Wednesday, December 31, 2008

If you're into that sort of thing...

It's been a long time since I've been into vampires (a lot of you know where this is going) and honestly, I can't say I'm 'into' them now. However, I am always looking for a good fiction book. After reading Deathly Hallows, and Brisingr, I was stumped at what to venture to next. I've blogged about this part before. See I got tagged.

So, moving on, some months back, my dad and stepmom came over for dinner and told me about the phenomenon of Twilight...asking me if I'd heard about the book. It's a book about a vampire (is what I remember the description to be) and I had no idea that hundreds of thousands of people, especially girls, were going nuts over this book series. I just kind of laughed afterwards, but now I know that it's more a love story than anything. A quest for goodness when you feel that you are a monster. Stuff like that. Back then, though, um...what, 8 months ago???...I just thought, "Huh, vampires. Haven't read anything about the undead since I was 16 years old and completely enthralled with Anne Rice and the Vampire Lestat." So, I tucked it somewhere so deep into my subconscious that I forgot about Twilight at all.

Then, I got onto a Harry Potter kick (this happens every 6 months or so) after watching the new trailers for Half-blood Prince and decided to rent Goblet of Fire. After watching it, I came across some new movie trailers and noticed Cedric Diggory (from Goblet of Fire, aka Robert Pattinson) in the trailer for Twilight. Huh. That rang some far-off bell.

I began reading about the movie and thought, "What the heck. I need a new book."

I've never had a harder time renting a book from the library. Because I was number 36 on a waiting list for Twilight, I began reading an old book I'd read a year ago (Islam Revealed) and had almost given up on getting a new book at all. Then, well, this is not very good of me and I definitely don't go around suggesting this, but I found the book online. Fully uploaded. Honestly...I'm serious...I really didn't think anything about it being a bootleg until Hubby mentioned it. I just looked up, 'Read Twilight online' and when a website popped up, I thought, "Oh, good, I can start reading it now." I can be really dense like that sometimes.

Ok, wow. I'm way off subject...kind of. Arrgh.

So, I read not the first, the second, and the third, but also the fourth and part of the fifth (legally) in a matter of a few weeks. Last Saturday, I saw the movie Twilight with Nikkilicious (sorry, Nikki, I don't know why I do that to your name) and well, it was pretty darn good. It could have been SO much longer and I would have happily sat through it. I was a little surprised that it was over 2 hours. That good? Yeah. Yeah, it kinda was. Beautiful cinematography. Everything was so green and vivid and I LOVED the baseball scene. Made me laugh outloud.

So, now realizing that, Robert a pretty good actor, I began looking at some of his other work. And now I am psyched about a new movie he's in that is coming out in 2009. NO, I'm not talking about New Moon (Part 2 of the Twilight Saga), although I will be excited to see what direction that movie takes and hope it's even better. No, I'm talking about How To Be. It looks hysterical. And being from the Boom-a-Rang Generation (Gen x), it's right up my alley. Looks to be a promising little Indie movie. AND....ta da! It has Robert Pattinson.

However, I have to warn those who gush and blush and otherwise drool on themselves at even the thought of the British actor...he's NOT an Edward in this movie. He's not even a Cedric. He's...weird. And "normal." And quirky. I like it...if you're into that sort of thing...and I am.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

I just had to make a quick journal entry about Ham's new dainty ways. (Side note: I will not say "girly" to describe dainty behavior after reading the definition of girly, which says, "Weak, timid, or effeminate. Used of men.") No...don't like that much.

So, Ham is dainty...yet unbelievably tough. People often look at me with surprised loathing when Ham sprawls out after tripping over something (usually her own feet...much like her momma) and I barely bat an eyelash. She's just too much rough and tumble for me to react to every little stumble or fall. I'm not mean, I just know her.

So, indication #1 that she is becoming more dainty: She is now into bows. She likes to carry them around and she won't take them out of her hair if we put them there. (A big IF, because I usually don't think to accessorize her, although I do think it's adorable.)

The true test of daintiness (def: Delicately beautiful or charming; squeamish), came this morning when I was not paying much attention to Ham. I knew she was looking out of the window waiting for the neighbor's cat to make his appearance, so I didn't think much of it when she started whining as if to complain. I thought, "OK, she sees something she wants, but can't get to it. Or Tux (the cat) hasn't shown up yet." (I usually ignore whining unless she says, "Momma" and then signs 'help.') The whining soon increased and became more of a whimper. Before I thought to look, she began a pitiful sob and I could tell she was in some sort of pain.

I walked over to her (I try not to react 'violently' to her possibly, already painful, circumstances) and asked, "What is it, baby?" She stood there with tears running down her face, clutching a ball in one hand, whimpering and sobbing as if frozen with fear. Since she was standing in between the kitchen table and the window, I thought, "Oh my gosh, she really hurt herself." I thought maybe she banged her head on the table or something. I even scanned her free hand, now frozen with shock against the window, to make sure she hadn't gotten it stuck somehow.

I looked around and it only took a second to find the source of her horror.... A light brown, inch-sized cockroach. Still living, although barely moving, twitching its disgusting, whiplike antennae toward my baby girl.

For some reason, I began to mimic her horror and took great offense to this parasite...Ok, technically, it's not a parasite. I rushed to her aid with a paper towel that just so happened, thankfully, to be on the kitchen table and crushed the intruder. Ham looked up at me with almost as much horror as the roach's appearance had etched across her face. I almost felt bad for the little bugger...hahaha...the roach...bug.

I went against my usual compassion for anything living and did not feel bad for killing the nasty pest, but instead, said to Ham, "It's OK Baby, Momma got it. It's gone. It went 'bye-bye.'" I took it and flushed it and when I came back, Ham was still frozen, wide-eyed. I think she was just as surprised at her reaction as I was.

I held out my arms and she gave me a big hug and then toddled off to her basket of toys. It was as if nothing ever happened.

Today's reaction to the roach was a far cry from the reaction I saw on her face about 8 months ago.... The one I remember was an expression of immense satisfaction, as two little roach legs were dangling out of her mouth.

She's come a long way.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Guess who's using the potty???

So, Hubby has been trying to convince me to try and potty train Ham for quite some time (having read several articles on infants being able to be potty trained).

I knew the fact that babies in other countries do NOT use diapers and are able to 'go' in designated places outside their homes by the time they are 8-9 months old. Ham's 14 months old, so, why not.

Welp. She's doing it. Seriously. Since about two weeks ago, every time you put her on the potty, she strains a little, goes and then gets the biggest smile on her face. The cutest part? She'll sometimes reach over and tear off some toilet paper and rub her leg with it, then throw it behind her. SOOOO funny.

And, last week, she poopied on the potty for the first time. I just about fell over. She went #1 and I was about to get her off the potty and she clenched her fists and screeched a protest, so I was like, "OK, you're not done." Then she pushed a little and plop, plop. Too much information, I'm sure. I don't care. My 14-month-old can poop on the potty.
So now, she can wear training pants (not pull-ups, mind you...real cotton training pants...without that nasty rubber diaper cover) for hours at a time as long as we take her to the potty once every 30-60 minutes. Weird.
Here's a picture of her triumph...and a few just for fun in her undies.
Always, with the tongue. And holding Elmo for reassurance.
Not a care in the world.
Ok, yeah, so I'm wearing hand-me-down, BOYS, training pants from my 2nd cousin, Vinny. AND!?
If I didn't know her better, I'd say she was flaunting it.
OK, this is just TOO Grandmom McLeod. Hahahaha.

Now we're just waiting for her to break out in a Risky Business-type dance. I can see it now, Hubby and I are innocently eating breakfast and Ham comes skidding into the kitchen with socks and undies on, complete with plastic mixing spoon in hand, belting out Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

She's a little more modest than that, it seems...when she knows she being photographed. Although, there is a reason I dubbed her "Ham":

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Tribute...Wordless Wednesday

My sister and others do this and I think it's a great idea. Not only does it gaurantee a post from me, it also helps me not have to think of anything witty to say and keeps people up-to-date.

Here are a few pictures for this new tradition: Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just Found Out That I Got Tagged...

Hubby is working from home now and sets up his computer in front of my computer, so I rarely get online anymore...especially during the day. And who has the energy to stay up late at night to surf the Net...oh yeah, my husband. :)

Anyway, with that said, Allyson 'tagged' me 21 days ago and because I haven't been keeping up with blogs, I didn't know it until now.

I'm requested to write about 6 things that make me happy. Here we no particular order.

Like Allyson (who has twins that are five days older than Ham) sleep, in any shape or form, is one thing that makes me very happy. Unfortunately, I don't think I will ever be able to sleep as good as I did when I was in my first trimester with Ham (I would literally pass out and it felt so good).

Family. Oh my goodness. I don't know what I would do without my dad, Augusta, mom, sister, Michael and the kids. But then there is Hubby's side of the family which is about 100 people total (that's just aunts, uncles, cousins and the grandparents).

The sunshine. On days like today when it's a really nice 58 degrees, but misty rain is coming down and the sky is that whitish gray, I would love to see the sun peak through. Spring is my favorite season. I always feel more alive, positive, and open-minded in the spring.

Animals. From little squirrels chattering and chasing each other on our deck to the majesty of a lion or the playfulness of a dolphin, animals have always made me happy. Kittens have to be my favorite domesticated animal, but you probably won't catch us ever having a pet. (A FAR cry from when I was growing up and said that when I was older, I wanted a pick-up truck and three dogs in the back).

Laughter. When I see anyone laughing, it makes me happy. I love laughing at myself and doing dumb things or saying really off-the-wall things and then realizing it was pretty funny. I love to hear babies laugh. Of course, I think my daughter's laugh is the most beautiful and joyful noise I've ever heard.

Dreaming. Now this can be tricky. Ask anyone close to me and they can tell you I have some pretty strange, always vivid dreams. However, I still think they are the coolest things to try and decipher and it's really neat to see how everything you've been thinking seems to play out in a dream. For instance, the other day I finished a book Brisingr, had just read a bunch about this new movie made from a best-selling book of the same name Twilight and had just watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (As you can tell, I have a certain favorite genre, fantasy/adventure). So, anyway, I dreamed about vampires (Twilight) who could cast spells (Potter and Brisingr) and rode on dragons (Brisingr). I thought it was cool. Weird, but cool.

And, I have to add a 7th thing that makes me happy because the sixth one reminded me that there is nothing like a good book. I love to read and always have. Nothing sparks my creativity and imagination more than a good fiction book. I like non-fiction, too, but it's not the same.

OK, I tag Mer, my sister, and Emily G.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

When Can I Proclaim "Genius in the Hiz-ouse?!"

No, I'm not talking about my husband, Genius #1. I am talking about Ham, formerly Peanut, presently One-Who-Amazes-Us-Daily.

Every mom thinks their child is a genius, I know, I know. I'm no different than the biased mom who thinks that a child who can count to three is a prodigy, even when they find them with half a roach hanging out of their mouths. (They know good protein when they see it!) LOL

Everyone that is close to us knows we teach Ham American Sign-Language. She has a sign vocabulary of about 20 words and can also speak several different words. I've said that before. So, to reiterated, we know that signing is not hindering her speech as some studies and sceptics say. However, I tend to forget that not all children are taught signs and that it's still kind of rare. However, for us, it has become a way of life. Not to say that we aren't still enthralled with our little baby girl, but her communicating her needs and wants with us has become second-nature and I forget that some people will think it's weird or cool that she can sign, "More fish crackers, please."

For instance, we have an uncle, Fun Uncle Anthony, that still makes jokes about her and asks her, "Hey, can you sign, 'I want to eat my head'?" He's hysterical. At his house this past weekend, he was routinely making fun of us for teaching Ham all these things and making her a 'freak' and his little baby boy (who is 6 weeks older than Ham) did a sign. I said, "Look, look! See, he can sign!" Uncle Anthony (kidding, of course) mockingly said, "Yeah...'chicken'. Great." We just all started laughing.

However, we are surprised when Ham takes the initiative in learning new things or pointing out things we have not taught her. Here is a twist-tie that she picked up yesterday while Hubby and I were talking:

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but to me, it's a twist-tie. And when Ham had it in her little hand and started to put it in her mouth, I said, "Whatcha got there?" She immediately, without hesitation, signed "fish." I took the twist-tie from her, and saw what you now see in this picture above.

OK. I mean, I know it looks like a little fish, but...HOW does a 13 month-old put that together? They really are smarter than we think.


Next, we're setting up ink-blot tests. LOL

NOTE: For those of you concerned that Hubby and I may be forcing this stuff on our precious child, please be aware that Ham walks up to us and signs "Baby video" when she wants to watch the sign language video we rented from the library and she gets giddy when we understand what she is trying to communicate. She's a girl. She wants to be heard. :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Heavy Heart

I know that this world is going downhill. There is nothing that can redeem the evil deeds done by men and women all over the world except God Almighty Himself. Still, I am appalled at the changes that are expected to be made under the new President. Obama is so Pro-Choice that I'm afraid people like George Tiller and his abortion mill will go unchallenged because they are providing women with 'life-saving' abortions.

I look at my daughter, pictures of unborn babies, my nieces and nephew, cousins, all the children I see every day, and wonder how bad it has to get before people understand the atrocities that go on at abortion clinics.

This is the main reason I could not vote for Obama. As a mother, as someone who has been touched with abortion personally and witnessed it's destructive powers in friends and family, I cannot support someone who supports the slaughtering of tens of thousands of babies A DAY. SUPPORTS it. This isn't someone who just says women have the right to choose. He is planning on us, as tax-payers, to continue funding abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood.

WHY?? I don't think that Barack Obama understands the heavy consequences of sex before marriage OR abortion. His idea of helping a child (his own, even) is for them to get an abortion if they get pregnant so that they will not be 'punished with a baby.' Hear his own words here. If you find that this video is too 'biased,' there are many more where it just states his views plainly. You will see that they match up.

He even goes so far as to say abortions help men and the audience LAUGHS. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. I just can't stand this. I do not believe that God will stand idly by and continue to 'bless' this country with a leader who so adamantly supports the 'spilling of innocent blood' (see Proverbs 6:16-19).

Obama said "the first thing I'd do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act."[16] That bill "would invalidate virtually all state and federal limitations on abortion, and would make partial-birth abortion legal again."[17] Indeed, Obama was upset with the decision of the Supreme Court not to strike down the law passed by the United States Congress to prohibit partial-birth abortion, believing that partial-birth abortion is guaranteed right of the Constitution and that there should be no ability to legislate against it. This from the mouth of a family man who calls his own daughters 'miracles.' WHAT!? What makes them different from other babies?

Obama recently referred to his "Muslim faith."[24]
Obama said the Muslim call to prayer is "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset," and recited "with a first-class Arabic accent" the opening lines: Allah is Supreme! ... I witness that there is no god but Allah ...."[25]
Obama stated that the autobiography of Malcolm X, a Nation of Islam leader who became a Muslim, inspired him in his youth.[26]
Obama raised nearly $1 million and campaigned for a Kenyan presidential candidate who had a written agreement with Muslim leaders promising to convert Kenya to an Islamic state that bans Christianity.[27]

Obama unabashedly explained how he became “churched” in a 2007 speech:
“It’s around that time [while working as an organizer for the Developing Communities Project (DCP) of the Calumet Community Religious Conference (CCRC) in Chicago] that some pastors I was working with came around and asked if I was a member of a church. “If you’re organizing churches,” they said, “it might be helpful if you went to a church once in a while. And I thought, “I guess that makes sense.” Are you kidding me!? He all but admits that he just went to church for the election votes.

Look I know that "Bush" waged war on Iraq and that hundreds of thousands of people have died because of terrorism and this war. I use the term 'Bush' loosely because I don't know of anyone (even if they are against the war now) who didn't feel justified for going to war at the time. Indeed, many Americans demanded justice after 9/11. However, I do not feel that Bush lied to Americans (especially knowingly) or covered up anything he believed. What you saw was what you got, and for the most part, I would back him as one of the greatest, strongest Presidents of history. It took a lot of guts to do what he did. And don't lie and say you didn't think 9/11 deserved justice!

I don't sit on my cushy sofa and support the innocent being killed, tortured, raped, or interrogated by egotistical soldiers that need to be punished for their war crimes. I am disgusted at the pictures and propaganda that support killing ANYONE. I personally have a heart for Iranians and as I write this, there is a huge repentance among the young in Iran that may very well save their country and future generations from God's wrath! We could actually learn from their youth who despise Islam as it is today and want something better for their country.

OK, so I've not even begun to say how much I am against abortion, but this is my place I can vent my frustrations as well as record my joys. Today, for whatever reason, I am infuriated by this country and its people who turn a blind eye to murdered children, but are haughty about saving a dying planet by going green.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sign Language vs. Talking

Welp, Ham is learning the art of American Sign Language with a vengeance! She is addicted to her baby videos that we rented from the library. I don't know what we are going to do when they have to go back....again. Yes, I have rented them twice already. I think we should have stuck with teaching her everyday signs with regular objects because she can be pretty incessant about signing, "Baby Video." It's cute, though. We just don't give in every time.

She can sign so many things now. Here is a list:
Apple, shirt, banana, lion, monkey, car, thank you, milk, baby, video, music, fish, tree, dinosaur (I know, SOOO important, right?), doggy, cat, water, drink, cereal, cracker, socks, shoes, hot, hat, diaper, daddy, share, you're welcome, please, kisses, balloon, ball, all done, elephant, train, panda, lion, giraffe, music, sleep, night night...OK, I'm sure there are more, but you get the picture.

She can also now say:
Dog ("daw"), hot ("ot"), hat ("at") which can also be 'cat', ball ("baw"), baby ("bebe"), Aunt Jen ("bin"), Isabella ("beda"), Mommy, Daddy, and Bebe pronounced 'Bay-Bay ("beba").

Hubby and I have been talking a bit about making our own videos for her. We have read differing ideas about sign language and babies talking late. For instance, if you show your child how to sign words, but do not speak the words as well, then the child is more likely to continue signing instead of learning how to speak the words as well. However, studies show that if a baby (or child) learns sign language coupled with learning the word and the spelling (a video often shows the word they are signing), a child usually talks sooner, but also can recognize words sooner...leading to reading at an earlier age. Now that is something we can stand behind!

We aren't all about making Ham into some sort of freak of nature, who sits around reading Pride and Prejudice at the age of 3, but we are into fostering good reading habits and communication. Both of us love to read and it's something we want Ham to enjoy...if she so chooses.

I remember many kids in my first and second-grade classes who would cry if the teacher asked them to read at story time. I always felt sad for them (and mad, if the teacher badgered them in any way) and would volunteer to read so that they didn't feel pressured. I never felt haughty or better than anyone, but I just couldn't imagine a life without being able to read on my own. Because of this, I have also thought about joining a program that helps children (and adults) learn to read.

That being said, Ham is only 13 months old and she has lagged in some ways (whatever that means) by only having 3 teeth at a year old, but she has excelled in others. I think that when we see our children loving something and wanting to learn, we should make it a top priority to sit down with them and guide them in their endeavors. That is what my parents did with me and I am so thankful for it.

So, there you go.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Humble Beginnings and an Anniversary

Welp, I have set up a small workspace in the corner of our kitchen. You may think, "That's not much to look at," and you'd be quite right to have that thought. However, as much as I would love to have a room where I could paint anything on the walls, decorate it with inspiring words, drawings, clippings, etc., this is what will have to do for now.

It's my Creative Corner

I will say this about my fabulous, supportive husband (whom I am celebrating our 5th Anniversary with today). We have a spare bedroom that doesn't get used for anything but storage. It's really too small to put our old queen size bed in there, so if company did stay over, they'd have one twin bed and a blow-up mattress to put on the floor. That being said, we have left room for our old kitchen table, a chair, a small 11" t.v. we never use (which is sitting on an ancient, laminated wood, rolling t.v. stand...seriously, I think this was from when I was a kid in the 70's. I'm sure of it.)

So anyway, my husband has said several times that he would love for me to use that spare bedroom (I'm sure that having my arts and crafts spread all over the house has nothing to do with the generosity, of course). I have talked about painting it a pale lavender, hanging little pixies made of paper, felt, beading, and wire from little swings I'd fashion to the ceiling. Kind of like a hanging mobile, but with little girl and boy fairies. Like this one I found online:

Each time I have a hair-brained scheme like that, he has supported me 100%. Of course, though, all this takes time. And money.

Now, I'm sure that it wouldn't be expensive to paint the room, just time-consuming, and then it would even be cute as-is. It's just...I haven't done it yet.

My first order of business will be to paint a reproduction of this original I painted a few months ago. The one below is 16x20 and my mom wants a much larger one to hang in her main room. I think it's 30x24 or something.

This one is being sold on as we speak. I don't know if it will sell for my asking price, but I didn't think the Owl in the Sky With Diamonds would sell for what it did, either. There's always hope.

Here is a couple of close-ups of this painting. I was really happy with the way it turned out, considering I used acrylic paints. I put the paint on so thick that I had to use a hair dryer on the background before I could continue with the flowers. I didn't know that heat would make the paint bubble, so there are some cool textures you don't usually get with acrylics.

So, there's that.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Turning a corner

Things have changed a bit around the McLeod household. For one thing, Hubby has been working at home every day due to changes in his company. He's not complaining and neither am's been a long time since I've been able to put Ham down for a nap and run errands by myself. It's a lot easier on my neck and back to have a strong, helpful man around, that is for sure. We're still working out some logistical things, though, like the huge distraction Ham is to him...albeit a cute one.

However, we love having Daddy at home and now Ham insists on being put down in her crib by the both of us. At night, she has even stopped calling out to only me. Her sing-song voice is now, "Mama, mama? Dada, dada, dad-ee, dad-ee? Mama..?" You get the idea. It's kind of nice, for me anyway. Still breaks my heart though. I hate to hear her cry. I'm one of those mom's that feels like I need to be tied to the bedpost to keep me from going into her room if she cries longer than 60 seconds.

Ham now has three teeth showing! The bottom right central incisor came in first (spotted by my sister about a month ago). Had my sister not taken a peek, I might have never known it was coming. I had been joking that day with Ham, asking, "When are you going to get some teeth, kiddo?" Welp, I asked for it.

So, within a week, her top right central incisor began peeking through. It's weird, though, because the top tooth is now showing more than the bottom one. She has since started cutting her top left CI and I'm pretty sure she is now cutting a molar...whether it's upper or lower, I'm not sure. I can also see a canine reaching the tip of her gums. She'll be all snaggle-toothed. So, the drool abounds and she has her hands in her mouth a lot more.

I will say that she has been an angel compared to what could be a very painful experience for us all. I have given her Motrin when I knew that she was suffering and sometimes I give it to her before bed just to ward off her waking up because of pain (she woke up four times one night, screaming).

Poor thing. There are always trade-offs. She may be late getting her teeth, but they seem to all want to push through at the same time. I don't know how painful that is for Ham, but she has been a gem. Some days she is just quieter and a little more reserved. She still freely gives kisses, but BEWARE! She will try to bite you sometimes if you don't pull your lips away quickly enough!

Here is a chart of the eruption (love how they call it that) of first teeth and the common ages in which they come.
Some days I miss my excitable, happy-go-lucky, grinning little girl, but I know she always comes back as soon as a tooth pops through. She still gets giggle fits and LOVES when she can 'chase' her cousins around the yard in Mommy's arms. She especially loves it when they turn around and yell, 'boo!' That always gets a belly laugh.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ham in a costume contest

She is so behind in votes that I doubt she has a chance, but if you could, please vote for Ham! You can vote for her once a day and it's super-easy. Some kids already have over 3000 votes! This contest just started on October 15th! I don't know how they did it. So, anyway, she can at least be voted on up until Novemeber 15th.


How do you vote, you ask? Well, unfortunately, you have to sign up for the CuteKid site. The address below will take you to the sign-up form. However, GOOD NEWS, you can opt-out of any future mailings. I know it's a lot to ask with all the information on the internet. One option for the really cautious at heart (or you just don't want your information out there), make a new e-mail address on yahoo, hotmail, etc. and don't put in your real name or anything.

Just remember the e-mail address you entered and your password and VOILA, you can vote without getting mail in your main e-mail account. I know, I'm brilliant. ;) Anyway, if you just don't want to go through the hassle, I understand. Thanks anyway!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fall Festivals/Halloween parties

We have now been to two Fall Festivals and one Halloween party...all before the official date is even here! We got some great pictures, though. At the end are pictures of Ham in her costume.

Here is Ham enjoying some balloons, which she calls 'balls.'

Bella got her hair spray-painted pink with white polka-dots while MIII got balls that sparked and applied his daredevil side by scaling the inflatable rock wall.

Here is Andy the Armadillo (????), which Ham just adored.

Ham on the Valleydale train. Ham's future husband.

Our friend Morgan was a fairy, too. Grandpa makes Ham fly!

Ham loves Aunt Sarah Grace!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ham's Birthday Party

Wow, what a great time we had! Thank you to all who were able to come out and celebrate a year of Ham's sweet, little life. The party could not have gone better and I know she had a blast. Hey, if she can stay up from 1-6PM without even fussing, and still managing to giggle and open presents, then I know she is having a good time.

The only thing that didn't quite work out as planned, was the cake. If you remember, I had said it was supposed to be a blue and purple butterfly. Well, when I got to Wal-Mart, they told me that the cake I ordered was under Disney copyright and they couldn't do it without all the Hannah Montana paraphernalia. Then they said, "Oh, and btw, we couldn't do yellow cake (didn't give me a reason why), so it's white cake instead."

OK. Yeah. Could've called me to tell me these things. I started to stress a little more when I saw that the cake was a GAUDY hot pink butterfly with weird purple markings and a black body with orange dots. It sat not-so-daintily on a brown branch. At least they did a cake, though!! I thought they were going to say, "So, we couldn't do a cake for you." Now that could have been a small coronary. (Please know that I'm kidding. There are much bigger things in the world to worry about, right?)
However, I decided that if I was going to let this stress me out, I just had better call off the whole thing because it wasn't worth the rising blood pressure.... That is to say, I just smiled at the bakers, said, "Thank you for your time and energy. I'm sure it will taste great (and it did)" and took the high road.

Let me just say, the old me would have not been so gracious. Knowing that Jesus is my Lord and that people really do the best they can (most of the time), and knowing that it would not fix anything if I blew my top, it just made letting it go a little easier.

Nevertheless, I am a paying customer, and my daddy taught me not to be a doormat, so I phoned the Wal-Mart bakery and told the head baker that a call to the customer is always necessary when making changes to someone's order. In turn, for my graciousness, they apologized and said I was right. They thanked me for calling this to their attention.

I really would have taken a gift certificate for $25 in groceries or something. I hope they know that. :) They did give me a 'baby cake' (one that Ham could mess up) for $.01, so that was cool. (I think they do that for everyone, though.)

Here are a few pictures of the day:

Ever since we bought our new mattress and got a Mylar balloon from Mattress King, Ham has loved balloons. And to think, she used to be afraid of them!

Enjoying the twins. I heard Ham was feeding them goldfish crackers.

She didn't quite know what to do with the cake. Mommy helped by placing her hand in it. Then Ham proceeded to try and feed it back to me. She seemed concerned about her hands being messy.

We greatly appreciated so many of our friends coming out to celebrate with us. I think our friend The Minister (the guy on the left) took as many pictures as Genius has in a year!

We were especially excited to see Andrea and Wendy, who were passing by to put a beautiful flower arrangement on their mom's grave. Thank you for even thinking about us! We pray for you all daily.

Ham was especially good at opening presents. (Must be from all the practice she's had with ripping up Mommy's magazines.)
Ham with a pink Mr. Hoot Hoot and a Kiss-Me Elmo.... I think she has already gotten the hang of the kissing part! And she kisses Mr. Hoot Hoot every night before bed. AWWWWWWWW.
And what would the party be without my 2-year-old niece instructing Ham in the many ways to eat candy? I'm not sure if my niece is tattling on her at this point or telling everyone that Ham needs a diaper change.

I am in the process of editing a video of the party, but for the time being, I hope you have enjoyed the pictures.

Thanks again, everyone, for making the day just perfect!
This is dedicated to my three moms, two dads, sister, Grandmom and Granddad McLeod, Grandmama and Dzia Dzia, Alicia for coming all the way from NASHVILLE, Allen and Nikki Moore for coming from Georgia with TWO kids in tow, my sister's and brother's-in-law (Can't wait for Ham's new cousin to be born!), my nieces and nephew, our macho guy friends who still like babies, Uncle Jeff for making homemade strawberry ice cream HELLO!!, and all the friends we love so dearly.
And to Gwen Brobst (Andrea and Wendy's mom).
She would have really liked being there.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Eve of THE Party

Well, today I had a few moments where I thought my head would explode. It's like I had everything filed away in my brain and a little sting would come and zap me and all the files would fly everywhere and I'd be standing there going, "Wha...? Um, whaaaa..?"

I need to report this to the Smallwoods officials. I don't think stings should be so far away from the watchful eye of Mr. Fox.

So, I got a bit disgruntled today, but it was OK. I have one fool-proof weapon against the blues, the sniffles, the outerspaceyness (emphasis on "spacey"), and the grrrrrrs. It's called Ham. We likes her. We likes her a lot.

Most everything that needs to be done for the party tomorrow is done. Balloons are all blown up with pretty hand-curled ribbon to don the pillars and tables around the Senior Center. LOL

Every thing is pretty much ready. Chicken fingers, chips and dips, veggies and fruit, drinks, and of course...the cake. Oh, oh, and party favors! I'm REALLY excited about the party favors. Kids get one kind and adults get something different. I hope everyone likes their partying gift. :)

I ordered the cake from Wal-Mart this morning and I'll pick it up around 1PM. I had no "theme" planned for the party. I went though the catalog to find something cute, but not a complicated design and ended up asking for the artwork from a Hannah Montana pull-apart (not the one shown--that's just so you know what a pull-apart 'cake' is--) on half a sheet cake instead of cupcakes. The colors are Hannah Montana's signature purple and blue and the art is a sweet butterfly (I asked them to leave out all the Hannah Montana propaganda). It will be yellow cake with white icing. I hope that will be satisfactory to all.

We discovered that Ham does not like chocolate cake (we did various test to confirm, but the one that sealed it was when she reached her whole hand in her mouth to retrieve an unwanted bite of devil's food cake.) (Weirdo.)

She will have her own little mini-cake to demolish, devour, or disgard, in any way she pleases.

We've been singing "Happy Birthday" to her for days so hopefully, she won't freak out tomorrow. Ham's not a big freaker-outer, so, we're probably good. But I've even been putting a cupcake infront of her with a lit candle (supervised, of course) and singing to her and then blowing the candle out. She clapped 2 out of 5 times. She danced the last three times. So, we'll see.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wanna do shots? Oh, wait...NOOOOO!

So, I took Sophie to her 12-month check up and poor baby had to get five shots on her birthday!

She did pretty good, though. Because she loves music so much, I played her Stray Cat Strut from The Stray Cats on my phone (Thank you, Genius!) and she was dancing and clapping through most of the visit.

Then two scrub-wearing nurses came in, laid her down with her feet dangling over the table. She was shaking the phone joyfully when they said, "Mama, can you get her hands, please," and then it hit her....

Five sharp things were slamming into her tender flesh (I'm not kidding, these women are brutal fast) and she LOST it. I mean, not break-your-heart, whimpers (although it did break my heart), but MAD, get-the-heck-away-from-me, sobs. She was kicking at the nurses and I even had trouble holding her little hands down. I felt so sorry for her on one hand and on the other hand, I thought, "Wow. She isn't going to be pushed around."

However, 60 seconds went by and she was fine.... Grabbing lollipops out of a plastic Frankenstein head that screamed and cackled when she stuck her hand in to get the candy. Her mouth would drop open and she would laugh out loud, basking in the attention of all the adoring, clapping, ooh-ing and ahh-ing nurses...with big fat tears still hanging on her cheeks and two huge Halloween Band-Aids stuck to each of her tiny thighs.

I am so in love with her.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday, Ham!

Our little lamb is a one-year-old. Some would say she's not a baby anymore...yeah, say that to my face. I dare you. This is how I see her...this is how I will always see her:

Hubby, Ham and I went over to my dad and stepmom's house last night to celebrate a birthday for Ham and my stepmom, Gugu (pronounced gŭ-gŭ, like in the word must). It had been planned for several days and I thought it would just be the five of us. (Before anyone thinks I'm complaining, I'm not.)

So when we pulled up to their house and I saw my sister and brother-in-law's cars, I was stumped. I looked at hubby and asked, "Is that my sister's van? Did you know they were going to be here?" He didn't. Then I said, in all my intellectual glory, "I wonder if Dad and Gugu know they are here." Duh.

It was great. Dinner was perfect, Dad and Gugu. The kids were hysterical. My sister had Ham doubling over laughing.

She got a great Pound-a-Ball toy that all the kids wanted to whack. Ham was content on letting her cousins hit the balls and was just cracking up at them. She has been playing with it all morning. She loves it.

I was so glad my sister was there because the day before, she had explained to me that she couldn't come to Ham's party this weekend. I knew she felt awful about having to work that day, but I tried to reassure her that it was OK. However, I am so so glad that they planned to be there last night. It made all the difference to be able to share that with all of them.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Blinded by the light

I made an eye appointment for Ham last week and she went to see my optometrist a week before her first birthday. Is there something wrong with her eyes? No, thank goodness. Does there have to be something wrong with a baby's eyes before going to the eye doctor? Goodness, no.

My doctor, Dr. Hammonds (the coolest optometrist, ever), is part of an incredible and generous program called InfantSEE. (Please click on the link and it will help you find a doctor in your area.)

This FREE program is for babies from 6 months to one year (so make that appointment NOW). It's FREE. Did you hear me? FREE! Yes, I wrote that correctly. FREE. No copay. Nadda. Nuthin.'

Now, I'll say this. Ham is not big on anyone messing with her eyes. I guess no one really is, right? She didn't cry when they put the patch over one eye (so cute) to test her vision or dilated her eyes. However, once her eyes were dilated, she did NOT want a light shown in them.

So, the experts at Eye Care Associates, Hoover were amazing at getting her to cooperate. They used scientifically proven methods like turning her upside down, using every toy imaginable, and finally, two eye care techs, Dr. Cool and I sung, "See See My Playmate" at the top of our voices (not to badly...although we didn't know all the words). I wish I had video taped it. That's what it took to finally get her to sit there happily humming along shell-shocked at our genius ridiculousness. Besides, she loves music.

This program must be taken advantage of before your child's first birthday. And let me tell you, it's not dumb to take a baby to the eye doctor. Studies show that many eye problems can be corrected if caught early on. Just ask my aunt, my nephew and my cousin! Or your eye doctor.

So, get out there and get your little one an appointment. Or be proactive and tell your friends and family about this program. You can't give an excuse to FREE!

BTW, I think the first time I saw Dr. Hammonds was when I was sixteen, on the week of Halloween. I had my hair in a bazillion little braids, wearing a floppy purple, crushed velvet hat, and yin-yang earrings. Yeah. I'm not sure what I was supposed to be. A hippie maybe? Probably.

However, Dr. Hammonds said, "Cool earrings" and I felt immediately accepted. That was huge for a scrawny little girl who felt like a complete outcast in her teenage years....

Um, no wonder with outfits like that, huh? LOL

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sick, but not tired.

Welp, it was inevitable...I guess. I am sick. It started about a week ago with painful headaches that I knew could only be sinuses. I get migraines, but this was different. My whole head felt like it was in a vice grip. My throat hurt, my right ear hurt, even my teeth felt like they hurt.

Then, the other day, it began to drain. Lovely. Now my throat hurts even worse and somehow, even though I know some of the pressure HAS to be relieved, my cheeks feel like I've stuffed them full of pinecones or something. Right over my cheekbones. OUCH! The cough hasn't gotten bad, but it's there. That "Oh I need to cough, but if I start, I might not stop" kind of thing is going on.

However, regardless of that, life is good. Life is always too good to deserve. God is faithful and He never disappoints. Even when things are tough, I know that He is in control. I'm so glad He is Lord over all, because I know that I couldn't do anything without Him.

Hubby and I stayed over at my mom's, Bebe, while she stayed over at my sister's with the three kiddos. Originally, hubby and I were supposed to housesit and stay with our neices and nephew, but for some reason, the crib was not brought over there and so we used the crib at Bebe's. Poor Bebe. I don't think she knew what she was getting in to. But she did GREAT!

Hubby and I took turns staying over at my sister's throughout the day when I had to go feed and put Ham down for a nap. One day, my oldest neice came with me back to Bebe's and we drew pictures and laughed at my horrible attempt to draw Yoda. We were giggling so hard and every time I would draw an ear or an eye, I'd say, "WOAH, that is way off. Oh goodness. This is bad," and my 7 year-old neice would just laugh and laugh. She said it looked like a rabbit at first and the end result looked like Baby Yoda. It was bad.

Ham did OK at night. The first night she cried for an hour and then woke up at least 5 times yelling out, "Ma ma? Ma ma?" She began to scream at one point, so I gave in and wen't to feed her. That got her thinking she would get to nurse every time she woke up, so that wasn't good.

But, you know what...? This was not a regular thing for her and she was in a strange place, so I gave in...all night. And I'm not ashamed of it. :) It was about getting sleep. When we got back home yesterday, I laid her down in her crib for a nap and she spread out her arms and legs and got a big smile on her face. She slept for two hours. Monday night she only woke up once and last night, she didn't wake up at all.

So, a note to all first-time parents like me: Know that sometimes, the schedule is not going to be perfect. Sometimes the schedule will be completely thrown out of the window (Ham went from 9AM-4PM one day). It will be OK. The baby is not messed up forever.

I'm so glad I know as many moms as I do. It's helped out tremendously. Thank you Jennifer, Mary, Karen, Tricia, Mom and Mom, Grandmama, Karina, Amy Poole, Allyson, Emily Graffius, and all those other moms out there! I love you!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

LIQUOR...I hardly even...oh, whatever.

So, here we are again. At the end of another creation. Obsessing over whether it's good enough, if the 'client' (Oh my gosh, I have a client!) will be so pleased that she'll pee her pants do a little dance, asking myself why I put these things off until I have to do them to remain a good seller.

In the end, I am happy with the result of my first attempt to paint on a tiny little glass. I know it could always be better, but let's face it, I'm not making a living on this...yet.

I am going to do some research on how to get the paint to go on a little more smoothly (smoother?). It may just be that I need better paints. Right now I'm working with the cheapest paints I could find...with the best brushes. It probably evens out somehow.

So, here's the shot glass. I will finish the wine glass tomorrow.

I was only using the quarter dollar, quarter, two bits, Johnson Sandwich (I still don't understand why it was called this since LBJ was never ON a quarter) for a size reference, but my husband pointed out, "Because she'll be playing Quarters with this glass." Ha ha. Funny. I wanted to use a bottle of fiery pink fingernail polish called 'Scarlet' by SinfulColors...hmmm.... Maybe we're both in the wrong. Typical.

Anyway. It was cool making it. Now on to the wine glass.... I have asked myself whether or not I should be painting glasses that will inevitably hold liquor or wine (or booze in general). I am not for or against drinking alcoholic beverages unless you are a) underage, b) don't know when to quit, or c) causing someone else to stumble (i.e. you have a friend who is a recovering alcoholic and you bust out a bottle of wine around him...not cool).

I'm serious. Don't be a jerk. Drink responsibly.