Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Aunt's Love

I became an aunt for the first time when my niece, Adeline, was born on January 16th, 2008. This was just two months after my giving birth to my own daughter and I truly wondered how I would feel about being an aunt - would it compare to my feelings for my child, would I love my little niece unconditionally, would the love just come? I was amazed the first time I held this sweet little girl. I fell in love with her immediately.

My sister Lauren (she is the sister who is right under me) is expecting her first child and is due next week. I have been elated about Baby Girl Brownfield's birth because I know I will love this little one instantly too. Sadly, her mommy and daddy live all the way out in Dallas, Texas, and it may be Christmas before I get to meet her. I was determined, though, to make her something special for her arrival. Thus, the dress and bonnet you see above.

This was a labor of love and the first smocked piece I have put together. I can't wait to see her precious little self all dolled up in her little gown and bonnet - if she looks anything like her mother did at that age she will look like an angel. So, Baby Girl Brownfield, I hope you know that I love you already and I can't wait to be your Aunt Alison - even if I do have to live so far away from you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Summer's Eve

If I have never mentioned it before, dusk is my favorite time of day. There is just something about the sun dropping behind the horizon, the cool breeze (especially in summer), the dimming of the light, the restfulness of the surroundings as all readies itself for sleep.

On this summer's eve Charlotte and I found ourselves out in the backyard with Jemison and Moe. This is a normal occurance for us after Douglass Charles goes down at 7:00. Doug normally is out there with us but he did not feel well this evening so he opted to stay indoors. Charlotte played while I made lists - what clothing the kids need this fall, ideas for The English Pea and so on. After a few moments Charlotte grew bored of her little games and asked for bubbles.

This is a favorite activity of she and her father. I normally get the pleasure of watching - which is always my choice. Tonight, with daddy inside, I got to take the honors.

We have a large bottle of bubbles with a "bubble wond" that is much longer than the little thingy in the small bottle you find at the store. I casually started waving the wond letting the bubbles fall as they may. Charlotte giggled with delight as she tried to catch them. Occasionally I would grab a bubble with the wond and offer it to her. She would immediately try to pick it up and it would quietly pop in her hands.

She began to grow tired of this so I decided to try something different. I dipped the wond into the bubbles, counted to three, said go and took off running with the bubbles falling behind me. Charlotte squealed with delight and came a running after. This went on for quite some time as we giggled and laughed and did it over again.

As I was running through our back yard feeling like a child myself I wanted to relish in that special moment with my little Charlotte. Watching her delight as she ran behind me winded, that precious smile plastered over her face, a look of joy that only a child can have, and the sun setting in the background with bubbles dancing about - I knew I wanted to remember that moment. It was a priceless ending to a summer's day. Who knew that something as simple as a bubble could grace a summer's eve in such a beautiful way. I love you, my sweet Charlotte!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Professional Photos

A new friend of mine recently offered to take some pictures of my stationery line. Laura is a professional photographer and is a good friend of my sweet friend Joy Derrer. Joy boasted of her talents after Laura had taken pictures of her percious family and suggested that I look into using her for some pictures of my sweet babies. So after some emailing back and forth Laura and I have become "work" friends. We both try to promote each other and she was so gracious to take these great photos.

If you are interested in her photography it is worth a little gander over to her website at If you decide you just have to use her talents please tell her that I sent you her way. She offers a referral credit to you as well as me - so it is worth it for both us. Enjoy the photos!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Above the Clouds

First, let me just say, Honey, thanks for talking me into this. When Doug first mentioned whisking me off to the mountains for three days it sounded nice, but I was not too sure about leaving my little ones. I knew we needed it and I was reminded of my own mother's words telling me to make these times a priority. Man, was she right.

I have not been away from both of my children at all and let me just say, leaving them on Sunday was hard. I cried when I put both of them down for their naps knowing that they wouldn't wake up to my being there and I cried as I walked out to the car. My mother says that the pull is like a magnet. It is hard in the beginning and once pulled apart much easier to be away.Very True. Let's just say, I also cried on Wednesday morning when I had to come home. :)

Our little cabin "Above the Clouds" (what it is actually called) was a beautiful, quiet, very serene spot. Doug not only made a great choice - yes, he did all the research, booked the place and found all of the restaurants we went to (I know, I am impressed too). He made me feel very special. We mainly slept, read, I smocked while he watched t.v., We ate breakfast out on the porch looking at the views shown in the pictures above, and we sat for hours and just talked.

We had a whole laundry list of things that we needed to discuss and so many things that we didn't. It was just nice to have uninterupted conversation, great food, and a quiet spot to be alone. Needless to say I felt like we reconnected and recharged for the months ahead.

While this was a splurge for us, we discovered that it is much needed. I truly believe that my first priority - other than my relationship with God - is the relationship with my spouse. Our children come second. While that may seem weird to some folks, if Doug and I don't take care of us then we don't have us to give to our children - what they truly need most. So, thanks honey, for a wonderful time. I hope you know how dearly I love you!

See Rock City

Anyone from around here or anyone who has ever traveled through Chattanooga has seen the signs for Rock City. It is definitely a tourist destination but Doug and I both had a good time going through the maze of beautiful scenery it provided. The whole time we were there we talked about the kids, what they would have liked there, and how we would have to bring them back (the kids were honestly the topic of conversation the entire trip - funny how you get away from them and then all you can do is talk about them).

These are just a few of the photos we snapped of our visit there. It was a beautiful day and it was nice to have a day outing with the hubby that didn't invovle the kids and all the stuff we have to take for them (even if we did speak of them the whole time we were there).

We Heart Chattanooga!

While on our little getaway Doug and I spent two evenings in Chattanooga for dinner. It was a thirty minute drive from our cabin on top of the mountain and we wound up falling in love with the city. I don't know if it was the river running through the heart of downtown, the old homes in the historic disctrict, the beautiful clean parks, the eclectic, bohemian restaurants and shops, or the lack of traffic. All I know is it made a great impression on us.

Honestly, this city surprised me. I have driven through there many times but have never had the pleasure of stopping. Isn't it interesting how different a place can be when you don't just drive through it. So here's to you, Chattanooga, thanks for suprising us with your beauty and charm!

Grandma Piano

Doug's grandmother, David's mom, passed through Birmingham with Doug's aunt and cousin on Sunday before we left for the mountains. The story goes that Grandma and Grandpa Piano got their name strictly because they had a piano in their home. I am guessing Andy (Doug's older brother) was able to remember them by that piano. Funny how family members get their names.

Thankfully, my grandmother has met Charlotte, Doug's grandparents, Susan's parents, have met and spent time with both kids, but David's (my father-in-law) parents live in Ohio and have not gotten to meet either of the children. It was nice for the kids to meet their great-grandma English and it was special for me to snap this photo of them both with her (not the greatest of pictures. It was during dinner). We are grateful to have so many of our grandparents still with us and to be able to watch them with our own children. It is such a blessing!

A Summer Vacation - Sort of

Our family got back yesterday from our "Summer Vacation." I put this in quotes because we took the kids to grandma and grandpa's and Doug and I went off to the mountains to spend some quality time together as well as get some much needed R&R. I will post on that in a minute.

These pictures are from our trip to the pool in my in-law's neighborhood. The kids had a blast and I was really surprised at how well the baby did. He thoroughly enjoyed it.

The kids spent the rest of the week playing and being spoiled by Maw, Paw and Aunt Kate (Maw and Paw are the names that Charlotte has chosen for my in-laws). We are so grateful to our family for keeping them. Date nights are hard to come by for us and this trip was even more of treat. I am sure it will take them a week or so to recoup (my mother-in-law commented when I got back that she didn't know how she used to do it with four kids. I don't know how she did either. I can barely keep up with my two. It is hard work!). So thanks to the English fam for taking care of our little ones. We truly appreciate it and I know they had a wonderful time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Four Months

Sitting up in his daddy's chair

Doug snapped this picture of the baby yesterday and I thought it was too cute not to post. He is SO big and just gets stronger every day. He cut his first tooth last week - which was quite the chore. He didn't like it one bit and our happy guy was not too fun to be around.

Douglass Charles watches his sister constantly and is not as independent as she was. He hates being alone and gets tired of things pretty quickly - we move him from the bouncy chair, to the exersaucer, to the johnny jump up, to the floor, to the swing, to someone's arms and then somewhere else again all in a 2-hour period. It is quite exhausting. I really think the trouble is he gets frustrated with the fact that he can't do what his sister does and he wants so badly to interact with her. It is funny to me that he seems happiest when she gets down on his level and plays with him.

He is such a big boy in comparison to Charlotte. He is so long that all of his clothes are 6-9 months and those are getting too short. I have quit buying him night clothes with feet in them because he outgrows them too quickly. It just amazes me how different he is from his sister - as he should be. Parenting two children is more challenging than I ever imagined - really one kid is a breeze (Mom, honestly, how did you do six?). It is good, though, and we feel so blessed to have two beautiful, healthy children.

Backyard Oasis

Our beautiful yard

"Oh, so wonderful" says Charlotte.

Clapping her hands for joy!

Another view of the yard

Doug and I have literally dreamed of sodding our backyard since the day we purchased this house. If we had been smart we would have just done it when we bought it and added it to the mortgage, but like all first time home owners, we had a lot to learn about that whole process.

Doug's father approached us the last time we were over in Birmingham and told us that he wanted to sod the yard for us as long as Doug was willing to help him put it in. We were so grateful and excited about finally having a place for the kids and dogs to truly run around - and I was thrilled that the lovely Georgia red clay would no longer be making a grand appearance on my kitchen floor every time it rained.

They chose Father's Day weekend to undertake this task. Those guys worked their fanny's off and eventually had to hire a few guys to help. They tilled and sodded the entire thing and the weather was sunny, and very hot - 90+ degrees. My mother-in-law even got out there for a few hours to help.

I have no idea how they did it, but it looks great and we have so enjoyed sitting out on the back porch and playing with the dogs and letting Charlotte run everywhere. Thanks, Dad, for footing the bill and all the work. Thanks, honey, for a job well done - I think he is finally able to enjoy it now. For the first week or so I think the thought of the yard made him sick to his stomach after all that long, hot work! :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Facebook Fan Discount and Giveaway

On a lighter note, my facebook fanpage reached 100 fans this week. In honor of reaching my goal I am fulfilling my promise that I made to my fans. I am giving a discount and a giveaway in the month of July. See the "rules" below and go on over to facebook, look me up (The English Pea, I mean) and fan yourself and take advantage of the giveaway and discount this month.

Receive a 10% Discount on all purchases - just for my facebook fans (if you are a fan you get the discount) through July 31st (cannot be combined with any other offers). When purchasing just write "facebook fan" in the customer comment line.

Facebook Fan Giveaway! We are giving one of our products away - you get to choose what you want if you win. How this works: You have to be a fan, go to my website at and come back to The English Pea on facebook and comment on your favorite item. You can only enter once. We will draw the winner and announce who it is on July 31st! Enjoy looking and thanks for your support!

Family posts coming soon - like our beautiful, landscaped back yard. :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

To Fret or Not To Fret

I woke up this morning again at 5:30 a.m. No, not because my baby needed me or my 19 month old little red-head was calling for me, I just can't sleep. Since I went back to work last month the insomnia has begun, along with migranes, and teeth clenching during sleep - which is causing my TMJ to come back in full force. Honestly, if I get 7 hours I am "sleeping in." I know I am completely and absolutely stressed out.

These stresses are not all due to work. I personally put way too much on myself - a habit that I believe I started back as a child. I am a people pleaser and my father expected a lot and my mom - with six children - needed a lot. This has benefited me in many ways, but it has also made me into the type of person that will try to do everything and kill myself while doing it.

I was convicted this morning as I had my quiet time - one of the benefits of being up so early - that while my circumstances are not what I want them to be - I would really quit work today if I was told I could - fretting is not the answer, in fact, it is desperately wicked.

Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest (and for those of you who will look it is on tomorrow's lesson) "Resting in the Lord does not depend on external circumstances at all, but on your relationship to God Himself... Fussing always ends in sin... it is an indication of how really wicked we are. Fretting springs from a determination to get our own way... Have you been bolstering up that stupid soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God? Put all "supposing" on one side and dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about that thing (in my case many things). All of our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God."

I truly wish I could learn the art of casting my cares on my Lord. Unfortunately, as soon as I cast them I take them right back. I realize that I need to simplify my life in some way, but how does one do that when their responsibilities are so overwhelming and they have too much on their plate. It is quite a paradox to me, but God keeps bringing me back to this place and I know this is a lesson I need to learn. It is ironic to me that my worry and fret stems from my determination to get my own way. I have never thought of worry in this light. The thought of that makes me hate that about myself because I have always been such a worry wort and it convicts me more that I need to learn not to fret.

So, with all this said, I hope that it was at least some encouragement to you. And, if I happen across your mind today, please commit my fretting spirit to our Lord. We all know I need as much of His help as I can get. :)