Thursday, May 10, 2012

Refreshed & Renewed

This past weekend, Michael blessed me immensely! As his birthday/anniversary gift to me, he basically kicked me out of the house on Friday night after he got home from work, and wouldn't let me come back until Sunday afternoon. He reserved a hotel room for me at the brand new Town Home Suites for two nights ALL BY MYSELF! It was glorious!

Friday evening, Linda stayed with the children while Michael took me out to dinner and a movie. We saw The Avengers at the re-opened Opry Mills Mall. We ate delicious salad and tuna sandwiches at a new "fresh" deli, and then we walked around the mall to see all the new and re-designed stores. It is a huge mall, so we got lots of good exercise! The movie was really entertaining even though I fell asleep at one point. It didn't start until 9:45 so it was right at my bedtime! But once the action started, I was wide awake and enjoyed it very much.

He stayed with me at the hotel that evening, which was a nice break for both of us. We slept in until 9:30am and then went our separate ways. He went back home to relieve Granny while I started gallivanting around town. First, I had an awesome gel pedicure at The Nail Bar, which was the coolest nail salon I have ever experienced! Then I had a massage with a $39 Groupon (can't beat that price). She was a licensed infant/child masseuse and taught me the benefits massage can have on children in their common childhood plights.

I then had delicious vegetarian enchiladas at Chuy's Mexican Restaurant, which was fitting since it was Cinco De Mayo! I read a book and leisurely enjoyed my quiet lunch. Anyone with children understands what a TREAT this would be. A quiet meal...reading a book...without, pure pleasure!

Shopping at The Galleria Mall in Cool Springs is always fun, and I strolled in and out of stores sometimes trying on things, sometimes not. It was just relaxing. I actually found a cute new swimming suit, which was NOT the plan...and we all know how frustrating shopping for suits can be! Having the leisure to "just try" this or that on was so nice. When you have children along for the ride, you must have a purpose and a plan. This day was pure, unabashed freedom! It was so, so wonderful.

My friends, Kathy and Stephanie, met me at our most favorite sushi spot in Nashville, Virago, for dinner. We were there for three hours!! They're young mommas, too, so they were enjoying the night out with the girls. We walked down to a local music bar, Tin Roof, and enjoyed live music for awhile. It was interesting, however, because that particular "scene" just isn't typical for any of us anymore. It was enjoyable nonetheless! The whole evening was a treat.

On Sunday, I slept in my hotel bed until 8am (yes, that is sleeping IN for me!). I enjoyed the make-your-own-waffle breakfast and coffee in the hotel, then spent the rest of the morning in my hotel room. I prayed and read and listened to music and took a short nap then showered and walked out of my room at 11:58am. Check out was noon. Yes, I milked that one for ALL it was worth!

It's interesting the change of perspective one takes on after having children. The former often common "luxuries" in life aren't so common anymore! So when you do experience such luxuries (i.e. pedicure, eating out, shopping, sleeping in) without the usual responsibility of caring for/tending to children, you appreciate them SO MUCH MORE! I cannot tell you how many times I've gazed at my beautiful, pink toes and smooth heels with pure appreciation this week. :-)

All in all, it was a much needed respite for this stay-at-home Mom. I gained a refreshed and renewed appreciation not only for the finer things in life, but also for my precious family whom I love dearly. Coming home to those sweet faces - all FOUR of them (Michael, PJ, Grant, and Maya!) was the perfect end to a perfect weekend. I thank God for His blessings in my life, and I specifically thank my wonderful husband for giving me the BEST birthday/anniversary gift this year (which will probably become an annual thing)!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wow, I guess it's been a long while since I last posted a blog. So much has occurred since October! Baby Grant turned ONE on November 12, and we threw him a sweet and simple birthday party at our house. I also invited all of my fellow mommy friends and their children over the following week for a playdate/birthday party. It was a total hit! Grant and PJ got to have cake twice - they didn't mind that at all.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. We celebrated at home in the morning with our tradition of pulling our king size mattress out in to the living room floor, and we all piled on top of it to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! I made breakfast casserole and pumpkin rolls and drank lots of coffee. It was great family time. We had a lovely dinner that afternoon at Uncle Jess & Aunt Elaine's home. It was very comfortable to be with them, and it was nice to see the cousins play together (Payton, Grant, Lauren, and Maxwell).

Payton Joy celebrated her THIRD birthday (December 17th) in a majorly FUN fashion this year. We hosted the party at My Gym and invited 20 of her closest friends. It was a great hit. Everyone had so much fun, and PJ was especially fond of Stephen the MyGym employee who had them all giggling like crazy, running around, and playing hard. She is STILL talking about "My Stephen" and her birthday party!

Christmas and New Year's Eve were wonderful family celebrations as well. We stayed home on Christmas morning and Granny (Gaga) Linda and Robert came over for breakfast. It was fun to have everyone together at OUR home - even though we still don't have a dining room table! We just sat around the kitchen bar and made the most of it! Later that afternoon, we went to my cousin, Jeremy's house for more food and fun. It was especially enjoyable to see the children play together; although, I will admit that I spent most of the evening chatting with the women in the other room while Michael and the guys hung out in the play room. Score!!

New Year's was nice because my sister and brother-in-law, Shelley and Garry, visited for the weekend. We spent most of the time at our house just relaxing and being together. The funny story of the weekend, however, was that we wanted to make a good but fairly simple dinner for NYE, so we ended up buying a grill JUST for that night! We grilled steaks and had baked potatoes and broccoli and some really great wine. It was the perfect evening. My cousin, Jeremy, and Kimberly joined us, and the six of us rang in the new year with lots of laughter! I really could not have asked for a more fun evening. And remember, that night holds special memory for me and Michael: he proposed to me on New Year's Eve 2005!

Lastly, I want to share a major milestone that occurred for little Payton Joy today. Let me preface this by saying she had her first dental appointment on Tuesday this week, and she was the perfect little patient! She was brave and confident and full of joy. I was so proud of her! We read books about going to the dentist the night before so she was a little prepped before going in but, let me tell ya, it worked like a charm! Becoming aware of her teeth and the importance of taking care of them has been a HUGE enlightenment for her.

So tonight the three of us came home from eating dinner out with Daddy who had to make a stop on the way home. As I was getting Baby Grant ready for bed, I told PJ that she needed to start getting ready for bed (which usually prompts very little action on her part). She proceeded to go potty, wash her face and hands, and brush her teeth - ALL BY HERSELF! Then she put on her pajamas ALL BY HERSELF! I was seriously amazed and so excited about HER excitement. She was so proud of her accomplishments! I am overwhelmed by the obvious feelings of..."my baby is growing up!"...but I'm more excited for HER than anything. Of course, I had to double check to make sure there were no spinach leaves stuck in her teeth or that her pj's weren't on backwards, but for the most part, she DID IT right. We have been flossing every night since the dental appointment, too! It's an important habit to get started early...let's just hope Momma sticks to her guns about making it part of the routine.

Thus concludes my update. What a great start to a new year. I hope and pray that 2012 finds you all happy, healthy, and blessed beyond measure. May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may He make His face shine upon you and give you peace!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Michael's 40th Birthday

Last night, I surprised Michael for his 40th birthday. He thought I was just taking him out on a "birthday date" as we had explained to Payton Joy. But he got much more than that! We parked our car and walked down 12th Avenue in The Gulch to what he thought was a new restaurant for dinner. But I escorted him to the front of Cantina Laredo where a black, stretch Hummer was parked. The driver opened the door, and all of our friends were inside and greeted him with "SURPRISE!!" He was definitely surprised!

It was a mobile version of
This Is Your Life, Michael Ghaffari! I had programs printed for all to follow along as we drove to many important places along Michael's life from childhood to the present. We started at his childhood home where he (and his mom) lived with his granddad, "Pop", for most of his young life; then traveled to Shelby Park where he played baseball from tee-ball until he was 17 years old (and ready for a baseball career). We drove to his junior and high schools, his first job at Dairy Queen, his first apartment, ITT Tech (college), Vanderbilt University (job), and ended with the place where Michael and I first met. It was actually too much to fit into our limited limo time so we skipped a few places but Michael shared stories about all of it along the way. We were all quite famished by the time we returned to Cantina Laredo and thoroughly enjoyed the chips and different types of salsa they serve! We had a cake complete with black "40" candles and lots of laughs the whole night through!

I hope he knows how much we all love him and celebrate his LIFE...I definitely thank God for bringing him into MY life and look forward to spending the next half of his life right by his side! Happy Birthday, my love! You make 40 look good. :-)

For all the surprise party photos, click HERE.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just Like My Mother

I woke up this morning abnormally early at 5:30 a.m. due to baby Grant's early morning nursing session and, unfortunately, was not allowed to fall back asleep. But that's because I brought him back into bed with me to nurse and I don't normally do that, so he felt like playing as soon as he had a full tummy instead of going back to sleep like he usually does in his crib. So I started my day quite early and it is currently 8:55 p.m. and this is the first time I've stopped "working" and sat down ALL DAY LONG. It's such an interesting story, really, which is why I felt like blogging about my day.

The cleaning frenzy began when Payton spilled her LIFE cereal (itsy bitsy crumbs, to be exact) all over the kitchen floor around 7:20 a.m. Now please tell me, does anyone really feel like sweeping at that early morning hour? Well, I wasn't exactly chipper about the scenario but it had to be cleaned nonetheless. I even tried to allow PJ to "help" sweep the mess but she only made it worse and I wasn't in the most loving, patient mood at that that "lesson" was cut rather short (of course, I'm feeling total guilt over that now).

I almost entitled this post: Ants, Fleas, and Mice, OH MY! but decided that wasn't the overall point of my blog. However, I must embarrassingly admit that we are currently fighting all kinds of nuisances in our home right now.

Michael set mouse traps last night because I found mouse turds inside our kitchen drawers (of all places - really?). I told him that I refused to open those drawers this morning and that he had to do it. When he checked them, he said, "Those darn things snatched my cheese!" So...they're baited with cheese AND peanut butter tonight. Ugh! Just the thought of mice IN my silverware drawer makes me want to hurl. Needless to say, I am washing everything before I use it from any of those drawers. GAG!

We've had those annoying little ants pop up here and there on the kitchen counter and on the bathroom floor over the past few days. I clean my kitchen every single day, so I'm not sure what they keep coming back to find. There's usually only one or two at a time so I'm hopeful they won't get worse!

Maya picked up fleas recently and I *thought* I exterminated them before they infested our home but, it seems, that I was wrong. In spite of routine application of Frontline ever since she was a puppy, the darn fleas have won out this summer. Let me preface this by saying the first time I found fleas on her was last summer when I was 7 months pregnant. I FREAKED OUT the minute I saw the fleas! I made Michael bathe her immediately while I stripped our bedding, doused the carpet with flea powder, washed every surface in which she might have slept in hot water, and basically had a nervous breakdown. My reaction was absolutely extreme but I blame the pregnancy hormones! However, my reaction rid her of fleas and the problem was remedied.

Fast forward to the last few weeks and my reaction has been less extreme, thankfully, but I'm completely aghast at the speed of the flea life cycle.
I have found an organic pest control called Wondercide that I ordered today. Once it arrives, I plan to "bomb" the entire house with the stuff and spray Maya with their organic killer/repellent (replacing Frontline).

This brings me back to this morning...poor Maya was obviously uncomfortable - scratching, licking, shaking her head, etc. It was grossing me out so I decided to bathe her as soon as I put Grant down for his morning nap. Then I realized that I'd need to clean everything the dog touches if I want to at least try to control the situation (or make it more comfortable for her for a little while). So after Maya's bath, I stripped our bed linens (yes she sleeps with us!) and threw every soft surface I could think of into the washing machine. Then I decided that I'd better vacuum but before I could begin, I'd need to straighten up and move all the kids' toys out of the way (which are constantly sprawled across our living/dining room floor). While I was vacuuming, I decided to be more thorough than usual, so I moved the couch and chair and vacuumed under and around their usual places as well as alongside the baseboards.

Once I got the living room vacuumed and dusted, I stood back and looked at the furniture all out of sorts and got the random idea to rearrange my furniture! It was about this time that Michael woke up for the day. He walked into the living room and the look on his face was hilarious - "WHAT happened in here?" So then I proceeded to ask for his input on different furniture arrangements. He wasn't much help but that's only because we're very limited on space in our living room since we only have two walls and one of them has the T.V. on it.

Yesterday, I purchased a few bins and storage items to help organize our dining room a.k.a. "playroom/my office." I started the sift-and-sort process last night but did not finish so all of that stuff was sprawled across the dining room and kitchen island. If I let myself look around at my house at this precise moment for more than a few seconds, I just might have lost all sanity. It was the epitome of "disheveled." But...I kept pressing on!

Michael took PJ to McDonald's so Grant and I continued cleaning house. I started vacuuming and dusting in PJ's room and decided to rearrange her furniture, too! I finished that shortly after Michael and PJ returned - so it was at least an hour long process.

Lunch time was a circus as I tried to maneuver around the stuff in my kitchen/dining area but, somehow, I was able to feed all of us without many real problems. Once the kids were down for naps, I decided to go to the gym since this was my day to go. When I returned, I showered and then decided to clean my shower and bathroom floor... It's such a slippery slope, this darn cleaning stuff!

After her nap, Payton received a much sweeter and more patient "lesson" while she helped me put the sheets on our bed. Once it was made, she promptly jumped on top of it and started singing and dancing to her favorite song. I caught it on video, of course! Soon after, Grant woke from his nap and joined us on the bed while we read a new book. It was around 4:30pm and as I read the book, I felt the TIREDNESS hit me...okay, so THAT was the first time I had stopped working. Once I did, though, it hit me like a mack truck!

I declared that it was bath time for the kids. I let PJ play in the tub while I dressed Grant and prepared him for bed. Then I prepared dinner, fed Grant, put him to bed, fed PJ, fed myself, put PJ to bed, cleaned the kitchen,
took the dog for a short walk, folded the clean clothes/put them away, and I sit. It was probably one of the most physically active days that I've had in awhile - I mean, CONSTANTLY moving with very little break! But hey, look at how much I accomplished!

I amused myself today because my MOTHER could have had a day very similar to mine when she was alive. She hated fleas!! She regularly sprayed the perimeter of the house (interior and exterior) for fleas. She sprayed for ants, too. She screamed at a huge rat she found inside her toilet (promptly slammed the toilet lid and set a waste basket on top of it until Dad came home to retrieve it). She randomly decided to rearrange her furniture in that same house I grew up in year in and year out. It's just what you do when you want a change but can't change houses! And she always had some project hanging in the shadows waiting to be completed. In spite of her many tasks to complete, she was always a caring, steadfast mother to me. She was always patient and loving and I need to be more like her in that way.

I wonder if these nuances in a person's life are learned or innate? I could argue that it's in my genes to be spontaneous yet erratic in accomplishing tasks at home but, perhaps, I just watched and learned from my Mother? :-) Either way, it makes me love her and miss her. I wish, wish, wish that I could've called her today and shared with her the craziness of my day. And I always wonder what she'd say...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

ABC's by Payton Joy

Payton Joy sings and dances to the ABC song at 2 years old (31 months). She likes the letter "Q" as you'll notice. Hee hee! :-)

ABC's by Payton Joy

Friday, April 22, 2011


Payton Joy is reaching milestone after milestone, and it's hard for me to chronicle them all! She is 28 months old now, and she's been counting to 5 quite well since she was about 18 months old. She's counting up to 10 now and it's something that she eased into without either of us really noticing (how shameful!). She knows all the primary colors and shapes. She starting singing, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star about two months ago in the car while she was watching a video along with Row, Row, Row Your Boat. She loves to sing the ABC song but cannot pronounce all the letters. She LOVES hearing Happy Birthday sung over and over interchanging whichever name she chooses at the end. Her favorite song, however, is Jingle Bells, which she asks me to sing usually at bed time. Have you ever heard that song slowed down to make a lullaby? It's rather soothing... :-)

For the first time tonight at dinner, PJ decided that she did not like to eat lemons. She's been eating them all her life...until tonight. It was hilarious to watch her face as she bit into it. There was a sense of shock on her face like, "Oh, I don't think I like this anymore!" She then promptly threw it back into my cup and said, "I don't want this."

Another interesting thing happened tonight after we got home. After we all piled out of the car, PJ started running through the yard, and Michael let Maya out. We took some adorable photos of the kids playing in the yard. Maya spotted a cat and took off after it. I started calling to her and PJ immediately started crying after her, "No, Pupper! No!" She was crying because she thought Maya was gone...for good. It was sad and so cute. I ended up bringing PJ with me when I went to retrieve Maya from our neighbor's yard across the street. At that point, PJ was more interested in the cat that Maya chased off. Just seeing her sweet, sensitive little heart in that moment made me smile. She loves Maya, too!

Grant is really starting to babble these days (5 months old!). It's quite humorous to hear him. He's a giggly guy, too. Michael can really get him going when he tickles his chubby little thighs! He's particularly ticklish on the tops of his shoulders, of all places, and he'll dip his head to one side whenever I try to pull up his shirts over his shoulders. It's really cute! I'm amazed how much Grant's disposition is like his Daddy's. The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree...

This coming Sunday is Easter and it's also my birthday. I'll never forget the story my Mother told me about the day I was born. I was born on Easter Sunday in 1977, and Dad had to preach at church that morning. She had been in labor all through the night and delivered me around 6:30am that morning. Then Dad left to preach the Easter sermon at church after being up all night long! At least that's what I seem to remember being the story. (Dad, please correct me if I'm wrong!) Anyway, I feel very blessed to have my birthday again on the same day that we're celebrating Easter this year. What an honor and huge, huge privilege. I praise God Almighty for raising His Son from the grave so that WE, all of us, can have eternal life! Hallelujah! Christ is risen!

Michael and I are celebrating our 5th anniversary on April 29th! We're both a little amazed that it's already been five years. We're so fulfilled in our lives right now and feel very, very blessed and grateful. Our beautiful, happy children are a huge part of that happiness but, more than anything, we thank the Lord for bringing us together into what seems to be quite a perfect union. The way we complement each other is almost uncanny!

We have definitely covered a lot of ground in our five years of marriage by building a nice little family (dog, daughter, son - in that order!). Michael has established a profitable company in Tomahawk over the past two years and it's still going steady and strong. I've found my groove as a mother (I think) and feel very able yet humbled in my position. God always allows our children to challenge the weakest points in our character, doesn't He? I consider it more opportunity to allow God's grace to uphold me whenever I fall short. And, thankfully, He is faithful every time!

Thus concludes my blog update this time. I want to start writing more often, and now that Grant's on a consistent nap/sleep schedule, I should have the wherewithal to actually do it!

Pictures of the kids playing in the yard tonight: Grant blended in with the grass...

PJ was really loving the plums that had fallen off our plum trees!

Monday, March 28, 2011

3 Days Later...

and Payton Joy is potty trained (at 27 months old)! I did my research and a trusted friend told me about the 3DayPottyTraining method with which she and her son (second child) were successful. I trust mothers who have gone before me, and I did NOT want to make a mistake. As far as I am concerned, I only get ONE shot at this with each child so I wanted to follow someone's tried and true method.

We followed the method to a T and....IT WORKED! I am so excited for PJ. She sailed through the three days quite triumphantly! She had several accidents the first day but that is expected when she's been used to wearing a super absorbent diaper that wicks away the moisture. To begin the process, we threw away all of her diapers (she helped!) and put her in big girl undies. She loved the Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, and Hello Kitty designs! Every time she'd start to go, we'd rush her to the potty chair. We'd change her into clean, dry undies and say, "Keep your undies dry, okay?" and then within a few minutes, "Be sure to tell Mommy if you need to go pee-pee." Now, I will admit that after these three days, I'm TIRED of saying those two sentences over and over! But it's really worth it because she has made the connection and seems to be sailing. She woke up this morning with dry sheets, too!

Now I realize there will be set backs and, I'm sure, she'll get engrossed in some activity and not make it to the toilet occasionally, but I truly believe the "training" has worked and she is forever through with diapers! Our next step will be to put her on a regular toilet at home so that when we go out of the house, she won't be freaked out by not having her own little potty chair to use. I'm going to work on that the rest of this week. But if she got the major part down in three days, I'm certain it will not be a big deal to learn to adapt to a regular toilet.

Now for those of you who are appalled at the details in this message, I apologize. But for those of you who have children and have experienced the potty training woes, I wanted to share some helpful encouragement. I HIGHLY recommend the 3DayPottyTraining method. It will be the best $25 you ever spend (as long as you follow it diligently, of course)! I respect the author's copyright agreement and wish her continued success in her sales as a stay-at-home-mom, therefore, I will not forward the e-book to anyone so please don't ask me!