Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Win for All

Yes, it was in deed a win for everyone involved. Every year, Scott County High School's FFA program sponsors a canned food drive, with all food items being donated to our local Amen House. This is a great program that has been going on for years.

My husband does not like to lose. As he told me last night, "I don't do anything small. Either go big, or go home." And he definitely went big. His classes alone brought in over 6,000 cans/food items!! There is a contest every year for the first hour classes, and just his first hour class alone brought in about 4,000 of those! The kids were great. They went door to door in several different neighborhoods "trick-or-treating" for cans. They were out in the dark and some nights in the rain. They contacted stores to ask for donations and really went above and beyond to pull off the win. And Nick was there with them. Every night they went out, with the exception of one I think, he was right there with them. Going door to door asking for cans. My guess is the people just assumed he was a student also, seeing as he looks about 16...on a good day :)

There were also people who donated money for the cause, $354 to be exact. So Monday night we went to Sam's Club to purchase more food items with the donated money. I think he said we ended up with something close to 750 food items that night.

I'm hoping maybe someone ended up taking a photo of ALL the cans...if I find that I will definitely post it. I think the entire school ended up donating right around 14,000 food items to the Amen House yesterday!

So yes, Nick won. His classes were able to work the hardest and donate the largest amount. The students won. They came together for a common cause and worked their tails off to achieve their goal. But the greatest winner in the whole thing is the Amen House and our community. Thanks to the hard work of all those involved, their shelves are now well stocked and ready to help those in need in our town. A big thank you to all those involved!!! And I am beyond words proud of my husband, for doing exactly what he set out to do and getting so many students involved!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey Time - Gobble 'til ya Wobble!

While Christmas is, and will always be, my favorite Holiday, Thanksgiving is a close second. I love the fact that it's a chance to get together with my family with no gifts involved. It's just about the people you're with and the good food on the table. And in my family, we like our food!

To help ease the schedules (and stomachs) of family members that needed to travel to several different places during this Holiday, a few years back we started doing our Thanksgiving the Sunday before. So last night my family came to my house and we all sat around the table and enjoyed a wonderful meal together. This year was especially special for me because it was the first time that my entire family has been able to sit at one table together. We've never had a big enough table/house to do this before. And even though my house is no bigger than it was last year, I put my thinkin' cap on and came up with a great idea. I borrowed a folding table and chairs from my friend, and because my kitchen/dining area is connected and very open, we were able to line my table and the folding table up end to end and squeeze everyone in. It was somewhat of a tight fit, but I didn't care. It was just so nice to look down the table and be able to see everyone. Here are some pictures that my step dad took while we were scarfing down our food eating.

And yes, the window was open. After baking two pies, one cake and cooking all day...I was burning up. I'm not sure if anyone was cold or not, but I wasn't a gracious enough host to ask :)

The biggest reason for me to give thanks!

My nephew Quentin.

My cousins Jacob and Anna.

My boppy, who I'm pretty sure is the cutest old man ever!

I'm not sure what's going on here...looks like I'm giving someone the evil eye...

The Smallwood family

I am thankful for each and every one of my family members. Each one brings something different to our family and lives. No matter how dysfunctional unique we may be, I wouldn't change a thing!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Feeling Lighter

Yes, my friends, I am feeling lighter this morning. Why, you ask? It's because I have finally finished shedding some dead weight that's been bringing us down. And I'm not talking about my weight...I'm talking about credit card debt! I made our very last credit card payment yesterday and I'm so excited I could nearly burst!!

I had been debating whether or not I would share this personal triumph or not, but after much consideration, I thought that on the off chance someone were to stumble onto to this little blog post, that might be in the same situation we were, maybe it would offer them some hope.

Nick I entered into marriage 3 years ago, each armed with our own debts. We both had (and still have) student loans and more credit card debt than any just out of college students should ever have. Through our first couple years of married life we continued to rack up debt. Granted, it was at a slower pace than before, but we were still using the credit cards. And by this point his car had died and we had the additional responsibility of a car payment that we had never had to deal with before. We decided to buy a house, and thanks to mortgage companies that were handing out loans willy-nilly back in 2007, we took on our biggest debt yet. Truth is, there is no way we should have been approved for a loan back then. They should have told us our debt to income ratio was too high, but they didn't.

What did all this mean for us? It meant that because of the car and house payment, there was very little left over at the end of the month to pay down credit card debt. Oh, and did I mention that one month after signing the contract to build our house we found out that we were pregnant? Yeah, that meant more money to be spent. It could have been a recipe for disaster. If we hadn't realized that we were slowly digging ourselves into a hole and hadn't made some changes, we would have been paying off credit card debt for the next twenty years!

But we decided to take charge. We got serious about our monthly budget. We made cuts everywhere we could. We ate out less, we shopped less, we skipped vacations, we spent less at Christmas...we were pouring every extra penny into the credit cards. And you know what? It paid off!!!

When we got serious about paying the cards off at the beginning of this year we had a little over $10,000 in credit card debt. Sickening, huh? Our goal was to have it all paid off by June of 2010, but we smashed our goal and are now credit card debt free!!!!! It sucked. It sucked big time. There were times when I would be so jealous of people that could just out and buy a new outfit whenever they wanted one, or new shoes, or purse or (fill in the blank). But now, I have no regrets. I'm so glad we did what we did. It feels so good!!!

Now we're able to move on and start saving some major bucks towards buying land, which is something we both really want for our family. A little more space for us and for Bailey and the next Maxwell kid to run around on. A nice place to build our next house.

So, yes, today I feel a little lighter. Actually, I feel a lot lighter. And tonight when I go out with my friends for an early birthday celebration, I will be lifting a toast to this lighter me!


Thursday, November 19, 2009


Driving home from dinner the other evening, Nick and I turned down the radio and listened to the conversation that Bailey was having...with herself.

What's you fav-rite cuder (color)? You fav-rite cuder blue.
What's my fav-rite cuder? My fav-rite cuder red.
My no fav-rite cuder purple, my fav-rite cuder red.
What's mommy fav-rite cuder? Mommy's fav-rite cuder red, too!
What's daddy fav-rite cuder? Daddy's fav-rite cuder blue.

When we turned around to look at her we saw she was staring out the window.

Who are you talking to big girl? Nick asked.

I talkin' to da moon, daddy.

Seriously? It doesn't get any sweeter than that!! Guess she wasn't having a conversation with herself after all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Yeah, yeah, I know I'm a little late. Here we are almost a week before Thanksgiving and I'm just now posting about Halloween. What kind I say, I've been a little lazy busy.

I had a hard time deciding what Bailey was going to be for Halloween this year. I know I don't have many years left (if any) of having the sole decision for her costume, so I took my quest seriously and poured much thought and debate into her costume. I finally decided on the cutest bumble bee costume I had ever seen! I found it online and fell in love with it immediately. Despite the fact that it was about double what I had intended to pay, I went ahead and ordered it anyways. While she was still the cutest bumble bee I have ever seen, I was a little more than disappointed with the costume itself. The leotard was small and it was all I could do to keep her boo-bees (haha, I couldn't resist!) covered up and the wings were so large that I could wear them!! Oh well, she still loves wearing the tu-tu and her antennas, or bugs as she calls them, around the house.

Enjoying a yummy sucker!

And to compare the difference from my little pumpkin last year to my big bumble bee this year...

(Notice a little Photoshop magic??)

Bailey was also invited to her first Halloween party!! We went over on the night of the 30th to Ashley's house. Bailey had such a good time. There were all kinds of little ones there and Ashley had pizza, cupcakes and Bailey's favorite...a water table! Seriously, she could have stayed there all night. She was soaked by the time we left. And when we left Ashely had the cutest goody bags plus Bailey got a book!

That night Nick and I went to an adult Halloween party and had a great time. We had good food, enjoyed the company of good friends and relaxed with some adult beverages...I won't recount the entire evening, but I will share a few photos...they pretty much sum up the night!

Nick went as Ron Burgundy.

Not really sure what to say about these two photos...except I had a really good time!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A New Obsession

Yes, I have a new obsession in my life, and she goes by the name of Photoshop!

I technically have been using Photoshop for a few years now, but only with some very basic options such as cropping and adjusting the light. Then I ran across this website, and am totally, hopelessly in love (I mean, as much as you can be in love with a website). How had I never seen this before? I love it all, the recipes, the humorous posts and don't even get me started about her series From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels! 

And then there's the photography section. A section I would normally never go to, but for some reason my mouse was drawn to it, and it didn't take long before I was hooked.

While I am still very much a virgin to the world of Photoshop, I have done a few photos that I've been very pleased with. Because I'm such a sharing person (what, don't laugh...and yes, Nick, that was directed towards you!), here are some before and afters. And I can't take credit for the pictures, Brittany was of course the photographer! Thanks again for taking time out to go take some great shots of Bailey!!

(And if you've paid attention to my banner, you've seen the "after" pictures before, but now you can see how different they look!)

I'm still not totally in love with this one. I was playing around with making the background blurry and having her stand out. But it turned out ok.

But the pièce de résistance so far is the picture below, I just can't get enough of the after picture!!

Okay, I think I'm going through withdrawals, need to see what else I can learn about Photoshop!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mommy Brain

My last post dealt with motherhood. As Danielle pointed out in a comment, there is also Mommy Brain, which no one warns you about. Well, I had a major case of Mommy Brain last night!

When I picked Bailey up she was in the middle of a melt down, which usually means it's going to be a long night. She was crying because she wanted to see Q, my nephew. I finally got her calmed down in the car looking at pumpkins and the cows we see driving down the by-pass.

Then we got home (Nick was in class last night) and things started out ok. We read a couple of books, played with the kitchen and then came melt down #2. She wanted to take a bath. But we couldn't take a bath because I had to make dinner. There was a lot of crying and "But I want to take a baf"s and then I finally managed to get her settled down again.

But she wasn't done. Next came the cookie fiasco. My daughter decided she wanted cookies for dinner. Being the mean mom I am, I said no. This resulted in a good ten minute, sobbing, snot flying, feet stomping fit. I ignored it and started making dinner. Once she realized I wasn't giving in the tears dried up. But she had more for me! When it was time to actually eat she threw another fit because she didn't want to eat dinner.

After we finally ate, the rest of the night went a little smoother. By the time 8:00 rolled around I was practically skipping to her room to lay her down for bed. We brushed our teeth read a book and as I closed the door behind me I couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief. I headed toward the kitchen to finish cleaning up and I heard this through the monitor, "I pee in my pull up". I stopped, frozen in my tracks in the middle of the kitchen. Holy crap. I ran to her room and flipped on the light. "Mommy, I pee in my pull up, you gonna change me now?" I had forgotten to change her from her panties into her pull up!!!! There she was soaked in pee and I felt like the worst mother ever. I got her up and cleaned her off and changed her jammies and kept apologizing to her. "I'm so sorry baby, mommy forgot." And she simply replied, "It's ok mommy."

Now she needed clean sheets. The problem, we never bought another set of sheets for her bed! "We don't need another set. I always have them dried and back on her bed the same day I take them off."  is what I always told myself. Well that wasn't going to work this time. Upon looking through closets and drawers, on shelves and anywhere else I could think of, I discovered that we don't have any extra sheets in our house. Really? How is that even possible!! So I had to take a fleece throw blanket and tuck it around her mattress. And that's how she slept last night. Well, at least for a while, the blanket was on the floor this morning and she was sleeping on the bare mattress.

What a night!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mommy Ponderings

Things no one tell you about motherhood:

1.  The countless number of times you will doubt yourself and your decisions.

2. Your body will never be the same. Okay, I realize this isn't the case for all women, I like to refer to such women as freaks. Kidding. Kind of.

3. The number of break downs you will have over the stress of mothering, working, cooking, cleaning, mothering, wifing (not really a word, I know), consoling, mothering...

4. How messy it is. Literally. Spit up, poop, some point your flesh will come in contact with all of these. On a really good day it could be all three at once!

5. How many times you will want to change your name from "mommy" to something else completely and not tell anyone what it is!

The things you can never fully understand until you are a mother:

1. What it's like to have a pure, unfaltering, no strings attached, complete and undying love for another human being.

2. How you can be over the mountains excited and heartbroken all at the same time as you see your child reaching new milestones and realizing how fast time is rushing by.

3. The excitement and joy you will feel as you experience the world through your child's eyes.

4. The sigh of contentment that comes from simply watching your child sleep.

5. The hope for a better tomorrow when you think of all the good your child can accomplish.

6. How your relationship with your husband will never be the same. You go from two people who love each other to a family. Just when you think you have a reached a point where you couldn't love your spouse more, all it takes is seeing him holding your baby with that look on his face, and it will never be the same.

7. Your mother was right...about a lot of things.

Just wanted to share the thoughts that I couldn't seem to shake from my mind this morning.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Elmo Live!

This is WAY over due...but better late than never I suppose.

I managed to get tickets on the 2nd row for Elmo Live! We went along with the Nichols and their little girl Emily. I was pretty sure Bailey was going to love it, but I had no idea just how much she would enjoy herself. Her little eyes just lit up when everyone first came out on stage. She was mesmerized for the entire hour the show went on...which is a huge feat for a fidgety two year old! Every time Elmo would leave the stage she would get very concerned about where he had went. The characters would leave the stage and dance around the floor seating, and Bailey thought this was the coolest thing! In fact, when they weren't down on the floor she was screaming "I want them to come down the steps right there!" and pointing to the stairs. Here's some shots of the show.

She was so tired after all the excitement that on the way home she said, "Mommy, I so tired, I wanna go nite-nite." I'm so glad we were able to take her to the show, the amazement in her eyes was priceless!!