Tuesday, June 25, 2013

First Beach Trip

Carterman’s first beach trip was this weekend.  We headed down to Cantonment, Florida to celebrate Justin’s grandmother’s 80th birthday.  It was actually a surprise.  We told her that Justin and I had some friends that lived in Pensacola that were having a wedding shower that we needed to go to, so that was why us and Carter were coming down to visit (Cantonment is about 15 minutes away from Pensacola).  She thought it was just the three of us coming.  To her surprise, almost an hour after we pulled up to their house on Thursday afternoon, Jen and Debbie (MIL and SIL) and the twins pulled up too.  Grandma was so surprised!!  About 3 hours or so after that, Gordon and Aeron (FIL and BIL) pulled up and joined us.  She was so excited that the entire family was there to visit her and Paw Paw.

On Friday, we all got up and headed to the beach with the kids.  This was the first time any of them had ever been to the beach.  We were all so sure that we would be there about 10-15 minutes and then would have to leave because they would be done with it.  We felt like they wouldn’t like the sand and that they’d be scared of the waves.  That ended up not being too far from the truth, but they actually really did like it.  The girls preferred to stay in the sand and play with toys.  They dug holes and sat in them and built sand castles with buckets.  They aren’t huge fans of water in general anyway.  Carter, however, LOVES water and loved when someone held him over the water.  He didn’t really want to get in the water on his own because I think the waves scared him.  And once his feet were wet, he didn’t like the feeling of the sand sticking to his feet, so he preferred to be held.  Also, I think mommy may have kind of ruined his first beach trip for him because when I was putting sunscreen on his arms, I got it on his hands and then he wiped his eyes and got sunscreen all in his eyes so they were really red and were bothering him.  Mommy fail.

Here’s some pictures we took while we were there:


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I know he looks like he’s screaming in these photos, but he was actually liking it.  He loves to be “showered” with water :)

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We went back to Grandma’s house after staying at the beach for over an hour.  And the kids weren’t even really itching to leave at that point…the adults just figured it was time.  We drove back to Cantonment and gave the kids a bath and put them down for naps.  Carter slept for a whopping 3 hours and 15 minutes.  A record for him.  Must go to the beach more often.

We went to dinner that night to celebrate Grandma’s birthday.  This was the night that Grandma thought that Justin and I were going to a shower, but really we went to a restaurant to meet over 25 of Grandma’s family members and waiting for Debbie and Gordon to bring Grandma and PawPaw there to meet us.  They had no idea we had gotten everyone together.  Such a great night.  I didn’t have my camera so the few pictures I had were on my phone:


This table wraps around on both sides because there was so many Skelton family members there!


This one is kinda blurry but I wanted to include it because I was so proud of Carter.  See me holding that small thing of applesauce?  He used the spoon and fed the entire thing to himself, no help from mama!!  So proud of his improving skills!!


And this was kind of funny.  The thing Justin is sitting on is a chair with wheels.  He sat in it while we were all in the garage and the kids thought it would be fun to push him around the driveway.  It was hilarious.  They had so much fun doing it!  I just love when these three play together.  They are going to be so close growing up and it makes my heart happy since Carter’s other cousins on my side don’t live in town.  Cooper is closest to his age (4 months older than him) but he lives in Tampa.  Anderson and Lydia are much older (7 and 5) and they live in Tuscaloosa.  I’m just so glad Carter has cousins within the same age range (the girls are also 4 months older than him) that are close so that he can see them on a normal basis.

The next day we hung around the house until about noon and then Justin and I headed back home with Carter and Papa in tow.  Carter was so excited to have Papa back in the backseat with him.  Carter is a GREAT sleeper at home, but he isn’t so great in the car.  The longest he’s ever napped in the car was about an hour and 15 minutes.  On the way to Florida, he only napped 40 minutes and on the way back it was almost an hour.   But he kept himself entertained with Elmo of course :)   Before leaving their house, however, we had to have one more playtime in the backyard with the waterball.  Grandma, in anticipation of Carter coming to visit, bought a huge blowup beachball that you could connect a hose to and water shot out of it.  Carter was LOVING it.  She also bought a water table that he liked too, but he has one of those at home so it wasn’t near as cool to him.  The girls pretty much used the water table the entire time we played.  They don’t love water being “poured” on them but instead preferred to sit in the water table. 


This is why the adults LOVE Grandma’s house.  It has a HUGE even backyard with very little trees and is fenced in.  The kids run wild and we know they’re safe :)


LOVES water.  LOVES.

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Love Cynthia’s face in this picture!!


Also, a HUGE thing happened on the way back.  He said his first sentence!!!  I was in the front so he couldn’t see me (his carseat is still rear facing).   I turned around backwards in my seat and peeked my head over his carseat to look down on him and said “hey baby!”.  He turned around, looked up at me, pointed towards me and said “I see Mama”.  I was FREAKING. OUT.  He says a huge variety of words for his age, but this was the first time he’d said a sentence (even though it was only three words).  I was so shocked and looked at Papa and said “did he just say that?  Did I hear that right?”.  Papa agreed and said that was exactly what it sounded like he said.  I was ecstatic y’all.  His first sentence and it involved Mama :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Godly Wife

Within the last few weeks, I have seen multiple people “share” a blogpost on my facebook newsfeed.  It’s a blog written by a fabulous Godly woman, Danielle Butler, about instructions on how to be a Godly wife to your husband.  I read this blog and realized that I needed to work on each and every one of the 10 items she listed.  I have become so obsessed with this list y’all.  I’ve been working on it daily.  Daily.  Justin has noticed.  I never realized that I wasn’t being a Godly wife until I read this blog!  It was definitely an eye opener that I needed!!  I am sharing what Danielle lists in her blog on my own blog in hopes that all of you married women out there take a peek and begin to work on these things yourselves.  We live in a world where divorce is just the quick and easy answer and if all marriages could focus on these things, I know the divorce rate would decrease.  If we welcome God into our marriages and allow him to work, you WILL have a successful marriage.  You can see Danielle’s blog in full here, but I’ll list out the 10 things below and paraphrase Danielle’s excellent words on the topic for my own readers.  I hope you get as much out of it as I did!  Danielle threw in several pictures of her and her husband throughout the blog so I did the same :)


  • Keep God first and your husband second.  Danielle makes sure to point out that your husband is second.  Not you.  Not your kids.  Your husband.  That is truly how the Bible intended it.  I’ve always known that God intended the home to be prioritized this way, but it wasn’t until I began reading the Bible front to back that I actually saw the scriptures for it.  I can’t quote an exact scripture that states that without using Google, though.  Unfortunately I can’t memorize every location of each scripture I read.  Totally wish I could though.  But I can assure you it’s in there.  But doesn’t that make so much sense?  Why would you put your kids first?  They will grow up and leave and marry someone (“a child shall leave his father and mother and become one with his wife”).  Divorces spike when children leave the home because of this.  You’ve spent decades focusing on the kids until they’re gone and then it’s just you and your spouse and you no longer recognize the person laying next to you in bed at night.


  • Understand the covenant.  The covenant of marriage is huge.  HUGE.  It’s not temporary as our society leads us to believe.  We’re living in a world where TV shows like “Mistresses” exist as well as billboards advertising for the lowest cost to get you a divorce.  This is insane to me.  God selected your husband for you.  Handpicked him before you were ever born.  You married him in a ceremony that (hopefully) was centered around God.  You made a vow.  Numerous times in the Bible (Old Testament) I have seen God say that it’s better to not make a vow than to make one and then break it.  God lists out in the Bible what the acceptable reasons for divorce are and there are VERY few of them. 


  • Submit.  This one is always tricky.  Danielle makes such a great point.  Us women typically misunderstand this scripture.  I TOTALLY misunderstood it when we went through marriage counseling.  Ephesians 22-24 says:  Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  This scripture can definitely be misunderstood.  It was by me.  I am ashamed to say that when we had our pre-marital counseling, my pastor mentioned that lots of women choose to take this part of the vows out and I opted to do that.  I am so embarrassed to say that out loud.  I didn’t want to be the wife that sat at home waiting around on her husband all the time that was required to have a meal on the table when he came home from work and have the house spotless and basically live my day for him.  I was not about to be that wife.  Which is why I took that part out of my vows.  But I understand this verse SO much better now that I am doing my reading of the Bible front to back.  God isn’t saying we have to be a trophy wife.  As Danielle so INCREDIBLY puts it, this submission actually frees us women up.  God is saying to let the man worry about the hard stuff.  Keeping the family safe, putting the food on the table, leading the household, etc.  As wives, we just need to support them while they do this.  It’s our job. 


  • Speak Edifying Words Only.  Raise your hand if you had to look up what “edifying” means???  Because I totally did.  I kind of figured what it meant, but wanted to be sure.  Edifying means “to provide moral or intellectual instruction”.  Danielle is saying that we need to always speak well of others, ESPECIALLY our spouse.  She talks about how women are the worst when it comes to getting together for girl nights and “husband bashing”.  This usually starts off innocent, but you should NEVER say a negative word about your husband.  Don’t “air your dirty laundry” (as our ancestors so greatly put it) for others to see.  Your issues with your husband is between you, your husband and God.  If you want help or someone to get advice from regarding issues with your husband or your marriage, go to your husband, or better yet, go to God.   It’s kind of what He’s there for.  Danielle doesn’t mention this last tidbit, this is my input…but my ABSOLUTE favorite bible verse is Ephesians 4:29 (if you’re a fan of the band Building 429, this is the verse they got their band name from): “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.”  Great words to live by.  Just sayin.  It’s probably my favorite because it’s the one I am constantly having to read every day to remember to apply it to my life.


  • Manage the Home Like a Proverbs 31 Woman.  Proverbs 31 is actually kind of long so you’ll have to read it on your own but here’s the gist (as a side note – there’s a page on facebook for Proverbs 31 Ministries that’s great!):
    • A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.
    • She’s up before dawn preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
    • She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.
    • She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praises is the woman who lives in the Fear of God. Give her everything she deserves. Festoon her life with praises.

Helpful tip on Proverbs 31….don’t take it so seriously.  I don’t think God is literally saying we have to be up before dawn preparing breakfast for the family and if we’re not, we’re not Godly wives.  Ask God to reveal to you what each of these items means for you and how you can use the advice given in Proverbs 31 to make you a better wife.


  • Do it anyway.  We live in a time where marriages are expected to be 50/50.  Danielle actually brought up a good point.  Marriages shouldn’t be 50/50, they should be 100/100.  If your husband isn’t holding up his end of the bargain, that’s between him and God.  You can only control what you do.  If you’ve already done most of the housework and all you want is for your husband to do the laundry…I mean, you’ve done everything else, he should at least do that, right?  Wrong.  Just do it.  Even if you’ve done most of the work that day, just do it.  As Danielle points out, our jobs are not to train our husbands.  We aren’t their mamas.  We’re their wives.  If you genuinely think that your husband isn’t holding up his side of the deal and you truly are doing all the work, then talk to him about it.  Calmly though.  Don’t yell.  Don’t nag.  That gets us nowhere.  Sit down and have a conversation about it.  And another little tid bit from me (Danielle doesn’t mention this).  Something we practice in our household is never saying the phrase “at least” like I did above.  It implies that the other person doesn’t do anything and it’s discouraging.  Same goes for being careful how you use words like “always” and “never”.  Be careful.  Throwing that one word into a sentence can have the reverse effect of what you’re going for.


  • Communicate.  Men aren’t mind readers ladies.  If we don’t tell them our expectations, they will never figure them out.  And no, silent treatment is NOT a form of communication.  This goes both ways though.  Don’t communicate only the things that anger you that you want your spouse to fix.  Tell him the good things too.  Praise him.  Praise him for working so hard for your family.  For being a good husband and dad.  Tell him when he does something you like and he’s more likely to do it again!  Even if he always mows the law (that’s kind of his chore) say “thank you”.  Make a big deal out of the things he does for you and your household!
  • Remember the 80/20 Principle.  I’d never heard of this until I read Danielle’s blog, but it is such a great mental note!  Unfortunately, cheating on your spouse is not as frowned upon as it was in the Old Testament days.  I mean, hello….ABC lost my respect when they created a show called “Mistresses” that glamorizes cheating.  No thank you ABC, I’m done with you.  But here’s the 80/20 principle…and it’s not that complicated.  You married your spouse.  Now, no one is perfect, so chances are,  you love and adore roughly 80% of his qualities, but then there’s the 20% that you cannot stand.  When marriages fail due to cheating, it’s often because someone was looking for that other 20%.  But here’s the thing folks, even if you find that 20% in another man, he won’t have the 80% that your husband had.  No one is 100% perfect.  Well, except Jesus ;)  Remember that principle anytime your eye strays to someone else.  Think of what you would throw away to find that measly 20%.  It’s not worth breaking a vow to your husband and even worse, breaking a vow you made to God.
  • Strive to Please Him.  Don’t be so selfish and self-centered.  Everything in the marriage isn’t about what you like.  Let him rent the next movie.  Let him pick out the next place to eat dinner.  Talk about his interests and watch his favorite TV shows with him.  When you sacrifice the small things like that, God allows a love to grow deeper and return tenfold in some way.  Danielle makes another good point.  Take care of yourself for your husband ladies.  Exercise.  Eat healthy.  This is not to say you have to be a “trophy wife”, but we live in a world where well over 50% of Americans are overweight and have crazy health problems because of it.  Get yourself in check so you can be around in the long-run for your husband and for your kids.


  • Cover Him in Prayer.  We don’t frequently think about this when we pray, do we?  Well, at least I didn’t before reading this blog.  I pray for things most people probably pray for:  health for my family, safety of family when traveling, that my son grows up having a passion for the Word, that I lead by example for my kids, and of course the thankfulness and gratitude that comes with family, food, protection, forgiveness, all those kinds of things.  Rarely do I pray for my husband’s soul and for his strength to lead our family.  But I should be.  And so should you.


So these are just 10 little things.  I’m sure that if Danielle tried, she probably could come up with a ton more, but these are some GREAT places to start.  I printed these out and put them in my Bible  as a reminder each morning  before work and each night before bed.  Statistics say it takes about 21 days to make something become a habit.  So for 21 days, do these 10 things!  Before you know it, it will be a habit and you won’t have to try to remember them.

DISCLAIMER:  I have to put this disclaimer in here because Danielle got some passionate comments regarding this, so I am going to address it to make sure no one misunderstands my purpose of this blogpost.  I am by no means an expert on marriage.  I am not claiming to be.  But it is no secret that the above items are in line with scriptures.  And it doesn’t matter if a person has been married for 2 years or 20 years, scripture is scripture and it’s been around for a thousand years.  Justin and I will celebrate 4 years of marriage next month.  We only have one child.  We’ve never experienced a job loss.  We’ve never experienced adultery.  We’ve never experienced any kind of addiction.  We’ve never experienced loss of a child.  Obviously there are life events that test marriages.  But just because myself or Danielle haven’t experienced those events doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put these principles out there for the world to see.  No one is an expert at marriage.  What matters is that we help each other keep our commitments and vows.  That is my only goal with this blogpost.  To pass around ways to help marriages survive the hard stuff.  I hope no one takes offense to anything I’ve said!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Father’s Day Fun

This Father’s Day wasn’t really eventful in our household.  We got ready, headed to church.  Carter joined Justin and I in our Sunday School class because it was a small class that day.  He went to the nursery while we went to the contemporary service.  After the service was over we headed to Justin’s parents house.  I fed Carter and let him play for a bit before putting him down for a nap.  He napped while the rest of us ate lunch.  Justin had to leave during his nap because he had a flight to catch.  I waited for Carter and the girls to wake up.  After a little over a 2 hour nap for all of them, we headed outside to play with some water.  Everyone knows how much Carter LOVES water, but the girls don’t love it quite as much as Carter does.

They were all playing with the water table at Nana and Papa’s…


Until Celia walked away and it was just Carter and Cynthia.  Their backyard is at a bit of a slant, and Carter was playing so hard on the table that it tipped over…ON TOP OF CYNTHIA.  Baby girl got drenched as the water went all over her.  She took it like a trooper though.  At that point we decided just to put the babies in their diapers so that their clothes didn’t get soaked.

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I’m sure all of them will hate these pictures later in their lives!

And here’s a video I took of them playing.  It’s kinda long, but I didn’t take it for the purposes of the blog; more for our own family purposes.  I like looking at videos of certain stages of Carter’s life.  I wish I had taken some more of when he was a newborn!

All the babies got drenched and had dirt and grass all over themselves, so we decided to do an early bath that day.  Is this not the CUTEST picture ever?!?!?!  I loooooooove me a small baby booty!



They had the entire tub and all three of them decided to get on the same side together.  Naturally the side with the water faucet :)  These three really love being around each other!  I am so thankful for that!! 

I hope everyone had a great Father’s Day weekend!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam/Vegas

As I mentioned in my last post, Justin and I went on a long weekend vacay out west.  Justin left on Tuesday and arrived Tuesday night in Phoenix while the rest of us left Wednesday.  Justin went early to do a run in the Grand Canyon, the “rim to rim to rim” run.  It’s a 45 mile run and I was so incredibly proud of him for doing it.  He was by himself and it took him 17 hours 38 minutes, but the trails have bathrooms and water every mile and a half or so.   Justin is currently training for the Pinhoti 100 race which is a 100 mile race that he will run overnight to complete.  The 45 mile run through the Grand Canyon was a great way to prep for it. 

Anyway, the rest of our crew got into Phoenix Wednesday night and rented a car to drive to Flagstaff.  We met Justin at a hotel in Flagstaff and crashed for the night.  I think it was 1am when we got there which was 3am central time so we were all exhausted.  We went to bed immediately because we all planned to do a small hike in the Grand Canyon the next day.  The next day we all got up, got ready and drove an hour-ish to Grand Canyon National Park to start our hike.  Here’s some of my favorite pictures:


Can we say “amazing view”????  Holy cow.


Looking at the trail map to see how far we wanted to go.


We started hiking down.  See here’s the problem most hikers run into.  You get 3 or 4 miles into the hike and you think “I feel great, I can go to the river at the bottom and back!”.  Well, of course you feel great, you’re going DOWN.  It’s going UP that’s hard.  If you go the entire 12 miles to the bottom, it’s very likely you won’t be back to the top before the sun goes down and unless you have headlamps or flashlights, good luck seeing one foot in front of you in the pitch black dark.  And as you can tell in some of the below pictures, there’s not exactly railings to keep you from falling over the trails into the canyon.  It’s actually very dangerous if you tried to hike at night without a light!

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On the left: me and Bonnie taking a break and dreading that hike back up!  We made it 3 miles in.  We also started late in the day.  We should have started hiking VERY early in the morning, but we didn’t get out there and get going till almost 12.  So we couldn’t go far and we decided 3 miles was a good place to turn around in hopes of getting out before the sun went down.  On the right:  This was at the 3 mile mark going down.  There was a ledge (the one I’m standing on) that is very skinny and it was a straight drop on both sides.  Scary Mary!

IMGP8682   We went back to the hotel after the hike to take showers and change clothes to go to dinner.  We ate dinner at a lodge that overlooked the canyon so we got some cute pictures at the overlooks while waiting on our table to be ready. 


The next day, we drove to a couple of other overlooks of the canyon:

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And then left to head to a place called Bearizona.  Quick run down on this place.  We saw signs for it while driving to the Grand Canyon and it was very close and not at all out of the way.  It was a park where you drove your car through certain animal habitats.  We were able to see bears, wolves, big horn sheep, buffalo and all kinds of other animals from the luxury of our cars.  All of the below pictures were taken out of the car windows (we were that close to these animals):

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In the wolf and bear areas, we were told to keep our windows rolled up.  Wolves are very scary creatures.  There were three laying in the road and luckily the one that was in our path moved so that we could drive past him.

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More buffalo


Big Horn Sheep


Gives you an idea how close to our cars these bears were.

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Lots of them propped feet or hands on trees while resting.  Lazy bears…


After leaving this hidden gem, we headed towards Vegas and Hoover Dam for a tour of the Dam.  We managed to get 6 of the last 7 spots available for the latest tour of the day. 


Waiting for our tour to begin.

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In this picture we’re actually inside the concrete wall of the Dam and there’s a few air vents like this throughout the wall.  The picture below is of what we saw when looking outside this air vent.


Gorgeous!  That bridge you see is actually very new.  They were still in the process of building it when Justin came to Vegas for his bachelor party in 2009.  There’s a sidewalk meant specifically for viewers that want to get great pictures of the Dam.  The below photos were taken from the bridge:

IMGP8836 IMGP8838 After the tour and a quick walk on the bridge to see these amazing views, we drove the quick drive to Vegas to meet up with the bride and groom and all of our friends for dinner!


This picture didn’t turn out as good as I had hoped.  It was from my phone.  From left to right, Bonnie, Katy, Carina (the bride) and myself.


Me and Carina!


My love :)


I really want this fun chair on my back porch!!!


I didn’t take many pictures after Friday night.  The pictures above are from breakfast at our hotel the next morning.  I was loving the way they had their balcony decorated.  Anyway, I had a small purse with me for the wedding so I didn’t have my camera for the wedding or reception, and then we flew out on Sunday morning.  Well, Justin flew out on Sunday morning.  My flight  left without me.  There was some mechanical issues going on with the tram to get from security to the D terminal where Delta gates were so people had to be individually shuttled from point A to point B.  This caused TONS of people to miss flights and I was one of them.  I got on standby for 3 flights after my original 8:30am flight and didn’t make any of them because there were over 70 people on every standby flight.  I finally gave up and told Justin (he was back in Birmingham by the time I talked to him) to just book me a hotel and I would get another flight out the next day.  So Justin got home on Sunday night and I didn’t get home until Monday night.  Long story for why we were on separate flights.  Regardless, we had a great weekend with some pretty fabulous friends and I enjoyed it so much!