Meet Saylor!

I mentioned in Monday’s post that we got a new dog, and I wanted to introduce her to my Tickled Peach family!

Meet Saylor! She is a miniature dachshund. She weighs 2.2 pounds currently and shouldn’t grow to weigh more than 10 pounds.

So some backstory: Jason and I adopted two precious chihuahuas early on in our marriage, George and JC. George and JC were my children long before I had children (we had them for 6 years before our first child arrived). They were our hearts, and loved dearly. They remained with us from 2004 until 2013, when they went to live with a family member. Long story short: as George aged, he became intolerant of the children. Even though we tried every single thing we could do to both train him and the kids, separate him and the kids, protect everyone involved… he began to attack the kids when they would try to interact with him. After a particularly scary incident where he bit Sullivan’s face when Sullivan was doing nothing more than crawling around the floor near him (Sullivan was at the time around 1 year old), Jason told me that he felt it would be best if we sent them to live with a family member, whom they knew and loved. It was such a heart wrenching decision for me because I had never been without them in our married life. I got George when Jason deployed for the first time and well… it was hard. Very hard. I know there are lots of thoughts and opinions about re-homing dogs, but I hope you know as I write this that: a. I’m being authentic, honest, and vulnerable and b. I did not make the decision to re-home them lightly, and I would not have ever done it had we not had a family member they were familiar with to care for them and love them.

Anyway. George passed away this summer. He was 13 years old. JC is doing well, but he does have some health concerns.

Cooper has been asking for a dog for years. I’ve always said no, because I miss my chihuahuas desperately and couldn’t imagine (in my mind) replacing them. Lately he’s been begging, making promises, bargaining with me to “please mom, please let me get a dog. I’ll be the best boy ever. I’ll take care of the dog! I’ll do my chores!” He’s worn me down, ha! I started to discuss it with Jason in July, and we thought it would make a good Christmas present. We knew we wanted a small dog, preferably a puppy, maybe a Chihuahua again. I started to look at breeder websites, Puppy Finder, and our local shelter’s website, but I couldn’t find anything that met all our criteria that was available. I started to get really discouraged.

Fast forward to two weekends ago. We headed to Charleston for a little getaway, and we drove around town looking at all our old haunts from when we were stationed there in 2001-2003 and 2008-2011. We drove to Summerville, and pulled into a gas station to get gas. Off to the side, a woman had a booth set up with puppies. (Jason tried to swing out of the parking lot when I squealed “PUPPIES!”) Jason got gas, and I wondered over to talk to the lady. She had several puppies, and I asked her some questions and talked to her about our desire to get a dog for our children. She ended up giving us her address (she lived about 45 minutes away) and inviting us to come by the next day.

So we did. I saw her home, which was clean and in good repair. Nothing about her home indicated “puppy mill.” She had records of the dog’s shots, plenty of information about their history (eating patterns, etc), and the puppies themselves seemed very healthy and happy.

One puppy in particular stood out to us – a mini dachshund that we brought home. We talked about names on the way home to Augusta and settled on Saylor, because Jason is a Sailor and it seemed fitting that we give her a nautical name after visiting Charleston, the place we were stationed for so many years.

Our first two days were normal, or so I thought. Saylor didn’t eat well, but I assumed that was because she was adjusting to a new home and owners. The kids have very quickly gotten attached to her, and she has become my shadow. We are in love.

On Tuesday I noticed she seemed less energetic, and I started to monitor her. She had some mucous-y diarrhea, so I called the vet for an appointment. They couldn’t get me in until Thursday, but they told me to watch for a refusal to eat, vomiting, or blood in her stools. On Tuesday evening I slept with her on my chest because she was acting so pitiful. On Wednesday, she hadn’t improved, so I called the vet and asked to bring her in immediately.

Well… she tested positive for both parvo and giardia. Both are internal parasites and both can be deadly. Parvo in particular is very nasty and is spread easily (to dogs, not humans). The vet told me at the time he was most concerned about the giardia because the parvo positive was a “weak positive” which he said can happen sometimes when you recently are exposed or receive shots. That day we did IV fluids, he gave her a B12 shot to stimulate her appetite, and he also gave her an anti-nausea shot to help her keep down her food and water. He sent me home with a high calorie canned food and a syringe, giving me the instructions to feed her and give her water every 2 hours. I also had a 14 day supply of antibiotics that I had to give her 2x a day.

I’m not going to lie; I was scared. I knew parvo could be bad, but I freaked myself out when I asked for advice on social media. I got a lot of “she should be under continuous vet care” and “this is what you get when you buy from a puppy mill.” Google did not reassure me, but I was committed to doing whatever I could to get her healthy.

So I did. I gave her food and water from a syringe every 2 hours, even during the night. I did that for two days, until mid-day on the second day when she approached her bowl and started to eat on her own. That’s when I cried.

The vet called me the next day to check on her, and when I told him she had started to eat, he said that he couldn’t believe it. He really felt like she might not make it. He said it was a positive sign that she was eating and that it could point towards her pulling through this.

She’s continued to improve! Her appetite has improved, she’s eating on her own, she is running and playing and using the bathroom normally. We are finally starting to see her real personality, and she is quite the energetic and mischievous girl.

I took her back to the vet on Thursday afternoon, and the whole staff just couldn’t believe how much she has improved. I am SO thankful. I prayed desperately for her to get better. Not only am I attached, but my kids and Jason are as well. She’s already a member of our family.

Before I continue on with this story, I do want to say – I know people have strong thoughts about “adopt, don’t shop.” I completely respect your opinion if that is how you feel. I can understand where someone might feel frustrated or disappointed that we didn’t go through a shelter to find a dog. However, I don’t regret for a minute getting her the way we did. It’s clear she came to us with both giardi and parvo. In both cases, you show symptoms 7-10 days after exposure, so considering she got sick 2 days after we brought her home, she was sold to us having already contracted the virus. I feel 100% certain (based on the breeder’s reaction) that had we not brought her home, she wouldn’t have gotten treatment and she would have died. I believe she’s alive and well now because we got her, and I can’t regret that for a minute.

Moving on… the vet recommended that we call the breeder immediately to tell her what had happened. I was not looking forward to this conversation and had decided to pawn it off on Jason. I was upset and angry, and when I get upset with someone, I tend to ruin the conversation by crying. However, I ended up making the phone call. I was really polite and respectful because even if I suspect she came to us sick, I cannot prove it, and I didn’t want to blame her for something I have no solid proof of (although some would argue Saylor being sick is proof, I know). I just never want to think the worst of people, and I didn’t want to believe she knew. The breeder immediately started arguing with me, telling me the vet was wrong and that it wasn’t possible for her to have parvo because none of her other puppies were sick. She said she had never heard of giardia and told me “well, if she dies, you let me know and I’ll give you your money back.” I calmly let her know that wasn’t why I was calling. We intended to treat Saylor and prayed she would pull through.  I ended up cutting off the conversation because it had become unproductive.

Anyway… we took the best care of Saylor that we could and she had vastly improved by Friday. On Friday we were sitting on the couch, watching TV, and someone called Jason. He got up and walked into the other room to have the conversation.

Apparently the caller was the breeder. She called to say she still didn’t believe Saylor had parvo or “that giardia mess” but that she had found MICE in her puppy food so maybe that was why she was sick.

MICE DROPPINGS.

IN THE PUPPY FOOD.

Sigh. Sadly there is no one I can report her to because South Carolina does not have laws for breeders. They do not have to have licenses and they aren’t accountable to a set agency.

So I’ll say again – I’m glad we got her because in our home, she is now healthy and safe. And I can’t and won’t regret that, regardless of how she came to be here.

Again, I know this is a hot topic, and I hope my heart comes across in this post. I fully respect anyone’s decisions regarding their pets, and Jason and I donate to our local shelter. It just didn’t happen to work out that we found a pet that would work for us there. But again, I don’t regret how we got Saylor at all. We may have very well saved her life.

I also know you may read this and think “why would she blog about this? Why not just not disclose it?” Well, Tickled Peach is about being authentic and Saylor is a part of our life. Her story is part of our story, and I’m not going to hide details because I am worried about what people will think of me. I hope you all see my heart and know my intentions.

Tell me – do you have pets? How many and what kind? I’d love to hear from you! Also, if you have potty training or crate training tips, send them my way!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Hey friends! I have another yummy recipe for you today. It’s been in the 90s still here in Georgia, but this week we are having a bit of a cold snap and these 70 degree temps feel positively cold in comparison. Whenever the temperature drops the slightest bit, I want to make some soup. It just signifies fall to me!

On the way home from our Charleston trip, we stopped in Columbia so I could go to Trader Joe’s. (Our closest Trader Joe’s is an hour away, boo!) They had butternut squash on sale so I picked up two medium size squash, having no idea what I would cook with them. Well, a lady from my church sent me her recipe for butternut squash soup, and I combined a bit of it with another recipe I had found on Pinterest. The result was a rich, creamy soup that is absolutely perfect for these fall nights.

Recipe adapted from Mrs. Nancy Wall and Damn Delicious

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

Butternut Puree:

  • 4 pounds butternut squash soup, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 slices of bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Soup:

  • Butternut puree
  • 4 slices of bacon (for garnishing the soup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • I box chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base
  • 1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • Goat cheese, crumbled (for garnishing the soup)

Directions:

  1. First prepare your butternut squash. Cut into half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Discard. Then peel off the outer layer of squash. Cut the squash into cubes.
  2. Cut up the onion, bell pepper, carrot, and garlic.
  3. Use kitchen shears to cut up the bacon into small pieces.
  4. Spread squash on a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Add the carrots, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and bacon. Spread across the pan evenly.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until squash is tender.
  7. I also prepare the bacon that will be used for garnishing in the oven. I cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and I use whatever is left of the package of bacon (around here, it will get eaten!). I lay out the bacon on the pan and place it in the over with the butternut squash. Cook 15 minutes and remove. Drain the excess fat and flip over the bacon. Place it back into the oven and cook another 15 minutes. It should come out perfectly crispy! Remove the bacon to a paper towel, let it drain, and crumble once it is cool.
  8. Once the squash is ready, transfer the entire pan to a dutch oven or large pot. Add the chicken stock and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (If you do not have an immersion blender, you can transfer your ingredients to a blender.)
  9. Add the chicken base, thyme, and cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer.
  10. Simmer for 20 minutes or until warm.
  11. Top your soup with bacon and goat cheese. Yum!

I’m always searching for ways to add calories to Cooper’s diet, so I used cream. Feel free to substitute with milk or half and half!

The addition of the goat cheese adds this bit of tang to the soup – it is SO good!

My husband and I loved this soup, and wonders of wonders, the kids did too! My kids are picky eaters and vegetables are impossible to sneak into their diet, but I think they were distracted enough by the bacon to give the soup a fair shot. Ha!

Please let me know if you make this!

With a Happy Heart

Confession: I hate to clean.

I’m a natural slob. I do like to have a clean, orderly house but I hate that I’m the one that carries the burden of keeping it that way. I am a girl who enjoys piles: piles of dirty clothes, piles of clean clothes, piles of mail. Right now my dining room table is currently home to stacks of mail, gifts I need to deliver to friends, Halloween decorations, random toys, and Halloween candy. If there is something that needs to go somewhere but I don’t want to actually carry it to the room it belongs in it goes on the dining room table. I take my clothes off at night and leave them in a heap on the bathroom floor. I’m terrible at taking the trash outside to the bin, so I will overflow the can until Jason comes home and takes it outside.

I enjoy my home when it is clean and tidy. I like my home to be CLEAN. You know, when the smell of bleach and pumpkin spice candles permeate the air? I like it when bathrooms are clean, toys have a place and are in their intended place, laundry is caught up, and my dishwasher has been emptied.

I just don’t like being the one responsible for the above.

My friends keep telling me – “Andrea, get a housekeeper! It will change your life!” Well, I’m sure it would, but it isn’t in the budget at the present, so… I am the housekeeper.

Here’s where Jason and I can butt heads. He likes a tidy house. He does not care if bathrooms have been scrubbed or floors have been swept and mopped, but he does like it when the kitchen is clean, toys are picked up and put away, and there is no clutter in our house. He gets frustrated when he comes home and it looks as if I lost a game of Jumanji. He is a patient and understanding man, but there have been days when he has come home and said the dreaded words… “what did you DO all day?”

To be honest, this question usually incites rage within my heart. I get mad and defensive, assuming that he is criticizing me or thinking that the state of the house is more important to him than the time I’m spending with my children.

What I rarely stop to consider is that my husband has a right to come home to a peaceful home. Jason works a hard and stressful job, and it stresses him out more when he steps in the door and sees a mess. It makes him feel like he needs to immediately start picking up after working a 12 hour day. And I want to give him credit – there are many time he has done just that. Days where I’ve been sick, or our kids have been sick, or I’ve struggled with household chores because of my depression he has rolled up his sleeves and done more than his share. But doesn’t he deserve to come home to a place of refuge and rest?

Today I was cleaning the kitchen and I asked Sullivan to pick up the couch cushions, which I noticed had been knocked to the floor. 15 minutes later I went to check on the kids and I saw that the cushions had not been picked up. I asked him again to pick them up. I returned 10 minutes later and saw that he still had not done what I asked, and I disciplined him and put him in time out. He started to whine and I replied “Right away, the right way, with a happy heart” which is his notice that he needs to stop crying and get busy doing what he’s been asked to do. He complied, and I returned to the kitchen to finish my chores.

As I loaded the dishwasher, I began to think about how often I don’t follow my own commands to my children. Do I always have a happy heart as I’m cleaning my home? The answer is no. I do my housework with a lot of resentment and grumbling. I’m frequently angry and exasperated with the messes my children have made. I’m short of temper because I’m cleaning up a mess that I feel as if I just cleaned up yesterday. I’m upset because my children (like their mother) are not tidy and do not enjoy completing their daily chores.

How different would my home be if I viewed laundry as a blessing? I could spend the time folding praying for the people who wear the clothes.

What if while I unloaded my groceries, I prayed for my husband’s job, which allows us to buy food?

As I vacuum and mop, what if I reflected upon the tremendous blessing that I have been given of staying at home with my children during their formative years?

The truth is that I really want my husband and my children to view our home as a place of love, enjoyment, and refuge. I want them to come home and be able to relax, laugh, and have fun. I don’t want them to remember a mom who yells about crumbled goldfish on the floor. I want them to remember a mom who loved and served them well – even if that service is in clean bathrooms, folded laundry, and a hot meal on the table each night.

Right away, the right way, with a happy heart.

Maybe I need to take my own advice.

Weekend Recap

Hey friends! How are you? This weekend has been absolutely uneventful. Poppy has had a low grade fever that started on Saturday, and Jason had drill, so it has been very low key and restful. Last weekend was chock full of exciting events so I thought I would do a (last) weekend recap.

As I said last week, we jumped at the chance to go to Charleston last weekend. Jason was able to scoot out of work early and we left Augusta around 2:00 and arrived in Charleston around 5:30 (you know you always have multiple stops with kids!).

We dropped our things off at the hotel and Jason decided it was his turn to make the “what should we eat? where should we go?” calls. Since I’m normally the one making those demands decisions, I was happy to acquiesce. He decided we should head to the Cooper River Bridge – just under the bridge is the Mount Pleasant pier, which is a wonderful place to spend a few hours.

Of course we had to let Cooper take a picture with this sign – we did name him after the Cooper River, after all.

If you’ve never been, please try to stop by on your next visit to Charleston. The views are absolutely breathtaking. Just before the pier, there is a grassy area with benches and swings that overlooks the marsh. It would be the perfect spot for a romantic picnic! The pier itself also has swings, benches, a cafe, and a gift shop. If you like to fish but don’t have a boat, this is a great spot, and they sell bait at the gift shop. Our kids love the Mount Pleasant Pier because it has a great playground. It’s a wonderful spot that is FREE which y’all all know is nice when you are traveling with your children. 

Our next stop was a Mount Pleasant restaurant, Crave, which we had stumbled upon once before during a trip in 2016.

Crave would be a great spot for a Girl’s Night Out or a romantic date with your spouse (it’s a tad fancy) but they’ve also been really kind to us both times we have visited with our children. They boast of having the best macaroni and cheese in Charleston and it is TRUE. Holy cow, it is amazing. This visit we got – you guessed it – macaroni and cheese (as an entree, no shame) and a fried chicken sandwich that Jason and I shared. The fried chicken sandwich came with pimento cheese and a pecan mayo that was out of this world. It was served with sweet potatoes fries and between that and the macaroni and cheese, everyone was stuffed. The kids gorged themselves on their bread basket, which contains bread and muffins, and whipped butter which I was told is a secret recipe of their chef. It’s honey-ish and cinnamon-y and Sullivan literally licked the bowl before I took it away from him.

Fantastic choices, Jason!

I’m always worried about sleeping arrangements during hotel stays. You know, you just never know how your kids will do, and if they cry, what the heck do you do with them? We’ve spent many a night just walking around hotel halls with our kids in strollers to try and get them to go back to sleep. I’m happy to report the kids slept wonderfully, even if I did wake up at several points with Sullivan literally laying across my face. #bedhog

The next morning was rainy and grey so we scrapped our plans of heading downtown. I always love a stroll around the market and window shopping on King Street, but it sounded miserable in the rain. After grabbing breakfast we decided to go on a throwback tour and visit some of our old haunts.

Jason and I met when he was attending nuclear power school in Charleston and was living in the barracks on Naval Weapons Station Charleston. I was living downtown, on Calhoun Street, managing a residence hall and attending graduate school at the College of Charleston. We visited our first apartment in North Charleston and even drove by the site of our first meeting – Barnes and Noble in North Charleston. We drove to our house in Moncks Corner (which we still own and rent) and drove through the town to reacquaint ourselves. We eventually headed to Summerville, which was mostly where we shopped and ate when we lived in Moncks Corner almost 10 (!) years ago.

After we drove around Summerville, we headed to Sullivan’s Island (can you sense a theme with our children’s names?) so we could walk around the beach.

Except I did not plan ahead and bring bathing suits (boo)… but in the spirit of spontaneity I let the kids wade in the water in their clothes. We saw tons of hermit crabs and our toes were sandy… signs of a great trip to the beach.

At this point, it was 5:00 and I had soaking wet kids, so we headed back to the hotel to shower and change. We were hungry and tired and wanted something to eat quickly, so we ended up at Manny’s Mediterranean Cafe for dinner.

I mean, you could pretty much tell me any restaurant has gyros and I’m there. They had a Greek nachos appetizer that even my kids devoured! It had fried pita chips, chicken, this whipped tzatiki sauce… holy cow it was good.

On Sunday we packed up, ate breakfast, and headed out early because we were on our way to pick up a little surprise for the kids…

Meet Saylor! She’s a mini dauschund and she has every one of us wrapped around her sweet little paws. More on Saylor later this week!

What have y’all been up to lately?

Hotels Helping Heroes

Hey friends! How are you? I took a little break from blogging in order to spend some much needed time with my family. Sometimes I think my phone is permanently affixed to my hand – I seem to use it for everything. The past couple of days I have made a true effort to put down my phone and just enjoy my husband and children. I didn’t even take that many pictures! (Who am I?!)

I blogged before about how the past few weeks have just been insane for us. Jason was participating in Chief season, and he was gone every single night and weekend until mid-September. He barely got to see the kids because he usually would arrive home after their bedtime. Since he gets up and leaves before we wake up in the morning, it had started to feel as if we were ships passing in the night. One day after he was pinned as Chief, he started working the outage at his plant, and he was on a schedule that had him working 6pm-6am six days a week. Again, we just kind of saw each other in passing. It was tough, I’ll admit, but it was necessary.

All that to say – we were way overdue for family time. This past weekend was the first weekend since July that he has not had either Navy commitments, Chief commitments, or work. We had talked about going out of town but finally decided to put it on hold for a few weeks. Last week, a great opportunity was dropped in my lap to review a hotel in exchange for a free stay, and we jumped on it!

Hotels Helping Heroes is an organization that aims to greatly reduce the cost of staying at clean, safe, and friendly brand properties for veterans and military members who might not otherwise be able to afford the cost of travel. Hotels Helping Heroes reaches out to hotels and offers social media marketing in exchange for free or reduced hotel stays.

In a nutshell – if you are a veteran, current military member, retired military, Reservist or National Guard, or a military spouse, you can complete a registration form that lists your pertinent information and possible dates of travel. You indicate which city you wish you travel, and Hotels Helping Heroes will reach out to hotels in the area on your behalf. Hotels will then barter unused rooms in exchange for social media promotion. You are asked to provide at least 3 reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google, Trip Advisor, the hotel’s Facebook page, etc. It is expected you will write an honest review.

Hotels Helping Heroes then charges a small percentage of the room’s rate per night. Just to give you an idea – our hotel room, had I booked myself, would have been $140 a night. I paid $75 to Hotels Helping Heroes for two nights.

Another military spouse posted about this opportunity, so I reached out, figuring that I didn’t really have anything to lose. I’m so glad I did!

Note: Hotels Helping Heroes did not require me to write about this on my blog. I completed my “requirements” by posting on my social media and placing reviews on several travel websites. I am writing about this because I understand that as a military family, sometimes it is hard to make money stretch to include vacations. However, vacations are much needed, especially after deployments or other separations! I really appreciate the idea behind Hotels Helping Heroes. I would not mention this had I not tried it and had a positive experience myself.

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Charleston, South Carolina. We are frequent travelers to Charleston but this is the first time we have ever stayed at the Crowne Plaza. It was clean, safe, comfortable, and affordable which is really all we are looking for as a family when we travel. I should note that we are not a family who typically stays in “fancy” or boutique type hotels. Generally, when I search for hotels I am looking for something that is budget friendly yet is clean, family friendly, and is located in a safe area of town.

Crowne Plaza really met all our needs! It is located right across the street from the Tanger outlets, and there is also a Walmart within walking distance. There are tons of restaurants – Steak and Shake, IHOP, Denny’s, Chili’s, Mellow Mushroom just to name a few. Downtown is a 20 minute drive, and we made it to Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island in less than 30 minutes.

The hotel itself is really modern in decor. You walk into a lobby, and just past the lobby is a restaurant, a bar, and a sitting area. There is also a small shop – we didn’t visit but it looked as if it housed travel necessities, toiletries, snacks, and drinks.

I was especially pleased with the room – we were given a standard room with two queen beds, and I was worried about the five of us fitting comfortably. However, the room was really spacious and the bathroom was huge! We had plenty of room, even with a pack and play for Poppy Grace. The beds were crazy comfortable. The room had a settee, two double beds, a nightstand with a lamp and alarm clock, a chest of drawers, a mini fridge, and a desk. The TV is mounted opposite the bed. There was a safe, a coffee maker, coffee fixings, cups, and there were toiletries in the bathroom.

The bathroom was huge… you know how sometimes you can only fit one person into a hotel bathroom? It was plenty big enough for one person to shower and the other use the sink or get ready. Jason’s favorite feature was that they had this really amazing magnifying mirror… I found it frightening (who needs to see your wrinkles that close?) but to each his own. The shower was really modern, with subway tile and a seamless glass door. I always love and appreciate the lighting in a hotel bathroom and wish I could bring that back home for getting ready purposes!

The hotel has an outdoor pool with tons of lounge chairs and tables. There is even an outdoor fireplace! The kids really wanted to swim, and we could have (the pool is heated) but I forgot their puddle jumpers and Jason said no.

The hotel also had an exercise room and a guest laundry, but I didn’t personally try either out.

I did mention the hotel has a restaurant, which served a buffet breakfast. We ate elsewhere, but the restaurant was packed each morning. I also looked at the room service menu, and the prices seemed very reasonable to me (like $8 for a breakfast meal).

We were very pleased with our stay at the Crowne Plaza, and would definitely stay there on future trips!

Note: I know this post sounds like a sponsored review, but I was not required to post about either the hotel or Hotels Helping Heroes. I always appreciate reading hotel reviews because you just never know what you will get sometimes. I would definitely stay at the Crowne Plaza again.

September Book Review

I love to read. I’ve loved to read since I was a child, and even in the business of motherhood I’ve tried my best to find time to read everyday. I do the majority of my reading at night. Jason tends to go to bed earlier than me, so I’ll often stay awake reading well into the night. It isn’t good for my complexion or my energy levels, but it sure is a stress reliever for me.

I always love when bloggers do book reviews, because I am always looking for something new to read. I thought I would share what has has been on my Kindle this month.

Back in May, I had lunch with my friend, Kim, and she talked about what a game changer this book had been in her life. I went home after our lunch and purchased both the book and the study guide, intending to complete the study on my own over the summer. Our church women’s ministry actually ended up deciding to use this book for our fall study, and I was approached about co-leading the bible study. This week is our final session, and I’m going to be really sad for the study to end. We have had such a great time of fellowship and really learned some light bulb lessons about how to love others well.

So, what is the book about?

Our culture is self-obsessed – in our schedules, relationships, and especially online. (Can you say selfie?) But in this near-narcissism, people are less content than in decades past. Why? Because we forgot the joy that comes from putting others first. Doing so requires us to live alert, listening for “heart drops,” hints from those in our lives who need a helping hand or a generous dose of encouragement. Living alert lifts our own spirits, showing us that blessing others blesses us even more.

Listen, Love, Repeat offers biblical teaching and suggests doable actions that are simple, heart-tugging, sentimental, even sneaky and hilarious. This message:

• Presents scriptural examples of those who lived alert, including Jesus, who noticed those who least expected to be seen.

• Explains the role of good works for followers of Christ. They aren’t our ticket to heaven but they are our marching orders on earth.

• Gives creative ideas for showing love to friends and family, and suggests practical ways to reach out to the lonely, the marginalized, the outcast, and the odd duck. Additionally, it helps you comfort the grieving, showing what you can do when you don’t know what to say.

• Provides inspiration for blessing the “necessary people” in your life, those often-overlooked souls who help you get life done every day, and teaches you how to hug a porcupine by genuinely loving the hard-to-love.

As we scatter love, we create a safe space where we can openly share the gospel. We get to see lives changed right before our eyes. Most importantly, Listen, Love, Repeat will enable you to live a life that is full of kind deeds, not to selfishly shout, “Hey! Look at me!” but to humbly implore, “Will you look at Him?”

The book delves into WHY it is important to show love to others and has lots of practical application tips and tricks on how to show love to your family, your friends, fellow church members, strangers, neighbors – really, anyone you come in contact with. The bible study really goes deep into the biblical truths that support why we should love others and how: because Jesus did, and we want to bring others to Him.

I highly, highly recommend this book. It’s been such an eye opener for me… I mean, prior to reading this book and completing the bible study I would have said that I am a thoughtful person and that I go out of my way to do nice things for others. But since I’ve read the book I truly find I am “living alert” and actively looking for how I can show love to everyone I come in contact with.

I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon this author – I think I was looking for authors that were similar to Mary Kay Andrews and Kristy Woodson Harvey popped up. This is such a great book! I definitely could not put it down and stayed up late to finish it. It is emotional material – but it has a positive ending.

One baby girl.
Two strong Southern women.
And the most difficult decision they’ll ever make.

Frances “Khaki” Mason has it all: a thriving interior design career, a loving husband and son, homes in North Carolina and Manhattan–everything except the second child she has always wanted. Jodi, her husband’s nineteen-year-old cousin, is fresh out of rehab, pregnant, and alone. Although the two women couldn’t seem more different, they forge a lifelong connection as Khaki reaches out to Jodi, encouraging her to have her baby. But as Jodi struggles to be the mother she knows her daughter deserves, she will ask Khaki the ultimate favor…

Written to baby Carolina, by both her birth mother and her adoptive one, this is a story that proves that life circumstances shape us but don’t define us–and that families aren’t born, they’re made…

After I finished Dear Carolina, I immediately downloaded the author’s other books. Again, Slightly South of Simple has some heavy subject matter, and there is a bit of a sad ending. However, the ending sets the book up for future additions to the series.

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley’s life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart.

Yet another Kristy Woodson Harvey book, Lies and Other Acts of Love is a great story about how little white lies can either save us or damn us. The story is told from the point of view of a grandmother and a granddaughter. Warning: there is a death in this book. Be prepared; it’s emotional!

After sixty years of marriage and five daughters, Lynn “Lovey” White knows that all of us, from time to time, need to use our little white lies.

Her granddaughter, Annabelle, on the other hand, is as truthful as they come. She always does the right thing—that is, until she dumps her hedge fund manager fiancé and marries a musician she has known for three days. After all, her grandparents, who fell in love at first sight, have shared a lifetime of happiness, even through her grandfather’s declining health.

But when Annabelle’s world starts to collapse around her, she discovers that nothing about her picture-perfect family is as it seems. And Lovey has to decide whether one more lie will make or break the ones she loves . . .

Ashley Farley is another Southern author. I’ve read several of her books, but this book is the best of the bunch. The setting of this book is Charleston, which immediately drew me in because I used to live there. This has a bit of a heavy subject matter (emotional abuse and child neglect) but it still was a good read. I wouldn’t say it was a light or easy read, but it was compelling.

Ellie Pringle has spent endless hours and countless dollars working with a therapist to remember the lost years of her childhood. She’s baffled and more than a little intrigued when the grandmother she hasn’t seen in thirty-four years dies and leaves her a fortune. The time has come to face her past in person. Still reeling from a recent breakup of a long-term relationship, and with nothing to keep her in San Francisco, Ellie packs her meager belongings and boards a plane for the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Standing in the entryway of her grandmother’s antebellum home on South Battery Street in Charleston, Ellie faces the first of many ghosts who will soon haunt her. On her first night in the creepy, creaking mansion, as she’s perusing the titles in a dusty bookcase, she comes across her deceased mother’s leather-bound journal. Her mother’s words create more unanswered questions and send her on a quest to find more journals. As Hurricane Lorene bears down on the South Carolina coast, Ellie encounters Juan Hagood, a handsome architect who has the talent to restore her dilapidated mansion and the charm to mend her broken heart. But as Ellie reads her mother’s diaries, they dislodge a stone in the wall that safeguards her memories, causing her world to come crumbling down. Revelations about her childhood lead Ellie on a harrowing journey of discovery that will hold spellbound until the dramatic conclusion.

Click directly on the book pictures to be taken to the Amazon purchase page. Links are affiliate links.

What have you been reading lately?

Love

This has been a tough week.

I know you all feel the weight of the wrong in the world today, just as I do. It seems like every time we turn around, there is yet another story of violence. Hate. Bigotry. Discrimination. Bullying. Rape. Murder. The list could go on and on. The media inundates us with story after story of what is wrong with the world. Sometimes it feels as if our lives are becoming darker and darker each day. “The end is near!’ is a popular opinion on any news story you see posted to Facebook.”Where is your God?!” is another comment I see posted quite often.

He’s there, friends. He is there.

On Monday I watched in horror with the rest of the world as we received the new of the Las Vegas shooting. As I write this post, the current casualty count is 59 killed and 500 injured. I had the news on all day, and I just couldn’t really put into words my feelings. In the aftermath of these types of situations there are so many conversations that need to be had, but all I could think of was those children.

(Because every person there was someone’s child.)

I think about the parents that are grieving today. That will never again see their kids. The parents who desperately waited for news of their child’s safety. The parents who were present with their children; those who were scared out of their minds that they wouldn’t be able to protect their child.

I think of them, and I pray for them. I pray for all of them. Each and every person who was present, those who were lost, those who were injured, those who responded to help, and those who will continue to search for answers in the weeks to come.

And then I think of my own child. I feel enormous fear that we live in a world where I have to worry about my child being shot as he enjoys a concert. How can I protect him? How in the world do I keep him safe?

I can’t. And as a parent, that is the most frightening thing.

I wonder – should I have this conversation with him? Do I tell him what happened? I want to protect him. He’s only 7! In his world, everyone is good and no one is evil. He’s so innocent still. I begin to wonder: should I discuss with him what to do in an active shooter situation? He is prone to anxiety and nightmares. Will I scare him? Will he worry? It’s my job to keep him safe and I feel as if I’m failing.

There are no right answers here, friends.

I realized Monday that I have precious few options. I can’t keep him safe. His safety isn’t up to me. The fact of the matter is that I could be standing right beside him, and if it was his time to go, he would go. God alone knows the number of his days on this Earth, and I’ve only been entrusted to his care while he’s here on Earth.

So what do I do?

I have the uncomfortable conversations. We talk about what to do in an active shooter situation. We discuss the drills he has already had at school. I ask him if he has any questions, and he says — “but Mom, why? Why did this man shoot people?

I wish I could tell you that I had a perfect answer to that question, but I did not.

“I don’t know, baby. I don’t know why bad people do the things they do. Sometimes people are just full of darkness, and the only way to fight darkness is with light.”

We had a conversation about how he needs to be the light of the world, and about how by letting his light shine before others, he may lead people to Jesus.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let you light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 14-16

As Cooper gets older, we will have many different conversations about what it means to be both salt and light in the world. His “good deeds” will change and evolve as he does. But for now, I’m just teaching him to love.

“What do I do?” he asks me.

“Love. All you can do is love.

Love the people that are different. Love the ones that don’t look like you. Love the ones that are richer, or poorer, than you. Love the ones that are bullies, that mock you, that call you names. Love the ones that sit alone at lunch. Love the ones that play by themselves on the playground. Notice people. Notice the people who are sad. The people who are anxious. The people who are lonely.

Love them all.

Every day when Cooper gets out of the car I say “make sure to show someone Jesus’s love!” and every day when I pick him up I say “who did you help today?”

This is what I can do. I can teach my child love.

It starts with us, friends. Any change starts at home, with our own families. Don’t just say “I love you” but show your kids what that really means. Show them the depths of God’s love for us, and try every day to show that same sacrificial love to others we come in contact with.

Love.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

 

Instant Pot Low Country Boil


There is just something about Low Country Boil that screams “summer dinner” to me. I have such great memories of family trips to the beach, where we would make huge pots of Low Country Boil and eat them at the kitchen table. It’s no longer summer, but I think Low Country Boil is a great Saturday night dinner, particularly if you are entertaining. It’s easy to make and it feeds a crowd.

I’ve always made it in a huge pot on the stove, but I was intrigued at the idea of cooking it in the Instant Pot. I did tweak the recipe some by cooking just the shrimp on the stove. I like to cook my shrimp in a mixture of beer and Old Bay, and I was worried the shrimp would turn rubbery in the Instant Pot. I’ll also include instructions on how to cook the entire meal on the stove if you do not have an Instant Pot.

The sauce is what really makes this dish so good. Serve with bread and sop up all that garlic-y, buttery goodness.

Ingredients:

  • One package smoked sausage
  • One package frozen sweet corn on the cob (I like using the ones that are cut into smaller pieces because they fit in the Instant Pot better)
  • 4 large red potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 2-4 tablespoons Old Bay Crab Boil (I have a generous hand with spices, but definitely use 2 tablespoons if you do not)

 

  • 1 lb peeled and deveined raw shrimp
  • One large bottle of beer (cheap beer is fine!)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning

 

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 3-5 shakes of hot sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced

 

Instructions:

  1. Cut up the sausage – I like cutting it up into smaller pieces because its easier for my kids to eat, but use your discretion.
  2. Add the sausage, corn on the cob, and potatoes to your Instant Pot.
  3. Sprinkle the Old Bay over the top of the ingredients. Add enough water to cover the ingredients, and lock the lid.
  4. Set your Instant Pot for 6 minutes.
  5. While that is cooking, place a large pot on the stove and fill with the beer, Old Bay seasoning, and a lemon, halved. Pour enough water in the pot to reach halfway. I set this to medium high and let it heat up while everything else is cooking.
  6. Now you can work on the sauce. Add the butter, garlic, cajun seasoning, Old Bay seasoning, hot sauce, and lemon pepper to the pan. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the lemon juice and bring to a boil.
  7. Turn heat to low and whisk until the mixture stops bubbling. Keep warm on low until your other ingredients are ready.
  8. Once your Instant Pot completes its cooking cycle, it will beep. Do a quick release and remove the lid.
  9. At this point, you can turn your your heat to high and bring the water/beer mixture to a boil. Once the water is boiling, throw in your shrimp for 3 minutes. I throw them in frozen and wait for them to turn pink. As soon as they turn pink, remove them from the water so they don’t become watery.
  10. Drain the shrimp and the potato/sausage/corn mixture. I like to pour everything on a large sheet pan.
  11. Pour the butter mixture over the other ingredients and shake the pan to combine.

We aren’t fancy around here – I set out paper plate and napkins, and let everyone serve themselves directly from the pan. Y’all, that butter mixture is DIVINE. It really makes the dish.

Stove Top Directions:

Bring water/Old Bay mixture to a boil and add in the potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes. Add in the corn and cook for 5 additional minutes. Add in the shrimp and leave in the pot for about 3 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink. Drain immediately and serve.

Don’t have an Instant Pot? Want one? Click HERE.

This post contains an affiliate link, which means I will receive a small percentage of the sale if you choose to purchase the item I have linked.

Giveaway Winners Announced!

I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart – THANK YOU for supporting Tickled Peach. It honestly means to much to me to have others support this blog. I cannot grow this community without your readership, so please share Tickled Peach with your family and friends. These giveaways were a small measure of my appreciation for supporting me, and I sincerely hope you will continue to read.

Please continue to read on for details on why I chose the products I did to giveaway, and at the bottom…. the winners!

  • Psssst! Dry Shampoo: this is my favorite dry shampoo. I’ve been using it for years, and it is definitely a budget bargain. I love that it doesn’t leave a white cast on my brunette hair, and it also doesn’t have a strong scent.
  • Wet N Dry Ionic Ultra Detangling Hair Brush: this brush is just the best for detangling wet hair. I use it straight out of the shower before I apply products, and it is also great for little girls with long, tangle prone hair.
  • Tropical Shine Nail File: I buy these in bulk from Sally’s. My kids, for some odd reason, are obsessed with nail files. I find them crumpled and chewed on (WHY?) quite often. So, I stock up and buy 5 or more at a time. These files do a great job with your at home manicures.
  • Wet N Wild One Step Wonder Gel Polish in It’s Sher-Bert Day and All That Jazzy. This is probably my favorite drugstore gel polish. You do not need to use a base or top coat with these polishes. Just paint two coats, let dry, and hit the town! The brand claims you will receive 2 weeks worth of wear, but it is more like one week for me. Still, one week is awesome for a $5 polish!
  • Ion Keratin Smoothing Mask: I get this from Sally’s and it is a really great deep conditioner for coarse, frizzy hair. I really see a difference in both the condition of my hair and the amount of frizz when I use this conditioner.

AND THE WINNER IS……. @leannemyhill!

 

The second day of giveaways focused on skincare. If you’ve been following me for any amount of time on Instagram, you know how important skincare is to me. These are a few of my favorite products.

  • Tony Moly I’m Real Sheet Mask: Sheet masks are the new skincare craze. It’s simply a piece of cloth that is saturated with some sort of treatment. You unfold the cloth, conform the mask to your face, and relax in a hot tub or soft bed for 15 minutes or so. When you are ready to remove, lift off the cloth and massage the remaining product into your skin. (In most cases, you do not wash off whatever product remains on your face, but read the instructions to be sure.) Click HERE for a pack of 11 Tony Moly sheet masks for $17 – that is a great price, considering these are $4 a piece at Ulta.
  • Josie Maran Argan Oil Light: Argan oil is a moisturizing treatment for hair, nails, or skin. I like to combine 2 drops with my nighttime moisturizer.
  • Up & Up Makeup Remover Wipes: These Target brand makeup remover wipes are a dupe for the more expensive Neutrogena brand wipes. I love how well these remove your makeup without leaving behind an oily residue.
  • Sephora Purple Clay Mask: I haven’t personally tried this product, but was intrigued when I saw it in the checkout line. (Darn those check out product bins!) This pouch contains four applications of the mask.
  • SkinFood Egg White Pore Hot Steam Pack: This is a well known Korean beauty brand. I picked this mask up on a whim one day in Ulta, and I’m so glad I did. This is a wet mask that heats initially as you apply it to you face. It draws out impurities, particularly blackheads and sebum, that clog pores. This is a fantastic mask that will cost you less than $14. You can buy it on Amazon or at Ulta.
  • Tony Moly The Green Tea Watery Essence: Essence is a Korean beauty staple. In a nutshell, essence is the product you apply after you cleanse a tone your face, before you apply other treatment products. The essence is designed to help your other products really sink in to your skin and do their jobs. Green tea contains powerful antioxidants, so that is an added benefit of this product.
  • Pixi Glow Tonic is a AHA toner. Again, if you follow me on Instagram you know I am an advocate of using acids as part of your daily skincare regimen. AHAs are wonderful for chemically exfoliating your skin, brightening your skin tone, and clearing up blemishes and blackheads.
  • EOS Lip Balm: I keep this in my bathroom and apply it at night as I am applying my skincare products and in the morning before I apply makeup. I also always have one in my purse!

AND THE WINNER IS… LAUREL FALCON!

 

When I definitely decided to relaunch Tickled Peach, I reached out to my followers on Instagram and asked if anyone would be interested in participating in the Week of Giveaways. Lovely Rachel contacted me, and I was blown away when she offered up this amazing prize.

This is a ONE MONTH SUPPLY of Shakeology! Y’all, this prize has a cash value of $130!

I’m not the only one blown away by Rachel’s generosity. It seems y’all were blown away by her offer, too. Since only one person can win, I wanted to give you her contact details so you can get in touch with her about her products. In addition to selling Shakeology, Rachel also offers clean eating plans and assistance on creating fitness plans. Please contact her for more information!

Rachel’s FB group

Rachel’s website

Contact Rachel by email at rhuggins819@gmail.com.

AND THE WINNER IS… CRYSTAL STUBBS!

For Thursday’s giveaway, I wanted to focus on accessories. What tired mom doesn’t need a cute hat to hide her bad hair days? Although, in hindsight, the text of the hat might give your secret away…

I also love these earrings from Walmart. Yes, Walmart! At $4 a piece, you can afford to buy more than one, so I did!

I finished this giveaway off with a cute makeup bag, perfect for your purse or diaper bag to stash a few necessities.

AND THE WINNER IS… @beccadalgety!

The last giveaway truly contains some of my most favorite and most used drugstore makeup products. I promise if you can to my house and peeked in my vanity, you would see all of these items on heavy repeat!

  • Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer smells amazing and is the perfect way to add a little color to your complexion. Buy it at Ulta (but Amazon is a bit cheaper).
  • Makeup Revolution Shimmer Brick is my go to for highlighting. I mainly use the top two shades on a fan brush, but swirling all the colors together would make a great blush.
  • Wet N Wild Ombre Blush is a beautiful soft pink blush that adds just a hint of color to light complexions.
  • MAC Paint Pots are perfect as an eyeshadow primer. Soft Ochre is a great nude that compliments most skin tones.
  • Real Techniques Complexion Sponges: when I bought this package, I got one for myself. This are my go-to makeup sponge. I love the sharp, angled side for blending out my undereye concealer. There is a 2 pack on Amazon for $9 or one sponge at Ulta for $5.
  • Loreal Voluminous Lash Paradise is a cheap drugstore dupe for the more expensive Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara. Y’all, I’ve tried both, and I prefer Loreal’s version!
  • Wet N Wild Gel Lip Liner has turned into my favorite lip liner. They line so smoothly, and the color stays put for ages. It reminds me a lot of a MAC lip liner, but at a better price!
  • ELF Lip Exfoliator should be on every girl’s bathroom counter! Use it every night to exfoliate and soften your lips.
  • Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser is the BEST drugstore undereye concealer in my opinion. I’ve gone through at least 10 tubes in the past couple of years.

AND THE WINNER IS… MEGAN GUNTER!

Winners, please reach out to me within one week with your mailing address. Local winners, I will be contacting you to arrange a time to give you your goodies!

This post contained affiliate links. This means that if you click the link and purchase the product, I will receive a small percentage of the sale. I did research which links were less expensive, and in most cases, Amazon is your better bet. However, most products listed above can be found at Ulta, Sephora, Target, Walmart, or a drugstore. Thank you for supporting me!

August Review

Today I’m linking up with Momfessionals for Friday Favorites! I know we are nearing the end of September, but being the procrastinator that I am, I wanted to do an August review. Our August was busy and packed, full of fun and exciting things!

We started off August by prepping for back to school. Here in Augusta, school starts at the beginning of August. On August 3rd, we had Open House and got to meet Cooper’s second grade teacher.

August 3rd was also the day we found out that Jason made Chief! As I mentioned earlier this week, Jason is in the Navy Reserve. He’s submitted a packet to the board for the past three years, and this was the year he was selected! We were all so proud and thankful. We have been praying for this and I know Jason would tell you it was an incredible feeling to get that phone call and know his prayer had been answered. It’s incredibly hard to make Chief in the Navy Reserves, particularly for his rate. I had no idea what that meant at the time – we were just excited for the promotion. Little did I know that only meant he was Selected… and the next 6 weeks would determine if he would actually be accepted and pinned.

We found out Jason made Chief on Thursday, and that following Saturday he flew to Maine for his Annual Training (AT). As a Reservist, he must complete at least two weeks of AT per year. Here he is with the kids about to fly out (and away! from all parenting responsibilities!) for two weeks.

We had plenty of things to keep us busy in the meantime. That Sunday was Promotion Sunday at church. This is when the kids move into their new Sunday School classes for the year. Cooper moved into the second grade class, Sullivan moved into the 3’s (his birthday is just after the school cut off, meaning he is always the oldest in the class), and Poppy Grace moved into the 2’s class.

I came home that day and as the kids napped, I prepped for our Back to School Dinner. This is an annual tradition for us. I like to decorate the kitchen and Cooper gets to pick what we eat for dinner. This year he picked salisbury steak and mashed potatoes.

This was my big boy on the first day of school! He looks so big. I can’t get over how tall he has gotten or the fact that at some point I blinked and he became a teenager.

I had to hustle that night and switch out the decorations because Poppy Grace’s second birthday was August 8th! I picked up a Publix cake and some Trolls decorations and we had a great celebration at home.

I tried to get Sister to dress to match her birthday theme… but she was NOT having it. She’s become very particular about clothing and apparently this dress was not comfortable.

This was a really packed week. On Wednesday, I taught the first session of a fall women’s bible study at church. I am co-leading with  another wonderful woman, and we are doing Listen Love Repeat by Karen Ehman. (not an affiliate link)

Sullivan has been enjoying a late summer season of t-ball. One of our local churches does an indoor t-ball league for kids 3-5 years old. It is absolute chaos but it is so fun to watch the younger kids be introduced to the game.

Cooper and Jason both got baptized in late August, and on August 13 we had a picnic at the baptism site to introduce the younger children to what and where it would happen. Our church is one of the oldest churches in Georgia, and we have our baptisms at the original church site, in a baptismal pool that is fed by a creek on the property. 100 years worth of church members have been baptized in this same spot. It’s full of tradition and reverence and I’m so thankful Cooper and Jason both were baptized here.

Poppy enjoyed both the cupcakes and blowing at the “iders” (spiders, her new obsession).

This pretty much sums up how my life was when Jason was gone. Everyone was fighting, someone was yelling, and at least one person was always crying. FUN TIMES.

Jason finally made it back home, just in time for me to participate in our LILY Moms retreat at church. Our church has hosted a MOPS program for the past two years, and this year we decided to break our association with MOPS and make the program our own. I am serving on the leadership team for the second year. This year I am Social Media Facilitator and a Table Leader.

This was another packed weekend. I had LILY Moms training on Friday night (thanks Mom for watching the kids!). On Saturday I had a full day of training, and Sullivan had a t-ball game. Jason’s plane was supposed to land on Friday, so he could handle the kids on Saturday, but his flight was cancelled. Thankfully, my mom stepped in and handled the t-ball game and picked Jason up at the airport so that I could attend the training.

Sunday evening was so special – our entire church gathered together to observe about 20 members be baptized. I am so grateful that Jason was willing to be baptized, and it is so very special that he and Cooper were baptized on the same day.

Jason grew up in the Catholic church. While he was saved as a child, he was never baptized fully submerged, which is what our church observes.

Here’s where the month got even more crazy. I had no idea how time intensive Chief season really would be. I think I just thought it would be like any other promotion, but the Selectees had to work hard to be accepted by the Chief’s mess. We didn’t see a lot of Jason from here until mid-September. He would work his regular job, leaving as early as 4:30 and working an 8 hour day. Then he would come home, change, and immediately either go to training, go to someone’s house to work on a project, do PT… it was a busy time. We really only saw each other in passing and what phone calls we could sneak during the day, and there were many days the kids didn’t get to see him at all, because they were in bed before he made it home. It was all worth it in the end… but I’m not going to say it wasn’t hard.

On August 27, we had the our Women’s Ministry Kickoff Dinner at church. We have table hostesses, and each hostess decorated a table to the theme of her choosing. My friend Wendy and I decorated a fall table and it turned out so cute! We used Wendy’s blanket scarf as a tablecloth, and Wendy’s husband cut and sanded blocks that we wrote bible verses on as gifts.

Our speaker that night was Karen Ehman, who is the author of the bible study I am co-leading. It was such an honor to meet her and I may have slightly gushed and asked her to sign my study.

That was August! Super busy, super chaotic, but that’s pretty much life these days.