Thursday, October 31, 2013

Annual Boo at the Zoo trip!

I haven’t blogged in months, but going to Boo at the Zoo for the third year in a row put me in the blogging spirit!

Boo at the Zoo 2012

Boo at the Zoo 2011

I just can’t get enough of this handsome Gamecock.


We waited at the gate for our Boo friends!


Then I switched from camera to phone.

Little Bunny Foo Foo, a football player, and the good fairy!

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The kids had a great time trick or treating as usual.  Then, we passed the dance floor, and James went running out there.  He danced at Boo at the Zoo when he was little, but I didn’t know if he would feel shy now that he’s older.  He loved it so much that we stayed there the rest of the night.  He was cracking us up, and it’s these videos that I really wanted to share!

Callie and Chloe went to trick or treat some more while James danced the night away.  They came back though! :)

This one is my favorite!

Callie and Chloe went trick or treating again, and James carried on dancing.  He was making up his own moves and following the lead of the bigger football player in front of him. 

James, I hope you always “dance like nobody’s watching.”  You are so full of life and make me smile everyday! 

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Another great Boo at the Zoo trip, Grangers!  I’m looking forward to sharing another season of holiday traditions with y’all!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Taylor Swift “22” Parody - “32”

Taylor Swift’s song, “22,” completely reminds me of myself at 22.  It’s fun, flirty and carefree.  But the reason I even watched this video {at the age of 31} is because of 22’s parody – “32.”  Here are the two video’s.  I laugh out loud every time I watch the parody.  Enjoy. ;)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Easter Sunday Sermon

If you’ve talked to me since Easter, you’ve probably heard how much I loved Pastor Brad’s Easter Sunday sermon.  Like so many of Brad’s sermons, this one really spoke to me.  It touched me on several levels.

First, he is reminding us that “God gives us life.”  He says you can walk through life in one of two ways; you can think “you deserve everything you have” or you can think “everything you have is a gift.”  I have felt so guilty since my miscarriage that James doesn’t have a sibling, and his third birthday only reminded me that he’s getting older.  I decided while listening to this sermon that I am not going to look at James as ‘my only child that does not have any siblings’, rather James is ‘my happy and healthy gift from God.’

Brad ends the sermon with a story about one of his friends who died from cancer.  The cancer stories get me every time, but this particular cancer patient loved and appreciated every day that he had on earth.  It really touched me to think of how someone could die so peacefully with himself and his family.

Brad says that he went to the hospital right before his friend passed away to pray for him.  And after he prayed, his friend prayed for him.  That is what my grandfather {James’ namesake: James Washington Ratliff} did right before he died.  A minister came to the hospital to pray for my grandfather and afterwards my granddaddy laid his hands on the minister and said “now let me pray for you.”  The minister said he had never had anyone do that in all of his years of prayer.  Justin didn’t have the opportunity to meet my Granddaddy, but I’ve told him before that that particular story sums him up.  He was respectable, giving, witty, humble and I only have the fondest memories of him.

So I started balling in the church at the end of this sermon.  It’s not unusual for me to get choked up during one of Brad’s sermons, but I definitely had snot running from my nose to my mouth.  I was so embarrassed!  However, it’s these humbling moments with The Lord that really seem to make the biggest impact.

Here’s a link to the sermon.  I’m not sure how long it will stay on the website, but someone please let me know if you are not able to listen to it.

I am the Resurrection and the Life

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

This is the deal…

The days of James repeating everything he hears has begun.  Here’s what he said on the way to the grocery store today.

“This is the deal, Mommy.  We gonna go to Publix, and when it’s time to leave, I want you to be a good listener.  And don’t cry.  Just be a big boy.”

By the way, I have never told him that crying doesn’t equate to being a big boy.  There’s just no telling what will come out of his mouth these days.  Then again, I’m sure he’s heard it somewhere.

3rd Annual Strawberry Farm Visit

Three years in a row we have been blessed to visit The Cottle Strawberry Farm with The Granger Girls!  We got an early start this year and can officially say that strawberries are in season!


As usual the girls did what they were supposed to do, which is pick strawberries…


While my all-boy child did everything else.


James did actually pick strawberries, but NOT ONE went straight into the bucket.  He took a bite out of every single strawberry he picked.

Strawberry Farm '13

I just tried to keep him from throwing the remaining halves across the strawberry field.  He really is such a rascal.  I’ll look back and laugh at this stuff one day, right?


In the meantime, I welcome these sweet girls into our daily lives.


We may not have known that we were starting a tradition three years ago, but it’s definitely one that we’ll have to keep!  We love you, Granger girls!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy Easter

What a great day.  Not knowing how to explain Easter to James, I decided to tell him “On Easter we celebrate Jesus!”  Lately I’ve been trying to ingrain this in his mind.  Here’s our typical Easter conversation:

Me: “James, what do we do on Easter?”

James (eyebrows raised): “The Easter Rabbit gonna come to my house and weave a basket of eggs.”

Me:  “That’s true, but who do we celebrate on Easter?”

James (yelling): “JEEEEE-SUS!”

Well that “Easter Rabbit” did come to our house to fill James’ basket.  Only with much more than eggs. :)  Mostly books this year and art supplies, but plenty of other goodies as well.  Like usual, the basket was filled with WAY more than planned.


I didn’t take tons of pictures.  We had a nice morning of Easter goodies, breakfast, watching James’ new Peter Pan movie, and getting ready for church.

It doesn’t happen often, but when James decides he doesn’t want to wear something, there is no getting around it.  I fight A LOT of battles with him, and I mean it when I say this is a big fat loss for me.  He boycotted button down shirts for his entire second year.  I knew I had to play my cards right, which gave me the perfect excuse to buy him a soft and cozy, white linen shirt.


He wore a new shirt, new pants, and new shoes.  I couldn’t risk a belt even though it bothered me that his shirt wasn’t tucked in.  And I had to hike his pants up after this photo.


James has a new camera of his own so, Justin and I stood at the doorstep while he supposedly took a picture of us and told us to “say cheese!”


He followed us around all morning saying “say cheese,” “wook at me,” “that’s a gweat picture” and “that’s the goodest picture.”  He also repeatedly said, “Mommy, don’t touch my camera.”  I told him that wasn’t very nice then, I realized he was repeating what I’ve been telling him for years.  Oops.

He hasn’t quite mastered keeping still while taking pictures.  He took about twenty pictures of me, and here’s the best one.

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James kept asking “Mommy, do you have your camera?”  which prompted me to get a fab pic of my hubby.


We weren’t able to get a family pic this Easter, but these two boys made up for it.  (If only I didn’t still have the birthday wreath on our door… how embarrassing!)


So much to be thankful for this Easter, especially Jesus Christ himself.  Happy Easter from our family to yours!


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Connor!

James’ best friend turned three today, and we were so excited to celebrate with him at Edventure!  It was a party that was meant to be on the smaller side, but ended up having a GREAT turn out! 

James’ favorite part was making the fire truck and Dalmatian crafts all prepared by Connor’s crafty mommy, Lindsay!  The glue itself was such a hit that I’m going to have to let the Easter Bunny know…

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It was a fire truck theme with hats to match… I could just eat this little boy up!


There was a guest appearance by Fireman Josh.  Fireman Josh is sometimes at Edventure, and Connor is a HUGE fan.  James on the other hand is lost in emotion between feeling star struck and frightened.  This is the first time James “faced” Fireman Josh as opposed to hiding his face in his Mommy.


We sang happy birthday to Connor and filled the kids up with sugar, in true birthday party fashion! {This is one table, pictures taken three ways.}

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We then had free play throughout Edventure, where we spent the entire time at the Clifford exhibit. :)  This was such a great birthday party, especially on a cold, rainy day!  Don’t be surprised if I do this next year… These two three year olds approve!


Happy birthday, Connor!  We are so blessed to have you and your family in our lives.  I am so proud of you for the little man you are growing up to be.  Thank you for including us on such a special day!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Our Angel

I started to write James’ birthday blog and felt I needed to do this one first.  I was pregnant with what I thought was going to be a little sister for James.  We had a heartbeat and had almost made it through the first trimester.  I was exhausted to no end, went to bed at 8:00 every night, and was beginning to show.  Everything inside of me thought it was a girl.  We were just about to share the news when I miscarried.  It was January 17th, and I was 10 1/2 weeks.  I had a D&C and filled my head with ‘everything happens for a reason’ thoughts.  Here is where I tell you that I never knew how hard a miscarriage was until it happened to me.  Our baby had arms, legs, and a beating heart.  My every day had been consumed by the pregnancy.  (I’m not one of those pregnant women that just breeze by.)  The hardest thing I had to let go of though, was the plan.  Knowing that James and his sibling would no longer be three years apart.  Letting go of our August due date, and that we would not have a five month old baby next Christmas.  Accepting that we had to wait even longer to try again, which will make even more of an age difference, God willing of course.  Watching others share their news with due dates that were so close to mine.  It was just so hard to accept and deal with all the emotions.  I felt (and still feel) guilty for letting this much time pass before having our second.  I felt extremely guilty for being the source of a loss with my family at a time when we are enduring so much.  I started spreading the bad news and found myself comforting people as they cried on the phone with me.  I found myself telling people “It’s okay.  I’ll be okay.  I believe this baby wouldn’t have survived on the outside word, and God had to take her.”  I found myself not knowing what to say, and having anxiety about what people would say to me.  I was often asked the cause of the miscarriage, which made me think, ‘Well, I like to think it was out of my hands, but what if it wasn’t?’  I was told that I could simply try again for another.  I had insensitive comments by people that just don’t understand.  Conversely, I would get sympathetic eyes and hugs, and I would burst into tears in the middle of a restaurant.  So, my anxiety increased and a new social anxiety skyrocketed.  I started having fears of something traumatic happening to James.  I was just so anxious, and I was just so sad.  My voicemail was overflowing with cares and concerns, but I had horrible anxiety about calling people back.  I didn’t want to talk about it, but I couldn’t act like it didn’t happen.  I just wanted to crawl into a hole.  My parents came to visit, and then one of my best friends from Florida made a trip.  Things are getting much better and time has really helped me heal.  So, why am I blogging this for the world to see?  I really don’t know.  Maybe as a tribute to our love?  Maybe because I feel guilty just going about life as though it never happened?  I just feel the need.  I’m an open book when it comes to parenting and most things in life.  This loss is now a part of us whether we welcomed it or not.  (And on a smaller scale, this pregnancy and loss seriously affected my blogging!)  I began to blog about James’ birthday, and I just couldn’t skirt around this chapter in our lives.  This angel will always be a part of our family, and I truly believe we will meet her in heaven one day.  I also feel like I have a new perspective on a loss that women and families so often endure.  And for every friend of mine or stranger that has lost a baby, I am so sorry from the bottom of my heart.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Slip N’ Slide!

James got a slip n’ slide for his birthday (thank you, Aunt Dyanne!) and it was all we could do to hold him off until this afternoon.  He’s been asking for a month, “Mommy, it’s sunny so, we can pway with the hose and swip n’ swide… Wight???” Only to be answered with, “No, not yet, buddy.”  Well, the weather was nice today, but the water was still freezing!


He absolutely loved it, and I foresee many/all afternoons in the water. :)  We welcome you, Spring!!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pledge of Allegiance

I’ve been dying to hear James say the pledge ever since I heard that they say it at school.  Today he pretended to be the flag holder, the most sought-after job at school, and started singing “I am proud to be an American” and saying the Pledge.  I am so proud, but almost burst out laughing every time he says “republic.”  For some reason he says that word in a southern slow motion.  I love my little American.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cousins Bowen and James

IMG_4551editBowen, ten months old.  James, two years and ten months old

IMG_4553editCousin status: Despite a few sharing mishaps, the bestest of friends

Our Christmas Season

I wrote most of this blog over a month ago and am just now getting around to finishing it!  I clearly have not been on the blogging ball.

Christmas started early In the Helfer household.  We had a busy couple of weeks ahead so we got our Christmas tree the week before Thanksgiving.  Since Thanksgiving was early this year, I was just hoping we didn’t have a fire hazard come Christmas Day.


We went to Lowes this year and actually got a really good tree!  {Maybe because we got first pick.}  James was very excited!  Notice he’s not touching the ground here…


We picked out the perfect tree…

Nov Dec 20121

and were on our way.

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We decorated our tree and house, a calmer experience than last year.

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And the amazement began.

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Every morning after we put the tree up, James would lay on the floor in front of the fireplace waiting for Santa.  So we made a Christmas chain to help us with the countdown.


Christmas jammies were almost expected to be clean every night…

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The morning after Thanksgiving, our Elf on the Shelf arrived!  James named him “Elf” last year.  I thought that maybe since he is older, he might want to give him a more creative name, but he named him “James.”  We decided to stick with “Elf.” {Justin grew a beard, like most Vets do, that lasted until his 30th birthday.}


Elf first made his appearance in the nutcrackers, and has moved all over the house since.

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We had our first candy canes of the season!


James got his Christmas basket!  {Most of the stuff was purchased after Christmas last year on clearance... just so I don’t look like a mega consumer.}

IMG_4416Nov Dec 20122

James LOVES getting his Christmas basket each year.  In fact, we lived and breathed everything Christmas for the month of December.  And I loved it.  I was concerned about a Helfer depression on December 26th. 


Luckily we had some best friends come to visit so, Christmas was sadly and thankfully just a memory.


We went to see Saluda Shoals lights one night, and James was mesmerized.  We actually drove around to see Christmas lights a couple nights a week, always ending with our own Grizwald house. 


We made a gingerbread house that was not a masterpiece, but nonetheless gave me one of those sentimental life doesn’t get much better than this feelings.


We saw the singing bears at Richland Mall, but did not take a picture because James repeatedly said “I don’t yike this.”  However, we saw soldiers play Christmas music while shopping on post one day.  it was pretty awesome, and James insisted we stay for quite some time.


We decorated Christmas cookies.


We celebrated Hanukkah with The Helfers!


We had hot chocolate dates.


We especially tried to keep focus on the true meaning of Christmas.  We took James to his first church service on Christmas Eve, rather than the nursery.  We also saw the live nativity of the Christmas story.


We had one excited boy Christmas Eve night.


We left cookies and milk for Santa.  I never got around to making cookies so, he got nilla wafers.  James licked one entirely before putting it on the plate.  sheesh.


One little reindeer stayed up waiting for Santa.


We had a great Christmas day with hardly any pictures… oops!  We had a quiet Christmas morning with just the three of us and Lynyrd of course.  Then, Sandy and Nanny came over for Christmas dinner.


We had a wonderful Christmas season, and we especially have so much to be thankful for.  Merry Christmas and God Bless, for He is the reason for the season!