Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Giving

I struggle a lot with wanting to give more and give more sacrificially to those around me and those in need. A lot of times, it's "Where do I even start?" There are so many things I'd like to do, and want to do, but can't do right now with 3 small children to raise; there are other things I could do if I didn't use my children as an excuse; I know this and I'm thankful the Holy Spirit is there to convict me when I need it. I know that my primary ministry right now is to raise these 3 children to love Jesus and to teach them along the way by serving others and actually showing them how Jesus lived... and that's still a hard thing to do, especially when they are so young. I use their ages as an excuse sometimes too, when I shouldn't. But my main reason for writing this post is that there are some things that don't take any of my time or effort; well, maybe a few clicks of the mouse, but that's it. This is one of them:



I can't even remember where I read about this ministry to begin with, probably from my friend Tesney, but if you are looking for a way to give and have a heart for mamas and children, please consider sponsoring one of these precious families. This ministry was started by Jerry and Christy Shannon. The ministry offers free daycare for single mothers with children, so that the mothers can find a job, work, and provide for their little ones. I cannot imagine, cannot begin to imagine, what it would be like to have to give up my child because I could not provide for them. Especially having experienced that instant, gratifying love that you receive when you first see your newborn, and how that love only grows and grows as the weeks and months go by... I cannot imagine the grief and pain and guilt some mothers must go through having to give up their precious little ones because of poverty and hunger. This ministry allows mothers to go to work, make money, and keep their families together. They offer nutritious meals for both mom and baby as well as teach them proper hygiene, money management, and life skills. Such a picture of grace and hope. 


Anyway, I've been giving to the program for a while and have mentioned it on Facebook before but never on the blog, and so I thought I'd write about it here too. I receive e-mail updates frequently on the mother and daughter that I sponsor (Mulu and her daughter Hanna) and it makes my heart smile knowing that while I'm not doing everything I want to be doing, or could be doing, I am doing something. (And there is always more to be done.) To give further insight, I received this update not long ago through e-mail:

Mulu has taken the idea of a Micro Grant to heart and run with it!
Approximately 3 months ago we gave her a 600 ETB grant ($36 USD) to start a small business.  She came to us with the idea that she wanted to start making injera (Ethiopian flat bread that is a staple) and selling it.  So, we helped her open a savings account with 100 ETB and then gave her 500 ETB ($30 USD) to use as capital to start the business.
To say that she has done well would be an understatement.  She is a hard worker and very determined which helps a lot.  She also believes in paying her bills and saving.  So, to date not only has she been making money to live off of, but she also now has over 600 ETB in her savings account.
But the money is only a small piece of it.  She is full of dignity and life.  She is proud to be doing business and making it.  She is full of life as she sees something productive coming from her hands – and something that ultimately is of benefit to others too.  She is tapping into a place in her soul that was made by God – a place that was made to work and to give back.
Can $36 change a life?  In the right hands, you bet it can.

These are real people who have real needs and who can be helped tremendously with a SMALL amount of money. And I'll add that Jerry and Christy are also real people; anytime I e-mail them I always get a personal response and they are so grateful for anything that anyone wants to give. 
You can sponsor one family alone or you can go in with 4 of your friends and divide the cost and only pay $34 a month; if you are interested, please visit their website! 
Help give these mamas and their babies a hope and a future. 

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." 
Prov. 24:12

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Baby Girl at 3 Months

Emma Kate, you are 3 months old. Thank you Lord.
I always tell everyone if you can make it to the 3 month point, you're golden.
That's when these little creatures turn into real human beings - interacting, sleeping better at night, working themselves into a schedule (or at least a somewhat predictable daytime routine),
and noticing the world around them.
You are doing all of those things, little miss. And I'm thankful.


At 3 months, you weigh 15 POUNDS. Like, for real.
You are 26 inches long. 
This puts you off the charts. They write "97th percentile" on your chart, but we know that's just a nice way of saying there are no other babies on the planet that are your size at your age. Nice.



You (clearly) eat like a champ. 
You nurse about 5 times a day on average, usually every 3-4 hours.
You will not take a bottle. I need to try to give you one more often; we actually had to cut our date night short Friday night because you were starving and refused to take a bottle. Oh well.



You sleep through the night (started this around 2.5 months), from about 9pm to 7am. It is heavenly.




You are wearing 3-6m clothes for the most part, but you have definitely worn some 9-12m stuff as well. You are wearing size 2 diapers and are about to move up to size 3. #chunkythighsareawesome



You don't seem to mind tummy time and are actually pretty good at it. I've said it all along but you are definitely my strongest baby. In fact, you prefer to make tummy time even more difficult by raising both your arms and legs at the same time and still managing to pick your head up off the ground. I joke and say you are 'half seal' because you look hilarious doing this.



You also love it when someone joins you for tummy time, and sometimes you choose to stare at your partner instead of the iPad. :)




You sleep on the boppy lounger in your crib for now, and you seem to love it.
We put you down awake for naps and bedtime and you just doze off on your own.


 You will take a paci, but you're not just a huge fan anymore. You don't ever want to suck it while you are awake; only if you are super super hungry or realllly tired. Then you'll take it. Other than that you don't seem to find any use for it and you'll make weird faces and immediately push it away from your mouth with your tongue. When you do take one, it has to be the Nuk brand.



You have started to pay lots of attention to what is going on around you, be it your brother and sister or your dog or anything. You smile a lot at your brother and sister, even when they aren't looking at you or talking to you. I think you are wanting to interact with them.




 You can roll to your side and you love to do it. You love when I stand books up for you to look at or let you watch Baby Einstein on YouTube. You will watch Baby MacDonald and coo and smile the entire time. 


You've started giggling out loud when we kiss you under your chin(s) and tickle you under your arms.
It's the best thing ever.


You've started to bat your arms at your toys a little, and when your hands touch them you'll grab on and keep holding them. You've enjoyed sitting in the yellow rock n play lately and looking at your little hanging toys. I'll come check on you and you will have both hands gripped tightly to each of them.



You found out your cousin Gracie was getting glasses and you were a little envious.


 You are pretty quiet when you're awake unless you're talking to us.
We rarely hear you make a peep and you rarely fuss or cry. I almost never see this pouty face, but when I do, it's too cute not to take a picture. That lip...

You're a big fan of your daddy and are super content sitting with him.
He loves you too and says that you would make anyone want more babies.
He says he wants to nickname you "Goldie" (as in, Golden Child), because you are so good.



Mommy has nicknamed you "Emma Dumplin." Because that is what you are. A dumplin.


A few videos at this age:
You have learned your first word, "Hi." As documented here:


And you're "squeaking" too. You do this all the time, whether someone is looking at you or not.


You are sweet as pie, Emma Kate.
Your smiles light up a room and warm our hearts.
You are such a blessing to us, and we love you more each day.
Happy 3 months, baby girl.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Home Improvement: Dining Room

If you've been a reader for a while, you know that I am no stranger to changing things up in my house. 
It's actually a chronic problem that I was seeking help for... until Pinterest was invented. Now my diagnosis has been deemed incurable. So I rest in the fact that I will have this ongoing need to change and re-do and undo and do again, and I take comfort in the fact that there are others out there who are battling the same problem. :)

My dining room for instance.
I loved it from the moment we moved in... something about the deep dark chocolate walls and that coffered ceiling to match. It was super pretty. Lots of natural light, too.

dining room before

We moved our furniture in and hung the curtains that my grandmother made for me.
Our furniture was dark brown too, so the curtains were really the only thing that brightened up the room. I tried adding lamps and vases and the white frame, but it still seemed like brown overload.

Here it is after we decorated a little bit (it's decorated for a baby shower, but you get the point. Brown china cabinet, brown table, brown benches, brown walls, brown ceiling molding.)


I explored a few color options that would still work with the molding on the ceiling (cause who wants to paint that stuff? Not even me.) but I really couldn't find anything I liked that would brighten up the space, so I ended up using the same color we used in our den and other upstairs living areas.
(Behr Mesa.)

So here's what it looked like:
(This is the decorated dining room again. Can you tell we only use our dining room for throwing parties? Ha...)


I never liked it. Blah. Gross.

So after 202 days of Behr Mesa walls and then a brief 12 hours of some hideous ice blue aqua (leftover paint + 10pm frappucino = not a good combo for a chronic DIYer. It was bad.), I knew I needed to get serious. But ya know, getting serious meant research.
And luckily for me, it happened to be Monday night.
And it happened to be the premier of Bachelor Pad.
And it happened to be back in 2010 when I had time to watch TV.
And they happened to have some awesome fabric in their pad.
So I used it as my inspiration.
Don't judge.

Here's the fabric (only picture I could find online):
(source)

The background was almost identical to the original color of my walls and the ceiling molding, and I loved the accents of bright blue-ish turquoise and the avocado green. So I went with it. And now I love it. I think the wall color I picked was called "Appletini" but I can't remember the brand of paint I used.

Here are the AFTER photos:

 Round mirror from Hobby Lobby; vases from Big Lots, spray painted white; place mats and napkins from Christmas Tree Shops)

White frames from thrift store and Christmas Tree Shops; turquoise frames from TJ Maxx; lamp was a thrift store find that I spray painted turquoise and added the drum shade from Target.)

Chevron rug from RugsUSA.com; Table and benches from World Market; buffet cabinet from Z Gallery.)

I love the chevron rug. It's my favorite part and it really added to the space.
Chad had the buffet/cabinet when he was a bachelor and it's such a great piece. 
I also love the turquoise glass bird and flying pig, both from Ross. TJ Maxx and Ross are my favorite places to find accessories for a room, especially picture frames and glass pieces.

Alright, there's my post for the week.
Thank you to Chad for watching the kids while I did this, 
and to my dining room walls for suffering so much re-doing.
I promise I am done messing with you.
For now.
:)
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mary Ella's 4th Birthday

I love planning a birthday party. Love it. I look forward to picking a theme every year and now that Pinterest and Etsy are in existence, I have no trouble at all coming up with ideas to go along with whatever themes we choose. 

So far, we've had a pink polkadot 1st birthday...


A candy shoppe themed second birthday...

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little mama 3


And a puppy dog themed party for her 3rd birthday celebration.

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This year Mary Ella wanted to have an princess party. I wasn't necessarily against having a princess party, but seeing that we'd been to about four princess parties already this calendar year, I asked her to pick a specific princess and we'd plan the party around one of them. She decided on Ariel (or "Eeeeriel" as she calls her), which wouldn't have been my first choice (let's pick the most selfish and disobedient Disney princess and celebrate her, yay!), but then when I looked up "Ariel party" on Pinterest I realized I could turn it into an "under the sea" party with a little sprinkling of Ariel (ha!) and that she'd probably be just as satisfied. Which is what we did.

(invitation from Pink Pickle Studios, via Etsy)

So... here are pictures of our Ariel/Under the Sea 4th Birthday Party! 

I knew I wanted to host it on the patio (i.e. didn't want to have to clean my house) and I'm glad I did because it turned out to be a great day for a July party. Thankfully it rained that morning, so it was a bit humid, but at least it wasn't 100+ degrees.
(We had our patio ceiling fan installed the day before which helped a ton.)

I went with a turquoise/blue/purple theme to resemble being under the sea; I hung shiny turquoise and purple mesh ribbon along the deck stairs and crepe paper streamers in those colors from the ceiling. I also made a banner out of scrapbook paper and a few more streamers.



I made the grilling nook our "kids area" with our 3 kids tables. 
This was also the crafting area. As the kids arrived they made ocean scenes with foam board and foam stickers and jellyfish using an upside down paper bowl, googly eyes, and tentacles made out of cut up streamers in various colors.



I enclosed this area under the steps with a purple vinyl tablecloth and streamers to make "Ariel's Cavern." The kids loved having a little hideout at the party. 


Do you love this potting bench or what?
I found it a few days after the patio was finished at a local antique store. It was built by a man in Hayden, Alabama and he signed the bottom along with a "Roll Tide" so I guess it was meant to be mine. Or at least that's what I told Chad. I love it. It was already this distressed turquoise color and the back of it is an old window. The countertop is stainless steel and I think it adds a lot of character. 
I'll probably be using it more as a buffet rather than a potting bench. It was perfect for holding decorations and all our food/dishes/silverware. Oh, and gifts too!


We set out pictures of the birthday girl and a copy of her invitation as part of the decor.
All the paper goods (napkins, plates, etc) were from Target.



I actually had no idea what I'd do for her cake until the day before the party. I knew I didn't really want to do cupcakes so I decided on something even more time consuming - in true Haley Morgan fashion. :)
I went with a four-layer cake. Duncan Hines white cake mix cannot be beat. 
And neither can their canned whipped icing. It's as good as the real thing. 
I used just white flavored icing for the outside of the cake, and in between the layers I used a can of cream cheese frosting. I bought those turquoise and white pearly balls from Hobby Lobby in the cake section and crushed up some graham crackers to resemble sand, and scattered that along the bottom of the cake platter. I went to WalMart the morning of the party and bought an Ariel figurine set for the top of the cake (there's my splash of Ariel, see? An Ariel party, all the way.) 



She loved her cake.


Oh, and I made the layers 4 different colors: turquoise, lime green, purple and kelly green.
For the oooh-ahhhh factor, ya know.


We used our crab sandbox (that still has no sand) as our cooler for the drinks.


It also made for a cooling station when the kiddos got hot. 


And a bubble machine added that special 'under the sea' touch.
The kids loved trying to catch and pop all the bubbles. 


For our party favors Mom made sugar cookies cut into a starfish shape. We put them in a clear cellophane bag with some crushed graham cracker "sand" and tied a "Thanks for Coming" note to the bags with brown string. Simple and cute. Can't go wrong with a cookie.



More pictures...


Gage

Charlie, Amanda and Emma Kate

The Morgan clan (and Les!)

Mary Ella and Addie Jane

Ashley and baby Hudson

sweet Alyssa 

Charlotte, smiling on command of course

About to blow out her candles

Charlie looking at the bubbles (love this)

My nephews Brooks and Case eating their cake and ice cream.

Sweet Tatum loving on Emma Kate

 Presents!
We are thankful for all the sweet gifts we received. 
MeMama bought her this cupcake pillow.


And Charlie gave her a Rapunzel doll!

Love the look on Addie's face. She looks like her cousin Levi here. So sweet. 



This girl was pooped after the party. 


Happy 4th Birthday, my sweet Mary Ella!
I love you so very much. 


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