"I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well."
-Henry David Thoreau

Monday, February 20, 2017


Guess what we picked up this weekend? 

 We are so excited about our new camper!  We looked and came super close to buying one last year and then decided to wait another year.  I had my eye on one particular brand, so we drove to Claremore, OK a couple of weeks ago to look.  We ultimately decided on this R-Pod by Forest River, went back on Saturday to pick it up, and I think we're going to love it.  It's just the perfect size for our little family of three. 

It seems like in the 'old days' that when our families wanted to go camping, we just packed up and went camping.  (Granted, I was just a kid and not involved in the planning, but I'm pretty sure my parents didn't sit down in February and plan our entire summer of camping.)  No matter, it's 2017 and apparently that's how it works these days.  Good news: online reservations make is easy to plan.  Bad news: online reservations make it easy for everyone else to plan, too.  We've got our first long weekend planned for the beginning of March and we're getting recommendations and mapping out where we want to go over the next few months.  So exciting!!!
Once we got the camper settled, we went to Nonnie's for a quick dinner and to visit Aunt Becky & Martin who were in town for the weekend. 
Eleanor's first piano lesson? 
 Tea party with Aunt Jessica. 
 Cooper is growing so much! 
 Playing mobile tea party.  "Here Corbin, have a bite." 
 Hugs for Aunt Jessica. 
Before church on Sunday.  
The reason we have to lock the dead bolts.  Girl can open doors.  
Eleanor is doing much better in her toddler class at church.  Yesterday there was only slight hesitation and no crying when we left her.  I think that having two hours there on Wednesdays is helping and I know it's good for both of us.  We'll keep doing what we're doing for this semester, the summer we'll have off, and in the fall she will most likely do two days a week of Mother's Day Out.  I'm both excited and anxious about that, so we'll just not talk about it for now.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017


The ribs that I made on Monday were fantastic.  I'm not going to win any awards for my food photography, but they were definitely worth sharing.  Falling off the bone tender and great flavor.  The recipe is a bit vague, but it's still one I'll hold on to.  HERE it is if you're interested. 
 Today Eleanor had her slightly belated 18 month well child  check up.  She was not impressed in the slightest.  In the waiting room she was excited to see toys, but insisted on licking things.  Once I told her not to lick things, she HAD to lick everything.  We never have to wait long at our clinic, but today we were 15 minutes early and the doctor was 20 minutes behind.  It was the longest 35 minutes of waiting room licking that I've ever experienced.  Ah, toddlers.  If there were sick germs to be picked up in that waiting room, I feel certain that Eleanor thoroughly ingested them. 
No sooner than the nurse called us back, Eleanor lost her sh*t.  No more happy, sassy, toy licking toddler.  Nope.  Freaking out, screaming, "OWIE!" toddler arrived in full force.  She cried through being measured and weighed and when the nurse left she started slapping her thigh and saying, "owie!"  repeatedly.  Y'all, she can't possibly have memories of previous vaccinations, could she?  It's been months since her last shot.  She was insistent, though, and was not about to be comforted by me.  So I took a picture.  Poor, ornery, unhappy Eleanor. 
She weighs 23.7 pounds (50th percentile) and is 31 inches tall (10th percentile).  That keeps her exactly on the same curve of the growth chart that she's been on and is perfectly healthy. 
 "I'm leaving.  I'm not staying here.  You can't stop me.  (screams) Also, could you open this door for me? The handle seems to be a bit high." 
 Dr. Swindle was lovely, as always.  He was patient and accommodating to Eleanor (and me, too).  He apologized for our wait (it really wasn't that long) and then said he had seen Eleanor playing and talking in the waiting room and that she was really doing well.  (Side note: I'm super glad I didn't lose my cool with the crazy toddler baby in the waiting room since doctor eyes were apparently watching.)  Physically, she's healthy.  She was a late walker, but you can't tell it now.  She's doing all she's supposed to be doing physically and she's ahead of the game in vocabulary, cognition, and temperament.  I could have told you that.  He tried to comfort me (Eleanor had me a little frazzled) by assuring me that this stranger danger and panicky protest of the last two months is completely normal toddler behavior.  Eleanor was so kind as to elaborately demonstrate her sass, attitude, vocal abilities, and displeasure over everything.  Sweet Dr. Swindle said multiple times that it seems she is just getting a head start on being a two year old and it's totally normal.  They must teach pediatricians not to use the phrase "Terrible Twos" in front of weary mommas of 19 month old diva children.  Then he left, the nurse came in, and Eleanor got two vaccinations.  I felt guilty over this since she had been slapping her thigh and telling me "owie" since we arrived and all I could say was, "It's okay."  She's been sure to remind me of her owie multiple times in the hours since.  This post-vaccination expression on my child's face is one of irritation, discomfort, and distrust.  I'm making a frowny face to show my solidarity. 
As long as we're on the subject of early Terrible Twos... Eleanor is becoming more and more difficult to distract.  If she wants it, she's going to do her best to NOT LET IT GO.  We've been so spoiled by the warm temperatures lately and lots of playing outside.  Eleanor points outside and says, "Grass!" when she wants to go outside, which is ALL THE TIME.  She thinks that if we're putting her jacket on that she is about to go out and play.  (Side note: "Grass" does not mean just any old grass.  It specifically means back yard grass.  Don't mess that up or the backlash is noteworthy.)  On Tuesday it was raining and 40 degrees.  That didn't stop Eleanor from absolutely insisting on going outside.  This went on for hours.  HOURS.  I finally decided that the best way to end the issue was to let her go outside and feel how cold and wet it was.  I put her boots and jacket on and sat her on the back porch.  She stood there for a few minutes saying, "Uh Oh!" because the concrete was wet and I knew for sure that I had won the battle. 
 Then she ventured out into the actual rain and I was certain that she was about to call out for me to rescue her from the cold, dreary, wet, nastiness of the back yard. 
 Then she took off across the yard with squeals of delight and I knew my plan had backfired completely. 

 I had to haul her inside, dry her hair, and snuggle her to warm up.  The rest of the evening wasn't fun, but we survived.  Just to demonstrate her ability to hang on to the thing she really wants... photos from the next day over the exact same issue.  "Grass!"

A few more, just to show that she's not always a screaming, irrational, insistent toddler.  Sometimes she's just cute and sweet and cute some more. 

Monday, February 13, 2017


Ever have one of those days where you feel like you're pretty much winning at life?  I'm having one today.  When Eleanor starts the day off in a good mood, that helps things tremendously.   Right after breakfast I braised short ribs, mixed up a new sauce, and put it all in the crock pot for dinner tonight (keep an eye out on my report on this new recipe).  Eleanor & I played in the back yard for a good while and she's finally found the courage to go down the slide without holding on to anything.  (If memory serves me, you won't be able to watch this video on your phone, you'll have to do it on a computer.)  At the end of the video she's shaking her finger and saying, "One more time!" 
We cleaned out and organized the pantry & fridge.  Eleanor excels at sorting recyclables (cough, cough). 
Eleanor often gets apple or pear juice in a bottle once a day to help keep her hydrated & to keep 'things' moving.  She always has a sippy cup of water available to her throughout the day, but seldom does she do more than sip on it and toss it in the floor.  Today I flipped the cards.  I gave her a straw cup of apple juice with her lunch.  She took a sip, realized what it was and said, "Juice!"  As she ate her turkey and cheese, she drank from the cup and by the time lunch was done she had downed 6 ounces!  Y'all, that is a big deal!  After lunch she was walking through the kitchen and asked for a bottle.  It normally would be bottle time so I didn't argue, but this time I just filled the bottle with tap water.  She crawled up in my lap, took a swig of that water, spit the nipple out and said, "Juice?"  We negotiated, she lost, she decided she'd rather not have the bottle at all and moved on to better things without much fuss.  I had read about doing this months ago, but when I tried it she didn't seem to care what was in the bottle.  At that point she wanted the bottle and snuggles, but maybe we have reached a point where it's more about what is in the bottle.   Is this a breakthrough?  It's too soon to say, but I'll keep you posted.  Also, say a prayer for me, because if she really does let go of the bottle completely then I sure am going to miss my baby snuggles. 
Because every part of a good day can't be a win... I decided to season our long neglected cast iron skillets in preparation for camping season.  I watched a how to video, followed the instructions, and a short 30 minutes later... my living room was filling with smoke and I was scrambling to turn on fans and open windows before the smoke alarm went off.  I obviously did something wrong.  Oops. 
A few other photos from the weekend.  Play date with Corbin at Imagine in Johnson.  It was a fun place and we'll surely make plans to go back sometime soon. 

 And oh, this beautiful weather.  It makes everybody feel sunny and smiley. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017


The weather was stunningly beautiful today.  While I have some other photos to share from our playdate this morning, I have to reserve this post for the photos I took with my new camera as we played in the back yard this afternoon & evening.  Oh my.  This day was just full of beauty. 

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On Wednesday evening Misty & I went to the Women's Ministry Coffeehouse at my church.  At the end of the evening they handed out this card. 
I'm a note taker.  Always have been.  I took very thorough notes as a student and I still take notes on pretty much everything.  Wednesday evening was no different.  Going back over notes that I've taken helps me more effectively learn what is being taught and reflect on how to apply it.  In this case, going over my notes will also help me to share with you.  Perhaps something that I learned from the evening could help you in your own life and relationships.  So this is me, sharing it. 

Susan Goss, co-founder of The Joshua Center and Tangible Truth Ministries, was the guest speaker and she gave us all some great perspective and tools on how to love well, even when situations aren't loving.  I'd love to share a few things that I took from the evening.  Some things were needed reminders of lessons I have learned in the past, some were new ideas worth thinking on.  So that I'm not misrepresenting Susan, I'm going to put her teaching points in italics.  Everything in normal font is my own elaboration on the point. 

-Loving well boils down to one thing.  More of God, less of me. 
-We can't love someone & be in relationship with them and still always be right.  You have to pick one.  You can always be right, but you may have to do it alone & angry.  Or you can choose to be in a loving relationship (and I'm not just talking a romantic relationship, we're talking about all kinds of relationships here) and accept that sometimes being right isn't always the top priority. 
-Pray to represent God well and for His creativity.  I wrote this down because I found it interesting to pray for God's creativity.  I mean, he's God, he doesn't need my permission or prayers to do His thing.  But that's not what she meant.  She elaborated by explaining that we often limit ourselves & how God can work in our lives by praying for only what we can imagine.  Yes, Philippeans 4:6 says  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God".  That's true.  Pray and be specific, but don't limit God by only praying for the solutions that you can imagine.  If we pray for His creativity in our lives then we are opening up our hearts to the life that He has imagined for us, and I can attest to the fact that His handiwork often exceeds anything I ever imagined.  (One proof of that truth calls me mommy and is currently sleeping in her crib.)
-All of our relationships should reflect our relationship with God.  My response to something unloving (or anything, for that matter) is more of a reflection of me and my relationship with God than it is about the person or thing that is triggering me.  Let that soak in for a minute. 
-As a believer, your validation can ONLY come from God.  If my happiness is based on someone else's behavior (or circumstances or anything that isn't God) then I will never really be happy.  It's true y'all.  I know this is true.  I get caught up in the fuss of the world and the temporary things of this life and often find myself missing the target, but I can always come back to this truth.  I am a daughter of the King.  That is unchangeable.  Our roles in this life, our possessions, our loved ones... all of those things can go away.  If I had put all of my happiness and personal value in being Alex & Emma's momma, where would I be now?  Lost and in despair, I'm certain.  Using the term 'validation' is a new way of expressing it for me, but the sentiment is one that I've be acutely aware of for years.  Lot's of things bring me joy and make me happy.  My husband, my children, a good book, fresh pineapple, Sunday afternoon naps... all of these things make me happy.  I like them.  A lot.  I find joy in them.  But they are not my identity.  They do not validate me as a human being.  I am a daughter of the King and my validation does not come from anywhere but my God.  All of those other things that I love so much?  Those are gifts from my God. 
-We all have a circle and everything inside that circle is ours.  Everything outside the circle is God's and we need to stay out of it.  If it helps, pull out a piece of paper and draw yourself a circle.  Now, inside that circle write down everything in your life that you have 100% control over.  Are you doing it?  When Susan was introducing us to this idea, my list was short.  Super short.  I couldn't think of anything in my life that I have 100% control over.  My brain started working overtime as I tried to think of at least one thing to put on my list.  Thank goodness Susan continued talking and explaining.  She used several examples and I wrote these two down because they applied most to my own life. 
I am 100% in control of motherhood, but not of my child. 
I am 100% in control of wifehood, but not of my husband. 
I needed to hear those things and I'm grateful for the way they were explained.  I am not in charge of Drew.  I do not have control over him, nor am I meant to.  What I am in charge of is my wifehood (Susan swears this is a word).  I am in charge of what kind of wife I am.  I am in control of how I participate in my marriage.  I am in control of what I give and what I take from that relationship, but I am not in charge of what Drew gives or takes.  Get it?  I can apply this same idea to any relationship that I have. 
I am in control of what kind of mother I am, but I am not in control of Eleanor.  I find this one particularly convicting.  Eleanor is not in my circle.  That idea scares me, but it is absolutely the truth.  I do not have control over who she is or who she grows up to be.  I am responsible for raising her, for teaching her right from wrong, for teaching her to be loving and kind, for being an example of patience and forgiveness, for being a positive & effective influence in her life.  I have 100% control over how I choose to do those things, but I am not in control of her.  She is not in my circle.  You know what that means?  It means she is outside of my circle and that she is God's.  I completely believe this and will try to remember this daily as I seek perspective on how to be the best momma for her.  I'll do my part and trust God to do His. 

These things spoke to my heart on Wednesday night and having going back over my notes and taken the time to make sense of them to share with you has helped me all over again.  I hope that something here has been a reminder or a lesson for you, too.  God is good, all the time. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

19+ Months

Well, there you have it.  I'm late on the always expected 4th of the month post.  Eleanor is 19 months and a few days old.  First I'll post a bit of randomness and then I'll do some sort of monthly recap of our girl. 
When I let a week pass between blog posts, the photos pile up. 
Let me start with some cell phone pictures. 
Oranges.  This kid loves them. 
 Last week's beautiful weather called for plenty of outside playtime.  It's never too early to start working on our basketball skills. 
 Can't beat a good walk down to the playground with Daddy after work. 
 A blurry picture of Eleanor and her friend Annabelle in their matching pajamas. 
 She wants to sit on the couch like a big kid now.  Well, she wants to BE on the couch now.  Actually staying seated on her bottom requires all the concentration & discipline she can muster.   
 The climbing continues.  So much for the baby gate.  We don't encourage the climbing, but just yelling every time we see her do it isn't enough.  Since I realize that I'll sometimes not be watching and respond quick enough (and since sometimes you have to let little kids be little kids), we've spent as much time teaching her how to get down by herself as we have trying to convince her not to do it. 
 Girls night out with Heidi & Cheryl.  Oh, how I love these gals. 
 The dessert at 28 Springs in Siloam is always picture worthy (and so delicious). 
My babies. 
My new camera arrived last week and it's awesome. I know the basics of it because it is the most recent version of my old camera.  There is also A LOT that I don't know about it yet because, apparently, technology changes a lot in a decade.  Lol.  I'm having fun figuring it out and am planning to take some online classes to really learn what I can do with it.  If any of you have a Canon EOS Rebel T6i and have tips worth sharing, I'm all ears.  These are just a few shots from the last few days as I'm figuring it out.  There's zero editing, zooming, cropping, light adjusting, etc., because I don't know how to do that with the new software just yet!
Dottie surprised us by painting our fur babies and having the portraits matted for framing.  I'm excited to get it framed and hang it in my office!  
 Post nap sleepy face. 

 Where's Eleanor? 

 The McGaugh's passed two razorback coats down to Alex and Emma when they were little.  We still have one, Eleanor found it in her closet the other day, and she had the best time strutting around the house and yelling "Woowie!" (AKA "Woo Pig Sooie!")

This girl loves boots.  LOVES them.  These came super cheap from the Target clearance aisle and she couldn't be happier.  She wants to wear them with everything... even pajamas.  At first I tried to explain that we couldn't put them on over her footie pjs, but eventually I decided to just see if it would work.  It was a tight fight and after 30 minutes her feet were sweaty, but she was so pleased.  She kept squealing, "I got boots!" 

 The boots came off for bedtime, but were her first request when she woke up this morning. 

 Last, but not least.  19 Months.  She's now officially closer to two than she is to one.  Ah!  She has suddenly grown.  Not kidding.  She had a huge growth spurt and suddenly none of her clothes fit.  How does that even happen so quickly?  Pants that fit one day were too short the next.  Shirts that looked fine for one wear were too snug & short the next.  She's even outgrown all her shoes (which helped me justify all the boots we've purchased on clearance in the last two weeks). 
  • 23.8 pounds, 31 inches tall.  Has outgrown nearly all of her 18 month size clothes and is now in a 24 month size.  Also bumped up to a size 4 toddler shoe. 
  • Has survived her first (and hopefully only ever) broken bone.  The finger splint lasted two weeks and then we couldn't keep it on no matter what we tried.  The nail has come off now and will hopefully be growing back in soon.  She's still aware of it and shows it to everyone (including random strangers), but it doesn't seem to cause any pain. 
  • Loves shoes and REALLY loves boots. 
  • Favorite phrases: "I did it!" and "It's okay!" and "Oh No!"
  • A bit dramatic :)  She will throw herself to the floor in slow motion and then exclaim "Oh no! I fall down!"
  • Is a lover of music.  She loves playing my guitar.  She randomly breaks out in dance when she hears a good song.  (We do some super awesome car dancing when we hear Joe Jonas, Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber on the radio- just keeping the vibes going for Alex & Emma. She recently busted a move in Best Buy and put on a show for the employees when she heard a Chicago song.) She loves John Denver.  (When his music comes on a Values.com commercial, she drops what she's doing to listen to it in its entirety.) She does not like Luke Bryan.  (When he sang the national anthem for the Super Bowl, she stopped what she was doing, stared at the television for about 10 seconds, shook her head no, and then walked away.) 
  • Still loves reading.  I've hidden away a large stack of the books that were her favorites in order to encourage interest in new books.  It's working.  One of our current favorites is "Just In Case You Ever Wonder" by Max Lucado.  Drew & I read it to Alex & Emma and it is quite special (and sometimes emotional) for me to read it to Eleanor.  What I specifically love is that the telling of the story makes the message just as relevant for an adopted child as it is for a biological one. 
  • Favorite foods: Oranges, guacamole, toast
  • You can ask her to count and her response is, "two, two, two"
  • We read books with the alphabet, but we also sing the song every time we brush her teeth (once for the top brushing, once for the bottom brushing).  If I ask her to sing her ABC's, she sings, "B, B, B... B, B, B... B, B, B..." on repeat.  We don't know when she's done until she stops and yells, "I did it!"