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.