Summer is coming!

LOL. I know some of you laugh because it is snowing or cold and rainy where you are. Not here! We've been experiencing high 80s the past few days. Tomorrow we are getting a cold front of.... 64 for the high! Ha! Conner said the other day, "Mom, it's not summer yet. Summer begins on the 21st." Poor Florida boy is confused. I corrected him and explained that he was skipping Spring... but that we skip Spring down here anyway. :) With the warm weather comes begs for pool time. THEY might be ready to jump in... but this momma will not! The water is still so cold this time of year. Maybe a few more weeks of these temps and the water will feel better. We really enjoy our quiet little community. We are surrounded by elderly people, and most of them members of the church of Christ. We are often the only ones to ever use the pool unless the two other families in the community with small children meet us there. We all agree it's nice to have a little pool that feels like it is right in your backyard and you don't have to worry about other people showing up who may be dressed inappropriately or drinking or partying and such.

With the warmer weather comes plans for Spring Break and Summer vacation. This year for Spring Break we will be staying close to home. I plan to have the kids help me plant things for our container garden. I've been collecting old wash bins and things for years with good intentions to have a container garden. Well this year I am gonna do it! Lily was actually my confidence booster. She has been begging to "plant something". So the kids have helped me plan and are really looking forward to being apart of the process. We will plant flowers in my old wood tool box for the front porch (can't do much more without getting approval from this deed restricted community!). And then we are planning to do at least tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach and possibly peppers in old wash bins on the back porch. I've also been doing some reading on container gardening for carrots and blueberries. I have an old pallet that I might use (so many ideas on Pinterest!). We will see how ambitious I get here. The problem is that I can't keep things alive. I've never even been able to keep even an aloe plant alive! And those are supposedly HARD to kill. :/ So wish me luck on this, folks! We also hope to hit the beach one of the days with friends. And then I am hoping to take the kids to a paint-your-own-pottery place on another day. I am going to encourage painting piggy banks so that I can then encourage SAVING money, rather than spending. :)

We are already formulating big plans for the Summer too! We are planning to have regular beach days and evening park dates with friends. And then in July, Jared will be traveling with the FC Friends for 3 whole weeks! The kids and I are planning to fly to Utah during most of those 3 weeks to spend time with family. (And yes, let's be honest, so I don't have to be here without help for 3 weeks! I think I'd go crazy!) The FC Friends will most likely be traveling through the SLC area so we will get to see daddy! Needless to say, we are getting excited about these plans. It's been over a year since we've been to Utah and we have a lot of catching up to do with friends and family there. My grandparents have really gone downhill in many ways in the past few months and so we are really itching to spend some time with them while it is still easy to do so. Lord willing, we will see all these future plans through...

So did I get you anxious for the warmer months too? Anyone else have fun plans for Spring Break? Any tips on container gardening?

Hope this finds you all well! :) Serve someone today, and God bless you!
  • linz_foster
    I'm doing container gardening this year for the first time, too. I am doing cucumbers and zucchini. Starting small because I, too, don't have much good history. But Kate is so excited. I was going to do a regular garden in the backyard, but we don't get enough direct sunlight in the spots that would be not right in the middle of the yard. We won't be planting until May, though.
    And 60 is a warm front for us right now. ;)
    by linz_foster at 03/03/12 11:26PM
  • bestill
    I enjoyed your post! We had a raised bed garden last year and we enjoyed it so much! It's really strange because it seems like we skipped winter here this year!
    by bestill at 03/04/12 1:50AM
  • didow
    Sounds like wonderful plans. I'm not good with plants either. Your aloe vera comment sounded familiar. Whenever I burn myself, some sweet person will always bring me an aloe vera plant so I will have it ready the next time I burn myself. Well, by then, the poor plant has long since died.
    by didow at 03/04/12 8:21AM
  • stargazermom
    You sound like you have a very fun spring/summer planned. You are very blessed to live by the beach. Oh, how I would love to go to a beach. I hope you have great success on your garden. We didn't do a garden last year but we plan on it this year. Audra is my little gardener.
    by stargazermom at 03/04/12 3:58PM
  • sallyanne
    I enjoyed our visit in FL! I hope you have a great spring and summer!!

    I do very well with my indoor plants, but most of our outdoor plants are low maintenance...we've had some good luck with grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes...both done in containers. However, last year they sadly didn't do well! We did better with ground gardening, but it is a lot of work! I think I'd like to do mostly ground gardening again...Jonathan usually calls the shots on that ;). I'll have to put in a request!
    by sallyanne at 03/04/12 5:19PM
  • MexicanJewel
    I have a black thumb instead of a green one. Good luck with all your endeavors! Sounds like lots of fun. Oh, and its snowing here. Craving summer time! Thanks for the chat the other day. Love and miss you, friend!
    by MexicanJewel at 03/04/12 8:58PM
  • redtop
    That sounds great...but don't forget about SC! ;) Good luck with the container garden, it sounds like a lot of fun!
    by redtop at 03/05/12 7:11AM
  • crazy_mama
    OK you are too sweet! Haven't been on pleo in forever and I came across your sweet comment. Thanks Jessica!
    by crazy_mama at 03/09/12 12:30AM
  • bestill
    Thank you for the compliment! Yes, that was taken at Alex and Jena's wedding.
    by bestill at 03/09/12 5:52AM
  • wifelet
    I am such a scaredy-cat about being home alone with the kids - I can't imagine 3 weeks!!!
    by wifelet at 03/09/12 9:08AM
  • she_seeks_wool
    Utah sounds like fun. I'll bet it is beautiful during the summertime.
    by she_seeks_wool at 03/12/12 9:33PM

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Whew. We are home and settled after an almost 3 week vacation. We left Friday the 16th and made our first stop in Atlanta to visit my sister and brother-in-law. It was a great weekend! I loved getting to know my new little nephew, Owen and see how much Caleb has grown. They are such cuties and Chelsea is doing a fantastic job being a momma! I get a bit nostalgic hanging out with her and watching our kids play together. We were the kind of sisters who were best friends one minute and fought every other minute of the day. It wasn't until we were separated (when I left for college) that we really became close. Today I would tell you she is best friend. It's such a blessing. :)

After Atlanta, we made the 10-11 hour drive to Peoria where we camped for 2 1/2 weeks. We hadn't been since two Christmases before, so we were overdue for a visit! We got to spend a lot of time with our family and spend some time with friends too. We often think of everyone in Peoria and miss them dearly. The three years we lived there were such a blessing to our family. We grew in so many ways and we definitely treasure that fact. So it was very good to get to catch up with EVERYONE. My favorite memory from our stay in Peoria was probably our family's "Christmas Day". Like many others... we had our Christmas Eve on Friday and Christmas Day on Saturday. Jared's parents and our family all spent the night at Jared's sister's house with her family. We had our traditional snack food meal on Christmas Eve and then all cozied up and went to bed. The next morning we woke up and opened presents together. We took turns so we could all see what everyone got... all this while we were in our jammies sipping coffee. Ahhhh! It was perfect! Then we made a big breakfast and stayed in our jammies. And we all literally stayed in those pajamas and relaxed until the late afternoon. :) It was the best day! We had our big Christmas dinner on Sunday after morning services. YUM!

All in all our trip was fun and we are so glad we went. BUT, we will not lie.... we are very glad to be home and in our own beds and back into a routine! The calendar is already filling up too! I am not sure whether to groan or feel blessed by that. :)

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your family and friends! Happy New Year! My prayer is that we all recognize our blessings this year and use them to serve God. :)
  • bestill
    It was so good to see you and have L in class! Love to you all.
    by bestill at 01/10/12 10:20AM
  • kristindoula
    by kristindoula at 01/10/12 12:40PM
  • sallyanne
    That sounds wonderful!!

    I am so excited that we'll get to see you and yours next month! Yay!
    by sallyanne at 01/10/12 3:43PM
  • MexicanJewel
    Loved, loved, loved spending time with you, Jess. Miss you!
    by MexicanJewel at 01/10/12 9:28PM
  • stargazermom
    I miss you too. It's always nice to see you and your family. Glad you are home safe.
    by stargazermom at 01/11/12 7:49AM
  • sallyanne
    Thanks for the sweet anniversary wish!
    by sallyanne at 01/13/12 9:49AM
  • didow
    Sounds like a lovely vacation.
    by didow at 01/15/12 11:35PM
  • kendrad
    I had to laugh at your title. We say the first part to Nola so she can say the "jiggety-jig" part, which usually has more "jiggety"s than necessary.
    by kendrad at 01/17/12 6:12PM

Fa La La La La La La La La

Tis the season! It's Christmas time! Deck the halls! Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Okay... I keep trying to sing little songs and tell myself it's Christmas but it just isn't setting in. I am usually VERY into holidays. I love each one and I am always eager to pull out festive decor for each holiday. I can NOT get into the holiday spirit for some reason. The house is decorated and Christmas shopping is almost done... but it just DOESN'T FEEL LIKE CHRISTMAS. It is so weird. I think it may have something to do with how unseasonably warm it's been here. And yes, I think it's been warmer than in years past.

So I am hoping that once we arrive in Illinois there will be a little snow and it will be a little cold (although not bitter cold). But now I am just being picky. :)

We are getting VERY excited to visit Peoria for the holidays. We are leaving here the 16th and staying the weekend in Atlanta with my sister. We should be in Illinois sometime in the evening of the 19th and when spend about two weeks hanging out with the family.

So tell me what your kids want for Christmas? Conner wants a Harry Potter Hogwarts Lego set. Lily wants a Tag Reader, and Peyton has really no opinion. They've been fun to shop for this year. :) (And if you have any ideas for a 2 year old girl who has a big sister and brother and therefore already has it all.... give 'em to me!!)

Happy Holidays!
  • redtop
    I feel the same way! I think for me it is because it our first year back in the warm weather. Shorts and t shirts yesterday. Those do not exactly scream Christmas. Eventually it has to sink in, right? Love ya!
    by redtop at 11/29/11 9:25AM
  • purrph1
    Well, Gabriella wants a pretend iron and ironing board. I know, really????
    Lucy doesn't have any ideas. But we got her a Target version of the American girl doll and the salon chair to go with it because she loves to pretend do your hair, and comb her baby's hair.
    It is very fun to shop for them!!
    by purrph1 at 11/29/11 11:29AM
  • jenn
    I'm there with you - and it's supposed to be 20 degrees on Thursday. Not sure what's up with me.
    by jenn at 11/29/11 12:00PM
  • tab
    I actually can't believe it's almost Christmas so I'm having a hard time getting in the mood. It's just coming on VERY fast! But that is good because then I will see you VERY soon! :D I actually would like to decorate but our house seems to be getting smaller and smaller everyday ;)

    No idea for gifts yet, I don't think Katie knows want she wants yet. She wants everything! LOL
    by tab at 11/29/11 12:42PM
  • MexicanJewel
    Evan wants more milk for Christmas. : P
    by MexicanJewel at 11/30/11 2:09PM
  • christina
    I feel the same as you, but I know WHY. We are EXTREMELY low on funds so that makes it hard with 3 little ones that want certain things. Leah REALLY really wants the Baby Alive Doll that "eats AND drinks." I don't think that Andrew or Levi really care.
    by christina at 12/01/11 8:58AM
  • kendrad
    I've been trying to take Nola down the toy aisle a lot in the past few months. She LOVES all things Dora (i bought luggage, a watch, toys), she likes books (I bought Corduroy, a Shel Silverstein, a Max & Ruby book, and an I-Spy), and I've been stumped on anything else. Maybe dress-up clothes or tricycle (or helmet if she already has one)?
    by kendrad at 12/01/11 9:00PM
  • bestill
    Christmas in Florida is just not the same. Alex and Jena would be delighted if we get a big snowfall on Dec. 25. A jewelry store here is doing a special promotion and if it snows 3 inches or more on Christmas day, they get their wedding bands free! Let it snow!! I'm sure looking forward to seeing you all!
    by bestill at 12/01/11 10:26PM
  • sallyanne
    It is festive around here this holiday season because we have had lots of company! Maybe I'll even blog about it soon.

    Josh wants robots (transformers to be exact) and superhero stuff. Jonathan II wants me to pick out whatever I want to get him. The girls want various things that teenage girls enjoy. This is the FIRST year that they just hinted and didn't give me lists...very strange, but they wanted me to pick out surprises for a change and we are doing money from grandparents instead of us buying gifts from the December 26th they will likely drag me out shopping ;). This will *only* be fun if I get money, too, and I have informed Jonathan of this very thing!
    by sallyanne at 12/03/11 2:38AM
  • littlelamb
    Rosie just bought herself Lego Hogwarts (the big one) after saving for months. She's asked for the Knight Bus and the quidditch set and the Burrow (birthday in there, too). Charlotte wants a wig and a pony and a music box and a fijit pet (she saw them at Books-A-Million and apparently they are popular toys?). Liam wants a cargo ship toy and Henry...he has no idea what is going on. :)
    by littlelamb at 12/06/11 8:37PM

Halloween Costumes

I have several costumes that I am getting rid of... we are cleaning out the dress up box!

Anyone interested? They are all sizes 12 month to 24month/2T. All in excellent to fairly good condition.

Let me know if you'd like to see pics and prices. :)

barr j l at me dot com
  • sullivan
    Yes! Emailing now...
    by sullivan at 10/04/11 6:49AM
  • shelbysmom
    Do you have a Rapunzel dress in the largest size?
    by shelbysmom at 10/04/11 2:00PM
  • tab
    Hi Jess! How's the new GF diet going? I hope it's going well. I feel for you. You and I like brownies the same. :) I can only imagine how hard it is letting go of your favorite recipes that you've used for years! I wonder if I may have it too considering all my stomach issues. But I only have a problem when I go out to eat. Hmmm. Well, miss you and love ya! :)
    by tab at 10/07/11 3:36PM

Gluten Free

It's been a long time coming... but I have finally taken the plunge.

I have always had "food sensitivities" but since P was born it has gradually gotten worse. I finally realized it probably wasn't normal for me to feel the way I do ALL the time. :) And since Celiacs runs in my family and is said to be hereditary... this was my obvious conclusion. I am still waiting to hear if I actually have Celiacs or if I just have an intolerance/allergy. Regardless of the results... my diet obviously needs to have gluten and possibly dairy eliminated.

Sigh. It's so overwhelming. I am thankful for friends and family who have already experienced this and have great tips and recipes. I am thankful for my dear hubby who welcomes the diet change. (He's been begging me to stop baking brownies for a while. :)) And I am thankful for my little babies who said that my gluten free brownies that I made yesterday were the best they've ever tasted!

So besides that... life is great! My cousin is attending FC and I am loving having him around. C is having a great 1st grade year so far and I am the Homeroom Mom. L is enjoying our little homeschooling routine and P likes to sneak anything out of the fridge and chug it (coffee creamer, soy sauce, straight apple juice... you name it). :P

So life is obviously exciting around here!
  • michelle
    I was reading about Peas and Thank You...I know vegan is different from gluten-free, but a lot of her recipes look great and wouldn't have gluten. Can't wait to catch up next week!!!!
    by michelle at 09/19/11 9:11PM
  • MexicanJewel
    So sorry to hear about this, Jess. I read that you should take a good amount of Vitamin D, B6 and B12 for Celiacs. Most of us are deficient in these nutrients. They may significantly improve your immune system's functioning in higher dosages. I've had IBS most of my life so dairy has been reduced in my diet. I now drink almond milk which is higher in calcium than cow's milk. Might want to give it a shot. I'm sure your gluten free brownies were delish! Hugs!
    by MexicanJewel at 09/19/11 9:53PM
  • crazy_mama
    My kids are all dairy free and so is my hubby and I do very little dairy. It was hard at first but like anything else once you do it for a while you just get used to it. Now gluten free might be harder to deal with. But I do see more gluten free options around so it seems like the world is making it easier for those with gluten challenges. Hope you are able to find more and more that makes it easier for you Jess.
    by crazy_mama at 09/19/11 10:10PM
  • southern_yankee_mom
    My aunt has Celiacs and I know it can be a struggle. I will be praying for you my friend. I'm glad you have family members who have recipes they can share. Sounds like the kids are doing great! P is really something else :)
    by southern_yankee_mom at 09/20/11 7:09AM
  • she_seeks_wool
    I put Amelia on a gluten free diet this summer...she is so little and skinny...and has some tummy issues...3 months in and no we switched to cut out all processed foods...I am not kidding, she grew like 2 inches in a week. It made a huge difference for her...then when she started eating processed food again (she was missing her ramen noodles)...she barfed it all up! Her little body just wants good nutricious foods!
    by she_seeks_wool at 09/20/11 9:11AM
  • kendrad
    Poor Peyton...maybe she's thirsty. ; )
    by kendrad at 09/20/11 10:46AM
  • keithsluv
    You & little miss P need to take almond milk and gluten free brownies to C's classroom, after doing a home school lesson with L on how to bake them ;) Make sure you don't bring any leftovers home for J, either. Will keep you in thoughts & prayers, sister...good practice on how to will come in handy as you get older, like me!
    by keithsluv at 09/20/11 9:39PM
  • stylinmama
    I'm on a super restrictive diet right now so bread of any kind is a no-no. So is dairy except for cottage cheese. I feel GREAT. (Besides being hungry all the time. :)) I mean, no stomach issues at all like I used to have. I hope gluten-free works for you. Isn't it great that companies are coming out with more and more gluten-free products and that they actually put "gluten-free" on the labels? I'm sure that will make things a little easier for you. Good for you for making that commitment, I know it's hard. Good luck!
    by stylinmama at 09/22/11 11:17AM
  • crazy_mama
    It was Maria! We had Maleia's & Malachi's births photographed by another girl and just loved her but she is pregnant right now and due soon and couldn't do it this time. I was very happy with Maria being there and I can't wait to see the pics. She said it would take about a month so I've got to be patient. But I'm sure they will be worth the wait. The restaurant was Evos by University mall. A few months ago we had a potluck at our house and Frederic got them to provide the food for the potluck for free. So he got to know the managers very well. He's done a few things for them too. I wasn't really up for Evos that night but Frederic suggested it and I just went with it. Like I said, I only took a couple bites of it. They were SOOO sweet the next day to call us. I'm pretty sure I looked like a mess that night. There is a support beam in their restaurant and I was hugging it while Frederic ordered. They didn't want me to have to walk around their building when we left so they opened the back door for us to specially let me out close to our car. Such sweet people there. They even gave us our food that night for free too. SO sweet!!!
    by crazy_mama at 09/26/11 12:18PM
  • christina
    I am beginning to think that I too have some sensitivities or something. I feel terrible all the time it seems. I hope this is the fix that you need!
    by christina at 09/29/11 10:31AM