Friday, December 18, 2009

Let it Snow

We feel extremely blessed to enjoy some snow this year. Since moving to Florida, I miss it the most. (Well, that and Bojangles.)
Today we are visiting Tom's mom and stepdad in Mocksville, NC. I never thought we would get snow while here. In fact, I checked the weather before I left and the chance of snow was not even mentioned. And yet here we are...expecting 10 inches tonight and more tomorrow.

This is the children's first snow. Petra's face was priceless when she woke up from her nap and saw the ground covered in white. Jasper also looked pleased.

Thomas helped Petra with her first snowball.

They enjoyed their first 3 minutes outside...and then got cold. And started whining, crying and were generally unhappy and cold. It wasn't long before we headed back inside with two cold babies for some hot chocolate.

(they've also been enjoying the pastures of cows)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jingle Bells

No, she's not a Mozart, or a Beyonce.
But Petra decided this past week to try and play piano and sing her favorite Christmas Song - Jingle Bells.

She was louder, but then you know, I got out the camera. So she had to act shy about it. And as soon as I put the camera away she got louder again.

I hope it at least makes you smile.

Jesse Tree

Yes, I disappeared a couple of weeks. So sorry about that.

We have been so busy. And now, I need to head to bed and decided to instead spend just 2 minutes typing a post to let everyone know I am still here.

A few things kept me away from my computer and posting: 1) we had family visit and stay with us for several days over Thanksgiving; 2) I work in the Legislature and we just finished a special session; and 3) I'm spending all my spare time watching movies with my husband. While I've only watched 2 movies in the last month (one of them was 4 hours long) this has basically used up all my spare time that I might ordinarily spend posting.

The Advent Season is here and we are enjoying it tremendously. I was very excited to make a Jesse tree this year for the children. I hope we can continue it each year as a tradition they will really enjoy. It gives us a time to talk about Jesus and his lineage. The children love the Bible stories. And Petra thinks that putting the ornaments on the tree is a real blast. The first day we learned about creation and I made an earth ornament ...a week later she saw a picture of the earth in nursery at church and knew exactly what it was.

And one of the funnier things that she has learned is that Adam and Eve disobeyed God and had to go in time-out permanently. She loves to tell us they were bad and went in time-out. Its so funny to see her bring it up out of the blue.

You can get the pattern online - Go here for the pattern. This came from a blog online and I was so happy to find one made from flannel. I basically made a wall quilt and all the ornaments are made with flannel on the back as well so they stick to it. So ours is quilted and binded like an actually quilt. I absolutely love it and look forward to the day the children are old enough to make some of the ornaments.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Birthday Party

It's hard to get my mind wrapped around the idea that Petra is two years old. I have a whole new exciting year for her that is starting to be planned. And I was very excited to have found a great website with wonderful resources for teaching toddlers. You will be seeing more of this to come, but for now if you have a toddler in your life be sure to check out 1+1+1=1. This mother of three has posted some fantastic FREE resources for other moms to use in their own home. I have spent hours today reading her website and I have only begun to scrape the surface of what she has available.

Petra's party on Saturday gave us an opportunity to get out with some friends at the park. Leigh Ann and Kacy came (and took photos and helped with the children). Petra got half dozen fresh eggs in a nice pale green color from . And she even had a playmate show up for a little while.

Here are some photos.



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AArgHHH! I'm 2 today!

(A post from Petra's perspective)

Things just can't get better around here. Mom, daddy and our nanny Jenny keep Jasper and I busier than bees learning and doing new things. Today, I couldn't believe how excited mom and dad were to tell me Happy Birthday. The kept correcting me and telling me that I am two years old now. But all I wanted was cake. Birthdays = cake. And I couldn't find one.

I couldn't sleep in this morning because I knew it was going to be a great morning. Leigh Ann and Kacy came and had breakfast with ME! I got some really nice presents and cards. Granddady (and a nameless person)sent me a card that had a picture of FIRE on the inside. How cool is that?

Dad and mom got me a little red riding hood doll. Can you tell I was surprised? (you might have to click on the photo to get a closer look at my face)

And thank goodness I got some new pajamas. Did you see how small the ones I have on are? Look at that top photo again and you can tell I needed some pjs. Now I will look civilized again.

And this new book is a good read and provides lots of opportunity for counting. I can't stand worms, but caterpillars aren't really worms and these are pretty and colorful.

I got some really neat presents. Grandma Joyner sent me some clothes, shoes, and book that mommy loved when she was a little girl about a squirrel names Ms. Suzy. And my new playdough craft set was great! I played with it all day, and even shared with Jasper - although he can't play with the playdough because he will eat it! YUCK! I also receive a BIG puzzle that has my abc's on it! it is really big, and there are pictures under each letter. Mommy was very happy with it and said now I could learn all my letters.

Jasper also got a new shirt. That was cool. He liked it.

Mom and dad said it should be an exciting year because I am already doing so much. They seemed to be very happy that sometimes I can string together words and have a normal conversation. I mean really, its not that hard. I really enjoy singing to myself and making up little songs. For instance, the other day after my bath I made up this song:

"Mama, Mama wash your hair; I don't want to wash your hair" and I gave it a nice beat. I hate having my hair washed. You would think mom purposely tries to pull all my hair out.

Or sometimes I just add a touch of creativity to an everyday song. Mom and dad love my rhythmic version of twinkle twinkle little star.

Jasper isn't singing with me yet. Sometimes he screams really loud though. It hurts my ears. But I love him anyway. He gave me a huge birthday hug this morning. And I really don't mind sharing my new toys. That is just how things go around here.

Tonight daddy took us all to chik-fil-a so that I could play on the playground. Jasper and I played a few minutes, but all the big boys and girls kept running around screaming like mad men and I couldn't figure why they would do that. It didn't make any sense at all. I mean, seriously, what were they thinking?

And then after an evening of books and bath, mom put us to bed. Except I had to sneak down to the study to type this post. I better go before she finds me. =)

Kisses and hugs to everyone,
Love, Petra

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Point of Light

(photo at 2009 Heart Gallery exhibit and reception receiving Point of Light award from Jim Kallinger, Florida's chief child advocate.)

Today, I was honored and very, very, very surprised to be recognized as a Point of Light by Governor Crist.

Here is the text from the press release


November 12, 2009


(850) 488-5394

TALLAHASSEE- Governor Charlie Crist today recognized Sherri Croom of Tallahassee as this week’s Governor’s Point of Light for Adoption Awareness Month.

“Sherri recognizes the importance of Heart Galleries in the adoption process and her activism benefits so many foster children in North Florida who have dreamed of being a part of loving, stable families,” said Governor Crist. “The opening of a North Florida Heart Gallery has ensured that potential adoptive families are aware of the wonderful children available for adoption, while continuing to promote adoption as a way for families to grow.”

In late 2008, Sherri created and founded the Heart Gallery North Florida, the largest gallery in the state that includes 12 counties. She established a board, implemented organizational rules and regulations, and also inspired and mobilized her community to get involved in this cause. Sherri has recruited fellow adoptive parents, adoption case workers and other influential members of the community to come together to help place foster children with their forever families. Among her many important recruits are local talented volunteer photographers who take photos of the children, print and mount them for display at the gallery. Sherri is also a licensed foster parent and is the adoptive mother of two special-needs children.

AAA Auto Club South is the supporting sponsor of the Governor’s Points of Light Award. This program recognizes Florida residents who demonstrate exemplary service to the community. Award recipients are announced weekly. A panel of judges comprised of leaders in the areas of volunteerism and service evaluate all nominations and make recommendations to the Governor. Occasionally, the award is presented to outstanding organizations. The Volunteer Florida Foundation manages the program. For more information, or to submit a nomination, go to

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Swing

I'm very happy to be able to say that the swing is finally up, and Petra couldn't be more thrilled. The photos are from their first swing on it - Thomas finished hanging the swings after dark on Sunday. She spent over an hour and half on it yesterday... and this poem usually accompanies her swinging. She loves it and can recite some of it by herself.

The Swing

by Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Work in the yard

Thomas has been busy too. He picked up an extra 2 classes this week for a professor that is out with back issues. We are so thankful for the opportunity for him to make some extra money - especially this close to the holiday season. But now he is super busy once again.

Before he received a phone call requesting him to start teaching 2 more classes, he started on a few projects in the yard. And it is all coming along nicely. We now have a fire pit and a rack of firewood. And we also have a nearly completed swing set for the children!

He finished the pit on Monday and we sat outside that night and enjoyed the weather and conversation with each other. We haven't had the chance to go back out this week because Jasper and I have been sick.

Thomas also dug some enormous holes in the ground for the swing set. They were about 2 feet deep and 3 feet across when I took the children outside to play. Both of them wanted to stand and sit down in the holes - they got absolutely filthy.

And to add to all this, I managed to get a fall garden planted about 2 weeks ago - in total about 80 plants including lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, Swiss chard, kale, etc. I'm hoping to add some onions and carrots soon. Its all such a new experience for me because I've never grown any of these things - so I'm not sure what to expect.

And I'm probably going to dig up some more of the sweet potatoes soon. I dug up some about a couple weeks ago - but they were mostly too small, with just a few large ones here and there.

This is me peeling the small sweet potatoes at 5am in the morning. I wasn't expecting Thomas to take a photo of me.

I will have some more photos soon of everything in the yard.

And one more photo - about 3 weeks old of the children playing outside. This tricycle along with some puzzles and 2 more pottys were given to us by a very generous friend of a friend. (for anyone wondering, this tricycle does not work well at all - it is very hard to turn the handlebars - my neighbors complain of the same thing with theirs.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Frugal Grocery Shopping

With my new book in hand, Family Feasts (yes, this is the one I won), I'm beginning to take a better look at how I can save more on food each month.

I've done a decent job at cutting our grocery bill down dramatically each month. But I think I can probably do a little more.

There are 2 big areas I feel like I can work on and have marked improvement: meal planning, and price comparison.

So, I will be working on both over the next few weeks. And I will be developing a price comparison chart.

But I had two decent grocery shopping trips this week I wanted to share. I could have saved more if I had been willing to give up the organic milk - but I'm just not. And I'm also a diaper snob and can't seem to give up the name brand diapers. The cheaper ones feels so hard and look so uncomfortable.

So here is trip #1 - to Publix this past Sunday - total cost $51. (total saved about $55)

Above you will see in the photo:
4 boxes couscous
2 bags salad
2.5 lbs bananas
3lbs apples
1 large sweet onion
2 loaves Arnold whole wheat bread
1 large box Arm and Hammer baking soda
1 dozen eggs
2 packages of whole wheat pasta
2 cartons Bryers ice cream
Lemi shine - dishwasher cleaner
1 bag of dry beans
4 boxes of wild rice - uncle bens
1 pint half and half
1 block of cheese - 2lbs
tylenol infant medicine
4 eight oz cartons of sour cream
1 gallon organic milk
2 boxes family size Luzinanne tea - decaf
4 deodarants

And here is trip #2 this week - I went to both Harveys and Publix - totaled $37

In this photo you can see:
1 jumbo pack of diapers
12 double rolls of toilet tissue
3 bars of Castille soap
1 sweet onion
2.5 lbs of banans
1 zuchinni
1 bag of black beans
1 head of cabbage
6 lbs of tangerines
3 lbs of apples
2.5 lbs seedless grapes
1 large container of ricotta cheese
2 bottles of apple juice
4 dozen eggs
1 gallon organic milk
5lbs of flour
2 boxes of ziploc bags

So what messed me up from saving more? milk, dishwasher cleaning stuff, tylenol infant med, diapers, Castille soap - these are either all expensive or coupons are not available.

But I was pretty happy with the deals I got this week, including:
  • 17 cents for a box of pasta
  • I made 12 cents on the sour cream - so free plus money
  • $1.49 for a 3lb bag of apples
  • $3 for 4 dozen eggs
  • 6lbs of tangerines and 2.5lbs of grapes for $3.50
  • 40 cents for deodorant
(One deal that I found last month was Bryers ice cream - I bought 4 cartons for $5.99 - for that price I decided I needed more and went and bought another 4.)

Tonight paid 50 cents for a box of couscous - and this is where I am wondering could I have paid less if I bought it in bulk? Not sure, but something to figure out.

You will notice here that I did not buy any meat. There were not any sales on meat and we have some in the freezer. I try my best to only buy meat when its on a great sale. Around here I can get:
  • 99 cents lb for chicken breast with bone
  • $1.99 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • $3.99 lb ribeyes with bone
  • 79 cents lb whole chicken
  • 49 cent lb chicken quarters
  • $1 sausage rolls
  • And $2.50 for pack of Oscar Meyer Bacon
  • I have no idea on prices of pork b/c we don't really ever eat it

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat - 2009

Wow, I'm really surprised how much fun today was and how much our children both enjoyed it.

Earlier this week, I was feeling bad about not having anything at all planned for the children for Halloween. I had no costumes purchased. No events planned. Nothing.
I can sort of reason this the same as I reasoned doing nothing for Easter - they are too little to really do much.

But, oh, I was wrong.

And thankfully, Grandma and Papa G sent some cash earlier this week. So the children had costumes after all. And also new, reusable, adorable, fabric monster pumpkin baskets. We went out and bought Jasper a duck costume. It works perfectly because he loves to "quack." (he can actually do three animal sounds now - a duck was the first, but he also knows monkey and elephant)

And I also picked up the supplies to make Petra's bluebird mask - which by the way was super easy. So easy that Petra actually helped make a large part of it. And I added the mask to her costume from last year - it has a whole new look to it.

We tried Jasper's costume on him yesterday and he strutted around like hot stuff. He was quite pleased with his new look. And I was surprised he liked it so much.

Petra absolutely refused to wear her new mask. So I thought, maybe she would wear it on her head more like a hat. She broke down crying every time I tried to put it on her. And I kept trying to make it seem cool. Surprisingly (yes, I was surprised once again) Jasper really liked it and wore it around for about 15 minutes this afternoon, and that was all it took. Petra was more than willing to wear it the rest of the evening! yeah.

Then, while it was still daylight we carved up the pumpkin. Thomas did his best on it while the two children kept climbing on his back and making a mess of it. But they helped as well. Thomas had them pulling the seeds out and dumping them in a bowl.

I love the tail on this duck costume.

Time just flew. The next thing I knew it was dark and time to trick or treat. So I headed out with the children while Thomas stood guard at the house to pass out candy.

Not at all sure about what we were about to do, Petra was still eager and ran to the first house in a gallop. She happily said "trick or treat," please and thank you at each house. And by the time we got to our 5th house (and last) she said everything on her own without my prodding and was not ready to quit. Jasper was not so sure about all of it and really just wanted to be carried around.

The night was fun, and Petra loved her candy...a little too much. She kept digging more out to eat, and I kept having to tell her no more. And she didn't want to stop long enough to go potty, so I had to make her when I saw her "dancing" in the driveway.

You can tell she got a little disappointed when I told her she couldn't have any more candy tonight. how sad.

And I felt like I would be amiss if I didn't mention how absolutely wonderful the children have been this week. With the exception of a 2 hour meltdown on Petra's part one night (which is mostly my fault for being away all day) the children were very obedient, and loving this week. Jasper is beginning to follow basic instructions. And every day I am just amazed at how much Petra knows and can do. She's learning to put the silverware at each place at the table, she can pick up more and knows where many things belong, she can feed the dogs, and she can follow some pretty detailed instructions.

Yes, I've been sewing lately

We have three new baby girls between our friends and family lately. Which means I've been sewing baby blankets and burp cloths.

Also, the really cool part is now that I have an embroidary machine I can also add names and monograms. The only problem is my machine only came with trail software for monogramming - which means I have just one font in one size. Not many choices there. But see the top photo. I added "Eve" to the blanket for my new great niece Evelyn Rose. This quilt also has a ribbon attached so it can be hooked to a stroller if need be. (obviously the date on the photo is wrong and bothersome. Thomas somehow added the date to all our photos and neither one of us can figure out how to get it back off. and its ruining all my photos ...arggh)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Festival 2009

One of my absolutely favorite annual events is our church's fall festival. Hosted by a family in our church in Thomasville, GA, we get to spend the afternoon on their family farm talking with friends, petting the donkeys, and the children get the opportunity to bounce on the inflatable play gyms.

This was the first year the children were interested in these activities. And while they didn't jump all day, they did have a lot of fun just wandering around.

After keeping them both close to us during the camping trip, we didn't feel too bad about letting them wander some around our church family. The biggest problem was keeping Jasper away from the grill and away from the basketball goal. They generally didn't get in any trouble, or cause any disturbances, they just simply wanted to look around.