December 27, 2011

Our kind of Christmas...

It was delightful.
Busy, but not crazy. The good kind of busy- filled with lots of love, good food, family, traditions and laughter.

Olivia was sick the entire weekend. {That was no fun} But we all managed to stay in the spirit.

Christmas Eve both families came together to celebrate. No presents, just togetherness. {I am so thankful that both sides of our family come together for things like this so that we can ALL enjoy the magical moments in life.} I love traditions. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of Christmas traditions. One of my favorites was every Christmas Eve my Gran would read me "Twas the Night Before Christmas;" it was a very special moment for me to share that with Olivia this year.

{she wore her cupcake shirt because we were throwing a birthday party for baby Jesus. She chose her outfit this evening, everything down to the leopard print ballet flats. What can I say- she's definitely my child.}

Another tradition was leaving cookies for Santa and sprinkling 'reindeer food' for Santa's flight crew.

{Don't tell Olivia, but we were out of milk from all the baking so Santa's milk is actually expired liquid coffee creamer. Sure hope he liked hazelnut as much as I do!}

Olivia sprinkled the reindeer food all by herself.

This Christmas morning was super special. My Mom, Step-Dad Robert, and Grandmother came to see Olivia open her presents. She got so much! Best part.. she said 'thank you' a lot!

Santa brought her a toy kitchen and a tricycle. You know, because she was a super special girl all year!

We rounded out the day with a visit to our "bonus parents." Chance's best friend, Terry's parents. They spoiled us, as always. They are so good to us and treat Olivia as though she's their granddaughter. So thankful to have so many people in our girls life that love her.

{excuse our scary eyes!}

I hope your Christmas was as wonderful as ours!!

December 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Jesus!

From our family you yours,
have a blessed and happy Christmas season.

With Love,
The Bendel's

December 23, 2011

21 months.

How can it be?
You, my sweet girl, are 21 months old.

We took you to see Santa tonight, you didn't have much to say to him.

I want to journal a sweet moment that happened today in the cake aisle at the grocery.

Mommy: "Olivia, do you want to make a birthday cake for baby Jesus?"
Olivia: "Jesus died."
Mommy: "Yes, baby, he did."
Dee Dee: "Yes, He died on the cross for us."
Olivia: "It's sad."
Mommy: "No sweetie! It's happy because now he's with God!"
Olivia: "With God." {Nodding her head and smiling.}

Moments like that tell me I'm doing something right.

December 22, 2011

We're Back!

We're home from Virginia!
Olivia did awesome on our flights!! What a relief.

Tons of fun was had.
Two life long friendships were strengthened.
Lots of sweet moments between two little girls.
Lots of relaxing.
It was a good trip.

Here are a few pictures from our week away...

Ready for our first flight!
Olivia was so good, on both flights.


 She really liked looking out the window.

We took a field trip to the library. Olivia had never seen that many books- she was in awe. Precious.

Thanks for having us Nikki, Michael and Ellie!!!

December 14, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Today's the day.. we're off!
Headed to see some special friends in Lexington, VA.
I'm so nervous excited.
I hope I've remembered to pack everything.
We'll be back on the 21st!

December 13, 2011

December 13, 1963

December 13th. It's a difficult day for my family and myself. On that day in 1963, my grandparents were married. This would have been their 48th wedding anniversary. Now being married I understand just how truly incredible that is. Sadly, this is an anniversary that won't be celebrated. My sweet PawPaw passed away on Oct. 31, 2007. (I can't believe it's been 4 years.)This is what I wrote for his memorial site. Today I wanted to share it on this platform as well.

On December 13, 1963 Beverly A. Nichols & Bobby G. Yancey were wed.
(For any of you who don't know- that's my Grandparents)
It was an intimate wedding, without all the muss and fuss that usually go along with weddings (what mine was filled to the brim with) but it was a beautiful one, or so I'm told. Just a few family, friends and a preacher in the church that my Grandmother grew up in, in Tupelo MS.
The bride wore a simple ivory dress, no veil. There was no reception, no photographer; actually there is only one photo from that day it's of the two of them, and I've never seen a picture capture so much love. They so loved each other. That's not to say that my Grandparents marriage was perfect, they had their hard times just like everyone else (maybe more than anyone else) but through it all they never stopped loving each other. They were the role model that taught me to love, that taught me how marriage should be. I often told them when I was younger that I hoped one day to have as full of a marriage as they did. The same still remains true today.

My Grandfather was many things to me. He was, of course my Grandfather; but he was also my Daddy and my best friend. He held my hand as a little girl learning to walk. He held the handle bars of my bicycle and taught me to ride a bike. He held my hand and congratulated me on the day of graduation. And he gave my hand to Chance on our wedding day.
In the last few years of my Grandfather's life he was not well, several years ago he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on his right lung. Thanks to the marvels of modern science, the doctor's removed the cancer. He went into remission. He never completely recovered though, he had several other health issues that we contributed this to. And then the phone call came that changed all of our lives forever. In early January 2007 on a Friday night at around 9 pm Pawpaw's physician called the house. He had a tumor on his brain, near the cerebellum. The surgeons did their best but admittedly were not able to get it all. In the ten months that followed he got better, got worse, got better, and then got worse again. I believe that God led my Grandmother to nursing so many years ago so that she could take care of him in his final days. She nursed him through it all, staying up all hours of the day and night, neglecting herself so that he might not feel the pain. She was so selfless. In his final days we were all by his side. Eventually we all, in our own time told him it was ok to go. We all said our goodbyes, we were as prepared as you could be for that kind of situation. But he kept holding on, then on Oct. 31, my Grandmother (& sisters) birthday she told him it was time. A few hours later we went peacefully. He waited until he knew that she'd be ok, until she was ready. I had never seen that measure of love, he was dying and he was still taking care of her. (It's what he did best)
My Grandparents enjoyed two daughters together, sometimes more than others. And reveled in the glory of being Grandparents. I may be partial but I think the excelled at the latter. Their marriage was a rock that their two daughters and 5 grand-daughters will be able to look to as guidance for the rest of our lives. It was a blessing to us all. Their's is my favorite love story.

December 5, 2011

December, really?

First things first, a very dear family friend is struggling right now in the ICU at a local hospital. They believe he may have had a stroke but has been in pretty much the same condition since early last week. Please pray for his healing, for comfort for his family and wisdom for the doctors and nurses caring for him.

December snuck up on me. Big time!
I was so busy with the bustle of Thanksgiving, I feel like I blinked and November was over! And here we are in December- the happiest month of the year. I love everything about the holiday season; especially all the fun traditions.

Last Firday was Chance's birthday, he's 28 now.

Olivia helped make his birthday cupcakes- carrot cake with cream cheese icing. He's the only one in the house that likes them. (I gag a little just thinking about them)

Saturday was a big day for us too. We took Olivia to see her very first Christmas parade. We were able to meet up with our dear friends the Pooles. You've heard me talk about our awesome play dates before.
Olivia and Adley just have the best time together, and it's so fun to watch them learn to interact.

Adley (Right) & Olivia (Left)

Olivia liked the marching bands and the gymnastics teams... Adley liked the pup-pups (dogs) best.
These girls make my heart smile. I love that Olivia is building friendships even at her young age. She asks for Adley all the time. I sure hope we're able to squeeze in a few playdates before the Christmas craziness starts!

Olivia is at such a fun age right now. She is so articulate, and has no problem telling you exactly what it is she wants!

In other fun news, and adding to the craziness, Olivia and I get to spend the week in Lexington, VA. We fly out on the 14th and won't be back until the 21st!! So the Bendel Christmas has to be planned and prepared for by the 13th! Whew- I feel a list coming on.

November 27, 2011

20 months!

Olivia, my sweet girl, you are growing so fast.
Just the other morning when I was dropping you off to spend the day with Gran and Mimi I looked at you and it hit me. You're not a baby anymore. All the little baby features are gone. You are truly a little girl- and we couldn't be more proud.
You are so smart, the doctor was so impressed with your development at your last appointment. You love books and magazines. And I think you'd color all day long if I'd let you. You've started calling your Daddy Chance, it started as a means of getting his attention when you were frustrated and now you just think it's funny! You're vocabulary is HUGE! I'm guessing you're nearing 350 words. You looked at your Dee Dee the other day after she told you "no no" and asked her "what did I do wrong?" We are so proud of you and how well you communicate. People are so surprised when we're in the check out line and you're just babbling on about colors, someone that's sad, telling me a cow says moo, that your toes are in your shoes and that you want M&M's.
You have a lot of fun on our weekly play dates with your friend Adley. It's so fun for Miss Dana and me to watch you girls play. You ask about Adley all the time, especially if you hear me mention Miss Dana.
You're to the age now where you understand your movies. You're favorites are Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid, and Toy Story 3, but you still love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Bubble Guppies. We watched Beauty and the Beast and Snow White for the first time on Thanksgiving night. I loved being able to share a childhood favorite of mine with you!
You are growing and changing so fast. I feel like I'm going to blink and you'll be in kindergarten. We are so excited about all the fun things we have planned for you- Christmas parades, going to see Santa and gymnastics classes.

We love you more than life sweet girl!
Forever and ever,
Momma and Daddy

November 26, 2011

This too shall pass

I've been vacillating about whether or not to write this post for some time;
And I've got to tell you a big part of me still doesn't want to.
Why? Because it makes me feel like a horrible mother.
But if I can reach even one momma who is going through the same season, and tell her she's not alone, then I have to write it.

Olivia has always been a bit "big for her britches."
Meaning, from very early on we could see that she was ahead of the curve when it came to emotional maturity. She is a very smart, and empathetic child. She has a clear understanding of her emotions and the emotions of those around her. For these things I am truly thankful- I can't wait to see the ways in which the Lord plans to use her sweet heart to reach people. I'm so proud of the little girl she is. 
That being said, as with every other phase, we have met the "terrible two's" early. I hate the name tacked onto this time in a child's life- the "terrible two's." No child is terrible, but sometimes their behavior is down right ugly.
That's where we are. Some days I look at her and wonder where my sweet spirited little girl has gone. Some days in the midst of a 2 hour long scream fest- I just want to cry. She is so head strong and sometimes when we're in the throws of a temper tantrum, I ask myself if this is ever going to stop. Because in that moment it feels as if there is no end to her resolve. And then I remind myself that to everything there is a season, and this too shall pass.
If you find yourself going through a similar time with your little one- I want you to know that you are not alone. I know how frustrating it can be when this little being that you love so much just.won't.stop.screaming. I know the heart break you feel when you don't necessarily like that sweet little tyrant. It's completely normal. There are days that I ask myself what I've gotten into, and question whether or not I'm truly equipped to be a good parent. If you are asking yourself that, let me go ahead and answer that question for you. No, you are not. 
No one person is capable of being the parent they dream of being with out the guidance of the Lord. You could be the PTO president and bake cookies every Saturday with your kids, but if you are not constantly seeking Him- you will always fall short of what you could be. I often realize that the days that I am most frustrated and quick-tongued with Olivia, are the days that I have not taken time to just decompress; time to pray and have time with the Lord. Whenever I find myself getting close to that ever-looming brink, I close my eyes and ask for wisdom, grace and guidance. I want Olivia to look back on her childhood and respect the mother I have been. I want her to see God's grace in my parenting. Because at the end of the day- it's not the spankings and the time outs she'll remember. It's how loved she felt, how nurtured she was and how prepared she is for life as an adult in the 'real' world.

November 24, 2011

Gobble Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving!

From our family to yours...

The Bendels 2010

"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;
                                                               you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
                                                             Now, our God, we give you thanks,
                                                                and praise your glorious name."
                                                                                      1 Chronicles 29:11-13

November 20, 2011

What we're up to...

Checking lights...

Decorating trees...

Eating candy canes off the Christmas tree...

Making precious memories.

November 19, 2011

I'm so excited!

OK, I promise this isn't going to become one of those blogs that only talks about coupons and saving money.
{Although I do love those blogs. Naturally.}
But like is said before, I'm the kind of gal that shares a good thing when I find it.

That being said, I just got 25 journaling cards {that I plan to use in Olivia's baby scrapbook} completely FREE! I didn't even have to pay shipping!

Aren't they sweet? I'm so excited to get them.

And here's how you can get some too:
CLICK HERE and sign-up to receive a $15 FREE Credit. Then get one person to sign-up (I signed up under a separate email) and you will get another $5 in FREE Credit, making it a total of $20 in FREE credits.

As you can see, I had the $20 credit which covers the shipping. I didn't pay anything! Yay for freebies!

November 18, 2011

I ♥ savings!

If you know me, you know I love to save money.
Sales, consignment shops, yard sales and coupons make me giddy.
I'm also the kind of girl who shares a good thing when she finds it.

Yesterday I popped into a local consignment shop.
I stop into this particular store about once a week- but yesterday was my best haul to date!

For me:

Yellow Bloomingdales 100% Cashmere Sweater 
Estimated full retail value: $150.00
Original in-store price: $9.00
Store promotion: 50 % off
Final price: $4.50

Orange Stripe Sweater from The Limited
Estimated full retail value: $50.00
Original in-store price: $9.00
Store promotion: 50% off
Final price: $4.50

For Olivia:

Children's Place Footed Pajamas {she so slept in them last night.}
Estimated full retail value: $15.00
Original in-store price: $4.00
Store promotion: 50% off
Final price: $2.00

Navy and White Stripe Old Navy Long Sleeve Tee
Estimated full retail value: $10.00
Original in-store price: $3.00
Store promotion: 50% off
Final price: $3.00

Grey Hoodie with Flower Applique
Estimated full retail value: $15.00
Original in-store price: $3.00
Store promotion: none :( but still a great price!
Final price: $3.00

Red with Silver Polka Dot Long Sleeve Tee
Estimated full retail value: $10.00
Original in-store price: $3.00
Store promotion: 80% off
Final price: $0.60

Clifford the Big Red Dog Stuffed Animal - not pictured, he was in the washing machine.
Estimated full retail value: $60.00 {still for sale on amazon!}
Original in-store price: $5.00
Store promotion: 50% off
Final price: $2.50

Score of the day: Tommy Hilfiger Floral Twin Sized Comforter
Estimated full retail value: $175.00
Original in-store price: $10.00
Store promotion: 50% off
Final price: $5.00

Total estimated full retail value of entire purchase: $425.00
Actual purchase price: $25.10 + tax
That's an estimated 94% discount! Woo Hoo.

Lesson of the day. Never- ever pay full retail for anything.

November 17, 2011

Poppyseed Chicken Recipe

Last week I shared my seemingly never-ending to do list. One of those "to do's" was to take dinner to some sweet friends. Well I did, and it looked delicious. So I made it for us that night too. Then Olivia and I shared the left overs with our friends at the slumber party. It was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.
Go make it, now.
Well maybe you should wait until dinner time. But I wouldn't judge you if you wanted to eat it for breakfast. It's that good.

{photo borrowed from here}

Poppyseed Chicken
{Adapted from the recipe found at The Girl Who Ate Everything, my changes in pink}

5 cups chicken breasts, cooked and cubed - I used boneless chicken tenders because they can be easily and quickly cut with kitchen sheers and sister was in a hurry!

1 cup sour cream
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups crushed Ritz crackers (about 1 1/2 rolls of crackers - We love these crackers, I used 2 rolls)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 T poppy seeds

Additional Ingredients to make it fancy:
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce - used it
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1 T lemon juice - used it
1/4 tsp pepper - used it

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Boil raw chicken breasts with salt and pepper until done. I like to boil it with half an onion cut into large chunks to give it more flavor. I used 2 bouillon cubes. Let chicken cool slightly and cut into one inch cubes. I cut it before I boiled it, decreasing the cook time. Place cubed chicken in a 9X13 casserole dish.
Stir together the condensed soup and sour cream. If you wish to add the additional flavorings stir in the Worcestershire, celery salt, garlic, lemon juice, and pepper to the soup and sour cream mixture. Pour over the chicken.

In a separate bowl, stir together the crushed crackers, poppy seeds and melted butter. Sprinkle over the chicken and sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top of the casserole is browned and the sauce is bubbly. I cooked mine (both of them) for 30 minutes exactly thanks to a timer, and they turned out perfect. Serve plain or over rice. We like to eat it with steamed broccoli and we mix it all together. I served it with green beans and macaroni and cheese. Classy.

All in all this is a great weeknight recipe. The prep time is minimal, and the finished product is fantastic.
It's definitely what Chance refers to as a "repeater."

November 16, 2011

Prettiest Thing

The prettiest thing
I ever did see
Was lightning from the top of a cloud
Moving through the dark a million miles an hour
With somewhere to be 

So why does it seem
Like a picture
Hanging up on someone else's wall
Lately I just haven't been myself at all
It's heavy on my mind

I'm dreamin' again
Like I've always been
And way down low
I still know 

The prettiest thing
I ever did see
Was dusty as the handle on the door
Rusty as a nail stuck in the old pine floor
Looks like home to me 

Now I'm dreamin' again
Like I've always been
And way down low
I'm thinkin' of the prettiest thing

November 13, 2011

What a weekend!

This weekend was crazy! Fun, but crazy. The Bendels were so busy.
Of course I was running around frantically trying to complete my checklist.
Our girl ended up spending a good portion of --- night in the emergency room after a swallowed penny scare. No worries- no such penny showed up on the multiple x-rays.

This photo was taken shortly after our arrival at the hospital, around 2:30 am. I think we finally got home around 4:45, and to be honest- I don't even remember laying back down.
I was so tired Friday, but that checklist was staring at me. I hit the ground running at 7:30 and didn't stop until around midnight. Saturday was even more hectic but with the help of a very sweet friend I was able to get it all done. Thanks Dana!
She came over Saturday morning and helped me, then when it came time for me to go set up- she took our girls back to her house. She's a life saver that one!

Aren't they precious in their little car seats together?? I love it!

Happily only 1 task was ignored. {the diaper cake tutorial}
The shower went on without a hitch.
The mommy and daddy-to-be scored tons of fabulous loot. Including a gift basket from us; which consisted of handmade burp clothes and onesies, a piggy bank, a lullaby cd, and a stuffed frog and elephant.

Here are a few pictures from the shower:

Lindsay and Brandon seemed to be very pleased with everything and loved everything they got.

After the shower it was time for some quick clean up. Olivia and I were super excited about our play date/ slumber party with Dana and Adley. The girls {for the most part} play so well together. I love watching them interact. Olivia is definitely the aggressive one. Adley's much more laid back.

They have a blast together and I'm so glad that Olivia has a friend that she's getting close to.

Sunday has been a lazy one for us. I ate a lot of left overs and was a complete slob and took a 2 hour nap with Olivia. I.HAVE.NEVER.DONE.THAT. Even when she was a baby. It was nice.

We have many things to be thankful for this weekend- family, friends, new babies..
God is good friends.