Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall Break

We were on fall break last week, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every bit of it. Several people I know traveled to either the beach or the mountains, and I have to admit I was a wee bit jealous of them at the beginning of the week. Mr. P (I still call him that even though the blog has changed, I'll come up with a new nickname sometime.) is on a big project right now so he could only take Monday off of work. But I ended up enjoying the down time, and I was glad that we stayed at home. We managed to stay pretty busy, so here's a recap of our week. I've tried to do some collage pics to keep this from being a total photo unload. 

We started our fall break off by spending last weekend at Jellystone Mammoth Cave. I've blogged about this park before, but I'll say it again-this is an awesome family park. If you live anywhere near this area, I highly recommend it. They have themed weekends each week from March until the end of October, and we usually go 3-4 times a year. This past weekend was the start of their Fall Festival weekends, which run until the end of the month. They had hayrides, visiting the pumpkin patch, painting your pumpkin, a costume contest, trick or treating (at over 300 campsites/cabins!), and karaoke. In addition, they have putt putt golf, basketball, a jumping pillow, two playgrounds, and a huge field to play football and other games in. They also have two pools and some water slides, but it was too cold for them this past weekend. We usually only camp with one other family, but every year for the past 4 years our Fall Festival weekend group has grown. This year, we had 6 families and 19 kids, including Mr. P's sister and her family. So much fun! Saturday was cold and rainy, but we managed to do most of the activities anyway. Sunday was a beautiful day, so we spent as much time as we could at the playground, playing basketball, riding bikes, and more. I was glad the weather cleared off after Saturday because we stayed an extra night at Jellystone and came home on Monday.

Tuesday was my birthday, and even though Mr. P had to work he made sure that I would have a special day. He had his mother to watch the girls for part of the day, and arranged for a spa day for me. Such a sweet guy! So I got some much-needed "me time" during the day, then we grilled steaks and enjoyed birthday cake as a family. It made turning 45 very painless! ; )

Wednesday was our first Gotcha Day. Mr. P was of course working, but I wanted to make it a special day for the girls and me. I decided to take them to Bowling Green to the train museum so they could learn about some of their ancestors. My grandaddy, great-grandaddy, and several uncles worked for the L & N railroad, which is featured at the train museum. I made my homemade lasagna for our celebratory dinner that night.

Thursday was another beautiful day, and we needed to scoot out of the house while my trusty housecleaners came to work their magic. So we packed a picnic lunch and headed out to one of our local parks. We ate lunch under the trees, explored the historical school house and residence, then spent some time at the playground before heading home.

Friday was a cloudy, rainy day so we decided to make that our stay-in day. I caught up on laundry, redid my blog, did my meal planning for the upcoming week, and made out my grocery list for Saturday. We had make-your-own-pizzas for dinner and watched a movie on Netflix. Little A made a traditional pepperoni pizza, Little A made pepperoni-onion-bacon (yuck!), Mr. P made an "all the meats" pizza, and I did chicken-bacon-alfredo with veggies.

Saturday morning was soccer, followed by lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. Saturday afternoon, Mr. P took the girls to a church function for a little while and I did some grocery shopping.

Today our  minister was out, so Mr. P, being a lay speaker for the church, delivered the sermon. I think it was his best sermon yet, and I was so proud of him. I am so thankful to have him in my life.

Well that's all the news that fit to print from our house! Mr. P and I are sitting here eating the last of my birthday cake. It's a good thing that it's all gone now because I have to get back to healthy eating tomorrow. I've had a little too much food in the past week, but it was my birthday week after all! Tomorrow starts back with school, dance, soccer, tumbling, and everything else. Have a great week!



Friday, October 9, 2015

New Name, New Attitude??

So, it's been a while since I've posted, right? I could say that life just got in the way, jobs and kids and church and soccer and dance all those other things took precedence over my poor little blog, but there are lots of bloggers out there whose lives are just as busy (or busier) than mine and they still manage to blog regularly. I know they are out there because I read their blogs and tell myself that if they can do, why can't I? So here I am, trying this blogging thing again.

I'll do some catch up posts later on but the biggest change in our lives has been the adoption of our girls, and what a glorious day it was!! We adopted on October 7, 2014 so we just celebrated our one year Gotcha Day this week. 

Mary Beth Wells Hodge

And as you can see, we had quite the group of family and friends to help us celebrate. In fact, when we were walking into the courtroom, I heard the judge say, "Are all these people here for the adoption?"  Lol

And a few weeks later, my mom's family had a big "Welcome to the Family" Party for my girls. It was so sweet. This is one of my favorite pictures of them, taken at the party.

You'll notice that I changed the name of the blog to Blessings and Raindrops. I thought long and hard about what I wanted the new name to be. It definitely didn't need to be the Pink Putter anymore as I haven't had a putter or any golf club of any kind in my hand for a long time, but I wanted it to reflect my life now. My life is different now, so I"m sure my posts will be a little different too. It is still going to be a mishmash of clothing, home stuff, and cooking but I also want to add in some devotionals and testimonials on my relationship with God. So for my blog to reflect that, I turned to something I love, music. One of my favorite songs is "Blessings" by Laura Story, and the chorus goes 

'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We certainly experienced our share of raindrops in our journey to get our girls. It was so incredibly hard, harder than I ever imagined it would be. I had what felt like a thousand sleepless nights, but actually it was 847 nights from the day they came to live with us until the day we went to adoption court. And although life has gotten much much easier since the adoption, we've also had some challenges in other parts of our life. But if our journey taught me anything, it was to keep moving forward no matter what happens. And after the storm that we went through on our journey, other things now just seem like a passing shower! 

Stay tuned for further updates on our life...I have lots of things to share! You might even get a second post this evening : ) Right now, I'm going to sign off and head to the kitchen. We are having make-your-own pizzas for dinner tonight, so I need to get the ingredients ready for that. The girls are very excited about it, and some of the combinations that they've come up with to say the least. We'll see how it turns out! 



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Catch Up

(I was unable to find the source of this cute photo. If it is yours, please email me and I will give the proper credit with apologies.)

Hello friends! I kept telling myself that I would blog at Christmas (ha!), then I would do an “end of year” post around New Year’s (double ha!), and here it is February. So I’m just going to call a spade a spade and do a “catch up” post, with a comment (not a promise!) that I miss blogging and hope to come back more regularly. I truly do miss this little world but carving out the time to post is another story. So here I am…

I won’t do a full detailed holiday post, but I do want to say that we had a wonderful end to 2013. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and this year was wonderful as we spent time with family and friends. Christmas was also a good holiday for us. We took the girls down to Opryland to see the Rockettes and stayed at the Opryland Hotel for one night. The girls were thrilled and had a wonderful time. It was definitely a pink Christmas at our house; both girls got Barbie houses from Santa. Big A got the Barbie Dream House and Little A got the Malibu Barbie House, along with toys, clothes, and anything else you can imagine! We are so blessed with big, wonderful families and I am always so grateful for the wonderful times that we have with them each Christmas. We basically do Christmas from the 24th through the 26th, and it is always such a good time.

2014 started off with us organizing and reorganizing the house. Both girls’ rooms got a thorough clean-out, and we bought shelves and tubs for them to keep everything organized. Part of the dis-organization was our fault-we got the girls so quickly and unexpectedly that we didn’t have the rooms ready for them, and we were picking up things randomly and not being very organized about things as we got them.  Now the old/unused toys are gone, and all of their new stuff has a place to go. I’ve been so proud of the girls since we got our new system in place; they are doing a fantastic job of keeping their rooms neat and organized. Mr. P and I cleaned out and reorganized our closet also, and I’m embarrassed at the amount of bags that we filled up to donate to Goodwill. We’ve also done some work on the garage and basement, and some rearranging in the great room and kitchen. I love, love, love my clean and organized house! So far, we’ve done well with keeping everything organized now that we are back in school/work mode.

Like most of the rest of the country, we’ve had a challenging winter weather-wise. We’ve missed 6 days of school so far, but until this week we didn’t have much snow on any of the days. But Sunday night we got a good dose of snow, so we made the most of our snow day yesterday by sledding, making snowmen and snow angels, and eating snow cream. We’re out again today, so the girls are outside playing in the snow right now as I type. 

After Christmas, I dusted off my old bread baker, and we have been experimenting with making different types of bread. I’ve really enjoyed playing around with it, so if you have any good bread recipes be sure to send them my way!

I can’t post much about our situation with the girls, but I do want to say that we are at a point where we are a little frustrated with our case and I have been praying hard about our situation lately. A friend sent me this the other day, and it is one of the many verses that I have been drawn to lately for comfort.

As I have said before, we are so blessed to have incredible support from our family and friends.

I hope that everyone is off to a wonderful start in 2014. It's time for the girls to come in and warm up, which means that it's time for me to make hot chocolate and popcorn! Hope to "see" you again soon!



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Supper Revisited

Pumpkin Soup Tureen and Bowls, Pottery Barn

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Halloween. The weather was less than cooperative here in The Bluegrass State-rainy and extremely windy, followed by some strong storms overnight. But we managed to have a good one despite the weather. Since we live out on a country lane, we get very few no trick or treaters, and it’s very hard for the girls to go house to house. We usually meet up with our friends C and L in their neighborhood and we all walk around their neighborhood to trick or treat.  It was just a misty rain when we started out, so instead of walking we drove around and let the kids get out at different houses, then we made stops at the grandparents’ houses, and finished the night at a trunk or treat event at church. By the time we made our way home, the wind and rain had really picked up so we were glad to call it a night when we did. Once we got home, the girls counted their candy, took a quick bath, and headed to bed, while Kevin and I settled in on the couch with the fire roaring and the rain blowing outside. A pretty cozy way to end Halloween!

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, followed up by Christmas! Where did October go?  I’ve spent part of the day on Pinterest looking at ideas for Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday, and although we have it at my brother and sister in law’s house in Nashville, Kevin and I help them with food and decorations. So I’m looking for some ideas for centerpieces and decorations. Lots of good ideas out there!

School is out tomorrow, so the girls and I have a three day weekend-woohoo! I had all sorts of plans for these three days off, but on Friday afternoon I started feeling like I’d caught some sort of bug. Not really sick, just kind of achy and having little energy. So I’ve spent the better part of my weekend at home taking it easy. I’ve finally gotten a little bit of energy back, so it looks like tomorrow is going to be a busy day catching up on things. I’m just thankful for the extra day; otherwise I’d be stressing about heading back to school tomorrow.

Long, long ago before I turned into such a bad blogger, I used to post recipes on Sundays and call it Sunday Suppers. I have several recipes to share, so I thought I’d share one today. This is a recipe for White Chicken Chili that I received from a friend of mine a couple of years ago and it’s one of my favorites. Enjoy!

White Chicken Chili

Three large boneless, skinless, chicken breasts

2-3 chicken bouillion cubes (optional, I always add them when boiling the chicken to make the flavor more rich)

One 32 ounce carton chicken broth

Two 14.5 ounce cans great northern beans

One cup uncooked rice

One can cream of chicken soup

About 1 cup of green onions, chopped

1 can Ro-tel  chopped tomatoes and green chilies

1 tsp minced garlic

½ tbsp. salt

Black pepper, to taste

Sour cream , grated cheese, and additional chopped green onions for topping

Put chicken breasts in a stock pot and cover with enough water to remain covered while boiling. Bring to a boil, add bouillion cubes, and cook until chicken is fully cooked. Remove chicken to a plate to cool and reserve broth. Reserve one or two cups to cook the rice in and pour the remainder of the broth into a crock pot. Cook rice according to package directions in reserved chicken broth and set aside until just before serving. When cool, tear chicken up into pieces and add to crock pot. Add carton of chicken broth, beans, cream of chicken soup, onions, Ro-tel, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Add rice just before serving (if you cook it all day in the crock pot, it becomes really mushy). 

To serve, top with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and a few additional chopped green onions.

I made this on a day last week that we had school/work, followed by a home visit/meeting with our case worker. I planned it because I knew that I would need a quick dinner after our case worker left, but it also made the house smell yummy and homey too-a bonus when you are having your house inspected! : )

As I was fixing dinner tonight, Big A noticed these sweet deer outside near our woods. Even though we see them quite often, we always stop to admire them. Even Miss Sunny behaved and didn’t scare them away. She’s pretty used to them now, so we all just took a moment to look at them.

And Sunny was rewarded for her good behavior with a hot dog. Here she is waiting patiently...

Such a cutie!

Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall Break

We’ve been on fall break this week and it has been wonderful. I think that I received about 8 emails total this week, and most of them were junk emails or mass emails that I didn’t have to act on. Heavenly! Thanks to Mr. P being on a big project right now, we were unable to go on a trip like we had planned, but the girls and I enjoyed a stay-cation nonetheless.

On Monday, the girls had a doctor’s appointment, so we were up and on the road bright and early. After leaving the doctor’s office, we ran a few errands and then came home for the rest of the day. The girls relaxed and played while I did some things around the house.

On Tuesday, I took the girls for their first-ever manicure, then we went out to lunch and did a little shopping. I stopped in at a local store called Caught Ya Lookin’. I had heard of this store, but I had never stopped in to see what they had. Little did I know how cute it was…and turned out that the owner and her daughter are people I know. I hadn’t seen her in years, but it was great catching up with Rose and seeing the shop.  I was at the Leitchfield store, but they also have a Lexington store too. All of the items are so adorable, and I’m thinking this is where the girls Christmas dresses will come from. They are also featured on Zulily . The girls each picked out a bow, and what cute bows they chose! 

Here is Big A’s bow-the owl clips off to wear separately or attach to another bow.

Little A chose this bow, and the ladybug also clips off to be worn differently too. 

After we got home from out mani/shopping/lunch expedition, the girls went over to play with their cousins at my mother in law’s house, and I did a little shopping on my own. I picked up a few items for myself, including two cute dresses at Gap. I’ll do a separate post for them, along with my birthday goodies from last weekend.

On Wednesday my cleaning girls were coming, so we had to vacate the house by 8 a.m. We went to school for a little while so I could take care of a few things, then we met my friend R and her three boys at the park to eat lunch and play on the playground.  The girls love playing with R’s boys, and I enjoyed holding and playing with R’s seventh month old daughter. She is such a cutie!

Yesterday, we met my mom in Bowling Green for a girls day out. The girls proudly showed off their manicures to “Granny” and we all enjoyed lunch at Chuy’s, followed by some shopping.  We ended the day by stopping by Riley’s Bakery for some goodies. The girls each picked out a treat (brownie for one, iced sugar cookie for the other) and I picked up some of their famous bite-sized tea cookies. The girls also chose a treat to take home to Mr. P, a strawberry cupcake. 

Today was a pretty low-key day for us; we stayed home all day. The girls played in their rooms and in the playroom all day (and got along pretty well all day too!) and I did some things around the house. Mr. P finally got off work early, so we all went out to dinner tonight. We just got the girls to bed and now we are settled in with some coffee, ready to watch Hawaii Five-O and Blue Bloods.

Have to end my post with this little surprise I received today-

Sunday was my birthday but the weather was yucky and I didn’t feel well, so overall it wasn’t one of my best birthdays. That, coupled with the fact that I was disappointed that Mr. P had to work and we didn’t get to go on a trip for Fall Break put me in a little funk all week. I’ve also been battling a horrendous migraine this week too, so I haven’t exactly been in the best of moods. Mr. P sent me these with a sweet note about how sorry he was that we had a rough week. So sweet!

Tomorrow is a busy day for us-soccer in the morning, followed by our church fall festival, then tomorrow night is our annual church hayride and bonfire, hosted by us and my in-laws. Busy, busy!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Follow Your Heart

Warning: Long post ahead…. in fact, I grabbed two of these and some coffee before I started writing. You might want to do the same!

Hello all, your intermittent, rarely shows up with a post, slacker, misses you all dearly blogger here. Wow, it’s been almost 3 months since my last post and a lot has happened in our little household. Nothing that should excuse my long absence, but I’ll tell you the tale anyway. In my last post, I said that I was pondering some big decisions…

As you all know, last summer we were given the opportunity to foster two beautiful little girls in our home. It has been 15 months now, and we still have them. We love them so much and thank God every day for bringing them into our lives. Last summer, although we had been through the months of training, home studies, and paperwork, nothing prepared us for instant parenthood. Don’t get me wrong-it was and still is wonderful but it was a shock to us all the same. 

When we got the girls, I was heading into my fourth year as an elementary school principal. Thank goodness it was the summer so I could adjust to being a working mom at a time when my schedule was fairly flexible. By the time school started, I felt like I was somewhat in the groove of juggling the roles of wife, principal, and now mama. And I did manage it (very well, I might add) for the whole school year. I couldn’t have done it without my wonderful husband, Mr. P though. He is an amazing husband (always has been!) and an awesome daddy. You should see him with these girls-he jumps in and does everything, and they adore him.

My school was about 45 minutes away and in another time zone, so on a good day we got home from school around 6:00 p.m. Most days, it was closer to 7. Some days, Mr. P would pick the girls up from school for me and bring them home, but then I still wouldn’t get home until 7:00 or 7:30. By then, he would have homework done, usually baths done, and the girls were headed to bed. And on the days I had meetings or events, the girls were in bed before I got home. Told ya he was an amazing husband and dad!! And as much as I appreciated everything he was doing, I still felt guilty for not being there, not to mention the fact that I wanted to be home. On the rare days that I did get home early, I savored the family dinner and family time together.

With summer approaching quickly, I started looking into babysitters or daycares for the girls because I had to work most days in the summer. And I realized that I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want the girls to have to get up every day in the summer for “school”; I wanted them to be able to stay up later and sleep in some mornings. I wanted to be able to go places with them in the summer. So I started thinking long and hard about what I really wanted to do with my career.

Now anyone who knows me, knows that I am a silent sufferer. I will be dying on the inside about something, but still put a smile on my face and get through the day. I only talk to my closest friends and family about my worries and stresses. Mr. P knows me well enough to know when something is wrong, but even he has to work hard to get it out of me sometimes. And I was struggling with this decision big time. I felt that if I walked away from this job that I would be a quitter…and I hate a quitter. 

I finally came clean with Mr. P about my thoughts and worries, and he was totally supportive. He said he knew I had been under a lot of stress, not only from trying to juggle family and school but also the stresses that come along with being a school principal. We decided to think and pray about it for a few days and see where God led us. I remember at some point during our conversation that day, I said “If I could have my pick of jobs, it would be at Great Elementary as either assistant principal or third grade teacher.” Great Elementary (pseudonym of course) is a wonderful school, 5 minutes from our house with a great reputation. I have always wanted to work in my neighborhood school and have our kids go there with me.

Well, the next week I decided to put out some feelers and see if there were any jobs available closer to home, and lo and behold, Great Elementary had some openings and one of them was third grade!  I truly felt that God was leading me to this position. It was a nerve-wracking month though...the job had to be posted for thirty days and over 100 people had put in for the position. In the end, I got the job so I am now teaching third grade and working very close to home. We just finished our first quarter of the year, and I am so unbelievably happy. I didn’t realize how much I had missed teaching until I was back in the classroom. I love being so close to the students and teaching again. I simply love teaching!! I work with a wonderful team of teachers, and one of my very best friends is on the third grade team with me. The girls and I are home before 4:00 most days. They are playing soccer and in gymnastics, and all us are enjoying more family time.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through all of this is to trust God, which is why I've interspersed bible verses throughout this post. I was certainly leaning heavily on them this summer. God has brought us through so many things, yet I still question and worry when things like this come up. And He still forgives me for this and continues to show me His great mercy and grace. We are always where He intends us to be…and the things that happen to us always happen for a reason. Don’t get me wrong-I struggled and still struggle with this decision sometimes. I feel like I walked away from a job that was not finished, I sometimes feel like I let a school and its community down by leaving with very little warning. But I also feel that I am in the right place for me and my family. I just tell myself that those doubts are just the devil trying to get inside my head, and my God is much bigger than him!

I’m hoping to blog more often now that we are settled into our new routine. Leaving one school and settling into another in mid-July made me feel as if I were playing catch up the entire first nine weeks. But I’ve settled into a routine and I’ve got a week off (it’s Fall Break) to get a little bit ahead with lesson planning and stuff. I’ll have to post pictures of my classroom sometime because I’ve really enjoyed decorating and getting my classroom together. There’s so much cute stuff out there! I’ll leave you with one image from my room. This is the wreath that I made (sort of) for my classroom. The webbed part was already done, I just added the H and the school things. But I’m still pretty proud of it!

I also want to close by giving a little shout-out to OneFabulous Mom. This sweet little blogger left me a very sweet and encouraging comment on my last post back in June that really hit home with me-it was like she read my mind. Thank you, thank you so  much for your kind words. : )

And thank you to everyone else for sticking with me through this entire tale. You’re the best!