Monday, March 28, 2011

My "Sweet, Sweet" Girls

Today was a Monday, and boy did it ever feel like one. I woke up the girls this morning to get ready for school. Elia asked if I would bring her some brownies. Of course, I told her no, that we don't eat brownies for breakfast. Well, talk about a fit! Elia went nuts and went on to explain that her daddy bought a big box of mini muffins and brownies from Sams. She said they were all in the same box so they are considered "breakfast brownies". Gotta give the girl credit for trying! Who wouldn't want brownies for breakfast?

Now on to the littlest "sweetie". As I was getting ready for school this morning (just 5 minutes after the breakfast brownie incident), Ava came in my room and said, "Mom, Miley sh*t on the floor". I said, "What did you say?" She continued to repeat herself obviously not realizing what she was saying was not a nice word. I couldn't help but bust out laughing. I had to explain to her that was a bad word and we don't say words like that. Well, this afternoon, Ava's teacher told me they were going over their new spelling words for the week and one of the words was "shed". Ava kept telling the teacher that "shed" is a bad word. LOL!

Now on to the rest of our day. Ava had her first speech evaluation this afternoon. I think we were both nervous wrecks not knowing what to expect. Well, this speech lady exceeded our expectations. She was wonderful, and I feel so much better about what is going on with Ava. The speech teacher said Ava is experiencing speech dyfluency. She said her prognosis looks real good. I feel so much better and uplifted from everything we heard today. Ava will start speech therapy next Wednesday! We are still unsure if we should keep her neurology appointment or not. We continue to pray for Ava's speech in more ways than one after our day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

OCD Has Taken Over My House

As a teacher, I have been known to show signs of OCD such as having my papers stacked up nice and neat, having my art boxes in perfect number order where the number is facing out, having desks line up perfectly with the lines on the floor, and I have even been known to flip out when a student turns in their paper and accidentally bumps my stapler on my desk so it is not facing in a perfect north and south direction.
Apparently, this OCD is making its way home with me. I have suddenly became obsessed with organizing my house so it will make me feel just as good at home as I do at school where everything is in perfect order. I started off this weekend shopping for containers and bins. I found some great ones at Big Lots and The Dollar Store. I also found some very cute ones at Target. However, we all know you get what you pay for so I tried my best to stick with the cheaper, yet not as cute, containers. We can't forget about the wonderful label maker I bought as well. My family better look out with me and this label maker!
I decided to start with the pantry in the kitchen. Then I moved to the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. Right now I am about half way through all the drawers and cabinets in there. Kevin and I also decided to tackle the garage. I only wish I had taken a before picture of the garage so you can see exactly why it took us almost 4 hours to clean it out and organize everything in there.

Ok, so let's start with the pantry. Here are 3 BEFORE pictures of our pantry:

We had to throw out an unbelievable amount of food that had expired. It was things like spice packets and honey jars that had gotten old. This cleared out a lot of space. Once we cleaned it out, I sorted the foods in different baskets and labeled them. I also bought a little shelf to give more space for my cans of veggies and fruits. Of course, all the cans must face the same direction. I was so happy to get drinks and paper towels off the floor. Here are the AFTER pictures of the pantry:

Let's do another before and after so you can see the full transformation. I already feel so much better and we have only tackled the pantry.

Once the pantry was done, I went on to the silverware doors. The first drawer was not so bad. I simply bought a newer tray, cleaned out the door, and put the new tray back in the drawer. The second drawer was worthy of before and after pictures. This was the drawer that holds 7 spatulas, 6 ice creams scoops, 8 wooden spoons. You get the idea. Anyway, I cleaned it all out, cleaned the drawer real good, bought an organizational tray to put in their and neatly arranged the essentials in this drawer. Here is the BEFORE picture of this drawer:

And the AFTER:

I moved right along to some kind of cabinet we could call miscellaneous. This cabinet held sippy cups (which have not been used for years), kiddie plates and bowls, some coffee sugar and creamer, a few jars of spices, etc. I transformed this cabinet into my very own coffee cabinet. It now has my k-cups coffee in a neatly labeled container, my mugs that I bring to school, mugs I use at home, and creamer and sugar. Here is the BEFORE:

And the Afters:

Next, I tackled the "junk drawers". I forgot to take before pictures of these drawers, but you can see how neat and organized they became with the containers in each drawer. This draw has a container for special coupons we get in the mail for Gap, Yankee Candle, etc. It also holds a basket of office supplies. Here is the AFTER:

This drawer contains a basket of stamps and address labels and a basket of envelopes so anything you need to mail a letter is right at our fingertips. Here is the AFTER:

This drawer contains a basket of notepads. It also has a basket for pens and another one for pencils. Here is the AFTER:

I really wish I had taken a before of our medicine cabinet. It was pretty bad. The two white baskets on the bottom hold any medicine and thermometers we may need. The blue basket with a handle holds first aid items. The handle makes this basket easy to pick up quickly if needed. Here is the AFTER of our medicine cabinet:

We also gave Miley her very own drawer. She has a basket of her treats and one for her medicines and brush. The drawer also holds her leash and her clothes. Here is the AFTER of Miley's drawer:

The last picture (up to this point) is of our plates and bowls cabinets. It was literally overflowing with plates and cups we don't use so we cleaned it out, cleaned it up, and back only the essentials including our paper china! Here is the AFTER:

I forgot to take a before picture of the garage which may be a good thing. I think I would have been pretty embarrassed for anyone to see the way our garage looked. I got a white plastic shelf for free from my grandmother's house. Then I bought some bins, labeled them, and filled them up with the girls' outside toys. Here are the pictures:

Organization at the Carter house has only just begun. We still have to finish the kitchen, the laundry room, the coat and linen closets, the cabinets in the bathrooms, the girls' closets, our closets, and the biggest job of all with be the playroom. Stay tuned for more pictures of my OCD moments!

Friday, March 18, 2011

March Theme Dinner

Last month I started a monthly theme dinner for my family. Since this month is March, we celebrated with a St. Patrick's Day dinner. On the menu this month:

Green Belgium Waffles

Green Hawaiian Punch
Green Butter for the waffles
Vanilla Pudding with Magic Leprachaun Dust (instant lime jello)

The girls LOVE our theme dinners. I usually only spend a few extra dollars preparing one of these dinners. I get the table cloth, plates, and any decorations at the dollar store. I try to fix something that goes with the theme. For example, all the GREEN food coloring that was added to our food tonight added to the theme.

Last month, we had a Valentine's Day theme. I made spaghetti and we had bread along with red velvet whoopie pie for dessert. Here are some pictures from last month's theme dinner:

Stay tuned for next month's theme dinner: Easter!!!

Spring Break!

I LOVE spring break! I enjoy being home with my girls, staying up late, sleeping in, and enjoying the perfect weather. We had a fun week just staying close to home and being with each other.

We started the week at the girls' basketball banquet. They played for Upwards this year, and it is a wonderful program for kids to learn bible verses and spend time together playing a fun sport. The banquet consisted of a fun magic show and yummy snacks after the show. Ava spent the magic show sitting with Cami and Mrs. Jerkins, our favorite preschool teacher!

On Monday we made a trip to the dentist to get the girls' teeth cleaned. That was quite an adventure. Elia was terrified of the little spin brush they use to brush your teeth so Ava, the little sister, had to go first to show her how easy it can be done. Ava was a pro and acted like it was no big deal, which is wasn't. However, Elia was not convinced. She truly acted like a 2 year old getting her teeth cleaned and I was mortified. It will be Kevin's turn to take them in 6 months! The good news is no one had any cavities! We spent the rest of Monday and Tuesday inside taking it easy. The weather was cool and rainy so it was a good day to stay inside and relax.

Wednesday was a beautiful day outside so we spent most of that day playing in the cove. The weather was perfect. It was about 75 degrees and sunny. The girls played with Miley, rode bikes, rode their electric scooters, and played basketball.

We spent Thursday at the zoo. It was even prettier outside than it was on Wednesday, and I believe all of Memphis had the same idea we did about spending the day at the zoo. Kellie came down with Caleb and Allie and joined the girls and me on our adventure. Both parking lots for the zoo were full so we literally had to park in a neighborhood about a mile from the entrance. However, once we got in the zoo it did not seem so crowded. We saw the panda bears, watched the sea lion show, checked out the reptiles (everyone except for me), and rode a few of the rides. My favorite part of this day is when all the kids were riding one of the rides and Allie yelled "This is best day EVER!" It was a great day, and I don't want spring break to end! The best news is that we only have 10 weeks until summer break!!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Now I Know Why

Kevin and I had date night tonight while mom and dad took the girls. We decided to see The Grace Card. What an amazing movie! I saw God work in the lives of the characters on the screen just as he has worked in our lives. One of my favorite lines from the movie is when the pastor was going back into surgery to donate his kidney and he said "Now I know why!". That is the same way I feel about what God has done in my life.

During all those horrible years of infertility, I can remember feeling bitter and angry and resentful at everyone including God. I just could not understand why He would allow me to go through all that pain. After all, He is God and He could perform miracles so why was this miracle not being performed for me? I had grown up in a good Christian home and I had always tried to do the right thing. None of this made any sense to me at all.

Fast forward many fertility procedures, prayers, phone calls to adoption agencies, and many many tears. The day we got news of Elia Lynn Carter is the day I could say "Now I know why!" Of course, I said it again when we got the picture of Ava Grace Carter. However, I didn't stop saying it then either. You see, Elia was born on a dirt floor in a very remote and poor village of Guatemala. Her birthmom had many other children, however this birth in the dirt proved to be too much for her mom's aging body. Elia's day of birth was also the day Elia's birthmom went to be with the Lord. Ever since we got the bitter sweet news of how and why Elia came to be our child, we made a promise to ourselves and to God that we would give back to the country that gave us so much. We have spent the past 3 summers doing missions in Guatemala and building houses for families so no more babies have to be born on a dirt floor. Elia and Ava even got to travel back to Guatemala last summer for the first since they were babies. This was an unreal experience for them as they got to see where they came from and hopefully, appreciate all they have now.

This summer we will take a team of about 30 back to Guatemala to build more houses, hold VBS every day in the villages, build a feeding center and chicken coops, and install stoves so families can have clean air in their lungs.

It is so easy for us to look back and say "Now I know why". It is so much harder to trust God when we are in the midst of heartache. The important thing to remember is that God does have a plan for our lives and His plan is SO much bigger than our plan! Just look at these two beautiful girls and you will see proof that God is in control!