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.

November 9, 2011

Busy as a bee..

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with tonight's post, it's just precious. Olivia was decorating her Halloween cookies on Sunday night.

We are busy, busy around here! I am throwing my sister's baby shower is Saturday- and I have sooo much to do. But I promised my sweet friend Dana that I would try to post nightly; and since I can't think of anything other than my checklist- that's what I'm going to share.
  • Hobby Lobby shopping trip to get card stock & ribbon.
  • Grocery store for shower.
  • Make diaper cake for gift table.
  • Make diaper cake for welcome table.
  • Make and freeze punch.
  • Jordan's Market shopping trip to get Wind and Willow dips and pepper jelly.
  • Make these hurricanes. Tutorial found here.
  • Write a quick tutorial for them.
  • Make dinner for some sweet friends. {Their son is having surgery on Friday.}
  • Laundry, lots of laundry.
  • Clean the bedrooms and the bathroom.
  • Menu plan for my family.
  • Grocery store for my family.
  • Make baby gift.
  • Prepare Wind and Willow dips.
  • Set up for baby shower.
  • Make t-shirt for Olivia to wear to the shower.
  • Decide what I'm going to wear to the shower.
  • Take dress to Lindsay to wear Saturday.
  • Pick up ultra-sound pictures.
  • Gather all necessary recipes for shower menu.
  • Breathe.
  • Call church to get entry code for Saturday.
  • Catch up on our DVR. Which is currently 82% full.
  • Digitally create cupcake toppers.
  • Print cupcake toppers.
  • Cut out cupcake toppers.
  • Print these "wishes for baby" cards.
  • Cut out the "wishes for baby" cards.
  • Gather serving dishes.
  • Bake cupcakes.
  • Lay out clothes for Saturday.
  • Pack overnight bag for Olivia and me for a Saturday night slumber party with Dana and Adley.
  • Make chicken salad.
I'll let you know how it goes.

November 7, 2011

on my heart tonight..

Olivia at 28 weeks.

is the right of
every child.
Not a
special privilage
the fortunate,
the planned,
and the perfect.

November 3, 2011

Sweet like sugar..

This post is filled with random pictures that don't really fit into any other post- but too cute not to share..

There is just something magical about being a little girl. I've always said that I was so grateful to the Lord that He chose me to be Olivia's momma. She is such a special child, with such a sweet soul. I love getting to share in tender moments like the ones in these pictures- dress up days, tea parties and silly faces are certainly the sweet spots that get you through the tough ones. But what I most look forward to as Olivia's momma is watching as she grows "into her own." I know that the Lord has wonderful things planned for her, and I can't wait to see how he uses her sweet, strong nature to bring Him glory!

November 2, 2011

Another First

October 7, 2011

First's aren't a frequent in our house any more. Olivia has really settled into her own and is figuring life out as a toddler. She's running around and talking up a storm. {seriously- the vocabulary she has is insane!}
So I was super excited when we got to experience another first the other day.

Her first hair cut. Kind of.

Her bangs had been hanging in her eyes for a couple of weeks, so I finally decided to bite the bullet and have them trimmed. So we popped into a local salon and had a family friend fix Olivia up. Thanks Ms. Wanda!!

Olivia did great, as always. She sat so still. I did pretty well too. I somehow managed to avoid tears.

Doesn't she just look all grown up? So bittersweet.

I didn't manage to get a good "after" shot. She was too worried about getting those Smarties opened.

November 1, 2011


I'm taking a break from the "what we've been up to" posts today to share about the Bendel Halloween.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret- I am a bit of a holiday/special occasion person. Actually I'm a huge holiday/special occasion person. I just love sharing all the fun and traditions with Olivia!
I make her a goody basket for each holiday.

First thing this morning she opened her Halloween basket...

And naturally, she gets a card at every possible opportunity!

I worked during the day, but couldn't wait to get home and get our girl all gussied up! She was a precious little black kitty cat. She was saying "meow" all night!! It was so sweet.

We were sad that my mom and grandmother weren't able to make it trick or treating with us; but so happy that Dee Dee {my sweet mother-in-law} joined in the fun! That girl loves her Dee Dee!!

Liv was so excited to get started she could hardly contain herself while we waited for Daddy to join us.

Thankfully, he didn't keep her waiting long!

This is Olivia receiving her first 'treat' at Trunk or Treat. She was awesome. She figured out the whole 'Trick or Treating' thing very early on- saying "twick-er-twee" at every car, and "dank oooo" once she'd scored the goods. She's such a big girl now!

We even got to see our sweet friends Dana and Adley {the sweet little lady bug.} Don't you just want to pinch those cheeks? She's a doll baby, and we love her. Olivia and I are so blessed to have these girls so close. They live just a couple of miles down the road- so we're able to get the girls together often. I so hope that their little friendship continues through school and that they are able to really be there for each other as they get older.

I think it is so important to have strong ties with friends. Up until this point in my life I've been blessed with 4 wonderful friends, who I couldn't imagine my life without. Dana is quickly joining that group! We've known each other since middle school, and graduated high school together- though we didn't become friends until just this year. She has been such a blessing to me.

I'll end this post with a sweet snap shot of me and Olivia the cat. She just loved all the festivities.. I think she's a bit more like me than we thought.