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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Greenville, South Carolina

Hi!  How are you?  Hope you had a nice Christmas holiday  We had spent Christmas Eve with my parents and then on Christmas day we went to church and invited a colleague of my husbands over along with her husband over for dinner.  They are far away from their family and had no plans to go home this year .  We just couldn't bear the thought of them spending the day alone.  The day was unseasonably warm and after dinner we ate dessert outside by the outside fireplace.  Since next year is going to be a big year of travel and exploration this year we decided to stay close to home.  The great thing about living in Atlanta is really that you are so close to so many great cities.  Greenville is only 2 hours from our home.  I love this city because it is not too big, but still offers plenty to see. The weather was gorgeous, so we choose to hang out by the Reedy River at Falls Park.  It was a perfect way to get out some energy after being in the car.  We soaked in every bit of the sun.  Then it was time to get some dinner and head to the hotel.  We woke up to freezing cold temperatures, so it was a good thing we had planned to go to the Children's Museum with the children.  There we met our friend Bella and her mother Jennifer.  Bella lived in the same orphanage as Ivy; however, they only lived there for a short time together as Bella was adopted soon after Ivy was born and came into the care of the orphanage.  The children had a great time.  They museum has three levels and there is plenty to do.  Then it was time to say goodbye to our friend and head back home.  If you are ever in Greenville stop by the super cute zoo or check take a walk down main street and have lunch in one of the many cute restaurants.  






Sunday, December 25, 2016

Holiday Lights

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the Christmas lights.  One night just before Christmas, my mother and I took the girls up to Lake Lanier  to see the Christmas lights.  I have to say that I was slightly disappointed as it seemed very commercialized.  A lot more so than in the past and I felt given the price of entry there should have been no displays that were used as advertisement. The girls still had a good time and in the future we will stick to driving around the neighborhoods.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Countdown

Hi!  How are you?  Hope all is going with you!  If you are anything like me, than you are probably running around piecing together the last bits and pieces of Christmas.  I still have to go purchase the food and wrap a view presents.  On Tuesday, my babysitter took the girls to Stone Mountain to enjoy the Holiday activities out there while I took the boys to see Rogue One Star Wars.  Not sure how I feel about it.  It wasn't bad and it wasn't amazing.  The boys liked it though and that is what is important.  I don't get an opportunity to connect with them as much as I do the girls, so I wanted to make sure we got out and did something.  Anyways, the girls had a great time.  Yesterday, we spent the day outside at the park.  It was 62 degrees!  Roman brought a friend with him and we had lunch at Chick fil A.  After the park, we went to see the movie Sing.  I have to say it was one of the best animated movies I have ever seen.  The movie had a great message and I had a hard time not getting out of my seat to dance.  Speaking of music, I discovered this old version of Jingle Bells by Barbara Streisand.  It is brilliant!  Have you ever heard it before?  I am surprised that I have never heard the song before.  Enjoy!  Well, I better be going.  Gotta go get that ham. Then we are off to Lake Lanier to see the Christmas lights. /Merry Christmas!




Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Newborn King


Luke 2:7 
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes,
 and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

I think it is pretty easy for children to forget the true meaning of Christmas when they are surrounded with stories of Santa Claus, Reindeer's, and Snowmen.  Heck I think it is probably pretty easy for adults too as we live in such a commercial world.  Now don't get me wrong, I am not against any of that, but I also want my children to understand the true meaning of Christmas.  This past week we did a lesson on the true meaning of Christmas.  The children and I watched an animated depiction of the Christmas story and then later they made a cute little craft of Jesus in the manger. Today was the final day of Advent.  I can't believe we are only a week away from Christmas.  Today in church some young woman sang the song Mary Did You Know?  I was bawling.  It was a good thing I didn't wear any mascara today or I would have looked like a raccoon.  The children have two more days of school this week.  I am looking forward to snuggling with them the rest of the week, making cookies with them, and reading Christmas stories by the fire.  I am hoping to take them to see the Chinese Lantern light display and drive around a few more neighborhoods looking at the Christmas lights.  I am kind of sad that it rained tonight as we would have loved to gone to a friends sing along and live nativity that they have at their farm each year, but Ivy is still getting over a cold and I feel like I am about to get one.  Praying I don't as Christmas is just no fun when you are sick.  Hope you had a great weekend!  Did you do anything special this weekend in preparation of Christmas next Sunday?

Craft credit goes to Happy Home Fairy.



Friday, December 16, 2016

Traditions



Decorating Gingerbread houses is one holiday tradition I wouldn't mind getting out of, but the children seem to love it!  Thankfully, I don't have to assemble the houses from scratch thanks to all the wonderful companies who have come up with various gingerbread decorating kits.  The children added plastic figures to their houses this year which was a cute addition.  Roman put a Storm trooper on his, but his gingerbread didn't survive long enough to take a picture of!  He picked the candy off and ate it all!  Anyway, we have a busy weekend here!  Today my 5 year old Avery has a Christmas concert at her school and we are going to a church Christmas party tomorrow.  I have been assigned to make the funeral potatoes.  Have you ever had them?  Kind of a silly name, but I guess they got their name from being brought to potlucks at funerals.  They are actually very delicious!  I mean who doesn't love potatoes covered in sour cream, butter, and cheese.  Which reminds me I gotta go run to the store and pick up the ingredients before the children get home from school today.  I am also going to try and squeeze in a movie tonight.  I really want to see Collateral Beauty with Will Smith.  It looks like it is going to be pretty good.  I am saving Rogue One for when the boys are out of school and the crowds die down.  How about you?  Do you have any plans for the weekend?  Do you have all your shopping completed.  I have two presents I still have to buy and hope to take care of that tonight if I don't forget.  Well, I better go!  Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Girls in Dresses

I am lucky my girls love to wear dresses.  Today the weather was glorious and I wasn't going to take a chance that tomorrow was going to be just as nice, so after school I quickly changed the girls and off we went to the Christmas Tree Farm.  We actually did have plans to buy a little tree, but the farm doesn't  flock trees, so we had to pass as I had visions of a tree covered in fake snow.  Kind of cheesy, but a girl wants what a girl wants.  The girls did have fun running up and down the rows of trees and talking to the ducks.  Then before we went home they each got a treat of either popcorn or hot warm pretzels.  Love these girls!  I am so lucky to be their mom!  Christmas magic is in the air!









Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dear New Mom (My Breast Feeding Story)


my gorgeous friend feeding her baby

I still remember as if it was yesterday the minute I found out I was pregnant. Something I had dreamed about since I was a little girl.  There isn't a time that I can remember that I didn't want to be a mother.  My husband and I were so excited.  Right away we went and bought just about every book on the shelf about pregnancy, how to take care of a baby, and raising a child.  We scanned the internet for all the information we could find and would were proud to announce to everyone we knew what stage of  growth our baby was in.  Oh our baby is the size of a kidney bean, now our baby is the size of a kumquat, and so on and so on until our baby was a full grown fetus.  Never was there a question of whether or not I would breastfeed my child.  That was what good mothers did for their babies. Breast milk is amazing as it provides all the nutrients for the baby in each of its stages of growth and will even customize itself for the sex of the baby.  Isn't that amazing!

9 months passed and our son was born after 33 hours of hard labor.  He was a beautiful 8 pound 15 ounce blond hair blue eyed chubby cheek baby, however, despite being born close to his due date he struggled to maintain his body heat.  He also seemed agitated.   I took him to my breast with assistance from a nurse and did my best to feed him.  It was uncomfortable and painful, but it did not stop me from trying again two hours later.  He struggled to latch and to stay on and I requested help from a lactation nurse to help me.  The details all seem blurry now as I was exhausted from a long labor and on top of that I had torn to stage 4.  I remember a nurse coming in and saying that his blood sugar was low and that they would need to give him a bottle to get it up.  Being young and not knowing any different I agreed to let him have a bottle.  I mean if they are saying he needs bottle then he must need one.  The next 3 days continued in the manor of me feeding him, him going under the heating lamps, and him receiving a bottle to supplement as my milk had not come in.  Oh and by the time I went home I still really hadn't mastered the whole feeding dance, but I knew that it could take time.

We took our baby home and were so in love despite how fussy he was!  A week after we went home a home health nurse visited us to make sure all was going well.  She weighed our baby and he had lost a pound.  Now this wasn't anything to stress about she said because most babies loose some weight before the begin to put on weight.  We revisited the techniques of how to properly breastfeed and off she went.  I wish the story ended there with happy ending; however, our son continued to be agitated and never really successfully latching on and it was eventually suggested I pump.  Which I happily did, but our son still didn't seem happy.  Trips to the doctor were made and words like colic were said, but in the end after some testing it was determined that our son was lactose intolerant.  I felt like a total failure as I put that first bottle of soy milk formula to his mouth.  Why wasn't I enough?

Eventually baby number two came along and he loved breastfeeding.  He took to the breast like a champ.  Shortly after taking him home and raw nipples later we discovered he was tongue tied. The doctor snipped his tongue and we thought all would be good.  I could put the pain and guilt behind me of not being able to feed my first son behind me.  I wasn't a failure!! Weeks went by and I my breast never seemed to heal.  I got an affection and it was suggested to me that I bottle feed my son with breast milk to give my breast time to heal, So that is what I did but sadly he never returned to the breast.  He liked those bottles too much.  I continued to pump throughout his first year!  Baby three came along and he was born with a complicated heart condition that required him to be hospitalized and later have open heart surgery.  Due to his heart condition it was suggested I not breastfeed him because it would require to much work for him to feed and he would burn too many calories. I pumped as I did with my second child and he was supplemented with a high calorie formula so that he could gain as much weight as possible so that they could operate on him.  Baby number 4 was no success story either as she was born premature and was tiny.  She just couldn't coordinate the whole suck swallow technique and by the time she learned how she just would not latched on.  Being a busy mom I pumped some, but realized in the best interest of all my family members that bottle feeding would just have to do. I didn't have the luxury of being able to sit all day pumping and feeding my baby like I did with the first.  I had three high energy boys who wanted all of my attention.

You might wonder why I bring this story up so many years after I have had my last biological child (I have two adopted daughters), well simply because the other day I over heard a group of woman talking about breast feeding.  They were all  talking about it as if it was some kind of Olympic event and they were all gold medalist.  One woman even stated she had so much extra milk after feeding her babies that she would have to pump it and freeze it for later consumption.  They didn't see the pain on their friends face who admitted she couldn't feed her baby because she failed to produce enough milk.  No one offered her words of comfort saying she did her best or it was OK they just went on about how easy it was.  I wanted to put my arms around this young mother!  I know I have been there!  I shed the tears and was even subjected to comments of disapprovement from even my best friend who breastfeeding came easy too.  I am here to tell you it is OK!  The most important thing is that your baby gets the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy.  You are great!  It isn't your fault and you are not a failure!  Bottle feeding your baby if necessary is OK!  Did you know that the Honest Company familiar for it organic and safe baby products also produces formula. Sadly they came out with their formula line after my daughter was born, but if I were to have a baby today and couldn't breastfeed that child I would totally use their formula.  It is Organic, free of of Non-GMO's, and it gluten free!  On top of that their brand is totally reasonably priced in comparison to other formulas on the market.  Who wouldn't like that!  I believe in their products! To learn more about their products please visit their website.




Monday, December 12, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

I know thanksgiving was weeks ago, but I am behind in posting.  I had been holding off on posting these photos because I was waiting to get the photos off my computer from our dinner party, but it looks like it might be a few more weeks before I get the computer fixed.  As I said that is a story for another day and just thinking about it kind of makes my blood boil.  Anyway, the girls each had a party at their school.  Avery's class put on a cute little presentations where they sang a couple of stories.  Way too cute!  Ivy's class didn't go anything this year hence no photos, and Addy's class had a feast with all the other kindergartners.  Loved how they did it this year!  No more yucky cafeteria food.  Well, I better go!  I have a meeting with Addy's teacher today and some loose end items to finish up before the children get out of school for the holidays.  Hope you had a good weekend!





Saturday, December 10, 2016

It's a wrap!

Two weeks ago, I completed my final photo shoot of the year and just in the nick of time too because the weather while sunny the last couple of days has been freezing.  Making me a little nervous for winter in Germany because if I think this is cold here I am going to think Germany is much colder.  I think I need to invest in some better winter time clothing.  Anyways, my computer is still out for repair and it looks like it is going to be a few weeks longer because they need to repair the mother board.  Ugh!  Never a good thing!  Thankfully, I had this photo shoot downloaded to Dropbox, so I am able to post it!  I am so grateful for return customers.  I have taken the S families photos now for three years.  It is so fun seeing the changes in the children and a good feeling to know someone appreciates my work.  Today the children are performing at the German Schools annual Christmas Performance the girls are going to be little cats as the sing ABC Katze in der Schnee.  Do you have any plans for  the weekend?










Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Market

I have only been to a real Christmas Market once a long long time ago when I was first married and pregnant with my son Harris, but it was wonderful from what I remember.  The stands filled with amazing food to eat, the Christmas lights in the dark of night, and even a ride on the Ferris wheel. I can't wait to introduce my children to this magic; however, in the mean time our local Christmas market will have to do.  Each year the Atlanta International school host a German Christmas market to raise funds for the school. It is such a lovely way to spend the afternoon.  The children gorged themselves on waffles and pretzels while I had a bratwurst and potato salad.  Afterward, we stopped at my friends Simona's house so that the children could play with her son. The children had a blast! Then it was home to take baths and go to bed.  A perfect day!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Vanilla Kipferl


The sun has returned after three days of non-stop rain. Not complaining though as the rain was much needed and it was nice to cuddle buy the fire with the children.  I am so far behind on my blogging as my computer is still out of commission and it looks like it could be a couple of weeks before we get that straightened out, but that is a story for another day.  The other day, I made these Vanilla Kipferl for my husband and children they are one of his favorites. His grandmother made them for him every year and continued to ship us tins of cookies even after we were married. She was so sweet!  We miss her!  Do you have a favorite holiday cookie?


Vanilla Kipferl by Martha Stewart
I cup of unsalted butter
2/3 cups of sifted confectioners sugar plus extra for rolling
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
1 cup of coarsely chopped almonds
2 1/2 cups of sifted all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a bowl combine sugar and butter than add extract  followed by nuts and flour.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In the mean time divide dough into three balls and place on plastic wrap forming into logs.  Chill for at least one hour our up to 24 hours.  then cut logs into 2 inch pieces and form into a crescent.  Bake for 15-20 minutes should be lightly browned.  Let cool then toss in additional powder sugar.  Can keep in a air tight container for up to three weeks.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Hi!  I can't believe it is already the second week of Advent.  The season is flying by.  Last week, we celebrated the first week of Advent with cookies, chocolate milk, watching a video animation on the Saviors birth, and reading a few books.  On Tuesday, while the children were at school I decorated the house and realized I didn't have a stocking for Ivy, so with a click of a few buttons that was taken of and it should be here any day.  I am also grateful that I was able to get out Christmas cards out before the children started dropping like flies with various illnesses. Tis the season, but man I wish we could have at least gotten though Christmas before everyone started getting sick. On Monday, Avery stayed home with a cold and fever as did Addy. Tuesday Avery stayed home as she still had a fever, Wednesday everyone went to school, but then Thursday Roman threw up, and Friday Ivy came down with a cold.  I also had the stomach bug but thankfully feel better now though I could use a few more hours of sleep as Ivy was coughing all night long.  Today we are just taking it easy around the house.  Anyway, for months I have been showing you photo shoots that I have taken of other families,but today you get to see the highlights from our family shoot.  The photos were take by Blue Lily Photography.  This is actually our first family shoot since the boys were little!  Happy Holidays! Hope you are enjoying the season!  Do you have any fun activities plan?








Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Friends with Babies

Our season of life with little babies is over and to be honest I am thankful.  At least until we have grandchildren and I think we are at least 10 years away from that season.  On Thanksgiving our friends came over with their son who I have photographed in the past.  He is now walking and so adorable. Right before dinner I took him and his family down the street for a quick photo shoot. It was so sweet to watch my girls play with him later that day.  My favorite memory of that day is feeding him off my plate, and to my surprise he loved the cranberry sauce.






Monday, November 28, 2016

Cain Creek Waterfalls

On Saturday, we were feeling a little stir crazy and so we loaded up in the car and headed north towards Dahlonga.  The weather was gorgeous and I am glad we went because today the clouds rolled in along with cold temperatures; however, we are glad for that too and are praying for rain because the state is in a major drought.  Our first stop was Cain Creek Waterfall.  It might not look much, but it is a lot taller than it appears. Dahlonga is a great starting point for lots waterfall hoping. While we only went to Cain Creek on Saturday, we have been to many of the others in the area such as Desoto, Amicalola Falls, and if you want to head even a little farther north Anna Ruby Falls. After visiting the waterfall, we went to one of the little dinners and got BLT sandwiches and hot dogs. Nana treated the girls to a piece of candy from the candy store.  The town is super cute right now as it is all decked out for Christmas.







Sunday, November 27, 2016

Staycation

Hi!  Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!  We have had a pretty relaxing week around here as we stayed put and didn't travel anywhere this fall break. I mean to be honest after traveling so much this summer, I am a little burnt out, so we decided to make this week a staycation.  On Monday, a little boy who lived in the same orphanage as Avery and his mom came to visit from Alabama.  It was so fun meeting them and getting to know their family.  We choose to meet up at the aquarium.  It was the first time for this little boy, Avery, and Ivy.  They all loved it! Afterwards we played in Centennial Park for a good hour or so and then it was time to come home. On another note, it has been 8 months today since we added Ivy to our family.  The time is flying by fast!  It feels like she has always been with us and with each day passing we adore her even more.