Article 5

We got an email from our agency today that our paperwork was dropped off today at the US Consulate in Guangzhou!  We are officially in the wait for our Article 5.  It takes approx 2 weeks to get it, so most likely they will pick it up on Monday, Feb. 9th and we’ll be in the wait for our Travel Approval (aka TA).  Once we get travel approval, we’ll most likely head to China within 1.5 – 3 weeks of getting that TA.

We also got another update on Philip – probably our last one before we travel but it helped us to know more about his size, also we learned he must know a considerable amount more of Mandarin than we thought – our report said he could sing 6-7 songs in Chinese but could not yet write very well!  I would say that is pretty great for a 2 year old!!!  We must start learning some Mandarin right away.  We also got some new photos!

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In other news, I just started a new bible study by Beth Moore called “Children of the Day” on 1st & 2nd Thessalonians.  A week in and it’s really good.  Check it out…

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Other than that we are just hanging out by the fireplace A TON and eating a lot of Vitamin C to try and stay well (me) AND get better (Wes & Rand).

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Nesting

We got our 1800 Approval!  Now we are in the wait for our Article 5.  I guess I’m probably the adoption equivalent of nearing 8 months pregnant – we think we could even travel as early as the very beginning of March if we get TA (i.e. “travel approval”) before Chinese New Year (in Feb. when everything shuts down in China for a week for their biggest annual national holiday).

I remember before Rand was born all the “unfinished projects” we hustled to get done…here we go again.  Not that any of these require being done for us to travel, but I sure will feel better if I can finish a few of them before we go.  They are:

-Cleaning out the garage – probably the most important but least fun!

-Finishing up the kitchen, not sure when it will end but it is SO CLOSE

-Making the guest bedroom into an actual guest bedroom/playroom (not much to do there except clean out all the stuff we stashed back there while the kitchen was being done!)

-We re-arranged the living room and took out some furniture and so I’m looking for two chairs and 2 rugs to define the 2 separate spaces we made

-Shutters and an exterior landscaping plan (we won’t be able to plant anything until spring, but I want to have the plan)

-Boys bathroom – Rand has always used our bathtub because his had a door on it that wasn’t conducive to taking kid baths/adults helping so we are taking it off and switching it to a curtain.  I took down the granny window treatments and it left holes in the wallpaper, also the mirror is cracked and dangerous so we may have it cut down and put a frame on it…here’s what I’m thinking currently:

This “look” (image sourced here)

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Here’s what I’m considering to get the look:

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1. Add wood to original mirror & stain it 2. use some vintage boat pics we already have, add gold or wooden frames 3. This wallpaper 4.  This shower curtain x2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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While we waited

Most adoptive parents, during their LOA wait, get their child’s room ready, figure out what they need for traveling and start to think about things like packing, what the child will need upon return, etc.

We decided to renovate the kitchen.

Here’s what it looked like 9-10 weeks ago…

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Then about 5 weeks ago…

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3 weeks ago…

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There were definitely parts of the process that wore on me, but I kept reminding myself I “decided to do this.” The most annoying parts for me were:

  • The thick dust on E V E R Y T H I N G.  Not just in the kitchen. I laugh when I think back to the first 2 weeks when we actually left up pictures and furniture thinking “oh, it won’t be in the way”  HA.
  • Not being able to cook on a stove for 10 weeks
  • Being in an unorganized mess for Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas

BUT…I have to say the good parts far outweighed the bad.

  • I love projects – this one was just slightly bigger than my other ones to date and, because of that, more fun
  • Being able to problem solve and help come up with ideas and solutions
  • Picking out new everything (I’ve never had a new dishwasher or fridge before! It is amazing and I appreciate it so much!)
  • Wes, Rand and I have adored the skilled people who have been working on this project and especially our carpenters and contractor.  I am actually dreading that there may be no one here next week in the kitchen…(which also means no more Johnny Cash sing-a-longs or people for me to fix coffee or divide my lunch with)
  • There is something extremely satisfying with having a vision and being able to work with other people to see it happen!  For example…here’s a before and after of our pantry-turned-coffee area.  It’s not completely done yet, as we are waiting on some doors, but you get the idea.

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AFTER

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I will try and post more before and after photos soon! We are almost there…

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I wish you a Merry Christmas

IMG_5882Tonight Rand made some new friends at the church that we’ve been visiting.  I was worried he would not do well in the “nativity” since he really didn’t know anyone but in no time at all he had lots of fellow shepherd friends.  I sat there in the pew for an hour or so while they practiced and it really made me miss Philip even more and wish he could be here right now and tomorrow for Christmas Eve and then as we are with all the family for Christmas.  By now, he has a care package we sent with pictures of us labeled “mom,” “dad,” and “big brother” in Chinese and it hurts to know that he knows about us and is probably looking at that little picture book and will still have to wait a few months until we can be together.  For now, we will continue to pray for him and orphans (and anyone alone) that God will send his angels to hold them in His arms.

And we may have this Third Day song on repeat…

It’s Christmas time again but you’re not home
Your family is here and yet you’re somewhere else alone
So tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in His arms
And tell you from my heart, I wish you a Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Philip!!!!  We are counting down the days!

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LOA LOA LOA!

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We’ve been waiting to say that for so long (been dreaming to be this far along since sometime in 2013)…it is a major step in the process.   TODAY I’ll never forget thinking how pretty the Governor’s Mansion looked all decorated for Christmas and then looking down at my phone and getting the LOA email as I sat in my car on Blount Street.  I immediately yelled out the window to my brother Sam to come back to the car so I could go crazy with excitement (I’d just dropped him off at his office after hijacking him at work for a coffee break while I was in Raleigh today).  It’s cool that Sam got to be the first to know about the LOA…especially since Philip’s middle name is Samuel after his uncle!

If you’re in the adoption world, you understand it is a long-awaited thing to be able to have.  If you’re not familiar with China adoption, this blog make a really helpful chart that explains all the steps – it’s been helpful to me – it gets confusing.

What that means is that we’ll probably have Philip in our arms within 12 weeks at the latest.  Maybe even sooner if we FedEx overnight every single thing.  Adoptive parents would make great FedEx commercials.

Stay tuned for more adoption updates…

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas and…

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Rand (3.5 years old) and Philip (2.5 years old).  Philip is waiting for us in China.  More details to come!

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My summer find

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I recently discovered Turkish Beach Towels…I can’t believe the difference it has made saving space in my beach bag, it dries super fast and also can double as a cute wrap or sarong.  I will never go back to lugging terry cloth towels to the lake or beach again!

As a fun giveaway to two lucky clients and friends, I’m gifting a Turkish striped towel, our Beautycounter Protect SPF 30 Sunscreen (toxin free and recently recommended by the EWG and GOOP/Gwyneth Paltrow!) and a Beautycounter pouch – because summer isn’t over yet!

In order to be entered to win (there will be 2 winners drawn randomly!), all you have to do is place an order over $40 between now and Saturday 7/26 11:59pm.  To shop, go to: anna.beautycounter.com and click on the black button that says: July Friends/Family

I hope you win!

Did you know: The United States has not passed a federal law to regulate the ingredients used in personal care products since 1938?  What is Beautycounter doing about this?  Check out this informative video!
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A little at a time

So many things these days are BAD for you it is overwhelming when you try to make a change.  So, last year, we resolved to do a little at a time and just take on one area at once…and it has been working!

We started with FOOD.  I am so grateful that Wes and Rand have taken up healthy eating habits too.  Wes even reads labels and looks for organic when he is picking up things for us at the grocery store and I’m so grateful.  Better yet, he even now knows what to avoid now and does it!

Next up was products…we cleaned out the shower and bathroom cabinets and replaced it all with Beautycounter.  That was easy, once we found it.  Now I can’t get enough!

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Following beauty products was home/cleaning products.  We are about 75% done with a few bits of research for me still to do (I may possibly be part germaphobe…), but dish detergent, laundry detergent, hand soap, all-purpose cleaner, etc. is switched over.  We went with Honest, Shaklee and homemade recipes for most things.

Now we have moved on to our kitchen and have cleaned out all our scratched teflon pans and replaced them with stainless steel.  I got rid of all our plastic cups that were questionable and am researching the ones that claim to be safe – although it is looking like it will have to be glass or stainless.  Over the next week I hope to go through each cabinet and drawer and make any other switches needed.  We are also going to need 1 or 2 more pots/pans because I got rid of most of the ones we had and already had two dishes to prepare that both needed the same pan…

We do have a keurig, but it may need to retire when I finish my decision making on what stays/what goes.  Apparently all those little k-cups are a massive trash issue and, as we all knew, expensive.

On a positive note, something cool happened today!  After being inspired by a friend who has great ideas, we gathered up all the paint we had in our garage and posted it on our online garage sale facebook group.  Within 1 hour 11 people asked for it and it was out of our garage within 3 hours of posting it this morning.  We thought we’d have to wait until the next toxic trash collection day (Only 2 a year here) and instead, someone is able to put it all to use for their home and business.  It was encouraging.  And so are those empty, clean cabinets in our garage!

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If you haven’t already

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Go check out (and enter!) the giveaway I’m sponsoring over on the fabulous blog of Sarah Tucker.   1 day left to enter to win the following:  cute striped makeup bag, the body collection (shampoo, cond, bodywash, lotion) and a peppermint lip balm!  Also, if you don’t already read Sarah Tucker Styles, check out her blog you will just love her thoughts and personal style!

If you are interested in building a personal business or joining the mission email me: annafsmith@gmail.com & read more about the mission here!

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Liking lately…

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1.  This new children’s collection by Jessie Mackay.  A few of these paintings mix/matched would make the sweetest collection in a nursery or “big girl/boy room” –  When Rand was born, a family member offered to buy him something special for his nursery and we chose a piece of art – specifically a horse drawing!  He’s already outgrown his crib and changing table, but his horse sketch he can use in his own home forever – thankfully, that day isn’t here yet!

2.  New recipes I’ve tried out:  This fried olive recipeThis roasted cauliflower recipeThis Miso Wonton Soup recipe (p.s. you can find the cilantro chicken wontons at…Food Lion!  In the frozen organic section!  I used White Miso, from our local natural foods store)

3.  Getting ready for spring/summer…this rashguard and these shoes!

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4.  The #3 Lustro Face Oil  – Ylang Ylang and Wild Chamomile, from Beautycounter.  With my acne-prone skin I would have never guessed putting an oil on my face would work so well!  I find myself looking forward to washing my face and then applying each morning and each night (and maybe I’ll sneak another drop or so during the day…)

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5.  FROZEN! Rand’s been home sick all week with a fever and croup.  While I hate seeing him sick, Wes and I have both enjoyed lots of extra snuggles.  Yesterday, while Wes was at work, Rand and I fixed ice cream cones (his idea) and watched Frozen for the first time, my idea.  It was really cute, although I would warn, for parents of other young children it is rated PG (we try to stick to G around here as much as possible) and it had 2 scary scenes with a giant snowman monster, but we just fast forwarded that part!

Also, if you haven’t seen this, probably the best lip sync job ever…clever, clever parents:

Happy Weekend!

 

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Beautycounter: safe skincare

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Over the last year, we’ve really improved our eating habits here in the Smith house and made a resolution to make the same renovation in the products we use on our bodies.  In my search to find a safe shampoo & conditioner (ones that would also be effective and not require using a handful just to get a good lather…) I stumbled upon Beautycounter.  After trying the products and falling in love with the mission of the company, I decided to join the movement to get safe products into the hands of everyone!

Check out my site here and, of course, feel free to ask questions or let me know if you’d like to try anything!

Beautycounter also offers a great opportunity to start your own business – one where you can put in as little or as much time as you’d like.  I have learned so much and would be happy to share my thoughts on the biz side of it all with you if you’re interested. Just contact me.

 

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Lately…

Wow – it has been so long since I last posted.  Sorry ’bout that.  A few things on my mind lately…

This new album by Ellie Holcomb is great.  Especially love Broken Beautiful.  Ellie married a good friend of my sweet college roommate and her husband…so I feel like I know her, even though I really don’t.  It was fun to see her project from kickstarter (which is also awesome btw) turn into her amazing album though!  Listen to it here.

Also, I made these scrambled eggs the other day and they are perfect.   I didn’t do the tomatoes and mushrooms but that would be good too.  Just never knew this was the way to scramble them right!  Promise me you won’t curse like Gordon does…even if you do burn your toast too:)

That’s all for today!  Hopefully I’ll be back more frequently!

Cheers,

Anna

 

 

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Best of Summer

Since I haven’t blogged in 3 months…a recap seems like the most appropriate way to restart.  Notice, it is called “Best of Summer” – I have left out the 2 year old tantrum moments, the awesome new recipes that I didn’t try and my window box/planter fail…so…without further ado, here is a peek into the best moments of a great summer:

Summer began early for us…we headed down to our favorite New Smyrna Beach, FL and were delighted to be joined by the Stokes family for a few days!
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We had to visit our sentimental place on the Indian River.
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And we found some fun new places…

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Staying in a small condo that, at high tide, felt like we were actually on the water was heavenly – especially since the upkeep was so easy. Every morning, Rand would line up his animals. I would say his summer fascinations have been: animals, fishing, golf (his own versions of the last two, of course)

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So it was especially cool, if not somewhat unnerving to me, to see the fisherman catch exciting things each day.
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We had a special evening with my Great Aunt Bebe, who Rand got to meet for the first time
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And Wes and I got to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary (10! I know!!!)
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With Sangria at our favorite New Smyrna restaurant, The Spanish River Grill.
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The highlight of the day was that we found out our Dossier officially went to China…a huge milestone in the adoption process for us…more on that to come.
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Who are those two young love birds???
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We also got to share the end of our trip with my mom, or “Ema” as Rand calls her, and got to see more family, including the Wallis cousins! Rand was overjoyed to get so much attention. It was hard to say goodbye to everyone!
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Coming home wasn’t so hard because the Kings came to visit! Here’s a photo of Jackson and Rand perfecting their snow cone eating skills:
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We are finally enjoying our pool (it warmed up mid-June!) this year too! Rand loves to walk around it and “fish” and he enjoys rescuing bugs and frogs with the pool net.
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Rand got to spend time with both of his grandmothers (and his pops and Aunt MD too!)
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The boys did a little more “fishing”
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I did a lot of blackberry picking
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and I figured out that Rand and I both share a love for the “Go Green” smoothie at 195 Nature’s Own. It has been our “special snack” place!
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This next photo deserves its very own post – the most major event of the summer – we were blessed with a new niece. Sweet baby Kara was born at the end of June (that’s right, we’re not even to July yet)! Here she is less than 24 hours old.
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Another important summer event included James’ ordination as a deacon in the Episcopal Church.
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We spent time with Wes’ family at Myrtle Beach (don’t let my amazing sis-in-law fool you – this photo was less than 10 days after baby Kara was born! We are all taking lessons from Jax and Matt on how to rally.
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Rand and MJ got to have some quality time that also involved lots of bubbles, duck feeding and swimming
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which all make for one happy kid
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We visited the Myrtle Beach Aquarium – which was awesome!!!  But then we realized they make  you exit THROUH the gift shop, which is also on the opposite side of the building as the baby ducks that Rand saw outside.  So going home was not as fun…
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We also took a trip to Wilmington to hear James preach on his first Sunday at his new church.
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And then we stayed for lunch and snuggles.  It is also important to note that this was the day that Rand first met “Buster” and “Maggie” – they are James and Samantha’s 2 dogs who have unknowingly been prayed for 2x a day (nap and bedtime) every day since.
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Overall we did a lot of swimming (bathtub, pool, ocean and lake)

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It was a good summer and we were so blessed to be able to enjoy all the “new” things with a 2-year-old!

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Insert sigh here

Vacation is about to begin! It has been pretty major to get to today and we are so thankful for all that has been accomplished.

We stopped mid-way to get some BBQ at one of our favorite spots – The Happy Tomato in Amelia Island (it’s kid-friendly too…although we just realized this year for the first time).

And now, this week, we look forward to showing Rand some new-to-him things about the world we live in!

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Loved and Redeemed

“For God SO LOVED the world (that means all of us, folks!) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Today I am thankful that God SO LOVED US that we ARE redeemed of our sin, through Christ, and can have a relationship with Him now and forever.  A perfect song for today…I think…

Happy Valentine’s Day Friends!!!

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A beautiful day

It was a beautiful day today so we went outside for the afternoon as soon as Rand got up from his nap (as a 21-month-old he’s doing really well with his naps. consistently sleeping from 1pm until sometime between 3 & 4)!  I was looking through some photos I took this afternoon and realized they were a great representation of this stage in the game.

Rand is such a little boy now!  I don’t know what happened.  We watch his baby video all the time (at his request) and I still think of him as that little baby.  Then I see these pictures and he’s all toddler.

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He’s SO BUSY. All. The. Time. And it is great. Daddy is really nice and let’s him play in his car…one of his favorite things to do.
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Rand also tries to do some things that he just can’t do yet but wants to…like riding this scooter. Almost…it won’t be long bubs!
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We don’t go anywhere these days without these two – “Meow” and “tut-tull” – Seriously. They ride in the car, they sit next to the crib, they come to breakfast and they LOVE to go outside. Rand found them in the garage a few weeks ago and remembered them from last summer. They are having a much more exciting off-season than most pool floats I know of.
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Lately, anything can become a horse. And this boy loves some horses.
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This is the “cheeeeese” face. We need to work on it some.
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There has been a language explosion in the past week or so. I have a feeling we are in for it. The kid knows what he wants.
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He’s also a great listener still.
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Thanks to a weekend project with Uncle Sam and Kristen (aka “Diddy and CeCe”), our trees all have bird feeders hanging from them.
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“Bird seed” and “Tweet Tweet” have been added to the growing word list.
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Here’s a proud face for making it up a step without having to hold on or crawl.
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Oh and of course the drool continues. Does it ever stop? That is one thing I will be happy to grow out of!
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Thanks for hanging out with us today!

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Working on…

Meal Planning.  This might sound crazy to people who know me (and how I like PLAN THINGS AHEAD) but I really struggle with meal planning.  I think it is because I also give into impulsiveness…ooooh just saw Ina make a perfect roast chicken (folks, if you wanna cook a chicken, just follow this recipe) OR a bunch of yummy things just popped up on Pinterest…and then whatever I bought earlier that week at Harris Teeter just has to sit in the fridge and deal with it (but then I have to deal with it later, of course).  So I need to make a plan and, for the most part, stick to it.  Especially since it is my JOB to fix our family 3 healthy meals a day.  Plus snacks.  Speaking of which, if you don’t already keep up with 100 Days of Real Food, go check it out too.  I started reading it about a year ago and it has been extremely helpful with cutting down on the amount of processed foods we consume.

Today, I was inspired to get started on this by Pawley’s Island Posh (cute blog!) who referred me to this blog and motherload of genius ideas for meal planning…i.e. making repeating schedules on my google calendar…why didn’t I think of that especially since I’m notorious for leaving my list at home and having to play the memory game.

Anyway, it is too helpful not to share so go check it all out:

(image from lifeingraceblog.com)

I’ll post any good recipes I find as well as keep you up on any other tips I come across as I tackle this.  Got any meal planning tips to share?

And so I’ll leave you with this photo from Sunday afternoon.  We had to get outside, even though it was FREEZING and took a walk in our local arboretum.  Rand found some pinecones that are now hanging with peanut butter and birdseed in the yard.  I guess the birds got the first meal plan:)  Whoops.

 

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December Photos

Before Christmas, we had our friend, and super-talented photographer, Cassie Butler, take some photos for us. Our goal was to get a few good ones of Rand that we could frame to hang in the hall and our room as well as a good family shot for the Christmas card. It was soooo hard to choose which ones we liked best but these were some of our favorites.  I just can’t believe that Rand is almost 2 and that Wes and I have been married for almost 10 years!!!

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Happy New Year…and Happy Anniversary

Happy New Year to everyone!  We are “staying in” this year and trying to get well.  Up until Christmas Eve I thought I was immune to the stomach bug, but as it turns out, stomach-bug immunity is not a superpower that I posses after all.  Which means that my sweet mother-in-law’s oyster stew is off the hook as the culprit since Wes and Rand clearly had what I did a few days later…

Rand has been watching Santa Paws on rerun and I fear we have not done our job in teaching him the true meaning of Christmas.  How do I know this?  Today he picked up a Noah’s Ark book and pointed to a white-bearded Noah and said “Ho Ho Ho!”  Time for a little less Christmas and a little more Jesus around here.

I leave you all with my favorite thing about New Year’s…it’s my brother’s anniversary.  Happy Anniversary James & Samantha!

Samantha & James : the celebration from Inkspot Crow Films on Vimeo.

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Merry Christmas!

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