Saturday, December 17, 2011

Our Christmas Card

Can you believe it's that time of year again, ALREADY? With Christmas only a week away I hope you and your families are doing well and are ready to relax and take in this special Holiday. For our little family that is exactly what's happening over the next week. Or at least I'm going to try and have that be the case!

Sooo where do I start? I guess first I should say we are working on a timeline that revolves around March 13, 2012. That will be when our little girl, Kayley Bernice, comes into this world! Or at least that's when we have the c-section scheduled. We are beyond thrilled to be having a girl and can't wait to meet her! Although, a lot is going to happen before then.

Once we get through Christmas we will be in full "packing and moving" mode. That's right we are moving! (Don't worry too much local friends, we are not moving far) Long story short we are selling our house and moving from Atwater to Merced. We are very excited about the house the Lord has provided for us and are especially excited to being only 5 minutes from both the church and Brian's work. We will be saving lots of money on gas with this big move and for that reason alone we are thrilled. We will be all moved into the new house in February, just one month before our new addition arrives.

So other than those few huge changes most everything is the same for our little family.

We are still certified to do foster care although we have shifted our role a little bit for now. We started the Safe Families ministry at our church and are anxiously waiting to see how God is going to use everyone involved. This is a ministry similar to foster care, but it offers support to parents that need help and allows them to take control and make changes before CPS has to get involved. To read more about this ministry you can click here: Safe Families

Brian has been with UBS Financial Services for five years now and still enjoying it. Recently he has been co-teaching the Freshman and Sophomore high school group on Sunday mornings. Brian's parents and sister are living in the bay area and we get to see them almost every month. We are very spoiled to have them so close and the boys absolutely love every minute they get to spend with them. Brian's brother, Brent, and his wife Danielle, recently moved to Austin, Texas. They are enjoying the south and we hope to visit their new stomping grounds sometime soon. We are blessed we will be able to see them in about a week as we will all be at Brian's parents house for Christmas this year!

I am in the middle of my third year teaching at SonShine Christian Preschool at First Baptist Church in Merced. This school year has been wonderful and I am so thankful for my students and their wonderful parents! I am also very thankful for my co-workers. It's so nice working with people you really look forward to being around! Photography is also keeping me busy, however I am done with photo shoots until after Kayley is born. As if I couldn't have a more full plate I added one more thing about a month ago. I now am an Independent Scentsy consultant. Really this isn't much work at all. It just gives me an excuse to shop online. I love doing it, and the little bit of extra income has been nice. My family is still living in Merced and we get to see them pretty much every day. There is definitely something special about the boys being able to go to Papa's office regularly and scoring some "gummy fish" from his top drawer.

Camden is now 3 1/2 years old and often I have to remind myself he's only that! He started preschool three days a week this year and is enjoying it. He especially enjoys being at school with his cousin Kara. He is constantly impressing us with how smart he is and makes us smile with all of the things he says. He is very excited to be having a baby sister, although he often tells us we need to have more babies after baby Kayley is born because he wants our family to be "just a little bit bigger."

Andersen turned two in November and his personality is really starting to shine. He is very deliberate in just about everything he does. He especially loves spending time with his daddy and is often found grasping Brian's hand and leading him from the movie cabinet to the playroom and anywhere else he wants to be. He loves Cars 2 and has much commentary for just about the whole movie. Although only parts of what he is saying we can understand. I try and tell him baby Kayley is in my tummy but he just looks at me like I am crazy. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to our new addition.

We will try and update our blog more regularly and we look forward to introducing you to Kayley in a few short months! Merry Christmas!

Much Love,
The Gudgels

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


This was our third year going to this pumpkin patch, and each time, what I remember most is the heat! You'd think by the third year I'd expect it to be hot... but for some reason I just associate pumpkins with fall and fall with cool weather.. hmm not in the central valley! We had a great time this time with just our little family. The boys loved running and getting all sweaty. They especially loved picking the pumpkins they were going to get to carve. It was fun that Cam actually understood that if we were going to make a "pumpkin family" we had to take the size of the pumpkins into consideration. We started with baby K's pumpkin, obviously that one would be the smallest, and worked our way up from there. He is such a smart little guy, he got it, no problem!

Running through the pumpkin patch and sun flowers

Ander peaking out of the teepee

My 3 handsome men!

I kept trying to have the boys take a picture with the sunflowers but I kid you not, every single one had a few of these creatures in the middle of them.. So I took a picture of the bee's instead

Cam finding an appropriate size pumpkin to represent him in our "pumpkin family"

Ander either doesn't get what we are trying to do or thinks he's much bigger than he is.. probably both

At the top of the pumpkin stack.. When did my baby boy turn into a big boy?

Taking our great finds to the car

Time to carve pumpkins! Cam drawing his face on his pumpkin so dad could cut it out... needless to say this was more for his sake than Brian's

Ander was not very interested in the pumpkin carving... the fly swatter however.. that was a big hit...

Our finished "pumpkin family"

Ander still not very interested

And here we are all lit up!

I love this picture because even though he's been getting the lyrics mixed up, Cam has been singing "This little light of mine" to himself a lot! I'm sure there's a lot of history behind pumpkin carving, and i'm sure any one can relate it back to whatever they want.. When I was little I told my first grade class that halloween was the devils birthday... Opposite of Christmas right? haha Well, our kids are going to relate pumpkin carving to Matthew 5:16 "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and praise your father in heaven." Look how bright these pumpkins shine, is our light shinning for Jesus every day?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scarf and Jewelry organization

So a few days ago I gave in and joined Pinterest. I was quick to fill my boards with projects I wanted to do. Brian asked me when I planned on doing all of these things and my first response was, "Christmas Break". To our surprise I've already finished two of my "pins" only a few days later. All it took was a free Friday night and a quick visit to the new Hobby Lobby in town.

The first project I did was a scarf organizer. It was supposed to be way cooler than it was. Pretty much I thought I would be able to roll my scarfs and tuck them in shower curtain rings laced together and hanging from a hanger. It all was going great until it came time to roll the scarfs and I realized, no matter how hard I tried, there was no way I was going to get my scarfs to fit into that small of a circle. So instead I draped my scarfs through the holes and let them hang. It works well and still is a great way to organize my scarfs but its not nearly as "neat" as what I was hoping for.

This is what I was thinking it was going to be able to do...

This is what I made that was supposed to be able to let me store my scarfs like the above...

Only one of my 13 scarfs actually fit through the hole the way I was wanting it to. All the others weren't even close to being able to. So now they are all just draped through each one.. not as cute as the rolled version but it will do.

The second project however was a huge success. I made a jewelry organizer and I love it! Before I had all of my jewelry in one of those hanging organizers with pockets. It worked well but It was hard to remember what I had because it always got stuffed back in pockets and I had to double up on pockets in order to fit everything. I wore my favorites all the time but I forgot how much other stuff I had until I started pulling it all out and sorting through it.

This is how I am now storing my jewelry. I love it!

It was super easy and pretty affordable. I got all of my materials at Hobby Lobby,
here is what I used:

Stuff I bought at Hobby Lobby:
A backless, empty frame.... $15.99
Screw in cup hooks, 4 packs of 6... $7.96
A 13"x22" sheet of plastic canvas ... $1.89
(this is a sturdy plastic plastic sheet with lots of little holes)

All for a grand total of $25.84 (before tax)

Stuff I already had:
Drill with small drill bit
Staple Gun

This project was a success!!! I still use my pocket hanging organizer for all of my bracelets. It's prefect for that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Camden's first day of preschool

I can't believe the day has come. Camden started preschool! This is my third year teaching preschool and I love it. Camden will have half day preschool for two years before he starts kinder so for now I'm only sending him Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It was so fun having him with me today. I loved my job already, but I will say its even more special for me that my little guy gets to be a part of the program.

Before we left for the morning we had to take a picture with daddy of course!

We dropped Ander off with miss Lauren. Cam kept reassuring Ander that we would be back to pick him up soon. It was really cute.

In front of preschool with mommy/teacher ;)

By his cubby

His other teacher Miss Mallory

With his cousin Kara. He loved that she was at preschool with him.

With Miss Cindy

and Miss Brandy

We got busy after that and I'm so bummed we didn't get a picture with Auntie (Miss) Amy. Also Miss Erin doesn't work today so we missed that one too.

We are so blessed to be part of this special little preschool family. It's fun seeing everything from a parent perspective now. I can't wait to see my little guy grow.

Monday, August 15, 2011

5 years!

Brian and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary last month. I can't believe we've been married for that long. It seems like we were just dating at APU... but at the same time it's hard to remember my life without him. I am so thankful to have such a wonderful husband. We had a great trip. It started with a walk down memory lane...

Where it all began.

More specifically here...

The Crestview pool. At the beginning of my Sophomore year I was hanging out with some of my friends at the pool. Brian and his friend (another Brian) came by the pool after a game of tennis. Somehow we ended up at their house for a BBQ... I believe it was Labor day weekend.

This was the house...

Brian lived in the canyon house with.. 6 (trying to remember exactly, but not sure) other guys. Lots of memories were made here! From BBQ's, to Christmas parties, becoming "officially BF and GF and even our first kiss!! How cheezy, but all memorable times in our relationship.

This was where I was living.. the good ol' Mods

We spent a lot of our time between classes hanging out here..

Cougar Walk!

And my junior year I lived here...

We ended our little visit down memory lane with a stop at the first place we lived when we got married. Parkwood Place apartments in Glendora.

We had fun visiting all the places that hold so many great memories for us. However, we were more looking forward to our final destination. Crystal cove. We got an awesome deal on a little beach cottage. It was gorgeous.

The side of our little cottage

We had such a big yard I felt like we needed to entertain some guests... We did end up getting to see some great friends.

Our view from the porch

The inside

The beach

Such a cool little community

The little cottage on the cliff above me is where we stayed.

This was staged but not far from how we did spend most of our trip.. no internet and no tv... relaxing!


Brian's brother and his wife came to visit us the last night we were there. We were so happy we got to spend a bit more time with them before their big move to Texas! We will miss them like crazy... but Christmas doesn't seem TOO far away.

We had a wonderful trip and I can't wait to go back there sometime. Hopefully next summer for a family vacation. =)

Friday, August 12, 2011

What's next for Foster Care and our Family?

You've heard our exciting news... we are having another baby, due in March. Some of you may be wondering what happened to wanting to do foster care??? Well we are still very much involved and wanting to help children in need.

Before we got pregnant we were approached by our foster care agency about a new (or new to our area) program called Safe Families. It's a program that helps families in crisis. They help families before CPS needs to get involved. An example may be a mom that needs to go to rehab but has no support system to help with her kids while she is in the program. Safe Families can help that mom find a safe family home that would be willing to take her kids while she was getting the help she needs.

For now this program seems to be a perfect fit for our family. The average length of care needed is 6 weeks. We need something short term. I like it because its a program that also supports the parents. They are working with parents that want to do better for their family but just need help.

The biggest hurdle we are facing at the time is getting started. In order to be a part of Safe Families you need to go to a church that has a Safe Families ministry. There are non in the central valley, but hopefully that will change soon.

The director of the private foster care agency we have been going through is trying to get Safe Families in our area. He has quite a few churches going through training in the Sacramento area. All it takes is a few families in the church that want to help. There are different roles that need to be covered. Here are the roles from what I know so far.

Host Families: Families willing to take in children. Requires training and fingerprinting.

Family Coach: Requires training (and I think finger printing). Helps the host families by supporting them. Works on building relationships with parents and getting them involved so when they are ready to have their children back they will continue to have a support system.

Family Friends: Requires no training but will be given a guide on how to help. Their roll is to simply encourage the host families and help them when needed. Being involved in such an awesome church with great people we already have this. We would just need some of those families to become official "family friends".

Another cool thing, Merced County knows Koinonia is trying to bring this program to Merced and they are all for it! They know that if parents can get help before they have to intervene it can be a huge help to everyone.

So if you go to FBC Merced and this sounds interesting to you let me know! In order to make this work we need at least one family in every role that wants to help. disclaimer: we are pending elder board approval to get this ministry going, but we know if it's God's will for our church to take this on it wont be a problem. Once (or maybe I should say if) the Elders say we can go for it we will announce a meeting that will give more info on the program. It usually takes about 4 to 6 weeks to have a Safe Families program up and running so hopefully we can do that soon. We have already been approached about a family that will need our help from December-March. I really hope we can make a difference to this mom and be ready to help her in her time of crisis.

If you don't go to FBC Merced but still want to get involved, look on the the Safe Families website to see if there is a church in your area that does Safe Families.

Here is the website.

So what if FBC Merced isn't willing to take on the Safe Families ministry? Then I think our next step will be to try and do emergency foster care. Again short term. Our agency is currently trying to see if Merced is need of emergency foster care homes.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beach Camping

We had so much fun camping at Manresa State Beach. Our campgrounds were up on the hill, just a short walk down to the beach. Perfect camping in my mind. The only downside to this trip was Brian wasn't able to come with us. (We can't all be teachers and get summers off) We went with my parents, my sister and her family, and my brother and his gf. We are thinking this needs to become a Hicks family tradition.

The two youngest cousins relaxing while we set up camp

We love sand castles...

waiting for water to fill their buckets... it was a long wait.. lol

climbing trees

flying kites

Branco makes a good babysitter

My brother cheezin it..

Wondering what's going on with foster care? There are a couple different developments in the works. We are waiting to see what direction God is leading our family and as soon as we know we will let you all know as well. They both involve taking kids into our home in different ways... just new opportunities we are excited about!