Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Learning, learning, learning, and obedience.

We are at this point with Noah where she is in this phase of full-blown: I'm not a baby anymore and I'm discovering all of these new things that I'm capable of doing, and I'm pushing boundaries, testing limits, and seeing how much can I get away with. The majority of the time this is hilarious, some of the time it's frustrating, often times it is exhausting, but all of the time it is absolutely astonishing at how smart she is and how quickly she is growing. I just wanted to share some of her new quirks with you and some perspective it's given me on motherhood and life...

     The most annoying of all of Noah's new habits is definitely that fact that she WILL NOT keep her shoes on in the car, and most of the time she opts to take her socks off, too. This seems minor, but since she's in and out of the car several times a day being toted to and from the babysitter's house to home and running errands with the sitter, shoes get removed and put back on what seems like a bajillion (real word) times a day. Some times it will be one, sometimes both...and a lot of times it takes a ridiculously long time to relocate said removed shoes. My personal favorite is the piercing screams from back seat where she sits frustrated as heck trying to pull off her socks, too. I can't say that I don't get it. I mean, I'm from South Carolina, we do barefoot well. I'm not ashamed to say I've pulled a Britney a time or two...but as a mother  who's child is capable of putting her foot in her mouth (and often does) I just don't want her walking around barefoot unless it is in our home or during the summer...

      Something else that she's started doing is making use of our ample storage space in the kitchen and den. This is tricky, and is definitely fine tuning our attention to detail. When we were shopping for houses two years ago the ludicrous amount of kitchen cabinets and huge built-ins in the living room where the delicious icing on the cake for us. We seriously have about 30+ cabinets and drawers in our kitchen/family room area. Noah can now open ALL of them. She has also begun to hone her organizational skills by placing things in random cabinets and drawers where she obviously feels they belong. We find hair bows and drum sticks in with the cutting boards, half-full bottles of soy milk in with our grilling supplies, it's crazy. I just know one day we're going to come home to the smell of some food/beverage rotting and have absolutely no idea what it is and where she's stashed it.

Her second favorite thing to open now is the pull-out trash can. Y'all know what I'm talking about, right? Our trash can compartment looks like a cabinet and you pull it out, well Noah loves it. We tell her "yucky" and try and divert her attention to something else, but much to our chagrin we often find her on her tip toes checking out the garbage. Night before last I opened the drawer to throw something away and was greeted by two books (nice ones) a chain of links, and two plastic bowls resting atop the rest of our household trash. Chad was standing there and scolded her "No!" he then directed her attention to her cabinet, (which is one right next to the trash can) that we have given her to use as she pleases. "This is your cabinet," he points and puts all of her things back in it, "This is a no!" he says again sternly pointing to the trash can, and then once again "Noah, this is Noah's cabinet, you can have all of your things in here, and do whatever you want in this cabinet...." Then we left her to herself. Two minutes later Chad walks overs to the sink and beckons for me to come quickly, only to see this...

     We agreed we wouldn't scold her, because all she was doing was exactly what her daddy had just told her she could do!

Her favorite thing to open, however is our pantry. I must admit, I'm usually the culprit that doesn't shut it completely allowing her to pry it open with her tiny fingers and start rearranging our shelves and opening the Milkbone box. If we open it to get anything out or put up groceries she is magically inside of it before we can even attempt to do whatever it was we needed to. The kid is ninja fast. Last night Chad put something away and was ushering her out of the pantry and closed the door on her fingers, accidentally. She cried for maybe two minutes until she was distracted by eating the ice I offered her for her fingers. He kind of looked at me frustrated and obviously upset that she had gotten hurt, and I couldn't help but smile. "Could you ever imagine chasing a little person around, scolding her, and doing it over and over again could be this amazing?" I asked him...I just wouldn't want to be spending my time in the evenings doing anything other than watching her discover, and grow. Even the testing of my patience and sometimes the boo-boos, too, are some of the best moments of my life to date. Because, you see, after she misbehaves she usually tries to do something silly, or walks over and offers a giant opened-mouth 14-month-old kiss...when she hurts herself she asks for "mama" and rests her head on my shoulder. It's bliss.

I was reading this morning and I had a revelation. I think my Heavenly Father feels the same way about me, and each of you. He doesn't want us to disobey him....he gets frustrated when we take our shoes off in the car, so to speak. But, he enjoys watching us grow, and learn, and finding out for ourselves what our limits are, and what we can handle versus what we need His help to do. He might chuckle at our attempts along the way, the way I do as I watch my daughter try new things, but He beams with love and compassion for us when we get it right, and when we obey. When we are hurt, and when we have boo-boos, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually we can call out His name and cling to Him like a child, we can seek comfort in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. I am go grateful during this season of Thanksgiving that I have such a great example in the Lord and His son, Jesus of what love means. Peace and much Love, Layne

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I love you.

     I've had a strong feeling lately that I need to focus my time on serving the Lord. I feel very strongly the Spirit calling me to service in a larger capacity than I've ever done before. This feeling, while heavy on my heart, has sent an electric charge to every fiber of my being so that I feel like all of the molecules in my body are shaking in anticipation, as if they are at a starting line of a race waiting for the gun shot to take off and release that current of energy to go and actively serve. It's exciting, and humbling. I can't help but think that I should have this desire, and should be exerting all of my energy to serve the Lord every day, and at all times. Isn't that what we're asked to do? Romans 12:1 says "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service". It seems like a giant request to me. I'm one little woman, in a big world, with loads of other obligations that have much more immediate consequences if I neglect them. On a daily basis I can think of about 10 things that require action and work on my part that literally take up my entire day, how am I supposed to commit all of my time to serving when I don't have any time to spare? These are the thoughts, concerns, and doubts that I have all of the time, but as strongly as I feel this need to serve and as often as I doubt my abilities, I also know three things to be true: 1. I have been called to serve the Lord with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength (D&C 4:2). 2. The Lord will not ask me to do anything that is not possible with His help. 3. Even at my best effort, if I can give as much as my little-one woman-body can handle, it will still not even begin to repay Him for what He has done for me.
    So I've started to think and pray and learn more about serving the Lord. What I've found has made me realize that while I still feel like I'm being called to something bigger (and hopefully that will become clear to me one day), I'm realizing how many opportunities on any given day I have to be in service, and not have to change my schedule, or exhaust myself any more than I already do. I started studying what the Lord has taught us about service, and in the index (or guide) of my scriptures the very first thing under the word "Service" says "See also: love". Well, that is something I can do. I can love. I can show love for my husband, my daughter, my family, and friends. That is something I can do easily. What the Lord asks of us, however, is to love more, and to love everyone as He loves us. When we love one another we are in the service of our God. I've learned that when we love when it is hard, when it takes work, when it isn't our initial instinct or when it we are faced with someone who appears not to deserve it...that is when the Spirit is strong, that is when God's work is being done and when we are truly giving what has been asked. The Savior said, "inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:35-45). This week alone I've learned a few lessons in this.         For example, this Sunday for whatever reason (I suspect molars) my daughter was a different person. She was horrible. She screamed like she was possessed, she was disobedient, she was for lack of a better word... a nightmare. This continued into Monday when I picked her up from the sitter and she refused to come to me. She screamed when I pried her off of the woman who keeps her, and continued screaming the whole way home. I wanted to punish her for acting this way, I felt like she needed to learn a lesson and know that I would not tolerate that kind of behavior. I felt hurt by her. It is amazing how much a 14 month-old hurt my feelings, she brought me to tears. At home I felt like ignoring her and giving her the cold shoulder, and reasoned with myself that doing so was a technique the experts have said works during tantrums. I was not loving her. As we got home the thought entered my mind that I needed to be patient with her, like the Lord is patient with me. I needed to take a deep breath and be calm and show her that I loved her, and that I would wait until whatever it was that was making her so upset stopped. I could wait, and not ignore her or take my love away from her. I grabbed her flailing, sweaty, red and screaming body hugged her tight, and kissed her and let her know that her mommy was here, and it would be alright. I envisioned how my God probably gets frustrated with me when I disobey and hurt him, and how He is merciful and waits for me to act like the child he knows I can be. I'd love to say that she miraculously stopped be ornery, but she didn't. Eventually, however, she turned back into the little girl I'm used to. Until then, though, my house was filled with love and patience instead of bad feelings, and I know that I was serving in the role of a mother.
       Early in the week at work I had another experience of active love. Most of you don't know what I do for a living, but I'm in a profession where I deal with many people everyday who are "customers". It is very normal for me to be faced with mean, angry, and complaining people, and some of these people are like this all of the time. Quite often I'm forced to face them and deal with them over and over again. It's easy to dislike them. It's easy to want to run and hide when I see them, or not give them attention, or put effort towards appeasing them. What I've found is that the majority of the time when I talk to them begrudgingly, or meet with them already resentful of the way that I know they're going to speak and act toward me our interaction ends with both of us feeling negative and being unhappy. But when I love them as God does, when I treat them like a beloved child of God, not only do I tend to get better results, I am in the service of the Lord. "By love serve one another" and "love thy neighbor as thyself" (Galatians 5:13-14) and even though they are acting unattractively, and may say hurtful things or chew my ear off with negativity if I show them kindness and have love in my heart, even if our meeting ends without resolution, I am not left in a bad mood the rest of the day, and hopefully they feel...even the tiniest bit...some peace in their heart.
        I'm constantly learning, and I hope growing, too. I feel like I learn a new lesson or skill, and find out something different about myself every day. I still feel like the charge we've been given to serve is a huge one, it's not easy. Some days, I'll probably fail. My Heavenly Father deserves the best. He has asked for all of me, and His grace allows me to give it my best shot. This is just a little of what has been in my heart lately. Thanks for letting me share. Peace and Love, Layne

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Absolutely Disgusting...

    I'm a person who's inner workings are totally reflective of my outer condition...or is it the opposite, or vice versa...regardless. I have low self-esteem, a history of depression, PMDD, and come from a long line of crazies (sorry Long/Sanders family, but you know it's true). I'm at my brightest when I'm in a consistent and aggressive work-out routine, eating healthy, prioritizing appropriately, and spiritually fed. I know that a reliable routine and positive health choices allow for most people to achieve a sort of homeostasis in their lives, but for me it is much more than that. When reaching a balance as opposed to having growth I tend to slip quickly into a rut and even faster into a pit until I eventually I reach the point where I feel absolutely disgusting. I feel ugly, I feel nasty, I feel fat and greasy and sleepy and cranky and I tend to act and treat people in a way that is very reflective of how I'm feeling. I can't stick to a diet if I'm not exercising, either. The two go hand in hand for me, and I know that studies upon studies have shown that inactive people tend to not only eat more, but are consuming more unhealthy foods than active people. I know that studies show active people are happier, I know that studies show that spiritually strong (in any faith) people are happier, I know that studies show that choosing healthy food options makes you physically feel better than the alternative...I have read and studied all of these things, I just have to tell you that I am a walking, talking statistic  Slap me on a pie chart and put me in a boardroom somewhere, because I hear ya Mr. So and So from the Comission for a Better Onethingoranother- I am so there! I decided today that I need to purge. I need to purge my mind, my heart, and my body. I need to flush out the negativity, the doubt, the crankiness, right along with the toxins and junk in my system from all of the crap I've been eating, and I need to get good with the Lord and start fresh....or as a wise man once said: "recharge my batteries, and shut down the engines, and get myself back to neutral."
          Believe it or not, but I'm longing for the drive I had when I was losing my baby weight. I was committed to the "Bringing Sexy Back" program that I instituted for myself, and I was steadily seeing results. Now that I've gained only a pound or two verses having 40+ to lose, I really only feel the difference rather than see it, which is exactly how I rationalize the 3 cookies I'm averaging a day...but after the cookies I feel shame. And nausea. And more shame. I know it sounds preposterous to be worked up over a pound or two, and I know I'm being a bit humorous about it all, but it truly does spread like an infection throughout my daily life and affect way more than what I see in the mirror. I don't have energy to play with my daughter, I blow off a morning run with my dog, I'm too tired to have QT with the hubs and read my scriptures in the evenings, and I totally let the stress of work get me all bajiggetty and feeling not so Christian-like towards those causing said stress.
       So look-out y'all cause I'm gearing up for a relaunch. I was inspired by Schmidt's relaunch party on the sitcom New Girl... his party had a theme of "Danger" and while my relaunch party will only be metaphorical, and while you wont be able to hear the sweet playlist going on in my head just know that I'm jamming out to some serious tracks and I'm a lady on a mission. The theme of my relaunch party??? Awesomeness. I'll be getting awesome, eating awesome, working out awesome (thanks to the new Zumba class I'm teaching- message me for the schedule if you're in North Augusta) and spending a whole lot of awesome time with God.
     And my relaunch into the world of all that is amazing, spectacular, and (you guessed it) awesome, could not come at a better time...because this weekend is General Conference. For those of you who are not LDS that is the semi-annual broadcast from Salt Lake City that goes out all over the world where we get to hear spiritual messages from the General Authorities of the church. I can't think of a better ground zero for my grand transformation into my best self than hearing from those who I revere as spiritually strong and righteous men and women. I encourage everyone- even if you're not Mormon to tune in to BYUTV or lds.org on Sunday-- it's just one giant feel-good, uplifting event for Christians in general.  So on Sunday I'll be checking off "step 1" on my road to Awesomeness, and beginning my week on a great note. Then checking off "steps 2 and 3" with some healthy eating and my new Zumba classes later in the week. So buh-bye absolutely disgustingness....this train is heading to Awesomeville, and it's not stopping until it reaches world domination! Awwww yeaahh! Who's with me?? Peace and Love, Layne

P.S. Here are some pictures of the silliest little girl and I this afternoon when I picked her up from the sitter!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wise women I know...

     My mom recently sent me this chain email for a scripture exchange, that required you to not just send back your favorite scripture verse in return, but be responsible for sending it to 10 other people and making sure they send it to 10 other people, and what starts out as sharing something fun with someone else turns into waaayyy to much responsibility for one email. Regardless, I loved the idea of having other people share their favorite scripture verses with me. I think it's nice to get some verses that maybe didn't stand out to me before, or that I'd never studied, and also I think it's nice to share the ones that are special to you with the people you care about.
    So what I did was ask a couple of wise women I know what their favorite verse of scripture was. Some of them couldn't narrow it down to just one, but then again, neither could I. I asked women of all different ages, denominations, marital status, different  idiosyncrasies, and passions... I loved the responses I got! I got such comforting, powerful, and compassionate words of scripture to read. I felt my Father's love for me through these words, and knowing each of these women I could definitely see each persons individual personalities in their choices!
        My contributors included a mom of two, newly wed, student, grandmother and some great friends. I'm LDS but even though I chose three verses, they are all out of the Bible. Some of the scripture is out of the Bible, some out of the Book of Mormon, some is specific to Catholicism but what's so great is that the commonality is Love. God's love for us, the Savior's love for us, the love between a man and a woman, and woman and child. I'm sharing the King James version because that is what I read, but I encourage you to look each of these up in whatever version of scripture you study and relish it. Let them make your day a little better! I hope you'll enjoy reading these verses either for the first or fiftieth time! I'll start with my favorites and go from there. Peace and Love, Layne

For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:27

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matthew 11:29

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fail. Helaman 5:12

But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction. Jacob 3:1

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. Proverbs 31:25

Sarah got up so that they could pray together and ask God for his protection. Then Tobias prayed: God of our ancestors, you are worthy of praise. May your name be honored forever and ever by all your creatures in heaven and on earth. You created Adam and gave him his wife Eve to be his helper and support. They became the parents of the whole human race. You said, It is not good for man to live alone. I will make a suitable helper for him. Lord, I have chosen Sarah because it is right, not because I lusted for her. Please be merciful to us and grant that we may grow old together. Tobit :5-7

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalms 27:1

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30: 20-21

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalms 16:11

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. Proverbs 3:6-7

That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Romans 1:12

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. Habakkuk 1:5

Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Philippians 2:3

Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing. Job 8:21

We love him, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Saturday, September 15, 2012

updates from my kitchen...

       If you've known me a while, or have been following my blog from the beginning, then you know that for about a year before I got pregnant with Noah I was a vegetarian. It all started when we moved into an apartment right up the road from a chicken plant....next thing I knew the chicken trucks were stalking me all over the state no matter where I was...there they would be, white feathers flying in the air all around my car. Then I did a little too much research regarding chicken meat and factories, and that was it. No chicken for this lady. Not too long after that it turned into no meat at all....I was insanely healthy during this period of time, and in great shape!! But when I got pregnant with Noah it was like flipping a switch and I instantly needed a bacon cheeseburger... so, whattayagonnado?! During my pregnancy and ever since had Noah, I've been a carnivore again. (I still couldn't bring myself to eat Tyson chicken products,however, they are HORRIBLE regarding steroids and ethical treatment of the animals.) 
        Well, two weeks ago I was getting my cardio on at the local Gold's gym in the Cardio Cinema room and they had a documentary call Forks over Knives playing..it was all about the benefits of a vegetarian diet. I was sold. I'm an easy sell. Although, I didn't quit eating meat again immediately, I pretty much resolved myself to it right then. {GRAPHIC DETAIL WARNING} Earlier this week I grabbed two hard boiled eggs to eat for a quick breakfast, cracked one open, sprinkled my salt...took a bite and then thought about what it was I was actually biting into, and I almost puked right in the middle of my kitchen....and that was that. No more meat for this chick! I'm not a bleeding heart that thinks it is wrong to eat animals. I actually think that true hunting is a very organic and natural thing. But I do take issue with injecting a bunch of steroids and chemicals into animals to make the pieces of meat swollen and over sized so that they can charge more for it. I take issue with chickens being inhumanely raised and held before they're killed. There is nothing appetizing about a chicken be so full of steroids that it can't even support it's own weight to stand up. Or, having birds (chickens and turkeys) beaks removed so they don't accidentally peck each other to death from being squeezed  together and over-packed into such small cages where they don't even have room to move. These things I am bothered by, and these things are not natural to me. It's also very psychological for me, I've learned too much and thought too much about it and I can't eat the meat anymore without having mental images of flesh and muscle tissue running through my brain. 
      Luckily I have a ton of vegetarian foods and meals handy from a few years back, and I'm loving finding new recipes and foods to experiment with on Pinterest! Here is an awesome recipe I found that was, no lie, pot-licking good!!

Yummy Pea and Asparagus Risotto

This recipe is for Golden Mushroom, Pea and Asparagus Risotto...the recipe is here ...and it's actually vegan, too! I don't like mushrooms so I left them out, but the rest was soooo good, and easy to make! I ate most of it out of the pot before it even made it to a plate!
I also have been using a new food that I'd never eaten before until this month...spaghetti squash!! My Paw Paw does Weight Watchers and when he made spaghetti for Sunday dinner a few weeks ago he cooked one to eat his meat sauce over as an alternative to wasting carbs and calories on spaghetti noodles. Y'all, it was SO good! So, I went right out this Monday and bought two of my own to cook!

I cooked the right one first, and it made 3 large servings!

I didn't want to get too fancy with my first try, so I stuck to what I knew I liked and planned on cooking one of the squash to eat with some spaghetti sauce on top. There are a couple of options on how to cook the squash. You are really supposed to puncture it and bake it in the oven in a little bit of water, but I microwaved mine which seemed just as effective. I sliced it longitudinally, removed the pulp, wrapped each half in saran wrap, and put it in a dish and microwaved it for about 13 minutes. Then after it cooled enough to handle I scraped the meat out of it. I poured about 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce on it right out of the jar, some salt and pepper and then topped it with a Quorn herb chikin cutlet. The Quorn products are my favorite faux meat options, they seriously taste just like the real thing. I think they're better than Morning Star by miles...in case you were wondering!

my meal

While I was cooking all of this Noah was "helping" by going through all of the cabinets that we didn't child-lock her out of, and making a mess. 

my foot is on the paper plate, because I can get into the paper plate cabinet, and they are fun to throw like frisbees...
As a side note...
She's super talkative these days. Some of her favorite words are: 

"Bubba"- this is what she calls Momo, and she exclaims it every time she sees or hears him
"Uh-Oh"- she really just thinks this is fun to say, she doesn't use it appropriately all the time, and often she will purposely do something wrong in order to get the opportunity to say it. Like dropping things on purpose for me to pick up....this is not my favorite game.
"Mama"- Her daddy is definitely the one who gets the most smiles and laughs from her, but when she is tired, or sick, or wants to snuggle she cries out for me...and that melts my heart! I get more quality hugs and nuzzles than anyone else!
"More" and "All Done"- So, we taught her these two so that we could distinguish why she was fussing in her high chair...was she fussing for more food, or because she wanted to get down? Well let me tell you, that 99% of the time she wants more food, and now all we hear, everywhere, very loudly is "MOOOORREEE!!!!"
"Please"- We have begun working on manners words due to the overuse of the demand for "more". I didn't want my little angel in public screaming and demanding MOOOORRRE if there wasn't a "please" following it! What's absolutely precious about this is that she can't make the "pl" sound yet so it's the most heart warming "puuuhhh". In fact, I think the number one phrase in our house these days is "Moooore, puuuhh!" How can you say no to that??
"Paw Paw"- This is my grandfather, her great-grandfather, and by far one of her favorite people. I also think it's fun for her to say!

Oh hey mom, nope I'm not doing annnyytthhiinng mischievous!! (shout out to Dee Dee for the big bow)

in her Gamecock bloomers and bow, requesting the camera from me...

Anyway, that's what my kitchen is like these days! It's a combination of my vegetarian cooking laboratory and Noah's play room. I can't wait to get her a little kitchen of her own, maybe Santa will bring her one! I'm making sure that she is always eating healthy, too. Most nights she'll share my dinner with me. This Monday she ate asparagus, and Tuesday she had feta cheese and spinach leaves on home made (not by me) wheat bread. She's an awesome eater! Heck, she eats better than her daddy!! If any of you are interested in learning more about a vegetarian diet, and lifestyle I highly suggest Forks over Knives, also I'm always looking to swap good recipes and products! I hope you are all enjoying your weekend, Peace and Love, Layne

Monday, September 3, 2012

Noah's First Birthday Party

This past Saturday, with family and friends, we celebrated our little caterpillar turning one!! Here are some snap shots of the invitations, decorations, and all of the fun that the event entailed! We had such an amazing time, and Noah did, too! Enjoy these shots- they've perfectly captured what will be great memories for years to come!! Thanks to all who made it such a great day for our family! Peace and Love, Layne

The invite...

the cake (or cupcakes, and smash cake)

our birthday girl!

Noah not so sure about Uncle Clayton...

....or Uncle Chan

great friends....Aunt Brandi and Aunt Caitrin!

Anna and me!

before the party, I was worried I bit off more than I could chew with the paint project...

the kids did hand prints to make caterpillars...

getting painted

it took lots of help from willing friends to paint the hands of 1 and 2 year olds!

the projects ended up ADORABLE! It was such a fun treat to send kids home with!
we had good food inspired by what the Hungry Caterpillar ate: watermelon, strawberries, cupcakes, sandwiches 

Noah enjoyed the balloons with her Paw Paw

sidewalk chalk and bubbles...you can't go wrong!
Noah's cousins did a great job leading the Happy Birthday song!

blowing out the candle!

Noah and her Dee Dee after the smash cake!
help from Aunt Brandi and Britain on her new transportation courtesy of Uncle Clayton!

she ran around the whole party- she was our social butterfly!

Have you ever tried to take a family pic with 6 kids under the age of 5 ?

a shot of my hanging caterpillar on the back porch!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bad Mood Blues?

  Do you ever just feel bogged down by a dark and negative energy? That's how I've felt lately, or was feeling. I've made some changes, said a lot of prayers, and tried to wake up each morning with a positive outlook on life and the mission of my day being to serve the Lord in all I do and say. (that rhymed but it didn't plan it) The world around me is so full of hate, anger, negativity, trash, filth, and sinning. The Bible tells us to be in the world, but not of the world..."And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" Romans 12:2. Y'all, that is really hard to do!! Satan is everywhere. He hides himself in things that are desirable and seem acceptable, he is there in the negativity that you may let take over when your having a bad day, or have a spat with a friend or loved one. Don't let yourself be fooled by his tricks or succumb to his illusions....easier said than done, right?! I admit I can get caught up in gossip, I let my anger get the best of me and say mean things, and I often find myself placing value on the things of this world that are not ultimately not important. Here are some of the changes I've been trying to make in my life to clear that dark cloud to let the light through! Maybe they'll help you, too!

I had so much trash in my itunes, it wasn't even funny. I put aside that fact that the language and content were inappropriate, even for a married adult, and listened to it anyway. I opted not to pay attention to that feeling that maybe it wasn't the best choice. I was driving one day and having a fit of roadrage, I found myself spewing profanities through my rolled-up windows at another driver (who was a total idiot-just sayin). By some chance I noticed that I had one of my more hard-core rap songs on, and immediately turned it off....I know that what you listen to affects your mood and your actions. I was becoming numb to the audacity and unattractiveness of using those words. So, I got rid of all of my unedited music, and even some of my edit stuff that I felt I didn't need in my head, and downloaded some awesome praise and worship songs, as well as some awesome smile-enducing reggae. I can't begin to describe the monumental difference I feel when I listen to uplifting and positive music all day versus the alternative. Please don't confuse this as me saying all I listen to is Christian Rock now, because that is SO not the case, I can still get down-trust. I am merely saying that I am more conscious of what I'm listening to and putting in my mind!

p.s. Download Matt Redman 10,000 reasons album for $0.99 for an awesome jam!

I know this seems a little bizaare, but I realized that I hadn't been cooking as much in the past few months as I normally do. Cooking is super theraputic for me, it is a passion, and something that I consider to be a lot of fun (minus the clean-up). Cooking for my husband and daughter is a way that I can serve the Lord. Cooking for others, and doing for others is being in the service of your fellow man, showing love to them and compassion, all of which are things that the Savior was an example of. It makes me feel good, and I know it makes my husband feel appreciated and cared for when I cook a nice meal for him to eat.

Taking care of my body, and eating and exercising often is an instant spirit lifter! I'm happy, smiling, maybe sweaty, but ready to take on the world and it's tricks when I've had a good work out. I love Zumba classes, and always have a blast, but sometimes a good solo cardio session is just what I need to clear my head and get my mind and heart right!

This is just something that has been on my mind lately! Thanks for letting me share! What do you to to "let the light" into your life when it's getting funky? I'd love to hear it! Other than cooking and singing and working out, this week I've been gearing up and preparing for Noah's big 1st birthday party! We've got a TON of family and friends coming to town to celebrate with us! Oh, and did I mention we're having our entire yard landscaped this week! Gulp, lets hope Hurricane Isaac doesn't messed it all up with these evening storms we're getting! Y'all have a safe and relaxing Labor Day weekend! Peace and Love, Layne

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Your body is a temple...

        Yesterday, on my day off from work a girlfriend and I had the opportunity to go the Columbia, South Carolina LDS temple. A very generous friend kept Noah (in addition to her two precious children), and it was so nice knowing that Noah was safe and having fun while I was having my spiritual time. It is always a blessing to visit the temple. For those who are not LDS, or unfamiliar with our faith, the temple is different from our church buildings that we attend every Sunday, it is a very hallowed place in which we participate in church ordinances that differ from our normal Sunday sacrament services. Here is a link to lds.org that can explain a little more thoroughly and eloquently than I can, regarding temples... Frequently asked questions about Temples.  I enjoy any time I can visit the temple, but it is very special when I get to go with a friend. My friend Anna is also a convert to the church, she and I were able to go yesterday and enjoy the Spirit together. Anna is actually only about a month away from being married and sealed to her fiance in the temple (yay!). Part of what transpires during a temple session is the renewing of Covenants with the Lord. I've made a lot of Covenants with my Heavenly Father all of them critical to my eternal happiness, and being at the temple I'm able to reflect and renew those covenants. Some involve service to the Lord, faithfulness to my husband, and keeping my body and pure and sanctified vessel.

the Temple!

            As some of you know, I am a Zumba intructor. I also diet and exercise in other ways, too. For as long as I can remember I've been involved in some form of physical activity be it cheerleading, dance, working out, etc. I also for as long as I can remember have been on some form of diet or healthy eating regime. When I joined the church in 2007 I gave up all tobacco, drugs, and alcohol and convenanted with the Lord to treat my body as a temple. To treat it just as if it were the beautiful white, shining, pure and sanctified house of the Lord that I was able to visit yesterday. My body is a gift from God, "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians Chapter 6:19-20 and I have been abundantly blesse for treating it that way. I try very hard to be healthy and encourage others to do so, as well. It is so important for your friends and family and children to not only have you healthy so that you can live a long and productive life, but also so that you can be an example to them. I'm so blessed to have family and friends that are also not only involved in physical fitness, but supportive of my involvement. When I leave the temple, just like when I attend a wedding, or baptism, or take the sacrament in church on Sunday, I get such a pure, and spiritual high. I feel spectacular inside and out. That's one of the reasons it is so great to share the experience of attending the temple with a friend! When I exercise it's a very similar, I get a "high" of sorts, I'm always happy, at peace, and feel generally great! Again, I love being able to share that positive experience, and feel so great with my friends and people I care about!
It's a little peculiar to think of a Zumba class as a spiritual experience... there is loud music and lots of people, and you're shaking what your mama gave you for about an hour! You leave sweaty and tired- BUT... that class is just another way I'm keeping my part of the covenant I made with the Lord to be healthy and treat my body like the gift it is. I'm not only happier, but my capability to serve the Lord, my husband and daughter, and others is so much greater when I'm in shape and healthy!!
      Like I mentioned before, I am so lucky to have friends that are passionate about health and fitness, too. It makes the experience such a positive one, and it helps me stay on track. Here are a couple of resources I use, and some great pages regarding health and physical fitness, especially for women! Peace and Love, Layne

Jewels and Jerseys

POJO Fitness

Exploits of a Military Mama, Body After Baby

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Noah's First Birthday Party- sneak peek!

Y'all, I cannot believe my baby girl is about to be a year old! I have planned a spectacular party, which hopefully I can pull-off! Here are some sneak peek shots of what I have in store! I can not wait to share the occasion with you!! Peace and Love, Layne

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why Noah will be our only child for a nice, loooong, while...

        For those of you that know me, you know that I have decided that I do not want to have any more children. Physically, that is. I do eventually want another child whether it be through surrogacy or adoption, but this mama's body is officially closed for business. I've been through too much physically, emotionally, and psychologically to be pregnant again. Don't get me wrong, Noah was SO worth it. So unbelievably worth it...but she's here now, and I know what me being pregnant entails, and knowing it all up front, well, I just can't do it again. I do truly want a son one day, and I'd love for it to be mine and Chad's biological child if at any point we can afford a surrogate, however I also love the idea of adoption and giving a child a good, loving home that they might not otherwise have. With that being said, I do not want another child for a loooooonnnggg time. Like years from now, and I am SO sure about that. We've been lucky enough to spend some time with my in-laws, nieces and nephews recently (there are 5 children under 5, not including Noah) and I have never been so content with just having Noah in my entire life. I'm also pretty certain at this point that my sisters-in-law are the most patient women I know, and that Chad's oldest sister, Nicole (mother to 3 under 5), is a saint. A saint who hasn't slept, showered, or pooped in peace in 5 years. If I know one thing about myself after being around these amazing kids, and I truly mean that they are amazing, is that I am too selfish, too impatient, and just not cut out for more than one child right now.
        After a family dinner and hang out session at Chad's parent's house, I have a border-line migraine and feel like I could sleep for 14 hours. I often sit back and take inventory of the scene in the house during these get-togethers and just shake my head and laugh...the three oldest (the 5 year old, 2 year old, and almost 3 year old) are running around with flash lights, screaming about who pushed who, putting each other in time-out, and then hugging and making up in the most heart-melting of fashions...the oldest of the babies, who is 16 months old, is screaming bloody murder-not out of sadness, anger or frustration, but out of sheer joy at building a block tower and knocking it down herself. Noah is crawling around on all of the furniture on her tip toes trying to reach whatever electronic device we've placed out of her reach and the youngest, a nine month-old, is crawling on the ground as if navigating a war zone fighting to just make it through the den and into the kitchen with his extremities in-tact. Meanwhile, Chad's two sisters are negotiating with the big kids, "Now lets give her back her flashlight, and she'll give you back your truck..." in addition to "Did you push him?" (which, by the way the response to that is the most adorably honest "He pushed me....and I pushed him first!") Chad's brothers-in-law are trying to get by with what little interjection they can, but still having to throw out an occasional "Watch out for the baby," or "don't throw that!" Chad and I are changing dirty diapers, placing phones up on end tables and then removing them and placing them on higher tables....and then pulling Noah away from the electrical cords she's found by crawling under the couch and getting stuck between it and the wall. As well as having everyone's favorite conversation: "What did you give Noah to eat?" "I didn't give her anything..." "Well what's in her mouth?" ---rush over to the baby and pry the <insert random object here> out of her throat. The greatest part is that ALL of this has taken place over just a 5 minute time period....and what's even more unbelievable is that these are good kids. Heaven help the families with problem children, I shudder to think about how I would cope in that situation. I have said time and time and time again, certain kids take certain types of parents, and folks I have recognized my short-comings and recognized my potential, and right now that potential is shouting: being an amazing parent....to ONE child. I am not organized enough, patient enough, clear-headed enough, kind enough, or strong enough to handle anything more than my sweet Noah girl right now. I've got to tell ya, I am certainly humbled by the amazing parenting abilities I witness from Chad's two sisters and their husbands. My nieces and nephews are the smartest and funniest kids I know, and they have the biggest hearts. My nephew pushed me on the porch swing for 5 minutes tonight, and while that might not seem like long, he's only two. My 5-year-old niece told her other Aunt, who hadn't been given an invitation to Noah's birthday party yet, to "just be patient and she was sure that she would get it soon"....and my two-year-old niece sat on the counter eating boiled peanuts with me today and out of the blue looked over and told me "I'm SO excited because my cousins are coming to grandmama's house today, too!" What's great for Chad and I, but especially for Noah is that we don't have to have any other kids for a while because she's the luckiest little girl in the world to have such amazing cousins just a few hours away to play with!
       Here are some pics of my little angel from tonight, she's getting so big! We had her one-year-old portraits done yesterday, and I could hardly believe it! What is the family dynamic like in your family? Did I paint an accurate picture of your family get-togethers, or is it totally different? More kids for you, or content with what you've got? For me, it's nice to know where I stand, and I can safely say my hubby agrees with me! We are content with our little family for now! Peace and Love, Layne

Noah chillin' on the porch with her Grandaddy.

Grandmama snuggling with Noah and her cousin, both having their nighttime milk.

Friday, August 3, 2012

For this child I prayed....

....and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him. 1Samuel 1:27

We're quickly approaching Noah's 1st birthday. A year has FLOWN by. I have had so much fun with this little goober the past few days, and wanted to share some of the adorable pictures I managed to snap!! Peace and Love, Layne

picking her up from the babysitter's house...

gave it to her as a drum, and she used it to "cook"

When she sits on her stool she always claps because she feels like a big girl!

Kisses to her favorite guy!

I think she wondered what I was doing to her hair....lol. I love that expression!

baths are faves.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Who I used to be...

I know I have written about this before, but I've had a pretty fantastic day, and I really feel like talking about it again. So here goes. I am not the same person I used to be. The Layne from 5 years ago, is not the Layne of today. In fact, the Layne of 1 year ago is not the Layne of today. But, I especially look back to my high school and early college years and think what an amazing change I've made, and how glad I am that I am not that person anymore. The difference has nothing to do with the obvious worldy changes I have made in my life, it has nothing to do with that fact that I don't drink alcohol anymore, or go out and party, it is very much an inner change that happened to me and that I'd like to dwell on that today.
     I used to be mean. I was a mean person, especially in high school. I was a bully, and another B-word, too (if ya know what I'm sayin'). I was mean to people for a million different reasons, none of them worthwhile, none of them acceptable, and I have no idea why I acted that way or what I thought gave me that right. I certainly had a fair share of people who picked on me, or talked bad about me, maybe my attitude and actions were a defense mechanism- who knows, not me- I'm not a psychiatrist. I do know that I was always amidst controversy, whether I was involved in it, causing it, or talking about it. My senior superlative was "Most likely to start a Gossip Hotline" it sounds funny, but in reality gossip is salicious and hurtful and causes no positive effects on anyone involved. I realize I'm not painting a very flattering picture of myself- but it is a truthful one. Despite this horrible attribute and disposition I had to injure others, I had some great friends. Some who were mean, too, and some who were amazing, kind, and funny people....all who I loved dearly and loved me despite that fact that I acted like Regina George on crack ( Mean Girl's reference).

I'm not sure when I realized how horrible I'd been, or when I stopped being so horrible, I think the change in actions was a gradual transition, and maybe the realization was something of a giant slap in the face epiphany, but none the less, I stopped. For the most part. I still struggle with that meanness more than I would like to admit and sometimes I let it get the best of me. My husband thinks it's equally hilarious and horrifying. Ok... so maybe he thinks it's just horrifying, but he likes to make fun of me behind closed doors about it. He often refers to it as me "getting ghetto" on someone, or if someone else acts that way he may call it "pulling a Layne". These days, though, if I do slip up and are mean to someone, most of the time it stems from me losing my patience or being frustrated. It's no longer for amusement or malicious and I feel like, while it is still unacceptable, it is much more of a flaw and than a condition. For entertaiment purposes here is an example of me losing it:
When we lived in Florence, SC my old Hyundai would decide not to start a lot of the time. It would be completely random and I would have done nothing wrong and it was so embarrassing because it would be in my office parking lot, or somewhere public and I would eventually have to have it towed to a garage to be looked at. The first time it happened the guys told me it started up for them just fine (of course) and I blushed and sighed and explained that that was really discouraging because I tried everything and did nothing wrong and what on Earth could it be, and they asked did I leave my lights on or the door open and I told them no and took my car and left. Then it did it again and I had to have it towed....again, and the shop guys got it to start first try....again! They smiled, sort of chuckled leaned over the counter and very condescendingly said "Sweetheart, are you suuurre you aren't maybe leaving the lights on or door not closed all the way and just running your battery down?" *SNAP*CRACKLE*POP* That sent my lid flying.. Yes I am sure I have not let the battery die, I was sure the first time you suggested it. Do I look stupid, DO. I. LOOK. STUPID. Do you think as an intellegent adult I might have tried to jump my car before bringing it here? That maybe I noticed and pointed out to you that the AC, and radio work and it is just the ignition that doesn't that might clue you in on the fact that I have not let the battery die. Maybe you just thought that I like coming to see you, right? That I paid $70 TWICE to have my car towed but didn't think to check the battery first, silly me for bringing my car here to your place of business that is supposed to be able to help me and tell me what it wrong with my car rather than talk to me like a child and not thoroughly do your job, I assure I wont come back and that someone else will be receiving my money to fix my car-YOU. IDIOT.

<sigh> I'm only human.

But each night when I pray I ask God for forgiveness for anyone I might have caused to be unhappy, anyone I might have injured with my words or an unfriendly look, and anyone I might have said something unkind about. Each day I wake up with one goal, and that is to try and be more like my Savior. He was kind to and loved everyone, even his persecutors, even strangers, even people who believed different things than him, who tested his patience, who were different than he was. I think about how I feel when someone is kind to me, when their tone of voice says that they are glad to be talking to me and I'm not wasting their time, and when a stranger passes and just smiles and waves. It feels great, it can make a bad day an ok day. So, I try to be that person and treat people that way. Today I was nice. I was pleasant and perky and friendly to everyone I came in contact with and it felt great. I feel happier when I make an effort to be good to others, it's infectious and it makes me want to do it all of the time. It makes my heart happy, and I hope that the people I interact with are uplifted by it, too. So just know that when you roll your eyes, or stick up your nose in judgement....that when you feel like you are just too dang busy to deal with someone else, or give anyone your attention, or when someone is wearing thin on your patience, and maybe even when someone is making you bonkers in another car driving next to you on the road....a smile can melt the tension, a nice word can make someone's day, and treating others with respect and love will ALWAYS lead to a better outcome than being mean. Peace and Love, Layne

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What really turns me on...

Got your attention didn't I?! Well, I'm sorry to say this will not be a 50 Shades of Gray-type post. I'm sure everyone who got directed here from a search engine looking for something naughty will be disappointed. I'm not going to talk about R-Patz and Zac Efron (although, they are delish...K-Stew what were you thinking...) I'm going to talk about my main man, the hubby....

It's funny because I was totally one of those girls that always dated jerks. I dated the guys who cheated on me, were embarrassed to let people know how serious we were, basically treated me like dirt. I had really low self-worth and self-esteem because of this, and I kinda dated- or was involved with one after the other after the other....how I ended up with such an amazing guy, is truly the Lord's work.

Now instead of wanting someone because they played games with me or messed with my mind enough to make me think I needed them to be happy, I am so insanely hot for my husband who is everything all of those guys were not. I'm turned on by a man who at any given day and at any given time is thinking about protecting and providing and doing what is best for me and our daughter. I have a man who is so insanely in love with our child that he'll change diapers, and wake up in the middle of the night, and get up early on my days off so I can sleep in just so he can spend more time with her. I have a man that makes me feel sexy, and I feel good about myself because of who he challenges me to be, not because he's messed with my self-esteem. I've got a man who loves his family; not just Noah and me, but his mom, dad, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews. He talks to both of his parents, and both of his sisters- every single day. He tells his best friend he loves him before they hang up from a phone conversation. And y'all, you know what is best of all....he loves MY family. And we're straight cray-cray. He loves my parents, he loves my brothers (who in the past have threatened to kill him), and he loves my grandparents. He often says that he could hang with my grandparents all day, even if I wasn't with him. The thing I love the most-most-mostest about my man is that he loves the Lord. He is a great example to Noah and me, and everyone who is around him of how to serve the Lord and recognize His hand in all things. He tells me all of the time how grateful he is that our Heavenly Father has seen fit to bless us so abundantly. He takes zero credit for his success as a business owner, and zero credit for all that he has worked hard to provide us with. He gives it all up to the Lord in thanks and praise.

Noah and I are two lucky girls, and we don't ever forget it!! God has blessed our family by giving us the best husband and daddy ever- and it doesn't hurt that he's really really, ridiculously good looking! I hope all of you are so blessed! Peace and Love, Layne