Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our Merry Little Christmas

This Christmas was not an ordinary Christmas for us. We had spent a majority of the holiday season in the hospital with Grace, and by the time we actually made it home from Fort Worth (pretty worn and ragged); nothing had been done even a little bit to prepare for Christmas (with Christmas just being a short few weeks away). While we were pretty exhausted, something our time in the hospital taught us... That every day (holidays included) we spend with the people we love.... Is a gift. 

So we started pouring the egg-nog, hunted a tree, bought decorations for the new house, and jumped in both feet first into Christmas spirit.

This year it was about more than just the traditional Christmas pomp and circumstance for us, we wanted the preparations to also be a time of reflecting for us. With every decoration we put together, every gift we wrapped, we relished the blessing of the little girl running about and her laughter that fills our home.

I think she has forever changed the way we look at Christmas. No more Christmas stressing, if some "thing" was going to cause us to turn into commercialized Christmas crazies, then out it went. It simply wasn't going to be a part of our Christmas celebration. And ya'll, that tree garland almost got tossed; it took weeks to finish haha! ;)

This was our first year with an artificial tree. With Grace getting older, and more adventurous (she loves to touch the tree); we decided to not let her become one with sappy fingers ha! :) 

This year I was going for a completely "home-made" tree, but the garland took foreverrrrrr, so it's only half home-made; however, the way the tree topper turned out made my heart sing. So, I wasn't too deterred by the store bought ornaments. Maybe, I'll finish those by next Christmas *hopefully*. ;)

Jonathan was originally pretty bummed about the artificial tree, for him it's all about the smell of the evergreen. So, I surprised him with table top trees placed around the house and real garland on the mantle. 

The silver star tree topper is from our very first tree together. It's tradition for us to feature it every year somewhere in the decorations. The silver bulbs were also from our very first tree. 

When he would walk in the door, home from work, he said it didn't even smell like we had an artificial tree. Mission accomplished! ;)

My immediate family made the trip down this year, since Grace wasn't up for travel. And for me, family is my favorite thing about Christmas; which brings me more joy than any pretty package. We are already talking about special ways we can incorporate our extended family into our holiday celebrations, and work around the distance. I really want to impart to Grace the joy of being surrounded by her massive family on Christmas, that my parents gave me.

This Christmas we were really excited about stuffing the stockings, this would be her first Christmas to be able to pull all the toys out by herself! So naturally, we stuffed all three stockings ha! And per our Christmas breakfast tradition, I served up some of my hot cinnamon rolls; while we waited for Grace to greet the morning.

But once she woke up, it was stocking time! At first she was unsure of the really big socks, but once she realized they were full of toys; she was 100% about emptying them. By the end she was rooting around in the foot of the stockings, just to be extra sure she got every last toy out. We were laughing SO hard!

After watching her with the stockings, we couldn't wait to see her reaction to Christmas presents!! She actually wasn't that interested in them, until she realized there were toys in them; then she wanted to open all of the packages.

Even the ones that weren't hers! ;)

You could imagine her disappointment when she discovered that theirs' weren't filled with toddler toys haha! ;) However, what kid can stay disappointed long, when Santa stops by to deliver the last gift? 

Also worth noting, Santa is fun for all ages! ;)

Also worth noting, my husband is an incredibly good sport! ;)

He is SO incredible in fact, that I like to let him know how much I cherish him each Christmas by cooking him a small feast. Really good food and Christmas are synonymous to him, so I try my best to make it happen. 

Christmas Dinner
Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin
with Red Wine Sauce
Roasted Asparagus and Red Onion
Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes
Pumpkin Crescent Rolls with Honey Butter
And assorted pies & wine

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic Christmas! I'd like to thank my family for driving down to spend the day with us; y'all are the best! We can't wait 'til next Christmas!

And to each of you reading, Merry Christmas from our house to yours!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gracegivingmas 2013

This past November our world was rocked. Hard.

Our greatest earthly treasure seemed to be slipping from our grasp; and there was nothing we could do. I felt helpless.

So I did what I could; be the best mommy/advocate/wife/force-of-nature possible in this situation. I gave my all. That is all I can give, and pray that it is God's will for Grace to stay here a bit longer. He is hers, to give and take away; she is a gift to us, God does not owe us her. We have blissfully enjoyed raising this treasure for four years, she is living proof we serve a loving God. Everyday with her is testimony to that.

But what I hadn't realized until these three heart-wrenching weeks, is was what a blessing practiced steadfast trust is... In a relationship with our Savior. To intentionally trust him everyday, never knowing what the day may bring; but knowing He is sovereign, whether it be a day abound in blessings or tears.

Over the past few years I have been inspired by the incredible faith of our forefathers; the pioneers who lived by faith and trust for survival. They didn't need lightshows at church, retreats, or multitudes of the latest bible-studies; to trust Jesus daily. They just lived by it, out of necessity. They were not finicky in their faith, but truly made God their Rock. Incredible.

That is the desire of my heart.

And then it happened.

Necessity came clamoring on my door, when our precious Grace was born; and has made itself at home ever since.

But I found living by trust isn't easy, or romantic; but it is the most real thing I have ever done.

Because when that trust was put to the test this time, I experienced one of the most incredible moments of my life.

I was saddened at the thought of losing my girl, but not fearful. I know God has her back, and mine; whatever happens.

I didn't lose myself in despair or doubt God's plan, like a younger Erica could have; I just did the best job I could possibly do, to get her home and healthy... And I knew that it was enough. Because life and death are not my skill set, they are His.

I trusted Him, and our precious girl is happily playing in our house today. God is good.

I trusted Him, and if our precious girl never made it out of Alabama... God would still be good.

We trust Him. We trust that He is sovereign. We trust and know that He loves us; blessings or tears.

One of my favorite hymns that is about 130 years old, has been on a loop since our second hospital trip (when things began looking more serious); "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus." It resonates the cry of my heart.

"Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
'Neath the healing, cleansing flood."
"I'm so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me til the end."

So this holiday season, we have much to be thankful for; we are rejoicing having our sweet girl home and smiling, but we are also praising God for the opportunity to endure trials...

So we can learn to trust Him more.

This is the heart of Gracegivingmas.

And I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate God's love for us; than with the gift of family, laughter, and pie. ;)

And opening some Christmas presents a little early. ;)

This was the very first time she has ever ripped wrapping paper by herself. A true gift for us to watch.

It was also a good time to pick up the camera, after having neglected it for almost the whole month.

My heart was incredibly happy to be capturing my beautiful family.

And I was 100% fine not getting any "regular" smiles. :)

And snapping a few impromptu family photos is always a blast; freezing time for one moment. And snagging a few family portraits for the newlyweds. :)

I am very thankful my littlest sister found one of the good ones. We are blessed with our newest brother in love.

Life will have it's times of crises; but it's up to us to either hold onto the reins for dear life, or relinquish them to the One who can easily guide them... Before tragedy comes charging through our front door.
"Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace."
Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas, from the Wheat family.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pizza In Under An Hour Recipe

This is my "go to" for quick pizza. And all for under an hour; you really don't lose much on taste. This recipe is very versatile, whether you use homemade organic sprouted flour or just the regular store bought stuff; this recipe should work magic in your kitchen. I usually use the crazy homemade stuff, raw honey, pink salt, etc. So if you're into that, go for it! :)

Makes 1 Pizza


1.8 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup warm water
3 cups flour
4 tablespoons Italian seasonings mix (I use store bought, pre-mixed)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, and some extra for brushing
Sauce, Cheese, and Toppings of Your Choice


In a small bowl, dissolve the honey in 1/4 cup of the warm water. Whisk it, to dissolve the honey evenly.
In a separate larger mixing bowl; combine the flour, yeast, italian seasonings mix, and salt. Whisk to distribute the ingredients evenly.
Add the oil, remaining water, and honey water to the flour mixture; stir to combine.
Stir until dough has even consistency, takes form of a ball, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Use extra teaspoons of warm water a little at a time, if needed.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured, clean surface.
Knead by hand until dough is smooth and firm (should take only a few minutes).
Cover with a clean, damp cloth; let rise for 30 minutes.
I have let it rise up to 40-50 minutes, on accident; and it still came out fine (in case, you are forgetful like me). When it's ready the dough should pull like elastic.
Lightly flour the dough ball, and the surface.
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a circle.
Use your fingers to press on both sides of the edges to make the crust.
Brush crust with a little olive oil or you can use butter. I also like to sprinkle on some grated parmesan cheese when I have it handy.
Use a scraper if necessary to place the crust onto the pizza pan.
Cover with your choice sauce, cheese, and toppings.
Bake at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Ending The Mommy War

Hi, I'm Erica; and I have some of the most inspiring friends ever.

I have some that have a ridiculous eye for design, you should see what they create! Some even sell their creations, and seriously; that is amazing!

I have quite a few friends that are ridiculous behind the camera. They capture moments that speak volumes. I LOVE it when they upload new photos!!

I have a lot of friends who are hard working mommies. And when they get their dream jobs, or big promotions; I rejoice for them. They sacrificed and worked crazy hard to get there, it's a big deal. Not every mom can do that.

Some of my friends are phenomenal in the kitchen. They are constantly making me hungry when I scroll through their feed; but I can't stop looking. ;)

And I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift; I have a lot of talented and inspiring friends.

What I love about social media is that it gives me more than one way to stay connected to those friends.

As a mom who is still fairly chained to her house, this is an absolutely priceless gift! Even if I can't leave my house for more than an hour to two hours at a time; I still can "keep" up with precious friends I wouldn't be able to otherwise.

Not to mention that many of my mom friends that I love, live ALL over the country (some of them I have never met in person!). But because of social media we get to do life together (maybe that's weird) in a very unique way.


The Mommy Wars happened. Fueled largely by pinterest, and I have actually seen some of my friends that I adore back away from social media and are make fewer "posts."

Because now if you post something you worked hard on making, or saved hard and bought, or studied hard and finally passed, or etc., or etc.; it could now be considered show boating. And you will be judged, condemned, and then shunned via social media.

Instead of seeing all the fun stuff my friends have been up to, I am reading article after article about all the pressures moms are under, how we all are secretly against one another; and how we should be against "being against eachother."

Is this making anybody else's head hurt?

So over the course of last week, I decided I am done being against "being against eachother." It's much easier, less confusing, and more enriching to be for something...

So instead of grazing through my feed(s) and thinking to myself; how neat, incredible, inspiring, how exciting, etc. I am going to voice all those thoughts instead; in writing, in your comments section. :)

I am going to be FOR you, my mommy friends.

So to my Mommy Friends,

Please post every thing you work hard on. Crafts, food, design; I want to see it.
You saved and saved, and bought a really neat toy; post away, I want to admire it too.
You had a really cool accomplishment, please share; I want to rejoice with you too.
You are going through a rough patch and are genuinely emotionally exhausted, you can post that too. I don't expect you to be bright and positive 24/7; I love that you are real, genuine, and honest.
I want to connect with you and celebrate you. This is how we win. The Mommy War becomes non-existent when there is no one to war with. Encouragement is our cure.
So please keep posting, sharing, and letting your friends (like me) who don't get to see you everyday, be a part of your unique world; and celebrate your uniqueness, friendship, and the beauty that is a shared life.

Thanks Bunches! Can't wait to flood your feed! ;)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"The Odd Life of Grace Wheat"

"If you came to me and said there are two people in the world that want you more than anything; they'll do their best, make some mistakes, and you will only get them for a short time... But they will love you more than you could imagine. Well, when that's true... I'd say, so much is possible." -Timothy Green 

Yesterday while feeling a little under the weather, I scooped up my daughter, some of her toys, and snuggled up with her on the sofa. I rarely get time to relax and channel surf, but I "managed" to find a movie I hadn't seen; "The Odd Life of Timothy Green."
I vaguely remember seeing previews for this movie over a year ago, and thought if nothing else; it would be a good time filler/veg out film. It was anything, but that. In fact, it took me entirely by surprise. I previously thought the film was only about infertility/adoption, and I totally missed the entire under riding metaphor of raising a child with "differences." It turned out to be one of the most beautiful films I have seen about differences.
At the beginning of the film Timothy's mother (played by Jennifer Garner) buries a list of everything they want in a child in her garden. And in that spot Timothy is "born." In many ways Jonathan and I had our list as well. During the pregnancy we dreamed and hoped for our little one. That he/she would be incredibly gifted intellectually, musically, athletically, and with an incredibly good heart.
Our intentions came from a good place, but were ill placed. Grace taught us that. Our lists were centered on what is upheld as "success" in today's society. Is there anything wrong with being considered intellectually and athletically gifted, by society's standards? No. But using that as an expectation for our unborn child was. Each child is unique, not all will make straight A's in the public school system; or letter Varsity in every sport; but all are born with their own unique set of gifts.
When Grace was born, we realized we got everything on our list; just not in the way we originally thought. Even if it took us a couple of years to really see it. We had to go through the, "Why isn't she hitting any of the developmental milestones that babycenter kept emailing me every week?" And the "She's almost two; still not walking, talking, and on the bottle..." It has to be us, we must be the world's worst  parents. Lies. Battlefield of the Mind. It can drive a parent crazy. Overworrying is a real thing. 
"If he is on the bench now, he will be on the bench for life..." -Timothy's Father

As parents we worry, because of our child's "differentness" will life give them less; are they doomed to a life that's "less"? It's a real fear. One that new parents of a "different" child have to wrestle with early on. And it never helps when they interact with people who say things like:
(Timothy's mother and aunt discussing Timothy)
Timothy's Mother: "He always finds a bright side, never gives up, and has a good heart."
Timothy's Aunt: "That'll get you into college."
We've had our own experiences (I could write a book with them all) with this type of interaction, when we were incredibly insecure as parents. Like trying to share the victory of Grace learning to use a sippy cup with people close to us; and their response being, "Oh, so-and-so's baby (who is much younger) has been doing that for months." Oh okay, thank you for the conversation ender. It's these interactions that taught us because Grace has differences not everybody is going to stay Team Grace; like they might have if she was born without them.
"I decided that our son would not be seen as different or weird, but would be treated like a normal kid; because that's what he is." -Timothy's Mother
Tough realization for new parents. But you do what you have to do as a parent. You bring in those on their "team" tightly, so their love will outshine that of those whose words/actions are unkind.
There is this HUGE benefit to being Team Grace that many do not know about. Grace has a very unique gift. It is the gift of love, in it's purest form. One thing I continue to hear from people who get to spend any amount of quality time with her, is that they walk away feeling renewed. Her joy is contagious, refreshing, and uplifting. Her missing chromosome that makes her "different," was replaced with something much more valuable; unconditional love. When she smiles, it radiates from her face. My mom calls her, her little angel; when she interacts with someone who is in pain, she tends to bring them a small piece of healing. She is a reminder of all that is good in the world, and why we should keep striving for it.
This is what I loved most about the movie. Part of what made Timothy different was his "Pollyanna" personality mixed with understanding, and deep compassion. This is practically the definition of Williams Syndrome. Seeing something so familiar to me, yet just as unfamiliar to the rest of the world; on the silver screen.... I was speechless. It got me.
Even when his aunt singled him out, to embarrass him and his mother, for not being "gifted." Timothy moved forward with good humor. Which ultimately resulted in him, his mother, and father performing/improving a hysterical version of "Low Rider" to end her stuffy, snobby, family concert. The joke was on her. This CRACKED me up, not just because of how funny it was; but because I do a very similar thing with Grace at Whole Foods. Grace loves to sing and talk LOUDLY, but she really hasn't got the pronunciation thing down correctly. And almost every time we go to the grocery store (which for us is whole foods), Grace tends to draw quite a few eyes. Not in the "oh, how cute" way; but the "can you make her be quiet, it's making me uncomfortable" way. Oh the uppity uppiters of Whole Foods, how I love it when you give me that look. Because without fail, I move my cart as close as I can to yours, and if I wasn't already engaged in loud talking/singing with my child; I am now. And we are getting louder and louder. Mainly because my kid gets all kinds of giggly when we're loud, but also because you look so desperate to disappear. And that kind of makes my day. So don't be rude, ya jerk. ;) But I gotta hand it to most of the cashiers there, more than one have jumped in and joined her in song, and that made this mama's heart warm all over. So we still go there, often. :)
Finally at the end; the time comes for his parents to tell their family, friends, and community why Timothy is different. Timothy has leaves on his legs.
"Our son Timothy has leaves on his legs. We didn't tell you guys because we were afraid, kind of ashamed; I even tried to cut his leaves off." -Timothy's Mother

What special parent can't identify to that statement? The explosion of emotions, guilt, and an attempt to fix/cure. The wading through the lies, to find the truth.
Then something beautiful happens. Their family, friends, and community rally around Timothy; and his leaves.

"I've seen his leaves, they're spectacular! And it's okay to be different, a little weird even." -Friend of the Family (Botanist)

"If this boy can have a leaf on his ankle; then we can make pencils out of leaves! Let's go to work!"  -Trustee of the factory where Timothy's dad worked

It's moving. Just as much as we've seen people fall off from Team Grace, we've seen others jump on board with enthusiasm. They love her leaves.
As the movie wraps up they touch on that one painful, emotional detail...

"It's nothing you did, it's how it's supposed to be. There is only so much time. Other kids grow up and move away, I lose my leaves; and move on." -Timothy Green

These special, beautiful, gifted children; parade into our lives. We never know how long they are going to be here, wrapped in our love. But while they are; we need to cherish them just for who they are, leaves and all.

Thank you Disney, just when I thought you couldn't surprise me anymore.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Our Swheat Girl is Four!

Shortly after our move, this little girl turned four! We spent her birthday weekend river hopping, one of her favorite things; I guess that's a perk of being surrounded by rivers.

I think that's been one of our favorite things about living here, plenty of water time! 

When it came time to planning Grace's 4th birthday party, I really wanted to draw off the uniqueness of this new chapter in her life. When we moved to here, I was taken aback by the amount of cotton fields that surrounded our little town; it was a new experience for us to see random pieces of cotton blowing around in the streets. And then there was our peach house, the whole house (interior) is painted peach! It's not every day you live in a peach paradise, ha! 

I really wanted Grace's party to not just be aesthetically pleasing, but symbolize this new chapter in her life. This house and this town are going to forever be a part of her childhood; we wanted this party to mark the beginning of a beautiful, fun, and enriching year for her.

Inspired by the lovely texture of cotton, I wanted to create something that had unique texture... With a hint of femininity. So I came up with a backdrop that I hope captures the essence of fields of cotton on a cool summer evening.

With accents of peach to tie in our new abode, and plenty of gold sparkle to represent the birthday girl's sparkly personality... The party came into it's own. 

Our guest list was short, we really wanted to keep the party intimate; we wanted Grace to know her guests, and for our guests to already have a rich history with her. Granted my family is massive, and Fort Worth isn't exactly close, so we were thrilled by the fact so many drove down for her day! Nonetheless, we still wanted to send out invites; because they're fun and proper. ;)

I don't know why it looks so heavily pink here, but it's actually a lovely peach shade in real life. ;)

One of the things I enjoyed planning her party this year was getting to branch out and try new vendors! And ya'll, they really made this party come together! :)

We used a bakery in New Braunfels for her cake, 2tarts, they are awesome! If you're local, use them, you won't be disappointed. The cake was exactly what I wanted, and it was delicious! Once home all I had to do was make the toppers for the cake! I bought the florals at Blumen-Meisters right before picking up the cake, it's also in New Braunfels. Each stem you buy is perfectly packaged with a little water bottle to keep it fresh for the ride home. I couldn't have been happier with the service and selection. It made arranging them stress-free, after getting home, yay for no sad blooms!

I really wanted to add a little platter of french macarons to dress up the table, and since our guest list was all adults, I thought it would be fun to be adventurous with the flavors. Suprisingly, green tea wasn't a real crowd pleaser. ;) However, the quality was phenominal on these little souffles. Hello! Macaron in Austin is your girl, if you need a fix! :) In keeping with the theme of hearts jumping out of the desserts, I went ahead and made the macarons into minature stacks and added some home-made glitzy hearts to hold them together.

The four for the table was actually cut by hand by my incredibly talented and loving husband! All I did was cover it in sparkle. I don't think I can bear to part with it or throw it away.... I am a sucker for things made with love, but really... Who isn't? :)

The invitation was made by Oklahoma Ginger, I gave her my vision for the invites, and she made it happen! Also note the lovely peach color. ;)

Since this could potentially be one of her last parties with a mostly adult guest list (she's starting to show a little interest in kids near her age), we decided we should probably take advantage of it and trade in the kid finger-foods for a wine and cheese tasting! It was actually really fun branching out our taste-buds and seeing who liked stinky cheese and who didn't. ;)

What she enjoyed more than all the presents, were "her" people. That and the half-hour serenade she got (because if you're going to be sang to, happy birthday is just not a long enough song)! ;)

I tried getting a regular smiling pic, but my family doesn't know how to do that... And I love it!!!

When I think of her 5th birthday, I hope it is as full of love as this one was. And has lots of water, yes, plenty of that. 

I pray that year four is one for the books. Happy Birthday my Littlest Love, Mommy loves you so very much!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

San Antonio, Round Two: House Huntin'!

Recently we had to make an impromptu trip to San Antonio for some house hunting. While we walked away from the week without a new place; we didn't leave without a few memories (and a lot of pictures).
We ended up staying at The Eilan Hotel Resort & Spa, it's still relatively new; so I was nervous. But OH MY GOSH, I really shouldn't have been; our stay was incredible! The rooms were luxurious, the food was UNBELIVABLE (not to mention organic), and the service impeccable! They will definitely receive our business in the future!
Five Stars, we highly recommend it!
Their lobby is very comfy! Grace loved sitting on all their furniture while we waited for the car. This massive ottoman was one of her favorites.
The chandeliers there are inspiring! She's all girl, she loves all things sparkle!
And the mirrors, Oh she LOVED these!
But out of everything, THIS is what she LOVED the most.
They have this fantastic splash pool, that Grace loved! I'm not sure if love is even a strong enough word, you'll see, just keep scrolling.
 Our very own Cabana (very handy).

At first sight. She cracks a smile.

 The happiness begins.

 She gets SO excited, she starts breaking out dance moves (sans music).

 This is shrieking.

This is screeching (there is a difference).
This is hand flailing, with a little screeching (but not as loud, because we have hand motions going too).
 This is amazement, so naturally we are chatting it up with the water.

We hang out here for a long time, because this fountain dances. And what is cooler than dancing water? Nothing. You can tell, because Jonathan is concerned about whether or not he is burning. The kid LOVES water, SO she leaves against her will screaming all the way up to the room. I didn't photograph that though, apologies, I was to busy deflecting the weirdo stares (with a pretty sweet one of my own HA!).
The next morning before heading out, Grace was just hanging out and I had to grab my camera. It was just her, being perfectly her. I couldn't miss out.

She had a hold of one of her favorite shoes, it was the first pair she ever squealed with joy over. I think her smile says it all.

She knows where her shoe goes, her foot!! Such a smart girl!


Shoe Cuddling!

Shoe Happiness!

 This is Day 2 of water play! While it's not new it is definitely still EXCITING!

 She was getting very brave, she did not like us shadowing her so closely. She wanted to strike out on her own. It made me a little proud to see her assert independence.

 This is her "look what I can do" face!

 Then we moved over to the "BIG" pool! She loved this waterfall, utterly fascinating for her!
It turned out that she actually seemed to enjoy this pool more than the splash pool, and if you saw the previous photos; you know we are talking some serious happiness.
 And then there was the swimming. She tried so desperately to take off swimming on her own. She figured out how to move her arms, legs, and shoved her face in the water a few times. Then she wanted Jonathan to let her go, so she could take off. We both agreed no. It was a little crazy that she was basically teaching herself to swim, since we lack the verbal communication and all. But still, I won't be surprised if she does teach herself how to swim by the end of the summer, that little water baby of mine! :)