Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is tonight! We're a pretty quiet family; we spend lots of time at home just doing normal things like watching t.v. and reading. Tonight, we are going to be with some friends. I think I heard a rumor about "karoake." I'll let you know what happens with that. Not much on my part, I can assure you! We're taking the girls' p.j.'s although I don't know if we'll stay long enough for them to fall asleep there or not. I imagine we'll come home before 12. It's just easier that way.

It's been a good week.

~Chris only worked Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, so that was nice.

~I got to visit with a friend who has moved. She was back in town getting her house packed since they recently sold it. It was good to see her again and I was once again reminded how happy I am to have unlimited long distance so I can talk to her often!

~The house is pretty much "Christmas decoration free"~and has been since Monday~except for the outside things which got taken down just yesterday and one lone little hanging decoration that I happened to notice last night. I thought I had gotten it all, but I guess it's inevitable to find one or two things hanging around.

~We left the house early yesterday morning to drive to a neighboring city. I had a doctor's appointment and then we did a little "spend the Christmas gift cards" time aftewards. I also took a long nap which was nice because next week it'll be back to the school routine of taking Gracie to school early & picking her up mid afternoon.

~I went to the movies alone last night. It was really kind of nice! I saw "Family Stone." Although there were quite a few things in it that I didn't necessarily "approve" of, it did have quite a bit that pulled at my emotional heartstrings. I will admit to enjoying it.

~Chris has been painting our toy box. He even let Gracie help him. scary! My grandfather built this toy box for me when I was 3 and I've had it ever since. It has been white, pink, yellow and now it's kind of a maroon. He's put a primer and 2 coats and it still needs at least 1 more coat. Since we don't have a playroom, we have a "play area" in our den. I needed the toy box to match the room better, so we finally got around to getting it done. I picked out the color, so at least I helped a little! Chris is also going to put a different hinge on it so the top won't slam on little fingers like it did at Life Group year before last.

~Today I went to Wal-Mart and stood in line to return a couple of things. Sad thing is that it wasn't even a Christmas present. I had bought the cutest little matching overall outfits for the girls and the 5T I'd gotten for Gracie absolutely swallowed her whole. I thought about keeping it and letting her grow into them, but I just decided to take both of them back. The line was long but moved rather quickly. I picked up a couple of things for tonight and also for our traditional "fajitas & black eyed pea" New Year's Day meal. My family always had black eyed peas~for good luck~and Chris grew up eating fajitas, so we've combined the 2.

~This week, I read a book called "Simply Christmas." It was a collection of 4 different stories by Pamela Dowd, Wanda Luttrell & Christine Lynxwiler and was really quite good. An easy read. In one of them, called No Holly, No Ivy, there was a quote that I liked. The lady was talking about being friends with someone who was not of the Christian faith. Here is a little excerpt:

...."I'm giving my Jewish neighbor a small taste of our Christian Christmas."

"Really?" His eyebrows rose. "I'm surprised that she's willing. I mean, I'm aware that our Christian faith is built on a firm foundation of Judaism, but doesn't she believe the Messiah is yet to come?"

"Yes," Loraine answered, "but other than that, our beliefs are almost exactly the same. And I enjoy her company," she added

"Oh, there's nothing wrong with being friends," he agreed. Then a frown wrinkled his forehead. "But if a person is wrong about Jesus Christ, it doesn't really matter what else he is right about," he said. "Your friend needs to know the Savior, Loraine."

I like this excerpt because I think it boils things down to Jesus needing to be the most important part of our lives. I need to share Him with everyone I know. If someone doesn't know Jesus, then nothing else really matters in the long run. I hope I remember this now and in the coming year.

~Happy New Year everyone. Be safe!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I am REALLY weird!

Tagged by Jetty Betty!

Here's the tag: I'm supposed to write down 5 weird habits that I have and then tag 5 more people to do the same.

1.) I cannot stand it when anyone, Chris included, reads over my shoulder while I'm on the computer.

2.) I am quite thrifty. Some may call it 'cheap!' I will drive to 2 different grocery stores to save a couple of dollars.

3.) "5 more minutes!" is something I must have, and say, each time someone tries to wake me up.

4.) I am seriously addicted to checking my email and do it more times in a day than I care to admit! Checking "snail mail" is also one of the highlights of my day. I'm not kidding!

5.) Okay, this is one is really weird and maybe only something my mother really knows about. I don't even know if Chris has ever noticed it. I sniff the pages of a book while I'm reading it. Seriously. While reading a book (like a chapter book or novel) I will periodically sniff the middle of 2 pages. I don't have any idea why, but I was doing it as recently as last night. My mom used to comment on it when I'd do it! I'll sniff crayons, too!

I tag Alissa, Adam, Kate, Malia & Deana. Some of these people I've tagged haven't posted in awhile, so maybe this will encourage them to do so. (hint! hint!) Deana posts all the time, but I figured she could come up with some funny answers!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas day! We had a good day! I have to admit it was a little strange not having any "extended family" with us on this day. It didn't feel as much like Christmas as in the past. Don't get me wrong, I understand why Chris' parents were in Texas since it was my precious niece Sara Jane's 1st Christmas. My parents were in Nashville with my brother which is close to Huntsville where they're going today to see my uncle who they haven't seen in over a year. I understand. I'm just a sentimental fool who likes to be around lots of family around the holidays. Both of our parents were here earlier in the week and I'm thankful for that.

Both of our families live all over the country~literally~so it's hard for us to all get together often. Let's see, my parents live in Atlanta while Chris' are in New Mexico. (ACU brought us together!) My grandparents are in Huntsville and Chris' are in New Mexico. Chris' brother & family are in the Fort Worth area while my brother & family are in Nashville. We both have aunts & uncles living in Kentucky, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico & Nevada. We both have cousins in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, Washington state, New Mexico & Kansas (and possibly Iraq soon!) I have a cousin getting married this summer in Arkansas. I really want to go but it will be almost 1000 miles. Combined with having 2 little ones and Chris having to take vacation time, I'm not sure it's going to work out.


Christmas Eve, we had some friends over. Scott & Kate came over with their little boy, Bryson. When we started taking pictures, Scott told Bryson he might end up on a blog. So, I thought I'd really put him on here! He & Katie are about 6 months apart and have lots of fun playing together~and Gracie enjoys him too! Before bed, we read some "Baby Jesus" stories and the girls opened new p.j.'s. Chris & Gracie also made chocolate chip cookies to set out. Now that Gracie knows who really sets out her gifts, she knew exactly what kind of cookies to make!

Christmas day was good! We got up and did the "Santa" thing and Gracie got to open one of her presents which was a new Bible. I looked long & hard for a Bible for her. When she was a toddler, she'd gotten "The Beginner's Bible" which was a collection of Bible stories. This one I got her is also called "The Beginner's Bible" but it's a "real" Bible. The translation is NIRV which is the NIV written for ages 6-10. She is very proud of it and started reading it before we even left for church. The amazing thing is that she could read parts of it and also that she wanted to read despite the fact that it didn't have many pictures. Based on some of the things she has said & done lately, I told Chris, "I think she's more mature than I am!" We both agree that she is very special. It's a little scary and I told Chris, "It's up to us not to screw it up!" Please Lord, Help us to parent the way you want us to!

Of course, last night, we were reading out of the Veggie Tales Family Devotional book and I just randomly chose one. It was talking about the Holy Spirit! I will admit that the Holy Spirit is something I really don't understand very well. Chris was standing behind me and said, "Wow. That's a pretty deep topic for a kid." After Chris & I stumbled our way through, I said, "She may be mature, but I'm not tackling the Holy Spirit with her yet!" Next time, I'll preview the devotional before I just start reading it!

After we did the Santa stuff & breakfast that morning, we went to church and waited to open other gifts when we got home. We got back into our p.j.'s to open and eat lunch and then went down for loooong naps! Well, okay, Chris didn't get into his p.j.'s but the girls & I did!

Katie was a sweetie while opening gifts! When she opened up some "Fisher Price Little People" stuff, she just kept saying "Tank you, Mommy" over & over as she played with it. You could just tell that she was so excited and it's like she was amazed with this new toy! Gracie also had expressed thankfulness for which I am so grateful! Gracie was also really sweet that morning because she asked me, "Don't you want to open yours?" I told her I didn't have any (because Chris had given me my gift earlier in the month). She said, "What about my gift to you?" She had bought me something at the "Holiday Store" the PTA had sponsored at school. I'm glad she was focused on more than just what she got to open!

Katie had more than 1 "dirty" during the day (about 4!), so I stayed home with her while Chris & Gracie went to church last night. I thought it best to keep Katie away from other children. Apparently, it was a pretty small group so it may have been okay, but it was probably better to keep her home anyway. Gracie called me on the way home to say that they sang "Away in a Manger" & "Go Tell It On The Mountain." Those are 2 of her favorites so she was excited. Last night, Katie woke up and had gotten a little sick in her bed and was burning up. I got her a cup of water and she just sat there & chewed on it for the longest time and was real lethargic. We put her in bed with us for a little while then finally Chris put her back to bed. I was just sure we'd be at the doctor's office this morning, but now she seems okay. A little warm but not much. I'm wondering if it's teeth the way she was chewing on her cup.

Today, Chris went to the gym. That was part of his Christmas present from a family member~a membership~so he went to start with all of that. He used to run avidly, but because of some health concerns, the doctor has advised him not to run. This membership will allow him other ways to exercise (swimming being a main one starting in Feb. when the new gym pool opens) so he's really excited. I am organizing and cleaning while Chris is also helping with that alot.

I hope all of you have a wonderful week!

Thank you Lord for your Son! We know He came to die for us and we are thankful! We are glad you chose for Him to be born~whatever time of year that was~so that He could live the life and teach the lessons that He did. Thank you! In Jesus' Name, Amen

Friday, December 23, 2005

the week before Christmas 2005

We had Christmas with my parents & my in-laws yesterday, so the girls have gotten alot of new things. Katie loves the little ironing board from Gramps & Gramme and Gracie loves the ballet costume from Grammer & Pappy. There's more to come from Mommy & Daddy on Sunday. I ended up taking Gracie to the doctor today because she was complaining of a sore throat and had a yucky cough. He teasingly asked her, "Do you need any new toys?" I guess he was expecting her to say, "yes," but being the literal child that she is, she giggled and said, "I already have alot." They do already have alot and will be getting some more. It truly is a joy to buy for my children and I pray that we're teaching them to be thankful and teaching them about giving as much as receiving. I have already placed a quarter in each of our stockings and look forward to sharing the "Quarter of Remembrance" story that Mike Cope wrote. Chris plans to use it in his adult Bible Class Sunday morning as well.

After Chris helped us clean up the kitchen after our big meal yesterday, he snuck off claiming we had it under control. Which we did, considering that we had myself, my mom and my mother-in-law in there cleaning. He went over to spend some time with Gracie. They were laughing about something and when I asked what it was, Gracie just laughed and waved me away. I'm glad they enjoy spending time together! The Daddy/Daughter relationship is a special one.

We had the children's Christmas party for church this past Monday. It was a little chaotic, but I think the kids enjoyed themselves. My question is: who invented blue candy canes anyway?!?!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

meaning of Christmas

As most of you do, I have alot going on right now with company, etc. However, I did have a chance to sit down & "blog-surf" tonight. I ran across Mike Cope's blog where he has written a wonderful story about the real meaning of Christmas. I have been struggling with wanting to say something profound to Gracie & Katie this year. Of course, Katie is still so young, but Gracie is old enough to be talked to more in-depth. As many of you may have read a few weeks ago, we did have the "Santa is pretend" discussion with her. I know some of you may disagree with that, and that's okay, because we all certainly don't have to completely agree on matters such as this. Just please know that Gracie is still enjoying this Christmas season immensely! (I'm afraid some people-my mother mainly-are thinking that she's been robbed of all joy!) Trust me, that little girl is very excited about all this Christmas stuff and about the present "Santa" (now a.k.a. Mommy & Daddy) is leaving for her Christmas Eve!

We've really been trying to talk alot about how the world tries to remember Jesus alot at this time, while also reminding her that we need to remember Him everyday and that His death, burial & resurrection is the most important part of Jesus. We've also been trying to focus on giving. We had the cutest conversation today about that. We were talking about presents and I said something about how giving is more fun than getting. She looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, "I like both!" So sweet! I assured her that I did too!

Anyway, I fear I may be rambling. I am posting below the story that Mike Cope has on his blog. I plan to share this with my family and make the quarter a tradition in our family as well. I think it's really wonderful and a great way to focus on Jesus and the hope that He gives us!

The Quarter of Remembrance by Mike Cope

I actually got to meet Dr. Channing Barrett, though I don't remember the meeting because I was too young. But that doesn't change my picture of him as a young man walking a marathon of miles every weekend. In my mind, I see him returning home to Blissfield, Michigan around the turn of the century.

Channing Barrett was one of eight boys and was the first ever in the Barrett family to go to college. From his medical school, he walked twenty-five miles home each weekend, always returning a couple days later with clean clothes, a food packet, and a dollar.

Dr. Barrett became one of the first ob-gyns in Chicago, practicing at Cook County Hospital. He was known widely both for his innovative surgical techniques and for his ambidextrous skills that allowed him to change hands during long procedures.

There was no patient whom he wouldn't accept. He delivered many "tenement babies" for fifty cents and many babies for the wives of Mafia dons for a good bit more!

With a growing, respected medical practice, a wonderful wife, and three children, this young physician seemed to be living the idyllic life. He enjoyed riding horses and lifting weights, and was an early member of the Polar Bear Society--that "unique" group that takes to the chilly waters of Lake Michigan in January each year to prove--well, who knows what they're trying to prove?

And then World War I interrupted this Norman Rockwell life. Dr. Barrett left Chicago to run a field hospital in France, followed shortly by his 17-year-old son, who fought in the trenches.

As long as he could, Barrett sent money back to his wife and daughters. But by the last year of the war, his funds were nearly exhausted. He had no more to mail home. Mrs. Barrett sold most of what they owned, trying desperately to keep her daughters fed and clothed without having to lose their house.

By the time Christmas rolled around in 1918, there were no presents to place under the tree. They were lucky to have a place to live.

But Mrs. Barrett had managed, despite all the financial scrimping, to save two quarters. So on Christmas morning, when the girls emptied their stockings, under the paper dolls their mother had cut out for them and under a couple pieces of candy, they each found a coin.

Previous Christmas mornings had been more lavish, filled with frilly dresses and expensive toys. And there would be more such mornings in the future. But this was the Christmas the family would always remember.

In the future, even during the years of plenty, when the girls emptied their stockings, they always found--under the apples, oranges, nuts, and candy--a quarter.

It was a reminder--a reminder that some years are good while others aren't too good. Some years deliver new babies, promotions, raises, and great promises. Other years offer sickness, failure, death, and deep disappointment.

The quarter reminded them about both possibilities. It warned them not to write off all the pain of the past as if it didn't exist. It taught them that the sorrows and wounds of their lives had shaped their characters as much as their joys and accomplishments.

Anyone who takes seriously the Christmas stories of scripture knows that the first Christmas had more than angels, shepherds, wise men, and a mother nursing her baby. There was also the anguish of childbirth. There were the pungent, impolite odors of an animal pen. There was an old man who held the baby and told his mother, "A sword will pierce your own soul too." There were the voices of many mothers screaming for their baby boys being slaughtered by a demented ruler named Herod. There was a breathless escape to Egypt.

The entrance of God's Son into the world meant peace--but it didn't assure that people would get along. It meant great joy--but it didn't mean we'd always be happy. And it meant unconditional love--though it never implied that everyone would act lovingly.

And so one family, year after year, continued dropping a quarter of remembrance into the bottom of each child's stocking.

At least one of Channing Barrett's children picked up that tradition. Every year through the '30s, '40s, and '50s, her five children, Dr. Barrett's grandchildren, pulled their stockings off the chimney on Christmas morning to find quarters buried under fruit, nuts, and candy.

And at least one of those five passed it on to her four children. And at least one of those four is passing it on to his children.

The quarter has mysteriously tied this family together--binding even generations who never met. Together they have remembered that bad year in 1918 and other bad years since.- One year brought the safe birth of a new nephew; another brought the self-inflicted death of a relative who couldn't keep fighting the demons of his life;- One year brought the thrilling news from the gynecologist that a baby was on the way; another brought the news from the pediatrician that the baby wasn't developing right;- Some years brought joy; others brought deep, deep pain.

The quarter is a remembrance that the meaning of Christmas is deeper than our triumphs and sorrows. It is a joy that can't fully be expressed, a peace that passes understanding.

For years my children have followed this tradition started by their Great, Great Grandmother Barrett. Together, we've experienced the love of God, woven through the fabric of good days and dark days.

Eleven Christmases ago the quarter represented a burden that was crushing our hearts. Not long before Christmas of 1994 our ten-year-old daughter, Megan, took her last breath in the pediatric ICU at Hendrick. Her death was surely the darkest moment in our lives. We felt very connected to Matthew’s Christmas story, the one that tells of “Rachel weeping for her children” (Matthew 2:17).

And then five Christmases later, our family returned to that grief, for in June of 1999 my brother’s son, Jantsen BARRETT Cope, died suddenly and unexpectedly after lifting weights with his high school football team. We barely survived as we gathered in my parents’ living room that Christmas without my nephew’s big, joyful laughs. Fifteen is too young to die. Our quarters were quarters of grief.

But by God’s grace, we have survived. We’re still together, we still love, we still hope, we still believe in that one who was born in Bethlehem.

This Christmas there is still that gaping hole of absence. And yet our quarters will also represent joy. For when people gave money as a memorial to Jantsen, my brother and sister-in-law prayed about a place to let that money be used in the name of Christ. Through a ministry of their church, they traveled to Vietnam to visit an orphanage. They only went intending to give money. But there in a foreign country, across an ocean, on soil where American and Vietnamese soldiers had died, my brother looked into the eyes of a little guy whose name was Vihn, but is now Van – Van Cope. A year later in the same place they looked into the eyes of a sweet Vietnamese girl who is now Tatum Cope.

As Randall Frame has written, “Christmas does not deny sorrow its place in the world. But the message of Christmas is that joy is bigger than despair, that peace will outlast turmoil, that love has crushed all the evil, hatred, and pain the world at its worst can muster.”

That’s why this Christmas Eve, late in the evening, my wife and I will slip a quarter into the bottom of the stockings of our boys and our daughter-in-law.

The quarter will always remind them of a story that is truer than life: that God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son. There in that simple manger in Bethlehem, “the hopes and fears of all the years” found their fulfillment. God had broken into a world of great darkness with the light of his Son.

And yet while the Kingdom of God came in Jesus Christ, we haven’t yet experienced it fully. That’s why the church has continued to pray for 2000 years, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In the meantime, in the words of scripture, we groan, we long, we wait, we hope.

We live in the belief that our simple acts of kindness and giving are not without meaning because Christ has come. And we live in hope that one day the Lord Jesus will come again and all tears will be wiped from our eyes.

That’s the story of Christmas. I know it’s true. I’d bet you a quarter!

I also encourage you to read a really wonderful book called Ordinary Baby, Extraordinary Gift by Gloria Gaither. Gracie's best little girlfriend, Leigh Ann, gave it to her for her 3rd birthday and I love it!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Old Macdonald LOST a farm!

Where, O where is our Leap Frog Fridge Farm?!?!?! Katie has/had one and it was a really cute toy. It was magnetic and stayed on the refrigerator (hence the name.) It had cute little fronts & backs of animals that the baby could match and it would sing a nifty little song for them.

I remember it being here a few months ago when we hosted Life Group and I think a few months ago when we hosted playgroup.

We can't find it. Honestly, it's not a tiny toy, so where could it be? We're also missing 1/2 a horse and the whole sheep. I'm not sure if we're missing any other animals. I've pondered whether a friend could have gone home with it, but really, I think the parent would notice if their child came home with it and realize that it wasn't theirs. Also, our children's friends aren't likely to do that anyway. Any child who would be smart enough to take it & hide it wouldn't do that because they're old enough to know better, I think. Any child young enough to not know to hide it would be found out by their mother, I think. The animals are smaller and could be lost easy enough I guess, but the farm isn't that small.

Here are our latest thoughts on the matter:

1.) Maybe a dad (like at Life Group or something) maybe stuck it in the diaper bag if their child was playing with it not knowing it wasn't theirs. (b/c do dads really know that kind of thing anyway?!?!) I really think the mom would have figured it out by now though.

2.) Katie put it in the trash can and we threw it away not knowing it was in there. *sigh*

I miss it.

Friday, December 16, 2005

our week

We had a busy week as did many of you out there in blogland, I'm sure.

*Monday night, we had Gracie's "Winter Musical" for school. It was great! Basically, some of the older students acted as narrators and read " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" while other older students acted it out on stage. The Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd graders acted as the chorus down in front of the stage and sang at appropriate times. It was really, really cute! (I've included a picture of Gracie with Miss S at the musical.) Their P.E. coach was cast in the role of Santa Claus. Keep in mind that he is a big (not fat but tall) black man, so it was a different image than that of what we usually picture when thinking about Santa! He seems to be a great man whom the children adore, and I think it's really great that he was such a good sport about being in the play (especially when they turned over the sleigh with him riding in it!) I know my daughter blushed quite a bit when he came into her classroom today during the party. P.E. coaches have the ability to have a special relationship with the kids, don't they?

*Tuesday, Chris had a meeting in town so he was able to leave for work later than usual which meant he could take Gracie to school. Yea for me not having to get Katie up & out on a cold morning!

*Wednesday, I took Katie to Mother's Day Out and headed over to the school to tutor. Once again, I stopped at Starbucks for a little treat before picking Katie up! We ran an errand before going back home. We had a Housewarming Party for a friend to attend before church. It was COLD this day, so we were all bundled up! Chris had a meeting before church so he couldn't go to the housewarming party with us, but I was glad he had the meeting before church and not after.

*Thursday, we woke up to rain and cold temperatures just like the weather forecast had said. Problem was, I was supposed to go on our walking field trip with Gracie's class! I was told in carline that the plan was still to go. I got myself & Katie bundled up and took her over to a friend's house to stay. As I walked in the office at school, they were making the announcement that the field trip had been cancelled. Yea! It was really a nasty day to be traipsing a bunch of 5 & 6 year olds across a busy street! I checked with Gracie's teacher's aide to see if they needed anything done for 1/2 an hour or so since Katie was taken care of. She said, "I'd go back to bed if I were you!" I maybe would have had Katie not been with a friend. I didn't want to take advantage! So, I headed back to my friend's house and we worked on stuff for the church children's Christmas party that will be this Monday. She stayed with the kids and cut out a bunch of stuff for crafts while I ran errands picking up last minute supplies we needed. As much as I don't really like carline to pick up Gracie, the weather made it preferable to getting Katie out in the cold any more than I had to.

*That night, Chris built a fire for the very first time since we've lived in this house (which will be 4 years in March!) It was wonderful! Very cozy and Katie didn't bother it at all. I think I will be getting him to do this more often, especially with heating bills going up! Chris' cousin, Trey, came over for dinner, along with a friend from church. Trey is in the Army and has been stationed near here for a few months. Unfortunately, he has been sent to Kansas and will possibly be going BACK to Iraq in 2006. He is a great guy and so good with the girls and we will miss him!

*Today, I got to sleep late! Yea! I did get up to help Gracie get ready for school (just like Tuesday) but then went back to bed. Chris is so good about doing "morning duty." (He has every Friday off.) After I lazily got ready and ate something, we all went up to school for Gracie's party. It was so much fun! They made "gingerbread" houses out of the milk cartons from the lunchroom. They set the milk carton on a paper plate and used vanilla frosting to cover the "house" and plate. They then stuck all sorts of little candies on it. So cute! They had the cutest Santa bags full of little treats. Miss S had taken a picture of Gracie and stuck it onto a magnet. She had the cutest ornament with her handprint on it and they'd made snowmen out of the fingers. She had made a little reindeer out of popsicle sticks and a jingle bell candy cane and an angel. I asked her why they made the angel at Christmastime and she said because we remember Jesus. (Like, "Duh Mom, you know!") I asked her if Miss S had said that and she said no. I don't know what reason the teacher gave for making an angel at Christmastime, but in my baby's heart, she thinks of Jesus! Miss S and the aides had also given them a book. There were other little goodies in the bag as well. I think one of the students had brought Christmas pencils that were in there, so some of the goodies may not have been from the teachers. Katie went with us to the party and was so good! She only fussed when she had to clean up what she was playing with and leave.

*After we left, I went through Gracie's backpack and found a present for me! It had a thank you note from Miss S for the help I've given this semester. I thought that was so nice! She & the aides had also already included thank you notes for the gifts Gracie had given them just this morning. They are on the ball!

*This afternoon & evening, we all went to the mall and the girls got their picture taken with Santa. Even though we've told Gracie about Santa, we're not giving up on pretending about him just like we pretend about Cinderella & Strawberry Shortcake, etc. She knows it can be fun to pretend! Chris & both picked out new eyeglasses. (End of the year....gotta use those insurance benefits before they run out!) We shopped around a little then ate dinner at Zaxby's. I had to run an errand to get a little closer to finishing up a Christmas present surprise for Chris. I can't list details because he occasionally reads my blog!

*Tonight, I spent the evening balancing the checkbook (yuck!) & talking to a friend on the phone (took alot longer that way, but I hadn't talked to her in awhile! It was fun wasn't it Kate?!?!) Now, I'm updating my blog and looking forward to going to bed! Tomorrow we start really cleaning the house getting ready for company next week. I also have to get the candy canes & notes ready that the little children at church are delivering Sunday.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

P.S. Some of you may notice that I'm wearing what might be considered a Christmas sweater in the above picture. There are no Santas, but there are snowflakes. Please forgive me if my fashion faux pas offends you! (said jokingly of course!)

Monday, December 12, 2005

a few more things to add for today

*I still remember the lady who gave Chris the dollar a few weeks ago when he needed some cash. So sweet. Today, I had a similar experience. I was at Family Christian Bookstore buying a Bible for Gracie for Christmas. I had bought one awhile back but decided to take it back and get a different one. I was standing in line watching Katie play with all of the little "stuff" they have at the counter. You know, the little magnets and coins, etc. A lady standing there was talking to me about her and I was commenting that this is when I have to really watch to make sure she doesn't stuff her pockets with something. (She didn't have pockets today, but you know what I mean.) When the man got off the phone and was ready to check her out, she said, "Why don't you go ahead and let her go?" (speaking of me) She said, "I think she has a little one who might be about ready to go." She didn't say it in a condescending way about Katie's behavior. She just recognized that I had an almost 2 year old who was walking around and had the potential to mess things up and she graciously allowed me to be served first. A very refreshing experience!

*Chris & I talked this weekend about him taking Gracie (& Katie later on) on regular dates. Just the 2 of them. Apparently, he mentioned it to her and she told me this morning how excited she was! She's already thinking of where they can go and what they can do. Part of the reason I love Chris is for the good Daddy he is to our girls! He had mentioned that he hoped they would always want to talk to him and we reminded each other that it will depend on the relationship he has building and will continue to build with them in these early years. He's a good daddy!

*I don't know the exact title of it, but have you heard the Christian song about "Everybody's thinkin' 'bout their own situation? Everybody's stayin' in their own little world........they don't understand?" I love that song and find it to be so true!

*Gracie's "Winter Musical" is tonight and I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!! The batteries are charging in the camera & camcorder. I will post pictures, I'm sure!


We had a great weekend! The Westin was a very nice hotel and I was glad for the recommendation! Their beds are appropriately called "Heavenly Beds." Now, now...don't get worried. I'm not going into too much detail with this post! The duvets are just simply the softest sinking into a cloud. I have to admit the pillows were a little too soft, but the duvet made it worth it. In the shower, they have two shower heads that are simply the most amazing thing! I'm not sure it's actually the shower head itself or the fact that there are 2 of them that you can move & turn to hit wherever you want it to! Truly something I would want in my dream house! Of course, I want the kind of shower with shower heads on the 3 walls surrounding you. *sigh* I can dream! This website makes it easy to do so!

Downtown Greenville has some really neat shops and we walked around alot just browsing. Our favorite was called 'Mast General Store.' In searching for it online, I found that there are alot of them around. They just had really neat stuff. We had the most amazing dinner Friday night. Oh goodness! I took a bite and about melted! It was sooooo good! Restaurant O is definitely a place I recommend if you're ever in that area. Definitely not a place you'd want to take your children, but we all need a couple of those places don't we? I got Salmon and Chris got the filet. Yum! Too pricey for us to go very often, but not too bad for a very special weekend.

Alison Kraus was great! She sounds as good in person as she does on cd. You know how some singers sound awful in person? Not her! She has such a pure singing voice....but sounds a little funny talking, though. Kind of funny. I personally prefer to listen to music while I'm doing something else like surfing the Internet or cross-stitching, so I wasn't just blown away by sitting in a coliseum listening to her, but Chris loved it and said he'd go again in a heartbeat and it was a gift for him so that's what's important!

We walked to the concert & back that night. It was cold but not miserable by any means as long as we kept moving. We stopped for a "coffee" (I say coffee b/c I have to have the mocha type coffee not just regular coffee.) I actually was disappointed in what I got, but that's okay. We sat in the lobby of the hotel for awhile just enjoying that we were guests in this fancy place! We ordered a movie, Flightplan, with Jodie Foster. I'd been wanting to see it, and it cost less than it would cost the 2 of us to go to the theater. It was really suspensful & good!

Saturday, we slept late and Chris got some time in on the exercise bike. We ate lunch and went back to the General Store to get some things then left downtown and found a mall for a little bit. Then, we headed back home in time to go with my parents & the girls to a Christmas parade in a neighboring town. It was awful! Seriously, it was horrible. Large gaps in between parts of the parade. Rude people. Nasty dancing by the high school dancers in the bands. I was appalled and very openly told Gracie that those girls were not dancing appropriately and that she shouldn't dance like that. (She's very into being 'appropriate', so that's a good word to use with her.)

It was a fun weekend and the girls did great with Mom & Dad. Katie got fussy when we got home, and Mom said she hadn't fussed like that the whole time we were gone. *sigh* What did I say last week? "This too shall pass." She did pretty good in church last night. I took her out once to "talk" to her then she did really well when I took her back in. One point for us! Yea!

I'm heading up to Gracie's school in a little bit. Chester Drawers is coming! Honestly, I'd gotten the flyers about him coming but hadn't thought too much about it. However, we had a visitor at church yesterday morning & evening and I happened to overhear him telling someone that he visits elementary schools and writes children's books. I turned around and said, "Are you Chester Drawers?!?!?" He was! So, now that I have a connection with him, I want to go watch his presentation. It was neat for Gracie to be able to meet him and of course I told him about her being quite the author herself. *Update after watching Chester Drawers perform: He was really funny and the kids all seemed to enjoy him. The part I liked best was that he "threw" out God references! I had heard him talking to one of our elders last night about how this (speaking at schools I guess) was a good opportunity for him. He said he couldn't "preach" to them (the kids) but it was still a good opportunity. Well, he certainly took the opportunity to do something positive! At one point, he was saying something about not doing drugs or using alcohol and he mentioned something about the kids should be happy that 'God made me.' Later, he said something about being proud to be an American and that "we are one nation, and we're still under God......" He emphasized the word 'still.' He also mentioned about the troops and how we should pray for them when we say our prayers. I saw a couple of the teachers look at each other and whisper when he would make these references, but I'm super sensitive about things like that, so they may have been talking about something totally different. Who knows? He may have offended some and he may not get asked back, but then again, that may not be the case at all. I just think it's great that he went ahead and said those things and took the chance that he would positively impact someone! I'm glad to know that there are still those out there who aren't afraid to speak up about God...even in public school!
I've also got to call some parents again today about that PTA program I'm trying to coordinate. I called 7 parents last week and left a message to please call me. I got a return phone call from 1! I'm not happy!

Have a good Monday!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

little of this, little of that

*Why is it that everyone is picking on Christmas sweaters and I still like them?

*Is it wrong that I took a sip of my Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte this morning and breathed deeply, thinking "Ah...a happy place" while feeling a moment of thankfulness that Gracie was in school and Katie was in Mother's Day Out? Is it wrong to enjoy the time I have alone? As a 'stay at home mom,' I feel guilty for enjoying putting Katie in MDO. Even though about 95% of the time she's there, I am at Gracie's school volunteering, I do find the occasional moment (like
2 1/2 hours last week!) to be alone.

*Gracie told me yesterday that she wanted to write a book. She does this often so I didn't think much of it. I figured it would be the same type of book: folded papers, stapled together, a picture on each page with a word or sentence below. I went about my business in the kitchen then looked over to find her on her 3rd page! 3 pretty full pages of sentences & questions that made sense. I was floored! She took it to school and Miss S loved it! I have thought she was a great teacher from the beginning, but today she earned even more points in my book! When I went in to help this morning, she told me how wonderful the book was. I agreed with her, of course! She said, "It's good enough to be published!" (well, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but was good for a 5 year old!) I told her that my dream has always been to write a children's book and Gracie may beat me to it. This afternoon, I was going through Gracie's folder. Miss S had put a little note in there telling Gracie how much she loved her book and that she thought Gracie might enjoy these blank books she had found. One of them I had seen at a store before. It was thick paper cut into the shape of a house and it was all blank. The other one, though, I had never seen. It was a hardback book with a pencil type drawing on the front & back covers with blank pages inside. It was designed for the "author" to color in the cover as they wanted and then fill up the pages with their story. Gracie's eyes got as big as saucers looking at those books! She said, "It's like a real book!" She was so excited and got right to work filling it up with her story called "My Frends Book." (I think that's how she spelled it.) In the story she wrote yesterday, Gracie had asked Miss S (whom the story was apparently written a letter, really) if "Clue" (pronounced Clooey) was being good. (Clue is her dog.) Miss S had responded that Clue has been okay but has been trying to eat the ornaments off of her Christmas tree. She included 2 pictures of her dog that Gracie could have. I am just so impressed that she took the time to provide such validation & encouragement to Gracie in this area of great interest to her.

*Katie has really been trying my patience lately. I love that little girl more than words can express, but she has been lately. (I just can't think of a good word for it!) Honestly, when I picked her up at MDO, they said she'd been "good as gold." I promise you, she was fussing before I even got her out the door. What is it about being with me??? Taking her to a store is not so much fun. She'll start to complain about something and I cringe just waiting for the fit that's about to come. We're not against spanking, but in a store it's a little hard to do that! Also, I can just lean close and threaten that, and she screws up that pretty little mouth and lets loose! I am going to be doing some major duty praying (should have been doing that already!) that this attitude gets better. She is cutting a tooth, but she should still know how to act better than she's been acting. *sigh* I do remember great times of frustration with Gracie over one thing or another, and I keep thinking, "This too shall pass!"

*Chris & I are going on an overnight date Friday! I am so excited! My parents are coming late tomorrow night and we'll leave Friday morning after dropping Gracie off at school. We're going about 3 hours away to an Alison Krauss concert. We had a garage sale last weekend and made ALOT, so we're staying in a fancy-schmancy hotel! I'm so excited!

*Christmas decorations are up for the most part. finally

*I get to chaperone a field trip next week! Gracie's class is going to the high school to hear the chorus perform "holiday songs." Oh, good grief! Just call it Christmas! The middle school is just right across the street from her school with the high school just right behind it, so it's a walking field trip. We do have to cross a very busy street, but there's a cross walk we'll use. It'll be a good little jaunt for 4 classes of Kindergarten. I'm looking forward to it.

*We told Gracie that Santa Claus is just pretend. Please don't bash me if you think she's too young, but we'd been struggling with the whole Santa idea for awhile now. (Chris more than me.) The other day, she asked me a rather point blank question while listening to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." I tried to answer vaguely, but she kept pushing me, so finally I explained that Santa is pretend just like Cinderella and Nemo and Snow White. I explained that we can still have lots of fun pretending about him and reading stories about him and watching movies about him and singing songs about him, etc. I assured her that she'd still get presents (that Mommy & Daddy buy) and she'd still have to go to bed and be quiet so Mommy & Daddy could set out her presents, etc. Later, Chris told her that "Santa" would like chocolate chip cookies for his snack. She giggled about that, knowing that's Daddy's favorite treat. She was a little confused and got a little upset after Chris got home and they talked about it some more. I'm still not sure she completely believes us, but we feel pretty good about having done it. I know I had tears in my eyes, and I think Chris did to, when she got a little upset, but with her, I think it was the right thing to do. It was just hard watching her lose that little bit of innocence. With Katie, we may wait longer. Gracie is just such a literal child! I have stressed over & over that she shouldn't tell any of her friends because they might think he's real and it would make them & their parents sad if she told them "the big girl secret." (I don't want any parents yelling at me because she let the cat out of the bag~yikes!)

*Katie's new words are "ook" (look) and I promise that today she pointed at the Christmas tree and said "pitty" (pretty). I also think she was counting today! I have been counting when we walk down the front steps and it really sounded like she was counting....and not just repeating me but actually saying the number that came next. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think she did!

*Why is it that some Christians don't mention the birth of Jesus at Christmas at all? I know we're commanded to observe Jesus' death, burial & resurrection and not specifically commanded to observe His birth, but is it wrong? We have talked about it with Gracie. We have told her that we don't know for sure when He was born but that some people like to specifically remember it at this time of year We have talked alot about how the most important thing about Jesus is that He died for our sins and then rose again! I just feel like talking about Jesus' birth is so ignored by so many at this time of year just because they're afraid it's wrong to talk about it. Surely God won't get upset if we remember Jesus' birth, will He? By all means, his death burial & resurrection is the most important, but I'd say the birth was a pretty special day, too. Am I wrong? Being raised in the CofC, I feel like maybe we miss the boat on some things sometimes.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

1 down, how many to go?

Yep, that's right. 1 Christmas ornament taken off the tree by my darling 20 month old and shattered on the floor. *sigh* I get the distinct feeling that it will not be the last. She had been told "no" many times before this happened. She had been put in time out and even had her hand swatted. Unfortunately, for this little angel of mine, she needs to be reminded often of the rules. When the ornament crashed onto our hardwood floors and broke into a million pieces, I will admit to giving her more than just a little swat and yet another time out. I don't think Gracie touched the tree at this age more than about 3 times. She just doesn't need as many reminders to figure out that she's not supposed to do something.

I tried to take pictures of the girls yesterday for our Christmas card. The other thing my youngest daughter doesn't understand is how to sit & smile for a picture! Poor Gracie said her mouth was hurting from smiling so long! She did great; of course there were a few times when

Katie would finally do well and Gracie would decide to slump or scratch her nose or something. Katie did great at Masterportrait last week when a professional was taking them. (If it wasn't for the bubbles he constantly blew, that would have been a waste as well!) Anyway, I thought I'd offer your day a little humor by showing you some of the "best" of Katie & Gracie! (Please note that "best" is being used sarcastically.)

I did get a few that were decent and one of those will be the Christmas card. I haven't decided which one yet....but certainly not one of these!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thank you, God!

Thank you, God for the lady who gave Chris $1 last week. We were needing to fill up our tires with air on our way out of town for Thanksgiving. The one gas station we went to that had free air we couldn't use because the machine was broken. As we left town, we kept looking and they all cost 75 cents (for air!) We didn't have the cash on us. (sad I know!-We use our debit card for most purchases these days.) At one place, Chris went in and asked the lady if she could put 75 cents on his debit card and then give him the coins. She said no. There was a lady who had just paid for something and gotten change. She handed Chris a dollar bill that he was able to then make change from to get the 3 quarters he needed. It may seem like a little thing, but I thought that was so sweet! In this world where there appears to be so much selfishness and greed, that lady gave to others. Bless her!

Thank you, God for Suzanne Messick. She is a lady at our church who is suffering from cancer for about the 3rd time. She just had major surgery a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure what all it entailed, but I think it involved removing major organs. She is just very sick, and I'm not sure what the prognosis is. Yesterday, Gracie got mail. The card was addressed to only her. Inside was a card with a newspaper clipping. We had gone to Story Time at the local community center Tuesday afternoon before Thanksgiving with some friends. While there, Gracie had been interviewed and had her picture taken by a newspaper reporter. Her "quotes" & picture had been put in the paper. Mrs. Messick, amid all of her pain & suffering, had taken the time to cut out that article & picture and put it in a card to send to Gracie. That is very touching to me. Honestly, I don't even know her that well and certainly didn't think she knew my children that well, so it means even more.

Thank you, God for the other person from church who sent us a card yesterday with a note of appreciation. Sometimes you just need to hear things like that and I know it boosted me!

Thank you, God for Jesus most of all!

Monday, November 21, 2005

callecting moone for the old peppol

My sweet Gracie. At the risk of sounding like I'm bragging, I just have to say that I am so proud of her! I know we're not supposed to be prideful, and I don't want to brag either, but I am so proud of my precious little girl!

Our church supports a children's home in South Carolina. One of the opportunities we have to help them is through having change cans in our homes and placing our change in them over a certain period of time. We've done this once or twice, and Gracie has always enjoyed dropping the money in and hearing it 'clink.'

We don't have the change can at home right now because it was recently time to turn it in to the lady who coordinates that effort. The other day, Gracie came to me with a handful of change and said something like, "I want to give this money to some people who don't have that much." I told her that she could take it to church and put it in the collection plate. She asked how we would know that they'll use it to help someone. I assured her that that is what they do with the money. (Of course, I didn't go into explaining salaries & other expenses, etc.) Ultimately, the money is used to help further the Lord's kingdom!

After a few minutes of thinking, I told her that we could get a jar or something and save up change that she finds and change that we give her when we have it, and she could buy something for a child at Christmas. I know they always have the Angel Tree Children and similar things and I figured this way she would actually see with her eyes what she was buying. I don't mean to take away from contributing to church at all; I just thought this would be a good way for her to really take a hands-on approach to helping someone who "doesn't have that much" as she says.

Well, right now our church is meeting in the cafeteria of an older folks' apartment building. We are in the process of building a new church building which is projected to be ready in late January. We've been meeting at this temporary location since February. It's quite obvious, even to the children, that a bunch of "old people" live in this building.

I guess it was yesterday that Gracie said something about giving money to the old people. I questioned her about it and I think she said something about them using it to buy clothes & food, etc. Well, Chris & I kind of chuckled, thinking of how many clothes these old people could buy with the little amount of pocket change a 5 year is going to collect. Then I remembered an idea that I'd tossed around awhile back.

When I was little, we would visit an older folks' apartment building, Christian Terrace, in Atlanta. Our Bible Class teachers would periodically take us over there to deliver crafts we'd made for them in class. We'd always walk across the bridge through the "woods" to go to McDonald's afterwards. so fun! The ladies who lived there in the apartments always seemed to appreciate our little pieces of artwork and just a chance to see young people.

Today, I asked our minister about an idea to buy candy canes and attach them to a little note with a Bible verse and deliver them to the residents of the building where we're currently meeting for church. He talked to the manager of the building and she said that was fine. Once we decide which night to do it (an hour or so before Wed. or Sun. evening church) we'll let the mothers of the other children know about it so they can join us if they'd like. It will probably be a good idea to split up between floors to cover more residents at one time.

When she asked for a piece of paper so she could make a sign for her jar that says she is "callecting moone for old peppol," I told her that I'd talked with "Mr. Mark" about this idea and she was happy with it. I told her she could use this money to buy the candy canes and she thinks that's great! We've talked to my dad and Chris' mom to let them know they can contribute to this cause. Of course, my dad wanted to know if the money was for him since he's an old person! I told him he's not that old! I had to tell Chris to tell his mom to only send some change, not a check! His mom is generous with gifts for the girls, but the point of this is for her to collect change from our pockets and save it up...not to cash a check from her grandmother!

Chris & I both are so happy with our little girl! I really feel like her heart is so sweet and yearning to do for others. I love her so much and pray that she continues to have this type of spirit & attitude. It is so wonderful to see our child wanting to do something like this and with so little prompting from us. We're just kind of helping her along. God has blessed us with this precious angel!

And not to leave out our other precious blessing from God, here is a picture of sweet Katie Boo!

On another note, please remember Kate in your prayers. Her dad was in a bad car accident last Saturday. He is in the hospital with broken ribs, a fractured pelvis, internal bleeding and is on a ventilator because of low oxygen levels. He is scheduled for surgery Monday. Kate & her family have traveled to be with him and this is tough on her right now.

Dear Lord,

Once again, I say thank you for Gracie's sweet spirit. I pray that we will cultivate this good in her. Please help us to be the kind of parents you desire for us to be. We can't do it without You! Please comfort Kate as she is hurting for her dad. She needs You to be with her as we know You are!

In Jesus' Name,


Friday, November 18, 2005

sweet things

Sweet things that have made me happy lately:

*I'm really trying to like hot tea. Sadly, I'm just not that into it. At night, I love to curl up on the couch and watch t.v. and sip something comforting. I'm trying to like hot tea, but I just really don't. Last night, Chris fixed me a cup and brought it to me on a matching saucer. I tried it and asked for some honey. He brought me some. I tried it and had to give up. It just wasn't good. Chris came in with the hot chocolate he'd fixed for himself. He saw that I'd given up on the tea, hesitated for just a moment then handed me his hot chocolate before going to fix himself a new mug. Not many men would do that.

*Katie hates having the sun in her eyes while we're driving. She will make it oh so obvious with her fussing & crying. It happened this afternoon once again. I told her there was nothing I could do about it. When I turned into the parking lot of Blockbuster it wasn't in her eyes anymore. She promptly said, "Thank you." (which sounds more like "Ta too.") Seriously, when she says thank you (and she says it at appropriate times) it is one of the sweetest things and I just want to melt each time! It's also sweet that she thinks I actually made the sun get out of her eyes just to make her happy!

*I explained to Gracie about the little girl at her school who had the brain tumor. I simplified it by telling her that she had surgery because her brain was sick. Gracie has consistently included her in her prayers. I can tell that she is concerned about her and really wants her to be okay.

*Apparently they went around the room today at school talking about things they were thankful for. Gracie told me that Ali said she was thankful for God & Jesus. When I expressed how happy that made me that she had friends who also loved God & Jesus, she told me that Morgan & Lakenya had also said it. Gracie apparently had said that she's thankful for "a whole bunch of love." That's kind of been her thing lately. She keeps saying things about giving a whole lot of love for Christmas. I'm not sure if she heard that somewhere or something, but it's sweet! I reminded her how we've talked about she can tell her friends about God & Jesus and show Jesus' love. I told her that this is what Ali, Morgan, & Lakenya did when they said what they were thankful for. Telling others that they're thankful for God & Jesus is one way of sharing them with others.

*I got up this morning to help Gracie get dressed & get her hair done for school, but Chris was home to take her, so I went back to bed when she was ready. I didn't really think I'd be able to fall back asleep very well. Well, I guess I did because I didn't end up getting out of bed until after 10!

*Chris had a doctor's appointment yesterday that was a potential worry. Katie behaved while we were there (hooray!) and I left feeling better about things. He's still not always going to feel as good as he wished, but there doesn't appear to be any major areas of concern as far as long term serious things.

*Alissa called to check on how his appointment went. I appreciated that.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Dr. Kelly Hamby

Every now & then, I'll log onto ACU's site to see what's going on. I saw today that one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Kelly Hamby, has died. He was only 66. I am having major flashbacks of being in his class. It's actually a little embarrassing to admit that I was in his class because he taught General Studies. I had him for math. Basically, my SAT (or ACT) score in math wasn't quite up to the ACU standard, so I had to take general studies math my freshman year. Yeah, that's right. I'm not so mathematically gifted. (After teaching it, I have a much better understanding & appreciation for math.) I actually found out later that my ACT (or SAT) score was high enough for math that I didn't really have to take it. I took both the SAT & the ACT; I can't remember which one was high enough. Anyway, point is, I took the "baby math class" in order to meet my requirement and Dr. Hamby was one of the sweetest men I've ever met. I remember emailing him a few years ago and he emailed back. He was truly a nice man.

My all time favorite teacher at ACU was Dr. Perry Reeves! He taught Chemistry and Science for the Elementary Teacher (I can't remember the exact title.) He made his class fun and was understanding and giving (with his grades! HA!) and believed in me. Whether or not he really believed in me, he made me feel like he did and I will always remember one particular conversation I had with him that made me feel so good and will still bring tears to my eyes today if I tell it. He is an awesome teacher! He even gave Chris & I a wedding present! I thought that was so nice with all of the students he had!

Another favorite teacher was Dr. Dan White. He taught mainly reading courses in the education department. Seeing as how my specialization was reading, I had him quite a few times. I remember him as being a very gentle, patient man who always had time to talk and answer questions.

Dr. Finis Cavendar was another favorite from my freshman (?) year. He taught Biology. I did not do well in his class at all. Looking back, I wonder if it was actually a Greek class because that's pretty much the extent to how I understood it. He was so nice, though!

Dear Lord,
Thank you for these men who were inspirations to me in one way or another. I wasn't always the best student, but these teachers taught me about more than just the subject matter that was on the syllabus. I am so thankful for Christian universities where the teachers try to be Christian examples. Please be with Dr. Hamby's family as they grieve their loss of a father & husband.
In Jesus' Name,

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Know of a good 12 step program?

Hi. My name is Jacinda and I'm addicted to buying books for my children. My friend Tracy blogged earlier in the week about being a TV junkie. I relate to that as well, but for now I'm focused on my book buying addiction.

I mentioned earlier that we were going to the Scholastic Book Fair today. I told Gracie we'd get 1 book for her & 1 for her teacher to use in the classroom. We accomplished that and left with no more than that other than a bookmark. I spent a little more than I wanted on the book for the classroom (it was actually a Dora phonics pack) but oh well. I remember making out my wish list when I taught school and hoping some of my students' parents would buy one. I also didn't want to look too cheap by doing price comparison on the different items she'd asked for and the library started filling up with the older kids once the 2nd bell rang so I was ready to get out of there.

When we got home, I opened up Gracie's folder and there was another book order form. Aaahhh! At first glance, there's probably $30 worth I'd like to get! I seriously think I'm going to throw it away so I'm not tempted. (The phonics pack I bought for Miss S was in there for about $2 cheaper than I paid at the book fair, too! I told you the book fair isn't the cheapest way to get books.)

It's not like Gracie & Katie don't read the books I get them. They both read alot, especially Gracie and especially now that she actually can read the majority of many of them by herself. I just need to stop or we're going to run out of money! At least I'm not addicted to going out to Barnes & Noble to buy them. I do usually stick to ordering them from the Scholastic order forms or the 2 websites I mentioned earlier in the week. I do feel good that at least most of the ones I buy are bought at good prices.

*sigh* So there's my addiction. Could be worse. Anyone else struggle with this?

Dear Lord,
I'm thankful that we are blessed enough to be able to buy books for our children. I'm thankful that they enjoy reading! Thank you for my precious children. It made me so happy when Gracie, unprompted, said "Thank you for taking me to the book fair." It's so wonderful when she's thankful and expresses it without having to be reminded. Thank you for all of our blessings!
In Jesus' Name,

Monday, November 14, 2005

praises & requests

What does a proud 5 year old look like when she's showing off her "caught being good" ribbon? Look to the left and you'll see! (Is that a goofy lookin' picture or what?!?! BTW, she's getting her hair cut tomorrow. Those bangs have about had it!) She's been "caught" twice this year. This time was for sharing. She told me last week that she had done that (I can't remember exactly what it was that she shared) but apparently the teacher was watching and told the 'powers that be' because she got another ribbon and another Chick-Fil-A coupon. I'm so glad they reinforce positive behavior at her school!

I guess she went to the library to get the ribbon and she informed me that they saw it all set up. Oh yeah! She's way excited about the Scholastic Book Fair! For me, I don't get too excited about book fairs because they seem just as expensive as going to the bookstore and I'm all about a bargain! I order quite a bit from the Scholastic order forms that go home and I've found a few good sites for cheaper books, Daedalus & Book I did tell her that we'd buy 1 book for her & 1 book for her classroom. It supports the school, right? And you really can never have too many books!

I just had to include this picture of my 2 girls doing their homework tonight. Katie wanted to be right in there with "Sissy!" So cute!
I have a major praise to God to report! Remember the truck problems from Friday? Well, Chris & I thought over the weekend and we discussed and ranted about what to do. We decided that he'd ask them what was the least they could do to fix the most pressing problem. The guy told him what that'd be, fixed it and charged him $25. $25! He had originally quoted him $880! No lie. Now, of course this doesn't fix all of the problems, but the main thing was this smokey stuff blowing into the cab of the truck. That was fixed for $25. I had prayed & prayed that God would show us what to do and that He'd help us to know, etc. I feel like He answered our prayers in a big way! I always think God answers our prayers, but I feel like He answered them in a happy way this time! The other problems will need to be addressed at some time, but for now, all is good and I'm so thankful. Thank you, God!
I also have a major prayer request. There is a 2nd grader at Gracie's school who had surgery last week for a brain tumor. Apparently, she was having lots of headaches, was scheduled for a cat scan, started getting worse and had the cat scan immediately, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, was scheduled for surgery, but ended up hemorraging (sp?) and almost not making it, then having the surgery earlier than expected. They were able to remove it but she is looking at chemotherapy and a long road ahead. They took out her breathing tube this weekend but ended up having to put it back in last night. This all came on rather quickly.

Her mother is the PTA President. I feel like a heel because I called her house today to ask a PTA question, not knowing how serious this all was, and talked to the girl's grandmother who was extremely nice. I had to hang up very quickly because I was going to cry. I did cry after I hung up, partly because I felt bad for having called about a PTA question and partly because of the situation itself. I cannot imagine this being my child. I think with Gracie complaining of headaches so often it also has gotten to me on that level. This little girl has the same doctor as Gracie, so I have to feel that she must have presented with different symptoms because he didn't suggest a cat scan for Gracie when we went to see him. Hers have gotten much better lately, too. It's just worrisome. Please, please pray for this little girl & her parents. Her name is Carley. I think she has 3 brothers also.

blogger friends

I added a new link today. JettyBetty has joined my ever growing list of blogging buddies! I left a comment on a site the other day, never expecting anyone I "knew" to read it. However, she saw it, figured out it was me, and was one of the few supporters of what I wrote. Since then, I feel like we've gotten "close." (as close as you can get on cyberspace!) She writes some thought provoking things about God & the Bible & Jesus....good stuff from what I've seen so far.

When I added her to my links, I started thinking about how all of these other people got on my list. It's really quite interesting to see how all of them came to be there. I have a couple of "real life" friends who don't really "get" blogging. (My husband being one of them!) I think they just don't see the point or maybe they're leary of revealing too much personal information for the whole world to see. I understand that not everyone is going to be into blogging as much as others, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a great thing as long as it's done carefully.

I love being able to record little stories about my babies that otherwise probably wouldn't get written down anywhere. I love connecting with people I grew up with or people I went to college with and just other people who I've met online. This is fun for me!

I thought I'd go down my list of blogging buddies and write a little something about how they came to be on my links list. Could be interesting.

Stephanie-I'm not sure how I originally came across her site but I knew from the first time I saw her picture that she looked familiar. I kept going back to her site and reading it to see if I could figure out who she was. She made references to ACU so I figured that's where I had seen her before. She also made references to Siggies which is the social club (ACU's version of a sorority) I was in while at ACU, so that was another connection we had. Somehow one day we got into a discussion about how we knew each other and it turns out she knew my brother-in-law. When I told her who he was, she said, "You married Little Shanks!" Yep! With an older (& bigger) brother, I guess Chris was appropriately called Little Shanks or Baby Shanks I remember him also being called. After we made this connection, we added each other to our links list. I enjoy reading about her dealings with the PTA at her daughter's school.

Kate-She is one of my "real life" friends! She is an amazing writer. You should check out what she has to say.

Matt-He is a minister at my parents' church . I ran across his site and have enjoyed reading it. I like reading about his experiences with his children and I like reading the comments that people leave because sometimes I know those people! We always enjoy being at Campus when he is leading worship because he is a wonderful worship leader! My mom doesn't quite understand blogging, but she likes Matt & his family so it helps for her to know that he blogs, too. She said that Matt told her that I was one of his blogging buddies. I think he gives my blogging credibility for her!

Malia-Malia was one of the first ones who commented to me when I first started blogging. She kind of helped me get started. I enjoy reading about her children and seeing different ways in which we are similar.

Mandy-I went to ACU with Mandy although we didn't hang out or really know each other. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her through blogging and wish I'd known her "face to face" while I had the chance.

Tracy-I also went to ACU with Tracy. She & Mandy were/are best friends. I didn't really know her either, but I have also enjoyed getting to know her. She lives in San Antonio which is our favorite city in Texas, so I enjoy reading about places she goes there (especially when she talked about eating at "The Alamo Cafe!" yum!)

Corey-He is friends with my brother-in-law. He's a good guy!

Adam-Adam is another "face to face" friend. He is Alissa's husband and also a good guy!

Alissa-She is also another "real life" friend, married to Adam (above). We enjoy playgroup with she & her three children each week.

Deana-Deana's husband, Chad, was one of Chris' roommates at ACU. That's how I know her!

Lauren-Honestly, I just ran across her blog and thought it was fun to read from time to time. She's pregnant with her first baby, so that's been fun to read about!

Kristen-Again, I just ran across hers somehow. She seems like someone I'd really enjoy hanging out with. I love reading about her 2 sweet boys!

Britney-I grew up with Britney as the little sister of Tracy, one of my best friends. She is a sweetie and all grown up!

Elizabeth-I ran across hers kind of randomly, just like Lauren & Kristen's. I think I probably linked from one to the other. I know that Lauren is her sister. Her family seems very sweet and I enjoy reading about her PTA activities and her family life.

Brandon Scott-I went to ACU with Brandon, although he was older so I didn't really know him well. He lives in Nashville, one of my favorite cities ever, and my brother lives there, so I enjoy reading about his life there. I also enjoy reading about his family & the ministry he is a part of.

JettyBetty-I wrote about her above.

Have a good day everyone!

Friday, November 11, 2005

lemonade anyone?

I feel like I need to write a disclaimer before you read this. Chris and I aren't dumb. We don't live in a run down house with knee high grass that is littered with all of these old vehicles. Please don't take that image away with you. We've just had some unfortunate luck with our vehicles and, in an effort to relieve myself of the vehicle stress of the day, I am writing this post.

Chris said, "When you get a lemon, make lemonade." I assured him that we'd made plenty of lemonade over the years...too much if you ask me!

Our family just does not have luck with automobiles. Even before Chris & I were married, our auto luck, or lack thereof, began. If you care to do so, take a trip with me down memory lane (but you might want to drive your own vehicle on this trip!)

*1994 Spring Break Chris & I are driving from Abilene to Atlanta to make wedding plans for our upcoming wedding in August. This is my first car. It is a black Ford Taurus. We called it "Black Beauty." We stopped in Leeds, AL (near Birmingham) to eat at Burger King. We got back into the car and it wouldn't start. would not start! I called my Dad and immediately started crying when he answered the phone. He later told me to never start crying when he answers the phone while we're traveling until after I've told him what's going on. I guess I scared him. (It is a 1000 mile drive and we were only 20 & 21 years old!) So, we wait over 2 hours for my parents to come pick us up. We leave the car there to be repaired. My dad & Chris go back later in the week to pick it up. (I'm beginning to laugh as I write this. Remember we're not even married yet.) My dad works at a Christian school in Atlanta and had a meeting at another private school in Georgia. Chris tagged along (it was a meeting with a speaker & a nice lunch so it wasn't too bad). After the meeting, they went to pick up the car. They get the car and are driving back to Atlanta, Chris in the car and dad in his car. Along the way, the transmission decides to fall out of my car! (the one that had just been "repaired" in Leeds, AL and the one we were supposed to drive back to Abilene in a few days.) They stopped on the side of the road and figure out that it's not going anywhere. When they go to get in my dad's car (to get a phone I think) they discover that my dad has locked the keys in the car (or van, I think it was.) Anyway, the car was not able to be fixed before we had to go back to Abilene, so I "inherited" Mom's car. She was not so happy with this situation. I think they had ended up leaving the car on the side of the road and had it towed into Atlanta. When it was finally "fixed," the guy told my dad to drive it to a dealership, don't stop at any red lights, don't turn it off until he gets there, and take whatever the guy will give him for it!

***Chris & I can't agree on the exact timeline from here. He says we took Mom's car back to Abilene then got the Taurus back again because we think we drove away from our wedding in it. He thinks we had the Taurus for awhile longer then it died again and that's when we got Mom's car.***

*The car I got from my mom was a red Pontiac Bonneville. Although my mom wasn't happy giving up this car, I didn't exactly love it. I guess it was okay for awhile, but towards the end of our ownership of it, it would just stall at the most inopportune times. I remember living in Lubbock and going under underpasses and having to make a rather sharp turn and holding my breath because it would want to stall out at those times. There I'd be turning to get onto the Interstate along with a merging lane and cars behind me and mine would stall! I would have to shift to neutral, crank it, then pop it back into drive and step on it! Needless to say, Chris "inherited" this car from me and I ended up driving his cute little blue Pontiac LeMans. (Looking back, this was not a cute car, but at the time I thought it was. It's what he drove while we were dating in college. I loved it!)

*1995-1997? So, we're living in Lubbock with the Bonneville & the LeMans. We're wanting to get rid of the Bonneville, but Chris is in grad school and I'm not making much money either, so we're trying to stick it out. Along comes a hail storm! Thank you for the beauty of nature! We lived in a quadraplex with no garage or carport or anything, so we watched our little Bonneville get pelted by the hail. (I can't remember where the LeMans was or why it wasn't damaged.) We got some nice insurance cash out of this hail storm and used it to make a nice downpayment on our next car: a white Plymouth Breeze.

***I should mention here that not too long after we got the Breeze, we moved from Lubbock to Uvalde, TX. The U-Haul truck we rented had problems on that trip. Would you expect anything less?***

*1997 So, in Uvalde, we have the Breeze and the LeMans. I don't remember the LeMans giving us too much trouble but maybe I've just blocked it from my mind. We decided to sell it for $1000. We were renting a house at the time and some guy came out there to fix something and saw it. He offered us $900 cash and we took it! I do remember making Chris tell him all the things that were wrong with it (so I guess it did have some problems.) I remember seeing that cute little car in carline at the school where I worked, so I guess one of the parents had bought it. I really did like that car! Well, Chris wanted a truck, so he bought a Ford F-150 from a friend. It was a nice full size truck. We rode to the hospital, to give birth to Gracie, in this truck because the car was in the shop in San Antonio!

*2000 Yep, that's right! We had gone to San Antonio (about 2 1/2 hours from Uvalde) the Saturday before Gracie was born on a Friday. She was about 3 weeks early, so we didn't know we were going out of town so close to when she would be born. I don't even remember what happened, but something happened and we were stranded in San Antonio with me basically 9 months pregnant and it being about 90+ degrees! Chris stayed on the phone for a gabillion hours with some lady with the insurance company. He kept getting put on hold. He finally told the lady that his wife was 8 months pregnant (or maybe he said 9) and it was over 90 degrees. She then felt bad and offered to call for some help. He assured her that medical help wasn't necessary but we needed to get a wrecker there now! We were basically in the parking lot of a nice restaurant but I was self conscious about going in there and sitting for long periods of time by myself. We finally ended up calling up our preacher and his wife, Mark & LeAnna Hale, who drove 2 1/2 hours to pick us up and drive us back home. Bless them! We did end up eating while waiting for them. The next day, I felt horrible and stayed home from church. Later that day, I told Chris I needed to go to the hospital because of a problem I started having. Everything was okay, but I really feel like I got dehydrated that day and less than a week later, Gracie decided to make her arrival! Ironic thing, Chris was planning to head out that morning with 2 work colleagues to San Antonio. They were going to a meeting and were going to pick up the car while they were there. My water broke at 5:45 that morning. I am so glad that it happened before he left for San Antonio. Can you imagine my fear & anxiety if he'd been 2 1/2 hours away when that happened?!?! His friends ended up picking it up when they went for the meeting.

*Well, the Breeze continued to have some problems and the truck was having some as well. We traded both cars in on a shiny red Suburban. Ah. my suburban. I loved it. However, we couldn't afford it. I had resigned from my job of teaching at the end of the school year. We were blessed enough to find someone who knew we were selling it, asked how much, and offered to write us a check for the whole amount....enough to pay it off. Bless her! We were nervous because it had had some problems but nothing too major. We then bought a 2000 Chevy Malibu in April 2001 right before (like a few weeks before!) we moved to South Carolina. We were moving to SC so Chris could have a better job and I could continue to stay home with Gracie. As much as we like Texas, the job move was a good move.

*2001 We came to South Carolina with just the one car. It was great for awhile, too. (Aren't they all?)Chris really needed something to drive to work. So, he bought some rust with 4 wheels, otherwise known as a truck, with $1400. You can imagine what a lovely vehicle you can buy with $1400! I don't even want to get into all of the problems that truck had, but one day it went "KERBLAM!" and then proceeded to sit in our yard for probably 4 months. Finally, some auto place paid us about $250, picked it up, and took it away. I guess they were planning to sell it for parts or something. Yeah, good luck with that!

*So, once again we were down to one car for awhile. Well, my parents decided to get a new vechicle and let us borrow their old one. The insurance would allow it for so many days (I think it was 90). It was a beautiful 1994 Chevy Astro van! Let me tell you, we were the envy of all of our friends! HA! Seriously, it was a little embarrassing, but we like to live by Dave Ramsey's motto. "Live like noone else so one day you can live like noone else." We did our taxes that year and got quite a big refund so I asked Dad how much he'd take for it. We ended up actually paying money to keep the big thing! Yes ma'am, we were now the proud owners of this fine contraption.

*Once again, I had my parents' hand-me-downs. At least this time, I paid for it! Back in '94, I took the Bonneville and ran! The Astro was quite the automobile, let me tell you. We spent so much money on that thing keeping it running and keeping the air going. Ugh! The Malibu, by this time, is having problems too. It's almost like we would flip a coin to see which one we'd like to have in the shop each week. The final straw with the Malibu came this Memorial Day. We were on our way to Nashville for my niece's birthday party. My dad had just called on the cell phone to check on how we were doing. When I answered the phone, everything was fine. About 2 minutes into the conversation, Chris had shifted into neutral and was coasting off the Interstate to the end of an exit ramp (in the middle of nowhere I might add). I was not happy. There I sat with my not quite 5 year old and 1 year old while my husband took a ride with some farmer up to a gas station. They tried filling it up (even though I knew that had nothing to do with it) they tried jumping it with cables, nothing worked! Eventually, we ended up walking uphill about a 1/2 mile with our 2 children along the side of the road up to a gas station/convenience store. This was literally probably the only one within 5-10 miles. It was actually a "nice" one as far as they go with tables and rocking chairs and big screen tv playing "The Dukes of Hazzard." We got the car taken somewhere and my brother drove from his house in Pegram, TN to pick us up (a little over an hour.) Chris & I were crammed into the front seat next to Josh. Neither Chris or I could wear our seatbelt which I hated! Anyway, after that trip I was pretty close to throwing in the towel on it. Soon after that, we ended up buying our beautiful (really this time!) red Honda Odyssey.

*2005 I really like my Odyssey. It's not brand new (2002) but it's been a great vehicle so far. The "Maintenance Required" light came on when we were on our way to the church retreat but it just meant that it was time for regular stuff like oil changes, etc. I hope this one lasts awhile!

*After we bought the Odyssey, we sold the Astro and Chris bought a little truck. You may ask why we were talking about making lemonade today. Well, let's just say his truck aint no Honda Odyssey. Yep, you guessed it. It was in the shop today with a less than desirable diagnosis. *sigh* Chris said he wouldn't expect anything less from us. It's "drivable" but needs some stuff done to it. I'm not sure where the money is going to come from, but God has been faithful to take care of us so far in our lives. I was reading "The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real" tonight and one of the characters was talking about listening to Twila Paris' song, "God Is In Control." I needed to read that. He is in control!

Since this post has really served as stress relief for me, I am feeling better. Here are some good things that happened today:
*I have Jesus in my life!
*We played Candy Land and Cariboo tonight with the girls and that was fun.
*The pure excitement & happiness Gracie showed when Chris mentioned "Family Night" was refreshing.
*The joy she had picking out 2 things at our new local Dollar Tree this afternoon was cute as well.
*I thought I "smelled" Katie this morning and said something to her about being "shooey." She left the room and then I saw the box of wipes being pushed around the corner. I went to investigate and there she was with a diaper and wipes. Smart girl!
*Chris wore a new shirt I'd recently bought for him and he looked really cute in it!
*I have Chris & the girls in my life.
*The weather was nice & cool today.
*My dad just called and said they were going to drive through town tomorrow and offered to take us to brunch. Our life is good!

Dear Lord,
Please help Chris & I to focus on You all the time! Help us not to get stressed over things like car problems and help us to make good financial decisions. Please help us to be there for other people when they need us. Help us to be the kind of parents you want us to be. Thank you for all of our blessings!
In Jesus' Name,