Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Giveaway

I just saw a recommendation by a friend and incredible mother about the book called "Educating the WholeHearted Child" by Clay and Sally Clarkson. I think it looks really interesting, and I entered for a free copy! I got some points by to it in my blog, so here you go. You can enter, too. And you better not win! ;)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

#6 - Kroger

I love my grocery store! I mean seriously LOVE IT! I think if I were being honest, it'd be much higher on the list. But, that's just not nice. Anyhow, here is why I love, love, LOVE Kroger!

*Low prices - and great sales!
*Nice people - without the Wal-Mart crowd that I hate in Christiansburg!
*Huge selection
*Indian food selection at the Blacksburg HUGE Kroger
*Fuel points - We just saved $0.60 a gallon for gas for both of our cars - about a $20 savings!
*Sushi bar at the Blacksburg Kroger
*Store brand stuff that is actually good
*Great produce, deli, and bakery section
*Free race tickets twice a year on my receipt - WOOHOO!

Monday, June 20, 2011

15(1/2) Month Well-Check

Brenna went for her 15 month checkup today. She's technically 15 1/2 months, but close enough! She did well with the doctor, but hated when the nurse checked her breathing. She also HATED the shots, of course. This was the first time I had to take her without Jonathan, and it was terrible. She screamed with the Hib one, and then screamed bloody murder with the MMR, which they say is the most painful. So far, so good with no reactions! The MMR one made me nervous, even though I KNOW that there isn't research to link it with autism. But still, it's scary.

Anyhow, here's how she measured up today:
Weight - 21 pounds, 15 ounces (30th percentile)
Height - 31.25 inches (70th percentile)
Head - 18.25 inches (60th percentile)

She's still right on track and meeting or exceeding all her milestones. Glad the appointment is OVER! She is apparently ready to forget about it, too, because she pulled those bandaids off before we left the parking lot!

And just for memory sake, her stats at all her other well-checks:
Birth - 8 pounds, 3 ounces; 20 inches
3 days - 7 pounds, 6 ounces
1 month - 8 pounds, 10 ounces
2 months - 10 pounds, 13 ounces; 23 inches
4 months - 13 pounds, 6 ounces; 24.75 inches
6 months - 15 pounds, 12 ounces; 26.25 inches
9 months - 17 pounds, 4 ounces; 28 inches
12 months - 19 pounds, 7 ounces; 30 inches
15 months - 21 pounds, 15 ounces; 31.25 inches

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Queen Anne's Cake - YUMMM-O!!

Here's another recipe that is one of my favorites. It's a delicious cake that Jonathan's Maw-Maw makes and gave me the recipe for. It's really easy and really delicious! You should definitely try it!

I realize this isn't such a great picture, and I didn't ice it too well, but it was GOOD!


1 box German chocolate cake mix
1 small box vanilla pudding
1 c. veg. oil
3 eggs

8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
12 oz. cool whip

1. Blend cake ingredients on low.
2. Mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
3. Bake in 2 round cake pans @ 325 for 25-30 minutes.
4. Cool completely.
5. Beat cream cheese (let it sit for awhile first) and all sugar together untl smooth.
6. Add cool whip in and fold until smooth.
7. Spread icing on cake and in between layers.
8. Grate Hershey bar into curls on top with a vegetable peeler.

*Side not - Do not try to make this for your father-in-law on his visit to your home after your wedding when you have no clue how to make a cake. And if you do, make sure you don't blend the cool whip in with the icing. It will get runny. And the top layer WILL slide off into the floor on the way to the refrigerator. And you will cry and look like a blubbering mess.*

Thursday, June 16, 2011

#7 - TFC

We are definitely going to miss our church family at The Freedom Center (TFC) in Salem. Jonathan was already attending TFC when we met, so it's always been a part of our story. We've made lots of memories, and met some great friends at this place. I won't ramble on about the church, but I'll chronicle some memories we have through pictures!

This is before I was even in the picture. I just found it on the computer and thought they both looked SO young - April (still a Brooks) and Kristen!
Jeremy, Adam, and Matt at one of the NYE services

Jeremy singing away at some gig

Guilie, Brittany, and Kristen during Fire & Ice a longgggg time ago

our whole group with our translator/friend Rachel in Mexico City 2006

mission work in Mexico

Donette, me, and Brittany - some of my favorites!

Caitlin and Jason in the nursery - They've grown so much.

ridiculous pictures from a NYE scavenger hunt 2008

leap frog

pyramid - Thanks for the sweet face, babe!

After Ezra playing at the Freedom Blast

building the stage

Our tiny church put together the fireworks display for the whole city of Salem (10,000 people) for several years. It was LOTS of hard work, but such a fun experience!


more Freedom Blast

worship music before the fireworks

fun shower games

at our baby shower

We had Brenna dedicated at TFC when she was almost 2 months old. Pastors Randy and Donette are very special to us. Donette has always been there for me when I needed someone to talk to (like when that boy who I knew I would marry broke up with me and then came to his senses), cry with, or laugh with. Their daughters, Kristen and Brittany are great friends of mine and it's been fun to watch them grow from middle/high schoolers to college students (and Kristen's even a graduate!) and great young women. Thank goodness for Facebook! :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

#8 - Downtown Blacksburg & Downtown Salem

We live really close to 2 awesome places. We like Christiansburg, but it's more of a retail place with not many attractions that draw people here. However, we LOVE going to Blacksburg, which is only about 10 minutes west of us. It's full of fun little places, mostly because of the university. Some of the places I'll miss the most in Blacksburg are:

*Cabo Fish Taco - a yummmmmmy baja restaurant that is great for date nights
*Carol Lee Donuts - a place I should have never gone - and haven't been often - but their donuts are even better than Krispy Kreme
*Log Cabin BBQ - Jonathan's favorite place to eat - but I do realize we're moving to the land of BBQ
*Kent Square - where Jonathan bought my engagement ring and where we (rarely) treat ourselves to Ben & Jerry's
*7-Eleven - We covered that, right?
*Caboose Park - a super fun park with lots of space for picnics and playing
*VT dog park - a fun area behind the Vet school where Maggie loves to play and swim in the creek
*Huckleberry Trail - we'll talk about that later...
*The Cellar - a typical college town restaurant with a Greek flair and YUMMY pizza

The city of Salem, where we go to church, is fun, too. We don't frequent it too often, since it's about 30 minutes away, but we love hanging out there after church on Sundays. Here's what I'll miss about Salem:

*Greenhill Park - lots of memories here - Our church put on a HUGE 4th of July celebration for the whole city for several years here. We have had a few picnics here. I've taken Brittany to soccer practice here. I ran my first "competitive" race here - a 3K two years ago. And recently we had a super fun play date with London that I wish we could do every single week!
*Frank's Pizza - It's become our go-to after church lunch place.
*Mac & Bob's - oh-so-good everything

*Salem Red Sox field - We really enjoy watching this minor league team. I've even taken my students to a game for the past 2 years.
*Tokyo Express - really good, cheap Japanese food and sushi

So, apparently all we care about in either of these places is food. Maybe I'll lose some weight when we move.

Friday, June 10, 2011

How Would You Feel?

Let's play pretend....

Imagine you've been working as a teacher in an elementary school for 6 years. You taught your first year in Title 1, followed up that summer by interning with your principal for many hours, where you wrote the master schedule for the whole school, correlated SOL scores, and did other things trying to better the school. You then starteded teaching 3rd grade with 2 ladies who quickly became your best friend. You planned the 7th grade trip to Washington, DC for the next 3 years, even though it had nothing to do with your assignment in 3rd grade. You continued helping your principal with the master schedule and class lists for each grade during each summer. You served as your school representative on the county calendar committee for 2 years. Then you served for a year as your school representative on the county PAC (advisory) committee. You served on the math committee, climate committee, building plans committee, academic fair committee, and was the "next in charge" for a couple of years when your principal was out, even serving as a full term "next in line" in the office for a week while your principal's wife had their second baby. Your students always had over 90% passing on their SOL tests - most recently earning 100% on most every test. You did 4 VGLA assessments which all passed advanced, one even getting rave reviews as being the best one ever done in the county. You represented your school and county on the state committee of reviewing and rewriting the Math Standards of Learning to be implemented during the 2011-2012 school year.

Are you still with me? Close your eyes if it helps.

Pretend you're a feisty one who is passionate about children showing respect and being treated with respect. You have parents go to the principal about you almost yearly, but about 99% of them sing your praises after giving you a chance to show that high expectations really do produce more successful students. You bust your tail to make learning fun, and you spend over $1,000 easily each year to do so. You buy your own paper to make copies for your students. You make them DVDs at the end of the year to remember you buy, and you usually end up paying for quite a few of their end of the year shirts because their parents can't or won't buy them one. You make them breakfast before their SOL tests, and you hug them when their grandparents die. The principal's daughter frequents your room, and you even spend some time helping her with things she's struggling with. You cry in the principal's office more time than you can count because of something that you are passionate about. You realize he's not quite as passionate about kids as you are.

Then your husband gets a job in North Carolina and you have the chance to stay at home with your sweet baby girl. Your principal won't tell you where to send your letter of resignation. So you send it to the School Board office. Your principal gives you a one-line IM about how you'll be missed a few months before the end of school.

The last day of school comes and you have bus duty. Yeah, bad dream I know! You cry a lot and give a million hugs that day. You hug your two best friends and lots of other close friends. Your principal passes your room and you in the hall several times, but won't speak to you. Then you go to the after-school faculty meeting, where your principal is offering up some free ice cream (but not to you). You sit through grueling lies from everybody about how great the school is. You watch a video talking about how your school is a place where kids come first that was made by someone who doesn't really believe that or show it. Then he tells everyone to go home. Not a word about you leaving (nevermind that they usually have a dinner for that!) When someone reminds him that there are gifts to the 2 people who are leaving, he walks over, picks them up, hands them to you without so much as a word.

How would you feel?

Monday, June 6, 2011

15 Months Old!

Dear Brenna,

You turned 15 months old on Saturday! You celebrated with an overnight stay with Nana and Papa Bill. They LOVE keeping you, and you seem to enjoy it as well. You're growing into quite a big girl, right before our very eyes! You're still talking up a storm and repeat words much better than you used to. Your two new words are "HOT!" and "WOW!". They are both so cute. You say "hot" whenever we give you food (whether it's hot or not) and when we go outside. You've learned to blow on your food like we do, which is cute but messy.

You also throw tantrums when you don't get your way. Daddy and I are learning how to encourage you to have good manners, and we try to ignore your tantrums so they seem to stop sooner. It's hard to know how much you understand of us, but you definitely are showing us that you know right from wrong. Which I guess means more serious discipline is in our horizon. Oh, the downside of parenting! But, for the most part we are blessed that you are such a happy, loving baby. You sure do you love your Daddy, but Mommy gets some affection every now and then, too.

You love any writing instrument you can find, so we've had to be much more careful about having pens within your reach. You've colored with crayons a few times, but it doesn't keep your attention for long. Your fine motor skills are getting better, and you at least can get some food in your mouth (upside down, nonetheless) when using a spoon. You LOVE being outside, and like to find your "ticks" (sticks) to carry around. I wonder if you'll have a tombody streak. You still like to read stories with us, and you just back your cute little tush into our laps. You seem to always pick the books with animal pictures and no words. It gets a little boring for us, but it's fun to see how much you enjoy them time after time. They sure have helped you learn lots of animal sounds.

Your eating is still unpredictable. You'll eat like crazy one day then not much at all the next day. You drink about 20 ounces of milk a day, which seems to satisfy you. You like watered down juice when we're out in the hot sun, too. Some of your current favorite foods are carrots, green beans, ham and cheese quesadillas/grilled sandwiches, fruit cups, applesauce, and Teddy Grahams. You've gotten really good at saying "peees" for please when you want a snack. You say "thank you", too, but not every time. You're still hanging strong with 8 total teeth.

We enjoyed our second Mother's Day, which was a lot of fun. We also spent lots of time just the two of us while Daddy was in NC working. We usually just hang out here at night, but sometimes we go to Target, the park, or play in your new baby pool on the deck. We visited Bristol to see Nanie and go to Jayla's 2nd birthday party. Road trips aren't quite as easy these days since you don't nap in the car quite as well. You've officially outgrown your infant carrier, so we're just using your cow-print big girl car seat now. You like it for short rides, but that's about it.

You are still an angel sleeper. We put you down about 8:00 each night, and you usually play a little while in your crib, but put yourself to sleep shortly. You rarely wake up during the night. Some mornings I have to wake you up about 7:10 to get ready to go to Mrs. Kate's. Other mornings you wake up on your own sometime between 6:30-7:00. On the weekends, sometimes we're lucky enough to get you to sleep until 7:30. I'm hoping that after this week, when I'm home with you each day, that you'll consistently sleep until 7:30 in the mornings. I'm thankful you still take 2 good naps each day. I'm hoping you will hang on to that until at least the end of June, when you're in Carrie and Eric's wedding.

You're a joy in our lives, Brenna. I'm thankful that you are healthy, because I realize not all parents are as blessed as we are to have a healthy baby. You are the perfect daughter for us, and we couldn't have imagined you would be such a perfect fit to our family. I can't tell you excited I am to spend my days with you. I know it won't always be easy, but being your teacher is my dream job!

I love you, my little Sprout!
Love, Mommy