Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Baby Shanks #3 likes Sonic Blasts!

*Saw the doctor today. Baby Girl is doing good. She is moving a lot these days. I had a Sonic Blast last night and let's just say, this little girl liked it! She was kicking so hard after that!
*I pulled up early at car line today to get Gracie. As I was pulling up, I saw this cute little girl frantically waving at me from the playground. Gracie & 3 of her friends were playing "detective,"-looking for footprints. It was so cute watching her run around & play with her classmates, and I love that she & some of her classmates were excited to see me and tell me what they were playing.
*Katie stayed with a friend today while I went to the doctor. When I got there, I started visiting and didn't go tell her I had come back. When she came in the room, she was so happy to see me. That made me feel good!
*We had a good prayer group this morning for the 3rd week in a row! The group is rather small but very consistent in the ones who are attending. I especially liked the prayer led by one of the women which was so positive. I find myself sometimes praying more for the things I'd like help with. Her prayer was so full of thankfulness which I appreciated. Katie had a great time playing with the 2 little girls who came, and they all got along so well which is nice!
*I mailed Gracie's Reading Rainbow story today and had to buy one of the big envelopes to put it in. The man weighed the envelope and told me how much it was and I wrote him a check. He then told me that he had forgotten to charge me 42 cents for the envelope. I didn't have that cash, so I asked him if he wanted me to write another check and include it. The lady next to me said that no, she would pay the 42 cents. How nice!
*I had an awesome lunch today prepared by the friend who watched Katie. Chicken Enchiladas & Ooey, Gooey Butter Cake. YUMMO!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What's Gracie reading?

Gracie made the paper this week too-along with Chris & myself too! I won't bore you with the pictures of me & Chris, but here's the one of Gracie. People found it quite amusing that our whole family was making it into the paper within one week, and we got several copies from different people saving them for us.

'Tis the season for entering the Reading Rainbow writing contest, and Gracie completed her story today. I am amazed at how her writing has improved since last year's story. I credit this to the fact that she reads so much, so she is exposed to so many great stories. Also, her teacher this year has them write a lot. Not necessarily stories, but writing nonetheless and any kind of writing is bound to cause improvement. Before she wrote her story this year, we spent time talking about it and looking at examples on the Reading Rainbow website and planning it out-talking about setting, characters, plot, and the problem & resolution. I am really proud of what she has produced.

After we get the entry form filled out and pages numbered, etc. we'll get it sent in. As usual, we are doing all of this at the last minute as it is due on the 3rd. She has enjoyed the celebrations last year & the year before, so maybe we'll get a chance to enjoy another one this summer. That's the great thing about this contest-even if the student doesn't win one of the official prizes, they all get a certificate from Lavar Burton (is that his name?) and attend the celebration at the t.v. studio. Plus, they get to practice writing which is important! Below, you can see the story she'll turn in this year. Click on the pictures to enlarge them and you should be able to read it better.

Gracie has made my heart swell with pride this week-specifically yesterday. First, I was really proud of the story she wrote. Then, yesterday morning her teacher called me and told me that she needed a picture of Gracie because she was nominating her for the character award for 2nd grade! I was soooo happy! I wanted to ask a million questions about what is involved in this but tried to play it cool! LOL I think she said that there is 1 student nominated for each grade and she had told the other teachers that she wanted to nominate Gracie because she felt she deserved it. I guess she had to write up something about her and needed a wallet sized picture to go with it. She needed it that same day, so I rushed around to find something that would work. The most recent picture of that size I could find was from July and really didn't look like her anymore, so I uploaded this one that was taken at Christmas. I've always thought she looked cute in this one and it looks a lot like her at this moment. I guess they attach the picture to the write-up and laminate it so they get to keep it as a keepsake. Anyway, I ordered the picture and picked it up and took it to her teacher who then told me to take it to another teacher who I guess was putting everything together. I don't know what happens now, but Chris & I are very proud of her nonetheless. I guess she doesn't know anything about it-we didn't say anything to her about it and she hasn't mentioned it, so I guess we'll wait and see what happens next with it. I think I remember one of her friends from church getting this recognition last year.

Also, she came home yesterday with a diagnostic report from her latest STAR reading test, which is a test taken on the computer which tells her reading level. We were amazed at her results! It tells what the child's GE (grade equivalency) is and gives a Percentile Rank that tells where she ranks among other students her age. I know these standardized tests aren't always accurate, but I've always liked this one. I gave it to my students when I was teaching and I like the way it is set up. We knew she was a good reader, but this test really amazed us. We are so blessed that she loves to read and is able to increase her knowledge by doing so. I told Chris she could probably beat us on the SAT because the girl really will sit down and literally read her dictionary. I know, I know, it may sound geeky, but when I think about paying for college educations for THREE children, I say "read away!" Scholarship! Scholarship! is a goal worth shooting for and if she likes to read the dictionary, far be it from me to stop her!

We are truly blessed with this little girl being our daughter! Then there's Katie.......believe me, we are JUST as blessed to have her as our daughter! There are just times when I look at her and laugh and wonder at why in the world God would bless me with her. She makes me laugh ALL the time; I love hearing her talk about her imaginary friend, "Mot" and yesterday she was talking about one named "Hen." We were going to eat last night and were planning to use some cash we had so we'd had to really plan out where we were going to go. As we were driving, Katie said something about Mot being with us. I told her I wasn't sure we had enough money to pay for Mot's dinner and she said, "That's okay. He's not hungry." Later, she was talking loudly and I inquired as to what she was doing. Apparently, Mot was sitting in between her & Gracie, but Hen (who I'd never heard of before) was standing on the trunk yelling and she was telling him to be quiet. I LOVE her imagination! She made a little book yesterday and sat down to "read" it to me. I think she might be entering her own Reading Rainbow contest one day because this story kept going on & on & on! So cool the way her mind can come up with things! Of course, her story included the word, 'stupid!' I quickly inquried about that and explained that this wasn't a nice word and I didn't want it in her story. *sigh* She's a mess, but I love her!

How's the baby? She seems to be doing great! I go to the doctor again this week. My lower back was killing me last night which was weird b/c I don't really remember having back pain during my other pregnancies. It was so hard to get comfortable and when I would sleep and wake up, my body was just so sore and heavy as a rock. My knees have been bothering me a lot this pregnancy and my left hand-when I sleep. I am MUCH older this time around which I'm sure has a lot to do with these new "aches & pains!" HA!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Katie made it into the paper! We have a section called, "What are you reading?" and she was featured yesterday! Someone told me I was in it today so I'll have to check it out-but don't expect me to post a picture of it! The other day at the library, a reporter photographed all 4 of us individually and asked what we were currently reading, so we may all make it in there eventually.

Gracie missed out on celebrating Valentine's Day with her class last week since we were gone, but she had her little mailbox waiting for her today when she returned. She had a good time looking at everything when she got home. Mrs. Zimmerman gave them some homework coupons which she decided to start using on part of tonight's homework since she had some make-up things from last week.
I got to go on a field trip with Gracie & her class this morning. We went to a local planetarium and learned about some of the constellations and the story, "Follow the Drinking Gourd." We also went into a math classroom to learn about measurements. It was really quite educational-and we got to ride on a school bus-can't get much more fun than that can it?!?!?
Remember a couple of weeks ago when I was discouraged? Well, the next week didn't appear to be much more promising and Katie'd been a little sick, so I canceled. Last week, 3 women came! I was so excited! Honestly, the night before had been sad & lacking sleep since Big Daddy had passed away, but I knew of a few women who were planning to come and I didn't feel right canceling, so I went ahead and had it. I figured being in prayer that morning for any reason would be better than me sitting around sulking. I was so encouraged that 3 women came and seemed really focused on praying for our children & their school. 2 of them brought their little preschool aged girls and they, along with Katie, all had a great time playing in Katie's kitchen. I heard NO arguing, and that was a blessing in & of itself. Katie struggles at playgroup sometimes with getting along & sharing, etc. so I was a tad worried. I didn't want to scare off these new friends, but thankfully things went really well! I know of at least 2 women who are planning to come tomorrow. I will continue to pray that God will bless us as we seek His protection & will for our kids! Thanks for the encouragement all of YOU gave me when I was discouraged!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Big Daddy

One good thing about this weekend is getting to spend time with lots of family I don't get to see very often. All of Big Mother & Big Daddy's 8 grandchildren & 5 great-grandchildren were able to be there except for one who was in Italy on business. I know he hated not being able to be with all of us, and we missed him too. Other extended family members were able to be there as well.

It's hard to realize that Big Daddy is really gone from this earth, but I am truly comforted that He was a Christian and is no longer in pain or discomfort. I was happy to hear more than once that before his surgery he had expressed peace with the possibility that he might not survive the surgery. He knew that if he didn't try it, he wouldn't live much longer and would not have a good quality of life. If he did try it and it was successful, he would have a longer earthly life with more quality. If it wasn't successful, he would leave this earth and begin the eternal life that Jesus died to make possible for us all. I am truly comforted by his peace about this.

I think the hardest thing for me is thinking about my grandmother. There were times when she just looked so sorrowful. They had been married 59 years. She said she can't remember a time when she didn't love him. She made more than one "speech"-directed mainly towards the men-expressing how much Big Daddy had loved her during their life together. She said he told her he loved her every night before he went to sleep. She said if he turned over to go to sleep and hadn't said it, he would turn back to say it. She said once he left the house to go somewhere and hadn't said it. He came back home just to say, "I love you." She said, "Why do you do that?" He said, "I could get in an accident and wouldn't have told you." She told us that she knew he sometimes had a different way of expressing his love to others, (he had a way of "telling it like it was" which sometimes came across as "gruff") but to her-she said it wasn't like that. His love for her was expressed daily and easily. When making her little talks to us, she mainly directed them to the men-encouraging them to love their wives or future wives as Big Daddy had loved her-and it warmed my heart to know that I have that kind of husband in Chris. She doesn't need to worry about the way he treats me. All the things she was encouraging him-and the others-to do....he does. He is definitely one of the good ones!

I was proud of her and the way she reminded us all of how much he loved us. I am mindful of her tonight and wondering if she's remembering that last Sunday night he was at home. The next morning, they took him to the hospital for a surgery that wouldn't be successful. We had been told of the possibility of him not making it, but even the surgeon was surprised that it ended the way it did. He was apologetic and said he really thought it would work. Things just didn't turn out the way we had hoped & prayed. Maybe the Lord thought it best to take him Home now because maybe even if he had survived he still would have suffered. I don't know. I just find myself praying for my grandmother a lot, that she will be comforted and live a happy life, even without him physically by her side.
My parents said they had never seen a church be more supportive at a time like this than my grandparents' church. I wasn't there the day of the surgery, but they said there were so many people there praying & supporting the family. When the surgeon knew things weren't going to go the way he'd planned, he had Big Daddy taken to ICU on support so the family could say their final 'good-byes.' I know that had to be a hard moment. After a time, they turned off the machines and he left this earth. Mom said when they left the room, the hallway was filled with people from the church. I know our extended family (probably close to 30 of us) were well fed at my grandmother's house and at the church building during our stay in town and the support shown during & after the memorial service was appreciated.
I was so happy to see my grandparents' next door neighbors from the neighborhood where they used to live. As a child, I used to go visit them everytime we would stay with my grandparents. They were special to me and I hadn't seen them in YEARS. I was hoping someone would call them and they would come. I was so happy to see them there. A sweet friend brought us dinner Wednesday night before we left for Huntsville Thursday morning. She wanted to do something and knew not having to cook dinner the night before we left would be a huge help-and it was! Another couple slipped us some "gas money" for the trip. That touched me greatly because, again, they wanted to do "something" to show they care. Many others have expressed that they are praying and thinking of us. I came home to several sympathy cards. It is good to know that friends are caring for us.
My grandfather was a good man and I have many good memories. It was good to see how many people cared for him and still care for my grandmother. I pray that she will be taken care of-and that I will do my part to take care of her. I will be praying for my mom too. After all, this was her dad. I'm glad she has my dad to be a support for her. I know she's exhausted physically as well as emotionally. I also can't help thinking that Maw Maw, my other grandmother, died when I was pregnant with Katie and now Big Daddy has died while I'm pregnant with this new little one. Kinda weird. Big Daddy had told me in October (the last time I saw him) that he read my blog. It was kind of funny to think of him reading it, but I liked knowing that he was able to keep up with our family this way. I'll miss knowing that he's not reading it anymore, but hopefully our loved ones can look down on us from Heaven. I like thinking of them doing so.
I'm thankful for the hope we all have because of Jesus. I don't know how people get through things like this without this hope.
Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


My grandfather, Richard Essner (Bigdaddy), passed away this evening in Huntsville, AL. Please pray for my family. Pray for my grandmother, Margaret Essner (Bigmother). I can't remember how long they've been married, but it's been a long time. I can't imagine how she's feeling. Please pray for my mom. This is her daddy. Please pray for so many of the family who will be traveling this week.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

cough, cough, runny nose!

~update: After taking her to the doctor, it was discovered that Katie has an ear infection & a sinus infection~

I'm home once again on a Sunday morning with a sick child. *sigh* To be honest, I'm surprised that it's not Gracie since she had so many out sick in her school class this week-7 on Monday & 6 on Tuesday with 3 more going home during the day-but so far she's good! She's coughing & sniffing a bit, but for now that's all-thankfully!

Katie had her bad cough last week along with a clear runny nose for a day or two. The nose got better and the cough is better. When she coughs it still sounds bad, but she's not doing it near as often. However, her nose has now started running again, and it looks pretty gross. I think she had some fever last night. I didn't actually take it, but she felt pretty warm. I also wasn't feeling well at all, so Chris tried to find me a sub for this morning but was unsuccessful. I felt better this morning once I got up and Katie seemed better, but her nose quickly started looking gross again. We called a few more people and finally found someone who could sub for my class. I know Chris could have grabbed someone once he got there, but I really hate for him to have to do that-for the extra work it puts on him as well as the person he grabs feeling rushed. Calling someone 45 minutes before class starts isn't a whole lot more notice, but at least it's a little more notice than being asked when you walk in the doors of the building!

So, Katie Boo and I are at home-her with a runny nose & watery eyes and me not feeling great either. I feel better than last night but still not great-swollen throat, headache, stuffy head, etc. I told Chris I feel like I need a good snort of nose spray (sorry if that's TMI) but I'm not sure that's approved by my doctor. I'll probably call him tomorrow to see what-if anything-I can take. I've been very blessed this pregnancy that I haven't needed to take many meds, so maybe I'll just get over this mess without needing to take any meds. We may take Katie into her pediatrician this afternoon because I'm afraid she may have an infection that needs something stronger than what we can give her over the counter. Hopefully, I will be able to take her to MDO Tuesday because I'm supposed to take my friend out to lunch for her birthday. I was supposed to do it last week and had to cancel, so I don't want to have to do that again!

Here she is holding a packet of tissues-we need to keep those handy!
This week has been a doozie, let me tell ya. My hormones are a little off anyway because of the pregnancy, so maybe things are getting to me more than usual, but there have been about 3 things that have brought me to tears this week. I guess I won't bore everyone with all the details, but hopefully this week will be better! Thanks, MB, for coming over Thursday morning when I was having a meltdown! MB always gives me perspective-she was upset too-but she doesn't have redhead/pregnancy hormones running through her, so she was calmer. Of course, to be fair to me, she does have her fair share of times when she's more upset about things-hopefully I give her perspective from time to time! LOL

I'm just glad God is greater & bigger than all the sin in this world. I feel so bad for kids who make such bad decisions (referring to an incident at Gracie's school) which can cause horrible consequences for other students & parents, etc. However, as upset as I am with the kid, I find myself being sad for him as well because in looking at the home situation I find myself shaking my head and wondering how he hasn't made even worse decisions. It's hard to expect an 11 or 12 year old to "know better" when one of the adults in his life doesn't appear to know better. Maybe it's the parent in me that wants to be so mad, but the teacher in me wants to "save" him. Thank you God for all the wonderful teachers who try so hard to be a bright spot in the lives of these children who need it-they just never know when they will say or do something that may make a positive difference for the rest of the child's life! I pray that something will touch this kid that causes a positive change for his life!

God is bigger than all things, and He loves everyone. Pretty amazing really. I mean, I do bad things everyday and He still loves me. He doesn't love me any more than He loves someone who does "bad" things according to the world. I mean, my bad things may have less severe "worldly" consequences than what other people do, but my actions still make God sad. We all sin and we all need God's grace!
Changing the subject.....

Katie just asked me, "How do babies get in people's tummies?" (This was after she asked me-again-why we're not getting a boy baby and we had to review which of our friends at church are getting boy babies and that God had chosen for us to have a girl baby.) I said, "God makes a special way for them to get in there." Wonder how long I can get away with that answer??!

We've already had to get a tad deeper on the answer for Gracie simply because the girl reads ALL the time and got her hands on something that explained things in a little more detail than I would have liked for her to know at this age. I found out one day when she asked me, "Did you know........" and proceeded to tell me things that I did indeed know but had NO idea that she knew! And no, it wasn't something she got at school or from a friend. It was something from a book in her own bookcase! (BTW: Philip & Jaime-if Colt seems to know a little more than he did before Christmas, she learned this stuff from one of the books he & Gracie were looking at together when he came over to play! *oops-sorry about that!*) Anyway, as you can tell, Katie is still a little hung up on why we're not having a boy. Goodness grief! Hopefully by June, she's going to accept that this precious baby is another girl! I for one am truly excited about having 3 girls!

I liked what one of my new "moms" at school said. Her son (who Gracie thinks is pretty cute!) said to me, "I hear you want to have another baby." I said, "Yes, I do." He looked at me and said, "Why don't you want to have a boy?" He said it all so innocently as if all I had to do was want it and I'd get it. I laughed and looked away. When I looked back he was blushing. (He really is a cutie!) I laughed & said, "I didn't get to choose." Well, I emailed his mom to tell her the story because it was so cute, and she said that when she had told him a couple of weeks earlier that Gracie was going to have another sister, he seemed to be very disappointed. He had asked his mom then why I didn't want to have a boy. She explained to him that it wasn't my decision and that God had already planned to send our family another girl before I even got pregnant. She said she had no idea why he was so interested in the s-e-x of our baby, but it gave them another opportunity to talk about God! I thought that was such a neat way to say it-God had already planned to send us another girl before I got pregnant. So neat!

Speaking of this new little girl-she is moovin' & groovin' and I'm feeling it! I love it! I can't wait for the girls & Chris to be able to feel & see her move.

Here's a picture that shows the times doesn't it? My 3 year old sitting on the couch with the laptop on her lap-playing on Playhouse Disney no doubt!
My grandfather is having his heart valve replacement surgery on Tuesday in Huntsville, AL. Please say a prayer for him.

I just finished reading "When the Morning Comes" by Cindy Woodsmall. It was the 2nd in the series and I have really enjoyed both of them. There will be a 3rd, but it won't be released until September! ugh I'd had this 2nd one on reserve at the library, but it was going to be forever before it'd be my turn, so I ended up buying it. I couldn't find it at Wal Mart, Target, or Family Christian but finally found it at B. Dalton.

Chris pre-ordered "Someday" for me so I should get it this next week. It's the 3rd book in a series by Karen Kingsbury that I'd started reading. It's one of those great series that just keeps going & going so you really feel like you "know" the family! There have probably been 9 books before this "sub-series" began. They sub-series just keep shooting off of each other with some of the same characters but new ones added along the way.

I have just begun reading "Believing God" by Beth Moore. I look forward to getting into it more. I also had a friend send me "Take Flight" in the mail this week. How fun to get a package! Thanks, Alissa!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Katie has the "coughies."

Katie is home from MDO today because she has a nasty cough and her nose has started running, too. We've had lots of flu going around-at least 6 people at church have had it and Gracie had 7 in her school class out yesterday and 6 out today. Yuck! Both my girls got the flu mist "shot," but I know at least 4 of the kids at church who had the flu had gotten the shot too. I don't think Katie's is the flu-at least not now-because she's had this cough for about a week; it's just gotten worse the last day or 2. Her nose started running last night too. Yuck! I had plans to take a friend out for lunch to celebrate her birthday today, so those plans had to be changed. I told her we could still go but Katie would be with us; we opted to wait for another time when it could just be the 2 of us. It'll be more relaxed that way.
A friend of mine offered to let me borrow her baby bedding for our new little baby! I had mentioned to her that I might splurge and buy something new & girly for this baby, and she said that I could borrow what she'd used for her little girl-she's about to have a little boy in April. She showed it to me and I brought part of it home to see if it would match some of the things that are already painted in the room. It works great! I am so excited about it! The cornice board in that room is blue, so I love that there is some blue in the bedding to pull that out. The walls are green and the curtains are pink. It all just goes together perfectly! I LOVE the fabric of the changing pad cover and the Boppy cover. It is sooooooo soft! I love having good friends!
Here is a picture of my 2 goofy girls!
Please keep my grandfather in your prayers-he will be having heart valve replacement surgery on the 12th in Huntsville, AL.