Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What a weekend!

I must warn you that this will be a long post, but I want to get it all recorded for the sake of memories.

Thursday evening:
We drove to Atlanta to spend the night at my parents' house. We didn't get there until kind of late, so we went to bed pretty soon after we arrived.

A few months ago, Gracie entered a writing contest sponsored by GPB & Reading Rainbow. She wrote & illustrated a story and we sent it in. I kept hoping that she would get some kind of recognition such as a letter or certificate of recognition, especially something from LeVar Burton. Finally, she received a certificate with LeVar's picture on it and a letter inviting her to a Reading Rainbow Celebration for Friday, May 26th in Atlanta. It just so happened that this date was the day after she got out of school and we were planning to be in Atlanta that day on our way to Nashville for the weekend. Perfect timing! After a few snags with making our reservation for the event, we were given the green light to attend, and we were all so excited! (Even though we don't live in Georgia, we get PBS from both Georgia & South Carolina because we're so close to the border of both states.)

When we arrived, Gracie received a goody bag with a t-shirt (big enough for me to wear!), a Tomie de Paola book, "The Art Lesson," and various other things. Soon we were let into the television studio. That was pretty cool! We waited awhile for the program to begin. Some people talked about how glad they were for all the kids to participate, etc. etc. then the winners read their stories. There were some cute stories among the winners. After that, they announced winners in the honorable mention category for illustrations & stories. Let's just say that 2 of those winners were painful to listen to. I know that sounds mean and it really was only the 2 out of about 15 winners there were hard to listen to, but I would feel pretty safe in saying that this one little boy did not write his story since his dad had to sit up there and tell him about every 2nd or 3rd word! It took forever! Thing is, he had won honorable mention for his illustrations and they only showed 1 of his illustrations on the screen. Oh well.

After the program, there was a carnival outside for the participants. They had craft activities and a big bouncy slide thingie, cotton candy, popcorn, sno-cones, lunch, balloon art with a clown, etc. It was fun, but we didn't stay long because we had to get going on the rest of our trip. We were very proud of Gracie for participating and for her attitude over not being one of the "winners." She is obviously not a very competitive person for which I am very grateful. I agree that a little bit of a competitive spirit is good, but I see alot of people these days who just go way overboard on it. I've seen some parents who practically draw diagrams of where the most Easter eggs are likely to be hidden so their child can find the most. Good grief!

Anyway, Gracie had a really good attitude about it and had the attitude of it being okay not to win and there's always next time. She already has written a story with much improved illustrations over the last one and wanted to know if we could send it in for the contest! I told her that the contest is only once per year but she could keep practicing and she'll be ready for next year. I think she really paid attention to the illustrations & stories of the winners as they were read because I can already see improvements with this new story.

After we left the celebration, we headed to Nashville with a little detour at Sears to purchase 4 new tires. You may remember my post a few months ago about all of the vehicle problems we've had in our marriage. 2 people told me Thursday that my back tire was low. Chris filled it up Thursday before we left town but then it was low again on Friday morning. With the luck we have and especially with the memory of being stranded last year on Memorial Day weekend, we decided to be more pro-active! We needed all new tires anyway and were planning to get them before we go to the beach next week so we just stopped along the way and got them! We both felt better after getting them. They were needed!

We arrived at the home of our friends, Will & Jenni, about 7:00 Nashville time and ate with them and stayed the night as well. They moved away from our town about a year ago so it was nice to visit with them for awhile.

I got to meet Malia! I got to meet Malia! I got to meet Malia! It was so fun meeting!
We got to see Malia, Boo-Boo, Sweetpea, Malia's mom and her sister. Gracie & Sweetpea got along quite well and Boo-Boo & Katie.......well, Boo-Boo just wanted to hug her soooo bad! Katie wasn't so inclined. I'm sorry, Boo-Boo. Maybe next time!

It was really neat meeting and talking. Malia & her family are very nice. The time didn't last long, but I am very glad we did it! I know I would have regretted not doing it. I look forward to seeing her again sometime.

We headed across town to my niece's 4th birthday party! We were able to see so much family that we never get to see, so it was great! We saw my brother, Josh, & his family of course (including baby Morgan who I hadn't met yet!) My parents & grandparents were there along with my Uncle Joe & Aunt Beth and my cousin Jon with his wife Laura and baby Jay who I also hadn't met yet and my Uncle Dennis & Aunt Sandy. Then there was all of my sister-in-law's family as well. It was a fun time and one I always enjoy.

After most everyone left, we went to my brother's house and hung out awhile then went to eat at a really good place on the river. I got catfish and I love catfish. The girls enjoyed watching out the window at the water & the boats.
Gracie & Ann Elise had quite the big slumber party planned, complete with sleeping together in her bed. However........that didn't work out. After just a little while, they were both ready for their own space. They had fun playing beforehand though. They played "squishy dolls" (a.k.a. Polly Pockets) and all sorts of other things. It is really great to see them play together and have so much fun. I wish they could do it more often. It's really kind of funny the way our kids are spaced. Gracie & Ann Elise are almost exactly 22 months apart. Then Ann Elise & Katie are almost exactly 22 months apart. Then Katie & Morgan are about 23 months apart. I know some people have 3 or 4 children all that close together. Whew. I think I'd be really tired!

We went to church then came home and Beth (my sister-in-law) cooked for us. Josh & Chris went to play golf but only made it 4 holes before it started storming. All 4 girls slept while Beth & I watched a very scary, but good, movie, "When a Stranger Calls." When Chris & Josh came up the basement stairs and opened the door, it scared me!

We went to church that night then met some of Beth's family at a local pizza place where we visited & ate and the kids played. We went back home where the girls continued to play while the adults watched some movies. We fell into bed pretty late.

We slept in a little, then ate pancakes that Josh made, then left about 10:30 (which is 11:30 our time!) A little later than we would have liked but we were just taking the morning easy. We drove around Nashville a little checking some things out then headed for home. After a stop at Cracker Barrel for lunch and Fazoli's for dinner, we made it home in time to watch most of The Apprentice. Of course, my mom called and I ended up talking to her and missed most of the show but that's okay.

Today is moving slowly. Yea! I didn't have to set the alarm to take Gracie to school. Yippee! We've got a fairly slow 3 days then we're off & running again to take Gracie to meet my parents to spend a few days with them going to their Family Bible Week then we'll pick her up and go to the beach with Chris' family.

Gracie has a list written of things we can do for "Gracie, Katie & Mommy time," so I guess I better go get started on some of those. I'm happy to have her home from school!

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the safe travels we had and thank for the fun family memories we created. Please continue to keep us safe this summer and help us to stay focused on You.
In Jesus' Name, Amen

Thursday, May 25, 2006

last day

We survived the last day of school! Thankfully, Gracie had a good day and was excited to go to playgroup afterwards. I guess this is just one more way she's like me. I tend to be more sad in anticipation to something happening than I am right when it happens. It was pretty much the same way with the 1st day of school. I cried almost all the way there, then I was okay once we got there! Here are a few pictures of Gracie with Miss Stack, Mrs. Hooks and Mrs. Terry. I was also able to get one of her with her beloved Coach!

We gave Miss Stack the wedding/end of the year present from Gracie & Hunter and we gave Mrs. Hooks & Mrs. Terry a little something. I had also written a letter to Miss Stack and Mrs. Hooks that I left with them. They questioned what it was and I said it was sweet things that I can write alot better than I can say! It's hard to sometimes even put into words how I feel, but I tried.

It's been a good year!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

hurting heart

How can I heal my daughter's hurting heart? At least twice today the tears have flowed because of how much she's going to miss Miss Stack. Once she came in and said, "I almost cried because tomorrow's the last time I'll see Miss Stack and Madison." (M is one of her friends.) Then tonight she came to me and said she was sad because she'd read a story about a girl who had left a giant and missed it and that made her "remember that she's going to miss Miss Stack." I held her and basically cried along with her although I tried to hide it. I don't want her to think it's wrong to be sad and I don't want her to think it's wrong to cry. I do want her to learn to control her feelings somewhat (like today she was crying when she was supposed to be cleaning and I had to remind her that she couldn't use being sad as an excuse not to clean! LOL) We prayed for Gracie and Miss Stack and that seemed to help her. Then her daddy felt sorry for her and let her call her Gramme, too!

People, I don't know what to do to help her not be sad because truly I am sad, too. I've written about Miss Stack throughout the year so it's no secret that we think she's been a true gem in Gracie's life this year. Just last week she proved it again when Gracie had a tough day at school with some issues. Chris had called her at home to talk about some things and she immediately called him back at work then proceeded to call here at home so she could talk to Gracie on the phone and make her feel better. No, she's not perfect. There are things about her that I'd change if I could, but honestly, she has been so much of what we wanted for Gracie to have in a teacher this year and she has given Gracie so much of what we wanted her to have. We feel like Gracie has grown so much in the areas we were wanting her to and alot of that is due to Miss Stack and the type of classroom atmosphere she provides for her students.

We're not having an official "end of the school year party" tomorrow. (Don't even get me started on why not......I don't think it has a whole lot to do with Miss Stack!) However, my friend Mary Beth asked her, "Can we bring a snack?" to which Miss Stack quickly replied, "Yes!" then MB asked, "Can they be cupcakes?" to which she smiled and said, "Yes!" So, call it what you want to, but MB & I are taking cupcakes & juice boxes an hour before school is out. I made the kind of cupcakes that are baked inside the ice cream cones. I had to take the decoration (they say "Great Job!") out of them to put them in a container and some of them are going to lose their icing when I take the top off but I just had a really hard time figuring out how to get them to school without them falling over. I'm still going to have be very careful!

Please pray for Gracie that she will enjoy her last day of school and look forward to getting "take-out" lunch and going to playgroup afterwards. (Katie & I meet for playgroup with a group of friends from mostly church each Thursday and Gracie has missed going, so I told her when she got out tomorrow, we'd pick up lunch somewhere and go meet everyone for lunch. )

Please pray that she'll remember all of the happy times of Kindergarten and smile about them rather than cry.

Please pray that I will be a good example for her and not cry myself. Seriously, I am on edge this week emotionally. Part of it is just that I don't like change. I DO NOT LIKE CHANGE. I get used to people and routines and this whole Kindergarten thing has been a routine. Part of it is that this just shows one more way that Gracie is growing up. She won't be a Kindergartener anymore after tomorrow. Essentially, she'll be a 1st grader. I'm having a hard time with that. I used to teach 2nd graders. 1st grade isn't too far off from 2nd grade and to think of my baby being as old as those kids I used to teach........words fail me.

Please pray that Gracie's 1st grade teacher will be as wonderful as Miss Stack has been and that whoever she is she will be for Gracie what she needs & what God wants her to have.

Please pray a prayer of thankfulness that Gracie's Kindergarten year has been so wonderful.

Please pray that Chris & I will look to God to guide us as we make all decisions concerning Gracie & Katie's education and our family life in general.

To close this post, I want to leave the poem I wrote for the front of Miss Stack's memory book that we gave her a few weeks ago. It just shows some of the good things about her. These things probably won't mean anything to anyone else, but since the blog is mainly a way for me to journal, I want to have a record of it here so that when Gracie looks back at this one day, she'll remember.

Miss Stack

for all the words you taught us to read,
for all the numbers you taught us to count,
for all the times we heard your infectious laugh,

for all the times you told us stories about Clue,
for all the times you signed a heart next to your name,
for all the times you told us we “knocked your socks off”,

for all the times you cared enough to discipline us,
for all the times you wrote out the morning message,
for all the times you greeted us at the door of the classroom,

for all the times you gave us a band-aid,
for all the times you sent home sweet notes,
for all the times you watched us on the playground,

for all the times you gave us Skittles,
for all the times you had the prettiest toenails,

for all the times you let us know you were proud of us,

for all the times you sent home books,
for all the times your enthusiasm far outweighed ours,
for all the times you stayed up late to plan fun things for us,

for giving 100% to us each day,
for being so wonderful that our parents feel secure leaving us with you,
for making our Kindergarten year so very special,
we love you & appreciate you!

Your Kindergarten class
~~~~~ Elementary School

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I've hit 10,000 visitors to my blog! I still haven't figured site meter out completely, but the best I can tell, my 10,000th visitor is in Nashville, TN~one of my favorite cities and one I'll be visiting this weekend! I have no idea who it is though because it doesn't tell me who it was or even list who the "referring URL" is. Usually it does at least list that, but not this time. It does say they visited on May 22 at 7:36 pm. I think it may record my visits too even though I tried to set it so it won't, so I suppose that would be pretty boring if it was really me! Of course, I'm not in Nashville....... They do have a bellsouth.net address and it gives me their IP address. I suppose if I was really computer savvy, I could find out that way, but I don't guess it matters that much!

Monday, May 22, 2006

sleeping beauty returns

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone,
O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8

Friday, May 19, 2006

Leave it to a kid to surprise you with something they say!

To quote JanJanMom, kids really do say the darndest things!

Today, Gracie & I were coming home from the library. We'd had a nice time. I'd picked out some books & videos; she'd picked out some books, she played on the computer while I looked at magazines; we'd left the 2 year old who doesn't know that she's supposed to be quiet at the library at home with Daddy. It was nice.

On the way home, all of a sudden she said something that went a little like this:

Gracie: "Mommy, sometimes I really want to say 'idiot'.........but I don't."

Me: (shocked and not sure how to respond) "Um, okay...... (trying to sound casual so she'll be honest and not think she's being interrogated) Who says that word?"

Of course, I'm thinking she's going to say that one of her classmates at school has said it or even that she's heard me or daddy say it *blush*

Gracie: (after quite a long pause which gave me much time to stew over who I was going to be mad at for exposing my child to such a word) "On 101 Dalmatians. The mean lady says it."

Me: (a little shocked once again) "Cruella DeVille?"

Gracie: "Yeah, her."

I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that it was actually ME who had exposed my child to the word! Not really a sigh of relief, but I think you know what I mean. I questioned her as to whether or not anyone else said it and assured her that I wouldn't be mad if she told me. She said no, it was just Cruella. Thing is, I don't even know when the last time was that she watched that movie.

She said again that sometimes she just really wants to say it. Since I felt that I was in the midst of a teaching moment, we talked about how it was good that she realized she shouldn't say it and told me about it then we prayed about it asking God to help her not to say it. The conversation continued a little bit more. I told her I'd tell Daddy so he could help her also but that she wasn't in trouble. When we got home, she told him herself.

What a girl! Proud doesn't even begin to explain how we feel about her. I'm so happy that when something concerns her, she comes to us. I only pray that she'll continue to do that throughout her life.
She had Field Day today. Her class won the Kindergarten Tug-o-War! Yippee! Of course, when we were yelling "Pull Gracie Pull!", she looked at me and said, "I can't!" They had lots of other activities available for them to play....basketball, bowling, bouncy houses, sack races, an obstacle course, etc. Katie even got into the fun some. Look how long the field day t-shirt was on her! The first shorts she put on~which really weren't that short~couldn't even be seen with the shirt on!

Poor thing, she inherited her athletic abilities from me, I'm afraid. She had fun, though and that's the important thing. I was able to get a picture of her with Mrs. Hooks & Miss Stack. They've been a wonderful part of Gracie's Kindergarten experience this year and they will be rememberd with fondness. I finally got a picture of Gracie with her "special friend" Hunter! Doesn't he look thrilled to be posing for this picture?!?! He really thinks alot of Gracie~as she does him~but he's not so much into being photographed with her!
We had so much fun tonight. Gracie finished reading her first "Magic Tree House" book today. She read the last chapter of 'Lions at Lunchtime' at school today because she took the book for Show & Tell. When we were at the library, we checked out the first one, 'Dinosaurs Before Dark'. When she was looking through the book, she noticed that there was a website so we had to check it out. It has lots of interesting information and links about the series and the different subjects covered in the books.

I enjoyed reading the 'Lions' book with her because it really does give interesting facts about Africa and the different animals and how they work together. She would read some of it and Chris or I would read some of it. She could read most of quite independently but there were times she needed some help. I know I'll want to read at least some of the other books with her too since I want to make sure of what she's reading. Any time you start reading about dinosaurs, you get into the stuff about how many millions of years ago the dinosaurs lived, but those "facts" don't line up with what the Bible says so I'll want to talk to her about that.

When we were on the Magic Tree House site, we kept linking to other sites and found some really fun & educational things to do. We looked at pictures from a school in Ghana, listened to some thumb piano tunes, looked at gorilla pictures, played a photo guessing game, helped write a wild & wacky story~VERY fun!, played Cyber Tiger, and more! There were tons of neat things to do!

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enought trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

sleeping beauty

I noticed it had gotten very quiet, so I went to check on Katie. She had fallen asleep on the couch holding her magnadoodle. Now I have to decide whether or not I want to wake her up to go get Gracie or let her sleep longer and do carline......

keep your tongue...

....keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Psalm 34:13

Keep your tongue from evil,
keep your tongue
Keep your tongue from evil,
keep your tongue
and your lips from speaking lies,
Keep your tongue from evil,
keep your tongue
I know I've mentioned before how much we're enjoying our Steve Green cd's that we've downloaded off of iTunes. It's amazing to me how easily children can pick up the lyrics to songs and one of the great things about the Steve Green ones that we have is that they are songs based on Scripture.
This morning, Gracie said our prayer for us as we left for school. She asked God to help us not to tell lies and to keep us from evil. I questioned her about what she had prayed and told her that it was a good prayer. I asked her where she had heard that from because it wasn't her usual prayer. She said it was from the song that I posted the lyrics to above. She loves this song because after they sing it the first time, they say to hold your tongue and sing it. Of course, it sounds funny that way which makes it stick in her mind that much more.
Dear Lord,
Thank you for the precious hearts & spirits of our children. May we learn from them.
In Jesus' Name,

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I make the best macaronie!

Gracie made me a Mother's Day card at school similar to the ones received by Elizabeth & Erica. I loved what their children wrote; here is what Gracie wrote. (no grammar or spelling corrections have been added.)
Here is the poem she wrote for the front cover: roses are red volits are blue you love me and so do I.

My mom always says I love you.

My mom cooks the best macaronie.

This is how she makes it buter cheze.

My mom really loves me.

My mom and I like to Read.

My mom's favorite clothes to wear are a dress.

My mom is beautiful because she wears preety clots.
Both of the girls made me wonderful Mother's Day crafts in Bible Class as well as MDO and school. I treasure them! With my birthday being just right before Mother's Day, I told Chris not to really do anything specific for Mother's Day, but I did get to treat myself to a pedicure and we had a delicious lunch at Red Lobster! Honestly, Chris makes me feel special and loved and like a good mother each day of the year. He's just that kind of a man.
Yesterday I took cupcakes to school for lunch to celebrate Gracie's birthday. Of course, her birthday isn't until July 28, but I've always felt bad that she would get "cheated" out of bringing cupcakes for her birthday, so I asked Miss S if I could bring them and of course she said yes. It was fun! Gracie chose for me to make strawberry cupcakes with white frosting that had mini M&M's to put on top. Gracie even got to wear the "birthday crown" and Miss S and Mrs. H gave her birthday treats and she got to pick out a birthday book from the library.

I did feel kind of bad because I think Gracie got a birthday book from the library at the beginning of the year because I think the school as a whole celebrates with "birthday cupcakes" once a month at lunch and I guess July was celebrated earlier in the year and she got her book. Anyway........I may send a book to school to donate to the library to make up for it. I know it's not really a big deal, but I feel kind of bad. That's just who I am.
Gracie got her hair chopped off today. I know it'll be cooler for summer and it looks really cute.
I can hardly believe there are only 7 more days of school and then my baby will technically be a"1st grader!" *sigh, cry, sniff* It's been a great year and many of the memories from this first "real" year of school will live for a long time. (I'm such a sentimental fool!) I was glad when Miss S called last week to thank me for the book we made. She said when she read the poem at the front she almost got teary eyed. I said, "I did, too!" It made me feel less like a fool and just sentimental!
One of Gracie's best friends at school has an older sister who had outgrown her Polly Pocket toys, so she gave them to Gracie. It was enough to fill a garbage bag! These things are so much fun! The best thing is the ferris wheel that goes into a roller coaster! I think there's a hotel and a water park, too. I haven't been able to look at all of it yet. I remember Deana's funny post about being sick of them, but honestly they're fun! (although Gracie & I both agree that many of Polly's outfits are inappropriate! LOL)
Katie is great! Into everything and cute as a button!
I am currently reading The Debt by Angela Hunt. So far I really like it.
Dear Lord,
Thank you for my wonderful husband and daughters who continually love me and show me how much so often. Please help Chris & I to raise our daughters in a way that is consistent with Your will. Please help me to be what You want me to be to everyone I meet. Sometimes I struggle with my exact role in peoples' lives, or their role in mine. Please help me to solicit Your guidance and to follow it.
In Jesus' Name,

Monday, May 15, 2006

random good thing

You know how every once in awhile something really good & unexpected happens....something kind of random that you might not necessarily wish to happen but when it does, you're grateful?

I just renewed my drivers license online!

I didn't have to wait in line. I didn't have to wrestle Katie while I waited in line. I didn't have to worry about some of the people I was waiting in line with...I live in South Carolina...I can encounter some pretty backwoods type people on a daily basis!

I didn't even know my license was expired until Friday when I went to cash a check at the bank. The conversation went a little like this:

Teller: (through the intercom) Jacinda, do you have a valid i.d.?

Me: I sent you my driver's license.

Teller: (a little exasperated) Yes, but it's expired.

Me: (genuinely surprised) It is?!?! Oh...um...(looking through my wallet wondering what else in the world I had that would prove who I am)

Teller: Yes, it is.

Me: Oh....gosh....um.....(still fumbling through my wallet even though I knew I didn't have another picture i.d.)

Teller: (quite sarcastically in my opinion) Well, I'll go ahead and cash it this time but after this you'll have to have a valid i.d.

I mean, come on. I understand it's the law and that's fine, but am I any less who I am just because my license expired? The teller truly was kind of mean about it. But, I suppose it's a good thing she told me because I sure had no clue it had expired on my birthday!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Teacher Appreciation books

The Teacher Appreciation books are done! I had alot of fun making them, although I did stress a couple of times over one thing or another. They're totally homemade looking, but that's okay!

For Miss S, I sent home a letter to all the parents explaining what I would like for the students to do then sat back and waited for the work to come back to school and be sent home with Gracie. The students were to write a letter or a story for Miss S and illustrate it. Something to let her know how much they appreciated her. I know Miss S was wondering what in the world was inside the manila envelopes but I think she was a good sport about it all an didn't peek. I got 21 out of 25 back from the students and I was pretty pleased with that. I really expected to get less than that. I actually had the mother of one student call me on my cell phone at church last night~oops! Good thing I was teaching the baby class and only had 1 little boy so it didn't really disturb anyone. She wanted to know if it was too late to send her son's letter in. I told her I'd already put the book together but if she'd send it in I'd glue it onto the purple paper and give it to Miss S and she could probably attach it to the book later. I have 1 other student who may do the same thing.

For Mrs. H & Mrs. T., I traced each of their hands and had them tell me something they liked about them and I put that all together. I'm going to give them their books this afternoon right before school is out. I really hope they like them. It's just a little something that they can look back on and see how they were appreciated.

For all of them, my friend Mary Beth helped me think up different things that each of them was known for and I typed it up to put at the front of the book. I'm such a sappy person that I teared up typing up Miss S's. She has just been such a wonderful teacher for Gracie this year and I truly am grateful for her! I am going to miss her & Mrs. H so much next year! *sigh* Going to 1st grade is going to be alot harder on me than it is on Gracie!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

more randomness

Thanks for all the comments about books for Gracie. I love to read and am so glad she does too. The book fair is at her school this week so this morning we braved the throngs of people to go visit. (I'm not much for just sending money with her for that kind of thing because I'm afraid she'll come home with a poster or a stuffed animal or something other than a book. And to think I write alot about wanting her to spread her wings! HA! I guess I'm selective about it when it comes to reading and my money!)

I picked out one for Miss S from her wish list and Gracie picked out (at my prompting) one of the Magic Tree House books. Lions at Lunchtime. I'm anxious to see if we like them. I like the fact that they can get history lessons and geography type lessons (thanks for the tip Elizabeth!) I'm also loving Aunt Erin's idea about the American Girl books being a birthday idea for Gracie! (We'll have to talk later, Erin....you're awesome!) Erin and I have this understanding when it comes to gifts now that we both have children. We just let each other know what we really want our children to receive. No use buying/receiving something we don't really want! I love it!

Speaking of gifts, one of my friends told me about Harry & David the other day. I think I'd heard about them but had never really looked into them. I browsed the website and, for Mother's Day, ended up ordering "Harry's Collection" for my mom and "Light Size Papayas and Mangoes" for my mother-in-law. I'm not sure when they'll actually receive them but am anxious to see if they like them and if it was a worthwhile purchase. I'm never sure when I order online. (Hope Mom doesn't choose today to start reading my blog!)

I also forgot to mention something that really noone will probably be interested in but I was proud of myself. I'd been reading a particular blog that made my blood boil just about everytime I read it. I didn't have a link to it but had it saved on my "favorites" list on Internet Explorer so I could easily read it. The other day it made me mad again so I deleted it! I can still find it (and did last night) but I deleted it from my fave list so it's harder to get to it. Sometimes you just gotta do things like that!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

random thoughts

*How is it that you can think you know someone then suddenly they reveal something that completely knocks your socks off?!?! WOW!
*Why is it that I decided to make a book for Miss S (for Teacher Appreciation Week) and sent home a letter explaining the project to each parent and asked for each child's portion of the project (a letter & picture) to be returned by Monday (and I sent home the letter & required materials last Tuesday) and this morning, one of the moms sees me in the hall and tells me that she's sending in her daughter's letter tomorrow and this mom is a teacher at the school?!?!?

Does she not understand what a deadline is? Honestly! She said, "Oh, were you going to put it together today?" I said, "Well yes, but that's okay." What was I supposed to say?!?! So now I'm more crunched for time because I need to get it to the laminating place and then bound together, etc. I just find it ironic that the teacher's kid is turning hers in late~2 days late! *sigh* I shouldn't be surprised. I taught a teacher's kid once and although he was smart, he was out in la~la land most of the time. Of course, so was his teacher mom! Anyway......I'm venturing too close to gossip and am probably actually already there. I'll stop for now.
*Why is it that some people don't understand blogging? I mean, I know it's not for everyone and sometimes I don't understand it all myself, but I love it! I love knowing that these mundane, daily, sometimes boring stories are going to be recorded forever. I wouldn't take the time to write them all down manually, but I will type them. It's just easier. I told Chris that once a year, I want to have my posts turned into the book. These will be priceless to me and hopefully to my children. That's okay that others aren't into it, but I love it!

To some people, pictures of their children are the things they'd want to grab in case of a fire, some people it would be jewelry. I think I'd go grab Gracie's journals from school this year. Her writings & illustrations are some of my most prized possessions. I don't really consider myself much of a journaler but with blogging, I am. One of my dreams is to one day write children's stories and be successful at it. I always say that if I were to go back to school I think I'd want to major in print journalism. I just think I'd like it and could see doing that as a stay at home mom.
*I got Katie's hair trimmed yesterday. It'd been less than a month but her bangs were waaay long already. Nicole cut them much shorter than last time and I am in love with how she looks. She looks so precious!
*We weren't planning to do a Vacation Bible School at our church this year. With getting into the new building and some other things going on, it just hadn't been planned. My friend Melissa stepped up to the plate and said she'd organize it so I jumped on the bandwagon with her. I told her she could be "Project Manager" this year and I'll do it next year. She promised not to take me into the boardroom if it's a flop. (We watch way too much Apprentice!) We're both really excited about it now and I think it's going to turn out great!
*I'm sure I've expressed before how proud I am of Gracie and all she has learned this year. Well, her reading is just absolutely amazing and I'm wanting to challenge her and keep her interested~I don't think keeping her interested is going to be much of a problem! Well, I've been wanting to get her a chapter book series to start reading. There's one series that is quite popular that I'm not fond of. They had read some of it at school and I wasn't thrilled. It would be easy to go to Target or Barnes & Noble and buy this series because there are about a gabillion books in the series, but I don't like it so I'm not going to. It's not like it's totally awful; the main character just exhibits some very undesirable behavior and never seems to suffer any real consequences for it. Gracie & I talked at length about the books and why I don't like it and what the character does wrong, etc. If the character suffered more consequences, that would make a world of difference. I don't expect her to only read about characters who are good all the time. I love Ramona books! Ramona does things wrong all the time, but she also suffers consequences. I have most of those books and have started reading one of those to her.

Anway, so I've been wanting to find a chapter book series for her. So, Saturday Melissa & I went to a nearby larger town to look at VBS stuff and we also went to Barnes & Noble. I looked & looked and it's really hard to choose one without actually reading them. I've heard about the "Magic Tree House" series but haven't read any and have actually had 2 people say they just didn't like them that well. Of course, they had a gabillion of the series I don't prefer. They had a bunch of "The Boxcar Children" which there are over 100 of those, but I haven't read them. I thought about the "American Girl" series because there alot of them and I thought they'd be good to teach some history and there were alot we could add to.

For now, I ended up going with The Best Sleepover Ever! #1: Angelina's Diary which is one of the Angelina Ballerina chapter books that the author has written. Gracie, and I, love Angelina, and Gracie probably has at least 10 of her picture books already. There are 3 books in the series and one more coming out so I'm hoping there will be even more. I went ahead and bought the 3 and Gracie finished the 1st one on Sunday! I made her tell me about it because I told her that if she can't tell me about it, then it is still too hard for her to comprehend; that reading is about more than just reading the words. As with most kids, she wasn't thrilled with having to summarize it for me, but once she got into it, she kept telling more & more. She said something like, "She only said one bad word, s-t-u-p-i-d." I remember that word from when she was reading part of it to me, so we discussed it and how it wasn't appropriate, etc. I like that it's written in diary form because Gracie loves writing in her "diary." Of course, I tell her that Mommy needs to read her diary and that I hope she'll always want to share it with me. I'm all for her having privacy~but only to a degree. Another post for another time.

Does anyone else have suggestions for chapter books for 5 1/2 year olds? She's past the beginner reader type books and is ready for "real" ones. I'm thinking about the Pippi Longstocking books also. I think she'd like those.
*Mary Beth & I may be going to a nearby town this weekend to shop for Miss S a wedding gift. She's registered at Williams Sonoma. LOVE that store!
*The pants I'm wearing are loose today. Not sure why, but I sure am glad! This doesn't happen very often!
*I gotta go work on the books I'm making. I think I have the books for the aides almost ready to be laminated so I better get those to the shop. I sure hope they turn out well!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

one of my favorite prayers

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can
and wisdom to know the difference.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sharin' the love

That's right. I have shared something lately with Chris. He may not view it as love however since he's currently lying on the couch sweating profusely and basically feeling like.......well, use your imagination to come up with a word that describes something bad! He's sick. I asked my mom if she'd come back, but she seemed to think I could take care of him. I was hoping if I asked nicely she would come, but I suppose she's right! Please, oh please let the girls be spared from this sickness! I have to admit it was a little validating when Chris said, "I'm sorry. I didn't realize how bad you felt last week." Our symptoms are slightly different but I think basically stem from the same thing. Poor thing.
We have a meeting at church planned for tomorrow morning. 8:00 breakfast, 8:30 meeting. Who scheduled this thing? Not me, I can assure you. Chris will be staying home, and I'm tempted, but I really want to have input so the girls & I will be going. They're providing childcare, so the girls will have fun. It'll be like playgroup for them.

Gracie's school is having a "bake & yard sale" tomorrow morning also. The proceeds will benefit the family of the little girl who had the brain tumor. She is doing better and is back at home, but I'm not sure of her long term prognosis. I know the latest I heard was that the tumor had shrunk and they were stopping the chemo and only doing radiation. (I think that's what I remember.) So, it was good news. They had sold some cookbooks earlier in the year that also benefited the family and we got those this week. The book is really great and very heartfelt in some of the letters written to her.
Chris & I were supposed to go out tonight...on a real date. However, since he was sick we decided not to. He actually said he thought he could at least make it just going out to eat. I was like, "um, no." I didn't want him sitting across from me shaking from chills on our date!

I had already told Gracie that she & Katie were going to stay with her friend "A" and I knew she would be disappointed. When I called my friend Melissa to tell her, we were discussing how sad the kids would be. Almost as if on cue, I heard "A" in the background say, " "K"can't wait until Gracie comes over!" (K is his sister.) Melissa gently brought up the subject about Mr. Chris being sick so we couldn't go out. "A" said, "Well, Miss Jacinda could bring her." Melissa said, "Well, she might need to stay home to take care of Mr. Chris." "A" said, "Well, we could go get her." Needless to say, I ended up taking her over there to play & eat dinner for a bit tonight. I actually was able to run a few errands while Katie stayed home with Chris. He seemed to be feeling a little better. Of course, now he's not feeling good again but for a little bit he seemed to.

When "A"'s daddy brought Gracie home, he mentioned a little road rage with "A"'s 4 wheeler (a kid size one). Apparently, Gracie was driving (which always makes me nervous) and she ran over "A"! Not only that, but I guess she got nervous & confused so she didn't let up on the gas when she did it, so she just kept revving the engine on top of him! He's okay and it was an accident, but still! I'm so glad he wasn't really hurt. Gracie seemed quite embarrassed about it and didn't really want to talk about it. I could tell by her nervous little laugh when Shawn was telling me about it then when I was talking to her about it, she said she didn't want to talk about it because she was just too embarrassed.

Shawn said that after "A" calmed down, she was driving it again and "A" was even riding with her! Brave kid!

I hope this isn't a preview of what her real driving record will look like!
Wednesday, I turned the big 33! Chris gave me a very nice birthday this year along with my parents, in-laws and friends. I got petit fours....yummy! Love those things from Publix!
I have stolen a few ideas from Stephanie's blog about Teacher Appreciation week. It is next week (although her school recognized it this week.) Having been a teacher and having many days when I felt anything but appreciated, I really want to make Gracie's teachers feel special next week. I have tried to show my appreciation throughout the year, but I really want to do fun things next week. My friend Mary Beth & I came up with some ideas that we were going to do on our own, but I mentioned it to another mom and she really thought others would want to help, so she took the job of asking and we got a good amount of help. Yea!

I think someone on the PTA is doing a really nice catered luncheon one day next week for all the teachers at the school. Probably Friday because next week is testing week in South Carolina (fun, fun) so I imagine the luncheon will be on Friday because there will be no testing that day.

Gracie's class has Miss S~the teacher, Mrs. H~the teacher's aide and Mrs. T~the shadow aide for one little girl. It's great to have 3 adults in the class although it does make it a little harder when it comes to gifts because you don't want to leave any of them out. Mrs. H does such a tremendous amount for the kids and while Mrs. T is officially only there for 1 specific child, she also does alot for all of them. Here is what we are doing:

Monday, "K"'s mom is bringing them breakfast pastries and "their" drink. (diet dr. pepper for Mrs. H, diet coke for Mrs. T and diet mt. dew for Miss S.)

Tuesday, "S"'s mom is bringing a rose bush for each of them.

Wednesday, "C"'s mom is bringing something, possibly a nice dessert for their lunch.

Thursday, "H"'s mom is bringing self pedicure kits.

Friday, we're presenting each of them with a book that I'm putting together with work that the kids are giving me.

For Miss S, I sent home special paper that has a blank space at the top for a picture then lines at the bottom. I sent home a letter asking them to write a story or a letter for Miss S showing why they appreciate her. I'm going to take all of them (that I actually get back!) and bind them into a book with bright colored paper. I asked them to send it in by Monday. So far, I don't have too many. I'm really hoping to get at least close to 100% participation. For Mrs. H and Mrs. T, I traced all of the kids' hands on Wednesday when I went to volunteer. They each wrote their name inside the hand and told me something they liked about each of them. I'm putting those all together on colored paper and will make a book for each of them. I hope they'll turn out okay.

Mary Beth & I are also giving Miss S a gift certificate to a local teacher store.
We had some company spend the night last night. When we lived in Uvalde, there was a couple who went to church with us and I taught with her. She retired after I'd been teaching there just 1 year. She still teaches 1 day a week in Dallas. When Chris was out of town, I'd pack up and go spend the night at their house because I was too chicken to stay by myself! She was a mentor to me with teaching. Very special people.

They moved away from Uvalde about a month before Gracie was born. They had seen her but not since she was less than a year old. Obviously, they'd never seen Katie...except in pictures. The girls took to them like ducks take to water! Katie loved Harold! She is always so much more attracted to grandfathers than grandmothers. She loves both of course, but there's something about her & men. We're going to have to watch this one!

Gracie & Ruane sat & read and talked. Ruane was so impressed at how Gracie is reading which of course pleased me to no end. We all had a really nice time together!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

new links

Please check out 2 new blogs that I'm adding to my links list.

Murphy's in Samoa~I have blogged about this family before and I look forward to hearing about their missionary adventures & life in American Samoa. Philip is a hilarious writer, too!

Erin~This is my sweet, precious sister-in-law and I am so way excited that she is blogging! And to think, I seemed to sense from her a desire to make fun of me last summer when I started my blog. She's hooked now, no denying it! I love it.....and her!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

in memory of Astyn

".....You're nice inside and out." -Aaron
"I think you're going to be a model cause you're so pretty!" -Sarah
"I think you will be a basketball player or a surgeon."
"I don't know what you will be but you will be a nice and funny person." Mike
These are just some of the things that my Lubbock Christian School 6th grade students wrote about Astyn Qubty at the end of the school year in '97. I love to make books (a love which has been passed on to Gracie!). Just about anytime I could incorporate making a book into my lesson plans I would do it. Why just write out a list of adjectives when you could make a book and illustrate those adjectives?

At the end of that first year of teaching, we made 2 class books that I still have copies of. I'm sure there are others around here as well. One book was called, "Please pray for me" and each child had a page where they wrote a letter to their classmates asking for prayers in a specific, or non-specific, area. I bound the letters together and gave each student a copy. Out of respect for her privacy, I won't reveal what Astyn requested prayers for, but I am still amazed at her honesty & openness with her classmates. The other book we made was called "What a 6th grade class!" This one also had a page for each student where all of the other students in the class wrote down their predictions for what that child would be one day. Astyn had such a flair about her. She loved life! I was looking to see what she had written for the other students and noticed that she had circled her predictions on almost every page~so it would stand out. That was Astyn!

Astyn was popular and beautiful~the picture above doesn't do her justice. I think all the boys were in love with her. Seriously. She was always able to make others laugh, including me. There were times when she & I disagreed about whether or not the timing was right for making others laugh, but that's okay. I remember getting a letter from her after that year was over, maybe it was in the summer I can't remember. I still have that letter. I don't know where in the world it is, but I will never get rid of it. I remember she mentioned that she was going to a camp at ACU and she noted that she knew I would like that because I was always dropping not so subtle hints to them about ACU being the place to be! With our school being located directly behind Lubbock Christian University, I felt I had to drum up business for Abilene Christian University! Astyn was a good athlete as well as being beautiful and well liked. She had a mom & dad who loved her immensely and 3 older sisters, including a set of twins. She had a good life.

The reason I'm writing about her in past tense is because on May 2, 1999, Astyn was killed at the age of 14. 7 years ago. She & 5 other girls. They were killed in New Mexico in a bus crash coming home from a church retreat with Greenlawn Church of Christ. I won't retype all of the details because you can read them in the link above or this one if you'd like to. I only taught in Lubbock one year before we moved to Uvalde. I'll never forget Chris calling me at Anthon Elementary School after school was out one afternoon~my birthday actually. I think I took the call in the nurse's office and he was telling me that one of my friends who had taught with me for a time in Lubbock had called and told him about a bad wreck that had involved some Lubbock kids.

He told me that Marion had told him that one of the names mentioned on the news report sounded alot like one of the students I had taught just 2 years earlier. I was in a little bit of shock with my time teaching her running through my mind~kind of like your life going before your eyes. I went into the school library and got onto the computer to read the story. I read the story but still held out a little hope because they had her name wrong. With a name like Astyn Qubty, I suppose that was an understandable mistake. They were reporting that Ashton Cuptee had been killed. In my heart, I knew it was her but I was still holding out some hope.

I went home and checked my answering machine. Laurie Davis, the other 6th grade teacher during my time there, and still a teacher at the school at that time, had left me a message. As soon as I heard her voice, I started crying because I knew. We had not kept in touch since I'd left Lubbock, so I knew. I called her and we talked for awhile. I remember talking to my dad. Like I said, this was my birthday (the wreck had happened the day before) and I don't remember if he had called me or I had called him. It even seems like he had already emailed me or called or something and mentioned the wreck. Anyway, I just remember as soon as I heard his voice I started to cry and said, "One of my students was killed in that wreck."

Oh, it was awful. To this day, I can sit and just try to wish myself back 9 years. Wish myself back to that classroom with those 14 students and cherish those days just a little more. Try to keep the little things little. I remember we read the book that year, "Bridge to Terabithia." One of the main characters, who was a child, died and I remember crying. I also remember the students looking at me like I was a little crazy and me thinking, "Don't you get how sad this is?" Unfortunately, 2 years later, most of them did get it. I keep thinking that it was unfair, that her life was cut too short. SIX girls died in the crash. SIX. To even try to think about the horror that must have been felt by those in the accident is unimaginable.

I will forever be grateful for the fact that Chris & I were able to go to the funeral. For me, funerals offer closure and I am so glad we were able to drive the 6 or 7 hours to go. I remember hugging her best friend, Sarah, and not knowing what to say but knowing that in 6th grade they had been literally connected at the hip and wondering how in the world it was that Sarah wasn't with her that weekend. The image most seared into my mind though is that of Aaron. Astyn was buried in a white casket and the students were encouraged to sign it. At one point, I looked down at the front of the auditorium and he was the only one down there, kneeling down signing it. I just remember having this overwhelming urge to go back in time 2 years to our classroom where we were just doing 6th grade stuff. I remember thinking that he shouldn't have to be signing that casket. It just didn't seem fair.

The funeral was upbeat as far as funerals go. They read some entries from her journal where she had expressed dismay at stuff that was going on in the world and a desire to go be with God. I know her family is missing her today just a little more than most days. I know God can work good through anything and I pray that someone was touched through her life & death as I'm sure they were. Below is an excerpt from an article about her funeral:
The funeral for Astyn at Green Lawn Church of Christ was meant to let her tell her story, said Doug Hale, the officiating minister.
Hale relayed a letter Astyn had written to family and friends.
The letter recalls how Astyn was thinking about them in prayers and that even though she might not have known the position they were in, that ''God will take care of everything. There is a reason for everything, and God loves you very much.''
She wrote that she and family and friends would be reunited in heaven and told them that they could come stay with her.
''She's inviting us home,'' Hale said.
Fraze read a letter that Astyn's father, Johnny Qubty, had written to her.
The letter recalls the father missing Astyn's ''laugh, funny faces and the awesome smile.''
He recalled going to lunch, to a movie and shopping with Astyn before the trip to New Mexico.
He wrote that God would take care of Astyn until friends and family could be with her again and that the Lord would keep her playing basketball so ''she could beat her dad in a game of one-on-one.''
He told her to keep practicing for when they are reunited for their game.
Hale also read snippets from a journal Astyn wrote during last weekend's retreat.
She asked God to put stronger faith in her heart, and gushed about trees, grass, flowers and the sky, noting they were God's creations.
In another passage, Astyn wondered what is beyond Earth and why people make the world gross in spite of God's works.
Astyn's mother, Diane, recalled an early harbinger of her daughter's faith. While her mother drove her home from Tuesday School, Astyn, 3, asked her, ''Who loves me, mom?''
After further inquiry, Astyn said, ''Jesus.''
Dear Lord,
Please comfort the Qubty family today. Wrap your arms around them and give them peace.
In Jesus' Name,

Monday, May 01, 2006

Object of her desire

"Things just never work out for me."

Words similar to these are what Gracie mumbled through her tears Saturday night right before bedtime. Earlier in the evening, she had seen this Crayola item at Target. She and I both were mesmerized by this toy until I saw the $79.99 price tag. That is definitely a "birthday" or "Christmas" item, not an "impulse" item! I know she would love it and I'd love for her to have it, but I'm not about to plunk down 80 bucks on a whim for it.

It's tempting, but I know it wouldn't be the right thing to do. For one thing, $80 is alot of money for this 1 income family. My husband works hard and has a great job, but we have to be sensible. $80 here & there adds up quickly. For another thing, I'm not sure it would be teaching her the right lesson. We're trying hard to teach her that "stuff" isn't important and that she needs to be thankful for what she has and that others aren't as fortunate. (Tough concept for a 5 year old~and a 33 year old!)

Chris told her she could do some odd jobs around the house to save up for it. I quickly looked at him and said under my breath, "It's $80!" I'm thinking, "How much does he expect to pay her for cleaning the bathroom?!?!?" In his defense, he didn't realize it was $80 when he offered this solution to her. (I'm not sure what he was doing when we were discussing the price at Target!) Also, we explained that some jobs she just needs to do because she's a responsible 5 year old, like cleaning her room, taking her dishes to the sink, etc. Earning this money will be for extra jobs like cleaning the bathroom sink and.....I'm not even sure what else. Of course, Chris told her if she mowed the yard he'd just buy it for her! Yea, right!

She's in there right now cleaning the bathroom. She cleaned the sink and is now hanging up all the extra bows that were lying around. She already tried to get me to come help her because "it will just take too long." I told her she didn't want that toy very badly if she was already to give up. She went back and is working hard!

our weekend

our weekend:

Saturday, we had a picnic for Chris' work group. It was fun with lots of activities for the children. We also ran some errands around town doing this & that.

Sunday, we had church then a shorter afternoon at home than usual because we were meeting some in our Life Group around 4:00 to go fishing. Gracie fell in the mud which was amusing, although not to her. Only 1 person caught a fish, and it was one of the girls who wouldn't even bait her own hook or remove the fish when it was caught. Of course, I have no room to talk. I didn't do any of that either! Then we had our regular Bible Study; I had the kids last night; then we ate, and we ate good! LeeRoy had cooked out a bunch of stuff~steak, ribs, barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers. It was yummy! Everyone else had brought sides, so we had plenty to eat. The kids played out back on the trampoline and swingset. Gracie tried her hand at roller skating & roller blading. Funny to watch! Chris played basketball with Laura & a couple of the guys. Let's just say it's been awhile since he played!

In May, we will meet at a different house for Life Group. Then in June, another and on through November 'til we take a break and regroup. This is definitely a great group!

This morning, Katie & I are takin' it easy. I need to get out and run some errands, but I'm not sure when that will happen. Sometime before noon perhaps.