Sep 11, 2014


9.11.14. A totally crazy day.

The kids had early dismissal day from school, so I picked them up at 10:45 and ran a few errands. We stopped at Kroger to get ice and a few groceries. I walked out to unlock the van and soon learned the battery in our remote was dead (and the little key inside wasn't working either), so we were stranded. All four of us. In the Kroger parking lot. In the rain.

There was nothing anyone else could do, so I called Scot and he rushed from work to help. An hour later with a spare key in hand, groceries retrieved from Kroger's freezer in the back - and we were good as new.

Then, I got the call that our sweet neighbor Patsy passed away. I was heartbroken. Patsy wasn't just a neighbor to us. She was a grandmother, a friend, our "little Bitty" and neighborhood crime watcher. She was like a second mother to me and Scot in many ways, we already miss her dearly.

This was her when we visited just a few weeks ago:

But, this is how I want to remember her:

Her fiestiness. Her stubbornness. Her zest for life.
She was funny, sarcastic.
A strong, independent woman.
Caring for her three children, while working two jobs as a single mother through life.
She craved love, but never received it from a man.
She loved her family and loved them well. Her family loved her dearly.
She cooked and cleaned and baked all her life.
(Her Baked Ziti with homemade meatballs was the b-o-m-b.)
She loved nature, working in her garden outdoors.
She taught Jake how to rake and bag leaves, giving him his first paying job.
She brought over goodies for the kids at Halloween, Christmas and Easter.
She let us swim in her pool whenever we wanted.
She loved her dog Punkin. And fed her dog well. (Like baked chicken kind-of-well.)
She cracked jokes and made hard things like chemo and death look like fun.
She was a hairdresser. A mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, too.
A Stage IV lung cancer survivor.
Then, God called her home.

She was with us after the births of our two babies. Brought countless meals over after illnesses and surgeries. Held babies, babysat kids. Came over twice during the night to stay with the kids, while Scot rushed me to the hospital for emergency surgery. Saved the day when Brooklyn locked us out of the house, all piled in her car to pick up Jake from school.

And the night I'll never forget - the night I broke down at Walmart. Connor was just 7 weeks old at the time, and he had been having screaming/crying fits for hours at a time for weeks. Mostly at night. This night was no different. Except we desperately needed some groceries. Scot stayed home with the kids and I took fussy Connor to Walmart with me, thinking he'd fall asleep on the way there. He woke up halfway through our grocery trip, screaming in pain and red in the face. I tried rocking him, giving him a bottle, gas drops, burping him, checking his diaper...nothing worked. I was so exhausted, so drained, so helpless, so overwhelmed - I literally stood there in the baby aisle with a screaming baby in my arms and just bawled. I knew something wasn't right. And it paralyzed me not knowing what it was.

A sweet Walmart employee happened to walk by a few minutes later and helped me to the checkout counter, loaded up my groceries for me and swiped my debit card. I barely made it home through the tears, and Patsy greeted me at the door when I got home. Scot had called her and said we needed help. He had never seen me like that before, and I'm sure it scared him.

Patsy took Connor in her arms and, somehow, rocked and sang him to sleep, while I took my first shower in days. Scot unloaded groceries and put everything away. A week later, we discovered Connor's severe milk protein allergy and switched formulas. A week after that, Connor was rushed to Vanderbilt for a CT scan and underwent emergency surgery for pyloric stenosis.

Patsy was such a huge support system to our family. We couldn't have gone through all that we did without her.

My only hope is that I can love and serve others in my life like she did for us because just one meal, one kind word, one night of help can literally change someone's life. Our lives are forever changed because of her.

9.11.14. A day we'll never forget.

Sep 10, 2014

DIY // Stencil Letters onto an Old Canvas

I have slowly been redecorating our family room and kitchen bit-by-bit the last several months, but one corner of our family room has just never looked right. We have a cheap-o shelving unit to store our DVD's in that we knew had to stay. I loved the size of the canvas above it, but it had too much going on for our new beachy cottage style.

Then, I saw this post on the House of Rose blog. Totally loved the fact that I could keep the current canvas we already had and repurpose it into something completely new!

(Instructions are here.)

Just look at the transformation:

With some alphabet stickers, white acrylic paint, and an old canvas - it's amazing what you can do.

Sep 9, 2014

Taco Tuesday

Taco Tuesday is the new norm around here. Our family loves Mexican food so much that we've had taco night once-a-week for years. But, after watching the kids favorite Lego movie, we officially declared every Tuesday to be Taco Tuesday. Something that's super yummy and fun. Something you don't want to miss.

So...if you're ever around and stop in at the Cianci abode on a Tuesday, bring some chips and salsa and join us! It's going to be good.

Sep 2, 2014

Labor Day Fun

Our Labor Day weekend consisted of this:

A surprise birthday getaway to Atlanta, just Scot and Jake. They went swimming, played bocce ball in the evening, ate dinner at their favorite Brio restaurant, went to the World of Coke museum...and the best part - got tickets for the Alabama vs. WV game at the Georgia Dome. They had a blast!


I got in a car accident on Friday. A big truck with a 20-foot camper attached turned left in front of me, hit my front bumper and drove off. (Can you believe that??) I turned the car around and hunted him down at a gas station a few blocks away. He got the surprise of his life...and I got all the info I needed to get a rental car and get my van fixed. Worked out well. :)


A sleepover at our house with Brooklyn's friend Chloe, along with a treat and some playtime at McD's.

And this:

Out of the blue, Connor said, "I go poo-poo on potty, Mommy!" And, he actually did. Music to a toddler mom's ears.

Not to mention, a visit to the police station, phone calls with insurance agents, and our last family trip of the summer to Nashville Shores. A little not-so-much-fun mixed in with some good time with friends and family - together and apart.

Aug 28, 2014

New Playmate

So, Connor has a new little playmate in the house. (And the big kids have a new doll to play with after school.) Like an all-day-4-days-a-week type of playmate that I'll be babysitting full-time in a couple weeks. Today was a trial-run, since her mom had to take an exam for work. The day couldn't have gone better.

Just look at this sweet face:

My days just got a little bit busier and a whole lot sweeter.

Aug 27, 2014

How to Pray

Since I'm already teaching my kids how to study the Bible (while still developing the habit myself), I thought I'd also teach them how to pray using the old fashioned A.C.T.S. method. I typed up another quick how-to bookmark and posted it in the back of our journals. Such a great tool to remind us how to talk to God each day. Throughout our days every day. All day long.

Feel free to print and share.

If nothing else gets through in life, this is what I want my kids to remember. A mess of a mother teaching them to dig deep in the Word. Lay everything at the feet of their Heavenly Father. Trusting Him with all their might.

Aug 26, 2014

How to Study the Bible

I wanted to share a little different way to study your Bible, other than reading your favorite devotionals or a different chapter of the Bible every day. Sometimes you're busy and you don't have time to sit down with God. Or, you just don't feel like it. Trust me - I get it.

But since I've become an adult and made time with God a priority - trying this whole method out - my days are sweeter. I'm more calm, more productive. I have purpose to my days. It's something I can't live without. And something I'm striving to teach my kids early on, so they'll have purpose to their days too.

I bought lined journals and colored ink pens for all of us from Target, printed up this quick how-to on studying the Bible the S.O.A.P. method way and taped them inside each journal. Now, it's a lot easier to dig into the Word and find something to apply to my life each day. I see and hear God speaking to me more. And I can look back and see how far I've come along the way.

Aug 25, 2014

6 Ways to Resolve Conflict

With our oldest two (boy/girl, ages 12 and 6) sharing a room full-time, there's a lot of fighting and arguing these days. If space wasn't an issue, we'd move them over into separate rooms in a heartbeat and I know they'd be just fine. But, since that isn't an option right now, we're trying to help them out as much as we can. Help them take turns and have alone time as much as possible. Encourage independent play, hobbies and friends. But, the fact is - they are brother and sister and we want to value that relationship too. So, with the help of these easy 6 steps below posted in their room - along with some teaching and training on how to use them - I'm hoping those squabbles over Legos or "who's touching who" will get a little lighter around here. :) 
Maybe these will help in your home too!

Aug 22, 2014

The Talk

Last night was our first official "talk" with Jacob about the birds and the bees. You know, SEX.

We, of course, started this conversation years ago with the basic differences between boys and girls, what happens to your body as you get older...but last night was the start of a new beginning. A new dialogue that will be open and honest, ongoing and continuing through life. Questions and answers, wisdom passed down from our own experiences and mistakes that we've made in the past. Scot and I want to lay it all out for our kids when the time is right and when they are ready, so they'll be fully prepared for all they'll be bombarded with in life. So they can stand tall and strong, know what to do when the temptations come (for they surely will), and hopefully, make good choices as they navigate their way through life growing up. Always knowing there's a soft place to fall when they walk through the doors at home.

With the middle school years well underway, we knew it was time. Time for Jacob to learn what God says in the Bible about sex. Why it's to be shared between husband and wife only. The changes he'll experience through puberty. Pregnancy. Pornography and addiction. Homosexuality. Sexual diseases. Love and dating. With the help of the God's Design for Sex book series by Stan and Brenna Jones, we're slowly introducing these things to Jacob as we balance the tightrope between education and parenting, while treasuring childhood innocence for as long as it lasts.

Wish us luck on our new grace-filled adventure!

Aug 21, 2014

DIY // Silhouette Art

My first major DIY project - even before my mantel makeover, starburst clothespin wreath or burlap canvas family silhouette art - was making silhouettes of my kids. Something I had wanted to do for a very long time but never had enough gumption to create until now. The first project that gave me confidence and opened my eyes to the whole entire creative world of DIY in the first place.

I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for online, so I made everything up as I went (how I roll most of the time with craft projects). And I seriously love how they turned out. If my house ever goes up in flames, these are the first things I'm grabbing besides the kids!

Mine are all 12x12 size with beautiful shabby chic frames (an early birthday gift from my photographer/parents), but you could cut and make them whatever size, style, color combo you'd like. Here's a quick tutorial if you want to create silhouettes of your own.

What you will need:

- 8x10 B+W cardstock printed silhouette photo
- 12x12 paper for the background (I chose woodgrain scrapbook paper from Joann's)
- 12x12 black cardstock paper for the silhouette (or any color of your choice)
- Large and small scissors
- Foam mounting squares
- Nice frame for display


1. First off, place your subject in front of a light background and take a head and shoulders photo of them from the side. Take lots of pictures and vary the sides (left or right) to see which one you like best. For girls, try different hairstyles too. (In my first set of photos with Brooklyn, she wore her hair down and her silhouette looked like George Washington. Ha! Next time I put her hair up in a ponytail, which is pretty typical for her these days, and it looked just like her.)
2. Print off your favorite picture onto 8x10 cardstock paper. Carefully cut out the subject's head and shoulders. 
3. Using a pencil, trace the cardstock silhouette onto black cardstock paper. Carefully cut out the new silhouette with a small pair of scissors, making sure to add little features like cowlicks, ponytails, bows or eyelashes. 
4. Place foam mounting squares on the backside of the black silhouette and adhere to your background page.
5. For the finishing touches, write your child's name and age with a fine-point permanent marker under the silhouette. Place final piece in a beautiful frame to display, and your silhouette is complete. This would look great mounted onto a burlap or acrylic canvas too!

Something you will enjoy - and possibly even pass down in the family - for many years to come.
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