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.