Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Randomness

It's shaping up to be a full and fun Friday today.  I'm so excited to have Ella home from school, and I get to go to Birmingham this afternoon for a photoshoot with my brother and sister-in-law and will hopefully see my mom, too.  Joy all around.  :)

I got my car back exactly one week after it was stranded in Birmingham.  Hopefully I won't be stranded anywhere tonight...It's a good thing I charged my cell phone last night.

Our new harddrive for our computer also came in on Tuesday, and we're hoping to get it installed tonight.  The absence of our big computer explains the absence of England pictures this week.  

We got our Federal tax return in yesterday.  Yay!  Good for us since all of our electronics have been breaking lately...

This is James' favorite YouTube video.  He watches it daily.

I love these words:

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. (Psalm 37:4-6)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

All About James

I've been realizing afresh how quickly time goes by and how all those little moments I enjoy and treasure with my kids, that I thank God for and mark in my mind, eventually are forgotten if I don't write them down.  Every little stage is precious and so fleeting.  

When I look back over my own life I see all the seasons that are over:  childhood, high school, college, early marriage, first-born child, etc.  Now I have a school-age child, and I've entered a new season that will pass so quickly, too.  

With that being said, I was feeling the need to record the accomplishments and growth of my kids like I did during the first year of James' life.  

Smiling up at his daddy

James has been so much fun lately.  I love this stage that brings the blossoming of language.   It's the stage where for a while I do whatever they ask and give them whatever they want because they're communicating, and it's so new and amazing.  Ella used to get a lot of things at Wal-Mart during this stage until I realized I was the mom and could/should sometimes say, "No."  

James has always been a talker (just like his sister was), and I understand more and more of it.  He also repeats whatever we say quite frequently.  Yesterday something happened to him, and I said, "Bless your heart," which made him start saying over and over, "Bess yo haaarrt."  He laughs and runs and plays and loves to be with his sister.  He wants to do whatever she's doing, which brings its own set of problems, but they have a lot of fun together nonetheless.  

James especially loves puzzles right now, and he's really good at putting them together.  He recognizes the numbers 1-10, he recognizes all of the letters (most of the time), and says his name quite well.  After Nickelodeon premiered the new show Mike the Knight, he frequently runs through the house, stops and puts his hands on his hips, and says with authority, "I'm a knight!"  

When you tell him you love him, he replies, "I-lu-you, too."  He loves to go outside, but this time of year it still gives him a snotty nose.  Don't tell him I told you this, but he's been wearing Ella's high-heel shoes a lot during the day when she's gone.  He loves to read books, and he prefers to have mama put him to bed instead of daddy.  He's imaginative and has a lot of energy.  He's full-speed ahead most of the time.

KJ said, "James!  It's time to go!"
James said, "No!"
I captured his, "no."

I love that boy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

6 Months Today!

This little Easter bunny has to get shots today.  :(

Happy 6 months to Luke!

A Free Shutterfly Book!

It's hard for me to pass up something free.  How could I not create a photo-book valued at $29.99 and only pay for shipping costs?  It's been 7 months since I last used Shutterfly to create a book, and all the changes they've made that let you completely customize your book are really great.  My free-book coupon expired yesterday so I had to hurry and create it in one afternoon/night.  In other circumstances I would have spent more time, was free!

You'll love Shutterfly's award-winning photo books. Try it today.

Monday, March 26, 2012

When Summer Comes

One night last week I was putting Ella to bed when she asked a very important question:  "Is next week Spring Break again?"

Sadly, I had to answer her in the negative.  She then asked, "What month is it?"

"March," I told her.

She looked up at the ceiling, thinking, and mused aloud, "March, April, May...Summer!"

I laughed.  Yes, indeed, dear girl.  We're almost there.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I miss my computer.

Editing pictures on a 22-inch monitor is more fun than editing pictures on a 10-inch monitor.  

I just thought I would mention that.

pretty dogwoods from our Spring outing last week

This post brought to you by...a barking dog.

Our Spring Break week was lovely and relaxing, the slowest week I've had in a long time.  

Combined with the time change, I slept more at night than I have in years, and when KJ had to set the alarm Sunday morning for the early-morning men's prayer breakfast, it was not pleasant.  Monday morning wasn't so pleasant, either.  Deep, restful sleep was nice while it lasted.  

Despite it being sad to send Ella back to school, Monday wasn't a bad day.  It was nice.  Luke came back to our house, and it was obvious he'd grown during our week apart.  KJ and Ella came home with a movie from the RedBox, and I went for a run.  Life sped up a little bit, but things really got hectic on Tuesday.

My very kind and thoughtful husband told me Monday afternoon that he would come home early so I could go get my hair cut and highlighted.  He also said he would stay home with James while Ella and I met my family for dinner to celebrate my brother's birthday.  It was a day busy with an abnormal schedule, but it was filled with good things.  Ella and I had a good drive up the interstate until we stopped at the light at our exit, I reached up to turn off the CD player so I could hear what Ella was saying, and then my car just stopped.  I tried re-cranking to no avail.  But the Lord was so kind.  I only had 5 seconds of panicked, "What do I do now??" before I felt His peace and saw Him immediately provide for every need.

The couple in the car behind me started to drive around us but then saw my flashers come on, and they came back.  The girl got out and asked what was wrong, to which I replied, "I have no idea.  My car just stopped."  She nodded her head at her companion and said, "He knows  cars."  And he did.  He immediately diagnosed the problem (which possibly wasn't too hard when he saw my smoking hot engine).  He "happened" to have some antifreeze with him in his car, so he added some of that, and another kind lady who was at the light a few minutes later provided bottled water from the trunk of her car for us to poor into my sad, empty car.  It really was amazing seeing God's immediate care.  I would have been clueless.  I think I should attend a workshop on basic car repairs.  That would be helpful.  Do they have those?

Anyway, this kind and helpful couple got my car running again and made sure I made it safely to my destination, and my brother and his wife came to my rescue about an hour later.  I had to leave my car behind, and KJ and a friend are borrowing a flat-bed trailer from a church member this afternoon and going to bring my car back home to be fixed.  I don't know what we would do without our church family...or the kindness of strangers.

So KJ's day was made hectic yesterday trying to work out a way to retrieve our well as save our computer.  When I made it home late Tuesday night, I thought KJ and I would relax away the cares of the day.  We did do that, but we also received a message from our computer that "Harddrive failure was imminent."  This was very disconcerting, but I'm so grateful for the message.  I was able to back-up all of our pictures and video (I think), and thanks to yet another member of our church family, we're hoping we'll be able to restore everything, because it did indeed die yesterday afternoon.  Whew.  

It's been a bit mentally exhausting trying to take care of these things while simultaneously teaching two Bible studies (KJ) and taking care of 3 kids, but we've been good.  A lot of things have been breaking recently, but it's just stuff.  It breaks.  All in all, things are pretty good around  here.  

My neighbor's new dog did wake me up early this morning with a round of barking, though...

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Boy

I snapped this picture of James when we went to the park last Thursday afternoon.  For some reason I really I liked it.  It was the colors, I think.  He's scanning the horizon for cars.

Monday's Memories: The Church at Steventon

Postcard, right?

I laughed at myself for how excited I sounded on my video Friday when we first pulled up to the church.  It really was strange/exciting to be in places like this.  

KJ surmised that these parishes are just so small now that they alternate meeting in different church buildings.  

KJ wanted to remember how big that keyhole was.
We could not figure out how to open the door and assumed it was locked.

Just think how many times Jane Austen stood in this exact spot!

a back view

We wandered around the graveyard (filled with that wonderful, lush green grass).  Behind the yard there was another green field where a pony grazed.

I had read that several members of the Austen family were buried here, but the stones were so old and hard to read.  I was afraid we wouldn't be able to find them.

But then, a man showed up, who was a member of the church, I suppose, and he showed us how to operate the door that wasn't locked after all.  He also directed us to Jane's brother James' grave.  We were so thankful for his providential appearance and that we were able to explore the quiet of the church.  Here's a sneak preview:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday's Flashback: On the Road to Steventon

While we were driving the roads of England, we were very fortunate to have a GPS.  I don't recommend driving without one there.  It was so helpful.  We probably took different routes than we would have just using a map, and on this day we took many very small winding roads through the countryside and small villages.  

"Watch out for wild stag!"

I took a few pictures of road signs as we drove through the forest.  Their signs made me think of the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when the kings and queens are chasing the stag.  

To us it seemed like the roads we were driving were the same roads that had been used for hundreds of years.  No one bothered to expand them.  When you meet another car you simply pull over (except there's really no place to pull over, either, as the roads are nearly always hemmed in by hedges) and let the other car pass.  It's really a little nerve-wracking when you're driving around curves but fun nonetheless.  Below is one of KJ's favorite signs.

"Watch out!  The road's getting narrower!"

We put our trust completely in the GPS, so we were always glad to see signs indicating we were on the right track.

I took a couple of video clips of our drive.  You can see what a beautiful day it was, and when the second clip starts right before we drive up to the church, you are seeing a drive that Jane Austen would have been very familiar with.  I think the house she grew up in was right down the lane from the church.  

While we were there a man came up to the church to check on things and told us that until very, very recently, you could still see the water pump the Austens used.  That was all that remained of their Steventon home.  But not long ago someone stole it.  I thought it was really sad that it sat undisturbed for 200 years only to be stolen by some tourist, I suppose.  

Enjoy your glimpse into our drive.  I apologize in advance for bad narration and video skills, but...these are our memories!

Driving to Steventon from KJ Pugh on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Break: Days 2 + 3

Ella spent a lot of time playing with princess dolls.  It's been so fun to have her home, just like it used to be.  She dances while she watches cartoons.  Girl's got some moves.  She always has.

James has loved having his sister home.  He will be sad come Monday morning.  They play together very sweetly.  They also squeal and whine at each other a lot, because James tries to take whatever Ella's playing with away from her.  

We watched the VeggieTales Jonah movie.  That is one VeggieTales movie where they really captured the crux of the story, Jonah's willingness to accept God's mercy for himself but having a really hard time accepting it for his enemies.  I just think it's portrayed so well when Jonah's all settled back waiting for God to destroy Nineveh, and God makes the vine grow to shade him from the sun, and Jonah says, "Oh, thank you.  Very nice."  Then he completely flips out when the caterpillar eats it.  It gets me every time, and I am convicted by how easily I receive God's compassion and then fail to have the same compassion toward others.

I took close-up pictures of the flowers I posted here a couple of weeks ago.  Ella took pictures of me taking pictures, and James took pictures with KJ's iPhone because he doesn't like to be left out of the fun.

I went to the newly-opened Hobby Lobby by myself!  That was a delightful and relaxing time. I got lots of decorating inspiration and finally found the perfect thing to hang on a nail that's in the brick on my front porch.  I've been looking for two years, and I rounded a corner in the store, and there it was.  It's wrought iron and kind of looks like the sun from Tangled.  I heard the theme music in my head when I saw it.

We took the kids with us to vote in the primary.  We've never voted in a primary before but felt like we should, and it really isn't that far from our house.  James behaved like I expected, hanging over KJ's arm the entire time saying, "I write, I write."

I took the kids around the block with James on the tricycle and Ella on her scooter.  I got a really good bicep workout in when one of the wheels came off Ella's scooter, and she had to walk, which made James decide to walk to, and I carried both tricycle and scooter back to the house.

Ella worked on puzzles.  James also worked on his Thomas the Train puzzle.  I bought it at the Dollar Tree, and it has been the most used dollar I've ever spent.  He loves it and puts it together repeatedly.

Ella and I read James his library books.  I'm always so impressed by Ella's reading.  Have you ever read the Dinosaur books by Jane Yolen?  They are so good, and Monday at the library I found some more books she wrote about bears.  She does an amazing job of capturing young family life.  My favorite lines from Baby Bear's Chairs were:

And great big bears
have so much fun,
they're never told
that playtime's done.

And being bears
both big and great,
at night they also
stay up late.

Not like other bears
I know,
who right at one
to nap must go.

I can remember feeling like it was so unfair that my mother got to stay up late and read books, while I had to go to bed at night.  I know James feels it unfair that he has to take a nap right at one when Ella gets to stay awake.  

KJ visited an allergist and discovered he was allergic to dust mites.  I was sent on a mission to buy a few of the things the doctor recommended.  I bought a cover for his pillow to keep dust mites from coming through it.  I purchased a duster that reaches the tops of our ceiling fans so I can wipe them off once a week.  I bought Endust to wipe the furniture down with weekly and a mask for him to wear when he works in the yard.  The dust mite thing really does make sense, so we're hoping all these little changes will do away with his chronic drainage and congestion.

Speaking of KJ, he is taking the day off today and is now tending to the yard wearing his new mask which slightly frightened James.  We're looking forward to some family time today.

I think it might involve some springtime beauty.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Break: Day 1

We've been looking forward to Spring Break around here for a couple of weeks.  It is Spring Break for everyone, and it feels good to be free of extra responsibilities.  The kids spent the night with KJ's parents Sunday night, giving us a quiet Monday morning, which was nice.  I am extremely glad and thankful that the time change happened this week.  It's been very hard to lose an hour, and I think we would have all been miserable on Monday morning if we'd had to get up early for work and school.

I picked the kids up about mid-morning, and we went to the library and Target.  They were good trips but also quite hectic because of James' age and busy-ness.  They require a lot of discipline and teaching that left me emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted by the time we made it home.  I put him down for a nap and took a nap myself (which is rare for me).  Sweet Ella worked on an art project and caught up on the Nickelodeon she's missed while being at school.  

The afternoon brought a return of good spirits, but there is definitely a lot of sibling discipline that has to go on, mostly caused by James' desire to do every little thing that Ella does.  When Ella asked to put on her new sandals (a Target purchase) and go outside I was happy to send them both to the backyard.

Sandals!  It is officially Spring.

Ella played happily with a ball for approximately 1 minute before she accidentally kicked it over the fence.  No other toy would do after that until she came inside and said, "Can we play in the sprinkler??"  I looked up the temp, and it was only 70, but...I came to the conclusion it would make them happy and give me a few minutes of quiet.  I got 20 minutes to clean up the toys in James' room, and they got 20 minutes of complete childhood happiness with no arguments or whining.  Win win.  Win.

Always my favorite thing about photography:  expressions like that.


We're slipping back into our pre-school routine of going out every other day, I think.  Today's agenda will include housework and relaxed playing, I think.  I hope.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday's Flashback: Saying Good-bye

We spent such a lovely morning at Jane Austen's house, several hours enjoying and taking pictures, but around lunch time we decided it was time to make our adieus.

We had definitely been lost in Austen all morning.

Thankfully, we really didn't have to leave Austen country.
Our next stop was Steventon and the church Jane grew up attending.

We walked out through the gift shop and made our final purchases.  Of course I could have taken it all home with me, but we decided on a Jane Austen paper doll set for Ella, a book of piano music for me, and a bag for my mom.  Farewell, dear house.

Sweet time

Good-bye, sweet tea rooms.
I just noticed they had Jersey ice cream.  Straight from a Jersey cow?
I wish I had gotten some.

We walked back to the car park beside the playground, where the smell of freshly-mown grass and the sound of children playing in the distance made us set off through the field.  At the end of a lane we saw a big group of school-children playing rugby at recess.  I really, really, really wanted to sit down and stay there forever.

These are my feet, not wanting to leave.

This was the first day of our spending time in the countryside, and I discovered that the grass that grows on the other side of the pond is far superior to any other grass I've ever seen.  Maybe it's the sheep, or all that rain?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

An Important Anniversary

One year ago today the UPS man brought me a wonderful gift...and it's hardly been out of my hands since then.  Happy anniversary Canon Rebel T2i!!  I'm looking forward to many more.

The first picture taken with my new camera

I'm a fan of looking back over past days and seasons of my life.  Back in the day when I kept a diary I liked to look back and see what I was doing and feeling and thinking on that same day the previous year.  In fact, I was kind of in a nostalgic mood all day yesterday.

I was reading some of Ella's books to James and remembering reading them to Ella's two-year-old self...I saw the full moon on the way to Wal-Mart and remembered the first full moon I spent with KJ...I saw Keifer Sutherland on the cover of TV Guide and felt nostalgic for the days when 24 came on television...which made me remember when Hillary used to come in after class on Monday nights, and we'd eat dinner and spend an hour with Jack...which then made me remember planning a LOST finale party with Hillary when I was 4 months pregnant with James, and how he's now 2 1/2, and where did the time go?  Yes, it was definitely a nostalgic day.  

So in the spirit of looking back, and celebrating my months with such a faithful companion, here's a picture taken on the 8th of every month since 3.28.2011.  There were only a couple of months I had to use a picture from the 7th or 9th day of the month.  I told you me and Canon have been pretty inseparable this year.  

This picture makes me happy because the grass is thick and green, and I'm only a month away from my backyard looking like that again.  It makes me sad because look at baby James!  Look at those curls, and that belly, and those baby legs.  Also, he's still drooling.

This was Mother's Day, and I stayed home from church with James who was sick.
I think this is a precious picture, and the only thing I would do differently is take a little yellow out of that is hurting my eyes.

Polished fingernails

I took some pictures of David to send to Hillary in Nashville.

I looked up and noticed James' little toes, and my heart melted.  It's a mom thing.

I love this picture.  Look how beautiful the sun's rays are coming through the tree!  I also love Ella's expression.

Granny and one of her great-grandchildren at a cousin's wedding

I absolutely love this picture, too.  I'm so glad we went out that morning...even if he did get a runny nose afterwards from playing in the leaves.

I love the Christmas lights shining through their goblets and how those two love each other.

Precious girls

First of all, how is it possible that it's already been one month since I took this picture?
The weeks go by too quickly.  I'm excited that next week is Spring Break, and I'll have the whole week with those two kids.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Babies + Scrapbooking

Both of my sisters-in-law on the Pugh side are expecting babies this year.  I was browsing through some digital scrapbooking supplies online when I came across a "Vintage Nursery" collection, and in view of the coming bundles of joy, I had to purchase it.  I fell in love with these old alphabet cards.  Aren't they cute?

It also came with a few scrapbooking layouts, which I sampled with my current resident baby-model.

And it's pretty obvious that's cute.

Bring on the 2012 babies!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Few Things We Did this Weekend

We enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather on Friday, though we knew it was bringing storms with it.  I was excited to see that our iris had bulbs that weren't there the day before.  Spring is in the air...literally.  I have a wee bit of gunk I'm dealing with, and poor James has started his yearly bout with a snotty nose.  

I'm not sure what kind of bushes are in our front bed, but they're blooming.

I took Ella out to take a few pictures of her before we sought shelter from the coming storms.  Since she's been in school I don't get the opportunity very often.  She's growing so fast.  She's also really enjoying her camera she got for Christmas.

I loved her smile in this one, so I made it big for you.

Saturday was a sufficiently windy day for Ella and KJ to fly kites.

I believe they sang a song from Mary Poppins at this point.

And I think those were the highlights of our weekend.