Taking A Break…

Hi all,

Good news! We are ALMOST done with the nursery! There’s just a little painting that needs to be done and then all the furniture can be moved in and pictures hung on the walls. I have been terrible about procrastinating this time around and now we’re all rushing around at the last minute trying to get everything finished before D-Day (June 26th!)! I promise I’ll share pictures when it’s done!

In the meantime, I have zero interest in trying new recipes/photographing said recipes/blogging right now. All I care about right now is spending every last minute with my little family of 3 and enjoying Cassidy’s last days as an only child. Obviously, after that, all hell is going to break loose and we’ll have a newborn to take care of. What’s my point? I’m taking a break for awhile. Honestly, blogging is not high on my list of priorities these days, so I’m not going to stress about it anymore. I’m going to walk away for awhile and enjoy my family. I’ll be back- with updates, definitely. I promise I will let you all know when baby boy gets here and keep you all in the loop. Just no food stuff for a bit. Bear with me! And wish me luck!!!

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Are We the Same?

(No food post this week. I’m going through a “Life, PLEASE SLOW DOWN!!!” phase right now, so I haven’t cooked a decent meal in awhile.)

With the baby due in exactly 5 weeks (um, wow), naturally, Joel and I have been getting the nursery ready. Which means, we had to clean out our “junk room” (great, NOW where am I going to put all this stuff??). My mom and I actually tackled the closet today and in doing so, I found numerous boxes of memorabilia; newspaper clippings, cards, and pictures from my time at college, old birthday cards from family, and lots and lots of pictures, love notes, and cards from the time Joel and I were still dating and engaged. Joel was at a business dinner tonight and Cassidy is at her grandparents’ house for the night, so I grabbed a box and began rummaging.

I was filled with all kinds of warm fuzzies sitting alone in the middle of the floor of my soon-t0-arrive baby boy’s nursery reading syrupy sweet love notes and looking at pictures. For one thing, they were good for a chuckle or two- I looked like a chubby 12 year old and Joel had way more hair (and *cough* maybe a few less pounds *cough*), but golly, were we happy.

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[the night we got engaged; 2005]

Looking at all those incredibly sweet, precious memories and keepsakes made me stop and think- are we the still the same? We held hands tighter, kissed longer, wrote more on our cards to each other, walked closer, talked longer, and literally gazed into each others’ eyes…often. “Do we still do…any…of those things anymore?“, I asked myself as I sat there alone with my memories. “Pshaw! SURE we do! All the time!” I told myself. But then I started really thinking about it.

We hold hands…sometimes. Maybe on date nights. If we have a long-ish walk from the restaurant to the car.

We kiss each other. Sure. If Joel isn’t too buried in his work or I’m not completely tied up with Cassidy at the moment. So…mostly good morning and goodnight. Hey, it counts.

We might have sort of run out of super sappy things to say in our cards to each other on holidays and occasions. All the sentiments are still there, we just blew threw most of them in the first 2 months we were dating. You can only find so many ways to say “I love you”. But you know, sometimes a plain old “I love you” is just what I need to hear.

As far as the gazing into each others’ eyes thing? Yeah, that hasn’t happened in…I don’t even KNOW how long. Our honeymoon, maybe? If Joel gazed into my eyes tomorrow, I’d think something was way wrong.

I guess we’re not the same anymore. It seems like we don’t do any of the sweet little things we used to. Let’s face it, there’s just no time for hand-holding, eye-gazing, and letter-writing. On most days, we’re lucky if we remember to stop and give each other a kiss good morning.

Oh, but I forgot to mention how I look at Joel when I see him rolling around on the floor and horsing around with our precious daughter. He tickles her and makes her literally howl with laughter. And sometimes when we’re lying in bed at night, he’ll reach over and pat my belly and feel the baby kick. Sometimes I’ll make him a big plate of pancakes in the morning and bring it to him while he’s working (he works from home). Before every meal, the 3 of us will hold hands as Joel prays. On Mother’s Day, he’ll sneak out early in the morning to buy me powdered sugar donuts and a thoughtful card. In the summertime, after Cassidy is asleep, we sit out in the backyard with a glass of wine and just talk. Our lives are pretty stinking busy and hectic most of the time, but we manage to make time for just us. He puts his arm around my shoulders at church. I’ve learned to embrace geek culture (“ANOTHER Marvel movie coming out?? Great, let’s go see it!”).

So I guess even though we have changed; quite a bit; we’ve developed a new love language. We may not do all that sappy, syrupy, gushy love stuff we used to do, but we still cherish each other. It might be slightly less dignified (pregnancy ain’t pretty, folks), and slightly less shiny and new, but the love’s still very much there. We’re still selfish and prideful and downright mean sometimes. Luckily, one of the great things about growing older together is that you get better and better at apologizing and realizing there are more important things than weekend plans or someone not doing the dishes. We’ve known each other for over 17 years and when I look back on all the seasons of our relationship and how we’ve evolved, shaped each other, adapted, and grown as a couple, it’s just…special.

Nope. I don’t think we are the same. We’re better.

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One Year Ago…

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been exactly a year since the tornado came through our little town. I have to admit, we’re all sort of on pins and needles around here…just waiting for it to hit again. In remembrance of that horrible night and what my family had to endure for the months following, I’m leaving the story here, a year later, for you to read again. If you want.

Click here to read my story

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This Christmas is VERY Merry!

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Hello there! I apologize (sort of…not really) for the super long hiatus I’ve been on! The months of November and December have been action-packed, to say the least. And it isn’t to say I haven’t wanted to post over the last few weeks, because believe me, I really, really have! But since I no longer have a reason to keep quiet….here goes! We are experiencing our own little Christmas miracle this year–

that’s right: Baby #2 is on the way!!! Cassidy is going to be a big sister and we are THRILLED. I’m 12 weeks along and due late June/early July. And of course, feeling rotten. ;) Actually, the rotten part is (hopefully) almost done. I was pretty sick for awhile (i.e. the first 2 months) and had NO desire to eat food, think about food, or blog about food. It’s still not great, especially at night, but I really feel like I’m on the downhill slide.

We’ve talked to Cassidy about her new brother or sister, but I don’t think she quite getting it. We’ve got 6 months to get her used to the idea, though, and I’m sure she’ll start getting curious as soon as I start showing a lot more.

So now you know the reason for my disappearance. Thanks to those of you who missed me and sent me messages to check on me- that was greatly appreciated! After the holidays I hope to get back into blogging and back to a more normal version of myself (who knows, maybe I’ll even find the energy to change out of my pajama pants every now and then!). Until then, I want to wish you all a VERY merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Have a wonderful time with your friends and families and don’t forget the real reason we celebrate each year!

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Guess What…!

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We got a new playmate for Izzy! Meet ZuZu, the newest member of our family! :) She’s about a year old and we *think* she’s part Chihuahua, part Maltese. Who knows, though.

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(just look at that spotted little tummy!)

For quite awhile now, I’ve really been feeling like it was time to adopt another dog. Izzy is such a fun-loving, playful girl, so we didn’t feel it was quite right for her to be an only “dog-child”. As much as Cassidy loves pestering Izzy, we still thought she could benefit from a non-human friend. As sheer luck would have it, out of the blue, a friend of ours announced she had rescued a little dog from the side of the highway and was trying to find a good home for her. Honestly, ZuZu was nothing like what we thought we were looking for in a new dog, but once I met her, I was convinced she was the girl for us!

It all depended on how she interacted with Izzy and Cassidy (no pressure, Zu!). We brought her home and let the dogs run wild together in the yard. At first, Izzy wasn’t sure how to react to all of ZuZu’s energy, but she got the hang of it and eventually, they started playing really well together! Success!

We took ZuZu to the vet and got her all checked out, microchipped, vaccinated, and spayed, then promptly brought her home to STAY! Here it is a month later, and ZuZu and Izzy are best buds- they play SO well together (all the time!). She is so gentle and sweet with Cassidy and has our entire family wrapped around her little paw! We all love her so much already and Joel and I are SO happy we were lucky enough to adopt her! Welcome to the family, ZuZu!

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Vacation Photos (part 2)…

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*sigh* Until next time, Galveston!

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Vacation Photos (part 1)

Howdy folks! I told you we were gearing up to take our very first family vacation. Well, it happened last weekend. And surprisingly…it rocked. Every aspect of it was wonderful (except for the hellish car trip home…that made us both rethink this whole parenting thing). Here are a few pictures from our trip to Galveston, Tx. (all photos are unedited. Frankly, I’m just too lazy…)

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first time on the beach- she was terrified of the sand!

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Needless to say, she slept VERY well each night…

More pictures to come soon! :)

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Ugh, Blogging…

I’m going to be real honest with you for a second. I’m sick of blogging. Each day I find it harder and harder to sit down and write a post. Usually because I’m too busy/too tired/whatever. But mostly because, frankly, I’m just tired of it. I’m too lazy to style my food, so my pictures suck. There’s nothing I can say in my post that hasn’t already been said a billion times. I’ve been blogging for 5 years, people. It’s been said.

Blogging is a different animal nowadays. When I first started this blog back in 2008, it was pretty simple. We cooked, we photographed, we blogged. It seems like now there are like, 10 added steps! We cook it (not necessarily because it sounded like great recipe, but because we think it might be a big hit on pinterest), we style it, we photograph it, we blog it, we submit it to various food photography sites, we pin it, we post it to our facebook, twitter, and instagram, and then we do the whole thing over again the very next day, because if we let off the gas pedal for even a little, we might lose our followers and our advertising revenue will go down, all the while, finding time to go to countless seminars and conferences learning how to better our blogs, become masters at SEO, and learn how to get the maximum exposure on pinterest. Well, I’m in trouble….because I hardly do any of that! Imagine the cloud of worry constantly hanging over my head because I’ve fallen off the blogging horse and can’t seem to get back up. What will happen to my blogher ads? What if I lose readers? My pay will go down considerably! ‘My pay’?? Seriously?! Gross, Amy.

Then I log onto twitter/pinterest/feedly and see so many fellow bloggers selling out and proudly doing some random company’s advertising for them. Is that what we’ve become, bloggers? An advertisement for someone else‘s stuff? If every post you create revolves around a product that someone paid you to talk about, I think you’re missing the point. I’m tired of good bloggers trying to sell me on cell phones/potatoes/coffee makers/yogurt/WHATEVER.  But even that isn’t the real reason I’m sick of blogging.

There is a particular post that has been sitting in my drafts folder for almost a year now. It’s a cursed post. Seriously. Every time I sit down to finish the dang thing, something ALWAYS happens to prohibit me from typing a word. I’m not kidding- the post draft contains one picture…but not one word. This morning, I decided to sit down and just knock it out in one setting. Just plow on through and get it finished! And then this happened:

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And this:

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 [heart = melted]

Seriously, HOW can I, in good conscience, sit there and blog while my sweet baby looks like this?! I can’t. That’s why I barely get any blogging done anymore. Because I refuse to do it while Cassidy is awake, since that’s our time. When she’s napping, I try to use the time for a shower or cleaning or napping myself. By the time bedtime rolls around, honestly, I just don’t feel like it. That’s my time with Joel, and the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a laptop.

I know. There are LOTS of blogging moms who find time to do it all. Pretty much all of my closest blogging friends have kids- little kids!- and they find plenty of time to devote to their blogs while giving ample attention to their children. I guess the difference between them and me is they’re not burned out. I need to find purpose in my blogging again. And something tells me it has nothing to do with stats, ads, or pinterest. I know that every time I wait a week in between posts, I lose readers. I know that. But it also means I’m doing something far more meaningful with my time- whether it’s swinging in the back yard or pretend cooking with Cassidy, lounging in bed watching Psych re-runs with Joel, or having coffee with my mom and sister. When I finally do find my blogging purpose again (and I will), it’ll be because it was on my schedule and not my readers’ or pinterest’s or my sidebar ads’. So there.

Phew. It feels good to get that out! Any other bloggers out there feel my pain? Share it with me! I’d love to know how you refreshed yourself and your blogging! Hopefully I’m not alone, here. :)

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I Will Praise You In This Storm…

“I will praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands; for you are who you are, no matter where I am. And every tear I’ve cried, you hold in your hand. You never left my side and though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm.”

Before I talk about what we witnessed 2 weeks ago, I’d like to let the people of Moore, OK know that my heart is absolutely broken for them, and we are all praying for them. What we went through pales in comparison to the devastation they’ve suffered.

The day after the May 15th tornado in Cleburne (that’s where I live, by the way. Now you know.), I wrote down my account of what happened, but since we had no internet for a week, then my blog was hacked (isn’t that lovely?), I haven’t been able to share it with you until now. Here’s the story of how the Cleburne tornado affected my family. All pictures were taken with my iphone and are unedited.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013.  I sat on my bed that morning, thinking about the weekend, and how we would spend it. Out in the backyard, probably. Maybe have the family over. I made spaghetti for dinner, then Joel and I went to church choir practice. While we were there, they said a hail storm was expected, so we all rushed home to put our cars in the garage.  Somehow, before I knew it, Joel, Cassidy, Izzy, Joel’s parents, and I were all huddled together in the bathroom. A tornado might be coming. I had hunkered in a bathroom or closet many times before and wasn’t too worried. In all honesty, I was a little annoyed at having to get Cassidy out of bed.

Then we heard a noise. Almost like the humming of an AC unit, but louder. Then it got louder and louder until it became a ferocious roar. Our ears popped and the air was sucked out of the room. It all happened so quickly, but it seemed as if everything was in slow motion. My mother-in-law held Cassidy. I had my arms around Joel’s neck and my cheek against his, frantically whispering prayers. The roar got louder and there were terrifying bangs on our roof. Cassidy got scared and cried so we sang ‘if you’re happy and you know it’ to distract her. I knew it was especially bad when Joel quietly whispered, “I love you” in my ear. He thought we would die that night. Then, silence. I mean, absolute quiet. No wind, no rain. Not. One. Sound. We wondered if it was over, and then the roar came again. More banging and howling. If possible, this time was even more terrifying than the last. Cassidy screamed as our ears kept popping. I prayed for God to protect us until at last, it was all over.

We grabbed lanterns and walked into the front yard. I couldn’t see anything except for my neighbors’ lanterns dancing in the darkness. I heard frantic voices, “everyone ok?!”.  I ran through the yard in bare feet looking for Joel. There were limbs and roof shingles and pieces of metal everywhere.  As I walked and took in all the damage, I thanked God for the miracle He worked in that tiny bathroom. We were all safe. My family was ok.  Praise God. We were missing some parts of our roof, our trees were ripped apart, and there was an enormous tree in our pool (along with our patio furniture), but all things considered, our damage was minimal.

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[our street]

My parents and grandparents were not so lucky. My parents’ living room ceiling collapsed, dumping insulation all over everything. Water seeped into every wall. My grandparents’ house of 41 years collapsed around them. They stood in a tiny hallway along with my parents as the ceilings fell in, windows shattered, and trees were ripped from the ground. By the grace of God, all four of them walked away without so much as a scratch.  The house was absolutely ruined. 41 years of memories gone in an instant. The playhouse my Grandaddy built for my sister and me was smashed against a tree. The carport was completely blown away. The tornado dumped sludge and murky water into their den, ruining treasured pictures, books, and keepsakes. All pictures below are of my grandparents’ house.

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[Doesn't look too bad from the outside, right?]

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[after my cousins had shoveled away all the soggy insulation]

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The next day, as my sister, mother, and I walked over to my grandparents’ house, my sister warned me to brace myself. I could handle it, I said. But one look at the battered shell of a house that was once my most treasured retreat, and I knew I couldn’t handle it. I hugged my grandparents, cried, and spoke to a few news reporters (they were hovering like flies), then walked to a secluded part of the front yard. I looked down and saw a bird wrapped around a tree branch and in that moment, something snapped and I came completely unhinged. I stood in the front yard and sobbed like a little girl. This was without a doubt, the worst thing my family has experienced.

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[the backyard. That's my playhouse.]

My cousins, aunt and uncle, sister, and mother and I all worked frantically to get Nana and Grandaddy’s belongings out of the house before any more roof caved in and more damage was done. A crew of volunteers from Home Depot (God bless them!) showed up in the front yard with water, gloves, shovels, and chainsaws and began sawing the fallen trees apart and moving them. Church groups drove around with food and water. The way the community came together during all this was truly touching. I’ve never been more proud of my town.

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Hundreds of others in Cleburne lost their homes. Over 600 homes were damaged and so many, like Nana and Grandaddy’s, were destroyed. Joel’s close friend lost his childhood home. Half of the people on my parents’ street were told their homes weren’t safe to live in. Even with destruction and despair all around us, all we could do was thank The Lord for keeping us safe. There were no fatalities that night.

Since the tornado, we’ve had several more storms (when will they stop?!) and I’d be lying if I said we haven’t been scared to death every time we see a little rain cloud. There are still tarps on every roof and small twigs, leaves, and debris line the streets. Every time we go outside, we’re reminded of that awful night. My grandparents have found a duplex to rent until their house can be rebuilt. Everyone is doing their best to move on. Every day I hug my husband and my baby girl tighter and remember that I could’ve lost them.  All there is left to do now is be thankful for family and the gift of life and “praise the God who gives and takes away.”

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Mother’s Day…

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Yesterday was a special day. Obviously, because of Mother’s Day, but also because our baby girl, Cassidy was dedicated at church. For those of you who aren’t familiar, in some churches, after a baby is born, the parents will have them dedicated. Basically, it’s a ceremony where all new parents line up in front of the congregation, and dedicate their new baby to God, promising to love them, pray for them, and raise them to be followers of Christ. In turn, the church also promises to keep the new parents in their prayers and help them in any way they can. It’s a sweet little ceremony that is meaningful and special to the parents. Our whole family was there, which made it even more special to us! Joel and I were so happy to take part in this and will remember it always!

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It was especially meaningful for me, because I was asked to sing. Here’s a little tip: don’t ever agree to sing a song about watching your baby grow up ON Mother’s Day, and ON the day your own baby is being dedicated. Yikes. I may have had a teensy meltdown in the middle of my song. Luckily, every mom in that room understood completely.

My whole Mother’s Day weekend was wonderful. I have the most thoughtful, sweet husband who cherishes me and makes me feel like the world’s greatest mother, even when I don’t deserve it.

I hope all the moms out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day and felt as appreciated and loved as I did!

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