A little redneck

My sweet bow and smocked dress wearing baby got her redneck on today.

Gotta love the south. And bum-it Saturdays. ;-)


Guest Room Redo - Colors

Thank you, clearance aisle at Hobby Lobby. ;-)

I now have more room direction.

Me likey.

And...that's all for my decision making skills today.


25 Ways to be a great mom

I can't take credit for this one. Someone posted this on facebook and it was too good not to share. 


1. Paint her nails. Then let her scratch it off and dirty them up. Teach her to care about her appearance, and then quickly remind her that living and having fun is most important.

2. Let her put on your makeup, even if it means bright-red-smudged lips and streaked-blue eyes. Let her experiment in her attempts to be like you…then let her be herself.

3. Let her be wild. She may want to stay home and read books on the couch, or she may want to hop on the back of a motorcycle-gasp. She may be a homebody or a traveler. She may fall in love with the wrong boy, or meet mr. right at age 5. Try to remember that you were her age once. Everyone makes mistakes, let her make her own.

4. Be present. Be there for her at her Kindergarten performances, her dance recitals, her soccer games…her everyday-little-moments. When she looks through the crowds of people, she will be looking for your smile and pride. Show it to her as often as possible.

5. Encourage her to try on your shoes and play dress-up. If she would rather wear her brother’s superman cape with high heals, allow it. If she wants to wear a tutu or dinosaur costume to the grocery store, why stop her? She needs to decide who she is and be confident in her decision.

6. Teach her to be independent. Show her by example that woman can be strong. Find and follow your own passions. Search for outlets of expression and enjoyment for yourself- not just your husband or children. Define yourself by your own attributes, not by what others expect you to be. Know who you are as a person, and help your daughter find out who she is.

7. Pick flowers with her. Put them in her hair. There is nothing more beautiful than a girl and a flower.

8. Let her get messy. Get messy with her, no matter how much it makes you cringe inside. Splash in the puddles, throw snowballs, make mud pies, finger paint the walls: just let it happen. The most wonderful of memories are often the messy ones.

9. Give her good role models- you being one of them. Introduce her to successful woman- friends, co-workers, doctors, astronauts, or authors. Read to her about influential woman- Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie. Read her the words of inspirational woman- Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson. She should know that anything is possible.

10. Show her affection. Daughters will mimic the compassion of their mother. “I love yous” and Eskimo kisses go a long way.

11. Hold her hand. Whether she is 3 years-old in the parking lot or sixteen years old in the mall, hold on to her always- this will teach her to be confident in herself and proud of her family.

12. Believe in her. It is the moments that she does not believe in herself that she will need you to believe enough for both of you. Whether it is a spelling test in the first grade, a big game or recital, a first date, or the first day of college…remind her of the independent and capable woman you have taught her to be.

13. Tell her how beautiful she is. Whether it is her first day of Kindergarten, immediately after a soccer game where she is grass-stained and sweaty, or her wedding day. She needs your reminders. She needs your pride. She needs your reassurance. She is only human.

14. Love her father. Teach her to love a good man, like him. One who lets her be herself…she is after all wonderful.

15. Make forts with boxes and blankets. Help her to find magic in the ordinary, to imagine, to create and to believe in fairy tales. Someday she will make her 5 by 5 dorm-room her home with magic touches and inspiration. And she will fall in love with a boy and believe him to be Prince Charming.

16. Read to her. Read her Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle. But also remember the power of Sylvia Plath and Robert Frost. Show her the beauty of words on a page and let her see you enjoy them. Words can be simply written and simply spoken, yet can harvest so much meaning. Help her to find their meaning.

17. Teach her how to love- with passion and kisses. Love her passionately. Love her father passionately and her siblings passionately. Express your love. Show her how to love with no restraint. Let her get her heart broken and try again. Let her cry, and gush, giggle and scream. She will love like you love or hate like you hate. So, choose love for both you and her.

18. Encourage her to dance and sing. Dance and sing with her- even if it sounds or looks horrible. Let her wiggle to nursery rhymes. Let her dance on her daddy's feet and spin in your arms. Then later, let her blast noise and headbang in her bedroom with her door shut if she wants. Or karaoke to Tom Petty in the living room if she would rather. Introduce her to the classics- like The Beatles- and listen to her latest favorite- like Taylor Swift. Share the magic of music together, it will bring you closer- or at least create a soundtrack to your life together.

19. Share secrets together. Communicate. Talk. Talk about anything. Let her tell you about boys, friends, school. Listen. Ask questions. Share dreams, hopes, concerns. She is not only your daughter, you are not only her mother. Be her friend too.

20. Teach her manners. Because sometimes you have to be her mother, not just her friend. The world is a happier place when made up of polite words and smiles.

21. Teach her when to stand-up and when to walk away. Whether she has classmates who tease her because of her glasses, or a boyfriend who tells her she is too fat - let her know she does not have to listen. Make sure she knows how to demand respect - she is worthy of it. It does not mean she has to fight back with fists or words, because sometimes you say more with silence. Also make sure she knows which battles are worth fighting. Remind her that some people can be mean and nasty because of jealousy, or other personal reasons. Help her to understand when to shut her mouth and walk-away. Teach her to be the better person.

22. Let her choose who she loves. Even when you see through the charming boy she thinks he is, let her love him without your disapproving words; she will anyway. When he breaks her heart, be there for her with words of support rather than I told-you-so. Let her mess up again and again until she finds the one. And when she finds the one, tell her.

23. Mother her. Being a mother - to her - is undoubtedly one of your greatest accomplishments. Share with her the joys of motherhood, so one day she will want to be a mother too. Remind her over and over again with words and kisses that no one will ever love her like you love her. No one can replace or replicate a mother's love for their children.

24. Comfort her. Because sometimes you just need your mommy. When she is sick, rub her back, make her soup and cover her in blankets - no matter how old she is. Someday, if she is giving birth to her own child, push her hair out of her face, encourage her, and tell her how beautiful she is. These are the moments she will remember you for. And someday when her husband rubs her back in attempt to comfort her...she may just whisper, "I need my mommy."

25. Be home. When she is sick with a cold or broken heart, she will come to you; welcome her. When she is engaged or pregnant, she will run to you to share her news; embrace her. When she is lost or confused, she will search for you; find her. When she needs advice on boys, schools, friends or an outfit; tell her. She is your daughter and will always need a safe harbor - where she can turn a key to see comforting eyes and a familiar smile; be home.


Making a Terrarium

One day at Lowes, I found a bug eating plant that needed a home on the clearance rack. So, a trip to the thrift store and we have a new project. ;-)

I found a glass house that was half off for $6.

Tonight I've cleaned it up and given it a little turquoise face lift. I popped the windows back in and sealed with JB weld. Hopefully by tomorrow night we can plant!

I thought AO would like to see some bug eating critters. I just hope they like Mosquitos!

I totally heart THRIFT STORES

To mix up my lunch routine, I went in one of my favorite hole in the wall places. The Salvation Army Thrift Store. And I MAJORLY scored!

If you know me, I am obsessed with all things Jenny Lind and spindle. We've painted a cradle and crib turquoise, and a high chair yellow. And I've been on the search for a jenny lind style spindle bed for our guest room. Who found it for $10??? This girl, that's who! I'm seriously so excited I could cry. Totally beats the Land of Nod one I wanted!

I scored a ton of other stuff, too. My total bill? $30. That's it!!!

Bed, CHANDELIER, little house terrarium, moss for another project, a topiary, cute napkin holder.....yep. Today was a very ON day! Woop Woop! Apparently the entire section was 50% off today. I'm one thrilled chica!! Time to buy more spray paint. ;-)

Best part? I was in and out, stopped by Chickfila and still had time to post this (thank you blogger ap!) on my lunch break. Yippieeeeeee!!!!!


Saturday in Phoenix

Saturday was our goof off day. Kimberly and I went to the mall....boy how things have changed. We put back makeup to buy stuff for the girls. Like they need a thing!

Then we did what we always do...other than shop. We got pretty fabulous pedicures, complete with paraffin and extra massages. Ahhh.....

Saturday night John took us on an adventure so I could see the mountains and a live cactus. (I'm just like my mom. I always need a field trip!) ;-) and we took a picture at Phoenix speedway for my hubs.

We did get in a little time to act like we were 16 again. We had a pajama party on Kimberly's bed. Complete with French braiding. ;-)

Sadly, I'm now on a jet plane headed back to Birmingham. Oh how I wish they were closer!

The only positive....united has direcTV...so I have HGTV in flight. A little different than my usual southwest. ;-)


Friday in Phoenix

So far, Mady beat me bad at Candyland, we had our chocolate fix at the Cheesecake Factory, enjoyed some Arizona sunshine and wore out the littlest member of our party.

The girls made one batch of chocolate chip cookies...Ours really overcooked and John showed us up with mad baking skills on the second batch! Then it was time for a little hand print Pinterest craft project, and on to tea parties with Snow White before bedtime books with Doc McStuffins. I think we are all pretty exhausted. The grownups crashed half way through watching Bridesmaids.

How was your Friday? This chic has so much to learn before AO hits this stage!


BFF Kimberly - Off to Phoenix!

We've been friends for years. Seriously...It makes me feel old just thinking about it. Her parents transferred to a little bitty rental house next door to my family when they first moved to New Hope around 1990.  I remember sitting on the floor of her bedroom playing the game of  Life. How appropriate for us.  They didn't stay in that house long, but Kimberly and I have been friends ever since. So far, we've been through first boyfriends, first kisses, churches and church trips, going with me on my first date (which her mom took us on!), sleepovers and even more sleepovers, transferring high schools (I'm still devastated about this one), a Tom Cruise crush, proms, bad breakups, college decisions, trips to LA and New York and everywhere in between, more boy drama, then finally both meeting our Johns. Then it was more serious talk about marriage, air force, deployments,  growing our faith, being a wife, raising our babies, work, and every relationship in between. She's my rock. She never judges. But she will seriously tell me I'm crazy if I need it.

We've been there from moves to colleges and Seminary in Dallas, Texas, about 15 different houses and apartments in Columbus, Mississippi,  my little family moving to Tuscaloosa, the Ryan's to Phoenix, Arizona the first time, then Sumter, SC, then back to Phoenix.  But when we need each other, we can tell it. And we make time. Even if it is just for a four hour phone call about nothing just because we needed a break from life to laugh.

We stood by each other as maid of honor when we got married to our boys both named John.


We were there when we both had our first babies.
And we were there for everything in between. It's so incredibly rare for your childhood best friend to grow up and STILL be your best friend. We've been blessed.

But now, Kimberly's had a tragedy that I can't shake from my core. She lost a child. She was there for me when I had our miscarriage and got pregnant again, but it's nothing like loosing a child who should have survived. She had to plan a funeral for her child. Who was a perfectly healthy girl. Who had a name. When you think everything will be fine, only to hear those words "Ava didn't make it". Just a freak, freak, accident. Who has to deal with something so gut wrenching like loosing a child? Especially during childbirth - something most of us completely take for granted as a blessing and a bright spot in our memories?  Loosing a child that should be here now. Why her, God. Why? 

I still have the voicemail from John on my phone. And I remember the words from Kimberly. I hurt because she hurts. It makes me so sad to think about her pain of not being able to bring Ava home. 
To give her all the love her little life could stand.

But today, I'm leaving on a jet plane to hug her neck. And I'm excited. :-) Lots of chocolate and laughter in my near future. You should be very jealous.  

Not sure Phoenix can handle us in the same zipcode. Even if it is just for the weekend. :-)


Hobby Lobby Lunch Break

It's no secret I have two favorite stores in my life. My number one favorite spot? Hobby Lobby.   After the April 27 Tuscaloosa tornado took the original out, they moved EVEN CLOSER to my office. Meaning my lunch breaks are frequent HL trips.  The hubs wasn't nearly as excited about it opening up so close. I was seriously elated.

This trip I was on a mission. Scouting for curtain fabric for the guest bedroom redo. The walls are getting a grey paint makeover. (Thanks to my second favorite store, Lowe's. Straight off the clearance paint rack.)  I'm thinking of using the navy chevron against those (hopefully painted soon) grey walls. What do you think? Goal would be that this would be a more neutral guest room. But in the event (ONE DAY DOWN THE ROAD) we are blessed with another baby, we could just add hot pink for a girl or keep as is for a boy.  What I don't want next time is to be in the hospital with a crew at my house working their bums off to be ready for a baby. 
Every good Hobby Lobby enthusiast knows one thing. You NEVER buy Hobby Lobby unless it is on sale. So, this was just a scouting adventure. Maybe the sale will hit just about payday. :-) I scored a bedspread and lamp at Freds. Getting excited about the direction this one is headed. 
  Happy Wednesday. :-)


Arleigh O Update - and 14 Month List of Words

(Disclaimer - I am not keeping up with AO's baby book, so I've printed these little updates out for our reference. Just so you know.)

Well it was a busy first year at the Mansell's. Arleigh O is a pretty fabulous kid. We had a very easy first year, with the small exception of our Salmonella episode around 4-5 months. But we kept our cool, and we all survived without a scratch.

Now we're really starting to see AO take off with development. Especially vocabulary. She's really quick on her feet now as well. She doesn't really have a slow motion, which I'm sure is pretty accurate for most 14 month olds.  She loves climbing up and down steps - Shes figured out she needs to sit first, turn around and scoot backwards. She loves peek-a-boo and hide and seek. And she loves her patty-cake. Her roll-it-up trips me out!  She can throw a ball (the both hands over the head throw) and loves playing keep away with Clarence. Her favorite foods are English peas and The Chicken Salad Chic Scotty chicken salad. She loves that stuff. She also loves fish and ketchup, and garlic bread. Her go to meal if she isn't eating well is cheese toast and bananas. She absolutely loves mandarin oranges and peaches, but we've had to cut out a lot of acidic fruit because it really messes with her bottom.

Moving right along ----

NanO and Auntie Rose have forbidden the use of baby talk in our house, which probably explains why we have so many words. Plus we have conversations with AO. And we have from the beginning. We ask her questions and pause for her response. Even as tiny baby. And now, she won't hush, lol. She's usually so good and quiet when we are out. But at home when she's in her comfort zone, the kid can get LOUD. I declare sometimes she sounds like she's cursing us in baby, she seems so determined to say what she's saying. She's a mess.

Now at 14 months (which she turned yesterday), her vocabulary is REALLY taking off! John and I keep a running list of her words. I put an * by the ones she uses repeatedly in the correct context. Others are more sporadic.
  • Da-da or Daddy*
  • Ma-ma*
  • Bye-Bye*
  • Thank You (Dank Choo)* As funny as it sounds, this was one of her first words. Our ped thought we were crazy when we told him at her one year checkup. She says this one ALL the time. When she handed me the june-bug beetle yesterday, she said Dank Choo.
  • Night-night (Non-Non)*
  • Bath (Baff)*
  • Please (Ease)
  • Hey* (It's very much like the Fonz...Haaaaaaay)
  • There (Dare)*
  • Arleigh (Ahhhhleee. It's pretty darn cute.)
  • Look (Dook) This one is her new favorite*
  • Uh-Oh or Ruhh-Roh*
  • Duck (Uck)*
  • Quack (Ack)
  • I Got (I Ga)
  • Papa*
  • JuJu
  • NanO (Na Na)
  • Libby (Bib-Bi)
  • Millie (Mil)
  • Clarence (Larra)
  • Outside (Doutside)
  • Ball
  • Dog
  • More (Mo)*
  • Baby*
  • No-No*
  • Yes (Ess)*
  • Come On (M'on)*
  • Lion (Ion)
  • Bubbles
  • Bottle (Ba-ba)*
  • Water (Wa-Wa)*
I'm sure there are more we are forgetting. Or we haven't translated yet.

What's really funny - it's not her vocabulary that is impressive to others. It's her fine motor skills. I can attribute a lot of this to letting her use her fingers to eat from about 6-7 months on. Just do it. It makes a huge mess, but they love it! And her whistle...Now seeing that is a hoot! 

On a side note, Arleigh has been bitten twice (confirmed) at day care, and two more times where it wasn't observed but from the marks we suspected biting. I've taught daycare and been around kids. Unfortunately, sometimes it's how kids communicate. It's part of the frustrations of not being able to speak yet having so much to say. I did call Mrs. T just to make sure AO wasn't the instigator, and in the last situation, they were just playing in a pile having a good ol' time when one little boy decided he was an alligator. Big sigh. But I also know AO is a bit of a rough player. She's the kid that runs up to a friend, snatches the passy, and runs like a thief in the night laughing the whole way. It's a game to her. I've seen her do it with Clarence. But at least there she's met her match. Sooo....There is a lot of growing up that will take place over the next year as they all sort out how to properly communicate. She's also a hair puller. Makes since. She can destroy a pretty hair bow in about 15 seconds when it's discovered. And yank out the pony tail in the process. Problem is...I think she may be doing it to friends, too. Big sigh. And no, I am NOT going to teach my kid to bite or hit back. She'll end up shoving them in the play oven again on her own time. Bless it. She's such a little tomboy. Skint up knees and mud-puddles Saturday, picking up bugs yesterday. Not a whiner either. Just a tough cookie who keeps on trucking.

Discipline wise, we have started using a time out method at home, which surprisingly has worked. She's really only been in trouble at home for playing in Clarence's food and water. (Which is Clarence's domain, and could turn into a dangerous situation.) One Saturday she was in it repeatedly. I held her arms down facing the corner and counted out loud to forty as a time out method. It took three times that day, but she hasn't been back in his bowls yet. Yes, it probably is a little young. But it worked. Now she can walk towards it, I can say No, she jumps and RUNS in the opposite direction. Whereas before, she didn't pay me ANY attention when I said No. I don't necessarily like the popping idea just yet. I popped her one time for playing in an electrical outlet after being warned. She didn't cry, but she looked at me like I was crazy. It's not for us.  But we do grab her little hands and hold them when she does something naughty and tell her No ___. (Like throwing food on the floor or pinching or hitting.) It gets her attention WAY more effectively than a pop did. She looses control of the situation, which she can not stand. Of course it's followed by cuddles and kisses. Usually sloppy,  just eaten and made a massive mess hugs. (Gross, but I'll take whatever I can get.)

I gotta say, this toddler era is pretty exciting! It most certainly keeps us on our toes!
Did you know that it takes 12 hair washing episodes and three days to get Aquaphor out of a baby's hair? Ummhuh. Just ask Arleigh. We finally pulled out the dawn dish washing detergent. It's some tough stuff. Sunday morning right after we got up and were getting ready for church. That would be why we didn't make it. She was a HOT MESS. Toddler hood. I think you can tell we're in for a wild ride. :-)

But she's a sweet hot mess. Most parents DREAD bedtime. Now, we do bed right after bath time. It's straight into our PJs for prayers and night-night time. She kisses her Clarence dog on her mobile from Aunt Rosie, gets under her blanket and kisses her doll. We sing the Barney song (she has no clue who Barney even is yet) and then Mama leaves. You know what my kid does when I leave her room? Waves and tells me bye-bye, night-night and then gets the giggles. No bottle necessary. She really is such a sweetiepie.  Eat. Her. Up.


Arleigh's new Corner - Work in Progress

Do you remember those massive rose bushes? Well....we said bye-bye to those. Priss-pot has her very own corner. Not bad for a 14 month old. ;-)

Sticky old rose bushes gone. New kids corner in progress.

We used the dog-child Clarence's old summer wading pool for a sandbox. (Just don't forget to drill holes for the water to drain!) We did dig a bit of a hole to put the sand box (old pool) down into so it's easier for her short little baby legs to climb in and out.

Old pots got a few dollar tree flowers. An old wire planter is now a toy holder. And a mismatched board found for FREE in front of the Habitat Restore...Becomes an adorable little chalkboard.

Reuse, reuse, reuse. Upcycle, and then Upcycle some more. I want new floors, remember? :-)

Back Porch After

And here's after elbow grease and spray paint. Still a work in progress. But it's much improved! We reused almost everything. Including our old rug from indoors. The only things we purchased was spray paint, mulch and play sand for AO's corner, and a flat of sweet potato vine for FOUR DOLLARS at the Habitat Thrift Store.

Back Porch Before

Ah yes, the mess of a back yard. This is what happens when you have a baby and spend a summer indoors. It becomes a mess.

Notice the back corner. Rose bushes and all.

It's really sad. We live on a tiny lot in a garden home community. Our yard is so small it should look like a putting green. Yet...It's FAR from it!

Artsy Kid Friendly Corner of the Living Room

There is a valid reason why your Mama wouldn't let you play ball in the house. John and I both tend to like to to make messes. And we tend to be a little free spirited. When free spirits play ball in the house...You get holes in the wall. Which lead to this....  A Sunday wall patch job -
Turns into a Pinterest inspired art corner using the wasted space behind the front door. This door opens into our living room, and the threshold has tile. Which makes chalk clean up easy breezy. 

Main reasons? 
  1. The holes HAD to be fixed. 
  2. I already had the chalkboard paint
  3. AO needed an Art Corner. (Mama wanted one.) 
  I'm wanting to trim out the top with a bit of molding. But I'm waiting on the Habitat for Humanity Restore to finish their remodel before I buy any. (Do you have one of those in your area?) It's MY FAVORITE place to shop. We make donations there, too. You are putting money back into a great cause, and their price are usually very reasonable. Plus the look of salvaged goods is so much cooler than buying new.

Thanks Pinterest for the Masterpieces idea. And yes, the front door is getting a face lift. And the hubs doesn't like the color AT ALL. Stay tuned. :-)


Laminate Flooring - Living, Kitchen, Dining, Hall

User submitted photo

The great floor debate for 2013.

It's no secret I want new floors. We moved into our house new, but I didn't get to choose the flooring. The living room and kitchen open up to each other in a great-room type of way, but they are separated by a cheap linoleum in the kitchen and carpet in the living room. Three months ago, as AO was learning to crawl and walk, I thought carpet was the way to go. But now that she's up and running, and hauling mess and stomping bananas into the carpet, it's gotta go. My biggest reason is probably allergies. I've always been anti-carpet because it holds every little dust-mite imaginable.

But we're still debating what we want exactly. We're sure a laminate hardwood. But that's as close as we get to the same page.

Have you seen laminate lately? It's come SUCH a long way from the fake oak inexpensive stuff of years ago. This stuff really looks like hardwood. And it's 10 times as durable. 

If I had a message to flooring stores and to Lowes - it would be to PLEASE put different full room flooring pictures on your websites. It makes it so difficult to visualize without those pictures. I'm a very visual person, and do a pretty good job picturing the space. But picturing it off a tiny chip doesn't do much justice.

I'm thinking I want something in the middle of the specturm, but more on the dark side that looks like hand-scraped flooring. But not so dark it shows every spec. And we a fairly certain we (Well I'm sure) don't want a gloss finish just because it will show everything as well. But we are not on the same page with tone. John likes light and I like mid-dark. Decisions, decisions.

We're also leaning towards having these installed instead of DIY. It's such a large space, and I would be heartbroken if it didn't do right.   (These images are courtesy of google search. Hickory Laminate flooring.)

It's not cheap either.... We're still discussing budget...Because of course we're on different pages as well. :-)
Decisions, decisions, decisions.

hand scraped chestnut hickory laminate wood floors


Softball Player in Training

It's a good thing we're near family. Really good.

MC or Libby occasionally have games in Englewood, which joins our neighborhood. TOO convenient to pass up a chance to see my other girls play ball. 

Arleigh O loved it!