Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Proposal

Day 4.

One of my favorite Christmas memories took place in 2001.  Jacob and I had plans with my friend, Amy, and her husband, Corey.  We went to their house to hang out and talk.  Jacob had bought an engagement ring for me and I knew he had it with him.  I was so excited.  I had talked to Amy earlier that day and told her Jacob had the ring and maybe today was the day.  (You know how girls are--ha ha).  So, when we got to their house and Jacob and Corey were talking Amy pulled me aside and said, "Well?  Did he propose?"  I said, "No" and she was obviously disappointed.  HA HA.  So, we hung out for a while and then we left.  That night, just a few days before Christmas, Jacob got down on one knee and pulled out the ring.  He looked me right in the eyes and told me he loved me and asked me to marry him.  I, of course, said, "Yes" and here we are today.  HA HA. It was THE best Christmas gift I received that year and one of my favorite Christmas memories!

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Month of Christmas Memories

Last month several people I know wrote blogs or posted on facebook every day listing things they were thankful for. It is a great way to actually stop and think about all the blessings in our lives and how much we DO have to be thankful for.  This month, I am going to do the Christmas memories challenge.  Every day I share one of my favorite Christmas memories.  This should be fun!  I missed a couple of days so I'm going to do the last three days (memories) all on today's post.  

Here we go . . . 

1. One of my favorite Christmas memories from my childhood took place every year on Christmas Eve.  When I was little Santa would come to my grandparents' house.  I think my Grandpa Jack loved it just as much as we did.  We would open presents with the whole family and then my Aunt Vickie and Uncle Dave would take all of us kids out to look at Christmas lights.  We would drive around and look at them for an hour or so. While we were out my aunt, mom, and grandmother would set out all the Christmas snacks and goodies and Santa would come and leave all of our gifts from him.  Christmas lights just have a magical feel to them.  Sitting in the back seat with my brother and cousins all bundled up with my aunt and uncle acting just as excited about it as we were is one of my favorite memories. Then, we would drive back to my grandparents and hurry out of the car so excited to get inside and see what Santa had left for us.  Uncle Dave is no longer with us.  We lost him in 2001 to cancer but he was such a fun man and he really made an impression on us kids as we all drove around "oohing" and "ahhing" over the Christmas lights.

2. There was one year that it snowed on Christmas Eve.  I can't remember what year it was--sometime in the 80s.  lol.  It was the year my brother and I got our desks with our names on them for Christmas.  I remember sitting at the desks in my grandparents' house and watching the snow fall through the huge sliding glass doors in my grandparents' living room as the fire in the fireplace snapped and crackled.  

3. Alex's first Christmas was a lot of fun for us. He was born 2 days after Christmas so he was nearly a year old when we celebrated his very first Christmas.  He wore a cute red and navy striped half zip sweater, corduroy pants and Tommy Hilfiger boots.  My grandpa Jack also had on a red shirt because it was Christmas Eve.  My grandpa had this rocking chair that he ALWAYS sat in--this chair is currently in our house and we use it to rock Kaitlyn.  He sat in this chair in front of the Christmas tree with the lights blinking and glowing and he held Alex.  I think my Aunt Karla is the one who took this picture of him holding Alex and they are looking at each other.  It is one of my favorite pictures!  It was obvious that my boys loved my Grandpa Jack just as much as I did! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Day Of Thanks

It is that time of year again.  Time to stop and take a moment to see the many blessings in your life and to be thankful for them.

Every year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving we have our own little Thanksgiving feast here--just us--before we load up the van and travel the next day to spend Thanksgiving with our families. Jacob and the boys really enjoy it and this will be Kaitlyn's first year to eat thanksgiving foods.  We have turkey, of course, and I make homemade cornbread dressing and homemade mashed potatoes and gravy.  We always have green bean casserole at other gatherings so I make Sautee'd Brussels Sprouts instead. We have a relish tray for a certain 6-year-old boy who loves pickles, black olives, and cranberry sauce.  We also have dinner rolls.  For dessert we have--every year--pumpkin and pecan pie with Cool Whip. It is a lot of work but my family loves it and that is all that matters to me.  It is a chance for us all to be together to celebrate something special and be thankful for each other, the food we are eating, and everything that we have and everyone in our lives. It is important to me to be thankful for all I have but to also teach my children to be thankful. Each night before bed they pray and thank God for one thing.  It is so cute.  One day Logan was telling me about a kid at school who had holes in his shoes but his parents wouldn't buy him new shoes.  I said, "Maybe they can't afford to by new shoes for him right now." That night Logan thanked God for shoes that don't have holes in them and it really touched my heart.

This past year started with our eldest having surgery.  Kaitlyn was hospitalized this year and a lot has happened.  We are thankful for so much this year! I am especially thankful for our families and for my closest friends and my very best friend for reminding me (again) today that instead of focusing on the stress factor of traveling for holidays with small children I need to be thankful I have a family to travel home to.  I need to be thankful for that time with them.  Wise words from a wonderful friend!

Happy Thanksgiving, world!  May we all take a minute to focus on all our many blessings.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Decade!

This man--to say I love him is an understatement.  Today is our 10 year wedding anniversary and I still get butterflies in my stomach and feel a smile creep across my face when I think about him.  Some days I feel like a silly little school girl who is crushing on a boy.  I LOVE this man. He is respectful, caring, and funny.  He still makes me feel like I'm some one special after all these years.  He helps me around the house and thanks me for all I do for him and the kids.  He is encouraging and listens to me when I'm rambling on and on about stuff I know he could care less about.  LOL He still opens doors for me and when we go on dates, just the two of us, he will still open my car door for me. He is the best father to our three children--I love watching him with our kids.  My heart is his and I couldn't imagine a world without his smile, his strong arms holding me, or his laugh when he's playing with the kids. He is a friend to every one and never treats anyone badly or acts snobbish towards them.

When I first met Jacob I thought he was cute.  He tried so hard to get to know me and I just kind of didn't give him the time of day.  I was at a point in my life where I just didn't trust anyone and I had a lot of baggage and was kind of a mess.  I remember he would stand by the vending machines and wait for me every day before one of my classes and while I was getting a soda and candy out of the machine he'd talk to me.

We became friends and I realized that he really was a super great guy--and he was cute, too.  How often does that happen?  ;)  One day he said, "Would you want to get together and do something fun, just as friends?"  We did and it was a blast.  That night he asked me out.  I couldn't stop smiling.  He put up with a lot while dating me and he stuck around.  To this day I claim that he saved me from myself--and in a way, he did.

I can't believe it has already been 10 years since our wedding day and over 12 years since we started going out.  I love him more than words can express and I look forward to spending many, many more years with him!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover

We have all heard this saying.  Sometimes we even hear it from the most judgmental people. Regardless of who says it, it is a very true saying.  We encounter different people every day.  We meet people who seem to have it all together and we do one of three things.  We either envy them or we find that we like them because they are happy and stress-free or we are jealous of them.  "They haven't been through what I've been though."

The truth is, there are a lot of people out there walking around with secrets.  Secrets from their past that they hold tightly because they want you to think they have it all together.  One of my favorite movies is Bride Wars.  There is a scene where Emma tells Liv that she doesn't have to have it all together all the time.  Nobody does and if you know some one who does they are either lying or just doing a very good job of covering it up.

We can't use our past as an excuse for why our lives haven't turned out the way we wanted.  That woman you encounter at your child's day care who is always happy and friendly and seems to have it all together--she has a very dark past that she had to work very hard to overcome.  Some days she sits and cries and feels weak and then she gets up, wipes away her tears, and forces a smile.  And, as they say, life goes on.

I am writing this little rant because this week I have encountered more than one person who just seem bitter because people they know are happy.  "If you had been through what I've been through then you'd understand."  This makes me smile and it always makes me want to say, "Try me."  Yes, I had a wonderful childhood filled with fond memories, but we all grow up and sometimes we don't make the best decisions and these decisions get us into trouble or worse--situations that we never imagined we'd find ourselves in.  It happens and it happens every day.  The difference is that some people choose to get up and take their lives back and CHOOSE to be happy while others choose to just wallow in the dirt and slime.

So, the next time you see that happy woman don't judge her and claim she is happy today because she has had an easy life.  Remember, you can't judge a book by it's cover. Whether or not your life has been easy is not the key to happiness.  You have to make a choice. So, what do you choose?  Are you going to be happy or continue being miserable and blame a hard past on that misery?

Something to think about, perhaps?
Yeah, that's what I'm here for. ;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Game of Life (Isn't Always Fun)

The past couple of months have been nothing like we imagined they would be.  Kaitlyn got sick and ended up in the hospital. Alex was sick last week (ironically he got sick exactly one month from the day we brought Kaitlyn home from the hospital) and we were in and out of the ER and doctor's office with him.  He is FINALLY starting to feel better after being ill with a high fever for a week.  Kaitlyn is now fussy and snotty, sneezing and coughing all over us. Logan is complaining of a pain in his lower tummy which we may have to get checked out.  I just picked up Logan from school because he doesn't feel well. I have my own health junk going on and it's like we're trapped in The Game Of Life and we keep landing on all the wrong squares.  Our fridge is leaking and the toilet in our small bathroom is spraying water from the pipe and walls are separating and things are falling apart and breaking.  We have bone specialist appointments coming up and quite frankly I am sick of doctors and hospitals, specialists and wish all my kiddos could be well for an extended period of time.  As a mother you try to stay positive and encouraging.  You realize one day that every single day is filled with trying to catch up on laundry, which never seems to happen, and cleaning the house.  The kids can't seem to stay well and you know more surgeries for at least one of your kiddos is in the not too distant future. Money seems to go out as quickly as it comes in.  After a certain amount of time you find yourself locked in the bathroom crying and pep-talking yourself into pulling it together and sucking it up.  It is what it is and you just have to deal with it.  Crying about it isn't going to change anything. You pull yourself together and step outside with a smile and get back to the laundry, messy house, and sick kids.  Some days I wonder if it is always going to be this way. Is that bad? Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and my kids more than anything in this world and I am so happy with my little family.  It's all the other junk I am growing tired of!

This morning Alex was very emotional.  He hadn't been to school in a week and has been so sick and he just wasn't ready to go back. He cried and clung to me and I told him that his friends missed him and were looking forward to seeing him and that he was going to have a great day.  By the time we got to school he was fine, but it's always hard on me. I'm sure it's hard on him to miss so much and then suddenly be thrown back in the middle of his crazy schedule.

I have heard people talk about life as being in a boat surrounded by a vast ocean, struggling alone to try and paddle your little boat to shore.  This past week (and last month while Kaitlyn was in the hospital) I was reminded of all the great people in our lives. All the friends who have become like family to us here in Edmond and our parents who called and emailed and came up to help. Friends who helped with the kids and brought us food, family members who live in other towns but came to see us and bring Kaitlyn gifts while she was in the hospital. People who have become a constant in our lives.  This morning I realized that most of my friends are in the same boat that I am in--we're all paddling together.  Makes it a little less overwhelming in the long-run.

So, as my best friend would say, take a deep breath.  Life is always throwing curve balls--let's be sure we're ready for them. ;)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same. 
Elbert Hubbard 

Last week I was reminded of just how important friendship is.  I was also reminded of who my true friends are.  I had friends text me every day to see how Kaitlyn was doing and to see if Jacob and I needed anything.  Once home I had friends bring us food, friends who offered to pick up my boys and take them to and from school, I had friends who sent cards and called to let me know that they were thinking about us and praying for Kaitlyn to get well. They filled our lives with encouragement and support and we were reminded that we're not alone.

Like most females I have a handful of close friends and an amazing best friend who are always ready to help.  They love my children and would do anything for them, for Jacob, and for me.  This week they reminded me just how great they are. I wanted to take the time to say, "Thank you."  A world without friends can be a lonely one, so I am thankful for the friends we have--for their love, support, encouragement, and the slaps in the face they give when I really need a reality check.  They are amazing women and I consider myself blessed to have them in my lives.  (You all know who you are. ;)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I Am Mom! Hear Me . . . Cheer!

At bedtime my children and I always read books. The boys each pick a book and we read it together.  I don't know how it happened, but a couple of nights ago instead of reading books we ended up watching the musical numbers in Pete's Dragon (One of the boys' favorite movies).  The boys knew every word and were happily singing along.  "Mom, listen! I love this part!"  "Watch, mom!  This is my favorite!" They were both in their pajamas and all snuggled up with me.  I loved every minute of it!

One thing I have learned as a mother is that sometimes it's good to mix things up. Another thing I have learned is that it's important to take time to have fun with your children.  Sure you want to teach them right from wrong and prepare them for adulthood, but they are only children for a brief amount of time and I want them to have so many fun memories that they have story after story to share with their children someday. Pretending to be pirates while we brushed our teeth, making yogurt covered blueberries while pretending to be a on a cooking show (goofy accents included, of course), singing along to musicals, making robots with their dad, and hunting ghosts, monsters, and aliens with water guns.

Parenting isn't always easy, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun!  We don't have our kids on a strict schedule.  (I heard that! Why are you gasping??)  They go to bed AROUND the same time each night and yada yada, but they have never really been on a schedule.  As babies and toddlers they didn't go down at a certain time for a nap--we just put them down when they were tired.  We didn't give them a bottle as babies every so many hours--when they were hungry they told us and we fed them.  We are doing this now with Kaitlyn. Every child is different and every parent is different and THIS is what works for US.  We encourage imagination and creativity. We encourage questioning everything in life and coming up with your own opinions.  We like cookie cutters for cookies . . . not for life! And you know what?  My children never threw tantrums in public and they never talked back to us.  They are respectful of other people. They are well behaved and well rounded children--and I would like to think that as their parents we had some part in that. ;)

And the biggest thing I have learned?  Cheering is the best medicine for anything your child is going through.  What an amazing feeling to cheer for your child.  I'm not just talking about in sports, either. I am referring to  cheering them on as they try their best in every day tasks. I want my children to know that I'm rooting for them no matter what they are doing--and the feeling you get when their faces light up because they know you believe in them is the best feeling in the world.

So, to all the proud moms out there--let's hear you cheer!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wake Up Call

Last week an old college acquaintance suddenly passed away and a friend's father passed away.  Death always makes you stop and think. Jacob and I were both raised in church and we were raised to pray before meals thanking God for the many blessings He has given us.  It's funny how life can catch up with you and God gets put on the back burner.

Every evening I have the boys each pick a book to read before bed.  One night last week Logan brought me their Children's Bible which is full of bible stories and said, "Mom, we haven't read this in a while."  He was right. So, we started again from the very beginning and made a deal to read one bible story every evening before bed along with two books that the boys pick out. The boys, Logan especially, liked this idea. Jacob and I talked and we are going to start praying before dinner and also teach the boys to not only pray but to be thankful for all they have.

Last week was like a wake up call. We aren't kids anymore and we're raising three beautiful children. I AM thankful for these three little blessing and even more thankful that they are healthy and happy.  Sure, there are medical issues but nothing life threatening.  We need to remember to thankful every day because things could have easily been different. We want our children to grow up in church like we did and we want them know God.  I want to raise them to be thankful, to be giving and caring, and I want them to have that sense of peace and comfort when some one they know is called home or when life just doesn't seem fair. My grandfather passed away over a year ago and Logan still talks about him quite a bit.  He always, "I'll see Great Grandpa Jack someday when I get to heaven."

Life is a journey--and I want my children's journey to be beautiful!

Thursday, August 2, 2012


In my house we listen to music all the time.  If we're not watching TV then there is music playing.  We are big fans of music!  I love so many different kinds of music and I'm not that picky about it.  Music is music and I love most of it.  I especially like music that has a great beat, sounds extra heavy, or has a catchy tune. It is always exciting when we discover new music.  I have already posted about NERO and I apologize for posting two entries in a row pertaining to music.  I want to share two other bands/musicians I have discovered this week.

The first one is Childish Gambino, who is actually Donald Glover (Troy from Community). I remember the day after we had Kaitlyn, Nov. 15th, 2011, and I was laying in the hospital holding her and we were watching Conan and Donald Glover came out and started rapping and singing to this really fun, electronic-type music.  I loved it!  Then, we came home and I forgot about it . . . until this week when I heard another song by him. I went online and looked him up and listened to other songs.  A lot of his lyrics are really clever . . . and some are really vulgar, but I love his sound!

The second band I want to blog about is an Icelandic Folk Indie band called Of Monsters and Men. I love their accents and their cool musical sound. I discovered them through a friend and loved them the minute I heard them. They have a really great sound and incorporate instruments that aren't really used in America anymore--accordion and trumpet are used in nearly every song along with guitars and drums.  It makes for a really cool sound!!

Here are some songs by these two.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


So, today has been a really weird day.  I am exhausted because the princess isn't sleeping well at night.  I am up and down with her all night.  Logan has an ear infection and pink eye and Jacob is sick with some respiratory thing.  Between being so tired, taking care of sick people, and taking care of two hyper and healthy children a person needs an escape.  So, I grabbed the headphones, plugged them into my lap top, and listened to some music.  I have heard one song  by the band Nero and love it, so I thought I'd check out more music by them. They are a British electronic group.  Why is it that Europe has such great music??  Anyway, I listened to other songs by them and really loved them! They will definitely be added to my iPod soon!

You have probably heard small parts of the song "Promises" in commercials. I first heard this song maybe a year ago and loved it.  If you haven't heard this song you should check it out. Other great songs are "Innocence," "Me and You," and "Must Be The Feeling."  A lot of it reminds me of music I listened to over 20 years ago.

Good stuff. ;)

Thursday, July 26, 2012


It's hot.

I have a house full of snotty children.

A baby who isn't sleeping!

I don't feel well either.

I was walking through the dining area and stepped on something that felt like a thumb tack.  It hurt.  It went way up inside my foot.  Yup, it hurt.  I got down on my hands and knees and tried to find whatever it was, but could find nothing.  Hmmm . . .

Busting my elbows on doorknobs.  Somehow managing to step foot inside a sit-com and busting my head on the pantry door. (Don't ask.)

It has been one crazy week . . . one crazy month!

The word "bored" is NOT in our vocabulary.

I wonder what stories I'll have to share next week! ;)

Bring it on!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


When Jacob and I first got married we lived in Chickasha.  He was offered a job at UCO and we moved to the City.  We lived in a two bedroom apartment across the hall from two sweet old ladies. They were sisters and they were so funny together.  I remember taking Alex across the hall to visit them about once a week.  They loved him!

One day while I was there they started telling me about how they never saw each other when they were younger. "We have always been so close," One would say.  The other would then shake her head and raise her hand and say, "In spirit, that is.  NOT in distance."  The other would reply, "YES!"  (Did I mention that they were so funny!)  They went on to tell me that they lived in different states, far away from each other.  "We grew up being best friends and it was hard not seeing her."  They tried to see each other every two or  three years. "It wasn't until we were old and our children didn't want us living on our own that we were brought back together," One would say.  The other would say, "Yes, and now I don't get five minutes to myself because she is always here."  They would slap each other's legs and laugh.

Why am I sharing this? This story makes me think of my best friend.  We don't live in different states, but honestly, at times it feels like we live on different continents with a giant ocean separating us. My husband always talks about how women argue and fight and get mad at each other--I can't argue with that.  It's true.  We do.  We are just a bundle of emotions.  We get our feelings hurt and we can easily get mad at friends we love so much--but a best friend is like a sister . . . just llike these two elderly women I mentioned.  You might get mad but you still love them . . . and you get over it.  You talk about it and work it out and go on loving each other.  (Getting off topic . . .) I am missing my best friends these days.  It is what it is right now and we are doing the best we can to talk, email, text.

BUT--I have dreams of telling stories with her one day when we're old.  Of laughing and slapping each other and picking on each other.
To my Liv--as the saying goes, if it's meant to be it will be.  And, sister, I BELIEVE with all my heart that it's meant to be.  (Otherwise why would we feel the way we feel RIGHT now?  HUH? Yes, I'm asking!)

I want my best friend to know that I love her and miss her.  I want to thank her for putting forth all the effort it takes to have along distance relationship. I also want to thank her for sticking by me, like a sister, even when she wants to smack me!

You're not just my best friend, Liv, you're my sister.

And sisters are forever!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Brand New Day

She pours herself a cup of coffee and sighs as she looks at the clock. It's 6:10 a.m. The baby hasn't been sleeping well at night and the days have been so busy.  There are so many decisions to make about so many things and too much going on in general.  She isn't bursting with energy--far from it! The house is quiet as the children lay in their beds dreaming.  She hasn't had one moment to herself in a couple of weeks so she decides to take her coffee outside and drink it on the porch.

"Five minutes to myself," she whispers.

She sits on the porch step and cradles her coffee with both hands. The street is quiet.  A slight breeze blows through the trees and they wave as if saying "Good morning."  She takes a sip of her coffee as she tries to sort out everything going on in her world.  Over the past couple of days her stress level has risen and everything going on feels like a huge jumbled mess in her mind. Life was usually one obstacle after another but for some reason her little family has been hit with several things at once and her goal was to just stay busy.

A bird begins to sing as she takes another sip of her coffee.  She feels the tears sting her eyes and tries to force them away. It seems more difficult than usual. She takes a deep breath as the overwhelming feeling takes over.  She lets herself have a much deserved moment of weakness and begins to cry.

She cries for a few minutes as her thoughts race and then, out of the corner of her eye, something catches her attention. Light is dancing through the branches of a little tree.  She stands up and steps into the yard where she sees the sun still low in the sky. The symbol of a brand new day.

She takes another deep breath and smiles.  She turns and walks back inside where she is greeted by smiling little faces.

Time to start a another day.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Social . . . Arguing??

Facebook.  It's such a big thing.  Most of the people we know have an account.  It can be great!  It lets me not only stay in touch with friends and family who live in other towns, but it allows me to see pictures they post of their children.  When some one is hurt, ill, or has something major going on in their lives people will post prayer requests on facebook.  You can receive parenting advice from friends--any kind of advice from friends.  Yes, Facebook can be a wonderful thing.

It can also be a pain in my back side. People will post hateful things and other people will get offended and comment.  99% of the time an argument follows--an argument on Facebook.  Wow.  It makes adults act like mean children.  What I really don't understand is people who have children on facebook who see their hateful statuses.  We don't all have to agree but calling each other names isn't the answer.

Sometimes I really hate facebook.

It looks like I'll be deleting some more people.  Life is dramatic and stressful enough without having to deal with arguments on facebook.  People always shake their heads and say, "What happened to the world" or it's a crazy world we live in."  The world isn't the problem--the problem is people.

And sadly, most people never change.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Little House

When I was a little girl we lived in a little two bedroom house.  My brother and I shared a room for 10 years.  We did everything together and I have so many great memories with him from my childhood. The house was so small that we got to spend a lot of family time together. Then, when I was 13, my parents bought a bigger place.  My brother and I both had our own rooms, which was good since I was 13 and he was 10.  I will always be thankful for that little two bedroom house we lived in while we were growing up, though.

Now, I am thankful for the little house Jacob and I have.

So many people have told us that we need a bigger place, but the truth is, I love our little place.  We are always together as a family because of its size. The boys have their room, Kaitlyn has her room, we have two bathrooms and a double car garage. We have what we need--it just isn't a huge place!  I  love living in our little place where you bump into each other walking down the hall and are forced to sit close together because the living room isn't huge.  My boys are constantly telling us that they love our house and they never want to move.  

I agree with them! I love our little place and all the memories we have made here!!
Logan eating lunch

Here's to many more memories in our little house!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day Weekend

We had a busy weekend in the Astley house. Friday evening we went to a surprise party for my cousin.  My boys received the honor of getting to spray him with silly string when he arrived and everyone said, "Surprise!"  They LOVED that.  After spraying him they ran around and sprayed each other.  As a mom, I loved sitting and watching them chase each other with silly string flying everywhere and laughter filling my ears.  It is one of my favorite sounds.

On Saturday we cleaned the boys' room and moved furniture around.  We organized and de-cluttered and the room looks great! The boys were so excited about it.  Our plan now is to get them some little desks.

Yesterday was Father's Day. We bought Jacob a new OKC Thunder shirt and a picture gift.  The boys wanted to make him a cake so we made a Batman & Robin cookie cake.  I always try to make a meal that Jacob wants on Father's Day so we made homemade pizza for dinner and Logan watched Indiana Jones with Jacob.  We tried to make it a good day and let him know just how special he is to us.  He is a wonderful father.  He helps out with the kids all the time. He is very involved and always spends time with the kids when he is home.  They are going to have so many wonderful memories of fun things they did with their daddy when they are grown--and I love that!
Jacob received a really sweet card from my parents wishing him a happy father's day and my mom wrote about how thankful she is to have such a wonderful son-in-law who is such a great father to her grandchildren.  It made him feel even more special and loved.

Overall, I think he had a good Father's Day and we had a good weekend. We always enjoy the family time that we get.

The photo gift we made for Jacob.  The frames spell "DAD." 

Jacob holding the cookie cake the boys made for him.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Adventures Of A Wannabe Supermom!

Today has been an interesting one to say the least.  It has "sitcom" smeared all over it!

First, I got up at 5:00 this morning with Kaitlyn and made a pot of coffee.  After pouring coffee into my mug I grabbed the creamer out of the refrigerator and poured some in my coffee.  I wasn't paying attention when I shoved the creamer back into the fridge against the jug with the spout that we keep tea in.  I later discovered that the creamer had pressed on the spout handle and tea had leaked all over the bottom shelf of the fridge.

I cleaned it up.

Later, I was in the living room and saw a huge spider on the wall.  It wasn't poisonous, but a spider is a spider. I do NOT like them (creepy, crawly little nasties!) I grabbed one of my flip flops and started to smash it.  I don't know about you, but when I'm doing things like this my heart is racing and if the spider moves I squeal like a spoiled little girl.
The spider moved.
I squealed.
Logan giggled.

I went in the garage and grabbed Jacob's huge container of bug spray with the spray handle and started spraying the spider with it.  It has great aim so the spray mostly covered him and only a little hit the wall.  I was spraying when suddenly, of course, the handle broke.  I figured that was enough and the spider was stunned enough that I could now smash it without it lunging at me.

So, I smashed it.
Then I set the bug spray in the kitchen and went to clean up my mess.  I forgot about the bug spray.  About 30 minutes later I went back into the kitchen to find that the bug spray had a hole in it and had leaked all over the kitchen floor.  Yuck!  I cleaned up that mess and thought about how funny this day has been.

You will never hear me say, "I'm bored."  At least not anytime soon, anyway. ;)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hey Mom!!

I walked into the living room this morning (after my husband let me sleep in) and my sons yelled, "Mom!" and Logan said, "Mom's up!"  Kaitlyn got excited when she saw me and started wiggling.  Yup, that really made me feel special. Logan later came up to me, hugged me, and said, "You know how I know you're the best mom ever?"  I said, "How?"  He said, "Because you're Kaitlyn's favorite person.  She's just a baby so it means you're a good mom since she likes you so much!"

The weekend has been all about me--which I have to admit, I like.  Jacob started by giving me an early mother's day gift and then yesterday we had a full day of spending time together as a family and going to eat lunch in honor of Mother's Day. This morning I got to sleep in, I awoke to a nice big cup of coffee just waiting for me, and received more gifts, including a beautiful rose from my husband.  I usually make breakfast for my family on the weekends but this morning we ran to McDonalds for breakfast so I wouldn't have to cook and then clean up a big mess afterward.  (I don't mind the cooking part but could do without the cleaning part, so this idea was fine with me!)

A wise person once told me that anyone can be a mom, but it takes a special woman to be a GREAT mom.  I know a lot of great moms. Being a mom isn't easy. We spend so much time putting others before ourselves and making sure our families have everything they need.  It is nice to have a day where my family makes sure I feel special.  So, to all of you great moms out there, I hope you are having a very special day and being treated as wonderful as you are!

Happy Mother's Day!

These are some pictures that illustrate why I love being a mom!

This was right before Alex's surgery in early January.  As you can see I was so tired and Alex wasn't phased in the least.  He is just an awesome kid!

Logan as Bumblebee--he was walking around shooting darts.  They eventually played outside and lost a dart on the roof.

Kaitlyn bouncing--look at that ornery expression. She is so funny!

These 3 are my life and I consider myself blessed to be able to call myself THEIR mother!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Find a Happy Place

Being a stay-at-home mother is full of adventures.  I mean, really--between the house work and the three little people running around I rarely get a minute to myself, much less a minute to be bored. Alex's schedule of occupational therapy, speech therapy, meetings, and doctors appointments on top of school and homework keep my calendar full.

There are days when Kaitlyn cries because she's tired but is stubborn and refuses to take an afternoon nap.  Logan yells, "Uh Oh, mom!  The toilet is throwing up water all over the floor."  Alex is sitting in the recliner with his arms crossed crying because his Wii controller isn't working. "I don't know what's wrong with it!  It's just doing things on it's own and won't let me control my people," as tears stream down his cheeks.  I say, "Are you tired?"  His schedule makes me tired so I KNOW he has to be tired.  He snaps, "NO! I told you, my controller isn't working." A few minutes later he comes, hugs me, and apologizes for "being mean."  I put a spoonful of baby pears in Kaitlyn's mouth at lunch and she sneezes and shoots baby food all over me which she thinks is the funniest thing ever. I pull a load of laundry out of the dryer and as I'm folding clothes I smell something and realize that I have spit up on my shirt.

It is actually a GREAT day when I have more than 2 minutes to shower and actually get to wash my hair. Getting 5 hours of sleep is considered a good night in my book, which is probably why I'm so tired by Friday.  There are nights I cook dinner with Kaitlyn attached to me using the Baby K'Tan--she is screaming and suddenly the smoke alarm will go off.

It is crazy around here. I rarely get a minute to myself. It's busy.  It's loud.  It's messy. And there are days when I want to lock myself in the bathroom to just get 5 minutes to myself.  Then, I remember that some day it will just be Jacob and me.  One day these little people who need so much help and attention right now will no longer need me like they do right now.  This stage in their lives will pass and I know I'll miss it. So, I stop and I notice Kaitlyn's toothless smile or her chuckle when you give her kisses.  I hear the boys tell me time and time again, "You're the best mom ever," and I know I'm doing something right. When life gets stressful people will tell you to find a happy place.  I can honestly say that I have found my happy place. It's in the middle of three great kids--and there is no other place I'd rather be!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mardi Gras Red Beans & Rice Tortilla Casserole

Whew! What a title for a dish!  Thank you, Rachael Ray, and every other chef who has shared numerous recipes with the world.  This is what we had for dinner tonight! (Oh, and in case you didn't catch it, it's a Rachael Ray recipe.)  :)

I love to try new recipes.  I was looking through recipes on Pinterest and saw this one.  This time last year Jacob and I had just gotten back from New Orleans.  While there we tried a lot of new foods--sea food pizza, po' boys (yes, sadly, we had never tried them), and numerous other dishes, all of which were delicious! While we were there I purchased a Cajun cook book and pull it out every so often to use. I love spicy food--and because of that I became a big fan of Cajun food.

To make a long story short, I saw this recipe and HAD to try it. I followed the recipe exactly as Rachael Ray said to and let me just say it is very good! My kids won't eat it because there is rice in it and they just refuse to eat rice, but the adults should enjoy it well enough. :) Jacob and I both added generous amounts of hot sauce to our portions, but it's good with out it--as I said earlier, I just like spicy food!

Check out her website for this recipe and many others!

Happy cooking (and eating!)  ;)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Making Yourself Crazy

Things have been just a little crazy in my world lately. Between Alex's appointments, bills, Kaitlyn's appointments, and everything else going on I feel like the woman in this picture. Things have been so busy that I even forgot to pay our utility bill.  I remembered 2 days after it was due and was so tired by that point that I just shrugged my shoulders and told Jacob I'd pay it tomorrow (which was today).  I have paid that bill on the same day every month for years and for some reason with everything we have going on it completely slipped my mind--which irritates me to no end.

Yesterday Kaitlyn was crying and the boys were both wanting things.  You know the story--the phone is ringing, the baby is crying, and you hear, "Mom. mom. MOM?"  over and over and over again.  I finally turned to the boys and, through clenched teeth stated, "There are three of you and only one of me.  Please give me a minute."

Jacob's grandfather fell a couple of weeks ago and shattered his hip.  He had to have surgery and we were all concerned about how things would go.  I have been with Jacob for 12 years and I remember the first time I met his grandfather.  He was funny and sweet and I liked him from the moment I met him.  I was very relieved when everything turned out okay.

Then this past week my grandmother fell and cracked her skull and had to have surgery.  I am very happy to report that she seems to be doing well.  I haven't been able to go to the hospital as often as I would like because of my kids' schedules, Alex's especially. It has been crazy.  Alex missed therapies he really doesn't need to be missing. We have been meeting with Alex's teachers and therapists to try and figure out what is best for him for next year--it has NOT been easy and we still don't know what the right thing to do is (I hate when that happens).

To top it all off for some reason people have chosen to criticize me this week.  Even complete strangers asked me questions about my parenting or offered unwanted advice. I went from feeling okay about my extra weight since Kaitlyn to REALLY not liking myself.  I started to question whether or not I was a good mom because of all the comments I had received throughout the week.  My poor husband probably got tired of reassuring me that I AM a good mother and that I don't look like a nasty, grotesque, hideous creature since having Kaitlyn. I try to stay positive, but when people are constantly making comments and criticizing it starts to wear on you after awhile and you start wondering if they are right. There is this little voice in your head that tells you that no one will love you if you're not beautiful.  No one will love you if you're not perfect.  The thing that struck me this afternoon is . . . WHO is the authority on what is beautiful?  And since no one is perfect why do we make ourselves crazy worrying about how we look, what size pants we wear, what we eat.  An even better question is why do people go out of their way to make other people feel bad?

Here's to treating each other with kindness and respect and NOT letting the world (or people) around us make us crazy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Special Boy With Special Needs

Life as a parent is never easy.  You have to make decisions day after day regarding your children.  As a parent, you only want what is best for your children.  We have three children and our oldest, Alex, is a special needs child.  It took me a while to accept those two words . . . "special needs."  Doctors used them.  Therapists used them.  Eventually, I watched Alex with his younger brother and realized that every one was right and I was just being hard-headed.  Alex was . . . and is . . . a special needs child.  
And, quite frankly, all that really means to me now is that he is just extra special.  

Logan is one day shy of being 16 months younger than Alex.  They have always been close, which we now know has been really good for Alex. Logan will interpret for Alex when we can't understand what he needs/wants. Logan will take up for Alex if they are at a playground or some other place and children are bothering Alex.  Having Logan has been great for Alex . . . and I'm pretty sure having Alex has been great for Logan, too.  :)  

Making decisions about Logan seem easier these days.  They always seem black or white--we know what he needs and we can make a decision to do it.  Things with Alex aren't so easy, though . Nothing ever seems black and white--everything just seems gray.  Decisions don't come easy.  Every decision comes with a lot of discussion, covering every possible angle and "what if," worrying, stressing, praying, second guessing ourselves and sleepless nights. We just want what is best for Alex.  He has to work twice as hard as other children his age and still struggles.  He has so many therapies and things going on--there are times when he just seems done with it and doesn't care to mess with it anymore. I can't say that I blame him. 

Jacob and I are currently struggling over a decision regarding Alex that has occupied a lot of our time and thoughts. Those of you who know Alex know what an amazing little guy he is.  I know that as his mother I'm partial, but I know of many of you who would agree with me.  We want to do what is best for Alex.  We also want him to know how amazing and smart he is.  We want him to know how rich our lives are just because he is in it (and his siblings, too).  Having Alex has really opened our eyes about a lot of things and it has taught me that children can be some of the most determined people out there.  I am proud of this little guy--proud of everything he has overcome, proud of all that he has accomplished, proud that he never just gives up, and more than anything I'm proud that I get to say he is mine!!  He IS a very special little guy and I am so glad he puts up with us!! ;)  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Perfect Mom

Is there such a thing as a perfect mother/wife?

I take Alex to therapy twice a week after school.  On Mondays there is this mom there with some of her children who always makes me think of June Cleaver. She always has perfect hair, high heels, cute and stylish clothes and jewelry, and her lip stick is not only ALWAYS on, but it's always straight and perfect.  She home schools her children and she and her husband have a few foster children living with them as well as their own children.  She is one of those women that other women glare at because that little thing known as jealousy tends to rear it's ugly head from time to time.  The only thing is, this woman is sweet and friendly and not rude or snobbish at all.  And let me tell you, she has every right to be rude and snobbish. LOL  I have days where I do well to wear more than jeans and a T-shirt to get the boys to school on time.  I would be sitting in the waiting room waiting on Alex and she would be talking to me and going on and on about how adorable Kaitlyn is and I would be thinking, "How on earth do you do it?"  Yesterday a bunch of the moms were reading The Hunger Games and we were all talking about it.  She smiled and said, "It is on my list of books to read.  Hopefully I'll get to it soon."  She went on to talk about how she is lucky to get any amount of sleep at night and she doesn't have time to clean her house or do the things that other house wives do so she has some one come in twice a week to clean and do laundry.

My mom will be the first to tell you that I am not a girly girl.  I don't like heels and if I don't have time to put on my make up then it just doesn't go on.  I mean it IS the face God gave me and if it is THAT scary it must be for a reason.  We all strive to be the best mom we can be for our children and the best wives we can be for our husbands.  No family is alike--my children are different from other children.  Alex has his issues while other families have a child with different issues. We all do the best we can for our families and you know what . . . none of us are perfect.  The perfect mom doesn't exist.

This doesn't mean we can't all be GREAT moms, though.  Heels, tennis shoes, make up or no make up--in the end none of it matters.  What matters is being the best mom you can be to your children--and THAT puts us one step closer to being the perfect mom!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cupcake Tacos

Several people have asked for the recipe I used for cupcake tacos.  Yes, I did get the recipe off of Pinterest.  I enjoy cooking and it's always fun to try new recipes.  Pinterest if full of recipes just waiting to be tried!

I got the actual recipe from a blog called Emily Bites (emilybites.com). It is filled with great recipes and most of them are healthy.  I recommend checking it out if you get the chance.

Here is the recipe for Taco Cupcakes.

1 ½ t chili oil 
½ lb ground beef
1 T taco seasoning
¾ c canned black beans, drained and rinsed
16 wonton wrappers 
5 T + 1 t of queso dip or salsa con queso
1 c chunky salsa 
1 c reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese 

1.    Pre-heat the oven to 375. Lightly spray muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

2.    Heat chili oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (I couldn't actually find the chili oil.  It is supposed to be in the Asian section of the super market, but wasn't there when I tried to find it. I ended up using olive oil.  HOWEVER, after making them I don't really think the oil is necessary).  Add the ground beef and taco seasoning and brown beef. Add black beans and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until warm.

3.    Place a wonton wrapper into the bottom of each cup in the muffin tin. Spoon a teaspoon of queso dip into each wonton wrapper and spread across the bottom. Follow by spooning some of the meat mixture into each cup (using only half the total mixture) and then splitting ½ cup of the salsa evenly into each cup. Sprinkle about half the shredded Mexican cheese evenly over the top of each cup. Press another wonton wrapper on top and repeat the layering steps with the remaining ingredients.

4.    Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin.

I made two pans of taco cupcakes, one using the wonton wrappers and one using corn tortillas.  The ones made with wontons were greasier than the ones made with corn tortillas and my sons seemed to prefer the corn tortillas. My two sons loved these.  My oldest, who is a very picky eater, even asked if I would make them again sometime.  If you enjoy these she also has recipes for lasagna cupcakes and cheeseburger cupcakes on her blog.  I plan to try them in the near future as well.  

Happy cooking! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

I Had A Full Plate (So I Traded It In For A Bigger One)

Once upon a time there was a little family who lived in a little house.  It sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale, doesn't it?  Well, open the door to that little house and you do have a fairy tale--you also have parents sighing, a baby crying, boys arguing and fighting, and a light bulb in the dining room that can't decide if it wants to shine dimly or brightly. We'll be sitting at the table eating dinner--the boys will be goofing off, Kaitlyn will be crying, and Jacob and I will be taking turns saying, "Stop that!"  "Eat!"  "Leave your brother alone!" The light bulb above us will dim then get bright again.  We all freeze and grow silent, then we look up at the light.  This light bulb has a personality just like many appliances in this little home.  The washing machine, for example, will hit the spin cycle and sit there pumping air when it is supposed to pump water.  I'll go in and mess with it until I finally hear the water pumping in.  It happens nearly every time.  As I said before, it has a personality all its own! Little things like this are referred to as "stupid problems" in our home. We call them stupid problems because they are just small annoyances for the most part, but also because there is so much going on right now that we don't need one more thing added to our plate--even something as simple as a light bulb.  Actually, I went to the "reality" store last week and traded in our old plate for a bigger one.  I explained to the sales clerk that the plate we currently had just wasn't big enough for all that we had going on.  She nodded and showed me some bigger plates.  I found a large one that had edges to keep things from sliding off or hanging over.  Hopefully it will work because it seems like every day something new is added to our plate.
There are moments where we will feel overwhelmed--and it's little moments such as your son telling you that your hair looks a little ugly or that you look "way better" without your glasses, or some one making a comment about your body or the state of your house. These little moments, for whatever reason, are the ones that push us over the edge.

I've decided to start lifting weights so I can hold this bigger plate.  I know that one day, hopefully soon, life will slow down, we will all be well, and we'll be able to use our very large and nearly empty plate to slide down the hill outside our house.  That's right--the plate can be used for fun and entertainment too.  Isn't that amazing?  Give me enough time and I'll prove it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Heroes Live On (Remembering One of My Favorite People)

When I was a little girl we had lunch with my grandparents every single Sunday.  When I was little I thought my Grandpa Jack was the funniest man alive.  I remember him laying on the floor and I'd get my toy doctor kit out and play doctor.  We have pictures of him laying on the floor with me sitting on him. My brother and I would stay with my grandparents quite a bit.  I remember waiting until my grandmother went to bed and my Grandpa Jack would come out with a big smile on his face--an ornery expression that a little boy would have when he was up to something he knew would get him in trouble.  I see this expression on my own boys from time to time. I remember Grandpa Jack always had his bath robe and slippers on and he'd walk into the kitchen, open the freezer door, and pull out the ice cream.  He'd turn to us and smile, lean over a little to make sure the bedroom door was shut so my grandma wouldn't know what he was doing, then he'd say, "Want some ice cream?"  We'd sit and have ice cream with him at 11 o'clock at night.  In the mornings he'd sleep in--which was understandable because he was up late eating ice cream.  Ha.  He'd come out, sit at the table, and eat cookies with his coffee.  To all of us grandchildren they were known as "grandpa cookies."  If we wanted a grandpa cookie we had to give him a kiss on the cheek and ask for a cookie--usually he would give us two or three.  I thought he was wonderful! He and my grandmother would take us camping and fishing. My grandpa enjoyed baseball and I remember watching baseball games with him many, many times. I liked it because he liked it. He would go deer hunting with my dad and uncles and when they would come back empty handed he would wink at me and smile and say, "I didn't kill Bambi this time, either."

I have an old black and white photo of my grandparents from the late 40s.  I look at that picture and think about stories my grandpa used to tell us from "back in his day." He survived the depression, was in WWII where he spoke one day about killing people.  A sadness was in his voice as he admitted that he couldn't see and he didn't know how many people he had killed. He was so young. He and my grandmother lost their first child to illness when he was about 9 months old.  My Grandpa Jack's life was far from boring! Every year the family would get together and help my grandparents put their Christmas tree up.  My grandpa would sit and watch, people would argue and complain--it WAS the holidays after all.  Ha.  I remember one year when I was in college my cousins were there helping, as well as my aunts, and my parents.  Grandpa was sitting and watching and telling people what to do.  I remember looking over at him at one point and he was watching all of us with a smile on his face--his eyes seemed happy.  At that moment it occurred to me that maybe he didn't help us because he enjoyed watching us--his family.  He was proud of his family and it was obvious.

And I was proud of him--and more than proud to call him my grandfather.  My boys loved him just as much as I did.  Logan still does things and will say, "Mom! I look like Great Grandpa Jack!"  or  "Great Grandpa Jack used to do that!"  He will come to me, crawl in my lap, and say, "I miss Great Grandpa Jack."  We all miss him.  Today he has been gone for a year. I think about him often and I thank God that I was given the chance to not only know him, but to call him mine.

My Grandpa Jack with Alex on Alex's first Christmas (2005).

 Grandpa Jack and his buddy, Logan--Logan LOVED this man!!  (Easter 2010)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Count Your Blessings

Things have been busy and stressful in the Astley house these days.  We are getting ready for Alex's surgery a week from today and trying to get everything (school, therapies, appointments, etc.) squared away between now and then.  We also have an ultrasound scheduled to check out Kaitlyn's liver and make sure everything is functioning the way it's supposed to--and to add to the fun I went to the doctor last week and got some news . . . nothing major . . .and will have to schedule an appointment with a surgeon for myself.  Jacob and I have gotten to the point where we just shrug our shoulders and say, "It is what it is."

Today I was sitting in the waiting room at Sensational Kids waiting on Alex to finish his occupational therapy session.  A woman came in pushing a little girl in a wheel chair.  She was strapped into this fancy wheel chair, leaned back, and hooked up to oxygen.  Every time she took a breath it was wheezy.  She started making sounds and her mother excitedly said, "Are you talking?  That's my big girl.  Do it again."  The little girl smiled and tried to talk--which just came out as groans and grunts.  The mom said, "Hi.  Say, 'hi'"  The girl groaned something that sounded like "hi" and the mom rubbed her arm and said, "That's my big girl.  I'm so proud of you."  The little girl, who looked to be maybe four or five years old, smiled so big and kept trying to say "hi."

I sat and watched her with a smile on my face and thought about my own children. Jacob has said (on more than one occasion) that there is always some one who has it worse than you do.  This is true.  We haven't been focusing on the negative in our house so don't get me wrong.  With all the medical issues that have come up lately we have been busy--and I won't lie and say that we aren't nervous about our son having surgery next week--but, as the saying goes, things could be worse.  Watching that little girl struggle to breathe and struggle just to say the word, "hi" really reminded me that we need to be thankful for what we DO have and not focus on all the stressful things going on in our world. My children don't have any terminal illnesses, they have plenty to eat, and everything they could possibly need (and a ton of things they don't need but think they do. . . LOL).

So, with that amazing little girl in mind today I am counting my blessings.