Tuesday, December 29, 2009

officially over

As of last night, our Christmas is officially over.  We met at Ronnie's brother's house tonight for our time with his family and, with the exception of the mysterious disappearance of his mom's keys, we had a great time.

As this time has come to a close, I can blissfully report no major addition to the toys in this house.  Most of the toys that the kids did get will either live outside (ie. D's bike and JW's basketball) or will live at someone else's house, as in the case of the basketball goal and wagon my parents gave to all of their grandkids so that they can have something to play with when they visit.  As a matter of fact, there are only two toys that the kids got that have more than one or two pieces.  One is a racetrack with r/c cars for JW. and the other is LB's new puzzle.  I think I could get used to this idea!

My Daddy and the kids with his weasel ball.

The kids on Christmas Eve in their new jammies ... a tradition in our home ... each child gets to open one gift on Christmas
Eve and it is always new pajamas.

D, the only time he'll get away with riding his new bike in the house!  Isn't he cute in his Elmo pajamas?

Meet Chrissa, LB's new American Girl doll ... she has been waiting a long, long time for this moment.

JW, with his new favorite way to annoy his sister, not to mention his mother!

Mama (aka Grandmother) and LB playing her new Jenga-like game.  They got to call it a tie because D came up and grabbed the table and you can imagine what happened next.

All in all, we had a great Christmas.  I must admit to being slow in getting into the spirit this year, but in the end it all came together.  Now, all that is left to do is take down the decorations and let life return to normal.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

a couple of new favorites

I have been working on a Christmas post all week, but it just never came together, so I guess I'll just scrap it ... or maybe I'll save it for next year.  I do hope that each of you had a wonderful Christmas, just as my family did.  After leaving church on Wednesday night, we didn't venture more than 5 miles from our house until after Christmas ... it was wonderful!  We spent Christmas Eve at home with my parents and 2 of my 3 brothers.  I love being at the home where I spent most of my childhood and having my kids play with their cousins in the same house that I played with my brothers.  Actually, I prefer seeing them play in the yard with their cousins, but since it was raining, that didn't work this year.

For Christmas Day, we just stayed in our own home and enjoyed the kids.  My parents came over in the afternoon and we ate homemade pizza.  All in all, it was a great day ... simple and uncomplicated.

Now, on to the new favorites.  Since it is time to change my blog music from Christmas back to regular music, I thought this would be a good time to leave the music off for a few days and share two of my new favorite songs.  Music has always been very important to me and I love old music.  I still love to sit and listen to the old songs that my brothers and I used to play on my Daddy's record player.  Music like that brings back sweet memories, even if the songs are silly or childish.  As much as I cling to old music, I still have room for new favorites as well and these two songs I am going to share here have earned a special place in my heart.

Just so you know, I do realize that these songs have been out for a few years, so they may not be as new to you as they are to me.  I'm always a little behind the times ... but that is okay with me!

The first song is one that I first heard at a preview service for the new Baptist Hymnal.  I must admit to being leery of the new hymnal.  Most people would probably describe me as an old fogey when it comes to church music.  I love to sing the hymns of my childhood (and my parents' childhood) and while I do enjoy some of the newer praise and worship music, I don't think they can take the place of the beautiful hymns that are falling by the wayside in so many churches today.  But, I digress ... the point is, that I wasn't sure what to expect from the new hymnal, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a good mixture of the old favorites, choruses and even great new hymns.  This song is an example of what I would call a great new hymn.

The second song is going to come as a shock to some who know me in a more personal way.  For years my friends Brad and Amy have been talking about the band Casting Crowns.  At first, I didn't expect to like any of their music ... they don't exactly qualify as my parents' church music you know.  But, as much as I hate to admit to being wrong, I'll make an exception on this occasion.  I have actually found several of their songs that I enjoy.  I think that what I like is that their music speaks to some very real and some very difficult situations that I have experienced and this song is no exception.

I pray that this music speaks to you.  Not because it speaks to me, but because it speaks of Jesus.  You see, I believe the message of this music with all of my heart.  For me, there is no question that the only hope I have for anything is In Christ Alone.  And, I have also found that praising Him in the storms of life - big or small - is the only way to survive those storms and come out stronger on the other side.

So, maybe this is my Christmas post after all.  Because all of the stuff we take part in during the Christmas holidays is totally meaningless if we leave the baby in the manger.  As beautiful as the Christmas season is, it is only the beginning of the story.  The Christmas story is where Jesus chose to lay aside His glory and come to earth knowing full well that 33 years later He would go to the Cross and complete the plan of redemption that was brought to earth in the form of a helpless baby.  Thank you, Jesus!

Monday, December 21, 2009

daybook ~ December 21st

Outside my window ...
it is suuny, but cold.

I am wearing ...
my usual sweats and a t-shirt ... we aren't going anywhere today.

I am hearing ...
Silent Night - sung  by Celtic Woman

I am going ...
to try and get my house cleaning done today so that I can enjoy doing some baking this week.

I am noticing that ...
I need a new plan for organizing the kids' rooms ... our current plan isn't working very well.

I am thinking ...
that this week is going to fly for me and drag for the kids!

I am reading ...
Washington's Lady by Nancy Moser.

I am creating ...
a couple of sewing projects for the kids ... hopefully I will have pictures to share soon.

I am remembering ...
Christmas traditions from my childhood that I would like to share with my kids.

I am thankful for ...
electricity and central heat. 
Ours was out for a little while last night and it didn't take long for our little house to get cold.  I may be just a little spoiled!

On my mind ...
trying to make this week fun and memorable rather than hectic and stressed.

Words that I am pondering ...
Luke 1 and 2. 
 It may seem trite, but I don't want to get so caught up in celebrating tradition that I just read story and forget that this is so much more.

From the kitchen ...
LB has been begging to make and decorate sugar cookies, so we will fit that into the other things we have to make like cheese crackers from a new recipe from a friend at church and probably kind of cookies the boys can help me make.

Around the house ...
mostly just the usual cleaning and laundry to be done.

A few plans for the rest of the week ...
a little more shopping to be done, but nothing too pressing.  We will spend Christmas Eve with my family at my parents' house and then spend Christmas Day at home.

One of my favorite things ...
the time spent getting ready for Christmas morning after the kids are in bed on Christmas Eve.

A picture to share with you ...
LB's favorite Christmas gift ever ... her doll Maria.

Join the fun! Visit The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

words to ponder

From the Open Windows devotion for December 16th ...

For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.  1 Peter 3:10

Peter underscores the formula for loving life and seeing good days:  controlling our speech.  Godly speech brings blessings of peace, compassion for others, and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

By contrast the untamed tongue gravitates toward evil.  Careless tongues speak with guile or deceit.  Refrain from such speech.

Father, help me control my tongue as a witness to You.

written by Fletcher Allen from Franklin, Tennessee

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

a funny thing happened at the barber shop . . .

While getting his hair cut yesterday, D pulled up his pant leg to show Mrs. Robin his leg and said something along these lines ...

You see my leg?  It is hairy ... you need to do something about that.

Don't you just love kids!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy 8th ~ another late birthday post

Once again, I have missed posting about a birthday until well past the day, but this time I had a good excuse ... we were out of town on JW's day and I didn't have access to my pictures to post.  Of course that doesn't explain the time that has passed since we got home, nor does it explain why I had such a hard time writing this post.  It may be that I just don't want my young'uns to grow up so fast.  No matter, we'll just go with better late than never, so with out further delay . . . .

On November 24, 2001, JW made his entrance into this world.  His birth was fairly uneventful for me, but his birthday came with major storms and destruction.  This was the day that a tornado wiped out large neighborhoods of beautiful, expensive homes just a little north of here.  Fortunately for us, the only real problem was getting ready to go to the hospital without electricity.

I never really had any contractions with James; I went to the hospital because my water broke and of course that meant that the baby had to come sometime soon.  When I arrived at the hospital and got checked in and everything, I waited for my doctor to come in.  I believe that it was a nurse who finally told us that since I wasn't having contractions or progressing in any way that I had two options.  They could give me drugs to encourage labor, but if they worked I would probably need another doctor to deliver the baby because my doctor was at another hospital delivering twins.  The second option was to wait and see what happened and then decide what to do when my doctor finished with the twins.  We opted for the latter choice and settled in for the day.  It was pretty uneventful ... we watched weather reports and damage reports from the storm that morning as family began to arrive.

Sometime that afternoon, my doctor finally arrived and we discussed my options for delivery.  After discussing the situation with my doctor, we opted for another c-section.  I had hoped for a different outcome, but this seemed like the best choice at the time.  I am not sure I would make the same decision today, but I can't really complain since within an hour I had my healthy baby boy.

From the beginning, JW was a great baby.   He had a bit of a disadvantage, since his 26 month old sister wasn't too sure that she liked the idea of having a little brother.  When he was a couple of weeks old she wanted to know if we could put him back.  The worst part was at night.  Every time he woke up during the night, so would she.  She would cry for me and so Ronnie would get up and take care of JW.  I must admit that I missed those quiet feedings at night.  They were some of my favorite times with the other two, but I didn't get many of them with JW.  Even with the missing sleep, Ronnie enjoyed those times and will still talk about forming a special bond with JW during those crazy nights.

JW has now grown into a sensitive little boy.  I am sure that he would cringe at my calling him a "little boy" but the Mommy in me is not ready to give up that title yet.  Sometimes he is a worrier.  He can't stand for his little brother to do something that he thinks is truly dangerous.  Which happens often since his little brother is a daredevil.

JW loves to make people laugh and is very talented when it comes to imitating voices.  One of our favorite is his Astro voice from the Jetsons.  He can also do Scooby Doo pretty well and loves to use these and the other voices he creates to entertain anyone who will listen.   He won't hesitate to tell you that he loves to be silly.  I'll tell you that he is good at it, probably because he practices ... a lot.

This past year has been a big one for my little guy.  He played baseball for the first time ~ and loved it.  He began 2nd grade and for the first time is able to take co-op classes with his big sister.  He has become fascinated by science and is interested in learning all he can.  All of these are wonderful things ... things that make a Mama proud.  But, this year he also made a decision that takes his Mama and Daddy much farther than pride, to pure joy.  This year, JW accepted Jesus as his Savior and was baptized.  Nothing can compare to this life changing event.  There just aren't words.

So, happy 8th birthday (a little late) to my little boy who is fast becoming a young man .... I love you.

Helping Uncle Bob

looking sharp!

Baseball ~ end of the year party @ M-Braves game

Driving Uncle Charlie's boat

Monday, December 14, 2009

Daybook ~ December 14th

Outside my window ...
it is rainy and unseasonably warm.

I am wearing ...
blue jeans and a green t-shirt.

I am hearing ...
Christmas music (Mary Did You Know - one of my favorite newer Christmas songs) and JW giving me a play-by-play of what is happening on the Tom and Jerry movie they are watching.

I am going ...
to take all the kids for haircuts ~ finally!  And, hopefully to Hobby Lobby if the weather cooperates.

I am noticing that ...
blogging has changed the way I think about the every day happenings in my life.

I am thinking ...
about what to fix for lunch and the fact that I need to go to the grocery store.

I am hoping ...
to get some family plans for Christmas finalized soon and to figure out what I need to cook for the different gatherings.

I am reading ...
One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham with the kids.

I am creating ...
some surprises for Christmas.

I am remembering ...
the wonderful worship and fellowship last night as our choir sang the Christmas musical and we shared about our trip to Atlanta to work in the OCC processing center.

I am thankful for ...
the church family where God has placed our family.  I am more aware than ever what a gift the church is to Christians.

On my mind ...
a situation I don't quite know how to handle.

Words that I am pondering ... 
O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.  Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.  Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.  Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.  Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth.  Psalm 105:1-5

From the learning rooms ...
a slow week of school with more projects and reading than anything else ... we will make time for some math and language though.
From the kitchen ...
a mess to clean up from yesterday and it is looking like leftovers for supper tonight.
Around the house ...
I am hoping to organize LB's room this week ... ugh!  Not an extremely fun task, but one that is in dire need of being done.
A few plans for the rest of the week ...
we have blessedly few plans this week.  I do hope to go shopping with Mama sometime this week and Mama and Daddy may keep the kids and let Ronnie and I do some shopping as well.
One of my favorite things ...
Christmas music.
A picture to share with you ...
it is hard to believe that this was just over a week ago when it is 70 degrees today.

Visit The Simple Woman's Daybook to read many, many more daybooks and to learn how to create your own.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

living up to the name

Every now and then my kids prove that I was right when I chose the name of my blog. 

Today it was LB.

Not that anyone who knows us would be shocked by the news that she might be just a little like me!

Growing up my Daddy was constantly telling me to pay attention to what I was doing.

Jennifer, the cup wouldn't have fallen off of the counter and spilled if you had just been looking where you were putting it.

Jennifer, please finish what you were doing before you start doing something else!

Jennifer, PAY ATTENTION!!!!

This afternoon, I picked LB and her friend L up from their dance class and drove across the street to L's Granny's house to drop her off.  When LB closed the van door, somehow she managed to close the rubber ball of her baton into the door.  I tried opening the door from the inside and then from the outside and it wouldn't even budge.

Oh, boy!

It only took me a moment to completely panic ... I could see a body shop involved in removing the baton from the door.  I could also see a van flooded with rain water since we had storms predicted all night and I don't have a garage where I could park the van.

I called Ronnie, who suggested that I call my youngest brother who works for a local tire store.  He was busy at the moment so I called and talked to both of my parents.  Mama quickly passed me off to Daddy who had a few suggestions, but I decided to wait for Philip to call back.

It turns out this was a good plan.  He only works about 5 minutes from my house and suggested that I bring the van to them.  Not only did a couple of the guys he works with figure out how to remove the baton without damaging the van door, we even provided them with a little comic relief for the end of their work day.  It took them less than 5 minutes to figure out that they could cut the rubber end and pull it off of the baton which would then allow them to pull the metal part back inside the van and thus out of the door.  LB wasn't happy to have to sacrifice her baton, but she knew better than to complain too much!

Part of me wanted to rant and rave at LB before I knew that the problem wasn't going to cost me anything except a new baton, and I will admit to a few annoyed words said during my moments of panic, but I managed to basically hold my temper, which is really a good thing since I began thinking about similar mistakes I've made. 

One in particular comes to mind.  When I was 15 or 16 I managed to lock every set of keys our family owned to one particular vehicle, inside said vehicle.  It wouldn't have been so bad except that the entire family was busy with a fund raiser for our high school football team and I was kind of the runner for the day.  Fortunately, one of the people there asked one of their police officer friends to pop the lock for me.  I am quite certain that my Daddy would have had something to say about it except that he was too busy to deal with it.

I shared this story with my little girl tonight.  Partially because I wanted to make sure that she knew I'm not angry at her and partially because I want her to recognize that we are all human and we all make mistakes, but that doesn't mean that we can't try really hard to avoid them! 

It is funny that thinking about this today has made me realize that I still need to listen to my Daddy's advice. (I'm sure Mama was saying the same things, but for some reason, Daddy's voice stands out when I think about this subject.) I still could do better when it comes to paying attention to details and completing one task before moving on to another.  I especially have trouble with that particular piece of advice, only now it is coming from my husband and not my Daddy!

I can only hope that LB learns these lessons better than I have.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Daybook for December 7th

Outside my window ... puddles are forming.

I am wearing ... the usual ~ sweats and a t-shirt ~ my uniform for days that I don't need to go anywhere.

I am hearing ... the kids dusting in the living room (LB is assigning duties to the boys) ~ they are serious about getting everything clean so we can put up the Christmas tree tonight.

I am going ... to have to be creative for lunch today since I don't plan to buy groceries until later.

I am noticing that ... lately I am becoming more aware of blessings that don't come in tangible form.

I am thinking ... about making the kids new ornaments this year instead of buying them.  Any ideas???

I am hoping ... to get lots of decorating done today.

I am reading ... not much ... I'll be choosing a new book to read with the kids today.

I am creating ... a new journal for the new year and hopefully new stockings for the kids.

I am remembering ... a wonderful "girls' night out" with LB on Saturday as we went to see The Nutcracker.

I am thankful for ... needs met.

On my mind ... my mom having chemo today and a friend having surgery tomorrow.

Words that I am pondering ... Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised. Hebrews 10:23

From the learning rooms ... we'll be working right up to Christmas since we took a long break at Thanksgiving, so I plan to work in some fun stuff with the math and language that we will be focusing on the next few weeks.

From the kitchen ... roasted sweet potatoes and carrots with a pork roast for dinner tonight.  I still need to complete my menu for the week before going grocery shopping.

Around the house ... it is starting to look a tiny bit like Christmas!

A few plans for the rest of the week ... dinner with our ladies' group (wMu ~ for any Southern Baptist readers out there) from church tomorrow night ... our home school group's Christmas party on Wednesday ... extra choir rehearsals before our musical on Sunday night ... LB's dance class will be marching in our hometown Christmas Parade on Saturday evening ... and, hopefully we'll find time to squeeze in haircuts for the kids as well.

One of my favorite things ... introducing the kids to new experiences.

A picture to share with you ... a rare, but beautiful sight in Mississippi

Visit Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook for more daybooks to enjoy or to learn how to create your own daybook.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

a weekend to remember

I've never been much for Black Friday shopping, but this past weekend, I did enjoy seeing all the full parking lots as we traveled along the almost empty interstates to reach Atlanta for our time in the processing center for Operation Christmas Child.

The processing center itself was quite exciting to see.  One of the first people to greet us as we came in the door was a young girl named Livia.  She is from the Ukraine (I think, or maybe Romania) and she told us the story of the shoebox she received as a child and how it changed her life.  Few things could underscore the importance of what we were doing like hearing a personal testimony of the power of a simple gift

After a short training session we were placed on the floor under the instruction of one of the red shirted ladies who oversee the process and answer questions and such.  The process is simple.  Each box must be opened and checked for money, then passed off to the next person to be inspected for inappropriate items before being taped and sorted by age and gender and then placed in shipping cartons.

At the insistence of my friend Amy, I spent some time doing each part of the processing.  I suppose it is good to see it from every angle, but I'll just go ahead and tell you that I am no good at the cartonizing end of the process.  Ronnie spent the whole first night doing it and from the looks of this picture, he enjoyed himself ... I can't say the same for my 15 minutes of trying to fit 14 boxes in every carton.  I didn't mind checking for money ~ to me that was the easiest part.  I liked inspecting the boxes except when they were too full and I couldn't get the items returned neatly to the box.  I spent a good bit of time taping the boxes closed. Now that it is all said and done, I'd say that inspecting and taping were my favorite parts of the process.

There are two great benefits that I am claiming for this weekend. 

First, I believe that I will be able to take what I learned from processing the boxes this weekend and use that information to do a better job packing shoeboxes next year.  I know more about what to pack and what not to pack and even got some ideas for things that I have never even thought about packing in a shoebox before this weekend.

The second benefit has nothing to do with the shoeboxes, it has to do with having fun.  It is rare that we get to spend time with our friends from church outside of church time.  I hope we can find more ways to get to know each other better in the future.

Some of the group worked on getting to know each other better by playing cards.  This group seemed to be enjoying themselves while Amy and I watched the games (cards and football).  Normally, I love card games, but I was happy to sit this one out and just relax.

I feel sure that we have begun a new Thanksgiving weekend tradition for our little group.  Hopefully, prayerfully, the group will grow, both in number and in less tangible ways as we serve together. 

Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30th Daybook

Outside my window ... it is gray and rainy. It's fairly warm today, but the colder weather is coming.

I am wearing ... sweats and a t-shirt.

I am hearing ... rain falling.

I am going ... to get the kids today ... our family has been scattered for the last week or so, but today we'll all be back under one roof. Yippee!!

I am noticing that ... I am not nearly as ready for Christmas as everyone around me seems to be.

I am thinking ... that I am going to need to pace myself to catch up on everything this week.

I am hoping ... that the kids won't be too spoiled after having spent a week with grandparents.

I am reading ... the Psalms.

I am remembering ... a wonderful weekend with friends.

I am thankful for ... safe travels and homecomings.

On my mind ... family and friends in need of prayer.

Words that I am pondering ... What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. Psalm 56:3

From the learning rooms ... catching up on Zoology, geography and a book-it report to prepare on thankfulness.

From the kitchen ... who knows?

Around the house ... more catching up to do.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... aside from the catching up I've mentioned, carving out as many moments to enjoy the family being together as possible.

One of my favorite things ... being at home.

A picture thought to share with you ...

Want to join in the daybook fun? Just visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook to find out how.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

another reason to be thankful and why my mother-in-law may never agree to keep her youngest grandson again

I think wish I had a picture of what happened today ... but then again, maybe I don't.

Ronnie and I left the Thanksgiving festivities with his family around 3 this afternoon to head home and get ready for our trip this weekend (see my last post). We had only been gone for about an hour when the phone rang. His mom calling us while we are on the road is not unusual, however, it only took about a minute into this conversation before I knew that something unusual had happened and only about a minute more to realize exactly what that something was.

Let me just tell you at this point - just so you know - Ronnie's mom is terrified of water. Trust me, this will be important later.

As usual, Thanksgiving lunch happened at the home of Ronnie's aunt and uncle. They have a beautiful home on a bayou off of the Back Bay in Gulfport. Today was a lovely day and some of us enjoyed lunch on the porch before the kids headed out to play in the yard. After lunch, the adults headed into the living room for coffee and conversation while the kids played. We could see the kids and even cautioned them a couple of times for playing too near the pool, but even with all of our warnings, D ~ our little hurricane ~ managed to step into the pool. No harm done, just a wet boot and a kid worried that Daddy was going to be mad at him.

Fast forward a couple of hours. Ronnie and I are on the road, having left the kids playing safely in their cousin's room, inside the house. But the beautiful day was too much for the kids and they were allowed to go back outside with the admonition to play in the garage or driveway, but not by the pool.

But, kids will be kids, you know.

So, while the two older kids (ages 8 & 7) watched, my 4 year old tried to use a pool net to rescue a pair of shoes from the pool.

I know ~ you can see where this is going, can't you ...

He managed to save one shoe just before falling in the pool.

Thankfully, the adults were very close and the older kids had the presence of mind to get an adult rather than try to rescue D on their own.

The down side ~ I am sure that we owe Ronnie's uncle a new pair of shoes.

The up side ~ we found out that our little hurricane can tread water.

So, what does a 4 year old say as he is being fished out of a pool on Thanksgiving day? Well, here's what mine said:

I'm okay, I'm okay, Granny ... please don't tell Daddy!

So on this Thanksgiving night, I have something new to be thankful for. No harm done, just a wet, and hopefully forgiving, uncle and a wet kid, still worried that his Daddy is going to be mad at him.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

giving thanks

Many of the blogs I follow have been featuring Thanksgiving related posts and I figured it was time for me to add mine to the list.

I have many more things to be thankful for than I can list in one post, but I think I'll focus on some specific things that are happening (or have happened) this week.

First, we had a wonderful collection week for Operation Christmas Child. We had great fun for a great cause. On Monday I took our final paperwork to our area coordinator. This is one of my favorite parts of collection week. I love getting to talk to the sweet lady who is the coordinator and it is wonderful to see the next step for the boxes. We'll go a step farther later this week, but I'll tell you about that later.

Another great thing about this week is that Ronnie took the entire week off of work. This is very unusual for him, and we have been enjoying hanging out at his mom's house this week. She lives a couple of hours from our house, so it is nice to get away and leave the normal responsibilities at home. Plus, it is nice to get to spend the time with Ronnie, just relaxing.

I am also thankful for a wonderful opportunity that LB has had this week. My parents, along with my oldest brother and his wife took a trip to Montana this week to spend Thanksgiving with my sister-in-law's family and after much, much deliberation, we agreed to allow LB to go with them. I have to admit that it was hard for her Mama and Daddy to say that she could travel completely across the country without us, but we finally decided that we would put aside our fears and give her this special opportunity to spend the time with her grandparents and do something she'll remember all her life. From what we hear, both from LB and from my Mama and Daddy, she is having the time of her life! I'll even add that I am thankful for snow in Montana. LB was so hoping to see real snow (remember, we live in MS) on this trip and she has gotten to see LOTS of it! I can only hope that the adults who are with her are taking lots of pictures of my girl in an element, totally outside of her natural element.

This weekend I am going to get to do something I have been wanting to do for several years and I want to add this to my list of things that make me thankful. Ronnie and I, along with a few other people from our church are headed to Suwanee, GA *best I can tell this is somewhere northeast of Atlanta, but I'm not driving, so it really doesn't matter if I know where it is* to work in a processing center for Operation Christmas Child. I have been taking part in the local end of packing shoeboxes for years now and I am super excited to get to see, and take part in, the next phase of the process. I can't wait to report back next week about the trip this weekend!

Finally, I am thankful for all my family, especially our son who just turned 8 this week. I'll dedicate a whole post to his birthday when I get back home and can load my new pictures on my computer, but for now I'll just say Happy Birthday, JW!

(This is not a new picture, it is just the only one I could find on Granny's computer of just JW)

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

the most wonderful time of the year

No, I am not talking about Christmas, per se.

I am talking about my favorite week of the year. Well, one of my favorite weeks anyway.

This week ~ the week before Thanksgiving ~ is always National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child. I have shared how much I love being involved with this ministry before, but now I want to share how it has impacted my life personally and the life of our church.

For the last five years, our church has been a relay center for OCC. In other words, people can come and drop off their boxes at our church and we will pack them in cartons and send them on to the next location. During these five years we have had the honor of receiving just over 10,000 shoeboxes. This is just a tiny drop in the bucket of the boxes that have been received, but I am so thankful that God has allowed us to be a small part of this process. We have been given the opportunity to add our prayers to the many others for each box. And we know that each box represents at least one (but probably many more) opportunity for the Gospel of Jesus to be shared with a child (and his or her family).

Just knowing that a child may be reached for Jesus is enough to keep us working each year to help as much as we can with this project. What an honor to be allowed to participate in this process.

I don't know exactly how to share with you what happens during collection week. I find that I am blessed by this week more than I can express. Perhaps it is because we know that we are part of something "bigger than ourselves" as our pastor mentioned the other night. I know that is true, but I also know that a large part of the blessing, for me anyway, comes from something that I believe is one of the most important functions of a true New Testament church ~ fellowship.

I know that in the Southern Baptist Church fellowship begins with a capital letter and generally involves casseroles. This kind of fellowship is great and we are pretty good at them in our church.

However, in this case I am talking about the kind of fellowship that goes deeper and truly impacts our lives. During these few hours, one week a year, I get a glimpse into the lives of the ladies who volunteer. I see their heart for hurting children that they will never meet. I hear them pray for those children and for those who have packed boxes and delivered them to us. I hear these ladies (and some men, too!) laugh and joke with each other. I see them willingly take extra time packing a carton so that they can let my children be a part of the process and learn how to serve. I see them welcome new people who come to volunteer from other churches and make them feel at home in ours. I see their love for God expressed in more ways than I can count.
I see all these things, and I am blessed beyond measure.

The ministry of Operation Christmas Child is only one of the many things that I am thankful for during this season of the year. I am often amazed that God has allowed me to be a part of this ministry. I started out hoping to be a blessing to someone else, but the truth is that God has blessed me more than I can ever hope to give.

Isn't God good?

Friday, November 13, 2009

D's prayer

Let me first tell you that I love to listen to my children pray. Typically, their prayers are so much more simple and straight-forward than my own. They simply lay out what is on their mind and heart, with little reservation. I think I could learn a lesson from them.

Sometimes though, I will admit to having to stifle a giggle as I listen to them pray.

Especially D. Keep in mind, he did just turn 4.

Tonight was one of those times. Here is a rough transcript of his prayer.

Thank you for today. Thank you for S. and thank you for Mr. Brad and for him being a knot-head and for Mrs. Amy ...

I'm not really sure what he said after that, I was too busy trying not to giggle.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

it is official and I am thankful

At least I am trying to be.

After watching my middle child, who was laying on my bed, moan every time he moved his head, I decided that a trip to the doctor just might be in order. The nurse agreed.

The plan was just to take JW in an attempt to keep the other two from being exposed to anything that they didn't already have. I had planned for their Daddy to stay home with them ('cause who wants to dress 2 children if you don't have to), but Ronnie's good sense prevailed and we all went ~ modifying the plan to them staying in the van while I went into the office with JW. After a surprisingly short wait, we saw Dr. M. We like her, but she isn't our regular doctor and I am still getting used to her.

The verdict? A double whammie (the dr's words) ~ strep and the flu.

The next step? A shot for the strep and tamiflu. And then the question, what about the 4 year old waiting in the van with the same symptoms (minus the headache)?

I knew the answer before I asked the question.
But the good news is that he only has the flu.

So, why am I thankful that my kids are sick?
1st ~ I am thankful that my children are generally healthy and that they aren't really sick.
2nd ~ I am thankful that they all got sick at basically the same time, instead of spreading it out over several days or weeks.
3rd ~ I am thankful that they got sick this week instead of next week.

But, I'll have to tell you about that later.


It all started with a headache on Monday. Now it is Thursday and we are still under a self imposed quarantine. I cannot tell you exactly what is wrong, because I haven't actually seen a doctor, but the best guess of my best friend is the flu. I probably should mention here that my friend is a pediatric nurse who has spent several years working triage for a local children's clinic. She is almost always my first call when any of my children are sick. She is the one who then advises on whether or not I should take the kids on to the doctor or just wait out whatever is going on and fusses at me if I don't call her immediately when I realize someone is sick.

She is a very convenient friend ... and since we have been friends for more than 25 of our 35 years, trust is not an issue.

Okay, back to the story.

This whole mess started with LB having a headache on Monday. Not much to be alarmed about. I gave her a dose of Tylenol and we went on about our business. Tuesday morning she woke up before 8:00 (which is unheard of in our house, for a child at least) and I soon realized that she was running fever. Great. Tuesday's are our busiest days around here. We have speech for JW in the morning and LB has dance in the afternoon and, on this particular Tuesday, we were supposed to be having supper at my parents' house to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday.

The hardest part of the day was when LB realized that she couldn't go to dance. She is in her 6th year of taking dance and this is the first class she has ever missed! She cried, both because she absolutely loves to dance and because she would miss any new steps that they would learn that day and that meant that Mrs. Gerry (her beloved teacher) would have to re-teach the new steps next week, just for her. And to be honest, she was also a little sad that she wouldn't be recognized at the recital for perfect attendance. I think she'll survive the disappointment.

My only fear in not taking them to the doctor is that whatever has come to visit our family is not the H1N1 virus. You see, this flu, at least among the children I have known to have it, has been pretty mild and there has been little need to treat it. But in the back of my mind, I keep thinking that they could have strep or some other infection that would require treatment to get better. So, I guess today will be decision day.

So what do I hate most about the kids being sick (other than them being sick in the 1st place)?
1. They watched enough PBS Kids yesterday to turn any brain to mush.
2. By last night they were bored, so they decided fighting was the answer.
3. The four of us had to miss church last night. Maybe I'll blog one day about why I love Wednesday nights at our church so much and then maybe you'll understand why I hate missing so much.

Today will be the day to pull out the big guns to fight the boredom. Maybe I'll run to Dollar General and get them a new game ... or maybe we'll just go ahead and have school. Whatever we do, I am sure that by the time Ronnie gets home tonight I'll be looking for an escape.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

finally 4 ~ better late than never

I can only hope that since he can't read yet and thinks that the best use of a computer is to play his bunny game, maybe my youngest son will forgive me for being more than a week late announcing his birthday.

On October 20, 2005, a tiny Hurricane was born via a scheduled c-section. He was the biggest of my babies and had by far given me the hardest time while I was expecting him. In his defense though, much of what made my pregnancy with D so difficult had little to do with him ... 2005 was a turbulent year for our family all around, but all mommies know that once you hold that tiny baby in your arms, any difficulties seem to fade to a distant memory rather quickly.

This little guy was welcomed by his two older siblings with great eagerness. His sister saw a live doll to play with and his brother was excited because everyone else was excited, so surely his arrival must be a good thing.

With the exception of only having a one kidney, D was a healthy baby ... at least until he was about 24 hours old and the nurses began to notice that his breathing was labored and some other issues that I honestly can't remember. They began to run tests and discovered an elevated c-reactive protein (at least I think that was what it was called) which could indicate the presence of some sort of infection. Before I could really grasp what was happening, the nurses removed my child from my care and whisked him off to the NICU. I'll spare you the gory details of how incredibly upset I was. Suffice it to say that I was inconsolable. While I am sure that he received adequate care in the NICU, I hated every moment he was there. Fortunately, his stay was relatively short lived and by the time he was a week old he was home with us.

If I wasn't too lazy to find them, I could show you his newborn pictures, but instead here are some from when he was about 18 months (when we got our 1st digital camera!).

D was our only child to use a pacifier. I tried with LB, but she wouldn't take one. He got hooked on the vanilla scented ones they used in the NICU, but these were the only ones he would take after we came home. Unfortunately, they were bulb shaped ~ I feel sure that there will be orthodontic work in his future because of these.

This child was born a dare-devil. He pulled up to the ottoman before he could crawl and was climbing on and off of furniture before he was 9 months old. His daddy had to lower the mattress on his crib very early because he would climb out of it. By his first birthday, I had a hard time corralling him anywhere. It was around this time that my mom gave him the nickname The Hurricane, I think because it was so hard to stop him when he put his mind to doing something. I am sure that this will be a very useful trait ... someday!

Did I mention that he isn't afraid of anything? This was D somewhere close to 18 months standing on the top bunk, looking for all the world like he was thinking about jumping ... and by the time he was 2 he had done just that!

Now this little guy is leaving behind the toddler years and is heading full speed into preschool. He told me this week that he wants to learn to read ... wow! I wasn't quite ready for that, but here we go. His favorite things include cars, construction vehicles and trains ... specifically, Thomas the train ... mostly he loves anything he can make go! He also likes Curious George ... which is pretty fitting. So now, without further ado ...

Welcome to 4 years old, my little man ... you finally made it!
D and his best friend S (aka: Poptart) at his party

This is how he spent his birthday ... a hayride, seeing animals, a maze of hay bales, and getting to choose his own pumpkin, all followed by a picnic. I'd say that's a pretty good day, if your 4!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Daybook for October 12, 2009

Outside my window ...
it is cloudy and much cooler and supposed to rain all week. Fall must be floating in this year!

I am wearing ...
sweats and a t-shirt.

I am hearing ...
music coming from JW's CD player ...
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.

I am going ...
hopefully to pick up JW's new glasses.

I am thinking that ...
I really should have carved out some time for school planning this weekend. I'll have to work it in while the kids are doing chores.

I am hoping ...
that the rain will end soon so the kids can get outside and play. We all get a little crazy when they are cooped up in the house.

I am reading ...
Song of the Silent Harp by B.J. Hoff. The first of the Emerald Ballad series about the Irish immigration to America during the potato famine. I've read the series before, but am enjoying reading them again. I love to read historical fiction

I am remembering ...
the very challenging sermon we heard at church last night.

I am thankful for ...
the arrival of fall weather ... even with the rain.

On my mind ...
a friend who is having surgery this week and my daddy who will be starting physical therapy for his shoulder.

Words that I am pondering ...
No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. Luke 11:33

From the learning rooms ...
today we will review last week's science lesson do the note booking for it. We will also begin Tree in the Trail ... the new geography book for co-op.

From the kitchen ...
I need to make English muffins and bread today. Baked fish is on the menu for tonight and I'm planning on making soup at least once this week since the weather is turning cooler.

Around the house ...
lots of cleaning and laundry. It is also time to find the kids' clothes I put up from last winter and see what still fits and what we will need to replace.

A few plans for the rest of the week ...
the usual stuff, plus picking up JW's glasses, a trip to the library and two birthday parties this weekend ~ one for LB's friend and one for my Mom.

One of my favorite things ...

A picture to share with you ...
these pictures were taken several years apart ... the ones of JW were taken either just before D was born, or while he was still in a crib, since it is before the boys began sharing the bunk beds. We took the ones of D just the other night. I thought they were cute and wanted to share them today. I had completely forgotten about the ones of JW until I was browsing my pictures this morning ... amazing that the boys both played this little game and that they both chose the yellow drawer to do it in. And yes, D is really asleep in the last picture. I took the pic just before Ronnie took him out of the box for the night.

Please visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more daybooks or to join in the fun!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Afternoon Tea

Thanks to my friend, Stacey, I finally have pictures to share from LB's tea party. Not only did my girl have a great time at her party, she now has a new hobby. She fell in love with her paper dolls and has spent hours playing with them since the party.

To get ready for the party, LB and I, with the help of my mom and sister-in-law, cut out a paper doll for each girl and tons of outfits for the girls to use as templates for their own designs. LB and I went to Hobby Lobby and picked out bunches of scrap booking paper for the girls to use for their doll's clothes. All the girls seemed to like the idea and worked hard to get just the right look for their dolls. We had doll hair for the girls to use, though it was pretty hard for them to work with, they still thought it was fun.

Of course, what would a tea party be without tea? Well, still a party apparently. We did serve tea, but it was just good old sweet iced tea. We are southern girls after all. Besides the tea, we also had pink lemonade, fruit, finger sandwiches, Danish wedding cookies (LB's favorite!) and some beautiful petit fours.

It is fortunate that we don't do big, themed parties every year for our kids, because I don't know what I could do to top this one for LB. I guess I have a couple of years to come up with a plan for the next big milestone ... of course, then she'll be a teenager, hmmm, I don't think I'll dwell on that today!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

controlled burn

Today, the kids and I went to the MS State Fire Academy with our home school group. Apparently, little ole' Mississippi has one of the premier fire academies in the country. People come from all over the US, from US territories and even from other countries to train here at our fire academy. Pretty amazing for a little state like us.

Fire is fascinating and it is fun to watch when you know that what you are seeing is being done for training purposes. We were able to see some members the Memphis Fire Department taking a refresher course in airport fire protection. The gentleman conducting the tour, who is an instructor at the academy, told us that firefighters who work within a certain proximity to any airport have to take one of these courses each year to maintain their certification. This means that we got to see the firemen set fire to an airplane and put out said fire 3 times. I am guessing that we were about 100 yards from the fire, but we could feel enough of the radiant heat within seconds to force my children to step back. I figure that it is a good object lesson for the kids ... I don't mind them enjoying seeing the men put the fire out, but I don't want them to want to get close to it.
Here are a few of the pictures I took of the day:

There is a plane under there somewhere

You get a little bit of perspective on how big this fire is when you look at the size of the firefighters in the picture.

The kids' reaction to the fire

As close as I could get to capturing all three kids cooperating for a picture.

JW with Sparky the fire dog ... last time we went he didn't want to get anywhere near Sparky, today, he asked me to take his picture with him.

All in all, it was a good day ... the weather was perfect, the kids behaved well and maybe even learned something, not bad for a Tuesday morning.