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!