Friday, January 28, 2011

One of Those Days

Ever had that complete and utter overwhelmed feeling.  No, I'm sure I'm the only one.  :)

I've had one of those days ...

But it's 50 degrees and sunny, so I won't complain too much.

The girls and I went to the playground after I picked up Kate and Olivia today from school.  It was very windy, but such a blessing to get out.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Nights

Hanson Ellis has a late dance night on Monday.  I usually drop her off and Richard picks her up.  She always comes in literally beaming.  It is the sweetest thing to witness.  Hands down it is probably my favorite part of every week.  And it's not just her pure sweetness, but I know that she is beaming from both her tap classes and a 15 minute ride home with her Daddy.

Hanson Ellis has become quite the helper to me this past year.  Life is busy and she is always ready to step in when I need a hand.  It is bittersweet to see her growing up, but I don't know what I'd do without her!  Richard says it best, "She is a great kid."  Yes, she is!

Hanson Ellis came in the door tonight thrilled with how her practices went.  She instantly started demonstrating everything she had learned and improved upon.  And you know what?  She is really good, but seeing her in her tight purple leggings and turquoise bedroom socks just sort of cracked me up!!  I laughed (and therefore she laughed) so hard!!  I recorded it and will perhaps share the humor one day when I figure out how to turn the video right side up!  For now, here are some very special images to me.  Richard grabbed a glass of wine and a stack of papers he'd printed out today and started reading them to us.  Medal of Honor winners who have died as a result of the act that was deserving of the honor.  They dated back from WWI ... 1918 ... and are fascinating and chilling and thought, heart provoking.  I had my camera from recording Hanson Ellis and her tapping skills, so I started clicking away at the moment I was witnessing.  Just a day in the life of our little family, but a very familiar moment.  Richard sharing some random bit of history with us ... Hanson Ellis soaking in every word.  I love how she listens to her Daddy.  I love how she sits close to him.  I love how she thinks about what he is saying and how she giggles when he says something silly (in that "DADDY!!" sort of way).  For those of you who know us and those of you who have followed this blog for a while, you know we will not always have these simple moments.  My heart brakes when I think about these moments that will be missed.  So many have been missed already over the years and so many more are to come.  Once again, I am so thankful I have my camera to capture such sweetness.

Goodnight to you all and to God be the glory.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sweet Potato Cake

Parker is our daughter who got the Alabama "ROOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLL TIDE!" gene:).  She is our swimmer, our artsy one and our brave one.  We didn't have a blow out party for her birthday, but we did have a perfectly wonderful little family party for her after church.  Well, we first celebrated with goodie bags on Thursday at her tap class.  Then we ate at our favorite local pizza restaurant on Friday.  Saturday we went to see Prince Caspian.  On Sunday she took donuts to her Sunday School class.  THEN we had a party with cake and presents.  (oh and her bike came yesterday ... wonderful snow delay ... it just added to the ongoing celebration!)

Parker requested Sweet Potato Cake for her birthday cake.  I first made this cake for Kate when she turned one.  

It has been a family favorite ever since!  You can find the original recipe link here, (it'll also include the link to the cream cheese frosting).  I've also copied it below (minus the cream cheese frosting) for those of you who always miss this links and email me with "where can I find that recipe?!"  Note* this recipe is for cupcakes, but we've never used it for that.  Let me know if you do and how you like it!
Give it a try ... you'll make it again and again.  


  • 1  cup  coarsely chopped pecans
  • 2  cups  sugar
  • 1  cup  butter, softened
  • 4  large eggs
  • 1  (16-oz.) can mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2/3  cup  orange juice
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 3  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Garnish: coarsely chopped pecans


1. Place pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring once after 4 minutes.
3. Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
4. Whisk together mashed sweet potatoes, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sweet potato mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Fold in toasted pecans. Place foil baking cups in muffin pans, and coat with vegetable cooking spray; spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full.
5. Bake at 350° for 28 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove immediately from pans, and cool 50 minutes to 1 hour or until completely cool. Spread cupcakes evenly with Cream Cheese Frosting. Garnish, if desired.
Southern Living, NOVEMBER 2007

Monday, January 17, 2011


Last night while we watched the Bears have an amazing win in the playoffs, (note, I am a Bama fan by birth, a Bears fan by marriage) I finally checked off something that has been on my "to do" list for the last, oh, 5+ years.  I finally backed up  21, 686 images from my iphoto account onto my external hard-drive.  

21,686 images.  

I'm not a photographer ...  I just love my little family.  God has been so good to us.  We are not without our mistakes.  We are not without many failures ... many repeat failures.  We are not, in any way, pros at parenting, homeschooling or being military and handling deployments.  We are hard headed and slow learners and a family of foolishly independent people at times.  But God has been so faithful to us and has blessed us and protected us even when we haven't noticed.  One thing I love about looking through old images is that you not only remember things you've forgotten, but you notice blessings that you missed.  What a gift that is!  Again, I repeat, God has been and is so good to us.

Richard had the day off today and he took care of the little ones so that the older ones could get in a few hours of the subjects they like (homeschooling's so wonderful that way) and so that I could spend some much craved one on one time with them.  I spent most of that time with our little 110.  Oh, Patterson.  I used to tell Momma that if you wanted to love her, you had to catch her first!  She is the most intense individual I've ever met.  It is hard to calm her intensity down enough to really teach her something.  She is always already wanting to move to task 2, before you've even finished task 1.  She loves school, it's just really hard for her to, well, sit still:).  I remember reading to her when she was little and she knew when the story was about to be over and before I would finish, she would start grabbing another book and ask, "Can we read this one next?"  Patterson is our curious one, too.  She wants to know every night what we are doing the next day.  And when she wakes up in the morning, she wants to know if any of the plans have changed.  She wants to know when we're going to start school and when we're going to finish.  She wants to know what we're having for lunch and what Parker is doing upstairs:).  She wants to know when Daddy will be home and if I liked push pops when I was a little girl.  She has even mentioned several times that she just doesn't know what kind of car she should get when she grows up because she doesn't know how many kids she's going to have.  :):):)  I'm telling you, she's intense.  

Sitting today with her I just about lost my mind in wondering, "Will there ever be a time that she is just ready to start school when we sit down?!"  I feel like everyday it is not until I get to the "AGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!" point, that she just sort of snaps out of her "I've never heard anything about anything that you are talking about" and starts answering questions like first grade is such a breeze.  I like to think that if she was my only student that things would be so different.  But I don't know.  She is who she is and I just hope that I am effective in teaching her to learn and love learning and to listen and discern what is right without causing too much frustration on her end.  God has given her a wonderful heart and sweetness about her ... as well as a lot of energy.

I look forward to seeing how she uses all of her energy for His kingdom and glory!  

Saturday, January 15, 2011


The house is finally almost clean.  I'm not sure I'll make it to what I consider a finished product:).  No, I'm certain I won't.  But the fifty seven is cleaner than it's been in a very long time.  The refrigerator's clean, too, and that's good because in 58 minutes it'll be the sixteenth of January.  Fifty-eight minutes until it is officially an extra special day in our house ... and there's a pink and purple cake spending the night in our newly cleaned refrigerator waiting to celebrate.

This little girl, our California girl, went to bed 8, but will wake up 9.

Nine.  She is super excited ... as she should be:).  I hope she never looses the excitement of anticipating her birthday.  There are so many reasons to celebrate the gift of life.

Looking forward to giving her a big birthday hug in the morning and reminding her again how special she is to me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today There Was Sun

(the snow is melting around here, but lots of ice is taking it's place!)

I am almost at the year mark of my first full year of blogging and I don't sleep well at night.  How's that for a first line?  I'm sure my biggest sleep issues come from the consumption of too much coffee, but I like my coffee ... need my coffee ... and I have very little other splurges in life, so the coffee's staying and I'm just going to blame my sleep issues on my very active mind that simply will not rest.  One of the things on my mind at night is this blog.  I honestly don't consider myself a "blogger" but I blog, so I am.  But I'm not.  I mean, I don't blog to meet friends (although I have).  I don't blog to get a bunch of "hits" so I can sell a certain product.  I don't blog because I have something amazing to offer the rest of the blogging world.  I have never really fit into any sort of category in life.  I don't resist them, but association with a group, more specifically a label, tends to make me nervous.  I'm not sure why ... maybe it stems from a form of insecurity or maybe my parents said something traumatic to me when I was a child that has forever left me in fear of being labeled. Yeah, I think that's it.  HA!  No, definitely not.  All that is to say that I really don't feel like the term "blogger" fits me and whenever I hear it I want to shut the whole production down.  But then I take a photo I like and I want to show it to my Momma and it just looks better here than anywhere else.  So I keep on and 5am lasts another day.

Today is Wednesday and it is our third straight "snow day."  Roads are icy, schools are closed, all seven of us are hunkering down here at 57.  And just when I thought I was about to lose my mind, the sun comes out.  Now, I enjoy a nice rainy day every now and then just as much as anyone, and I have more than enjoyed the abundant snow fall lately.  But when that sun shines through ... there is absolutely nothing like it!  We literally dropped everything and went out.  The girls are so fun to watch.  Hanson Ellis is the "smart" one coming up with all sorts of great ideas.  Parker is the "brave" one who actually tests out those ideas before HE will join in.  Patterson is just the little sister who wants so badly to be a part, but is scared to death about everything:).  And then Kate, oh Kate.  Kate is just Kate off doing her own thing and fluctuating from being perfectly content to being perfectly miserable all within the blink of an eye.  Olivia is the little one who we always forget to watch because the others seem to consume every breath we have.  Maybe that's why she yells all the time??? hmmmmm:)  Well, all the same, Olivia was napping today so I have no stories to tell of her.

Today, there is a thick covering of ice on top of the snow.  While Kate was not a fan of her feet sinking the first day of the snowfall, today she was not a fan of her feet not being able to sink and slipping instead.  :)
So I carried her from point A to point B and she pretty much just stayed and ate her lollipop wherever I dropped her off.  

The other girls enjoyed the speed and adventure sliding down hills covered in ice as opposed to snow gave them.  They first tried down our back hill ... 

here they are starting out

here they have started ... note Parker is no longer on the sled

and here is Patterson.  

Be thankful this is a still shot and not video:).  She's okay, but I'm sure the neighbors thought she had broken her leg.  Our neighbor Will once told me that our girls were not "rough, just tough."  I think they are crazy, but when you're born Southern, Female and Military and then you are a part of a big family that is primarily female ... crazy is doing pretty good:).

After the above incident, Richard had the girls move to the side of the house where we do this in the summer ....

But no slip-n-slide or sprinkler today!  There was a wonderful valley of ice on which to slide down ... either by sled or by fanny or by feet!


They had a blast!  

Today there was sun.
Thank you God for the snow that made us all the more thankful for the sun.

To God be the Glory.