Saturday, May 31, 2008

31 Thank Yous

For My Man...

May 1 - Thank you for watching the kids so I could spend time with my girlfriends.
May 2 - Thank you for coming to unlock the van when I locked my keys inside.
May 3 - Thank you for watching the kids while I had a garage sale. (I know that you think I am crazy for trying to make a little money off of our junk.)
May 4 - Thank you for painting our bedroom.
May 5 - Thank you for working an 18-hour day. You are the hardest worker I know.
May 6 - Thank you for calling to check on me today just because you knew that I had not slept much last night and had a lot to do today.
May 7 - Thank you for working until 4am for our family.
May 8 - Thank you for taking me away to New Orleans for the weekend.
May 9 - Thank you for bringing me breakfast in the hotel room.
May 10 - Thank you for telling me that my eyes looked pretty before our date tonight.
May 11 - Thank you for making my 12th Mother's Day special and very memorable.
May 12 - Thank you for fixing my computer when I need you to. (Especially when you don't mention the "help menu".)
May 13 - Thank you for never missing an Awards Day for our kids. You make us know that we are a priority to you!
May 14 - Thank you for letting me cry on your shoulder when I am hurting.
May 15 - Thank you for coaching our little boy's baseball team for 7 seasons straight. You are the best daddy!
May 16 - Thank you for making my coffee - perfectly - almost every morning.
May 17 - Thank you for painting all day long!
May 18 - Thank you for filling my van with gas tonight knowing that I was going to Waco in the morning.
May 19 - Thank you for taking time off work to come celebrate my brother's new baby and for staying the night to help me with the kids.
May 20 - Thank you for calling to check on me today.
May 21 - Thank you for buying groceries and cooking dinner for us as we got home from Waco tonight.
May 22 - Thank you for getting up to go to work before the rest of us are even awake - almost every morning.
May 23 - Thank you for having Family Movie Nights. (Even though I always fall asleep, I appreciate them.)
May 24 - Thank you for working on a Saturday... of a holiday weekend... for our family.
May 25 - Thank you for making sure that I have the things that I need.
May 26 - Thank you for loving our daughter well. Today you did the sweetest thing for her. Just because.
May 27 - Thank you for calling to tell our kids goonight every night while we were out of town.
May 28 - Thank you for taking me out to dinner with friends tonight.
May 29 - Thank you for letting me sleep late and for going to get the kids donuts for breakfast.
May 30 - Thank you for buying me roses tonight - just because.
May 31 - Thank you for spending time reading to the kids and playing games with them.

The Best Thing That I Read Today

Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly.  The hard truth is that all of us love poorly.  We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour - unceasingly.  That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.
- Henri Nouwen

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:12-14 

Friday, May 30, 2008

Horticulture Today

Corey's Tomatoes
More flowers have bloomed.  
I thought that I better get a picture of them while I could.  
They seem to bloom then disappear just as fast.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Me, In Pictures

My maiden name:

My first job:
My dog's name:
Where I live:
My favorite color:
Nickname that I have had:
My age on my next birthday:
My favorite place:
A place that I want to visit:
My favorite food:
My favorite drink:

My goal:
Tag - You're it.  (You'll probably have to Google some pictures.)  Let me know if you do.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One More "Chloe Post"

Okay, so this is the last of the "I've got a new niece." posts... maybe. I mean, really. If she was yours, you'd post her pictures too, right? :)

I never talked earlier about the day that Chloe Grace was born. My kids and I headed to Waco at 6am last Monday, so we would be sure and be there when Chloe arrived. My whole family is crazy like that. We like to be together to celebrate everything! So, by 9am we had all piled into the little hospital waiting room with a rotation of about 20 people (our family, my sister-in-law's family, and a few friends) that came and went from Adrielle's room in groups of 2 or 3. Around 11:00 my brother came out to the waiting room to report that not much had changed - the doctor said that his guess was that the baby would not be born until after 3:00 that afternoon. My sisters decided to take their little ones home for a nap while my mom & I decided to take my 3 kids plus my niece to the mall across the street. We gathered all of our stuff, trudged through the 90-whatever degree weather with 4 kids and at least that many bags to my van, got everyone buckled, put the van in reverse... and the phone rang. Get back up here... she's pushing. We unbuckled everyone and ran back to the hospital... well, if that is what you call 2 ladies, 2 two-year-olds, and 2 "big kids" getting across the parking lot as fast as possible. About an hour later lullaby music played over the hospital's intercom system which signified that a new baby had been born. Our Chloe Grace was here. Everything went so well. Adrielle is a champ at baby-having! My kids and I stayed in Waco with Skyler for a couple of days until her parents and new baby sister came home from the hospital. She kept me laughing and loving and kissing and hugging the entire time that I was with her. She is quite a character.

My kids and I came home for a few days then went back to Waco on Sunday. Like I mentioned before, my mom and dad kept my kids while I helped take care of baby Chloe and her family. It was truly an honor. I loved every moment of it.  The bouncing and shhhhing and bathing and feeding and dressing of Chloe Grace.  The snuggles and conversations and bath times and bed times and going outside to feel the wet grass on our toes and the trips to the grocery store and the "shoe-slops" and the "white may mays" that I shared with Skyler.  Watching my brother play My Little Pony with one of his daughters then watching him snuggle the other one.  Long talks and laughter and tears shared with my sister-in-law.  Here are a few of those moments that I loved...

I miss you already.

What I've Been Doing For 3 Days...

more photos to come...

One Of My Favorite Things Ever

Can I just say that there is not much else on earth that is better to me than sleeping with a sleeping baby on my chest? The last 3 nights I have been at my brother and sister-in-law's house helping the new-and-improved little family adjust. Throughout the day, I have gotten little bits of Chloe-time here and there, but you know? Between her busy schedule (sleeping and eating then eating and sleeping) and is hard to get quality one-on-one time together. So the night time - when dinner is done and laundry is folded and mommy is exhausted - that has been "our time". We snuggle up and watch TV until we both fall asleep. It is, hands-down, one of my favorite things ever.

Let me tell you, my new neice is so fabulous. She is a wonderful, good, peaceful, beautiful baby. I get a little teary just thinking that I have to leave her today. I am so very, very thankful for these days that I have gotten to spend some special time with her though. That could not have happened if it were not for my parents... My mom & dad live in the same town as my brother. They agreed to have my kids stay at their house, so I could come and love on my brother's family for a few days. Thanks a million, Mom & Dad!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Surrendering To Motherhood

I was at Half Price Books today looking for some books by a lady that I love that writes about mothering. (I have mentioned her here before. Her name is Sally Clarkson. She is great!) I didn't find any of her books today, but the title of another book in that section caught my attention and got me thinking. My thoughts were all spurred on by the title, mind you... not the actual book or author. (both of which I know nothing about)

The title of the book is Surrendering to Motherhood.

I have always wanted to be a mommy. Always. I have not, however, always wanted to live in a constant state of dying to myself and giving all that I have to everyone around me. When I first became a mom - and certainly after I had my second child - I was very concerned about myself. "Me-time." My hobbies. My breaks. My chance to serve at church. My time with my friends. My time to go places with my husband. While I loved and enjoyed my kids, I lived in a constant state of waiting for the next time that was mine. At the time, Corey was starting a new business (full-time) while still working his regular job (full time). We had no money and even less time for me. Needless to say, I was very frustrated that my life was full of giving and giving and giving and never, it seemed, receiving any time for myself. It was very easy to point my finger at my husband, at God, at my checkbook, at Corey's business... at anyone or anything that was responsible for my being in the position that I was in and/ or anyone or anything that was not helping me get out of it. I was constantly fighting for or at least impatiently waiting for "my turn". It rarely came.

When I got pregnant unexpectedly then lost that baby I realized - maybe for the first time in my many years of parenting - how desperately I wanted nothing on earth more than to be a mommy. As my two children were getting closer and closer to both being in school and my "break" was on the horizon, I longed to be "tied down" to home and diapers and carseats and strollers. Another pregnancy came and went, and I was heartbroken. I knew for certain that if I ever had the chance to have a baby again, my attitude would be different. I didn't quite have the word for it then... but today I do. If I ever got the chance again, I would surrender.

Thankfully, almost exactly three years ago I got that chance. I am not saying that I don't get frustrated or tired or flat-out "done" some days. But my heart and soul know that this is what I am here to do right now. It is not that I am not ever ready for an evening at Starbuck's or a night of scrapbooking, but I am not resentful when those times only come once in a blue moon because I have been at baseball games every weekend for months or have been working on school projects that consume my every waking hour.

This time with the kids is so fleeting. It is something that I only get to experience once. This is my window of opportunity to pour myself, my beliefs, my love into their lives. There will be time for time away someday, weeks where I can have lunch with friends every day if I want to, time to volunteer or work or clean. But for now, I am happily and peacefully and thankfully surrendered to this important job called Motherhood.

Yep, It's 4:29am and I'm Awake

Last night was Family Movie Night at our house. Indiana Jones - The first one. I watched it like I do most movies at home. Awake for the first half, asleep for the second. I am not sure if I even made it to the second half of last night's movie though. I was so tired! I found myself dozing on a couch made for less than 4 people as 4 people sat/ laid on it and "watched" the movie. (I think that I was on the bottom of the pile.) That was not overly comfortable, so I moved to the floor. My comfy blanket and one cuddly kid moved with me... which was nice.

What was not nice was waking up on that same floor at 2am - just me and my blanket.
No cuddly kid. No Indiana Jones.

So, here I sit... 2 1/2 hours later thinking,
"I must go to sleep.
I must go to sleep!
I MUST go to sleep!

Corey is working all weekend, so I need to be rested up for an "all mommy, all the time" weekend. That, my friends, cannot happen if I am awake at 4:37am! So, I am going to the couch now... this time alone (with my comfy blanket, of course) to try, yet again, to catch some shut-eye before everyone else's eyes open.

Friday, May 23, 2008

It's Another Girl!

Be fruitful and multiply... My siblings and I have taken that one to heart. In the past 3 years, we have gone from 2 grandkids in our family to 7 plus one on the way. That one, we just found out, is a girl! My sister Sara and her husband Beau are expecting Ainsley Grace to arrive in September. They already have little Asher Case and now they will get to experience a girl too. I am so excited for them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just Me and Them

This morning I decided to spend some special time with my kids.  I think that the emotions and events that I talked about in my last post were overwhelming me, and I knew that I had to get out of the house and focus on my children - my gifts from God.  I had to seize the day with them.  I could not spend this day doing the laundry and dishes that I had planned to do.  Today had to be different.  So... we headed to 6 Flags.  

A few years ago I don't think that I would have braved it alone. I might have been intimidated by doing an amusement park alone with the kids. I might have thought that spending half a day in Looney Tune Land might be boring. I might have thought that it was too hot or too expensive or too inconvenient or too crowded or too... But today, it was perfect. It was necessary. There was nothing to do except spend time with my little ones. No one to talk to except them. So we talked. No one to laugh with except them. So we laughed. No one to ride rides with except them. So we rode. Our day revolved around being together. That is all. It was excellent. Don't get me wrong. There was still plenty of sweating going on, an extraordinarily long potty break where I lost my temper and unbelievably said, "If you don't hurry up and poop, you are going to be in trouble", and a few fights to break up... but it was us. Us, doing life together.  

The highlight of the day - Jack and I rode the newest 6 Flags roller coaster together. Tony Hawk's Big Spin. It was awesome! It was so fantastic to ride a big coaster with my boy! It is a 4-seated ride, and we rode it with two girls that we did not know. One of them told Jack, "You are so lucky that your mom will ride roller coaters with you. Mine won't." I wanted to say, "No, I am the lucky one." It was so great to stand in that line with him as we held on to each other with a bit of anxiety and anticipation. Not knowing exactly what the ride was going to be like. It was hilarious to scream our way through the whole ride together. Well, I SCREAMED. He YELLED, "Yes! Yes! This is so cool!" One of the cool things about it is that the ride videos you the entire time. Where some roller coasters take your picture, this one documents the whole hilarious ride. Afterwards, you can buy it for a mere $19.99. I don't know why you would though... the clip of ours that we saw was horribly hysterical. I looked like I had just eaten the most sour pickle ever while seeing the Lockness monster in person. Scary!


Sad. That is how I feel right now. We typically don't have the news on at our house, but last night my family was watching the news about American Idol when the news caster came on with "This just in... Steven Curtis Chapman's 5 year old daughter was killed this evening."  I was shocked. I started to cry. Corey brought our family together to pray for theirs. I continued to cry... and never stopped until I fell asleep. I am crying again this morning as I look at things about Sweet Maria online. There are videos of her standing on the bed - her stage - singing a Hannah Montana song, a video of her and Steven doing dishes together, and tons of pictures of their extraordinary yet ordinary family doing the things that my family does. Loving each other the way that my family does. But today - and forever - their family is different. I am heartbroken for them. Of course I don't know them, and I don't know exactly why, but today this tragedy hits a little too close to home.

What an emotional rollercoaster yesterday was - Going from the significant and happy event in my family's life - A new baby. A new life! - to the insignificant yet fun event of Who will be the next American Idol? to the news of this terrible tragedy in another family. Sometimes the ups and downs of life are almost too much.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The First Three Days of Chloe Grace

Here are a few of the 300 pictures that I took over the last three days.  I'll try to write about it all later.  It was a great experience, and I am so thankful that I got to be part of it. 

~My brother looking at his new baby girl right after she was born~
(I love this picture of him!)
~Adrielle, Coby, & Chloe Grace~
(Yes, she had just given birth... She's beautiful!)
~The first time that Skyler held her new baby sister~
  ~My mom & dad with grandbaby # 7~
~Cooper's first time to hold Chloe Grace~
(I can't believe that these were "the babies"!  It seems like just yesterday!)
He loved holding her !
~Jack and Cousin Chloe~
(I love how he held her hand!)
~Lovely Little Hands!~
~Two Beautiful Girls~
~Chloe & Me~
~She's Home!~
~Coby & Chloe~
(This is one of my favorite pictures of the week!)
~Skyler checking out her new sister after she arrived home today~
~Her Eyes!~
~Again, those hands!  I can't get enough of them!~
~Sleeping Like A Baby~

Monday, May 19, 2008

She's Here!

...and, Oh My Gosh, she is beautiful.
I'm not just saying that. :)
She is a perfect little doll.
Chloe Grace
8 lbs. 5 oz. (1 week early) and 21" long
And did I mention that she is beautiful?!?
Mom, Dad, Baby, & Big Sister are all doing well.

So thankful....

Sunday, May 18, 2008

We're Outta Here

... well, almost.

If you haven't guessed, Little Miss Chloe Grace has so far decided not to show her face, so tomorrow the doctor is going to help her along. My sister-in-law, Adrielle, is going to be induced in the morning. The kids and I are going to head south bright and early, (Is is bright at 6am these days? I try not to find out for myself too often.) and Corey is going to try to come later in the day too. Anyway, please say a prayer for Adrielle, my brother Coby, Chloe, and the new big sister, Skyler. Lots of adjusting is on the horizon for their little family. I am so glad that I get to be there to help a tiny bit with that! I am just itching to hold that sweet baby right now... next time I blog I will have met my new niece face-to-face. I am so thrilled I can hardly think straight.

Friday, May 16, 2008

3 Parties and A Movie

...reminds me of that movie title Three Weddings and a Funeral

That has been my day today. 3 Parties and A Movie. Starting this morning, I have been taxi driving kids (mine plus several others) from place to place for end-of-school and birthday celebrations. It has been a great day so far - beautiful weather, a country drive, a picnic under a tree, good visits with friends, and now... I'm finally back home with the big kids at separate parties and Cooper in bed for his nap.

I wasn't sure how I was going to pull this day off with so many places to be and little Chloe's birth seeming imminent, but she has so thoughtfully waited for her MiMi's Friday obligations to be complete. She is such a good baby already. Now, I've almost made it through Friday's to-dos, so you can hurry on out, little one. (I think that your mommy would really like that too!)

Watch Out Kids... It's Gonna Get Ugly

So, I've been mulling over this thought for a few weeks and last night the need to actually blog about it came to a head.  

A friend of mine and I were talking recently about how she is having trouble breaking in to friendship circles.  She tries and even thinks sometimes that she has, but alas she will realize (sometimes mid-conversation with another) that she has not.  Upon listening to her, I realized that I - after living in the same town for 12 years and attending the same church for 8 years and my kids going to the same school for 6 years - still have trouble in some cases feeling like I am one of the group.  What is baffling to me, as I walk along the few that are "the group" and they are arranging to go "there" from "here" together without acknowledging that I (and sometimes my children) am standing well within ear shot of them, is that they, possibly, have no idea how rude and hurtful that that is.  It concerns me, that a person can be chatting with you as if you and he/ she are friends until someone that is "really" their friend walks up and how quickly they can figuratively and literally turn their back on you.  

Now, don't get me wrong.  I have many friends, and I am so very thankful for them.  Also, I know that I have to take the initiative when it comes to squeezing myself into these circles.  I have, and that initiative has been met by being ignored - not when I am one-on-one with these people (Oh no!  We are friends then.) but when they are together. That hurts.  And if it hurts me, the one that has been around this "group" for years, what must it feel like to others who have not been around so long that are striving to break in somehow?  How must it be for my children?   

I don't say all of this without an ounce of guilt or responsibility.  I am certain that I have been to blame at some point in not "opening the friendship circle" to another, but I hope that I am generally sensitive to others and that I am not characterized by that.  I hope that I am teaching my children basic manners - when you are inviting  a group of people to go have fun with you, you either invite everyone that is around or you keep your mouth shut about the fun that you are all about to go have around those that are not invited.  And I am not saying that we all need to be best friends to everyone all of the time.  I'm not!  I have a few dear, dear friends that are specifically special to me, and I love our time spent together.  But, I think when people are in a group setting, there need to be some inclusion in conversation and that special times planned with special friends should not be talked about around others.  (You know?  Like in elementary school when they teach you not to send birthday party invitations to school unless everyone is invited?!?)  And I thoroughly think that if you are Christian - one that cares to show love to others - that this should be a basic understanding.

So, there you have it.  My rant of the day.  Again, I am not pointing fingers at anyone without examining myself also.  Maybe - just maybe - this will give us all (myself included) a little reminder of the elementary idea of "It is nice to be nice." 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Last Day Of School!!!

~Jack's buddies - before school on the last day~
~Jack getting his award from the principal~
(She was Allie's kindergarten teacher and has loved on our kids for 6 years.)
Also, before the ceremony Jack's teacher gave each a student a character award.  
He was presented with an award for "Obedience".  We are very proud of him for that!
During the awards ceremony, each class presents something.  
Jack's class said the Greek alphabet.  I was impressed!
~Cooper trying to stay occupied during the ceremony~
(Thank goodness for Happy Meal toys!)
Allie was recognized as Cum Laude.  We are so proud of her for that!  
Also, when her teacher was recognizing each student she said 3 phrases that described them.  For Allie, she said, "Warm hearted, thoughtful, and she has a lot of perseverance."  I bawled at that!  To have someone love my kids, praise them, and encourage them, I cannot begin to express my gratitude.  And, we are more proud of those character traits that Allie displayed to her teacher than any medal she could have earned.  (Although the medal is nice too!)
~Some of Allie's classmates~
(She has been friends with the girl on the far left since preschool and with the girl 3rd from the left since birth.)
~My 3rd Grader & 6th Grader~
As we do every year, we went for ice cream to celebrate after the last day of school.

And here is what our "Special Plate" looks like today...

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