Sunday, December 28

Merry Christmas 2008

My holiday season was most influenced by Steph's words in her post on Christmas Eve. I have thought about the message of this hospital employee over and over. Please read it. We never know when God is using our simple words to affect the lives of others.

We had a great Christmas as I am sure most of you did. Here are a few pictures. Just in case you start trying to count all of the costumes, there were 8 I believe. Collin won't be wearing normal clothes for a while.

Friday, December 19

Oh, the DRAMA!!!

I'm sure everyone has been too busy to notice the lack of new information posted on my blog. Even if you did notice, you probably just thought the normal Christmas activity has kept me from my writing. Well, in some ways, you'd be right. But, unfortunately, we've had a lot more going on than that.

Claire woke up with a very high fever Tuesday morning. Even though it seems every family in Clinton is fighting sickness in some form, CMG was able to fit us in by 9:30. At that time, we found out that Claire has RSV. The good news is that we caught it early. Her symptom at that point was just the high fever. But, Dr. Russell assured us that the cough, yucky nose, and breathing trouble was on its way.

I also found out that RSV lasts 6 to 8 WEEKS. I did not know that. Of course, the worst of the sickness won't linger that long, and she won't be contagious that long. But, still, 6 to 8 weeks is a long time when thinking about being ill. Well, let me just be's a long time to think about dealing with a baby that is ill.

Things got interesting quickly. Tuesday night, Claire's fever shot up extremely high at about 7:00 and she had a seizure. She has done this once before, so I wasn't completely shocked. But, your child having a seizure is not something you ever get "o.k." watching.

We called 911 and rode in the ambulance to UMC. The doctors and nurses were extremely nice and very good. They took blood and urine, ran tests, and gave Claire a round of antibiotics. She did fabulous and we were in and out pretty quickly for an ER visit.

They are pretty sure that this was just another febrile seizure. Our doctor at CMG is out for the week. But, the doctor that we saw would like for us to go ahead and see a neurologist for scans. Emotionally, I can't really deal with that right now, so maybe I'll post more on that another day. Today, though, she is fine -- just a little whiny. Her fever is staying down finally. We are giving her Tylenol and Motrin around the clock. She is also getting an antihistamine/decongestant, oral steroid and breathing treatments. Yes, we are medicating all day long.

So that's what has been going on in our home. We've also been wrapping presents, delivering presents, watching preschool Christmas programs, attending field trips, planning Kindergarten Christmas parties, attending preschool Christmas parties, baking goodies and delivering goodies.

As school comes to an end today, I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief. The crazy part of this holiday is behind us and we can slow down now. I no longer have the stress of getting the boys to school on time and getting gifts to teachers before they are gone for the holiday. But, the really amazing thing is that I have enjoyed it all.

I guess I'm kind of a "mommy nerd", because I have always looked forward to being the Mom that is able to do all the field trips and parties. So, even though all of these things added to the stress of Claire being sick, I completely enjoyed being able to do it. (Oh, and just so you don't think I had to drag Claire out on all of these ventures, I'm also thankful that Scotty's schedule is so flexible. He and Claire have been enjoying some quality time together at home.)

So, it looks like there will be no holiday travel for little Claire this year, and that is a little frustrating. But, I am going to try to enjoy tucking in and enjoying our home for the holidays. Maybe things got so frantic for me during this past week just so I could thoroughly enjoy slowing down -- or maybe even stopping.

I will share one Christmas thought that has struck me pretty hard this week. On Sunday, we were singing "O Come Let us Adore Him" in church. I was literally moved to tears over the thought of Christ coming as a baby. The whole idea is just so odd. He was The King, but He was a baby. He was God's Son.

I have felt very protective of Claire this week. Leaving her with anyone except Scotty has not been an option. The thought of handing her over to someone else while she is in somewhat of a fragile state would not be possible. But, God handed His son over to us in the most fragile of human conditions -- infancy. There is no other motivation that would move God to do such a thing -- His love for us.

Thank you to all of you that have checked on us this week. We have certainly felt loved in so many different ways. From the First Baptist staff member that almost beat us to the ER on Tuesday night to those of you that have brought meals to the offers to take the boys for the day, I have been completely overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness.

So, I hope the only excitement we will see now is that of Collin when he opens up all of this new costumes. Or, Caleb when he sees the Wii. But, if there is still drama associated with sickness, I just pray that God will gift us with more of the endurance we have felt from Him so far.

Thursday, December 11

It's a miracle...

Our first trip to visit Santa without tears since 2003 -- woo hoo!!!

Wednesday, December 10

It's beginning to FEEL a lot like Christmas

I do it every year. I say I'm not going to get overwhelmed. I'm going to enjoy the holidays and be simplistic in all that we do.

We don't overdo the holidays by any stretch of the imagination. But, it doesn't matter. Before I know it, we're running frazzled in every direction and my "list" grows longer and longer by the second.

We were able to get the house decorated (inside and out) the Sunday after Thanksgiving. That was pretty amazing considering we drove in from Orlando on Saturday. MeMe & Pop brought Claire home on Sunday afternoon. I had decided that I would just wait until Mother's Day Out on Tuesday to begin decorating. But, by mid afternoon on Sunday, we couldn't wait any longer. And, as the busy week progressed, I was so glad that we didn't wait. It was such a great feeling to have something marked off the every growing list.

When Claire got home with MeMe & Pop, she only wanted to hug Caleb. They hugged like this for a good 5 minutes. Too sweet!!!

When I'm nominated for "mother of the year", this is the picture I will submit.

This week, I have written and re-written the gift list to make sure I haven't left anyone off. I am usually completely done with shopping by this time, and I haven't even begun yet. And, this list is only teacher gifts (for three kids!!), friends and family.

My Santa shopping is pretty pitiful. Actually, it's just sad, because I've done nothing.

Well, I take that back. Collin LOVES to dress up. He listed a couple of costumes that he would like to get for Christmas. One of those costumes is Batman.

Last week in Walmart, I walked past the clearance isle and just happened to notice a Batman cape, gloves, belt, etc. on sale. All of it was under twenty dollars, so needless to say I was pretty proud of myself.

I left for my trip to Hattiesburg with my purchases still in the back of the van. I figured it was safer there than anywhere in the house anyway.

BUT, on Monday, I had to run in Heather's to pick up Christmas cards. I instructed the boys to stay in their seat belts. I did not plan to be long.

Upon returning to the van, I found Collin out of his seat and sitting on the back seat with Caleb. I was a little frustrated that he hadn't obeyed. (Because of course he ALWAYS obeys me. )As I looked closer, they were each holding a piece of the Batman costume.

Now, for those of you that have trouble with Santa due to the fact that the story is just that -- a story requiring a small bit of dishonesty, you might not want to read on. No one in this house enjoys the magic of Santa more than me. AND, my Santa purchase was so inexpensive that I couldn't just let my find be wasted.

I explained to Caleb and Collin that the costume was going to be for them. BUT, since they did not obey, I just couldn't give it to them. So, I gave it to Heather to "give" to Luke and told the boys they could ask Santa for a Batman costume, because I wasn't buying another one. I wish you could have heard the screaming in the car.

Although I know that I will go to Heather's later in the week, get the costume, put it in a new box and wrap it up from Santa, Collin's broken heart was still difficult to handle. I was pretty happy with myself for the quick save. Now, if anyone has a suggestion as to how I will handle the boys wanting to play with the costume that we gave Luke next time we visit, I'd love to hear it.

Gifts, lists and schedules aside, Christmas is the most wonderful holiday. Because in celebrating the birth of the baby, Jesus, we recognize the beginning of the greatest rescue plan ever. God's great determination to reconcile us to Himself meant that Jesus had to leave Heaven. He had to come and join in our humanity (in the most helpless state of humanity) in order to save all mankind. That is more than enough of a reason for me to slow down this season (and all seasons, really) and to appreciate this life that cost my Heavenly Father so very much.

I still have a couple of weeks to work on that.

Sunday, December 7

S.L.A.M. Goes to Hattiesburg

I am tired, but I feel refreshed. A S.L.A.M. weekend always leaves me feeling this way. The four of us always laugh so much, stay up too late and eat too much. But, I come away from our time together encouraged and grateful. Sometimes, I even wonder how I was blessed with these great friends.

So many of you have been praying for Stephanie regularly, so I just want to say that she is doing well. Her new house is beautiful and completely decorated for Christmas. But, what is even more amazing is that her heart continues to be strengthened by her Heavenly Father. Just when I think she can't possibly demonstrate any more of His strength and power, she proves me wrong.

I will admit that when Stephanie's tragedy began to unfold, I was sad that I do not live close by so that I could help her. I have even been jealous to hear about how some of her friends in Hattiesburg have been a help to her on a daily basis. I want to be that close in proximity. I want to be the occasional rescuer.

But, tonight, I feel grateful for our absence from her daily life. It feels almost like we are able to be even more of a retreat for her due to the fact that we aren't associated with all that has gone on in Hattiesburg since January. I am so thankful for the way God has blessed our friendship.

As we sat around Steph's kitchen table last night, I experienced what it means to "weep with those who weep". That is all we could do as Stephanie talked about the struggles she faces in Jason's absence. It was so frustrating to have NO words of wisdom -- there were only tears. But, I was also completely encouraged knowing that these three will also be there when I am the one experiencing tragedy.

So, I was reminded this weekend that we were never intended to "do" life alone. Our God is a relational God, and He created us as relational people. Our first relationship should be with Him, our Creator and Sustainer. But, secondly we have people to lean on when life gets hard.

Now, for those of you that would like something specific to add to your prayer list, I have a few for you. Stephanie has already survived many firsts (her birthday, Jason's birthday, Thanksgiving, etc.) Their oldest daughter, Anna Lea, will celebrate her birthday on December 21st. She will be 7, AND she is going to be baptized that day. Obviously, this will be a happy day, but it is just going to be difficult. Then, there's Christmas. It seems like too much to bear, but my God has proven faithful to sweet Stephanie so far, and I don't imagine He's going to forget to be faithful now. Join me as I pray for these two events.

And, follow Steph's blog as I am sure she will be bragging on God's faithfulness as it concerns to the two events I listed above. I've never known her to be much of a bragger before, but she does love to brag on all that God is doing for her now. And, I love it!

Thursday, December 4

As promised...

I know there are lots of pictures, but you should see how many I left out!!!

Monday, December 1

The Most Magical Place on Earth...

Well, we're home and Disney World was fabulous. There is no way that I would ever be able to tell about all of the fun. But, I will load pictures soon and share with you.

As we began our trip on Sunday afternoon, I realized that this was our first real vacation as a family. We have been on several small trips together. We have also been on some larger/longer trips, but we have always been with extended family. Our children love to travel and all of these vacations have been wonderful. But, it was very special to share this with our children all by ourselves.

We picked a pretty busy week to visit the parks, so I was VERY thankful for Tour Guide Mike's suggestions. He advised to be at each park 30 minutes before it opened. Then, we were to do all of the attractions that normally have long lines first. He was so right, and by the first afternoon, I was very thankful for our early risers (I never thought I would say that).

On Wednesday, we did Magic Kingdom. The park opened at 9:00. By 10:00, we had done Dumbo, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Snow White and It's a Small World. If you have ever been to Magic Kingdom, you know that is just amazing -- busy season or not.

Wednesday evening, we ate at Chef Mickey's. The food was good. But, our reason for going was that Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto make visits to each table while you eat. If you have read previous posts, you know that this was an "ify" situation for Collin. He REALLY tried to be brave. He talked big leading up to our being seated. He was going to give Mickey a high five. :)

It was all too much, though, and as soon as Donald Duck looked our way, Collin was UNDER the table. Literally! I am not making this up. We had to put his plate and drink under the table and feed him like a dog.

Earlier in the day, Caleb had been too afraid to ride the Goofy roller coaster (it has 1 minor hill and lasts about 20 seconds). So, the one benefit of our traumatic dinner was that Caleb had a little confidence boost, because he was the brave one this time.

Our second trauma happened on Thanksgiving morning at Animal Kingdom. Collin bought a Buzz Lightyear costume (all he wanted from Disney World) Wednesday night. After purchasing it, he did not take it off for the remainder of the trip . So, Thursday morning at Animal Kingdom, he was Buzz Lightyear.

We were walking through the Jungle Trek, and he saw a bench he wanted to jump from while saying "To infinity and beyond." His dad thought it would be great to try to get a picture of him in the air like he (Buzz) was flying. I'm sure you see where this is going.

Soon into the process, Caleb joins in the fun. However, Collin decided to quit and began walking right as Caleb jumped. And, somehow, Collin landed -- face in the concrete -- with Caleb on his head. The one benefit from this traumatic experience is that we now know where First Aid is at Animal Kingdom. No doubt, we'll need it again.

All in all, we had such a great time. The weather was perfect. The kids were (taking into account very late nights and no naps) perfect. And, amazingly, our drive both ways was pretty perfect.

I am already looking forward to taking Claire for her first magical trip. And, by the way, she had her own fabulous vacation to Sassy's. I'll share about her visit in another blog.

Be looking for pictures. Hopefully, it won't take me too long.

Saturday, November 22

Consider Yourself Warned!

As I stated earlier, Collin created an entire indian costume in preschool this week. The Pow Wow was on Thursday, but he insisted on wearing it all again on Friday.

After preschool, we met Heather and Logan at Mazzio's for lunch. A very sweet, elderly woman was watching Collin and me as we moved through the restaurant. She was grinning ear to ear as we passed her, and she said, "what a cute little indian."

Collin stopped immediately, turned around and said, "I'M NOT CUTE. I'M AWESOME!"

Thank goodness this lovely lady had a sense of humor. She was also quick. Because, without even stuttering, she begged for forgiveness and told him he was awesome.

With slight eye rolling, Collin turned and headed to our table with a very confident look on his face. Obviously, he felt sure that his discipline had been productive and this woman would not make the same mistake again.

I tell you this story so that you will learn from her honest mistake. Please do not call my very cute three year old "cute". You can probably handle his attempt at authority, but there's only so many embarrassing moments one mother can take.

Happy Thanksgiving! Due to the fact that I will not be able to use this week to decorate our home for Christmas, I decided to go ahead and decorate my blog.

Oh, and let me update you on our Mickey Mouse viewing status. Collin does want to "see" Mickey, but I am to inform Mickey not to "touch" Collin. And, he will take no pictures with Mickey. Well, at least the situation is improving. Be on the lookout for Disney pictures WITHOUT Mickey Mouse. WHATEVER!!!

Friday, November 21

Thanksgiving Fun

Yesterday was so eventful that I just had to sit down this morning and write about it. Sometimes, it seems that Thanksgiving just gets completely overlooked due to the fun of Halloween and Christmas. I don't feel like we've overlooked it this year, though.

First Baptist Clinton had the Preschool Pow Wow Thursday morning. Collin was very excited about it. He has been singing the songs for me all week. His teacher gave him the name, Swift Horse, so that's what we called him all day.

I had to be at the school early, because there were many activities prior to the actual Pow Wow. There were drums, headbands, and and necklaces to be made. Oh, and war paint had to be applied. The kids all had a fun time. And, as they lined up, parents moved over to the gym.

Let me just pause here to say that Collin had been having a blast. He was in full Collin form and ready to perform.

So, you can imagine my surprise as the "indians" began their procession into the gym. They were all in a line and moving through the gym in a circle while beating on their drums. Very Cute! Except that there seemed to be one child who was VERY upset and crying at the top of his lungs while screaming for his mom.

Yes, you guessed it. That would be Collin. The same well adjusted, easy going Collin that I spoke of in an earlier post. Once he saw me, he came out of the line and walked over to sit with me (just in case I was trying to act like it wasn't my child that was the distraction). His teacher came and got him and stayed with him. She even sat down on his mat with him. I was pretty sure all was lost, and I was going to have to go and rescue him.

But, after two very short songs, he pulled it together. He even did the hand movements with all of the songs (which Caleb NEVER does) and a little pow wow jig with one of the last numbers.

Whew, glad that's over!

Caleb had a friend come over after school. They were so impressed with Collin's indian attire that they all dressed up and went out back to play indians. They had a blast and Claire was right there with them. I was inside working and cleaning and checking on them frequently. One time I stepped out and she had climbed up into the trampoline. (Grandparents, I was only inside for a moment. She wouldn't have been in there long without me.) She thought she was so big. And, I had a picture, but it won't upload. :(

Scotty came home and had to take us to dinner for HIS birthday. He left this morning to go hunt with his dad. Scotty's birthday is Saturday and the only thing he wanted was to go hunt before our trip. I apparently took him literally, because that is the only thing he got. I didn't even pull supper together.

But, in my defense, I was trying to make turkey cookies for Caleb's Kindergarten class. I wish I could show you what they were supposed to look like so that you can see the struggle that I had. But, I asked Caleb what it looked like and he said, "a turkey". That was good enough for me.

I assure you this isn't what they were supposed to look like!

And just so Scotty wouldn't feel completely left out, I made him a kindergarten version of a birthday cake. He was a good sport. Especially since he would never be forgiven if he pulled a stunt like this on MY BIRTHDAY. :)

It's o.k. for you to feel sorry for him. I do, too.

So, we're really off to Disney on Sunday. I know we are going to have a blast. Collin told me this morning that he did want to go to Disney, but he didn't want to see Mickey Mouse. Is he trying to make me CRAZY?!

Monday, November 17

Mickey Mouse, Here We Come!!!

It has been such a long time since I posted anything about my family. I promise my children have still been saying funny things and doing CRAZY things. But, I just haven't taken the time to sit down and write about it.


Well, because all of my computer time lately has been spent with Tour Guide Mike. I recently heard about this website. For a small fee, I gained access to the experience of this long time Disney tour guide. You would not believe the information at this site. He tells you EVERYTHING you need to know about Disney World. We are going at a very busy time of year (as if there's a non-busy time of year at Disney), so he tells you when to visit each park to avoid the huge crowds. He even tells you what time of day to visit each attraction, where to stand for parades/fireworks, and which rides to fast pass and when. Amazing!!

I have been just a bit overwhelmed. I've printed my own little Disney book complete with all the information necessary for a perfect vacation. And, luckily, I will have plenty of time to read it as we DRIVE to Orlando. The budget just doesn't allow for 4 flights this year.

The boys are pretty excited about the trip, but I might be a little bit more excited. I just LOVE Disney World. But, at 5 and 3, the boys are at perfect ages to enjoy the magic. (Claire will be going with MeMe Janet and Pop to visit Sassy.)

So, next time I post, hopefully it will be with some beautiful pictures and a few funny stories. But, for now, it's back to planning for me.

Monday, November 10

Happy Birthday, Sassy!!!

Just a short post tonight to say, "Happy Birthday" to my sister.

My kids call Alyson, "Sassy", because I taught them to. When Alyson was little, my parents say that she called herself Sassy. That was her version of Alyson. So, when we started thinking about what Caleb would call her, I immediately thought of Sassy. It fits -- she's pretty sassy.

Alyson is one of those people who NEVER forgets a birthday. My card & package always come several days early just to sit until the day that I can open them.

I, on the other hand, usually have to call her mid-day on her birthday to say, "happy birthday" and then make sure I have a gift the next time that I see her. I wish I could blame this on the fact that she doesn't have kids yet. BUT, I didn't do any better prior to the three C's.

So, I'm hoping that a "Happy Birthday" shout in blogger world will make up for my inability to properly plan for such a special day. Hope your day is GREAT, sis. I love you.

Also, please pray for my friend Stephanie. Wednesday, November 12th, is Jason's birthday. And, while I know that every day since his diagnosis has been difficult, Wednesday will be especially hard. So, say a prayer for Stephanie, Jason's parents (Jon Mark & Peggy) and his brother, Brad. God is good. And, I am praying that Wednesday will bring a perfect reminder of God's sovereignty, care and love even in this great loss.

Monday, November 3

The Amazing Collin

I made a reference to Collin's new school on a previous post. So, I wanted to update you on what has been going on in Collin's world.

He began preschool this year at First United Methodist Preschool which is where Caleb went to preschool. He had Ms. Linda G ("GG") which is who Caleb had. We LOVE her. I am very attached to FUMC. They do a wonderful job with the children, and Ms. GG is just the perfect "first teacher" for any child to have.

Once Scotty became the interim preschool minister at FBC, Clinton, I began to think about the possibility of moving Collin to our home church. After asking questions, visiting the preschool and asking more questions, we found out that staff members receive a pretty significant discount on preschool tuition.

I cried over the decision but it was an obvious one. At this point, our decisions are pretty much directed by the financial situation which is; cheaper is always better.

Now, I know that FBC has a wonderful preschool program, and we love the church. But, my trouble in making the move was that I HATE CHANGE! We know the program at FUMC. We know the teachers. They know us.

However, in typical "Collin" fashion, he made the transition beautifully. He went for sort of a preview day on Friday and acted as if he'd been there all year.

When I went to picked him up, the director had a very funny story. At lunch time, she overheard a couple of the older boys in line talking about how they needed to hurry to get to lunch so they could eat with Collin. Priceless. He is the life of the party, and he takes that party everywhere he goes.

He is "the amazing Collin". He is full of surprises and such a joy. He has the ability to take every situation and make it as positive as he possibly can. Earlier today, Scotty and I were discussing which one of us passed on that trait. We thought long and hard and are pretty sure he got that one from His Heavenly Father. Neither one of us can take credit.

The program at FBC is a five day program, so I took him to school this morning. Right after he woke up, he started to get a little weepy about going. But, once he was awake, cowboy boots and hat on, he was ready to go. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I had to say a little prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of Collin. He's pretty amazing!!!

Now, go vote, people!!

Sunday, November 2

A Girl and Her Shoes

I know two posts in two days is unusual for me, but I just had to write about our trip to the shoe store yesterday.

I can vividly remember buying Sunday shoes as a child. Actually, I can remember buying any kind of shoes. I LOVED it. Really, I still do. I don't know if that is simply a trait characteristic of all girls or if my little girl just inherited it from me. But, she truly enjoyed shoe shopping yesterday.

Thanks to Dee Dee and Amy, we don't have to go clothes shopping very often. Claire has more clothes hanging in her closet than she will ever be able to wear. So, each season, I go through all of the clothes and shoes and fill in where needed. She has needed some white Sunday shoes for a few Sundays now; and, today, she had them. Aren't they precious!

The most precious thing, though, was the way Claire acted while trying on shoes. She sat right down in the floor as soon as they came out of the box like she knew exactly what she was doing. She walked around in the shoes once we put them on. Then, at home, she wanted the shoes back on. Honestly, she acted like she was showing them off to anyone that would pay attention to her (which is every single person who lives in our home).

I gave her some Benadryl before her nap, because she has a pretty runny nose. So, even after waking up, she was still groggy. But, as soon as she saw her shoes on the counter, she started pointing and making her "Claire" sound letting me know she wanted the shoes. She wore them until bath time, during which time, I hid the shoes.

I'll leave you with pictures of Claire ready for church this morning. I'm just warning you, though. This just might be the cutest thing you will see all week...even with a busted up face! :)

Saturday, November 1

What a Fabulous Halloween!!!

Yes! We have broken the horrible Halloween spell. Aside from a few bumps & bruises, our week went off without a hitch.

Before I start, when I say "bumps and bruises", this is what I mean:

Friday morning, a friend rear ended me on my way back from taking Caleb to Clinton Park. Later in the day, Collin opened the gate on the deck to let Claire into the back yard. What a gentleman! Only, she doesn't know how to get down those stairs yet. She took a tumble. Both accidents could have been much worse than they were. So, I'm thinking Halloween this year was a success.

Busy doesn't quite seem to adequately describe our week. Most days, we were rushing from one thing to the other. Both boys had soccer Monday night and Tuesday night. Halloween began very early Wednesday with Collin's costume carnival at his preschool and remained in full gear until mid-morning on Friday.

Wednesday evening, we had our church carnival which I thought was very well done. The boys had a great time -- all three of my boys had a great time. Scotty spent the last 20 minutes or so in the dunking booth and was dunked many times -- three of which by his own boys. Even Collin managed to get the ball to the bull's eye. The Ninjas had good aim.

Our mayor changed Clinton's trick-or-treat night to Thursday rather than Friday due to Clinton's homecoming. One of Scotty's fellow staff members at FBC invited us over for supper and a hay ride. So, after attending the Homecoming parade Thursday afternoon, we set out for Mr. Jim's house for Halloween. I'm pretty sure I had as much fun as the kids.

His neighborhood is apparently THE neighborhood for trick-or-treating. Even though I have lived in Clinton for 15 years, I did not know about this fact. The streets were lined with families just like I remember Halloween as a kid. Since our children were born, we always joined in the fun at the local church carnivals because it seemed that is what everyone was doing. But, honestly, I did so with a little bit of frustration, because I missed good, old fashioned Halloween. So, needless to say, as we rode through Old Vineyard in our very own hay ride, I was happy to see Halloween making a come back.

On Friday morning, I went to Caleb's school to do his class Halloween party. He has a wonderful teacher who has this kindergarten thing down to an art, so my job was pretty easy. Scotty took Collin to his new preschool for trunk-or-treating.

In case you've lost count, we attended 6 different events where candy was being handed out. We are loaded down. And, if I don't quit hitting the candy stash after the kids have gone to bed, it's not going to last more than a week.

Last night, we enjoyed a quiet night at home and it was quite nice after being on the run all week. I bought the game, Perfection, at Walmart while I was shopping yesterday. I also bought a discounted cake (because we NEEDED more sugar) that was decorated like Frankenstein. We had a family Halloween party and all children were asleep by 7:30. PERFECTION!!

I know that there are different opinions of Halloween and that is fine. But, for us, it was a week of fun, friends and family. I had to pause several times during all of it to be thankful for such gifts. So, for me, Halloween is what we make it. And, I was glad to see my children get to enjoy one of my fondest childhood memories.

"The earth is the LORD's and everything in it." Psalm24:1

Wednesday, October 29

A Halloween for the History Books

Long time, no post. Right?

We were actually 2 children short this weekend. My mom took Collin and Claire to spend the weekend in Baton Rouge. Originally, I was going to sell for Grace Notes. Although there was a change in plans, Mom still wanted to keep the kids. Collin was SO excited about going. I think they both had a great time, and Claire came home making "sweet eyes".

We should have been well rested having an only child all weekend, but you know better than that. We took full advantage of being able to do things with Caleb that we are unable to do with three children. From Friday until Sunday, we; had John David over to spend the night, spent entirely too much money at Gattitown, watched two soccer games, saw High School Musical 3 (EXCELLENT!!!) and ate at Bonsai.

Our family was reunited on Monday just as a very hectic week was beginning. I've just decided that all of my weeks are going to be hectic for many years now. Having three children means that the children outnumber the parents, and there are certain times that I really FEEL outnumbered; meal time, bedtime, sporting events (when more than one play), and, apparently, HALLOWEEN.

WOW. Parties for each classroom, a costume for each child, field trips to the pumpkin patch, carnivals for church, carnivals for school -- there is not enough money in our bank account or time in the day for such adventures. I'm sure none of the room mothers for any of my classes at Northside would ever read my posts. But, if you do, you made all of this Mom stuff look a whole lot easier than it is. I'm having a lot of fun. I just thought it would be a little more glamorous than it really is. Who knew that buying two Ninja costumes that have 5 ties each (belt, 2 arm ties, 2 leg ties) just might be the one event that sends me back to my medication. (It's still in the cabinet. I'm not taking any chances.)

This afternoon I was in the kitchen putting together Halloween buckets for Collin's class. He was eating lunch. He looked over and said, "Mom, you're making me very nervous."

I THINK he used the wrong word. But, I was moving at such a rapid pace that he may have been correct. I just said, "Me too, Collin."

As my nerves got more and more frayed, I kept remembering Halloween two years ago. I have smiled many times today just thinking about it. I am going to leave you with a summation of that night's events. Maybe you will smile, but mainly I want it in print just in case I ever forget it.

O.K., so Caleb was 3 and Collin was 1. Scotty was not participating in Halloween with us, because it was a Tuesday night and he had clients in Vicksburg. (If you're wondering if he regrets that decision, let me just say, I'm pretty sure he does.) Even though I was a single parent that night, my plans were big. We were going to visit my grandmother who was recovering from knee surgery in a nursing home, attend a local church carnival and return home where we could visit the Petrosino's very lit up house and pass out candy to trick-or -treaters.

Well, I was completely drenched in sweat after getting costumes on both boys. Caleb was a cowboy. His costume wasn't too difficult. Re-tucking his button up shirt so that his "cowboy" belt would show was his only complication. But, Collin, was a cowboy riding a horse. So, after dressing him like a cowboy, we had to step his legs into the back legs of a horse (I'm sure you've seen those costumes). As I said, he was 1, so however much time you think that would take, add about 30 minutes. I did all of this before realizing that a one year old can't ride in a car seat in a horse costume. The costume must come off only moments after getting it on. So there you go. Melt down #1.

I'm going to recap the night's events QUICKLY. Our nursing home visit went well until departure time when Collin (who was our very laid back child at that point) fell apart in the parking lot. I literally used every muscle in my body to buckle him back into the car seat to head to the next destination. (Are you with me? Horse costume off again only to be put back on again.) At MHBC, things would have gone very smoothly had no one else chosen to attend. You see, Caleb would wait patiently in lines. But, right about the time for his turn, Collin would take off to another event. I had to chase him; therefore, Caleb would have to leave his spot to come with me. We did that about 45 minutes and I couldn't take it anymore. I just remember feeling so guilty because Caleb couldn't do many activities even though he was so well behaved.

Well, we made it home. The Petrosinos were outside and there was a steady stream of carloads of kids coming to trick or treat, because their house was so lit up. This was actually the first year that we lived in this house, and I didn't know this many kids participated in trick-or-treating. The boys had a great time in the Petrosino's drive way, so I began visiting and just enjoying the night for the first time. It was starting to cool off, the excitement from all of the kids was contagious and the boys were entertained...finally. About 10 minutes into it, Collin begins screaming (SCREAMING!!!) We looked over, and he had touched one of the lights lining the flower beds. I'm sorry, he grabbed the lights burning four fingers on that hand.

We rushed home and I put ice and water on it, gave him Motrin and decided I just needed to get him ready for bed. But, again, poor Caleb was missing Halloween. We turned our porch light on and he handed out candy while I was dealing with Collin. Caleb thoroughly enjoyed this power. I was in the den with him but not really paying attention. After about 20 minutes, the candy was gone and Caleb was crying. I had not planned for so many trick-or-treaters OR for the large handfulls of candy Caleb was passing out. Halloween officially OVER!

We turned out the porch light and I did what any Mom would do with two crying babies after a night such as the one I just described. I joined them. It was about that time that Scotty called from the car on his way home. He was only about 15 minutes away. But, I'm pretty sure I gave him a blow by blow of the entire evening with screaming as accompaniment before he made it home. And, I assure you, I left nothing out.

So, as we prepare to go to our church carnival tonight, the first of several Halloween functions, I am praying for better results. If not, I'm sure I'll have a great story.

Wednesday, October 22

What Would You Remember?

Over the past few months (10 to be exact), I have been thinking about death. I know that sounds morbid, so let me clarify. I am not living in fear of death. I wouldn't say it consumes my thoughts. But, some people who I am very close to have been hit with the reality of death. So, since January's news from a dear friend, a day doesn't go by without me taking in the "what if's" of this fragile life.

Our neighbor, Mr. Ralph, has been diagnosed with a very rare cancer. I can't even tell you what it is. His sweet wife, Jerri, showed me a slip of paper with the diagnosis written on it. I had never heard of it before. Within the past two months, he has become very ill. The round of chemo that was given to him at UMC did not work. Therefore, they will not do it again. He is currently in the hospital on medication to eliminate the pain and keep him comfortable. From what I have heard, he is not expected to come back home.

On a side note, when we first moved into this house, Caleb was 3 and he called Mr. Ralph -- "Mr. Rat". Then, when Collin began speaking clearly, he called him "Giraffe" -- I guess that's what it sounded like to him. No speech therapists needed, though. At 5 and 3, they both say it correctly now.

Since Mr. Ralph has been away from home, there are several things that I miss. I miss seeing him working in the garage/yard/etc. and yelling "Hey Amy" from his work.

I miss his smile as he carried on a conversation with us. Mr. Ralph likes to talk. :)

I miss how much the boys enjoyed talking to him and how patient he was with them.

But, most of all, we are missing the lights. The Petrosinos are known in Clinton for the MANY lights they put up at Halloween and Christmas. It just doesn't feel right that their yard is empty during October. Last weekend, they had a garage sale. I watched as the yard accessories that I have seen lit up for the past 3 years were carried away by others. And, the reality of his sickness set in. What an impact Mr. Ralph made by exhibiting some holiday cheer!

We all have the opportunity to make an impact on the lives that we touch. The truth is, as a believer, I should be impacting each and every life that I touch. Not by the words that I say but the life that I live. The joy and peace that comes from knowing that I was created by God out of His great love for me should be overflowing and evident.

So, why is the joy and peace not overflowing and evident? Here's my short list of probable causes for the "not so great" impact I make on most lives daily...

1. I get woken up entirely too early each day by a very demanding 5 year old.
2. I have to do more for three children prior to 8:00 a.m. each morning than I ever dreamed I would do in an entire day.
3. The whining!!!
4. Everyone in my family is hungry all of the time, and I am the "fixer" of that problem...apparently.
5. The whining!!!
6. Fighting/fussing children that need a referee more than a Mom.
7. Laundry that never ends.
8. A dishwasher that is ALWAYS full of clean dishes needing to be put up.
9. And, did I mention, the whining?!?

Now, that was a gripe session intended more for humor than anything else. Because, these are no reasons for my joy and my peace to be unseen.

What could be worse than all of these things I have listed? For any one of them to come to an end.

You see, what God has been teaching me since January is that ALL of life is a gift. The things I complain about today could be gone tomorrow and nothing I could do would bring them back.

I pray that God will continually teach me how to ENJOY Him daily through the gifts that He has blessed me with -- not in spite of them. And, I pray that enjoying Him will lead others in a search for the One who provides life in the only manner that truly works.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

When you think about it, pray with me for Mr. Ralph and his family. Pray for their peace during this difficult time. Also, pray specifically for Mr. Ralph -- that he would trust God completely with this life and the life to come. Scotty was able to visit with him in the hospital on Sunday. He told Ralph that we wanted him to fight and get better, but, if he wasn't able, Scotty told him to tell Jesus "hello" for him. What a sweet thought.

We love you, Mr. Ralph. We will never be the same after having known you. I pray that my life is as meaningful to those around me. You have been a blessing!

Wednesday, October 15

We LOVE the Beach!!!

Update -- I edited this post, took out the LONG line of pictures, and inserted a slideshow. Thanks, Heather, for the help. I am most proud of myself!!!

My vacation was wonderful!

It seems that so many times, my expectations get the best of me. I plan how things will/should go; then, I am usually disappointed. However, this time, everything went just as I had hoped. Now, I do think that our trip was a great trip. But, mostly, I believe that three children (who shall remain nameless) have helped to lower my expectations. Therefore, I just enjoy things as they are. This gift is one of the many gifts they have given me.

First of all, Mom, Sassy (that's what my children call Alyson) and I had a blast in Canton. We left the house at 6:30 and did not leave Canton until around 4:00. We were hot and completely worn out but already looking forward to next year. Thanks to "G" and Medow who watched the three C's so that we could get an early start. Their daddy took some time off to manage them the rest of the day. He's the best!!!

I guess you see that Mom did not cooperate with Sassy's plan for all of us to match. She has always been a rebel!

Friday morning, we left for the beach after checking Caleb out of school. We made it in RECORD time. And by record, I mean the fewest traveled miles per hour in recorded history. We left Clinton around 11:00 and made it into Gulf Shores close to 6:00. So, roughly 7 hours in a mini van (key word being MINI) with three children. The first time Caleb asked, "are we there yet?" was around the Madison exit. He and Collin took turns asking that same question in approximately 3 minute intervals for the remainder of the trip. During the time that they were o.k. with the traveling, Claire turned red-faced and tried to bust out of her carseat -- LITERALLY.

I am exaggerating quite a bit -- not on the 7 hours, but on their behavior. They really did a great job. And, they were fabulous for the rest of the weekend.

I think, for me, I can get caught up in our daily routines. The things that I repeat regularly throughout the day; "stop fighting", "clean up", "stop saying bathroom words", etc. make me CRAZY. I begin to think that I am not being heard. But, in a different setting, they were the most obedient, easy going children. They made me very proud.

Claire absolutely LOVES the beach. I was expecting at least some hesitance to the water. After about 5 minutes of the water running over her toes, we were having to hold her out of the ocean. She was ready to ride the waves. It was hysterical, and we got many laughs from others on the beach.

The first thing we did upon arrival was go crab hunting. We were provided nets by the company we rented the condo from, and the boys were most excited about the hunting. I, however, wasn't, because the crabs scare me. They are way too fast. We needed Daddy for this activity, but Sassy did a pretty good job. We did come home with two hermit crabs (yes, two more living things in the MINI van for the ride home!!!), but they were bought from the "shark store". In reading the information provided, Sassy found out that the average life span of these hermit crabs is 11 years. I did not know this fact prior to purchasing the animals.

But, I feel quite certain Collin's crab is going to seriously lower the average. If not, these are the toughest animals ever. He took it to school Tuesday morning to show his friends. When I picked him up, he threw his bag into the van with the crab house in it. Poor, poor crab!! He was looking out for the crab's well-being, though. He told me immediately that his friends scared his crab because they were screaming too loud. His next comment..."boody-head friends". Collin's fans out there can really appreciate that comment. I'm sure you can even picture the face. So, a few more pictures of crab hunting, and I'll leave you until the next post.

I can't say enough about our wonderful trip. And, my words would not do it justice, so I'm giving you the pictures. I still can't make a slide show, so I'm sorry for the many pictures. But, the smiles tell it all.

I know this post was lengthy. If you read the whole thing, thanks for indulging me. I wanted to share much more. But, maybe another day.

Wednesday, October 8

Boasting in Weakness

Well, I have no secrets, so I have to share this story.

Scotty and I had a bit of a "heated" discussion over the weekend. A much stronger adjective is needed, really, to describe the discussion. But, I can't think of the appropriate word; and, if I could, you would all probably start sending us the names of therapists. So, "heated" is best.

The deal is, we have just let the stresses of life take priority. We haven't gotten away and spent some time alone in a long time. That is not good for me, because I feel loved when my type A husband puts the work aside long enough to show ME that he cares. Scotty feels most loved when I encourage him with words of affirmation. But, you see, he hadn't been doing what I wanted him to do, so there were words coming out of my mouth. I just forgot the affirming part. And, there's the problem. We are in a cycle.

Well, I felt good about sharing all that I needed to share. And, I knew that we'd work it out, but on Sunday I really wasn't through pouting about this situation.

Here comes the funny part.

Sunday night, we are sitting in our newly formed small group at church. When I say newly formed, I mean FIRST meeting. We are sharing prayer requests. Four or five have been shared, and Scotty speaks up:

"Please pray for Amy and me. We are experiencing some 12 year marriage struggles..."

O.K. I don't know what else he says, because all I heard was that noise you hear in awkward situations in movies. It sounds like calm music playing on a record. Then the needle suddenly screeches across the record ending it total, unnerving silence. Are you with me? Can you feel my pain? I felt like I was wearing a mask and someone ripped it off of my face without any warning at all. (You know I'm exaggerating a bit, right?)

The group was very kind. And, I have to admit that it did show me he does truly care about us and our marriage. Also, we tend to put on "costumes" for church. We don't let others see that we don't always have it together. We want our small group to be a place where we are completely real with each other so that we really know each other. I just don't know that our group wanted to really KNOW us the first night.

Well, I shared that very long story to say that last night, Scotty and I were able to get away for a date night. I LOVE date night. We ate at Chili's and then went to see Fireproof.

If you have not seen this movie, please go see it. First of all, it's wonderful. The church that produced Facing the Giants did this movie too. It is just as powerful. Kirk Cameron did a fantastic job (as any former Growing Pains fan would agree). But, secondly, I love the fact that such a positive movie is doing so well in the box office. The gospel is shared several times in several different ways. It's just amazing.

So, date night was a success. We love our kids. But, they are kids. They require our full attention. We have to get away every now and then and do something for us.

I guess I've given my secret away. Things are not always perfect in the Rogers' house. We have struggles just like everyone else. If life were easy, if I didn't have the struggles, I would think I could do it on my own. But, the struggles are there, and life is hard.

We need strength that, humanly, we do not possess; and occasionally, we're brought to our knees by the awareness of our DEpendence on God. In my case, this awareness is usually ushered in by some humiliating experiences. Apparently, I have some pride issues God is working on as well.

I will leave you with the words of my new favorite song. The title is I Will Not Be Moved by Natalie Grant. There's a line in the middle that says... "my brokenness helps me to see, it's grace I'm standing on." It's through the brokenness that we can enjoy the grace. It's a gift.

"It is by grace that we are saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8

Sunday, October 5

Happy Fall, Y'all!

The closer it gets to the Fall season every year, the more I begin anticipating the Canton Flea Market. I love going and looking at the things offered by the MANY, different vendors. I especially enjoy eating the food. But, I mainly enjoy the company. Two years ago, my mom and sister came over for the flea market. We had such a good time, that we made it a tradition. We find great deals, eat good food, but mostly we just laugh.

Our tradition continues, though. On Friday morning, we will leave at lunch time headed for Gulf Shores with the kids. This will be the third year for us to do this. The boys have so much fun. And, although Claire was with us last year, at 3 months old, she didn't experience the beach. So, it will be interesting to see how she likes it.

Mom made the kids a construction paper chain with the same number of links as days until the trip. So, for about a month now, we have been cutting links and counting "sleeps" until our trip. I don't know who is more excited about the fact that there are only 5 more links/"sleeps" -- me or them.

So, Mom and Alyson, I can't wait for the trip. In case you aren't excited enough already, here are some of last year's memories. Can't wait to post this year's pics.

I'm so excited! My sister called as I was writing this post. She has found t-shirts for us to wear to Canton. We should be easy to spot since we'll look just alike, so maybe we'll see you there.

Monday, September 29

Thank God it's... MONDAY!!!

Well, that's a phrase you don't hear too often isn't it? However, I am most happy that our weekend is over. We had an eventful, yet teary, weekend for sure. This post has the potential to be extremely long. So, I am just going to write in list form so that you can see how our weekend went. If you can get your hands on a recording of some screaming children to play in the background, that would really be helpful in getting the FULL effect.

1. Friday night, we made caramel apples together (Me, Caleb & Collin). I enjoy having caramel apples during the Fall and thought they would enjoy making them with me. It began with both boys crying because the caramel was sticky!! We were using the caramel that comes in sheets. You literally just LAY the caramel over the apple. But, somehow, Collin's ended up in one giant ball on the very top of his apple. So, he cried --screamed -- until I fixed it. The event progressed in similar fashion until the grand finale. As Caleb was putting the tray of apples into the oven, Collin decided to grab the oven rack. (This would be a good time to turn your recording of screaming children UP a few notches.) I began asking myself "why" I do these things to myself. Then, I remembered I wanted some good, Fall pictures. So, here they are.

Great Fall pics, huh!!

2. On Saturday, we played soccer in South Jackson. I was very excited about it, because Caleb is very fun to watch. Well, the SJ teams were a little tougher than our Clinton teams. Approximately 8 minutes into the game, Caleb came out crying. He stated that he wasn't going back in. He was just going to watch. "That team is too hard," he says. "I'm only playing the easy teams from now on." Now, I'm sure most of you can guess how Scotty and I handled this episode. Not well I can assure you. He was beyond frustrated and his logic was making me crazy. At this point I truly wanted to join in the crying/screaming myself. Finally, I told Caleb that he should just stop talking, because I was just getting more angry. (I know -- not very compassionate and motherly. The screaming just drowned it out.)

3. The weekend ended with a not so great confrontation with Scotty. Marriage struggles are always great right in the middle of child struggles. Lately, I have been thanking God for Jesus in the middle of HUGE life struggles like my friend, Stephanie, is facing. This weekend, I was reminded that I am so thankful for Jesus in the middle of just normal, family "stuff". "In this world, you will face troubles, but take heart, I (Jesus) have overcome the world."

There have to be so many other ways that God could have saved us all, rescued us and brought us back to Himslef. But, He chose to send Jesus right into this world -- the same world, with the same frustrations. I'm so thankful that He can relate. I'm also thankful that He reminded me right in the middle of a "not so great" weekend that these children are precious. And, I am grateful for every moment that I get to have with them (even the screaming ones).

And, surely I am due a great week after such a trying weekend. Oh, but maybe not. I just went to move clothes from the washer to the dryer and it looks like a pull-up got washed AGAIN!!!! If this has never happened to you, it is the biggest mess you've ever seen. I guess I better brace myself for more of the same. "I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength." Thank you, Jesus.

Oh, and I just have to throw in a picture of little Claire. She gets left out in my posts, because she is just so easy. She hasn't given us any really great stories, yet. So, this is what she looked like through most of the weekend's events. What an angel.

Thursday, September 25

Life Lessons from Kindergarten

Well, it happened today. I pulled up at Clinton Park, Caleb got into his seat and before I could ask about the day, he says, "I have a yellow light, for real." I looked at him to see if he was pulling another prank; and, clearly, he was not. His eyes were already filling with tears.

I guess I should back up. If you are not familiar with the happenings of a kindergarten classroom, you would not know that everyone starts on a green light each morning. The light can change as warnings are given for misbehavior. Before dismissal, the teacher places a colored dot on a calendar in each folder informing parents of how the day went. Up until today, Caleb's dot has been green. Not only that, he has been really proud of his green dot and eager to tell me of those whose lights have not been green -- those less fortunate children whose lights have been yellow, orange or even RED! which means they got 15 minutes of time out during playground time. If you've seen the playground at Clinton Park, you know this is surely major punishment.

But, today, Caleb's dot was yellow. He immediately began his story about how he and a friend were kicking under the table and the teacher saw them. They both had to change their light. I believe the word "mean" was used. And, he also said, "That's why I don't want to go to school anymore."

I assured him that we were going back to Kindergarten. But, as I asked more questions, Caleb says, "Well, Mom, I didn't think she could see me."

O.K. now we're getting somewhere. I wanted to pull off to the side of the road for this lesson. But, I adjusted the rear view mirror so he could see me and I could see him, and we had a little lesson on doing right even when no one is looking. (I hear you laughing at me, Alyson.) However, I secretly loved his answer. The honesty of a five year old is precious. Certainly if no one sees me doing wrong I'm not actually doing anything wrong.

We had a quick recovery, because today was also report card day. Our first report card; and, sadly, this former teacher was anxious all day to see it. He is just as brilliant as I suspected. And, his teacher had a few comments about how wonderful he is. I guess the comment section was completed prior to the kicking incident. So, I had my proud moment and we celebrated with ice cream.

Then, we came home to write an apology letter to Caleb's teacher. (Would any of you have expected anything less.) And, tomorrow, he will go back to his classroom where his light will miraculously be on green again, because every day holds the hope of doing things a little bit better than the day before. Another great lesson learned in Kindergarten.