that might be a bit biased….

But I do.

For example, a couple nights ago, I found my little man doing this…

He has this little tool belt set that his Auntie Bryony and Uncle David gave him when he was just a baby and in it is a little measuring tape, just like Daddy’s. On Sunday night I was standing in the kitchen when I heard the garage door open, so I went to check it out. I found Jake measuring the car. When I asked him what he was doing he replied, “I’m working, Mommy.” My response: “Oh, really, how big is it?” Jake, “It’s 3lbs, Mommy!”

Brandon says we talk a lot about weight around here…I guess so, ha!

And then my precious girl….

Brandon loves to play with her mouth because she makes the cutest little noises in such a dainty way.

Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with these wonderful children. I feel more than honored that you place them in my care.

xoxo

Rachel Ashwell…in person!!

SoShawna is going to hate me for saying this, but be preapared…its a long one. :)

Since before Brandon and I started dating, I have LOVED Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic. What I loved most about Rachel’s line was her philosophy – take old items and make them usuable and new again. I gravitated towards her British lean on decorating, probably due to the English side of me {my mom is British}. The Shabby Chic philosophy fit me…so comfortable, so economical, so REAL.

My first apartment {shared with my dear, dear friend Joy}, was almost entirely Shabby. When Brandon and I got married and bought our new home, we also carried over that theme. We raided my parents garage, visited many garage sales, and repainted and recovered almost all of our finds in white, just like Rachel recommended in her books.

Our first “non-hand-me-down” couch  was from Rachel’s line, called “The Elegant” and we paired it with “The Squadgy Chair”. Both of them are overstuffed with down and slipcovered in Rachel’s white linen. Since our other set of couches were also slipcovered in white, and our kichen was all white, I can’t tell you how many times we heard from visitors, “Wow, your house is so WHITE!” and “You’re going to really wish you hadn’t chosen white as a decor color when you have kids!”. What they don’t understand is everything by Rachel is WASHABLE. Yes, you heard me, even her velvet pillows that are hapazardly thrown across the sofa. I have gotten everything you can imagine out of those things…pizza grease, crayon, spit up, pee and baby poo, even tea! I would definately recommend white to anyone with kids!!

Here are a few pictures of our home…before kids in case you are wondering where the toys went and why it is so neat all of a sudden?!? :) This first one is “The Elegant Sofa” and “The Squadgy”. Joy and I bought the ottoman with the living room couches for our apartment at a garage sale and then recovered them in matching white.

Our living room and the garage sale couches with a beautiful painting courtesy of my parents garage and thrift store prints over the couches. :)

Our white kitchen…
Our entryway…the pictures hanging in the rotundra hung in my grandparents bedroom for 40 years.
Dining room. The table and sidetable were my grandparents and the wicker chairs were in my parents house ever since I was a baby.
So here’s the exciting part of this post…..
Several weeks ago, Brandon called me from work to tell me that Rachel was going to be doing a book signing on Friday, November 13, in Marin, CA to promote her fabulous new book Shabby Chic Interiors. Brandon said he wanted to take me.
Now, we have NEVER been to a book signing. In our minds, we imagined the author sitting at a table with a line of customers waiting to have the new book signed. We thought we’d drive over and spend the day with my family and then go to the bookstore, buy the book, wait in line and take a picture.
We were very mistaken.
What we {and what I mean by WE is Brandon, me, my mom and, brace yourselves, MY KIDS} walked up to was a quaint little bookstore off Lucky Drive with a little back room filled with enough chairs for about 40 people or so. A projector and a microphone was set up. We quickly realized this was a LECTURE. We got excited but…
Oh my, a lecture with kids?!? Kids who hadn’t napped all day long and in a very small setting at that. Hmmm..
So we sat down willing to brave the storm. Here my mom and I are so excited to be this up close and personal to Rachel.
Brandon and Jake waiting. Notice Jake getting just a tad antsy and book signing not even started yet. :(
And at 7PM, in walked Rachel to begin the lecture. Using a PowerPoint presentation, she walked us through her book.
It was so cool to hear all the little hidden tidbits about her book, and for the first 10 mins or so it was wonderful but….
This little boy had other plans.
A few minutes in he yells out, “Daddy, I need to go poopoo!” {And since he is still working on the potty bit, he begins to go with pushing noises and all. Not to mention the smell…} So we dash out to find a bathroom.
On the way back in, my precious little bundle of joy decides to make a run for it right through the emergency exit, SETTING OFF THE FIRE ALARMS. Bless Rachel Ashwell’s heart, she kept right on talking. I could have kissed her for it.
We attempt to find him a quite spot to read, but did I mention that this bookstore DID NOT have a children’s section? Nope. So Brandon ran to the car to get his backpack, which seemed to help for the remainder of the lecture, which I listened to outside the doorway since Evy had waken up from her nap and considered this time to chat it up. Thankfully, I did get to hear most of the end.
Then came the waiting in line bit we all knew was coming. Let me say this, Rachel is awesome! She took a good 5-10 minutes with each person, getting to know them, hearing about their Shabby interests, posing for pictures. The bummer about it is I kept losing my place in line due to having to chase a wild 2 year old around the store.
Finally, after waiting 45 minutes, taking turns with Brandon and my mom with the kids, I finally got to meet Rachel. We were the last people to see her, and by the time we got there the bookstore was closing, so my chat was very short, but I did thank her for her wondeful Elegant sofa and washable white covers. She was so very kind and posed for a picture.
Unfortunately, by that point I looked like poop, was super stressed and had a headache the size of Alaska, but here is my keepsake. Rachel, of course, looks great!
And my mom, as always, looks like a superstar. How does she do it??
Overall, we had such a fabulous time meeting Rachel. I LOVE her new book! If you love her as much I do, you must get it. My inscription on inside cover says:
“To Amy,
Lovely to meet you. Keep loving the white and the Elegant.
Rachel Ashwell”
Thank you Babe for taking me! Even though I could have cried from embarassment over our over-stimulated child, I really did have a wonderful time and will remember it forever. I love you!! xoxo

Whew…Parenthood!

Sometimes parenthood can be sooo exhausting.
Like the other day when I found Jake under our kitchen table eating my giant bar of dark chocolate {AGAIN}. It seems he feels that hiding under table justifies it.

Or like last week when Evy had her first taste of rice cereal. She was definitely not a fan…

…and wasn’t interested no matter how much I tried.

But even though she hated it {and has hated it for the past 8 days} she still gave me a smile. Such a sweetie. And yes, we finally gave up yesterday and move right to the veggies. She liked it much better!

But then we have days like this one…
or like this one, my all time favorite morning a couple of months ago….

And I remember why I love being a mom so much. These kids are just sooo precious, I love them, they make me smile constantly. 

Like yesterday when I asked Jake to stop standing on his chair while he eats because I was afraid he was going to fall and {my words} “crack your head open”. Jake’s response was big eyes, excited voice:

“Crack my head open?!? WOW!”

Or like today when I played peek-a-boo with Evy and she giggled and giggled over just a silly game.

Yes, it makes all the frustration worth it. It almost makes the stinky, spit up clothes and lack of shower worth it.

Almost. :)