Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year!



I have to admit, this December has been one of the most hectic times of my life. It was non-stop from the start, and so I find myself being extra content and happy now that it is coming to a close. This past week has been wonderful around here! Our family enjoyed a blessed Christmas, and Jamie has been home since last Thursday. He has this entire week off, so we have just been chillin' around the house, mostly. I am typically running around town, carting kids to different places or activities, so not having to do any of that for the past week has been great. We've had plenty to do, but not so much that I get stressed out or in too much of a hurry. Aside from Gannon getting an ear infection and taking a trip to the doc yesterday, we've been lounging in our jammies, playing with Christmas toys, and just taking it easy in general. Today we went to Bridge Street with my Mom so the kids could ride the carousel and see the sights. Melody went home with my Mom after that so that Melody could have an art lesson from my Mom. Tomorrow we're taking a day trip to Chattanooga to the aquarium, and Thursday we're going up to Monte Sano for a hike with my parents. It's just been great! I wish it could last, but alas we must return to the hustle and bustle next week.
I hope that all of you have had a blessed holiday as well. May God continue to bless all of you for the coming year! Happy early 2009!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tree x2

Jamie and I were discussing Christmas traditions the other night. We both agreed that as far as traditions go, we both had the same one growing up for tree decorating. Our families put all of our cute, dorky, handmade ornaments on the tree. Jamie and I both "inherited" our respective ornaments when we got married. We have about 2-3 boxes of all of the ornaments we made or collected over the years. One year I did end up throwing away all of the tattered ones, or the ones that neither of us could figure out what it was supposed to be anymore! Now that we have our own children, our tree is beginning to fill up with their cute, homemade ornaments. I noticed this year that our tree is becoming overwhelmingly full of ornaments made from foam craft kits, paper, or some other brand of art. I really like the process of decorating the tree. I have memories tied to nearly every single ornament (except for Jamie's, of course), and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to reminisce over each ornament. My favorites have become the few that I made for Jamie during our first years together. After about year three, I became lazy and stopped making them, but I absolutely love the first one I made (we had only been dating a month). It looks like a snowball.

This year I decided that while it's nice to have a tree full of memories, I have been yearning to have a grown-up tree also. NOT a themed tree--I don't think I could pull that off, and I don't even want to--but one that is simply not full of homemade items made by 5-year-olds. Jamie agreed that it would be neat for the kids to have their own tree next year. I was at several houses this holiday season in which the kids playroom had a small tree with all of the cute, sentimental, homemade ornaments on it, and the grown-up, tastefully decorated tree was on display elsewhere. I thought that was a great idea! I know my children would flip over having their very own tree in the playroom, and they could touch all of the ornaments and move them around all they want. Lo and behold, Hobby Lobby is having a 50% off sale on Christmas trees right now, so I found the perfect 4.5 ft tree! Of course, it will be stored in the attic until next year, but I'm already excited about surprising the kids next year with their very own, pint-sized tree!

How about everyone else? How do you balance decorating the tree with sentimental ornaments vs. breakable, decorative items?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Abbreviations

I must confess, I'm an abbreviator. I picked it up in college when one's expected to take notes at lightening-fast speed, and I continued my abbreviated habits throughout multiple jobs, where using medical abbreviations was an unspoken requirement. I saw a sign the other day along a road on which I commonly travel, and it had the word Christmas abbreviated to 'XMas'. I remember as a kid learning that one should NEVER use this abbreviation, because it is putting an X on Christ. I don't think this is something that my parents taught me, but rather something I just picked up through friends in the faith community or society in general. Frankly, I can't place blame directly on anyone, it's just there. Anyhow, for some reason this concept has always stuck with me and I rarely use the X to abbreviate the word. However, I find myself sometimes wanting to, simply because it takes extra effort to write the entire word! Something about getting the 'r' to loop into the 'i' is tricky for me at times when I'm in a hurry.

To be perfectly honest (*ahem* true and real), I don't see what all the fuss is about. If I really was intentional about putting an X on Christ, I wouldn't be celebrating Christmas to begin with! I think somebody somewhere had too much time on their hands and decided that they had to find something new with which to infuriate the Christian public. It's always something, right? Back in my day, (because I'm Sooo old), it was using an X to take the Christ out of Christmas. Nowadays, all I hear about is the commercialization of Christmas. Either way, it is somebody deciding that we Christians should create a big uproar every season so we can fight for our holiday. Can I just say, WHATEVER. I can celebrate Christmas with an X on it, and I can certainly celebrate it whether or not the stores decide to sell Christmas in July. I keep Christ in my Christmas because I want to, and because I see Christ's birth as a reason to celebrate.

Therefore, this holiday season, I am choosing to put aside my deeply interwoven beliefs about the Christmas abbreviation. If I need to write a quick 'XMas' then I will, and I will not feel guilty about it. TYVM. :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Baking, Santa, and Football


My life has been a whirlwind of this and that for the past week and a half. It's normally pretty busy, but it feels as though someone has pushed the NON-STOP button and I'm on a merry-go-round or something. Last week was crazy because I was trying to get everything done that needed to be done before our annual Thanksmas with my in-law's. Both kids came down with an ear infection right before we left, so when I wasn't in the doctor's office or at the pharmacy, I was frantically doing laundry, wrapping presents (hence the 'mas' in Thanksmas), and packing.

Today, due to poor time management on my part, I've been in a baking frenzy. Our United Methodist Women's circle is having our annual Breakfast with Santa on Sunday, and included in that is a huge bake sale. Lots of women bake for it, and the money goes towards great missions. Anyway, I probably could have prepared some of my baked goods yesterday, but I waited until today for all of it! The good news is that Gannon has been learning how to make bark and brownies. He's a big help. My plan was to stay home all day and bake. However, this morning during breakfast, Melody reminded me in a very sweet way that I had mistakenly forgotten to have lunch with her this week. I was supposed to be parent helper in the lunchroom last week, but due to Gannon's illness on that day, I couldn't go. So I promised her I'd have lunch with her this week. As soon as she reminded me, I had that horrible, guilty Mommy feeling. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? It's a terrible feeling, and so I quickly told her that Gannon and I would certainly come to have lunch with her today. As a result, I might just be up baking until midnight, but it is well worth the smile on her face and the feeling of pride she has when she can show off her family to her classmates. :)

Meanwhile, we've been hyping up the concept of sitting in Santa's lap this year to Gannon. He's refused the past couple of years, as is typical for that age, but this year he says he is going to go for it! Okay, I have to admit that part of this is selfish on my part. We really need a good photo op. I have not had any Christmas photos taken of the kids for a Christmas card this year, and I'm starting to feel the time crunch! Due to budgeting reasons, we try to alternate years of having the pictures professionally done versus taken by us. Last year they were taken professionally, so this year it's up to us. I haven't even attempted to get any good shots! I have to say right now that if we can't get a good one in the next week or so, we are just going to go the route of NO photo in the card. *gasp* I know, we will be balking the recent trend, but that's just what might happen, folks.

I've also started a new job in the midst of all of this. So far it is going well. I now have two part-time jobs that equal less than 10 hours per week, so it's not a bad deal.

On another note, I love (NOT) finding out about last minute Christmas parties that involve me having to run to the store and purchase gifts. The coming week for me looks like this:
Saturday--8 am--set up B'fast with Santa/Bake Sale
-1-2 pm--eat lunch and take Melody to my parents' house (she's going with my Dad to watch my Mom's Christmas concert at the VBC)
-3 pm--go to Harvest to watch the Big Game (Roll Tide!!!!) at a friend's house
-after the game--have our annual group Christmas party (our "group" is all of our college friends and our multitude of children--12 kids total!)
-hopefully get home before my Dad drops off Melody from the concert

Sunday--7 am--arrive at church to kick of the big day of Breakfast, Santa and baked goods--stay there until noon or so
-4:30--take kids to church for choir rehearsal

Monday--Gannon to preschool and I get to deliver a crib to a new mother as part of my new job! Monday night, meet with my care receiver in Stephen's Ministry

Tuesday--PTA meeting

Wednesday--work at night until 7, then go to the UMW party

Thursday--gift wrapping party

Friday--Sunday School party

next Saturday--12-3 pm--Melody at a skate party
4-8 pm--band party

Needless to say, most of it is a lot of fun, but wow it can sure drain me just to think about it all! We'll be partied out by next weekend! And Jamie still has to put up Christmas lights. Hmmm...where can we squeeze that one in? And what about time for Peace, Joy and Goodwill toward men????

Anyway, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and can enjoy the holiday season!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Playground review

Today I arrived at Gannon's preschool about 20 minutes early, so I decided that instead of rushing to get him, that I would relax and observe his class on the playground-from the comforts of my car-for a bit. He has a large class; about 20 on average, so I sometimes wonder how much he's really getting out of it. But, that's another topic, so I'll move on... I'm observing/spying on the kids and their teachers, and one little girl caught my eye. I've noticed her before, but I've only ever seen her at her seat or walking in the hall. Today she was swinging. This wouldn't be unusual, except she is missing her entire left arm from the shoulder down. She was the only child playing on the swings, and she was really giving it all she had. I observed her not only climb into the seat by herself, but also begin to swing herself. Can you imagine trying to swing with just one arm??? She had a clumsy system, with swaying her torso and kicking off the ground with one foot, but by golly she was swinging herself. And she did it with no help at all, and she didn't even ask for help! I was simply amazed at her tenacity and perseverance.

Meanwhile, my son is making the rounds for the slide. Up the stairs, through the tunnel, down the slide...repeat. Not nearly as amazing as his little classmate, but he is cute nonetheless. At one point he walked over and tackled another little boy. I was horrified at first, but then the other boy turned around and tackled him right back and they both went about their business ("being lions" as I was later informed). Dynamics between boys is so different than for girls! You can tackle your buddy and still be buddies. If a girl were to tackle another girl, not only would they discontinue their friendship for the next 30 minutes, but they might just go and tell everyone else about it (i.e. gossip).

Gannon comes home every day from school with rocks in his shoes. Yes, the school playground has rocks for the nice, soft padding on which our little babies fall. So not only does Gannon have rocks in his shoes every day, he has also come home with scrapes and cuts from when he falls down. I haven't figured that one out, yet. WHY did they choose rocks instead of mulch, or something softer?? It's beyond me, but today I thought that it would be nice if all the parents had a fundraiser for the preschool to raise money to replace the rocks with a softer surface. I mean, when you have kids age 2-5 playing out there, they are going to fall down! Who wants to fall on rocks?

Okay, I got off on a soapbox there. Isn't it amazing all of the things one's mind can think up during 15 minutes of playground observation?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Deep thoughts from down south

I've read a couple of blog posts this week by friends of mine, and they were reflecting on their year and what they have learned from the year. I usually try to do this around year's end as well, so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon (nothing wrong with a good bandwagon!) and post my thoughts as well. I'm sure they won't be as introspective and thought-provoking as my fellow bloggers, but this will have to do. They are not in any particular order.

1. Family is good, very good. I'm not just speaking of my husband and children (although they are good, too), but rather the family members I have in mind are those that live farther away. I had the opportunity to visit with several family members this year that I don't generally get to see very often, and I'm always thankful that I have such a great family!

2. Naptime is one of the most precious things in the world.

3. People act out their emotional pain in very strange, confusing, and hurtful ways sometimes.

4. God's provisions are enough. I don't have to have a big house, the perfect car, or the trendiest clothes for God to love me. I just need His love and grace, and I will be provided with everything else I need (and then some!).

5. Introversion sometimes means that you don't always get to participate in fun things. --but those things aren't always necessary anyway (i.e. #4).

6. Don't take good health for granted.

7. As seasons change, so do people and places. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes it is very sad. But all very necessary.



Also, please keep my dear grandfather in your prayers. He has been in and out of the hospital now for several months--he is 90 years old--and it has now been decided that Hospice will be called in for the remainder of his time with us. Please also pray for those making the tough decisions about his care, and those providing the care for him. He is my last living grandparent, and I love him dearly! Thanks in advance for any prayers you can send his way...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'm a proud Mommy

Here she is pre-haircut.
Melody has been growing her hair for the past 18 months or so. I think the last time she got it cut was around her 5th birthday, which was last summer. During that time, she also decided to grow out her bangs, so we've been dealing with long, thick hair for a while now! Melody's BFF from preschool donated her long locks to an organization called Locks of Love. So, Melody decided that she'd like to do the same. Let me tell ya, it hasn't been easy to brush out that long hair, nor wash it! But, yesterday since Melody was home from school all day, I decided that it was time to go get it cut! She had finally grown it out the required 10 inches (I think she had 11, actually).


I'm very proud of her for having a giving heart and spirit. She's super-happy with her new hairdo, and I am, too! I love it.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Well-intentioned kindness

I saw a bumper sticker today that gave me cause to wonder. It said, "Kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us."

Okay, now let me premise this by saying that I love animals. I really do. (You may question this if you know my current love-hate relationship with my dogs.) I do not believe in animal cruelty and my heart breaks whenever I hear stories of animals being abused, etc. HOWEVER, I take issue with this bumper sticker. I don't think it is false to say that kindness to animals can build a better world, but I think it takes a lot more than kindness to animals to have a harmonious world.

Wouldn't it be more prudent to say, perhaps, "Kindness to OTHERS" or "Kindness to ONESELF"? I think that our human interactions is what truly build a better world. The whole pay it forward phenomenon, in my opinion, is capable of bringing about lasting change for a better world. Okay, so that might include being kind to an animal, but you can make a greater impact on a fellow human being. It is all well and good to rescue a homeless animal, but what if we gave the same effort to rescue a homeless person?

In reference to the "kindness to oneself"...there are so many people out there who just exist..they contribute nothing because they don't feel as though they have any self-worth. They have entered into a cycle of behavior that causes them to abuse drugs, abuse others, and abuse themselves. What if they put half of that energy into actually taking care of themselves? That would also build a better world!

I certainly don't want to get into trouble with any animal activists out there, but I personally put more value on a human life than I do on an animal's life. I feel that to truly build a better world, we need to increase the number of times we are kind to others. Sure, throw in some kindness to animals, too!

Yes, I got all that from a silly bumper sticker. Go figure.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hobby Lobby--good or evil?

First of all, I luuuurve me some Hobby Lobby. I could spend hours in there every time I go, but I usually have at least one child with me, so I try to limit it to 20 minutes or less. The place is so huge, I generally stick to one side of the store on most visits.

I've noticed something about Hobby Lobby and my children: the big section in the middle of the store (you know, the big area that has all of the breakable stuff) has some type of magnetic field to it, because as soon as we walk in, my kids gravitate straight towards all of the breakable stuff, and their little fingers just can't help but start touching all of it! Now, Hobby Lobby has all of this stuff placed so that it's almost impossible to navigate around it. But the choices for going around include the artificial flowers (can we say ACHOO??), or the holiday/seasonal stuff that my kids also love to touch! Hmmm....do you see my problem here?

Gannon's favorite thing in the breakable section is the display with all of the vintage-looking firetrucks and motorcycles. He could spend hours just looking at them and gently caressing them.. I always have to promise him that we'll come back around to them on our way out of the store, so he can bid them farewell. The last time we were at Hobby Lobby (just the 2 of us), he declared that Hobby Lobby is his favorite store. Get this: we can get in and out of Target--even the toy section most times--without my kids begging me for a toy. But, Hobby Lobby?? They just have to have an art/craft project EVERY TIME! I have to admit that I'm a bit of a closet crafter. I secretly LOVE to do crafts, but I don't feel as though I'm terribly creative, so I don't do crafts very often. I do well with ready-made kits with a picture of the finished product on the front, so I can tell what it's supposed to look like when completed. I secretly love to paint, and glue, and cut things out. Okay, so it's not a secret anymore, but what can I say? The bottom line is, sometimes I indulge the kids so we can all get elbow deep in some fun craft. The GREAT thing about Hobby Lobby is that you can get really neat craft kit things for kids for a very good price.

Tonight the whole family took a trip to Hobby Lobby. I have officially come out of the crafter closet because I finally bought my very own glue gun. Yes, I did. No longer will I suffer with those less-than glues that never quite do the job, and no longer will I have to borrow my Mom's glue gun. You can't really be a true craft-o-holic without one, so there you go. I feel very special now.

So, all in all, I guess it's worth the possibility of that big, pricey something in the middle of the store getting broken in order to explore and let our imaginations go wild with the next great craft project!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tennis, Anyone?


I'm a bit late posting this, but my only excuse is that this week has been Fall Break for the kids (no school), so I've had my hands full. No time to blog!!

Jamie's been talking for a while about getting the kids (namely, Melody) out on the tennis court. There's a great club in town that offers lessons for a very reasonable price, but for some reason Jamie had his heart set on buying racquets and going out to play. So that is what he did. We loaded up the kids, their new racquets and balls, and went to our nearby park to the tennis courts. Melody took to it like a fish to water; she did great for her first time! I was simply amazed.

Gannon was interested for about 5 minutes, then in normal Gannon fashion, proceeded to try to collect everyone's racquet for his own pretend game of something-or-other!


Melody also enjoyed learning the fine art of "pocketing" your tennis balls when you don't have pockets!



Now that the weather is just perfect, I'm sure we'll be out on the courts again soon! It was so much fun!
And, this is random, but the kids have also been enjoying the fall by coloring pumpkins! The big guy will be a jack-o-lantern soon, but I'm waiting a couple of weeks so he won't rot. Have a great October, everyone!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Blessings or Curses?

I had one of those "Aha!" moments during a Bible study yesterday. We are discussing grace and all the meanings behind that word. Anyway, it came up that many times the words we speak to others (namely, our children) can either be blessings or curses. Not that we are actually cursing AT our children (or others), but that what we say can be poison to the soul of a little child, or our words can bless, glorify and lift up. I've thought a lot about this since I became a mother, and particularly since I've been increasingly dealing with sibling rivalry. Oftentimes, (I'll admit) my reaction to my children bickering or fighting is not exactly a blessing. I'm working on getting better at this, but I'm a work in progress, as many of us are.

One of the ladies at our group study mentioned a retreat/conference she attended several years back. She told the story of a young lady (teenager, I believe) who was very helpful and had a smile on her face no matter who she was helping/serving. One woman commented to the mother of the teenager that the girl had such a joyful spirit and seemed very happy and content. The mother stated that the young girl had not always had such a sweet, giving spirit. Apparently she was quite a handful when she was a little child. However, when she was young, the mother and father decided to pick a scripture from the Bible that could be a daily blessing to the girl; something that was opposite how they viewed her grumpy little spirit. They prayed over her every day and gave her the blessing they had chosen. Soon, her attitude and, I'm sure, the attitude of the parents changed!

This, for some reason, really hit home for me. I thought this idea might have some merit, and it might also change how I pray for my children. Last night I prayed for a while, then started searching for a couple of Bible verses that might fit for a blessing for my kids. My intent is to turn them and their spirits over to God everyday with the blessing of their scripture. Melody's is from Proverbs--gotta love Proverbs--and Gannon's is from the Book of Jude (Jude??? I'm not sure I've ever even read a verse from Jude before..).

I'm being a tad selfish in my hope and desire that these blessings I give my children will help me, too; however, I think a happy, peaceful and BLESSED family is worth it!

Monday, September 22, 2008

13.1


Today I decided to go for a walk during my one free hour. It's a beautiful day, and I could definitely feel the hint of Fall. Very nice indeed, since Fall is my absolute fave time of year. It always reminds me of football, walking across the Quad at UA and watching leaves dancing about from the wind.

While I was on my walk, I was reminded of some of the thoughts I always have when I'm out enjoying a bit of exercise and pretty weather...I tend to always enjoy it so much, that I begin concocting grand plans to make long walks a habit. I start imagining a life filled with long, glorious walks. Not only will I get exercise, but I can immerse myself in God's lovely creation. Then I start thinking that if I go for enough long walks, well then I should just go ahead and train to walk a half marathon! I tend to become a bit grandiose in my thought process, and I can really get carried away. Well today I noticed this beginning to happen, so I decided I would self-analyze a bit and try to figure out why I have a hard time following through on some of my goals. No harm there, right? Heh.

I've participated in 2 half marathons to date, the latest one being in April 2007. I didn't participate this last year, because I just couldn't see myself being able/willing to devote that much time to training. Having two young children makes it challenging to go for LONG walks without incorporating a babysitter. My parents are local, but I feel guilty asking them every Saturday to babysit for hours on end while I go for a walk (they have a life, too). Jamie has joined me in both half marathons, and we really enjoy it. Both walks we did were at the Country Music Marathon/half marathon in Nashville, TN. Neither of us care for country music much, but along the race route they have lots of bands playing, not all of them country. The route leads one through the music district of town, so it's pretty neat going by all of the recording places and such. Anyway, it's a great atmosphere and it really helps the 13.1 go by fast. Today I was thinking back to the last half marathon we did in Nashville, and I remember that around mile 11-12 we saw a woman who had obviously been involved in a tragedy that resulted in the loss of her legs. She had prosthetics on, and she RAN past us. She was in the full marathon! Amazing in and of itself.

So here's how a typical (of the 2 I've done) half marathon walk goes for me: we get up at the crack of dawn to drive to a big stadium so we can stand in line for about 30 minutes. We get aboard a bus that will take us to the start line for the race. We arrive in the vicinity of the starting line (about a mile away), and meander through the throngs of people (I think there are generally around 30,000 in the race, not to mention vendors, family there to cheer on the racers, etc)who are also making their way to the start line. We find our corral (usually in the back b/c we are walkers) and we stand around for approximately one hour for our corral to get to the start line (they start the race in waves at this event). By the time we actually REACH the STARTING line, I've been on my feet for about 2-3 hours already! Then I get to walk 13.1 miles. Okay, so off we go and we're very excited to finally start. Once I get to about mile 1, I'm in my pace and going pretty good. About mile 5 is when the hills start...ouch. By mile 8, I've got a blister. By mile 11, I'm starting to hit my wall, but by the grace of God, my feet just keep moving and it's mostly downhill from there, so I'm about to limp to the finish line. It hurts. Both years, I've commented that I'm so happy I'm only walking the half marathon and not the full!!

Anyhow, this last time, we saw this lady who ran past us, and I remember commenting to Jamie, "If that lady can RUN a FULL marathon, surely I can run a little bit of a half marathon! I'm going to train better next time, and try to run a little." Okay, so there's my goal and I ended up not even participating the next year. I did start to run a little, though. However, I was quickly reminded that I've never actually enjoyed running. It doesn't feel natural to me, and it never has. I much prefer to walk. But, my point was that I could get across the finish line quicker if I alternated running/walking. If a lady with no feet can do it, why can't I?

Well, this morning I realized that maybe she has something that I don't. First of all, she probably has some form of motivation that I've not yet tapped into. Secondly, she has a level of perserverence that I don't have. I've never been faced with the reality that I may never walk again. Therefore, I haven't been forced or even wanted to tap into the part of me that absolutely needs to overcome an obstacle such as not being able to walk. I'm very lucky, but she is also lucky because she has risen above her tragedy and turned it into triumph. Of course, all of this is "assuming and supposing" part of her life, but I'm just putting it out there.

So, instead of feeling guilty and beating myself up for not meeting my goals (even if they were made somewhat flippantly), I'm going to just do what I feel comfortable doing. If that means I get out and walk a few miles every day, every week, or every month, then so be it. I will be okay with this.

I don't know when my next quest for the 13.1 will be, but for now I'll enjoy the few miles I get here and there. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Groupthink

I've been thinking about groups quite a bit lately. I've been on-again, off-again reading Eckhart Tolle's book "A New Earth" and some of the concepts in his book have led me to think about groups and roles. I think Tolle is leaning more towards the roles we play as individuals, but I really enjoy learning about and studying groups, so his book has been a catalyst for me to examine some of the groups of which I am a part. One of my favorite subjects in undergrad was Social Psychology. I loved it! I think that class was one of the reasons I was led to go into social work, because it is all about learning how people function in social situations, groups, and how they process the world around them.

Okay, so in my processing, I've been thinking about not only the roles I play as an individual, but also the roles I play in groups. I'm a self-proclaimed introvert (and Myers-Briggs agrees with me!!), so groups have always been more challenging for me than not. I've found that once I'm fully enmeshed in a group, I can function quite well. However, it really depends on the group. Groups are typically made up of folks that have the same beliefs, attitudes, and/or values. They have a common purpose. I recall one time I attended an AA group, because it was a requirement of my internship at a drug recovery program. Well, if you've ever been to any type of recovery program, visitors are always noticed, and usually called upon for introductions. It goes something like this:
Leader: "I see we have some visitors today! Please introduce yourselves and let us know why you are here."
Visitor: "Hi, my name is _______. I'm here for _____."

When I attended this group and it came time for me to introduce myself, I simply stated my name and said that I was observing the group as part of my graduate work as a social worker ( in hindsight, I could have handled this much differently!!). Not only was there a stunned silence following my proclamation, but I also noticed immediate tension in the room. I was officially an outsider. The people who had become enmeshed in that group could not see that I might have a single thing in common with them, and therefore I did not Belong. Has this ever happened to you?

Even within groups, there are sub-groups of people that might have their own thoughts about things. It reminds me of my church: we have two services. One is traditional and one is contemporary. While we are all Christian and all Methodist (thereby part of the same "group"), some folks from either service feel as though they are different from the other. I don't know if this thought process leads them to think that the other group does not Belong, but perhaps it comes close.

My thought is this: how can we function in a group with a common purpose if others in the group have their own agenda? This happens in every group, and I think that sometimes it leads to dissolution of the group. In some groups, the leader of the group maintains the general "voice" and this can sometimes drown out the subgroup. I believe it can go either way: either the subgroup can weaken the group and it's purpose, or the subgroup can strengthen the group's purpose. I think it depends on how strong and competent the subgroup (or individual) is, as well as the competency level of the leader on group processes.


All in all, I find it fascinating to observe the multiple groups to which I belong. They are all different, and I learn from each one. They all help me grow in my respective "roles" as an individual, and our world could not function without groups.

What do you think? Have you ever observed a group that did not have some form of sub-group? How effective was the leader of the group? Have you ever been a leader of a group and felt the group losing it's commonality, and what was done about it? Have you ever been part of a group that "evicted" the sub-group or individuals which had their own underlying agenda? And how can we overcome these issues within groups while still maintaining a level of cohesiveness?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pacifier-free--Day 2.5



We've officially taken away Gannon's pacifier ("paci"). Since he's 3 years old now, I figured he really didn't need it anymore. The real question is if Mommy & Daddy "need" it!!! We tried to prepare Gannon a few weeks before his birthday. We told him that Swiper the fox (from Dora the Explorer) was going to come take his paci and give it to a baby that needed it. I'm not sure if this was a better route versus just having him throw them away himself, but that's what we did. I'll just have to explain to his therapist later in life that I told him a lie and cut him off cold turkey. Leading up to the paci removal, I kept asking Jamie if he was emotionally ready to give it up, since as parents, we depend on the paci, too! Sometimes the paci is the easy way to calm Gannon down in the car, it is always what helps him go to sleep. What are we to do without it? Jamie wasn't fully ready, and I'm not sure if I was or not. But, Swiper came and snatched the paci during the night Friday. We figured Gannon would wake up a couple hours later and not go back to sleep (assuming the worst). But, he slept until 5:00 and then went back to sleep fairly easily after Jamie told him it was gone. Last night he wasn't able to go to sleep without one of us sitting in his room for a while. He really does depend on it to help him drift off. Naptimes just simply haven't happened. He can't settle down. The good news is that he hasn't asked for it at all during the day! And last night he slept straight through the night without waking up at all---yippee!!

He's definitely and officially a Big Boy now. He's diaper-free, paci-free and ready for college....Not!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My birthday boy!


I can't believe my little boy is now a big boy...3 years old! Time flies, but he is still a sweet thing. He loves to snuggle in my lap, and he never hesitates to say he loves me. What more could you ask for as a Mom, really? I hope his precious personality stays, because he is such a treasure. He's still small enough to have natural wonder at the larger things, but big enough to let us know what he feels and wants. A perfect combination! Happy Birthday, Gannon!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Prince



Gannon says the cutest things sometimes. Today as we were driving, he was looking at a picture of me, and from the back seat, he claimed "when you got married, Daddy was your Prince." How sweet. :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rusted Root rules!

I am a HUGE fan of the 90's band, Rusted Root. I discovered them in college (mid-late 90's), and was able to see them perform live at City Stages in Birmingham one year. I absolutely love their music, because it always cheers me up and makes me boogie. Today I listened to the album "Remember" and I was reminded of how much I love this song. I was priming the walls in our office at home, and I thought I was going to fall of the step stool from dancing so much! I finally gave in and decided to just get off the stool and get all my boogie out before resuming my task. I usually listen to their other album I own, "When I Woke," but for some reason I went with "Remember" today, and I'm so glad I did! Good times.

Really, click on the link and listen. It will make your day happy. ;-)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The land of the new

I've experienced a few new things lately. Unfortunately, they haven't been good new things, but rather kinda not-so-great new things.

I had an MRI yesterday for the first time. I was quite nervous about this, since I'm a wee bit claustrophobic, but everyone I spoke with who's had one said it's not a big deal. Jamie had one on his knee, and he got to wear headphones and listen to his choice of music. Not a bad deal if you ask me. Well, I had to have a brain MRI, and it was not exactly a pleasant experience. My ENT sent me to the Open MRI place, so I thought that would likely be a good sign. However, when I checked in and the secretary asked if I was claustrophobic, that was a bad sign. I was already nervous about the fact that they would be scanning my brain, and what if they found something in there???? Something that's NOT supposed to be in there, that is (of course I want something to be in there...)?? For those of you who've had an MRI done, I certainly hope your experience was better than mine...I tend to think that I am the exception because I don't really like stuff like this.. However, I was okay laying down on the thing (she gave me a panic button). I was cool with the earplugs instead of headphones since I had already figured out that wouldn't be an option for me. I had decided I would do a little guided imagery to get me through it. The nurse put some kind of cushion-type things beside my ears to hold my head still, then she moved a cage-like thing around my head. Yeeks. Then she rolled me back into the coffin. That's what it felt like. I immediately began to take deep breaths and was able to calm myself down fairly well. I could even handle the loud sounds of the machine. This all lasted about 20 minutes I think. Then she rolled me out and said she had to give me a shot. A shot!!! What?!?! I don't like needles. The first thing I thought was that since it's for my head and all, she had to give me a shot in my head. I know I sounded panicky when I asked her for more details...where, why, how, etc. Once I found out it was just a simple shot in my arm, I settled down a little, but then she had a hard time finding a vein, and then when she injected the shot, it blew out the small vein she had found. If I had still been holding the panic button, I would have hit it. So she moves to the other arm and I inform her that I really am just a big baby with needles. Fortunately that shot took and she rolled me back into the coffin for more imaging. However, I was truly so shaken after the whole shot thing that I swear I was unable to keep my head still. All of my guided imagery was out the window (if there had been one). I just really hope I never, ever have to do that again. Even writing it now I can see what a baby I was, but what it comes down to is that I'm not a fan of the unexpected.

Last week I had another type of test called an eCog. It stands for a long word I can't remember, write, or pronounce. Basically, the technician hooks you up with an electrode on the forehead, puts wires in your ears and you have to lay completely still with eyes shut for 30 minutes while the wires transmit loud, hammering sounds into your ears. It wasn't horrible, since I did get to just lay there somewhat peacefully for half and hour, and there were NO shots involved. It was just different.

I'm being tested for Meniere's Disease. You can read more about it on the link, but I've been having symptoms for a while, and my grandfather has it. I currently have hearing loss in my right ear, and it will progressively get worse if I do have Meniere's. I go back to the ENT today to get my results from both tests and for a definite diagnosis. The good news is that, although it is incurable, usually a low-salt diet is great for symptom management. So, if I do have it, I will likely be starting a new diet soon. Yum.

Anyway, I really respect those in the medical community, not only for being so educated in what they do, but also for putting up with those people like me who don't make their jobs any easier by being pitiful. :) My hats off to all of the doctors and nurses out there!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The goofiest let-down ever

Otherwise entitled, "finding cruel and unusual forms of punishment in the depths of my closet."

Today I was cleaning/organizing the house. We have lots of stuff just laying around, and I've finally decided to do something about it. So, I was relocating things from the dining room to our upstairs closets. I found some extra space in the waaaaayyyy back of my closet. You know the spot: where you put all of your clothes that are too small, but for some reason you keep them just in case.

Well, once I put the box of stuff in the floor space, I decided to poke around a bit in these forgotten items of clothing. It mainly consists of bridesmaid dresses and/or formal dresses that I wore somewhere back when I went to formal events. I counted a total of 4 bridesmaid dresses and 2 or so formal gowns. Now, what posssessed me to do what I did next is beyond me. Maybe it's because I thought it would be fun; maybe I knew that the kids were occupied elsewhere so I had a few moments of personal indulgence; maybe I was just experiencing complete and total insanity, but I decided to try on some of the dresses. The first one I chose was a dress I only wore once to a formal wedding. The wedding was about 2 months after my own wedding, so I was still lookin' good. It was a size 4. SIZE 4!!! Yes, I do remember those days, though they are long gone. Yeah, well, I put this dress on my size __ body and it did not fit. It barely fit over my hips and I couldn't budge the zipper. On to dress #2: a bridesmaid dress I wore about 2 1/2 years before my own wedding (I've been married a little over 9 years..). The tag said size 3/4. The style of the dress was such that I was able to put it on with no problems, but I couldn't zip it. Not even if I sucked everything in. Dress #3: another bridesmaid dress, worn about 1 year after marriage. This dress rocked--it was a size 8 (did I really grow that much in 1 year of marriage???), and it even had a built-in bra (a necessity back in that day)! So, I got this dress on fairly easily, but due to the largeness of the bra cups--that's what I'm blaming it on anyway--I couldn't zip it all the way. I looked at another bridesmaid dress, also worn about 2 1/2 years before my own wedding, and recalled that when I wore it I could hardly breathe, so I didn't even take it off the hanger to try on today.

Now, part of me was truly laughing throughout this experience, but later on I reflected on the pure insanity of keeping these things in my closet. Do I think that I will EVER wear them again? No. Do I think that any member of my family will ever wear them? No. Will I ever even be a size 4 again??? Not likely. I should probably do what several other former bridesmaids and I have discussed before, and take our "collection" to a nice consignment shop. Seeing as how I've had these dresses in my closet for over 10 years now, we'll see how quickly I get to that... For now, they will hang in their sacred spot of glory in my closet.

Long live the teensy-weensy-crazy-colors-long-forgotten bridesmaid dresses!

Goodwill Hunting Part II

The last time I went to Goodwill, I got a really great deal. Since it has been a while since I visited other than to make donations, I thought I'd go check out Goodwill again today. I didn't leave disappointed.

Here is what I got:

2 collared shirts for Jamie
a pair of winter boots for me
a pair of shorts for Gannon
a blouse for me
a full-size BRAND NEW backpack for Gannon

All of this for about $18. Can you believe it??? The backpack alone probably retails for $15, the boots for at least $40, the shirts for probably around $40, etc etc. What a great bargain! I'm washing it all now, since it is Goodwill and I'm sure many things come from smoking homes.

I'm still a fan.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Beech Mountain getaway



My family of in-laws just had a wonderful weekend on Beech Mountain in western North Carolina. I have never been to this particular mountain before, but it was beautiful. The drive up was great once we got off of the interstate, as far as scenic views goes. The road we took went through eastern TN, which is the area where my paternal grandparents used to live. I was fairly familiar with this area, as my grandfather loved to take us driving in the mountains nearby and go hiking. So, as we drove through Johnson City, Elizabethton and then over Roan Mountain, it felt almost close to home. :) Then I saw a sign pointing the way to a Rhododendron Garden, and I had lots of memories from that, including the joke we used to always make about how to spell rhododendron.

Anyway, we proceeded up to Banner Elk and Beech Mountain. We weren't really prepared for Beech Mountain to be so large, or for the rental house we were staying at to be at the top of it (the ski lift was right out the front door!). This is a place that my mother-in-law rented...a 6 bedroom house for all of the family to squeeze into..so we didn't know what to expect. I have to say that the views from the house were lovely, and the temperature was unexpected! I had packed clothes in anticipation of summer weather similar to Huntsville...not 60 and 70 degree temps! It was a pleasant surprise, though, and we all enjoyed the break from the heat, regardless of needing a blanket while sitting in the house sometimes..

Beech Mountain is a quaint little town, and they had a small arts and crafts show while we were there. Jamie, the kids and I took a little excursion to Elk River Falls on Saturday. This included a drive back down the mountain and into the nether-lands of western NC. Quite an experience. It was threatening storms on our drive there, but we pressed on and finally arrived at the parking lot for the trail to the falls. It was packed! There were people everywhere, so we set off down the 1/4 mile trail to the falls. It was pretty steep in several areas and it also began to thunder a bit. We eventually saw the top of the waterfall, and decided to proceed down a very rocky/root-filled trail to the bottom for the view. There were LOTS of youngsters on the outcropping of rocks at the top of the falls, and we heard sounds of apparent jumping off the falls. We reached the bottom and walked out to get a good view of the 60-foot waterfall. There were some really intelligent teenage girls standing at the edge of the falls, looking to jump off into the water below. I took a few pictures, we admired the beauty, and then it began to rain. We decided to head back immediately (along with everyone else), and then the sky opened up and the rains came down! Melody was wearing her brand new dress that her Monna (grandmother) had given her, and we all got drenched. By the time we reached the car, Melody was bawling about getting mud on her dress AND she had to go to the bathroom. Luckily, I had beach towels in the back of the van so we got mostly dried off. By the time we got the kids situated and calm, the sun was out and the rain had stopped---gotta love summer storms! It was a great adventure!


All in all, I thought it was a nice way to end the summer before school begins. Melody and Gannon always have a blast playing with their cousins, and it's good to hang out and play games all weekend. I learned how to play Crazy Canasta, and Balderdash is always a favorite! NOW I am ready for school to begin!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Why do spiders have to be so Spidery??

This morning we had what I am calling the Great Spider Trauma of 2008. Those that know me well know that I am a long-time member of the spider loathing community. No joke, I hate the things. This loathing probably stems from my own, personal Spider Trauma Event of 1991. However, that's another long story, so I'll save it for another time.

Back to this morning. I took the kids on an errand, and on the way home we decided to swing by my parents house to pick up a movie. Both of my parents work, so I just ran in the house, grabbed the movie, and ran back out to the van and kids (please nobody call DHR, really). Once I jumped in the van and start backing out of the driveway, I hear Melody say in a very calm voice, "Mommy, don't freak out, but there is a spider next to your head." I respond in a very calm voice (which is an amazing feat considering my Trauma of 1991), "there's a spider on my seat next to my head?" Melody once again calmly confirms this fact. Gannon is also quiet and calm in his seat directly behind my seat. So, I finish backing out of the driveway and somewhat calmly pull over in front of the house. I grab a tissue from the Kleenex box, because that's what Jamie does when he's going after small spiders. I get out of the car to open the side door (Gannon's door). I'm still fairly calm at this point, because I'm thinking if Melody isn't freaking out then 1)it must not be a very big spider, and 2)I can't be silly and freak out because I'm supposed to be the brave adult. I'm looking around the headrest of my seat trying to find it and finally I see a very BIG spider crawl around to the front of the headrest. I look at my puny tissue and think, "yeah, right." Well, that was a dumb move because when I looked back up, the Big Spider has disappeared as only spiders can. Now, I've conditioned myself to control my freak-out tendencies when it's a small spider. I've had to learn this because of my children and I don't want to frighten them. But, I know a Big Spider when I see one. Well, now Mr. Big Spider has gone *poof* and I feel the tugs of panic fluttering in my heart. Oh dear. So I continue searching around and can't find him even in the tiny cracks of the seat. Suddenly, Gannon begins to SCREAM. I don't mean a shout or an exclamation of surprise, I mean an all-out-the-fear-is-in-me SCREAM. We tend to have a domino effect in our family when it comes to bugs, so Melody starts to scream, too. Mr. Big Spider has relocated himself to Gannon's seat, more specifically to Gannon's little body. Unfortunately, it took me a few seconds to get a good look at where the spider was because of everybody screaming, but I finally got the spider off of Gannon and onto his seat so I could whack him with a Backyardigans coloring book. Melody was already out of her seatbelt and mostly out of the door by this time and both kids continued the screaming. I tried my best to calm them down, but I have to admit that I was thoroughly freaked out too. It's no good to see Mr. Big Spider crawling on your child. No way.

So, I tell the kids that we'll go by the car wash place to vacuum the van so we can get rid of the yucky spider. This seems to help them some, so off we go. I'm reluctant to rest my head on the headrest (I hate having the willies!) so I just set off at a rather speedy pace to the car wash that's just down the road. All is quiet and peaceful once again when suddenly Gannon starts to scream again. He's screaming that there's a spider on him. Melody tells me that she doesn't see a spider anywhere, so I try to convince poor Gannon that he's just remembering the spider being on him and it's just the willies. He's not convinced, so he cries the rest of the way to the car wash. By the time I get there, Melody has begun crying again, too. I park at a spot to vacuum, and Melody leaps out of the van. Luckily, there were no other cars nearby or else I really would have lost it altogether. Somehow I vacuum the van (and the nasty spider) and everyone is calm once again.

I have a sneaky suspicion that Mr. Big Spider might haunt us for a while..

Friday, July 25, 2008

Summer Adventure!

The cute class I co-lead

We just had a very busy, very awesome week of VBS (aka Summer Adventure)! I teamed up with Amy to teach the rising 1st graders, so I had Melody in my class. The first day we had 18 kids!!! We leveled off at around 16-17 each day, but I came home pretty exhausted every day. We had an awesome group of very well-behaved children, thankfully! The theme of this year's program was Beach Party, and the kids got to learn a rough version of the Beatitudes from the Bible (where else?). The songs were very catchy and fun.

Here are some shots from the week:
Melody really didn't want her picture taken.. Melody and her friend, Kaitlyn

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fun stuff

We've been quite busy as of late just doing lots of fun things! We are winding down for summer, or so I'd like to think. We've actually been busier than ever! Jamie's been hard at work building our bookshelves (pictures to come later), today began the first day of Summer Adventure (aka Bible School) at church, and we've been making trips to the public library, the Botanical Garden, and various other fun places! School begins in about 2 weeks, and I still haven't bought supplies, yet! Agh!! But, I thought I'd share some pictures of the fun things we've been doing...




Summer sure is fun! At the beginning of summer, I have to admit I was a bit concerned about spending every day 24/7 with Melody and Gannon. After all, we are all a bit spoiled with having small breaks from one another during the school year. And while I've had my "I'm-losing-my-mind,-please-someone-get-me-out-of-here!" moments, overall it has really been fun to be with my kids so much. I've tried to keep our summer light and fun, and I feel as though this goal has been accomplished!

One last thing, and I have to include it because I'm so super-proud of Gannon.. he's (I think..knock on wood!) figured out the staying dry at night thing! He's gotten naptime down pat, and the past several nights he's kept his bed dry all night as well! He'll be so embarrassed by this photo later in life, but I am the Mommy so I can put it on my blog if I want..

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How did potty training go?

Okay, so I've been meaning to check in with Gannon's progress, since we enrolled him in a 3-day potty training "boot camp" of sorts this past weekend. Okay, really I just bought an online book and we followed the directions found therein.

We started on Saturday and the big moment was Gannon throwing away all and I mean ALL of his diapers. We had a lot that I didn't know about (smaller sizes, but still...) so it was a big deal for him. He did end up asking a few times later on if he could wear his diaper. Although it was cute, it also showed that it was a lot for him to handle all at once. From the moment of throwing away the diapers, he had to put on his Big Boy underwear and he shall never wear a diaper again! To confess, as he was tossing out the diapers, I did tear up. I think it was a combination of factors that did it for me: my little boy is growing up, I'll never have to buy diapers again, and Oh did I mention I'LL NEVER HAVE TO BUY DIAPERS AGAIN????? Sweet.

So, overall it went very well. We had been letting him wear undies from time to time already, so the first couple of days he didn't even have an accident beyond the point of his underwear being damp. Not bad, eh? This was awesome for Jamie and me since we didn't have to clean up any messes off the floor. However, I have to say that staying dry during nap time and all night long has been quite a hurdle that he has not quite mastered as of yet. It's hit and miss. He's had a few dry naps, albeit nothing consistent. He's gotten up every night to go potty, and only one night has he remained dry and we didn't have to change sheets. He's just struggling with that one. I know it will get better, so we continue to encourage him. He'll get there!

I'm positively proud of him and he's proud of himself. We've been out and about every day this week (except Monday, which was Day 3 of boot camp), and he has stayed dry the entire time. He uses public toilets with no hesitation, which is awesome!

I guess this means that I officially don't have babies anymore *sniff sniff*. At least they still snuggle with me!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

If a transformer married Ariel..

Earlier today, Gannon and Melody were playing with a toy castle. Gannon had a transformer and Melody had princess Ariel. Melody being the way she is (all girl!), said this:
"Okay, they're going to get married. Uh oh, Ariel is naked....It's going to be a private wedding!"

She didn't even say it to be funny, but I cracked up. Sometimes the funniest things come out of the mouths of babes, no?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

This and that

Why is it that summer always flies by so fast? It's already July, which means that school starts back in one month. I feel like we've had an amazing summer thus far, but I'm sure I'll be ready for the kiddos to head back to some form of school soon.

This weekend is going to be a crazy one. Jamie is going to continue building some bookshelves for the family room tomorrow, then we'll head to a party with some folks from the bands at church. Should be lots of fun!

Beginning on Saturday morning, we'll be embarking on a 3-day potty training mission for Gannon. A friend of mine, Hillary, was able to accomplish this with her son who is Gannon's age. We've been doing a little bit here and there to potty train, but nothing major. Well, Mr. Gannon has to be trained before he starts at his preschool in August, so I figured a 3-day method was probably warranted. Cross your fingers, say prayers, etc that this will work for us! I'm attempting to mentally prepare myself as I write. :)

With any luck, we'll come out of the weekend unscathed and diaper-free! Next week is a relaxing week, with nothing major planned. I've neglected to take the kids to the Botanical Gardens yet this summer, so we'll likely make a trip there. I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 4th!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Princesses and Fairies

Today wrapped up the final day of a week long adventure Melody had at Fantasy Playhouse.


They have programs and classes during the school year as well as during the summer. She took a class last Fall that she loved, so when I saw that they were offering a Princess-themed session, I jumped on it! Melody essentially spends most of her days at home pretending to be either a princess or a fairy. So, I thought that a class entitled "Princesses and Fairies" would suit her quite well! She seemed to have lots of fun every day, and she came home with a different craft each day, including a picture she colored and sent to a soldier. After all, princesses have good manners, and are encouraging and kind to others! As a Mom, I really appreciated the teacher emphasizing good morals, and not just letting the girls escape into fairy tale world for an hour. She seemed to achieve a good balance among plenty of fantasy play, crafts, and moral lessons. Today the girls put on a final show for the parents, and they did a performance of "Sleeping Beauty". It was very cute.

The teacher recommended a book entitled "The Princess and the Kiss" to all of us. It's a book for young girls about seeking purity through God. The front of the book looked similar to all the other popular princess books out there, so it seemed as though it would appeal to children Melody's age. I thought it sounded pretty intriguing, so I will likely check it out soon. I guess it's never too soon to start teaching our children, in particular our girls, about these types of issues. Seeing as how Melody came home the first week of Kindergarten last year telling me about her new boyfriend, I think that solid, Godly lessons aimed toward our little princesses will never hurt.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blasts from the past

I joined Facebook a few months back and since that time, I've been catching up with people I haven't seen, or honestly even thought about, since high school. It's pretty neat. Who would have thought that I'd be in conversation with someone I knew about 15 years ago? It's a shocker to hear from someone who is now married and has children...when I haven't seen them since they were at least 12, 13 or 14 years old!

A little history on where I grew up:
We moved to Thomasville, AL when I was in 2nd grade..it was about the middle of 2nd grade, so I think I was 8. We had moved several times already, so this move was nothing special. It was, however, the smallest little place we had ever lived! The town's biggest action was at the TG&Y (now I think the best action is at Wal-Mart), and that's really saying something. Thomasville is in the southwest section of Alabama, deep in the heart of the Black Belt. Logging is a big industry down there, and my Dad worked at the paper mill, as did many folks. Anyway, there were only a few churches in town, so most of my friends and teachers went to my church. A lot of my teachers sang in the choir with my Mom, so I didn't do much without my parents finding out about it.
I had a good time growing up in Thomasville, albeit a little bit of a boring and sheltered life. I had easily identified it as "home", though, so it was traumatic for me when my parents broke the news that they were moving. Thankfully, I was in college already and had some friends from Huntsville, so I'm very fortunate that this is where I developed roots after college.

The thing about it, though, is that since I never really returned to T'ville after college (or during), I never saw some people ever again. Therefore, I've frozen time for some people. They are still 10 years old to me. So, it comes as a big shocker when I now see photos of them much older and even with little kids of their own. It really ages me! All in all, though, it's pretty neat to see that people are still doing well and have definitely succeeded in life. Thomasville, AL grew some good ones, and for that I'm very thankful.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Not letting the hum drums take over

I seem to feel this way on rainy days, I've noticed..but sometimes it's a little too easy to get that hum drum/burn-out feeling. Now, don't get me wrong, I have plenty of daily entertainment between my 2 children, not to mention my husband; however, sometimes I feel boredom trying to sneak its way into my life. Usually it goes something like this:
waking up and thinking, "Okay, today I get to make breakfast, lunch and dinner AGAIN." Yippee! "I get to change at least 5 diapers and redirect several tantrums." Yippee! Once this negative talk begins, it's really hard for me to remember all the hugs and kisses and smiles I will get..By naptime, when I should be getting other hum drum things accomplished, like paying bills (lots of fun there---usually leads to depression!), folding laundry, cleaning the house, etc...I am hitting the procrastination button. I get absolutely nothing done during that 1-2 hour window of peace and quiet. Why? I haven't figured this one out, yet.

Sometimes these feelings take over and by the time Jamie gets home, I'm moping around and begging for some alone time. I call it being a hermit. Usually I end up telling him that I really just want to become a hermit and go live in the woods somewhere desolate and isolated. This is totally unrealistic and Jamie likes to point that out. He does a good job of reminding me of the things I would miss. So, no hermit life for me!

What I try to do to combat these hum drums of life is this: while I'm pouring the umpteenth sippy cup of juice or water, I remind myself that at least I have children and that they are healthy enough to drink from a cup. While I'm preparing another chicken nugget, I remind myself that our family is blessed with plenty of food, and yes my children can be picky because we can choose whatever food we want. We don't have to depend on rice or bread every day to sustain us. As I'm folding more and more clothes, I remind myself that we are blessed to have clothes on our backs. As I grimace at the dust collecting around the house, I remind myself that we are extremely fortunate to have a shelter. Sometimes this is a stretch, but some days it is the only thing that works. I'm a really lucky person, and although it's easy to not find contentment on a daily basis, I am striving for it in my overall life. God is giving me everything I need to be content, and I should (but don't always) give him honor and praise for it. I'm a work in progress. And maybe, just maybe, one day I'll be good at it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Do you like my new blog design?

I think it's awesome! Thanks SO MUCH to Hilary for designing it for me! To check her out to do your own scrapblog design, check the box to the right of this post. She's very easy to work with, and she does it all from the love of her heart! :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Beach fun


We just got back from our mini-vacation to Orange Beach, AL. We were fortunate to be able to stay at my cousin's condo for a very reasonable price, compared to many other places that charge an arm and a leg this time of year! Melody has been to the beach before (when she was 3 and I was preggers with Gannon) and she loves it! I wasn't sure how Gannon would feel about it, since it was his first time seeing open water, and I was proven correct in my suspicions. He took one look at the waves and balked! He said it was "mean and scary water" and wouldn't go anywhere near it! He was reluctant to put his feet near the water washing up onto shore, so he stayed in his comfort zone--if you can call it that--up on the sand.

Gannon is funny because he's always been very particular about his hands. He doesn't like to have dirty hands. He won't eat a cupcake for this reason--he might get frosting on his hands. So, it was no surprise when he wasn't a fan of getting his hands in the sand. We finally got a bucket of water just for him to wash his hands off. He was simply adorable, if not a little high maintenance. However, it was worth it and fun. Melody is the other end of the sand spectrum. She loves to wallow in it. She had lots of fun filling her buckets up to make sand castles, and walking through the water, letting it soak her. She's still a bit cautious to enter the ocean (thankfully!), but I'm sure she'll get there.

We also took advantage of the pool nearby and the kids loved that. Melody has improved her swimming by leaps and bounds, and Gannon is now a big fan of jumping in either from the steps or the side of the pool, as long as we hold his hands.
All in all, it was a fun trip!

Friday, May 30, 2008

What time is it??? SUMMERTIME!!!

If you have a young daughter who also happens to be a fan of "High School Musical", then I'm sure you're hearing her sing the above words as much as I've been hearing them the past week! I love summer. My daughter apparently loves summer, too! It's her first "real" summer, because she's officially on a break from school for the first time. I told her on the first day of summer break that the best thing to do during the summer is sleep in!!!! (This is really just a ploy on my part to get to sleep in, too!) So far, it's worked about half of the days..not a bad start.

We started off our summer by taking swimming lessons. Melody and Gannon have joined their friends, Emma and Owen for swimming lessons. They seemed to have lots of fun! When I signed them up, my #1 goal was for Melody to put her head underwater. Well, she did that one the first day and didn't stop there. She now jumps in from the side of the pool, goes underwater, opens her eyes underwater, and can even halfway swim for a few feet! Go Melody! Gannon didn't quite take to the water as easily as our newfound fish Melody, but he did go underwater and learn how to be an alligator on the pool steps.
Here's the group practicing their skills, and playing. Mrs. Martin is such a great teacher! It was a really good way to kick off our summer of fun.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Teachers

I've had a roller-coaster day with today being the last day of school for both of my children. Melody "graduated" from Kindergarten, which is almost as big as her first day of Kindergarten! She has grown so much and gained an extraordinary amount of knowledge in this short year. She still soaks up new information just as easily as she did when she was 2, and it's just been amazing to watch! She has truly loved her teacher, Mrs. Manguso. She's been a great Kindergarten teacher.

Gannon is now done with his 2-year-old room at preschool. Unfortunately, a decision was made to close his preschool this year, so he won't be returning to that school ever again. He will begin a new Mother's Morning Out program this Fall. He has had the same teacher for the past 2 years, so this will be a big transition for him (and me!). It was extremely bittersweet, and although Gannon was oblivious, his pitiful mother ended up shedding some tears today. I will truly miss walking through the halls of his preschool and seeing all of the familiar and smiling faces. Melody graduated from that preschool program, and I guess I just expected that Gannon would do the same. However, we anticipate wonderful and exciting adventures await us at the new school! Anyway, here's Gannon with Ms. Nicole, and his beloved Ms. Sonja.



God Bless Teachers! Thank you for being so wonderful to my children.

Potty Time!

It's that time again. Time to train a child to use the potty. I haven't done this in...nearly 3 1/2 years! I have No Clue what I'm doing, to be honest. Does anybody else feel that way when they take on the endeavor to potty train a child? It's a wonder that kids make it to Kindergarten in underwear, because I am not very talented at this whole training business.

Gannon is 2 years and 9 months old, and I have an entire summer to get him to use the potty. When he begins at his "new school" in August, I have been informed that he must be able to use the potty independently. Now, if those aren't words to freak out any parent whose child is not even remotely interested in using the potty, I don't know what is.

I'm a girl. I know how girls use the potty. I know about the anatomy of boys, and I've witnessed boys using the potty, so I know all the technicalities, but as far as TEACHING a boy how to do all that stuff that boys do, I'm dumbfounded. That is why I've asked Jamie to take over with the potty training. It's turned out that we're both on the potty wagon, so hopefully that will help.

This week I've started letting Gannon wear his "big boy underwear." He feels special because he gets to be like Daddy, except he gets to have Spider man on his underwear. I'm not a big fan of Pull-ups, so I tend to skip the middleman and go straight for the real deal. Hey, it worked with Melody, so it should theoretically work with Gannon, right??? Well, he had 2 accidents the first day and no success in the potty. Yesterday he went potty at school, even though he screamed his head off at his poor teacher the whole time. Apparently she placed him facing backwards on the potty (something we've done at home just a few times..not recently, however) and HE wanted to face forward. So he screamed, but he went in the potty. I gave him M&M's when he got home. Later that day, we put him in his underwear and while I was at work he had a small accident and then got the rest in the potty!!! It's actually really cute, because while Gannon sits on his little potty, Melody reads books to him. We have a stack of books next to the potty, and now that Melody can read it works out great! She gets M&M's too, for helping! It's really a great deal. We'll see how long this lasts, and if it works. I'm choosing to remain optimistic!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rest on the River!


I had a wonderful, fabulous, and relaxing weekend this past weekend at Christy's "lake house" that is actually on the Elk River. Some other special ladies from my Sunday School class joined me in a weekend retreat...and we did all kinds of relaxing and refreshing things: massages, manicures/pedicures, cucumbers on our eyes, positive affirmations, and even Communion on the boat! It was amazing! I definitely found my rest in Jesus, as was the point of the whole journey.

Saturday morning it was warm enough to have a relaxation session out on the upper deck of the house, so we all (Gina and Angie here) donned tiaras and got to be Princesses. It was such a lovely feeling to know that not only am I a special child of God, but I am a princess for God, too! Melody is constantly dressing up like a princess, so I am often dubbed the Queen in the house when she's in princess mode. But, I had never thought of myself as God's Princess. What a concept! He wants me to feel special all of the time because I am His beloved child. He will always prepare the way for me so I need not ever fear what is ahead...sure does help with that worrying thing!

Our pastor, Sherill,
led us on this amazing mini-getaway. Many thanks to her, as her plate is constantly full of "to-do's", and she still gave up some of that precious time to us women.

Of course, time away highlights the things I have upon my return. I was more than happy to come home to my sweet family, even if the house was a mess!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Par-tay Weekend!

Here we are, on the other side of one of the busiest weekends of my life! It was great fun! This year for Melody's birthday we decided to give her a surprise slumber party. She's turning 6, and had been asking to have a friend sleep over for a while, so we decided what better way to break ourselves in to the world of sleepovers than to have an all-out slumber party! We secretly invited 3 of her best friends (2 girls from her Kindergarten class and one friend from when she was in preschool) to come over on Friday night. It was SO HARD to keep it a secret, but we managed to pull it off and nobody--not even Gannon--spilled the beans. I baked cupcakes Friday and decorated them like the ocean with dolphins jumping out of the water. Melody had told me she wanted a dolphin theme..back when she thought SHE was planning something for her birthday..so I did the best I could!

Melody and the girls had a great time dressing up and hanging out!

And the best thing of all......getting to play and sleep in a great, big tent!!!

Due to the fairly young age of the girls and the fact that they were sleeping downstairs in a tent, Jamie and I decided it would be best for us to hook up the baby monitor in our bedroom so we could hear if one of the girls woke up during the night. It was a first-time sleepover for all of them (other than at g'parents houses). We woke up around 6:00 the next morning to hear a couple of the girls whispering. I listened closely and heard them saying that they wanted to surprise Melody by cooking her some pancakes and having it on a tray beside her when she woke up. I thought that was the most adorable, and sweetest showmanship of true friendship that I've seen in a long time. :) Shortly thereafter, Melody woke up, but they hadn't had time to bake anything--thankfully!! So, I made purple pancakes for everyone!

During breakfast, my Mom and Dad showed up so Mom and I could resume the 2nd weekend of a garage sale. It rained last weekend, so since everything was already in my garage and priced, we decided to try again! In between crowds of folks coming by to shop and parents arriving to pick up the slumber party girls, it was a very hectic morning! We got everything and everyone situated in time for an afternoon nap, Jamie went and picked up a new couch we bought, and we got ready to go to a party at the Lew's house. We all had lots of fun over there with all of the people from the bands at church, and we came home for some much-needed rest.
The next morning kicked off Mother's Day! The kids were on perfect behavior all day, and we all had a wonderful time together. Jamie got me an iPod Nano and the kids made cards for me and got me a pig WebKinz. What fun! I felt very loved and appreciated, and the best part was getting lots of cuddles and "I love you's" from my family!

I hope if you are a mother, you feel as blessed as I do! Life is good.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Forgiveness and Monkey Bars



I've noticed a few things as my children are getting older:

1. My kids are excellent teachers (especially Melody, since she's older). I remember when Melody was born, thinking that I had this huge responsibility to teach her life's important lessons, and to instill good values in her. Well, little did I know that as she's gotten older, SHE is very capable of teaching ME sometimes! Case in point: for the past couple of months, as we end our bedtime prayer, Melody always speaks up and says, "We love you so much God and we will never stop loving you!" Well, that's a great prayer with just that one simple sentence! Why do I feel the need to make sure I say everything just right and go on and on and on...you get the idea. Melody is teaching me that simple is sometimes better.

2. My children have a larger capacity to forgive and forget than I do. I've seen this time and time again with my kids. Say, for example, that Gannon hits Melody. Melody is hurt so she cries. I talk to Gannon about how hitting is wrong and it hurts, so we shouldn't do it. We can learn how to express our anger/frustration in more appropriate ways, etc etc. Gannon goes and apologizes to Melody, she says she forgives him, and then they resume playing like nothing happened. Within 5 minutes, neither of them really even remember the incident.

Earlier this week, Melody climbed in the car after school and began telling me about an altercation with a few of her friends. They were on the playground and some of her friends began yelling at her. She skipped over a lot of details, I could tell, but rushed to inform me that "we did all the forgiving under the monkey bars." It was simple for her. She and the other girls resumed their friendship without any major battle scars. I've never seen my children hold much of a grudge. They truly are capable of forgiving and then putting it out of their mind. They are too busy loving and caring for others that they are nearly incapable of holding onto the nasty feelings that sometimes come with having to forgive. Wow!!! What a blessing!



I'm very appreciative for the things my children can teach me. I hope to always be a humble and thankful learner.