Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kittens and Cars

We found these newborn baby kittens curled up on a utility shelf in our garage last week and couldn't resist trying to care for them. Momma kitty is a stray cat that feeds off of our cat food. We do have one outdoor cat named Storm who was left abandoned by the neighbors when they moved, so we started feeding him and taking care of him and now he calls our garage his home. Anyway, I moved the baby kitties off of the utility shelf and placed them on a cat bed in our garage. I though they would be much safer there because they were beginning to wiggle around and fall off the shelf. Well Momma kitty didn't like me touching them one bit so she took all five kitties and moved them one at a time out of our garage. We were sad but also happy that she was caring for the litter. Well, about a week later we were getting out of the car after church and heard the kitties crying. We looked and we looked but could not see them anywhere. We finally figured out that the kitties were stuck up in a tight space underneath our car!!!!! Momma kitty brought them back and thought she could hide them in our car.

We quickly pulled the kitties out from the car, fearing that they were burned or dying. They seeemd fine, but were definitely hot so we placed them on the cold kitchen tile to cool them and examine them better. At this time, we only thought there were two kittens up there. Brannon back tracked and found another kitten on his parents driveway! He fell out while we parked there to eat lunch. Then he found the other kitty on the side of the road. So sad! He must of fell out while we were driving. That left only one kitty unaccounted for. Later that night, Brannon swore he could hear one more kitten. I couldn't hear a thing, but sure enough, he found the last little kitten stuck in the car - Alive! The four kittens are alive and healthy and Momma Kitty decided to take them one by one again. We have no idea where they are, but fear the whole family will show up when hungry.

If that's the case, anyone want a kitten?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mary Ellen Gets a Sister

We're having a girl!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Okay OKay, I'll Blog Already

I know, I know. I have not blogged in weeks, okay months, but I have had a good excuse. You all know that I am pregnant with our second baby and just like my first pregnancy I have been a tad under the weather. Pregnancy and I do not mix well in the first 20 weeks. But I am feeling MUCH better and am looking forward to updating my blog - routinely.

Many weeks have passed that I don't even know what to blog about, so I'll give some brief updates and be a little more entertaining the next go around. Here's what has been happening in the Cook household these past several weeks (okay months):

1. Mary Ellen has adjusted to school fairly well, but rarely makes it a full week without catching a cold or a fever or whatever else is floating around.
2. I have so far survived school and even completed a full course during the whole 10 weeks of my sickness. I don't remember the course, but I apparently I passed!
3. I have not yet caught the swine flu and I work with many, many young snot-nosed munchkins - who I love, as long as they don't give me the swine flu.
4. My little sister, Molly, was married recently and we survived the road trip to Georgia with plenty of Barbie and Thomas the Choo Choo Train movies and snacks.
5. Brannon has taken over as our Sunday school teacher and I couldn't be more proud of him for stepping up to the plate. Love you babe.
6. I'm finally able to sing in choir again and didn't realize how much I missed it these passed 10 weeks.
7. I am getting fat much faster than I did with my first pregnancy. Fabulous!
8. I want to sleep ALL THE TIME!!!!!!!

Take care all. I am feeling better and promise to update regularly now. Hugs and Kisses!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Off To School We Go

My baby will be starting a mother's morning out program this fall. I'm not really sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I am so proud that she is now a big girl and will be around other children to learn some much needed social skills. On the other hand, I'm nervous about the little things, like mean toddlers who bite or rip toys out of Mary Ellen's hands. Even worse, it could be MY child who bites and steals from other cute, innocent babies! Oh I haven't even thought of that before! I don't even want to think about all those nasty germs. Mary Ellen has been sick very few times and I credit most of that to the fact that she was cared for by her grandmother. I always hear that your child stays sick for the first 6 months of daycare. My poor baby.

I know she will be fine. I really like the place where we are sending her. In fact, I used to work there and know the staff and the inner workings of the place. Being in the "know" smooths things over for me. lol. NO really, my nervousness is just my unwillingness to let go of the ropes a little - to let someone else have some control. Come to think of it, this may be harder for me than for Mary Ellen. And I know she will be getting a good start to her education (she will follow a curriculum and go to chapel twice a week, tee-hee).

Keep a lookout for a future posting of our first day, which is August 10th. There will be plenty of pictures taken on that day! Although those pictures may be of me and her crying.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cry Baby

Mary Ellen is a crier. She cries if she drops something. She cries when being left off at the baby sitter's or the church nursery. She cries if she falls (and she doesn't have to be hurt). She even cries if her daddy teases her too much. The girl likes to cry. It's kind of funny, actually. It's not a full out sob, but more of a quick whiny cry that is over as fast as it started, unless I'm dropping her off somewhere. In that case, look out! She's gonna let you know she's upset.

I was informed that Brannon was a big crier. He apparently cried so hard when being dropped off at kindergarten that his daddy would just bring him back home, leaving it to Momma to have to take him right back and do the dirty work herself. Uhuh. As the southerners say - that's just like a man.

I was a crier, too. In fact, most of my baby and childhood pictures are images of me wailing, snot-nosed and all. I didn't cry out of separation anxiety, though. I cried because my feelings were always hurt or because I did not get my way. Wait. Am I talking about now, or when I was a tot? I still cry when I don't get my way. Just kidding. I just passive aggressively make everyone else's life miserable until they come around and see that I was right all along.

All joking aside, I do hope Mary Ellen grows out of this crying stage. I am often reassured that she stops crying two minutes after I leave the room. I really hope they aren't lying to me. They are church people, too, so you know, lying wouldn't look so good on the resume. :) I am also reassured that all this crying is a very normal phase that begins around 9-15 months and can last throughout toddler hood. Given her gene pool, we may be lucky if she quits crying by the time graduates.

Much love!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Home from Georgia

We had a great visit with my mom (Mommom) and Grandpa Max in Georgia this past weekend. My grandparents drove down from Pennsylvania and were able to meet Mary Ellen for the first time. It was so precious and rare that we were all able to be together like that. My sister and her fiance, Sean, came, too, and it truly was a nice weekend. Of course my grandparents - GiGi and Grandpop - absolutely adored MEC. Who wouldn't?

I was a little nervous about the car ride. Okay, I was a nervous wreck. The trip is about 5 hours and I just couldn't imagine keeping Mary Ellen in the car that long without her flipping out. To make things worse, our portable DVD player "busted" right before leaving town. Fortunately, my mother-in-law found the receipt from last Christmas (they can find anything, I swear) and was able to exchange the DVD player for one that works. Well, Brannon installs the thing Thursday night, only for me to find out Friday morning that it does not work. I'm freaking out by this point because if little Miss Mary Ellen does not get to watch her Wiggles on the way to Georgia, I just didn't know what we were going to do.

I left work early on Friday and took my car to Advanced Auto thinking it was a blown fuse.


Fuses are good.

By this time there was nothing else to do. We were leaving for Georgia by noon on that day and I came to accept that we were gonna have to deal with the drive the old fashion way - you know, before portable DVD players, cell phones, texting, and portable video games. To think of it! This is tragic I must say!

Brannon pulls into the driveway and I tell him of the awful DVD news. Brannon simply opens up the back door to the car, takes a quick look-see at the DVD player, pushes something and says, "There. It works."


Apparently, nervous mommies can't grasp the concept of trying the ON/OFF BUTTON!!!!! This is so embarrassing, but too funny not to share. I went through all that panic and mayhem, and I simply forgot to turn the thing on! So now I'm thinking nothing was wrong with the old player that we took back to the store.


We were able to watch the Wiggles and Curious George and Mary Ellen was and angel - both to and fro. She was such a good girl. She never fussed, not once! We played puppet show, read stories and snacked the whole way. It was kind of fun!

Next trip, however, I'll be sure to check the on/off button. I make my parents so proud. LOL!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I have some of the best friends anyone can ask for. When living in Florida and trying to survive as a fledgling journalist, I met a group of girls who grew to be my closest friends, sisters in Christ and my shoulders to lean on. We all live in separate areas of the country now, so it is not often we get to visit with one another. Liz (Lizard) lives in South Carolina after moving there with her hubby just because the newlyweds thought it would be a cool place to live. How cool is that? Christie lives in West Palm Beach with her new hubby, and Adrienne lives in Lakeland, Florida. I was able to spend some time with my dearest friends (minus Adrienne) this past weekend when they came for a visit. Although it has been a very busy month with work, holidays, school, and church activities, I was able to enjoy my time with the girls and play catch up. Christie did not arrive until Sunday, so Liz, Mary Ellen and I hung out in the backyard and waded around in the baby pool. It was so much fun. Mary Ellen kept trying to drink the pool water and I got sunburned on my back! We then decided to eat ice cream sundaes for dinner (Mary Ellen, too) and just hang out. Brannon missed out on the ice cream dinner, so we decided to do it again on Sunday! Hey, you gotta live a little.

I have one more final exam to finish on Monday and this semester will be through!!!! This means I will have a three week break before classes pick back up for the summer. I really cannot wait to be through. I have one more year of grad classes and an internship and then I'm home free. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Mary Ellen had her third photo shoot with Mark Broadway on Friday and I cannot wait to see the pictures. He is so talented and Jeannie, his wife, is so sweet and has a real knack for dealing with people. They are just people you want to be around. Even Mary Ellen thought Mark was silly. She rarely giggles at men, but she had herself a good time tearing up their studio yesterday. I hope it was okay that I let her tear it up. Ha! Hey, they said they wanted natural pictures, so there you go. Mary Ellen was just naturally being a curious toddler.

We have plans to go to Georgia this month to visit Mommom (my mom) and my grandparents who will also be visiting. This will be the first time my grandparents get to meet Mary Ellen. They live in Pennsylvania and it is difficult finding time, and money, to visit with everyone. I am very excited and cannot wait! (Please say prayers for the 5 hour drive with a 17-month-old, however).

I hope all is well with everyone! I still love you!

God Bless!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Weekend

We had a wonderful Easter weekend. My mom and sister were able to spend the weekend with us and it was so nice. I miss them something terrible at times.

Mary Ellen had a great time hunting Easter eggs at the church Saturday. She knew right what to do. Well, she had no choice. I am highly competitive and no child of mine was going to walk around eggless. My mother laughed and commented that I was probably the only mother who trained her 16-month-old on how to hunt for eggs. Ha! No joke, I had Mary Ellen practice with her Easter Basket and some cut-out bunnies and eggs!

Easter morning was sweet. We took baby powder and made bunny tracks from the front door leading all the way to her basket. We also laid out a trail of chocolates. When she awoke, she said "OOOOOOH" at the coins and started collecting them. She did not see the basket until she was smack dab right in front of it. It was precious!

Our Easter services at church were awesome. My sister, Molly, helped us in our cantata by singing. Of course I was proud. Molly's awesome. It was fun singing in a choir with her.

I hope all of you had a blessed Easter. May we never forget the wonder of the cross!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Easter on a Budget

Here is an inexpensive Easter decorating idea I wanted to share with you, especially with those of you with small children. I used the bunny cutout at school and punched a hole at the top, then simply tied all types of springy ribbon on the colorful bunnies. I then tied each bunny onto the dining room chandelier. It's nothing fancy, but it's fun and Mary Ellen loves them!

I always said that I would never put Mary Ellen or myself in a pair of Crocs, but check out these bad boys!!! They are purple and oh so cool! Velcro is the best. I took a picture of Mary Ellen's new Croc on top of my flip flop to show you how big her feet are. My girl has some feet now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Head in a Box

I used to sleep with my head in a box.

It was a large cardboard box that once housed some household item that had no relevance to the hours of fun it provided me. My box was no ordinary box. I had artfully decorated not only the outside, but the inside with all types of colorful designs. I measured and cut out a hole large enough to slip my head through (think of the opening to a dog house) and two holes on either side to slip my arms through. I placed this box on my top bunk and secretly snuck in a flashlight, some books and some more art supplies. When it was time to go to bed, I found a way out - a loop hole to my parent's dreaded rule to "go to sleep" at a decent hour! I could slip my head and two arms through the box holes, turn on my flashlight, and read or draw or do whatever it is kids do with a large, used box. The possibilities were endless. My imagination took over and it was just me and my box.

"Ah-ha!" I thought, "I don't have to go to sleep. No one will ever know that I am awake because I have this box."

It turns out I really wasn't that clever. Mom knew of my plan and thought it too funny to ruin my little hideout slash anti-nighttime plan. She even knew about the flashlight. My box looked like a flying saucer on my top bunk with a beam of light seeping out of the bottom. And there I was, being abducted by my own crafty cleverness with my head stuck securely inside a brown box.

This sounds weird to most of you - okay all of you - but here is the cool thing: It wasn't weird to my mom. She could have easily flipped out and yanked the box off of my head and thrown it in the dumpster. Who wants a daughter who sleeps with her head in a box? It's not something you share with pals at work or church. Outsiders may even view it as child abuse.

"Geesh, Judy," the would say, "It's kinda mean to let your kid sleep in a box. I mean, what if she suffocates."

My younger sister Molly didn't find it odd either. She slept in the bunk beneath me. She was used to my artsy antics. Nothing phased her.

I think of this story every now and then when I watch my own daughter play. I was reminded of my childhood when she excitedly hurried over to the long, rectangular cardboard box her daddy threw on the ground after unpacking it. At only 15-months-old, I watched her "ooooh" and "aaah" at the size of this box. She opened and closed the lids, tried to slip inside, and eventually realized it was much more fun to place Mommy's Tupperware inside of it. She would have played with that box for hours, except it was soon time to go to bed.

NO! I did not place the box inside her crib. But I did think about whether I would allow it if she were a little older. Am I going to be a cool mom and allow my daughter to sleep with her head in a box? Will I recognize her for who she is and know the difference between "weird" and "artistic"? Will I know my daughter as well as my mom knew and knows me? And if I do, will I go against the grain to give my daughter that outlet that she needs, such as painting the inside of a box and placing it on top of her head? My mother knew this was odd. Even my grandfather asked one night, "Judy, you do realize that Ann-Marie has a box on her head?"

"Yup," she replied.

"Are you going to let her do that?" he asked.

"Yup, she's not hurting anyone."

You see, my mom knew that I was different, and never once made me feel silly or weired for being so. On the contrary, my mother encouraged my behavior. I think she knew that if she did not allow me to explore my creative side in healthy ways, I would have rebelled in an unhealthy way. I was a kid, for example, who liked to play by herself. I would play in my closet - with the door closed - so no one would bother me or interrupt my imaginative play. Mom simply cleaned out my closet so that I could play in there. When I was a teenager, I liked to wear combat boots and dye my hair a different color every week. Mom allowed me to do this. Her reasoning? I made honor roll, had decent friends, did not do drugs and overall was a pretty good kid. What type of child would I have been if she repressed any of this?

I am a lot more controllive as an adult than my mother. I am type A and Mom is type...Z. Will I be able to recognize Mary Ellen for who she is, and more importantly, will I allow her to be her? Will I let go and go against the grain if I truly feel it is in the best interest of my child? I sure hope so. I hope that when it comes down to it, I will allow my daughter to sleep with a box on her head.

Maybe I'll even provide her with the flashlight.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Frugal Shopper

I'm not sure if I like to shop. I like looking at clothes and household decor sometimes, but I don't get particularly excited to try on clothes or 50 pairs of shoes. In fact, that's just downright dreadful. My mom tells me when I was younger, she couldn't stand to take me along when she shopped. I would whine the entire time and tell her "my legs hurt." In fairness, my legs were the size of chopsticks and standing on them for more than 30 minutes was pushing it. These babies weren't made for all-day shopping excursions. I still don't like to shop all day, unless I have a pocket full of cash that is free from any strings. When does that ever happen?

I'm the person who will walk around the department store with items hand for an eternity. Then one by one the items return to their homes on the racks. I end up feeling way too guilty about buying that I just can't do it. The guilt outweighs the want. I'm a salesperson's nightmare.

If an item or two does make it home with me, buyer's remorse usually sets in the next day, after the shopper's high wears off. I am getting a bit better at this. I have learned not to beat myself up as much, especially if I find a heck of a deal. The bottom line is, I don't like to spend. I'm frugal, probably borderline cheap. I was always like this. I remember saving my coins and allowances as a child, only to have my older sister beg me for some cash because the girl never could hold on to a penny.

"You got holes in your pockets, Michelle," my parents would say.

I know I should loosen up a bit, but I don't like the feeling of being strapped for cash. Been there done that for way too many years. Living and surviving on your own is tough folks. I really did eat hot dogs and Ramen noodles for weeks at a time. I couldn't afford anything else. I remember wearing clothes that were too big or too little. I couldn't furnish my first apartment until months after moving in. I had to say "no" often to friends asking me to go see a movie or go out to eat. Those were luxuries I had to save up for.

When I lived in Florida, my mom found a great web site called The Dollar Stretcher that offered some great tips. The site is still up and running and has grown. Google it. It offers sound money-saving advice from people who like and need to save. Check it out.

Now that I've made myself sound really, really cheap, please note that Brannon and I are working really hard to get out of debt - completely. It is our dream to one day be mortgage free and student-loan free, and not 30 years from now. This means making that dollar stretch.

(I'm not eating Ramen noodles this time, however. Sacrificing health and sanity is not an option).

As Dave Ramsey says, "Live like no other today so that one day you can live like no other."

I love it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Da Da Da Da....

"Momma. Say Momma. M-o-m-m-a!"


"Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy!"


"No. I'm Momma. Momma. Say it...puulleeez!"


This is a typical daily conversation between Mary Ellen and I. Oh, alright. It's not a conversation, but me begging our 15-month-old to say my name. I cannot wait for the day that she utters a word that does not begin with the letter "D," preferably "Momma" or "Ma." The sound of the letter "D" is her sound of choice. Every word that she attempts to say usually ends up with a hard D on the front. Her favorite word is "Doy," pronounced like "boy." I don't know where this came from or what it means, but she LOVES it. Everything is "doy, doy, doy." It is adorable, but I'm ready for my little girl to expand her repertoire.

I have to admit that I have been a little concerned over the past couple of weeks about Mary Ellen's speech, or lack there of it. I read - probably too much - information that says she should know at least a dozen words by now, and at least two dozen by 18 months.


Mary Ellen knows "Doy."

She has started saying "Do" (pronounced like "go") whenever we let the dog outside to run, and I think she is beginning to say "Duice" for juice. She can say Dada, as well, but I'm tired of that. I'm ready for her to look at me and yell "MOMMA!"

Friends and parents tell me not to worry, that Mary Ellen is just taking a little longer to develop in this area. I hope they are right. I started talking to her as much as I can, but I feel that I am saying so much as it is. I started reading to her more, even if she is playing and not sitting on my lap. A good friend suggested this method. It can't hurt, plus I love to read to my girl.

We have a 15-month check-up soon and I cannot wait to bombard the doc with many developmental questions. I know deep down inside this is just Mary Ellen's way. She has always been a little slow to develop, and this has truly never bothered me. I just want to make sure that if there is something I can be doing to help her along, then I want to know what that "something" is.

Until then, I will continue with my pleading and Mary Ellen will continue assigning "D" sounds/words to different objects. She (and I) will get it one day.


Sunday, February 1, 2009


We are still here! We have just been soooooooo busy. I started back classes at Troy and I took on a full load this semester, including a course that requires me to go to Phenix City some weekends. I'm trying to pack in what I can before Brannon begins his spring outage at the nuclear plant. Yuck. I am so not looking forward to that. I know he isn't either. Thirteen-hour days grow tiresome after a few weeks.

Mary Ellen continues to grow and grow! It's amazing how fast she has grown and how tall she is. We have to purchase 18 month-old clothing because anything smaller is too short. We call most of her pants capris or knickers!. She talks non-stop, or babbles. She really doesn't say too many words at this point and everyone keeps telling me not to worry. She knows plenty of words, she just can't figure out how to form them into proper sounds so that Dad and I understand them. I know I shouldn't worry too much about it because MEC took forever to develop everywhere else. For example, she did not get one tooth until close to 11 months of age and when she did, they ALL came in at one time. The doc assures me that's just how MEC develops. So I am just waiting for a billion words to come flowing out at any minute!

She is becoming such a big girl. She brushes her teeth at night with her own Sesame Street toothbrush and feeds herself entirely. The food ends up everywhere but her mouth half the time, but she tries and wants to try. My big girl!

I posted some random photos from over the past several weeks. I hope you enjoy. I promise to write something witty or funny next time. I just wanted to provide the family and close friends with some updates!
Take care and we love you!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Noah's Ark

Here are the paintings I completed for the church nursery/preschool hall. I have a couple more to finish, but I think they turned out cute. I stuck with acrylic paints and stretched canvases. I love not having to frame! Plus, I love the look of a stretched canvas. You get to see the entire painting.

Because of this painting, I decided to reread Genesis 6, 7, 8, & 9 last night - the story of Noah and his account. This is what stuck out to me:

Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between you and me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life...So God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on earth." Genesis 9:14-17

This account tells of God's wrath - how he is so perfect that he cannot understand our wickedness - but it also tells of God's mercy and love - His covenant. We do not deserve this covenant. We deserve nothing. But He gives it anyway because he loves us. He gave His one and only son so that He would never again have to wipe out the earth with a flood to wash away our wickedness. Jesus did that for us.
So beautiful. Thank you Lord!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 Blessings

What an awesomely blessed Christmas season we have had! What an awesomely blessed year we have had! God has been so good to the Cook family. There have been rough patches this past year - a funeral, busy schedules, illnesses - but God continued to be faithful. He has never left our sides. His provision amazes me.

2008 Blessings:

1. The health and growth of Mary Ellen. She has blossomed into a beautiful toddler. Wow - it truly does go fast. She now weighs 21 pounds and I estimate her height is around 24 inches. Gone are the bottles, baby foods, teeny-weeny onsies and days of propping her up in a seat to play. This has all been replaced with sippy cups, pickier eating, baby talk and baby chasing.

2. We have not been hit by economic hardships to the extent of others. We have not lost any jobs - thank you, Lord - and continue to work hard to live the "Dave Ramsey" way, as we call it, which simply means "out of debt." Keep helping us with this goal, Lord. With You, we can do it!

3. Brannon and I were able to take a couple get-away vacations - alone! We went to the beach one weekend and on a cruise. It is always wonderful to "runaway" for a little while with the man of my dreams. It's a great way for us to stay connected and remember to put each other first, even before children.

4. Since I am speaking so lovey dovey, Brannon and I celebrated 5 years of marriage this year. Hooray for us! Hooray for God's hand!

5. Although leaving a church family is very difficult, emotionally, we have been blessed with even more friends and fellowship since joining HBC. HBC is where Brannon grew up and where his family has attended before he was even born. He has really matured spiritually and continues to lead this household, which in turn is helping me mature spiritually. I am so, so, so thankful for this. Thank you, Lord, for speaking to my husband's heart. Thank you for speaking to mine to be obedient.

6. I have been able to spend more time with my mother since she moved to Georgia to become a missionary. She has been willing to travel almost every month or two to come play with her granddaughter. If she still lived in Pennsylvania, those trips would be extremely less in amount. I'm so glad Mary Ellen has her Mommom close by.

7. School and work went very well for me in 2008 because of the awesome support network Brannon and I have. With the help of his family, I have been able to continue going to school in the afternoons and work in the mornings. I know that I am very fortunate to have this.

I look forward to even more blessings in 2009. It is always uplifting to think back on all the things God has granted for us, considering we do not deserve any of it. It's really hard to be down and negative when you thinks of blessings, isn't it? I challenge you to make a "blessings list" of your own. What happened in 2008 that made you smile? What happened in your family, in your life, that made you see God's work? Once you make this list, thank Him for it!

He is good. He is faithful. Thank you, Lord!

Love you all. I look forward to more fellowship with you in 2009.


I wonder what they are deep in thought about!

Sweet Baby

Sweet Baby
Mary Ellen wore this dress for Baby Dedication. She also wore this the day she came home from the hospital.