Monday, March 26, 2012

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor...

I was sucked in by the first page! The Hunger Games, a book that would never have read on my own accord, but decided to read (or devour really) after much peer pressure... I loved this futuristic trilogy and knew by the second book that I would throw a themed party in its honor. I persuaded my mom, who was in need of a reading "pick me up", to also check out the books, and so spent hours talking with her about the details of the book and sharing my many party ideas!

The book (sadly unlike the recently released movie) had a huge focus on food, lending itself to plenty of party snacks and yummy treats... honey colored pudding, orange cream chicken, lamb stew with dried plums (Katniss' favorite), sliced bread with goat cheese, basil, and blackberries, Peeta's fruit and nut bread, apple and goat cheese tart... these were all on the menu and a huge hit last Friday night at my Hunger Games party!!!

I encouraged my guests to come in costume... and they did! Those who came closer to Beauty Base Zero were provided endless eyeshadow, hair color, tiaras, and press on nail glam! We had several Katniss characters, Glimmer, a capitol citizen, and I, of course, dressed as Effie, the coordinator/boss/hostess/liaison between District 12 and the Capitol. Such fun!!!

Nightlock... a deadly berry (chocolate covered, of course), available for my guests to consume if the party got unbearably drab.

I found a reference in the book for each of my party yummies, including the Popcorn for the movie! Several ladies went from my house to the 10:15 showing of the movie in town. *Yawn...

I was busy getting ready down to the last minute... so regretting not taking more pictures of the food and set up.
"Effie and Katniss"

A couple of Katniss' thoroughly enjoying themselves!

Donna practicing at the Training Station. Brystal was our archery champ of the evening.
I love Donna's expression here... she doesn't seem to have much confidence in Jadi's archery abilities!

Hunger Games trivia galore! Pictionary and Taboo with Team 1.
Team 2... a mess!

A few of the remaining Tributes of the night...

And finally The Reaping... Guests earned tickets for the "Gift Reaping" throughout the evening by participating in and winning various trivia games and activities. Jadi was our winner!!!

A big thanks to all the ladies who joined in the fun! Wondering now what's in store for the 2nd and 3rd movies...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sweet Pebbles at the Lake Beach!

I LOVE that we have a little place in our own backyard for soaking up the sun, playing in the sand, and splashing in the water... a seven foot stretch of sandy shore... our LAKE BEACH :-)

Grace Louise can entertain herself for hours here! On Friday, we found ourselves needing a relaxing activity after a busy spring break week, so we put on our swimsuits (and new pebbles hairstyle) and headed outside!

Grace Louise's first gift to her baby brother- a snail shell. She brought it over to me and set it on my belly... "I got it for him. He can kick it!" She proceeded to tell me that she was prepared to share both ninny and her cups with him too! What a sweet sister!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sea World

Though I despise many effects of our tourism industry, (urban sprawl, habitat destruction, traffic, Yankees...) I LOVE taking Grace Louise to theme parks!!! Florida provides no shortage of theme park adventures and I have a mind to visit them all! We've been to Animal Kingdom, Lowry Park, and now Sea World. We went this last week, which was BeBe and Triston's Spring Break, so the park was crowded... but totally worth it!

Like most toddlers, Grace Louise loves animals, so everything was a site to see! Here she is, excited with BeBe, getting ready to enter the stingray aquarium.

And now petting stingrays! They have a similar exhibit at Lowry Park Zoo, and she actually touched the rays. This time she kept her hand in the water, but was not brave enough to touch them. Still loved it, though!

Dolphin watching... I was the only one lucky enough to touch one... maybe we'll pay extra to feed them next time.

Of course, we couldn't come to Sea World without watching a Shamu show! We got awesome seats just outside of the "Soak Zone" and enjoyed a snack while waiting for the show to start. I thought it was a fantastic show, and didn't even miss the fact that the trainers no longer get in the water with the whales. The animals are simply genius. Much more impressed as an adult than when I was as a kid! Grace Louise loved the show too, and clapped (up high), but was ready to go before the show was over...

Looking forward to trying some new shows next time!

Taking a break in the Shamu Happy Harbor. We brought swim clothes, but unfortunately there wasn't much for toddlers to do in this area, especially water activities, like I'd hoped. Oh well, it's amazing how much fun 2 year olds can have with a few sprinklers!

Riding the Sea Creatures Carousel. Our only ride of the day...

Feeding seals! These animals were loud and ready to perform for fish!

Lovin each sweet memory with my baby girl and our family :-)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Baby book kind of stuff...

I know I don't have to explain that recording milestones and even special moments with our wee ones becomes more of a challenge as they grow. The truth is, we really are busy chasing them around, teaching, chauffeuring, and all else that comes with mothering toddler and school age children. But wow, the fun and honestly sweet moments that are so abundant! Too many to write, really!

I'm putting this post together to capture a moment in time with my little Grace Louise. This is her, today...

Grace Louise. Loves to make up stories. Remembers crazy facts and information and incorporates them into these stories. Plays on the bed with daddy. Still likes to fish. Has new chickens and is responsible for taking care of them. Weighs 28.8 pounds. Enjoys "samoovies", "nola bars", oranges, and meat. Needs a playmate...coming August 2012. Says she needs a playmate..."Can you have the baby now? I will carry her with both hands!" Sings many many songs- Zaccheus, Jesus Loves Me, Praise Him When the Sun Goes Down. Sneaks over to Uncle Dave's swing set. Plays with other children very well. Helps in the kitchen, standing on her stool. Picks and eats loquats in the yard. Also picks flowers at BeBe's. Cleans up after herself, becoming more and more self sufficient. Still enjoys ninny. Becoming more of a daddy's girl, but is still partial to mama. Proficiently uses an ipad. Requests to buy apps. Pitter patters feet across the floor and wakes me up every morning by whispering in my ear, "Mommy, wake up! Make me some breakfast! I'm hungry!" Jumps and squeals when she's excited or dancing. Smacks when she kisses if you remind her to "make it say smooch!" Says, "I think..." and sees herself as very convincing and sure of her convictions. Loves the name Layla. Is crazy about animals, especially cows, horses, and kitties. Continues to drive her Gator jeep in circles because she still can't steer. Apologizes readily. Has memorized several scriptures- John 3:16, Prov 3:27, Colossians 3:20. Crafts daily. Loves to read books and fills in missing words and lines in her favorite stories. Looks forward to social engagements (MOPS, library, play dates) although she's often shy at first. Asks about her friends often. Gets into mommy's make-up and wants her toes painted frequently. Says she's going to work at the Farmer's Market when she grows up. Shares better than any 2 year old I've ever seen (see Proverbs 3:20). Mostly misbehaves by yelling "NO!" Otherwise practices good manners. Healthy as a horse. Picks up moss in the yard every Monday with mommy and loves this chore. Speaks in complete sentences and can hang with the most articulate grown ups. Knows her shapes, colors, and some letters. Sleeps in a toddler bed with her baby doll every night. Tells me each night, "I love you. With all my heart. To the moon and back. More than anything."

While I was writing this, I played You Are Good by Point of Grace on Spotify. I listened to this song on my evening walks through the Genesis Pointe neighborhood when I was pregnant with Grace Louise. Sure enough, hearing it tonight brought me right back to those moments, so incredibly thankful to be pregnant with her, and then, overcome with God's goodness when she was born! I could not even imagine what life would be like on a daily basis with this Sugar Bear, what she would be like as a toddler. All I can say is full... life is just so full with her a part of it. And I love it!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Homemade Prenatal "Vitamins"

I followed pretty traditional dietary recommendations and took your average prenatal vitamin with DHA during my last pregnancy. This pregnancy, however, I seem to be a bit more in tune with my body's nutritional needs. I've decided to take a new approach to prenatal vitamins, being more realistic about what my body is really getting through one little pill. (Can you say neon yellow pee!?!?!)

So... forgoing the synthetic prenatal vitamin...

The first thing I set my little heart on was Fermented Cod Liver Oil. Yes, that's what I said. Fermented. (Let that sink in). Cod. Liver. Oil. Yummy!!! I'm not going to pretend to be the expert on Cod Liver Oil, but to sum up what I've learned in the past couple of months...

1. Fermented is the way to go
2. Green Pasture is one of few credible sources from which to get this quality supplement

I waited two months to order this because it is not cheap, and I wanted to make sure this was where I wanted to spend my...God's money. A good choice, I think. Much to be read on this if you have the time.

Floradix Iron and Herbs- I took this iron supplement towards the end of my pregnancy with Grace Louise when my iron levels showed up a little low. This company is great, producing liquid WHOLE FOOD supplements that actually get absorbed into the body! More expensive than other options, but hey, at least you're not peeing most of it out! I had BAD first trimester funk with this baby, so starting the iron early helped pull me out and give me an energy boost. I've backed off a little on this supplement since starting my Green Smoothie regimen. More on that later...

Foradix Calcium Magnesium- Horrible ligament stretching and cramping with this pregnancy. I might have experienced one painful cramp with Grace Louise. Not sure if its because of the type of yoga I do now, but wow...charlie horses of the ab muscles!!! I've been taking cal-mag for a couple weeks now and have noticed less cramping. Plus, I know I don't get enough calcium in my diet anyway.

Aquasana Water Filter- Several years ago, Jimmy and I entertained a traveling water filter salesman for several hours one afternoon. You gotta hate that, right?! Well, he totally had me suckered. If I had $3000 at the time, that water filter would have been SOLD! Since then, I've read a lot about water filters and asked around, looking for the best option for removing fluoride and chlorine, among other things. I'm happy to say that I've been drinking chlorine free water for 3 weeks now and loving every sip :-) And it didn't cost me (anywhere near) $3000!!! Honestly, I think this particular filter is mass manufactured and sold by several different companies and brands, including Dr. Mercola.

The most recent addition to my prenatal "vitamin" has been the wholesome and delicious Green Smoothie. I purchased a Ninja blender (what I found to be the best option other than a VitaMix). I intended to make smoothies of all kinds, but can't imagine going a day without spinach or kale. I have noticed a drastic difference in my energy levels since drinking these and find my body literally craves them! The first week was trial and error, but I've learned to keep it simple... greens, a frozen banana, blueberries, strawberries, and an orange or orange juice. Grace Louise loves her "samoovies" too!

I've had people ask me, "Why do you have to do everything so different than everybody else?" The truth is, if the best way is the most popular way, then I'll do it the popular way. But if it's not, then I'm going to seek out what is best for me and my family and do that instead!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Distressing Project- Learning Center

We moved into this new house in July and ever since I have been patiently awaiting a few perfect pieces of furniture, rugs, decor, etc. to add. I have not been successful, mostly because I don't have much money to spend and am depending on yard sale finds to scratch my decorative itch. One particular need was pressing, however. I needed some kind of bookshelf and child's table arrangement to create a sort of "learning center" for Grace Louise. I have all these craft and learning supplies for her and they are stored inconveniently all over the house, which results in not using them often enough.

I saw potential in this desk/hutch at Papa Hurst's house while doing some family cleaning-out a couple weeks ago. I absolutely love turquoise (and burnt orange) distressed furniture and thought I might give it a go. I'm happy with the results and have already started organizing and using this new really useful piece of furniture. Plenty of high spaces to store "mommy only" supplies and a few drawers that Grace Louise can access herself.

I almost forgot a BEFORE picture... this is the desk or bottom half of the hutch.

And the (almost) finished product! I still need to get some matching storage baskets or rustic tin bins for the shelves. It is in my living room, so I'd like to conceal the preschool contents best I can.

Our first craft at the "Learning Center". When she gets older, the desk part of the hutch might be better suited for working/crafting, but for now we're repurposing this end table, which is the perfect height and size for a kid's table. I think I might paint/distress it to match the hutch... next project.

Pretty pink and orange tortoise! We saw six gopher tortoises on our bike ride one morning last week, so naturally we talked and crafted tortoises and burrows for a few days. Fun stuff!

Monday, March 5, 2012


Grace Louise has been sick this past week, feverish and clingy at some point each day. Saturday Jimmy and I were outside working on the new chicken tractor and she wanted to be close to mama, bless her little heart, so I snuggled her in my newly dyed moby wrap. It's supposed to hold infants/toddlers up to 35 pounds, but I stopped wearing her regularly just before she turned a year. Too heavy!

Yesterday afternoon she slid her baby down through a pouch in her dress, creating her own baby carrier. What a good little mama! (Let's just hope she doesn't try to "wear" her new baby brother/sister!)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Belly Shots

This post marks the disappearance of my abdominal muscles and their oblique friends. The baby bump has officially arrived!!! I've just reached the point where you can pretty much tell I'm pregnant no matter what I'm wearing. I added two pair of jeans to the storage bin today, making more space for the beloved maternity wardrobe.

No doubt, the growing belly is an awesome part of pregnancy (well, awesome until you're big as a house), however this time I found myself less excited about losing my pre-pregnancy body. But baby must grow, and so must I :-)

New Baby Hurst is moving up a storm, becoming a regular kicker at 17 weeks, but I'm certain I felt his/her sweet movements a few other times as early as 15 weeks. As a matter of fact, he/she is jumping up and down on my bladder right now!

9 Weeks

14 Weeks

16 Weeks

18 Weeks

Most people say you show faster with your second and subsequent babies, but I really don't think I did. It's hard to tell with pictures. Depending on what/when you've eaten, what you're wearing, your posture, etc. you may look bigger or smaller than actuality. And as you can see from all my belly shots, I'm not very consistent in creating a frame of reference! I intended to take belly shots on Wednesdays before my yoga class, so that I was always wearing similar attire, but only achieved that twice so far!

Belly shots with Grace Louise