Thursday, December 30, 2010

Farewell 2010

I hope that those of you reading this blog have had a prosperous year and a blessed Holiday season. I stole an idea last year to recap 2009 and I like it so I'm doing it again.

January was cold, colder, and coldest. I don't remember it ever being so cold for so long. Our year started out inside, well most of it. Donnie and his brother did get to go see the Gamecocks play in a bowl game but they froze and the Cocks lost so I'm pretty sure that wasn't money well spent.

February was birthday month. Hannah entered the double digits and we were able to celebrate with friends and family. We also pulled off a surprise party for my mother in law who didn't expect everyone to be there for her. We also took a trip to see my dad and stepmom and were there for a wonderful snowstorm .

In March we completed a home improvement project that was long overdue and we have enjoyed that immensely. Hannah and Corey finished up the nine weeks with science projects and we enjoyed a nice 3 week break.

April brought Easter and a fun family gathering with an Easter egg hunt followed by an Easter egg fight and of course, singing. We sat around in my mother in law's front yard and enjoyed each other's company for hours. It was a beautiful, perfect afternoon. I will never forget that, because 2 weeks later we faced the tragedy of losing my brother in law. His death was hard on so many levels, to process that someone so full of life could be gone so quickly is still beyond my comprehension. I know many of you prayed for us through that and I realize more and more that prayer is no small task in a situation like that. For that I am grateful to you all.

May was a big month for Allie. She celebrated her 5th birthday and graduated from preschool in pirate fashion.

In June,Hannah and Corey finished up their school year. Hannah played the lead role as Stuart in Stuart Little in their school play. As soon as school was out we enjoyed a trip to Charleston with my inlaws (I think we actually squealed tires leaving car line that day). By the time we got home it was basically too hot to breathe, and I am thankful for year round school because we only had a few weeks of trying to find some cool entertainment.

In July the kids were back to school and Allie started with them. She was proud to start K5 and I managed not to cry as I left her - barely. I have enjoyed my time with Jon Tyler, but I'm not sure he enjoys playing with me as much as them. Corey celebrated turning 8 with a family party.

For August I have little to report. Hannah and Corey participated in the Little Theater's performance of a Kidsummer Night's Dream. It was a cute spin on Shakespeare's play. I was really proud of both of them. I was impressed that Corey stepped out and did something different.

September brought fall break for the kids and our trip to the beach. I absolutely loved the beach this time of year. It was perfect weather, not too hot, not too cold. We had some friends there at the same time we were there and we really enjoyed getting together with them and walking a mile down the beach to get ice cream. A whole mile. Really. The bright side is I'm sure I walked off all my ice cream. Jon Tyler also turned 2. We had a great time celebrating his and his papaw's birthday since they are a week apart.

In October Donnie and I celebrated our 14th anniversary. We had a nice date at Frankie's Fun Park, rode the go karts without having to figure out what kid was riding with which parent and played a round of put put. We also got the best present any parent could wish for when Hannah and Corey asked Jesus into their hearts and were baptized on Halloween. We had a great time celebrating that!

November began the typical holiday stuff, which I love. Donnie celebrated his birthday on Veteran's Day (which means he gets his birthday off). We enjoyed Thanksgiving at my sister in law's and followed up with some Black Friday shopping, of course. If anything else significant happened during November I have since forgotten it due to the whirlwind of the holidays.

This month has been a busy one as well. My father-in-law had aortic valve replacement on the 8th and is recovering well. He is ready to be "back at it" but isn't quite up for a marathon. Prior to surgery he was in excellent physical shape so I'm sure he will be up and about again soon. He was home in time for Christmas which was the best present any of us hoped for. Our kids had fun hosting a birthday party for Baby Jesus to celebrate with their friends the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior. We had our typical family celebration on Christmas Eve and enjoyed time with my family on Christmas day and the day after. It was a nice holiday season.

As for 2011, I pray that it will be a blessed year for you all. For those of you we see often, we treasure you and for those of you we haven't seen in years, we hope you know you are never far from our thoughts and our memories.

Monday, November 22, 2010

TV Timeout

For a while now, my children have been struggling with listening and I've felt like if my face had a screen on it, they might actually listen to me. Then about 2 weeks ago I was watching "19 Kids and Counting" and Michelle Duggar said something that really hit home. She was talking about the character qualities she tries to teach her children early on and one of them was attentiveness. It was a lightbulb moment for me. I really mulled that thought over all day the next day. I decided my kids needed screen restriction, meaning they had to give up anything that had a screen (TV, computer, DS...). Their inattentiveness is partly my fault for allowing them to use those things too much anyway, and this was a pretty big step considering how much time they spend watching TV and playing games. I have to say that we are making baby steps. Maybe I expect too much (although I don't really think so, I just said that in case you think I expect too much) but I see no reason why I should even have to tell an 8 and 10 year old to pick up their clothes and toys. I think they know I expect that and have chosen not to do it. I shouldn't come into their room in constant disarray. They keep asking when they will get the screens back and my thoughts are that I hope we will never go back to the way we were. They have been allowed special privileges, such as watching a movie or ballgame together and this weekend they were allowed some computer and TV time. I think it makes for more meaningful time if we all watch together and they aren't mindless surfing the web if they have to ask permission to use it. In the meantime, here are some things I have caught them doing instead.

Card making - Hannah did this one on her own.

Corey and Allie have traded their screen addiction for Lego addiction.

Corey has completed (almost) Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself.

And most importantly, they are spending time together.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The List

About 2 weeks ago, Jon Tyler went for his 2 year old well child visit. Yes, I am little behind, but what's new? He weighed a whopping 24.6 pounds and is 33 3/4 inches tall and yes, he still has a big head. He is supposed to be speaking between 30 and 50 words, but with 5 other talkers in this house, he has trouble getting in any words. Plus we know what he wants so if he points and grunts, we get it for him. His pediatrician wants him up to 30 words within 2 months or they may consider starting him in speech therapy. I am not freaking out or anything because I feel pretty confident that he hears well since he does pretty much the opposite of what we tell him. ("Stand right here," and he takes off, etc.) Only kidding. He is actually pretty obedient and he follows directions without arguing, which is more than I can say for the rest of them. I have started a list and we're up to about 25 so I think 30 is a reachable goal. It's funny how much the older kids pay attention to when he says something now, though, so we can add words to the list. He's even thrown in a few 2 word phrases, "Go Cocks" and "Watch chugachoos." What more does he need in his life right now?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I have a confession to make. For years I've been a time change hater. I do NOT like it being dark by 6:00. Evening became my favorite time of day way back when I worked at Bonnie Doone as a camp counselor. My family and I spend lots of evenings outside playing or taking walks, so every year when the time changes, it depresses me. Until this year. I mastered the whole time change mental game. Instead of setting our clocks back at bedtime on Saturday, I waited until we were all up on Sunday morning. Then when Jon Tyler woke up and my clock said 7:00 instead of 6:00, I just wasn't as ill. Plus when I set the clocks back on Sunday morning, we had an extra hour to get ready for church. We still made it in the parking lot on 2 wheels at 10:28, but that is beside the point. I have noticed some nice benefits to the earlier time. For one, everyone seems to get up easier. For the past two mornings, the 3 school kids have been up when I got up. Another thing that is working really well is bedtime. It seems calmer because everyone has to stay in after supper. So we get homework done, get everyone bathed, and have time to sit down together. (OK,so watching Billy the Exterminator extract a dead and rotting cat doesn't exactly count as quality time, but we were together.) So even though I miss our nice "outside" time from April to October, I think we can have some nice "inside" time during this time change. I'm going to try to make the best of it anyway!

Of course, as my friend Margaret pointed out, I have missed 2 appointments in 2 days, so maybe this whole thing has adversely affected me more than I realize. But we'll see.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I am really ashamed that I have not posted this sooner because it is the most awesome thing a parent can hope for. Last Sunday Hannah & Corey both were baptized after asking Jesus into their heart on October 25, the Monday before. Several years ago our pastor started a really cool thing where he will allow other people to baptize besides himself so Donnie got to baptize his own children. I absolutely love that! My kids did too and were adamant that he get to do it. Here is the video of their baptism for you all to enjoy. You will probably have to turn the volume way up, but I just had to share this.

Hannah has been asking questions off and on for several years now about getting saved. We kept telling her that we wanted her to wait until she was a little older so we would know that she understood. (This, by the way, is a personal preference and is just what we felt was right.) Monday night she finally got to asking again and was insistent that she get to ask Jesus into her heart. We had a big evangelistic push this year for our Fall Festival and her words to us were, "How am I supposed to tell everyone how great it is if I haven't done it myself?" Yes, she blows us away sometimes. As we ask her about what it means to have that relationship, she answered our questions and as she was answering, so was Corey. We just really felt like he understood and was ready so we prayed with both of them. I have to say it was an incredible experience to watch my children being born into the kingom! What an amazing God we serve!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Things That Blessed My Heart Today

Listening to my 8 year old sing his heart out with "Jesus, Jesus, at your feet. Oh, to dwell and never leave. Jesus, Jesus at your feet. There is nowhere else for me..."

Watching my 2 year old beckon for his big brother to follow him around at the park and seeing them slide together.

Cooking hotdogs and marshmallows over a bonfire on a real stick.

Hearing a lot of great memories of an incredible, Godly man who impacted countless people. Jay Harvey, we miss you and love you...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Photo Friday: Fourth Children Really Do Have To Do Everything for Themselves

Well, since I missed Wordless Wednesday with this one I am creating Photo Friday. That way I don't have to be wordless, too, because this deserves a brief explanation.
The other night I heard water running in the bathroom and since Jon Tyler was MIA, I figured it best to investigate. As I thought he was the culprit. He had taken off his clothes and was brushing his teeth. When Hannah and Corey were that age that independence would never have occurred to them. God bless them for that, because if it had my younger two may not be here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Birthday Boy!!

Jonathan Tyler was born
On September 19, weighing
Nearly 9 pounds - 8 lb 14 oz and he was
Tall, at 22 inches. Now he is 2
Years old and this is hard to believe. He is full of
Life and love and
Energy. He is our special boy and we are
Really glad God blessed us with him!

Even though his "party" isn't til next weekend, we had cupcakes. He was a pro at blowing out his candles and had them out before we even finished Happy Birthday!

Curious George is one of his favorites!

He got to open his present from his brother and sisters.

He loved it and played with it for a LONG time!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tracy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Today was just one of those days. There were no flat tires, fender benders or broken bones. But every little thing that could have gone wrong - did. One can only take so many little incidents until they come UNGLUED!

To begin with I overflowed the washing machine. It does this funky thing where it leaks all over the floor if you change load capacity in mid stream. We can't find any possible place where if leaks from, you just walk in and - voila - there's water everywhere. Today it got all the way to the computer room before I found it. As I was cleaning it up, Jon Tyler came running along and did a wipeout.

I was waiting for the phone company to come change my internet from cable to DSL. They were supposed to be here between 8:15 and 9:25, per the "customer service" rep in the office last week. Well, they called at 9:50 to schedule my job. What?!?! So I missed my kids Patriot Day program all because of waiting on them. I am not happy about that.

CVS was sold out of the netbook I wanted to buy and probably won't get more in.

I had to pick Hannah up from school early because she has a stomach ache. Turns out it was anxiety. That is a different story and all I will say on here is I might have to go "red" on some folks. My mama bear claws are coming out.

My printer quit printing. The stupid "printer cannot communicate with the computer" thing. Restarting did not work. Guess I will reinstall it now. I would have done it during nap time if I didn't spend most of nap time trying to find the installation disk.

I got crossed up with my car line buddy, my son is mad at me for not picking him up when I picked Hannah up. He "oooed" at her, which has become a major sin in my house. So his punishment was no TobyMac music for the day. (Don't laugh, it is a very appropriate punishment considering his obsession.) And on the way home I forgot to stop at the post office as I drove RIGHT BY IT. So I had to go back before I could go home.

My 5 year old decided to draw a nearly life size self portrait. On her bedroom wall. In crayon. I spanked her. Hard. Her cousin watched her do it.

For those who hung in there til the end of this, I commend you. I have no profound thought, no light at the end of the tunnel thought for tonight. I have a dirty kitchen and 4 loads of laundry to fold. Oh, wait, tomorrow's Friday and 3 days til we leave for the beach. I lied - there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Few Funnies

I have been meaning to post these for QUITE some time and just now remembered. These are things my kids have said, specifically the "middletons" as I call them - that's what happens when you have 2 middle children.

Me to Corey: Why didn't you eat your oranges at lunch?
Corey: I couldn't get 'em opened so I just skipped ahead to cookies.

Allie: When I grow up I wanna be Joker's wife

Allie: (playing superheroes with Corey) OH NO! I GOT A BOMB ON MY BUTT!!!"

Lastly, (and this one scares me the most)
Corey: Mom, When I grow up, will you pay my bills?
Me: No, son, you'll get a job and make money to pay your own bills.
Corey: But I wanna spend my money on other stuff, like video games.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Circus Update

No, the circus has not packed up and left town. The ringmaster (that being me) has not had taken the time to blog AT ALL. I'm not even sure I know where to begin at this point. Maybe I should work in reverse order.

We are just coming off of Hannah and Corey's performance with the little theater. They do a children's workshop in town every year and this year was Hannah's 2nd and Corey's 1st. They have been practicing since June and ended their workshop with "A KidSummer Night's Dream." It was one of my favorite plays they've been in, truly funny! I will *try* to post some video clips, if that is not technologically too far over my head.

School is going well. Hannah likes her teacher, even though she thought he was going to be scary. Corey is tolerating the time, so far. I just don't know what else to say about that, except that I am genuinely praying that he will start to like school. If you think about it, join me in that one. Allie loves it. She is the social butterfly of the class, and anytime I join them for lunch, she is talking up a storm. They use a little trick called hug and bubble. They are supposed to wrap their arms around themselves and puff out their cheeks to remind them to be quiet when walking in the halls. (Hence they can't hit/touch anyone if they are hugging themselves and can't talk with their cheeks all puffed out.) My cousin and good friend teaches there and let's just say she told me there ain't much bubblin' goin' on.

I am enjoying my days, to be honest. I love the time I get to spend with Jon Tyler and I love that he still naps in the afternoon. It is very different around here, though. Whenever the others went off to preschool, the one behind them was already talking. Jon Tyler is not a talker, at least not too much. The quiet is weird. Refreshing, but weird. You would think I could blog daily and I probably could, if I had enough fun and exciting stuff going on, but I have taken up a few new hobbies, or I should say, resumed old ones. Plus I am trying to use my times when Jon Tyler is asleep wisely. That only happens a little, though. Back at the first of the year, I picked my scrapbooking stuff back up and began to work on a scrapbook of our year. I thought if I started with the new year, I could keep up. How could I have been so foolish? I am up to Easter, so far. It is nearly September. I need to pick up the pace, but scrapbooking led to another hobby - card making. So you see, I am just a woman of too many hobbies. I wish I could teach myself to live without sleep. (only kidding. maybe.)

I will try to do better about updating. Of course, I say that all the time. My kids say little things that I think I should blog, but I don't take the time. I am sorry for disappointing all 5 of you. Til next time...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Birthday Boy

C - creative story teller
O - obsessive about his toys
R - really into Karate Kid, silly bandz, and TobyMac
E - eager to make others laugh
Y - young age of 8 today!

Happy Birthday to my precious son!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

First Day of School

As many of you may know, my children attend a year round school and yesterday was the first day back. It was also Allie's first day of kindergarten (sniff). I can't believe my baby girl is already in school or that my big girl is in her last year of elementary school (sniff, sniff, sob). They all had good first days, are happy with their teacher and seem very happy with school, (except Corey because he doesn't associate the words very happy and school in the same sentence, but he at least likes his teacher). Here are the ever famous first day shots by the back door.

(an after shot)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Just an Observation

I hope that my youngest child's obsession with doing this EVERY day means he is going to love reading.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Typical Saturday Morning

This is my yard sale buddy. We have been going since he was probably 2, if that old, because he is an early riser (I swear, he is in farmer training) and he couldn't stay quiet so we'd go yard sale-ing. One day when he was almost 4, I left him at home because he was still asleep (gasp) and I was up and ready to go. I went to one yard sale and came back because I needed something. I opened the door and standing 6 feet inside was my son, bawling his eyes out. I have never again left him home while I went out. This morning he told me all about the movie he saw with his friend yesterday. Some days he makes up stories while we ride, and some days he spends most of his times making sound effects. But I have come to treasure these times, and I hope he has fond memories of this when he grows up.

These are our treasures for the day. I hit the jackpot for Jon Tyler some fall/winter clothes. Love it when that happens.

After we yard sale I come home and make breakfast. We look forward to this time every week, when we can all eat together.

And this is after breakfast entertainment. Yes the little one is not really playing; he is rehearsing for the future. What can I say? Boys will be boys.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Momma Brag

We have been busy wrapping up the school year and preparing for a mini vacation, so I haven't had much time to catch up on everyone. Here is a brief synopsis of how bright my kids are (how's that for a momma's point of view?).

Corey - Sometimes I fear Corey gets overlooked, because although he is bright and does well in school, he could really care less. School gets in the way of his play time. I have seen tremendous growth in him this year, and I am thankful that his teacher was patient with him and challenged him all at once. He received a Math Achievement Award, Reading Achievement Award, and Good Writer Award. I am so proud of his academics for this year. He got E's and one S on his report card. He did a great job!

Hannah - Hannah finished out the year with a bang! She got the leading role of Stuart in the play Stuart Little at school. They have been practicing this for the last nine weeks and her performance was the week before school was out. More pics to follow. She won the science fair for 4th grade also for her project about hula hooping. She ended the year with a good report card too!

Jon Tyler - This little guy is now sleeping all night. Finally. And more recently, he has slept in his crib, in his room! I asked his pediatrician about his not sleeping and she recommended the old cry it out method. Thank God we didn't have to resort to this. One night he kept waking up and out of desperation, we just kept firmly telling him to lay back down. Amazingly this worked and after abour 3 nights of that, he was sleeping all night. He is also done with the bottle!! Note the sippy cup waiting on him in the picture. It's his favorite - Toy Story and even though it has Woody on it, he says "uzz" (Buzz) everytime he gets it. He is talking a lot more too. Some of his new additions beside uzz are DaDa, Uh-Oh, Co-co (I think this is for Corey) and Copper (my friend's dog, but he calls every dog Copper). I am amazed when he comes up with a new one, so much that I sometimes miss it. The other day he kept saying "cacka, cacka" over and over. He must've said it 5 times before I realized he wanted another cracker.

Allie - This little stinker has been out of school for a few weeks. They ended the year with pirates and field day. Since then she has been my little helper and sidekick. She has helped in the garden, kept up with her little brother and done lots of household chores with me. She is anxiously awaiting the start of kindergarten, and I am not.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Too Stinkin' Cute (no pun intended)

New diapers!

I think my bacon just got burnt.

My kids love to tell each other that. I'm afraid it might just be a local thing, knowing our town the way I do. At any rate, today I had my nephew during lunch. He is not picky unlike some I know so I offered him some pineapple with his Spaghetti Os. Here is the conversation that followed.

Rayden: Allie, it's pineapple. It tastes good.
Allie: No, I don't like it.
Rayden: I do.
Allie: It tastes like casserole.

Guess what we had the night before for supper. You got it - casserole. I know a slam on my cooking when I hear one. Yep, my bacon got burnt.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The End of an (Preschool) Era

Allie is officially through with preschool. Her last day was today, and they had field day, which involved a bunch of water games. Last Friday was their end of the year program where they did a pirate themed program. It was adorable! They sang songs and had centers set up around the room to show what they'd learned throughout the year. At the end they gave each child an "award" which was their teacher's prediction of what they would be when they grew up. Allie was most likely to be a C.E.O. I think it fits.

Pirate cousins Allie and Rayden posed for a picture before the program. There is a lot of love between these two.

One of the books they read was an alphabet story. Rayden is the "R" and Allie is "X" marks the spot.

Afterward they had some outdoor activities for the kids to enjoy, s'mores, a jumpy castle, treasure hunting, tatoos, among other stuff. Everybody really enjoyed themselves. Jon Tyler even got a complimentary eye patch.

I can't believe how quickly the year has passed and how much she has learned and grown in this year. She can write all her letters and Corey is teaching her to add. She got along so well with her classmates and had a year long crush on James. Only two short months until she starts kindergarten. Her orientation was Tuesday and thankfully she knew enough kids from preschool to make her feel comfortable. She was worried about missing her friends, but I know she will settle in to her new environment quickly. I'm just glad we have 2 months to enjoy no school.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hope He Grows Into His Head

Jon Tyler had his 18 month check up today (he is 20 months old, so we are a few months behind. no big). I took him to our new doctor. He was the same as Allie in that he is 25th percentile in height at 32 1/4 inches and 10th percentile in weight at 23.4 pounds. He is in the 75th percentile, however, in head circumference. The doctor (nurse practioner, but whatever) actually laughed when she told me that. I hope he grows into that head. I suppose he will. I have always thought he had a pretty head, and today's visit doesn't change that. Besides, he needs room for all his "smarts", or at least for all that scheming. He had 3 shots, as we somehow got behind in that as well. Poor 4th child. He was a little upset screamed bloody murder over the shots. All the way out of the office. And into the car. And down the street to Walgreens. He then quieted to a grumble through Walgreen's. He seemed irritated by the bandaids, though so I took them off and he was much happier. I did leave one on while we went in KMart and he entertained the people behind us by pulling up his shorts and showing it off. I won't mention any names, but a certain much older sister of his has to tell us all of her ailments and I think he might be following suit in the melodrama. Thankfully he is a happy and healthy little guy - big head and all.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Check Up

Allie had her five year old check up today. I've been saying for months that I was going to change pediatricians. After months of sitting in our current office feeling like I was in a clinic or better yet, a MASH unit, I bit the bullet. The office where I decided to move to is actually one that Hannah went to as an infant. They have now moved to a super fancy office and I suppose I will be helping them pay for that building. It is a worthy investment, however. When I walked in, there was a spacious waiting room and the concept of well child room was actually in place. At my old pediatrician, the well child room is the room all the sick people sit in when the sick people room fills up. I literally cringed going in there, dared my children to touch anything and bathed when we got home. My new pediatrician had me arrive 30 minutes early to complete paperwork. You must be thinking that people write really slow around here. Quite the contrary, the amount of paperwork is ungodly, completely insane. I brought the other 3 kids' paperwork home so I could do in peace and quiet front of TV. Enough rambling.

Allie was in true form and talked openly and candidly to the doctor, with complete animation. She told about her brother and his shenanigans, about our trampoline (I was hoping she'd leave that one off as doctors frown on these things), and a number of other ramblings (don't know where she got that from). She even informed the doctor that she could lick her armpit and proceeded to try a demonstration. I would say I was mortally embarrassed, but I was laughing too hard. She did great on her vision screening. When she couldn't see the bottom line, she leaned over, cupped her hand and whispered, "What is dat??" We hit somewhat of a snag,too, with the whole finger prick thing, which caused a total freak out. SO glad that nurse could snip it in a hurry. She was all of 41 inches tall and 34.6 pounds. That is the 25th and 10th percentile, respectively, which I think is nuts. I would be afraid of that going to kindergarten but she's had 5 years of training by her older brother and can hold her own pretty well. She talks a good game, too, and I think I'd be scared of her if I was in kindergarten. I guess she will follow suit as one of the shortest in the class, a trait my older two hate.

So to recap...Allie had a good visit, is small, and I like my new pediatrician. Yeah, I coulda said that to start with and saved you the trouble.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not so wordless Wednesday ~ Healing

This picture makes my heart happy. These are two of my nieces being their silly selves. They are also two whose father died recently. The one holding the pink guitar has been pursuing a music career for several years and the girl's got talent. They both do, along with their younger sister, but this one is passionate about it. It is in her blood. She has competed in and placed in several music competitions, including winning the American Idol Experience last year at Disney. Let's just say she's awesome.

The week of her father's death, she said she'd never play and sing again, which would have been the second great tragedy in this situation. My prayer for her was that God would draw her back to it, that she couldn't not sing, and that is need be, she would pick up her guitar without even realizing she'd done it. God has answered that prayer. Already in the past three weeks, she's been invited to sing at another Christian music competition. (That means I'm not just being partial.) She has also recorded several songs on a CD for this contest, including one she wrote.

I have changed my prayer. Now I am praying that what this world lost in the talent of her father, God would increase one hundred-fold in her. I can't wait to see Him answer that one.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Good Neighbors

Growing up I had limited experience with neighbors, at least those not related to me. We lived in the country so neighbors were not close by, not like I have now. When I was in high school we moved but I never had a connection with the people who were our neighbors. Donnie and I were married 11 years and 1 week before we moved into our house and not once in those 11 years 1 week did we have sane neighbors on both sides. When we first married our neighbor was a drug dealer, when we moved to Chester the lady who shared our duplex was certifiably crazy and when we bought our first house, our neighbors were yard nazis. I say all this to tell you that it took us 11 years and 1 week to find good neighbors, but when we found them, we really struck gold.

We share a driveway with our neighbors to the right, Don and Pete (I know you may be confused here, but don't worry, they're not life partners. I have found it customary in Chester for some women to be called men's names. I can't figure it out amd stopped trying, but I felt you should know Pete is a she.) The shared driveway thing is the way our neighborhood was created when it was built 50+ years ago. Don has lived here his whole life, grew up around the corner, got married and moved into the house where he lives now. Don can tell you all kinds of history about this place. He makes me wish I lived "back in the day." He has known Donnie and his family for years and years, at least back to their high school days (not Donnie's, his parents). He went to our church and served faithfully there until God called him to pastor a small congregation.

He cuts grass as a side job and owns an impressive amount of rakes, pitchforks, and shovels. He used to cut our grass occasionally when Donnie had so much work to do, he couldn't get to it. We worked out a pretty sweet deal - he cut our grass and I'd bake him a cake (pun intended - haha). Don has always told us we could borrow whatever yard tools we needed. The other day while he was out working in his own yard, I asked him if we could borrow his tiller to make a small garden spot. He gave me a little advice about using it and I told him I'd try to get it from him a little later since I had to run errands. He asked me where I planned on putting it. I told him and left to do what I had to do. When I came back this is what I found.

My sweet neighbor had tilled my spot for me. When I thanked him, he told me he didn't mind, that it gave him something to do. Believe me, he has plenty to do, but I am so very thankful for him and for his blessing us in that way. The Bible tells us in several places to love your neighbor as yourself. There are many folks who do that. Then there are folks like Don who love their neighbors more.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Birthday Girl!!! (pics added)

Allie turned five today!! Hard to believe she has grown so quickly and that she will be in kindergarten come July. It breaks my heart. In our tradition of allowing them to have big birthday parties every other year, this was Allie's year. She had a Minnie Mouse party at Burger King, with LOTS of friends and family. She really had fun being queen (or should I say, mouse) for a day!!

Pics will not load so I will edit later!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Life, Death, and Other Antonyms

Faith. Doubt.
Helpful. Helpless.
Past. Present.
Is. Was.
Unreal. Too real.
Having all the right answers. Having no answers at all.

These are all the things we've experienced this week as my brother-in-law, Jay, died tragically on Sunday. I have begged God to go before us and been unable to pray at all. I have had faith that God is with us and doubted Him all the same. I have seen such helpfulness in the midst of helplessness. I have said was instead of is. I have wished for the past instead of the present. I have known that even though this is unreal, it is all too real. And I have known all the right answers, but really have had none at all.

I have watched my sister-in-law lose her best friend and my nieces lose their father. I have seen grown men and women reduced to sobs and I've seen expressions of tenderness from people who never struck me as tender. I have watched preachers cry and admit that it is okay to ask God why. And even though I have spent my last few days finding clothes for a funeral, ordering flowers and saying goodbye, I have yet to believe that Jay is really gone.

To know Jay was to love him. He was infectiously funny, caring and talented. He loved God and his family and his heart was at least as big as he was. Jay was one of the most talented singers I've ever heard, and as a music minister could put together some of the best productions I've ever seen churches do. It struck me the day after he died that not only had we lost our loved one, but that the world lost talent I cannot describe. His former pastor pointed out that Jay could pull off big musical productions in his church that took countless people and hours, because people wanted to be around Jay so they would do what he was doing. Pretty neat way to remember somebody, I thought.

Please pray for us. I know God works ALL things for his good, but right now all is a hard word to stomach. I know God knew this was coming and is not shaken to his core the way we are. I know God will never leave us nor forsake us. I know my sweet family will learn to laugh again. I know that love for each other will see them through. I know more good times will come. I know these things because God said them and I'm going to believe them. But it's hard all the same...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I've Waited Years for This

Friday morning at some point before sunrise(ish), I realized Allie was in the bed with us, BETWEEN us. The between us part is not that significant considering anytime anyone has crawled in the bed, it has been between us. What was significant, was that I could remember how she got there. I was only slightly puzzled and certainly not bothered enough to lose my last few minutes of sleep worrying about it. When I woke her to get ready for school, I told her that I didn't remember her coming to our bed. She said, "That's because I went in Daddy's di-wection" (she can't say her r's). I think in ten years of being a mother, no one has ever gone "in Daddy's direction." When we moved 2 1/2 years ago, I threatened to sleep on the opposite side of the bed, just to see if they'd walk all the way around to get me. Then I realized that I knew the answer to that and better not upset the laws of nature by sleeping on the wrong side of the bed when I've slept on the right side for all these years. I know every mom has her stories about kids waking her instead of their dad, so here's some encouragement - once a decade they might go in his direction!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

At long last

I can't believe I haven't blogged in over a month. There is, however, good reason. My computer was stolen. Ok, stolen is not the word I'm looking for - more like hijacked. The suspects are 10,7, and 4 and have been known to disguise themselves like this. Don't let the cuteness of the sock hop girl fool ya. She was in on it too.

We have been on Spring Break for 3 1/2 wonderful weeks. Not many people can say that, but we get that luxury thanks to their year round school. It was fun, relaxing, and a great time together. The weather was PERFECT! Not one day was it too cold to play outside. Usually we make a trip to visit family during our breaks, but this time we stayed home. I thought it would make our break seem long and boring, but it really was nice. I took a thousand pictures, but I'll just a share a small portion of them.

For starters, the older two both had friends spend the night, and they really enjoyed that. I have to admit having sleepovers is not my favorite thing to do. I am a little bit selfish there. I figure during the school week they spend more time with their friends than with me, so when they're not in school, I like to spend time with them. But I have to put aside that about once a break and endure. I know...I'm quite the party pooper. Allie's friend joined us the next day, so she wasn't left out. We went McDonald's and let them play along with the younger two and my friend and her two. Yep, eight kids, two adults - we got some strange looks.

Hannah and her friend - a self portrait!

Corey and his bud on the trampoline. While it looks like they are jumping, they were actually doing karate they'd learned at school. Go figure.

Allie and her friend did a puppet show. So cute!

Jon Tyler tackled the park!

We also did the park, a shopping day, a visit from Grandmommmy, bike riding and LOTS of trampoline jumping. Corey learned to ride his bike after much threatening persuasion. That was very exciting accomplishment because even though we took off his training wheels last fall, he had no interest in riding. zero, zilch. I kept telling him how much he'd enjoy it if he could ride without training wheels. Now I can't keep him off of it.

Riding off into the sunset.

There was also the spring consignment sale mixed in there which took a few days of my time, but it was much less painful that this last one. There is just something refreshing about spring clothing and the fact that it takes up WAY less space in the drawers and closets, not to mention the laundry hamper. And miraculously this year it did not freeze after I got all the winter stuff put away.

Of course there was Easter egg hunts, egg dyeing and Easter baskets.

I celebrated another birthday and had a great time with my family. Donnie asked me what I wanted for my birthday and rather than name something just to say I did, I decided I wanted shrubs for my yard. Last year we pulled up these hideously large holly bushed that had been there forever, or at least as long as we've owned this house and never replanted anything. We are about 75% done with that. Pics will follow, I promise because I have found out landscaping is not for wimps and I fully intend on showing off our hard work.

I think that having my computer hijacked was kinda nice. It gave me time with my kids to enjoy this beautiful break - when I could pry them away from Club Penguin and, of all things, ebay. (window shopping, of course) Now they are back in school, but we are dreaming of carefree summer days in the not too distant (42 school days to be exact) future.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Spring is coming!

Science Projects

As promised here are the finished science projects. I am very proud of both kids and the effort they put into them.

Corey also wrote this paragraph about his penguin habitat.

"The animal I chose is the penguin. It lives in the wet and cold Antarctica. A penguin's prey is a fish. A penguin drinks salt water. Penguins can be at least 4 feet tall and weigh 90 pounds, but some are much smaller. The smallest penguins are 16 inches tall and weigh about 2 pounds. Penguins are my favorite animal."

I was impressed that he is learning to use details and voice in his writing, and that he can write a good paragraph from start to finish. I learned today in his teacher conference that he is on grade level, and in fact a little ahead of it for this point in second grade. Since he was in 3 year old preschool, he has been capable of things that I didn't even know he could do because he is my somewhat reserved child.

This one, however, is the "showoff" and I have always known what she was capable of because she ALWAYS tells us. I wouldn't have it any other way. Her project was really fun. She pretty much did it all by herself, especially the display part.

Concrete part 2

The concreke (as Allie says) is done. We will have to wait on the highway dept. to come and fix their part at the end, and we cannot drive on it til the weekend, but we are so excited about this. My kids couldn't wait to try it out Tuesday afternoon.


Hannah & Allie give test it out on their bikes.

Corey tries it out on the scooter thingys we scored at a yard sale last spring.

Not to be outdone, Jon Tyler tries one out, too.

Our neighbors have always been gracious about letting our kids use their bikes and scooters on their concrete slab and they have used it as their turn around spot for their bikes. I hope he realizes that now it will be impossible to keep them off. I don't think he cares. I think a poet once wrote, "Good fences make good neighbors." I guess in our case, good concreke makes good neighbors.