Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! Is anyone still reading this blog? My resolution for 2011 is more posts!!!

We had a great Christmas - it was quiet. Santa didn't come but he left a note : "Dear Thomson, Better Luck Next Year, love, Santa"

Gamma and Gampa came and brought over lots of fun presents, Thomson's favorite was a wooden firetruck with 5 firemen that are magnetic to the inside. He thinks the magnets are pretty cool! He also started saying a new word: Firetruck...although he omits the ire and tr. Read between the lines people! If you hear Thomson saying this word, he didn't learn it from me!!! He has been saying it over and over, luckily not in public yet.

Here are some videos - from Christmas morning and yesterday. Thomson started pulling up to his feet about two weeks ago and then he started walking along furniture. He is very proud of himself. We have been practicing walking behind push toys but I have to hold the front end so it doesn't go too fast. This has been typical of all of Thomson's gross motor development, he does things very slowly and intentionally. Notice on the walking video how slowly he sits down at the end - he hates to fall on his bottom so he looks like an old man sitting down. It cracks me up every time!

And even though it is as much an anti-war song as it is a Christmas song, this one is my favorite Christmas song, (writen by Henry W. Longfellow during the Civil War). Verses 1, 4-5

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
"There is no peace on earth," I said
"For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of peace on earth, good will to men"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
the wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Monday, December 6, 2010

green beans gussied up

So I said I would be back soon with a recipe. These are my favorite Green Beans that Gus' parents make often. I think it is an old, modified, Cooking Light recipe. They are healthy and pretty. I made them for a new mom last week. When I cook it is kind of loose and I follow my own rules, but here is the approximate recipe!

Note: This makes two pans - you can cut this in half if you want only 1 pan.

2 bags frozen french-style green beans
8 - 10 Roma tomatoes
1 bag Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
2 onions, sliced thin (not diced, sliced!)
2-3 tbsp Basalmic vinegar
Dash of Sugar
2 tsp Basil
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Thyme
Salt and papper to taste

1. Cook green beans according to package. Place in the bottom of your dish.

2. Saute onion in a little olive oil until caramelized. Next add basalmic vinegar and deglaze pan. Add basil, sugar, oregano, thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Layer over the green beans. (Note: don't use too much basalmic or it will get drippy. You want the basalmic to soak into the onion)
3. Slice the roma tomatoes and layer over the onion mixture

4. Top with parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until cheese is brown on top.
Yum! Enjoy. I am cooking a new chicken recipe in the crock pot tonight, it smells so good! If it taste just as good, I will post the recipe! I am into crock pots these days!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

More thoughts and a party

More thoughts on Thomson:

You are ticklish everywhere, everywhere!

You eat a lot and are usually not very picky. We do try to keep it bland, though.
You love when Gus comes home and when we look out the window and see Bates running around the yard

You love to be outside
You have 7 teeth and 1 more coming in this week

You are crawling and pulling up on furniture but only to your knees - I guess that is far enough for you!

The bubble party was a lot of fun! Erin brought a borrowed bubble machine that was the best! If you ever need a bubble machine, look for one called "The Gazillion". It blew hundreds of bubbles the whole time and all the kids loved it!

Thomson's cake was just a cheap one from Publix. This was a party on a budget! At publix they give you a free smash cake when you order a regular one. I had them keep it plain and just put his monogram on it. For the big cake, they did white icing and I decorated it myself.

I had a hard time finding tablecloths for the card tables, and because I never learned how to sew, I bought navy felt and cut it with pinking shears. They turned out perfect!

We served BBQ from Johnny's in Marietta and snacks for the kids: raisin boxes, applesauce, goldfish, juice boxes.

Aunt Evie and Uncle DJ came all weekend and helped us make PomPom decorations that we hung everywhere to look like bubbles! We put a few on the front porch and mailbox. Thomson loved his cake and ate it with both hands. I had to cut him off after he ate half! I don't think we have any pictures of him looking at the camera because he was so intent on the cake!
Check back next fall for details on Thomson's tractor party!
Mr. Gus is going to give all the kids a ride . . .

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thoughts on my toddler:

Dear Thomson,

You are one year old!! (Actually 13 months as I write, but who's counting?)

You are so joyful and happy, just as you look in all of your pictures!

You have the best smile and you smile all of the time

You laugh at yourself when you do something new, and you laugh at us when we play with you.
You also laugh when you think we are playing with you, even when we are not. Every time I leave the room you giggle and think I am playing peek-a-boo!

You are getting harder to photograph because you are on the move! We are so happy that you are crawling and exploring!

You love dogs, especially Bates who licks you all over. You crawl after him and try to grab his little tail. You love baths and wagon rides, swinging at the park and reading books any time of day.

You can easily entertain yourself

You scream really loudly when you want attention

You wake up so happy in the morning and from your naps. It is the best thing to hear you laughing on the monitor!

You are the best thing that ever happened to your dad and me! We could not have created a more perfect child for us. It has been so fun to see your big personality develop and to know that God created you for us as a perfect part of our family.

I still don't have your birthday pictures to share, so I will skip the party and share some pictures of our Christmas card photo shoot. After this I let you crawl around the grass and we ruined this adorable outfit.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So much to be thankful for

I know, I know. I haven't posted in forever and I have SO many things I need to post, especially Thomson's birthday, my birthday, and I still have a recipe I have been meaning to share . . .

We had an eventful weekend. Both Gus and I got a stomach bug on Saturday night and were so so sick all night long. I started getting sick when Thomson was in the bathtub. Sweet thing crawled over and pulled himself up to the edge of the tub and started patting my arm. Sunday was a tough day for all of us.

Yesterday we awoke with new energy, Gus headed off to work and I was ready to tackle cleaning the nasty house and catching up on laundry.

Fast forward to Thomson's morning nap, and luckily he was sleeping in my closet (don't judge). I opened the laundry room door and black smoke poured out and set off the fire alarms in the house. I of course panicked, ran to get Thomson and the dog out of his crate and called 911.

The firefighters got here in less than 5 minutes and ran in with oxygen tanks and full suits. The whole house had smoke - but they realized quickly that it was just our old washing machine. They got it out of the house but left a mess behind - black water all over the floor and loads of laundry wet and messy. Yuck.

But this being Thanksgiving week I have chosen to be thankful even though I feel a little defeated. I am thankful:

That our smoke detectors are working

That Thomson was asleep in my room and not his room (next to the laundry room)

That the firefighters were so gracious and helpful, and quick!

I am so thankful that only Gus and I got the bug and not Thomson

I am thankful for my sweet sweet mother-in-law, who came to our rescue Saturday night with bags full of medicine, gingerale, saltines and chicken soup

And now I am thankful that we both feel better and can enjoy my mom's turkey and dressing on Thursday!

Promise to catch up with everything this week and more of what I am thankful for! And I have some great pictures to post! Please everyone check your smoke detectors!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Thomson loves his HaHa. That is how Lee shortened BigHappy's name.While we were in the mountains last weekend, Thomson got to go to a Marietta football game and hear HaHa on the loudspeaker for the first time! I hope they got some pictures from the press box. I never thought that my children would not be Blue Devils. But Thomson will have LOTS of Blue Devil friends - and he will be a Blue Devil at heart! (and if he turns out to be a great football player, HaHa just might recruit him over :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wasps, turning 30, turning 1

We have been crazy busy around the Sams house. Here is how my morning went:
Me: "Bates, what do you have in your mouth?"
Bates: Running, yelping, running, shaking the object of play, yelping...
Me: "Looks like my glove, hmmm - wait, is that a WASP NEST?"
Me: Running, screaming
Bates: Runing, yelping, shaking the nest in his mouth

The past few weeks have been so full. I am due for a major blog post about all of these fun events:

- I turned 3-0 last week and we celebrated a LOT, went to the mountains and out for several dinners with friends in Athens.

- Thomson started CRAWLING last Thursday, 6 days before his first birthday.

- We have Thomson's party this weekend and have been getting ready for the fun!

- Thomson is sick right now with a high fever since Saturday. We were up a lot last night.

- And our dog is craving attention so he finds things to get in trouble with like WASPS.

We were too sick to dress up for Halloween, but Thomson was a duck with his buddy Emory for the Marietta Halloween parade. It was rainy and too close to supper-time and T would not wear the duck hat, not even for a picture.
Here we are with Brooks Bagwell and Emory Lowry at the parade:
Here is the hated-hat

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Halloween Genius

It drives me crazy how much Halloween candy costs. Yes they have sales this time of year, but a big bag of chocolate candy can be around $10 or more! And yes, I am cheap, but I think I found a way to keep the Little Treaters happy and stay on budget this month. Answer: Pixie Sticks!
The sugar candy is way cheaper than the chocolate. 1 bag of pixie sticks is on sale at Target this week for $2 and it comes with 120 sticks! We can give 3 sticks per kid, and I am sure we won't have more than 40 Treaters. And this way I can keep Gus in check - he likes to give lots of handfuls of expensive chocolate to cute children. Am I cheap? Yes. Smart? Yes. And I think the kiddos will like it too!

P.S. The cute felt kitty bag is also from Target - T's trick-or-treating bag this year!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkins . . .

The pumpkin patch didn't go over very well today. Thomson hated it. We put him down in the perfect spot for a cute picture and he started SCREAMING. Everyone was looking at us and saying "Poor baby". Something scared him and we couldn't figure it out - so this is the only picture.
I tried giving him some cheerios to cheer him up - teaching him emotional eating early I guess. But he kept screaming with the cheerios in his mouth. Better luck next year, ha!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

He longs to be gracious to you

Thomson and I have started going to CBS this fall - Community Bible Study. I am in a small group of sweet women with an encouraging leader. It is so good for me to get out of the house and fellowship with these women, even though Thomson misses his morning nap and it makes the rest of the day pretty hard.

I woke up this morning and asked God to speak to me today. And He did. And I wanted to share it with you that you might be encouraged as well. Last week at CBS, Kim Carmack referenced Isaiah 30:18:

"Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you,
For the Lord is a God of justice,
How blessed are all those who long for Him."

I was so struck by this verse - that God longs to be compassionate to ME. So I wrote it down last week and tucked it away. And today God made it real to me.

After bible study I went to pick up Thomson from the nursery. He was happily playing when I walked in, and his face lit up with this huge smile, and I melted. It is a hard feeling to describe, but nothing is better than knowing that Thomson could choose anyone or any thing to love the most, but he loves ME. Why? Because I am his mother, his provider, his best friend and companion. I teach him things and show him new things. I know everything about him. I know exactly what he needs, even before he asks for it.

When I walked into the nursery, Thomson didn't look down at the toys and say "But mom I am still playing, I am not ready to go". And he didn't look at Ms. Sandra and want to go to her. He looked right at me, squealed with happiness, and reached out his arms for me to pick him up. And that is just what my heart longs for - and what God longs for from us. God on high loves us and is so glorified when we choose to see Him as the best of the best. That everything on this earth - every material posession, every goal we think we should obtain - it all pales in comparison to Him. And yet he longs for us!!!

It reminds me of John Piper, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him". Nothing on this earth comes even close to His splendor and nothing we can buy or make or obtain on this earth is even close to our inheritance from Him. Even though it all looks really pretty from this angle.

Happy Friday - I'll be back soon with a yummy recipe!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dear Gus:
We are eating out tonight. The electrician is still here and has been here all day today and yesterday. And we are paying him HOURLY. That's right: HOURLY.

Right now he is drilling a hole in the celing in my kitchen cabinet. He said he can "work around" the dishes and glasses and I said "But those are our fine crystal and fine china. I think I should remove them". I started taking the crystal glasses down and he started to carry them to the other side of the kitchen, and I asked him to just let me do it because his hands are so SO dirty.

OCD? I think so. But I am so over it after 2 days of this and we are still on the clock!!! Oh my goodness. And my house is a wreck and Thomson can't nap because it is so loud.

So sweetie, we are eating out to dinner and will you help me clean up this huge mess when we get home?

love you, Natalie

Happy Birthday Happy!

Thomson is 11 months old! He is asleep in my closet while the electrician is banging away on my living room wall. Technically in a few weeks, he will be a Toddler, and even though he is not doing much toddling, I am trying to convince myself that he is not my baby anymore.

He is a lot of fun! He is still always happy and smiling, laughing or talking all of the time. Or focused intently on some small object. He copies or tries to copy a lot of things that we say. Yesterday I said "uh-oh thomson" and he started repeating "uh-oh". So funny. He also says ma-ma and da-da and I think he is trying to say dog. He loves dogs and thinks they are so so funny. He is standing up on furniture but not taking any steps. He sits on the floor and rotates around in circles trying to get what he wants. It is a form of scooting but he spins in a pretty tight radius so he doesn't go very far. He has 4 teeth that have come through up top along with the 2 on the bottom that came in awhile back.

We just got back from St Simons on Sunday - a quick trip to celebrate Dad's birthday, 6-0. There were no fireworks but lots of laughs and a great time together. Erin put together a framed print of "60 Things We Learned from Our Dad" that we all contributed to. Some highlights were "Be careful who you give a lakehouse key to" and "How to make eggs in a cup". Also "If you give too much money to the church, Uncle Sam will question you" and "One thing I am thankful for".

Dad has lived a life of compassionate service and those of you who know him know exactly what I mean. He is deeply concerned for others and has lived his life to help other people - be it free legal advice for a young (or old) person, setting up a family in a new housing project, famously teaching Youth Sunday school for more than a decade, or staying excited about Marietta football even when they are mediocre. He is passionate about everything he gets involved with.

This verse stopped me in my tracks, it describes so many of Dad's gifts that he has been given by God's grace:

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us . . . If a man's gift is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." Romans 12:6-8

There are countless examples of how Dad's life has demonstrated these gifts and how he has allowed God to use him in these ways: serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, leadership, and showing mercy.

How lucky am I that I have had this example shown to me daily for 30 years.

Happy Birthday Dad - I love you very very much!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Option D

D. Wait for the Similac recall and go get your money back! So glad I didn't throw it away :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

What would you do?

$20 worth of Similac falls on the floor. What would you do?

A: Curse the dog for his hair and the sink for its tiny ledge and yourself for your expensive clumsiness.

B: Chunk it and don't worry about it - it's only $20! (Unless you have awesome coupons like me)
C: Scoop it up and pretend nothing ever happened.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Photo shoot pics...

Carousel Designs has posted some more pictures of Thomson on their Facebook page. Check out their website, they have some beautiful things at great prices!

Saturday, September 4, 2010


It is a beautiful day in Athens! We are not at the game - we're watching it 1 mile away on our sofa! Gus just left for a dove shoot, Thomson is napping and it is halftime. We had a great morning, drove the Ranger down to the field to let Bates run around. When we got home the jets flew over our house and we knew it was time to turn on the game!

The Dawgs are playing well, I am very impressed with this freshman quarterback - Aaron Murray. He has big shoes to fill. Hopefully he can stay consistent!!! (Oh and I heart Caleb, Branden Smith, Brandon Boykin, and Drew Butler) P.S. have any of you seen David Pollack on ESPN or whatever channel? He is SO skinny, definately has a spray tan, a bottle of hair product, and extra-white teeth.

Last weekend was Gus' 34th birthday and Bates' 4th birthday. (Yes, Bates was born on Gus' 30th birthday!) We celebrated with Depalmas, lots of presents and yummy chocolate cake. Bates celebrated with some long walks! Next year, Bates and Gus will be the same age, 35 - and hopefully that means Bates will start to settle down into his golden years :) Not sure exactly when hunting dogs "calm down", but we are looking forward to it! HAPPY BIRTHDAY GUS!

In Sunday School a few weeks ago they asked us "Why did you marry your spouse"? I can say for sure that what I love about Gus is his compassionate heart, his patience and his gentle nature. Gus was 28 when we started dating (I was 23!), and from day 1 he had a calming effect on me. I had moved to a strange town with no friends and started my first real job and was trying hard to impress my boss and colleagues. Enter Gus: and we ended up loving Birmingham and have so many fun memories from there. Ever go to the doctor and feel rushed in and out, like the doctor doesn't really care about your problem but just wants to see as many people as possible? Not Gus. He really cares about his patients and their outcomes. I am always finding notes from his patients about how much they appreciate him. (And he doesn't know it, but I am saving them!) So happy happy birthday to my Gus! This is the most random post ever, but remember Thomson's photo shoot a few months ago? Well the owner of the bedding co. decided not to let us see the pictures. I guess it is their right to do so, but I am pretty bummed and do feel like we wasted our time a little bit. The catalog has not been printed, but there are a few photos of Thomson on the website, so here you go (he is the baby on the "discount" link):

And here is my favorite picture of him (he is the one laying down, not standing up):

And here is the back of his sweet head :)

Monday, August 9, 2010


Please pray for Gus' best friend, Ben Taylor. He is undergoing surgery for a brain tumor this afternoon. I don't know any details at all, just please pray for Ben and his sweet wife, AnnaGreta. They are in Charleston, about to move to Charlotte, and have a baby boy one month younger than Thomson, named Caswell.

Something to brag about

We have a 9-month doctor's appointment tomorrow and in a last-ditch effort to have something to brag about, AKA 'crawling' - I gave Thomson a workout last night. I have tried to promote crawling with rolling toys, blocks, cheering, pushing, and even TV. Last night I had a genius idea and I tried FOOD! Baby boy loves food and I thought it would make for the perfect way to entice him to the other side of the mat. I felt a little mean but I threw him some scraps along the way. Here is how it played out:

Checking out the scene, mapping out his plan . . .

Reaching . . .This is exhausting!Got one!Yummy!So proud of myself!Seriously mom?Meltdown . . .
This turned into a serious meltdown. It was very close to bedtime and we had to skip the bath and go straight to PJ's and a little BabyBeethoven. Am I a mean mom? He is not any closer to crawling than he was before this edible exercise. For the moment, I am enjoying these last few weeks of an immobile baby and a non-baby-proofed house!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

9 months ago today, after a not-so-perfect labor & delivery, our lives changed forever . . . for the better. We are celebrating in style at the beach with Gamma, Gampa and cousins Kayli Parker and Corley. Fripp Island is beautiful and relaxing!

More pictures to come - we are busy golf-carting, walking, swimming, playing in the sand, fishing, golfing, watching the Bachelorette, taking trips into Beaufort, and making plans for tennis, gumbo, and date nights! :) And we just got a call from Whit that we are going to have another boy cousin in January! Boy cousins are so fun!

P.S. Attention Robbers: Our house is perfectly secure and our TV is small and broken, anyways. Nothing to steal, not even a prized hunting dog, so don't bother!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Baby On Board!

Buckle up Thomson: the students are back!!! Just got back from Babies R Us and a lovely co-ed rode my tail the whole way on the loop. As she passed I gave her the look "one day you'll understand, missy! I was once one of you and I have a 95-in-a-55 on my record to prove it!"

Within the first 6 months of moving back to Athens, I was rear-ended TWICE, both times by students who could have cared less and were not apologetic at all. One girl even said "My dad will take care of this". I could have punched her.

Earlier today I was driving down Baxter and a boy actually got over into the turn lane and passed me! The nerve! And it is not like he had to follow behind Grandma Natalie for very long - is Baxter even one mile long? And do I really drive slow? I drive a sports car for crying out loud!

Maybe it is just the initial excitement of being back in the Classic City: getting to see old friends, learning the new code to the ADPi house, making plans for pub crawls, I don't know. But hopefully it will wear off soon and all of them will calm down and drive responsibly.


Thomson has developed his pincer grasp. You moms out there know what this is. About a month ago we went to a play group and Thomson is a few weeks younger than the other babies but they were all eating finger foods, AT 7 MONTHS. Me? I am more of a by-the-book kind of mom, mostly because I have no idea what I am doing and the books say to start finger foods at 9 months.

I digress. After that play group I started practicing finger foods with Thomson, things like avocados, bananas, cantelope, any soft pieces of fruit and vegetables... He had two teeth already and he seemed to really like the new way. For a long time I always said I would avoid "Puffs". They make me crazy. Even the organic kind. It is like feeding your child puffed nothingness, puffed process of nothing.

I digress again. So after a few weeks of me hand-feeding him small chunks of solid food to teach him how to gum and swallow, I decided it was time for puffs. I was tired of Thomson biting my finger with his two razor-sharps. The good thing about puffs is that they are not slippery like a banana or an avocado. And they helped Thomson learn how to use his pincer grasp and put a piece of food in his own mouth.

So there - maybe they aren't so bad after all. They did teach him one thing.

In other news: we are not even thinking about crawling yet. My mom says "put his toys really far away from him to get him to crawl". Thomson's response: "I don't care, mom, I will just play with my toes - they are pure entertainment!"

I guess he is just going to be on the late-end of development, or maybe he has learned laziness from his mom?

Monday, July 12, 2010

A new cousin and girlfriend!

Thomson has a new cousin and a new girlfriend! Baby Ellie was born on Tuesday. She is so beautiful and sweet! Aunt Caroline is my hero: delivering Ellie without drugs...maybe I should have done that, oh wait, Thomson was 10 lbs, remember? We saw Ellie on Friday and can't wait for lots of fun memories growing up together!

Another sweet girl was born this week, MaryKate Ninness. She is precious with a head full of brown hair and looks like the best of her mom and dad! She and Thomson are sure to marry one day! Or at least get into lots of trouble . . .

We spent last weekend with Gus' college friends at the beach - the PC/KA's. There were four baby boys and we had a blast: Leighton LaMotte, Brewer LaMotte and Cole Cannington. I have a feeling there are many future hunting trips in store for these boys!
I wanted Thomson to explore the sand. It was a messy endeavor, but he loved it and then we rinsed off in the ocean - which he also loved. He was laughing at the texture of the sand and thought it was so funny when I buried his legs. He kept trying to put sand in his mouth - you know the boy loves to eat! He thought the waves in the ocean were so fun! Yes - that is sand in his mouth in this picture:
Christina and Emory came for a visit last week. Emory is very close to crawling and started saying his first word, but he was whispering it! "Da-Da". So cute!
Happy Bachelorette Finale Day! Anyone with me?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th!!! We enjoyed a Five Points Parade this morning and are looking forward to a barbeque tonight. Thomson decorated his wagon with flags and a fun balloon!

Thomson is 8 months old. His new tricks are throwing and dropping things. He is also eating some finger foods - avocado, cantelope, cheerios, watermelon, banana...We have been having lots of summer play dates and he loves the pool. Here are some friends: Maggie Parker, Will Garrard, and Neely Knox.

We have been going to the pool a lot. Last weekend we went to Legion Pool and yes, here he is in his swim diaper. Luckily we didn't know anyone there when we realized we had forgotten his bathing suit! We were the tacky people in the pool!
And here we are in Marietta with Lee at a fine establishment called El Ranchero. The salsa is the best anywhere and Thomson loves the avocados. He is so grown-up in a high chair just like Lee!!
On Friday we had the second shoot for the catalog in Marietta. It went much more smoothly and I have to say that I over-reacted about Monday. The pictures are phenomenal and I can't wait to get my hands on them! I don't think I will be able to post them on the blog because they are copyrighted but I can email a slide show to you if you want to see them. They will be ready in a few weeks.

We are waiting for two sweet babies to be born this week: Thomson's cousin Ellie and Keri's sweet baby as well!