Monday, December 19, 2011

The Halls Are Decked...

At our house, we believe that family is everything. We believe in the magic of Christmas. Pyper believes in Santa. But first and foremost, we believe in Christ. Without Him, we wouldn't have what we have, and wouldn't know true happiness or joy.

Counting our blessings daily, Shannon was able to capture me with mine. Oh, how I love these little ones. I've noticed now that we have children that Christmas has become more than just presents under the tree, baking, and decorating. It's watching the absolute awe of the magic of this season across the face of Pyper. She mailed Santa her pacifiers on Saturday morning and in return, he mailed her the movie Tangled. She squealed with joy, clapping her chubby hands, and hopping up and down...

Our Christmas tree tops at 10'. We've had it up since before Thanksgiving, and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Pyper decorated it with her first mom buys the girl's their first ornaments, and Pyper was VERY proud to display hers.

She is certainly our gift from God.

One of our first family ornaments. Guess we need to buy another one to add Raegan's name! I have a love for anything with frogs and thought these jolly frogs were adorable.

This was one of my Grannie's ornaments. I love the satin ribbon that we use to secure it to the tree. We made it a point to hang all the older, much loved, breakable ornaments up high to prevent the temptation for those chubby fingers to grab them.

One of my many frog ornaments

Pyper made this one over at Shannon's cousin's house. I love it and will cherish it as much as the older, more glamorous ones.

This puppy is one of 2 that I have. They come from my dad's Christmas trees when he was growing up. I love how the paint has worn off, showing how much they are loved.

I got this one when my mom and I went to San Fransisco a few years ago on a girls weekend. It was so much fun!

This picture cracks me up. This was last weekend at my in law's house. Pyper loves to hold Raegan, but we don't fully trust her holding her, because she loses interest quickly and will just jump up leaving little Raegan wondering what happened.

Saturday mornings beg for Christmas pancakes!

Spreading the cheer all the way upstairs!

My sister in law, Kerry, bought this for me my first Christmas with the family. I just love it. I think it demonstrates why we celebrate.

Our Nativity scene. The last few years, my mom bought me pieces to this every Christmas. I have it displayed this year on our entry table, so those coming in can see it first thing. I love it.

Our wonderful friend, Jenn, made this basket for us. I love it. It sits on our dining room table. Jenn is so talented. She has endless energy and makes the most beautiful gift baskets and flower arrangements. We're lucky to have her as our nanny, too! The girls love her.

Shannon's aunt Linda gave us Frosty. It's really for outside use, but we loved it so much, we put it in our music room. Pyper adores Frosty, and hugs his neck.

That's it! I hope this Christmas season fills you with love, laughter and boundless joy. From our home to yours, we wish you a very Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Unplug Them!

You may wonder what in the world am I talking about? I'm telling you to unplug your kids, folks! Turn off the TV, the computer, the iPods, the Play Stations and even the phones. Unplug them and plug into what your kids need: You. Creativity. Imaginative Play. Fun. I know this is difficult. Especially now in a day and age when it's sometimes easier to have the TV babysit the kids and you escape into Facebooking or just browsing the web. I'm guilty of this, too. But now that I'm more aware of how much Pyper needs ME and creative outlets, I have forced myself to unplug her and ME. This is an ongoing transformation, I won't lie. Just last night, she wanted to watch TV in our bed while I cleaned up the house from a fun weekend. She's recovering from a cold and ear infection, and is feeling a bit under the weather. So, I didn't feel TOO guilty for letting her get some TV in and have some quiet time. I can also get my housework done a lot faster without her underfoot asking for me to hold her or just whining that I'm ignoring her. Sometimes, TV is necessary. But not all the time. I've stopped Facebooking at home. I limit my internet and computer use while in our home. I try everyday to do fun, creative things with Pyper and just enjoy my girls being little and inquisitive.

Bake cookies with your kids. Pyper has really developed her love of anything to do with baking and cooking. She loves to whisk eggs, stir soup, and push the buttons on the food processor. Let them help you cook--they will more likely eat what they helped prepare!

Play with boxes. I picked up 4 huge boxes at work that held car seats. They were going to throw them out, and I stepped in and saved them. One thing I've learned--kids will play with the box before the toy. Jenn, our nanny, made this creative playhouse for the kids, cutting out shapes of different colors and sizes for the kids to learn from while playing. It is now covered in shapes that Pyper and I cut out last Sunday. Pyper loves to use the glue stick and "decorate" her house.

She will disappear for long periods of time and when I go looking for her, she's in her playhouse playing with her stuffed animals.

Shannon told her to get her markers and "paint" the inside walls. She loved this, and had a ball decorating her house...

These kinds of crafts are great when it's too cold outside or rainy to venture out and play.

But when it's nice out, take the kids out! Two weeks ago, we walked in our first family 5K. It was in honor of Thomas Musser, a little boy in our small community that lost his battle to cancer last year. Our tiny town and surrounding communities raised almost $20K!!! All proceeds went to St. Jude's, where Thomas received his treatments.

It was participating in this 5K that made me really re-evaluate the time spent with my little ones. How would I be remembered spending time with them? Them watching TV while I was engrossed with something silly on the Internet? I didn't want this to be my legacy with my kids. We, as parents are our children's first teachers. Start teaching them to use their imaginations, and creativity. You'll be amazed at how much better everyone will feel.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Judging a Book By Its Cover...

I was surprised to find this egg yesterday. It's the first one I've found that looks like this. I've read about eggs that have soft, puckered shells, except this egg is hard. I'm guessing that it was probably laid soft and as it dried, it hardened.
Look at those funky ridges...

Can you spot the wonky egg?

It's unusually large, and oval shaped. Shannon refuses to eat it thinking it's contaminated or something. I personally find its uniqueness comforting. We all can't be perfect, right? And besides, my mom told me to never judge a book by its cover.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's EGG-celent!

Lately, when we go into the chicken coop, we see one of our Buff Orpington girls sitting on eggs. Above is Goldie. She and her sisters, Honey Pot, and Ida Mae have become broody, wanting to sit on their eggs all day long. We gently pick them up, and put them outside with the others so they can free range. We're not ready for a clutch of chicks yet. They don't seem to mind to much...
Here are some of the eggs that we have gathered. Everyday, we get eggs. Anywhere from 3 to 8 a day. It's amazing. If we let them out earlier in the morning, they lay their eggs in the horse's run in shed, or in Pyper's plastic play house. We have EGG-Ventures to try to find their nest's and stashes. It's a lot of fun. If we leave them in the coop until noon or so, there are always beautiful eggs awaiting us in the box. Or if the girls hog the boxes, then sometimes, we find eggs on the ground.

I made my dad some over easy eggs, and look at the color of these yolks! That, my friends, is the sign of healthy, happy chickens that get to free-range for their food. The yolks are almost neon orange. You can taste the difference, too. So rich and creamy, lower in cholesterol and higher in omega 3's. Yummy!

Pyper and I made a batch of cornbread. Can you tell the store bought egg from the fresh farm egg? The store bought egg pales in comparison...literally.

Something to think about the next time you pick up a carton of eggs, huh? Try to by from local farmer's markets or find someone like me, that has happy, healthy chickens laying delicious eggs!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Pyper!

It's hard to believe that my girl is 2 today. It feels like yesterday that I looked down at this little thing and fell in love with her. But then again, I fall in love with her every time I look at her. Here, she is only a few hours old. 5 months old, and learning to sit up on her own.

One year old, and is Raggedy Ann for Halloween.

And now...2 years old! My budding artist, dancer and comedian. Happy Birthday, sweetheart!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

At Long Last!

It's been a long time since I have had a chance to post. I thought while on maternity leave, I'd have plenty of time to take pictures, post blogs, and do crafty things. This never happened. I was either too worn out from chasing a near 2 year old, or so exhausted from being up at all hours of the night from our newborn. Needless to say, we have been busy. BUT, we were able to have some fun in the last 6 weeks.

Pyper was so excited about going to the pumpkin patch with her buddies. Above, she is looking out ahead of the tractor waiting for the patch to appear.

It was all that she had hoped for and then some. They all had so much fun picking out the perfect pumpkin.

Raegan and I relaxing after a long day. I love her little smile. It makes it worth getting up 2-3 times a night to feed, comfort or cuddle. She is such a sweetie. She's 4 weeks old in this picture.

That weekend, Shannon and Raegan had a chance to catch some zzzzz's while watching TV. I love how snuggly she is.

Pyper does too. Pyper is such an adoring sister. She does show some signs of jealousy, but it's typically directed toward us, and not Raegan. She loves to hold her, and states often, "I hold it!" or "MINE!!!" She kisses her, pets her head and holds her hand when she can. I hope they are always close.

Some very exciting news from the chicken front is that I found THIS beauty in one of the nesting boxes on Oct. 22! It's such a small egg, with a light buffed brown color. I also got another one yesterday, and it was larger and darker. I'm concluding it came from a different lady, as the size and color were so different. I wish I knew who to thank and congratulate for these little treasures!!!

Here is just a random shot of Pyper at the pumpkin patch. I thought it interesting that they also had a row or decorative gourds at the patch, and Pyper liked them due to their size.

Happy Fall, Ya'll! I hope you have such a blessed season. We have certainly enjoyed it this year!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Raegan Ellis arrives...FINALLY!

September 12, I went in to be induced at Bristol Regional Medical Center. We arrived at 6 AM, and I wanted this picture taken of me as a preggo momma for not much longer! I was 39 weeks, 5 days.

Big sissy Pyper arrived around 8 AM. Still waiting on the Dr to break my water, so it was uneventful from 6-9 AM. Pyper was so excited to be a big sissy.

My Dr broke my water around 9 AM and I was shocked at how quickly I went into labor! I started really feeling strong contractions within 10 minutes of my water being broken. Instead of getting my epidural immediately, I decided to just get some pain medication to take the edge off. It did...for about an hour. Then the pain became unbearable. I had no idea my labor would progress so quickly. Pyper's took 29 hours. I had figured 6-10 hours for this one. Yeah, right. In this picture, above, my dad decided to take a picture of me during one of these painful contractions. Evil man. I got an epidural around 11 AM, and it worked for a few minutes, but then it stopped. The nurse said I had to wait a half hour to push the button for more medication, and I couldn't wait to hit that button!!!! Finally, I hit the button, and when the pain wasn't alleviated by the medication, the nurse checked me. I had progressed to 5-6 cm, and apparently was progressing faster than the epidural could pump medication.

The pain became so unbearable, I just held on to Shannon's hand and screamed and cried. The pain was the worse thing I have ever felt in my life. Finally, around 12:30 PM, the anesthesiologist pushed one last dose of medication into my epidural, and I was ready to push! The nurse checked me and told me not to move, that she had to call my Dr. Dr. Scruggs showed up with little fan fare, and pretty much told me to push. I pushed once, and out came Raegan's head. I pushed again, and her body was out too! We welcomed Raegan Ellis at 12:44 PM. She was delivered in 45 seconds according to the video taken. It was the quickest delivery! All in all, I was in labor 3 hours and 44 minutes. Wow!

Some skin-to-skin bonding right after she was born. I fell in love with this little angel immediately! She weighed in at 6 lbs, 2 oz and was 18 1/2 " long.

Shannon and Raegan just a few hours later...

Mom and I with our little Ginger Baby. She has the most unusual dusting of reddish-blonde hair all over her head.

Dad and I admiring how Raegan has inherited our ears. It's apparently a dominant Sauls gene. Pyper has my folded right ear, just like my dad, and now Raegan has them too!

Nana and PaPa holding their new farm baby. I wonder if Raegan will love riding PaPa's udden-udden (tractor) as much as Pyper...

Our sweet fair skinned little girl. So unlike Pyper. This is going to be interesting to see what she looks like.

Pyper loves her little sissy. Here she points out all her facial features. She's so proud.

Once we got home, Raegan started sleeping in her cradle my dad lovingly made for his grandchildren. It's so pretty, and she loves it.

Here is Shannon holding Raegan for her first Dr's appts. She passed with flying colors weighing in at 5 lbs 14 oz.

Our sweet girl

The Great Thinker pose. All she's doing now is sleeping, eating and poo'ing. But she's thriving and we are loving her so much!