Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Total Devastation

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook then you probably know that my family lost some land in wildfires that are raging rapidly in Texas.  There is a resort community in this area called The Cliffs.  My mom and dad own land here, as well as timeshare in the condos. 

Here is a video from one of our local news channels, WFAAS Channel 8.  This was the footage taken lst night from the wildfires.  You will see that they talk about some apratments that were engulfed in the flames, well these are actually the condos we stay in.  You will see the firetruck backing into a cul-de-sac - well mom and dad's land is the left corner of the cul-de-sac.  So this video shows us our worst fear - the land that my parents were set to build their retirement home on, and the condos where we have learned to love as a 2nd home are gone. 

If you read this post from a few weeks ago then you know that we were just here.  It was a mini-vacation to a place that we love to go.  The pictures and video of Emmalee laughing were taken inside the very condo that is now ash.  The picture of Emmalee and my mom was taken right in front of their land - land that is now charred and burned. 

But today we are also thankful - we are thankful that we didn't lose a home or lose precious possessions like many others lost yesterday.  But we are also spending the day in prayer for those that have lose everything and those that do live in the community.  We pray that the fires are put out quickly and that the homes currenlty threatened are saved.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

New Weeknight Favs

This past week we tried some great new Cooking Light recipes. 

The first one we tried was the Buffalo Chicken Thighs.  The magazine has the recipe for blue cheese mashed potatoes as a side, but I just made regular ole' smashed potatoes. 

This was a really great and easy way to make chicken.  It has great flavor, but wasn't too hot.  Of course if you like it super spicy you can just add more hot sauce.  For us, the timing in the over that the recipe called for wasn't long enough.  I had to cook our chicken about 5 minutes longer - so just cut into your chicken before serving to make sure its completely cooked.
You can find the complete recipe here. 

The second recipe was incredibly delicious - Brant and I both couldn't stop eating it.  It was Barbeque Chicken Pizza.  The original recipe can be found here, but I changed ours up a bit. 

This pizza had a great crispy crust, and delicious savory, yet sweet taste.  Brant and I both agreed that we would definitely make this again! Here is how I cooked the pizza.

1 Tube of pizza dough crust.  Cook as directed on the package.

1/2 lb. chicken breast - you can use more, but I just used 2 breasts since there is just 2 of us.  Dice the chicken into small pieces, then pan sear it with a little olive oil.  Season with a small bit of salt and pepper.  Once it is completely cooked, toss it in just a bit of BBQ sauce.

Once the pizza crust is ready, smear the dough with BBQ sauce.  Scatter the chicken on the crust.

Slice on yellow bell pepper, 1 orange pepper and thinly slice red onion (I just used 1/2 of a large one).  Put the pepper and onion on the pizza.  Top with shredded mozerella and sharp cheddar.  Brant and I are not huge fans of blue cheese, so I used mozerella and some sharp cheddar for that good"cheesey" flavor. 

Bake at 500 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.

I cannot tell you how wonderful this pizza was.  I insist that you try it, but make it your own.  Tell me how you made it and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


So, did you hear about the mom who was found guilty of child abuse for making her son drink hot sauce?   Y'all knew I was going to bring this up, right?  The legal side of me and the mom side of me are mixed into one, so how could I resist talking about this? 
If you haven't heard the story, then you must not watch the news!  This Alaska mother of 6 was found guilty of one count of child abuse for making her son drink hot sauce, a discipline tactic she admitted to when she appeared on the Dr. Phil show.  Apparently this mother made her son (who was adopted at the age of 5) take cold shower, drink hot sauce, and even do jumping-jacks until he was exhausted.  I am incredibly intrigued by this story, so I just thought I would share a few of my thoughts.

First of all, please note that I am not condoning this mother's discipline methods.  My questions simply lie within the rights of a parent.  In my opinion there is a line between discipline and abuse, and I'm not sure the mother crossed it.  This mother had gone on the Dr. Phil show in order to get help in how to make her son obey.   She wanted HELP!  She realized that the methods she was using were not getting the desired result - even when she used hot sauce.  Granted, I was not in the court room and did not hear all of the prosecution's testimony; however,  I know that raising children can be hard.   

I guess my ultimate question (and fear) lies in this - at what point does the government have the right to step in and dictate how parents discipline their children?  In the past I remember hearing so many stories about parents who spanked their child in public and then saw CPS on their doorstep.  These are our children, and don't we as parents, have the right to say how WE discipline them?  My parents spanked me, washed my mouth out with soap, made me sit in time out, grounded me - you name it - but not once did they even come close to "abusing" me.  So what is the line - at what point does the government get to say "Hey, you can't do that?" 

Anyways, I know I'm rambling but these are just my thoughts.  This mother is due to be sentenced soon and faces up to one year of jail.  I think it will be very interesting to see what her punishment is.  What are your thoughts on discipline?  Did this mom go too far?

Want to know more about this, or watch the Dr. Phil video?  Click here

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Day of Firsts

Today was Emmalee's 4 month checkup. Dr. Hull, our pediatrician, said she has hit every milestone she is supposed to, so she is right on track with her development.

Dr. Hull asked me if we had an excersaucer and I said yes, but we hadn't put Em in it yet. She said we should try letting her sit in it because she thought the colors and toys would really stimulate and capture her attention. So as soon as we got home, this momma went to work setting up the Baby Einstein Activity Jumper...and this little girl loved it!

At first she just studied all the "stuff."

But as soon as she realized all of these toys were her "friends," she was thrilled! She just laughed and played.

She started "talking" to all of her new friends. It was so stinkin' cute!

Dr. Hull also said we could start eating cereal. The past week or so, I think Em has definitely figured out what "food" is. Every time Brant and I sit down to eat she just stares at our food. Last night Brant went to got us a banana fudge sundae. As soon as he handed it to me, Em's eyes got huge and she started grabbing for it. How in the world does my 4 month old know how delicious a sundae is? Oh well, I was just thrilled we got the ok to begin solids.

Here goes nothing!

Getting ready for our first bite!

One full and happy girl!

It seems like Emmalee is doing something new every day. I am really loving this age and watching her develop more and more.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

3 Month Photoshoot

Last month Sister did 3 month photos of Emmalee Caroline. Amanda did such an amazing job, as always. Go take a look here and see for yourself!

Weekend at PK

Well Brant, Emmalee and I took a little trip to Possum Kingdom Lake this weekend. My mom and dad have land in The Cliffs, but until they actually build the lake house, they get to go stay in the condos for a full week every year. They are gracious enough to invite us out each time they go. PK is far enough away to feel like you're out of town, but close enough that it takes less than 2 hours to get there.

We were going to spend most of the day on the lake, but it started raining about 2 am on Saturday and didn't stop until mid-morning. But considering we desperately needed the rain, we were just fine with it! So, we ate some breakfast and let Emmalee play. She was having fun with tummy time.

After about 10 minutes, she was finished!

But she just wanted to picked up!

Once the clouds rolled out, Granda and I decided to take Em on a walk. We had lots of fun and saw some deer and all kinds of little animals.

But the best sight of all was toward the end of our walk when we saw this 8-point just sitting under some brush. How beautiful is he?

While Granda, EmC and I were on our nature walk, Daddy and Grandad played golf. This is definitely one of their favorite courses to play. It is absolutely beautiful.

We did get on the lake for an hour or so late in the afternoon. After dinner, Brant, Em and I headed home so that we could be at church Sunday morning. We have an absolute blast. This is definitely one of our favorite "close" vacation places.

But while we were there, Granda got Emmalee laughing. She has laughed for me and Brant before, but she was cracking us up at PK. Here's a peek at Em!

I hope your weekend was a fabulous as ours!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Look Who is 4 Month Old!


That's right, my sweet little baby is getting so big and growing up so fast.

I don't really call you my newborn any more because you are growing everyday. You are constantly discovering new things and love to explore everything around you. I cannot believe that four month has already gone by - it seems like just yesterday I was waiting for you to make your appearance.

You are definitely a growing girl. At your 4 month checkup you weighed 13 lbs. and 9 oz (which is the 50 percentile) and you are 26" long (95%). You are still in size 1 diapers and you wear a mixture of 0-3 and 3-6 month clothes, but all of your pj's are 3-6 because you are way too long for the 0-3 size.

You now have momma's milk and formula, and typically eat 5-6 oz. every 4 hours. You have started waking up again in the middle of the night, but its usually just once because you're hungry. As soon as I feed you, you're back to sleep. Momma and Daddy wake you up around 7 in the morning and you go to bed around 9:00. You are a very easy baby to put to sleep because you, usually, put yourself to sleep. At your checkup, Dr. Hull said that you get to start eating cereal. You have had it 3 times now and you love it! You are learning how to eat with a spoon very quickly.

You still love your bath, but you really love to talk and play. You love to watch the TV and Baby Einstein because you think the characters are talking to you. You LOVE to be talked to and to listed to people talk - I'm not quite sure where you got that from. You seem to no longer be content to just lay on the floor, now you want to arch your back and scoot around. You are grabbing at objects and toys, and of course they go straight to your mouth.

A few firsts this month:

- You started taking formula
- You rolled over from your back to your tummy, all by yourself!
- You started sitting in your Bumbo chair.
- You had your 1st sleepover with Granda and Grandad
- You started laughing out loud

You are still one of the sweetest, most content babies I have ever met. Momma and Daddy's love for you continues to grow each and every day. We love coming home to your sweet smiling face and big blue eyes. You are, and will forever be, the light of our lives!

I love you Emmalee Caroline,

Monday, August 15, 2011

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dear Perfect Person...

...are you out there?

I know that I have been completely absent from blogging lately, but life is pretty stressful right now. I told you a few weeks ago that I have just started a new job, and that is going wonderfully. I still enjoy what I do and the hours are so much better. I love getting to spend my evenings with Emmalee. She seems to be growing up so fast. But as soon as she goes to bed, Brant and I are at the computer trying to find our perfect person.

Ms. Regina is Emmalee's caregiver. She is so incredibly wonderful and has in-home care for children. Two of our other dear friends have their children in Ms. Regina's care too. Regina has loved Emmalee like her own for the past 2 months and I have never once had to worry about my daughter's care when she is with Regina. But sadly, Ms. Regina is going back to work in the corporate world. At first, I wanted to be angry, but I couldn't be. She wasn't looking to go back to work - the Lord simply brought her an incredible opportunity that would enable her to provide financially for her family. I understand that - there is a reason I sit in an office all day long - its not because I want to. Its because, as a mother, we do what we have to in order to provide.

So I have never once felt any anger, just sadness...and stress! when I was pregnant, finding Regina was easy because she had an opening, we have amazing recommendations from two families and we immediately connected with her during our interview. But finding another Regina has proven almost impossible. There always seems to be something that I don't like - whether its their personality, their home, the number of kids they are already keeping, or their care schedule...its always something. So then we thought about the idea of a nanny-share with other friends, but then you have to deal with the government and taxes...and that just seems like a headache.

So right now, we have a friend keeping Em until we find something permanent. Mine and Brant's prayer has been that the Lord bring the perfect person for our, and mostly Emmalee's needs. As a mom, I won't leave my child with just anyone.

So Ms. Regina, you will be deply missed, but know that we wish you the absolute BEST for the future!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rosie the Riveter

This is what I feel like these days - Rosei the Riveter - trying to balance my life as a wife, mother but work a full-time job as well.

After Emmalee was born and I went back to work, I, like I know so many other moms, felt guilty about leaving her. It was an extremely emotional time for me - this was my sweet baby girl and I was leaving her. But I had full confidence in the private sitter Brant and I chose, and day-by-day the guilt faded away.

However, I hated the fact that I worked almost an hour away from home. My days started at 6 when I got out of bed, made my cup of joe, then got myself ready. At 7, I work Emmalee up, dressed her, fed her, spent a little one-on-one time with her, then we left the house by 8. Dropped her off with Ms. Regina at 8:20, then headed to the office. Worked from 9-6, then get home to my husband and baby around 7. Walk in the door, feed a starving Emmalee, fix dinner, eat around 8, clean the kitchen, put Em to bed, go to bed and get ready to do it all over again. After a few weeks, I was okay to be working, but I hated that I lost so much time during the day with Emmalee.

So I started looking at what else was out there, and was incredibly fortunate to receive a job offer just a few short weeks into my search. I got the privilege of going to work for a large, reputable company who values family. I am only about 20 minutes from home now, but I get to set my own hours. Brant and I both leave the house around 7:30 and both get home around 5:30. I finally get to relax in the evenings and play with Emmalee - I usually get a good 3 hours with her before she goes to bed.

I won't lie, I still have some guilt about working, but its what my family needs. At this moment, I can just be thankful that the Lord answered our prayers and provided something 1) with a pay raise, 2) a family-friendly job (which my law firm was NOT), 3) much closer to home, and 4) with better hours. Brant and I feel blessed that I was given this opportunity.

So, if you want to know why I have been on blog hiatus, its because I have been busy with a new job, enjoying fixed dinner for my family (that now eats around 6), and playing with the sweetest baby girl I know! Life, for the Williams, is good!