Saturday, November 29, 2008

Greetings From Gulf Shores!

This was taken out on the beach as a storm was rolling in. All we had was my iPhone, so Trevor took it since he was taller, explaining why he is partially cropped out. This was our first walk alone because every other time we had three children clinging to our legs begging to go to the beach!

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Family Time

We are having such a wonderful time at the beach. The weather has been incredible, and we've spent most of our time in the sand and water. We finally had to upload all of the pictures to the computer because the camera wouldn't hold more than 400+ photos. I won't be posting them all here, but I do plan to pick my favorites to share.

We'll be driving back home tomorrow, and then the flurry of Christmas preparation will begin. Trevor and I both have Monday off, so I'm hoping to get all the decorations up while the kids are in school. It will also give the two of us some alone time after all our together time with the extended family. We love seeing everyone and being able to visit, but it's nice to be alone and regroup.

I'm typing this from my iPhone, so for the sake of preserving my sanity I'm going to close now!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the LORD is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.

Psalm 95:1-3

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's Almost Time!

I am blogging from my parent's computer in Louisiana this morning. We drove over last night so that we could complete the journey to Gulf Shores by caravan this morning. My dad has gone to get the Grannies, and as soon as they arrive we will be heading out to Alabama.

The kids are so excited about getting to the beach and being able to play with Benjamin. They don't fly in until this afternoon, but that works out well because it will give Gracie time for a nap. All she can talk about is building a snowman out of sand. I've tried to explain that it takes skills beyond my own ability to make something like that out of sand, but all of my explaining has fallen on deaf ears. She is convinced that she can roll it up like snow.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, no matter how you choose to spend the day. I have friends who go out to eat every Thanksgiving, and others that wouldn't consider it Thanksgiving without a turkey and all the trimmings. I fall somewhere in the middle. I enjoy the traditional meal, but the years that I haven't had it were not spoiled because of it. I'm more of a stickler for Christmas. I've always been the one who volunteered to work the day after Thanksgiving, so I could save my time for Christmas.

This year will be different, but I am really looking forward to this time with my family. The older we get, the less time it seems we have to just hang out and reconnect. I'm glad that we planned this special trip to get away from it all, together.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stop the Madness!

Leah at South Breeze Farm posted a really funny post about being thankful the other day. I laughed when I read it, but realized that a public service announcement might be in order. You might want to click over now and read her post before you continue on.

No, really. Go read her post.

OK. I want every single one of you to go to Snopes, bookmark it on your computer and then burn the name Snopes into your brain. This is where you are going to go EVERY SINGLE TIME you receive an email that sounds even remotely like it might be a scam. You know...all the petitions, and the supposed letters from celebrities and the request to forward the picture of the kidnapped child, etc. Even the ones that sound so legitimate with their talk of special interest groups and specific bills that the left wing is supposedly trying to pass in our legislature.

If you get any emails that are forwarded to you and more than 5 other people, go to Snopes and check it out. I have found that 98% of those emails are completely fraudulent, or at least enough of a lie to make the rest of it ridiculous. Find the article on Snopes, copy the link and reply to all so that everyone will be aware. I don't know anyone who likes getting all those chain emails and maybe if we all investigate a little further, we can eliminate some of them.

Leah made an interesting comment to me, and I think it bears repeating. She asked me if I thought it was possible to gossip by email, and I answered with a resounding yes! These emails spread lies and half-truths that people obviously take to heart otherwise they would not still be circulating out there. It's the same thing as hearing something through the grapevine and then perpetuating it by repeating it to someone else. It's gossip. Plain and simple.

Are you guilty of doing this in Sunday School or small group? You know...relating the troubles of a friend in more detail than strictly necessary under the guise of a prayer request? I know I am, and after it was all said and done didn't feel very good about it. Sometimes the details are necessary, but by and large they are not. I don't need to hear all the nasty details about a divorce or child custody case to pray for that situation.

A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy man keeps a secret. Proverbs 11:3

So bookmark that site and let's try to keep the gossip out of our inboxes!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

And The Laughs Keep On Coming

The theme this week seems to be Grace, so I'll finish it out with a few more stories.

This past Friday, I was sitting out on the deck enjoying some spiced tea and a book. The kids were running in and out, and I was being amused by their imaginative play.

Nathan needed some help attaching a rubber band to the end of a forked stick, so I went inside to help him out. As I was working on the mechanics of getting the rubber band to actually stay on the stick, I looked across the kitchen and saw a small pile of what looked like hair on the floor.

Except that it didn't just look like was hair. Gracie's hair.

I called her into the kitchen so I could assess the damage, and I think I scared her a little as I pulled more and more loose strands from her head. I was horrified, and each pass of my fingers through her hair made it worse.

When it was all said and done, she really didn't do that much damage. When I asked her why she did it, she said:

Because it was in my eyes.

Of course. What else would you do when your hair is in your face?

Fast forward to this evening. Trevor, Nathan and I were watching television together while Gracie took her bath. After her bath, she came running into the living room (sans clothing, of course), with a pair of Nathan's socks in her hand. In a voice filled with reproach and indignation she said:

Mommy, Nathan's socks were in my drawer where my panties live!

I guess we're going to have to start segregating the boy socks from the girl panties. I can't believe we were so careless.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It Just Keeps Getting Better

I received a call from the preschool today. They had Gracie in the office because she had been misbehaving and refusing to obey in the classroom. Apparently she had a meltdown, and they had to physically remove her from the room. The director decided that they needed to call a parent to help calm her down, so I talked to her for a few minutes.

At first, I couldn't understand a word she was saying because of the sobbing and hiccuping. I spoke to her calmly and asked her to take a great big breath for me so that she could calm down and talk to me like a big girl. She took a breath or two and I asked her what happened.

Grace: I didn't obey the teacher.

Me: Didn't we talk about this Monday?

Grace: Yes, ma'am.

Me: Why did you disobey?

Grace: I wanted to play and they wouldn't let me!

Me: Well, there's a time to play and a time to sit still and work. If you can't obey and be a good girl, you're not going to be able to go to school anymore.

Grace: Yes, ma'am.

Me: Okay. I want you to go back to your classroom and apologize to Ms. Owens for disobeying and then I want you to be a good girl the rest of the afternoon.

Grace: Yes, ma'am.

I spoke briefly with Becky to let her know about the forthcoming apology and hung up. I decided to call back after about 30 minutes to see how the apology went, and to make sure that she was okay. Becky told me that she took her back to the classroom, and told Ms. Owens that Gracie had something to tell her. Ms. Owens got down on Gracie's level and said, "Sweetheart, is there something you want to tell me?" Gracie looked her straight in the eye and said:
I hate going to the office.
Not exactly what we were looking for.

Becky said that after several minutes, they finally wrangled a half-hearted "I'm sorry" from her, but that she was clearly not sorry. She's four, people. What am I going to do when she is 16!!!???

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Little Jaybird

I think we may have gone too far this time. In our efforts to reinforce good body image and safety within the walls of our home, we may or may not have turned our daughter into a streaker. She likes to be naked. She wears the bare minimum, and is most comfortable running around the house in her panties. We have tried to curb her enthusiasm for running into the living room (no matter who is visiting) after her bath, and before her pajamas.

We may have reached a turning point in our struggle with her desire to be as God made her all the time. We were informed by her preschool teacher (did I mention she goes to school at our church??) that she had an accident on the playground that required her to change her pants in the bathroom.

You see where this is going, don't you?

Apparently, Grace dropped her shirt in the toilet (don't get me started) and decided that she needed to tell her teacher. She gets points for trying to do the right thing, but then it all fell apart quickly thereafter. Telling the teacher involved running down the hallway to her classroom, completely naked with Ms. Lydia trailing close behind trying desperately to catch her.

Guess who made it to the classroom filled with boys and girls?

Oh yes. She did. I shudder to think of the questions some of the little boys asked their parents last night. I have to assume that not all of them have little sisters, and therefore are not familiar with the differences in their bodies. I'm still waiting for the phone calls to start.

Although the nudity in a public place was inappropriate, what we really focused on was the fact that she did not obey her teacher. Ms. Lydia was all but screaming her name and telling her to stop, and she just ignored her. This was the real issue, because she must obey authority whether it is Trevor and me, or her teachers or God. We want her to understand that everyone is under authority, and that is for our good.

Don't worry, we had the discussion about nudity and when and where it's appropriate to be naked. So don't be surprised if you see Gracie on a Girls Gone Wild special in 15 years or so. Although, it really wouldn't be that special at all.

I think I might need to stop now and pray for a minute or 273.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Little Time Alone

I have discovered that one of the most crucial elements to maintaining sanity as a wife and mother is time alone. Time away from all of the demands of a family and of just being a grown up in general. It doesn't have to be an expensive vacation or an extended trip.

I have recently been having my time alone on Friday afternoons. I am lucky enough to work at a place that allows us to condense our schedule on Friday and go home as soon as the last patient is treated. Because our patient load is a bit low right now, we have been getting out around noon every week.

This works out perfectly for me, because school doesn't let out until 3:30 and if I go get Gracie from the church any earlier than 3:15, she will still be taking a nap. So, I stop on the way home and get lunch at a real restaurant. I've been on a Johnny Carinos kick recently, but I go different places. I've never been one of those people who are uncomfortable eating in a restaurant alone, or going solo to a movie. I just pull out my iPhone, open up the eReader application, and read while I'm eating. I actually prefer to have a real book it my hands, but it's nice to always have a book with me.

It's so relaxing having someone else cook exactly what I want and bring it out to me. I don't have to do word searches and mazes with a stubby little crayon, and I don't have to leave my half eaten lunch to take anyone to the bathroom. I don't have to hide the condiments and I don't have to say "Shhh" and "Inside voices!" between every sentence. I just sit and read while I enjoy some quiet time alone. (Another bonus is that reading at the table during family meals is a no no, so it's nice to be able to do it when I'm alone.)

It's one of my favorite things about the whole week.

It's just one hour, but oh what it does for my soul! I think we all need to step back and take a few minutes to regroup each week. It doesn't even have to mean leaving the house. It could be a long bubble bath with no interruptions. It could mean lingering over a big cup of coffee outside on the deck with a good book. Whatever works for you and your situation. Just do it. You will not regret it, and your family will (eventually) appreciate it.

Thank Goodness For Skin

Gracie has a bad habit of standing on the edge our our slippery, porcelain bath tub when she is ready to get out. Keep in mind that she is as slippery as a fish and that the hard tub is not in the least bit forgiving. Every time I find her perched on the edge, ready to leap out to the bathmat, I have to remind her (and remind her, and remind her, and remind her) that it's dangerous and that she might break her head open.

So last night after the "Grace, I've told you a blah blah blah stand on the edge blah blah, kill yourself, she said:

If I fall and break my head open, you'll see my whole blood.

Well, OK. I guess that's better than half blood, whatever that might be. Then she went on to say:

You can't see my blood because I have my skin on.

Does she think it's removable?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Glimpses From the Kitchen

As the weeks creep closer and closer to Thanksgiving, my level of excitement exponentially increases. We're doing something a little different this year to try and alleviate some of the stress related to all the cooking and cleaning that surrounds this holiday. This of course means that we are doing it to alleviate the stress of the female demographic in my family.

The women in my family love to cook. We love to make the old favorites, and we like to find new classics that we can share with one another. We love cooking alone in our own kitchens, and we love cooking together in someone else's. But having said that, it's no fun to spend days in the kitchen preparing a huge meal for 30 people, and then spend most of Thanksgiving day cleaning up the mess while the guys and the kids have fun visiting and playing. By the end of the day, my fingers look like raisins and my feet feel about twice their normal size and my conversations with members of my extended family boil down to 15 minutes over the turkey and dressing before bolting to the kitchen to make coffee and cut the pies.

When I finally get a chance to sit down, it's time for everyone to go home and I feel a little let down about the whole ordeal. So, this year we are all going to the beach. My parents, my brother and his wife and son, my sister and her husband and both Grannies are going to Gulf Shores, AL for Thanksgiving. We rented a beach house and we are having gumbo for lunch on the big day. We have planned out all the meals and snacks, and for the most part can be made ahead of time. With the cooking and planning out of the way, we can spend the majority of our time on the beach and playing with the kids.

I am understandably excited.

Ronna is bringing her camera and her talent as a photographer so we're hoping to get many shots of the cousins playing together. They don't see each other very often, since Patrick and Ronna live in Virginia so our time to together is really special. Benjamin is finally old enough to play with Nathan and Grace, so we are really looking forward to seeing them interact with one another.

The Grannies are both getting older, and it will be time well spent as we visit and spend some time together. I never thought I could imagine a holiday without Gramps, but this will be the third Thanksgiving without him. Time marches on and it's up to us to make the best of the time we have. I imagine hours spent over puzzles and cups of coffee laughing with the both of them, and seeing the joy in their eyes as they watch our children play at their feet. It's that sense of belonging and heritage that makes these times of coming together so special, and I'm glad that I will be experiencing it firsthand this year instead of just catching glimpses of it from the kitchen.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Photo Shoot

Last weekend, our friend Michelle came out and took pictures of the kids in their natural habitat. She followed them around as they played on the swing set, hung upside down on the monkey bars and climbed trees. I had her take a few pictures in the wagon that Uncle Tellius gave them the Christmas before he passed away, and we also went to the yard of an old family friend to take advantage of her beautiful flowers.

I finally bought the CD and copyright to the pictures, so I wanted to post some of them. The problem I'm having now is deciding which ones I want to print and frame! I gave up trying to decide for the family, and had them pick their favorites. Now all I have to do is order the prints!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Look

I've been having so much fun playing with the look of my blog ever since I "messed" it up. I'm looking forward to being able to change it based on the season, or even my mood. I took a picture of my mantle, added the name of my blog and presto! A new look!

Don't be surprised if you see something different tomorrow!

Update: As I suspected, I wasn't completely happy with the mantle seemed too cluttered. So I found this one of apples on iStockphoto and decided to use it instead. I also found some really great Christmas pictures too, so I can get ready for the season.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Few Words of Encouragement

I am the LORD, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
That there is none besides Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other;
7 I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the LORD, do all these things.’
8 “ Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the LORD, have created it.
9 “ Woe to him who strives with his Maker!
Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth!
Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?
10 Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What are you begetting?’
Or to the woman, ‘What have you brought forth?’”
11 Thus says the LORD,The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:
“ Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons;
And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.
12 I have made the earth, And created man on it.
I—My hands—stretched out the heavens,And all their host I have commanded.
13 I have raised him up in righteousness, And I will direct all his ways;
He shall build My city and let My exiles go free,
Not for price nor reward,” Says the LORD of hosts.
Isaiah 45:5-13

Praise Him, praise Him! Tell of His excellent greatness! He is sovereign over all creation!

May we all continue to pray for our officials, in particular President-elect Obama, and accord him the respect he deserves as the chosen leader of our country. Republican or Democrat, we are all Americans and proud to live in a nation where the majority can be heard. As it always happens during times of great change, there will be many challenges to this new administration and I hope that you will pray along with me that President Obama will meet them with dignity, grace and in submission to God.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Exercise Your Right!

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Romans 13:1-7
Not only should we exercise our constitutional right to vote, but we have a responsibility to put people in office who will most closely stand for our values as Christians. At the end of the day, we must submit to governing authorities who are placed in that position by God. If they abuse the power entrusted to them, then they will answer to Him in the end. We can't always control what our elected officials do, but we can be sure that their actions will be judged by a much higher authority.

So GO VOTE if you haven't already! We shouldn't excuse ourselves as Christians because we don't like either candidate, or because neither completely subscribes our biblical worldview. We have a responsibility to vote for a candidate who respects the sanctity of life and who will fight for the lives of every American.


Monday, November 3, 2008

The HTML Gods are Laughing at Me

I may or may not have destroyed my beautiful blog layout. Bluebird blogs updated my look almost a year ago, and I have carefully avoided messing with the HTML code any more that I've had to. On a normal Blogger account, it's really easy to add page elements by just clicking on the template and adding a gadget.

With a blog created from scratch, I have to go into my HTML template every time I want to add something to my sidebar, and figure out how to integrate it without messing up the existing code.

I think I messed it up this time.

So, I'm going to crawl on my knees and beg Susie at Bluebird blogs to please, please, puhleeeeease reload my template. I saved it and everything, but I can't seem to make it work. This template is kind of fun, but I want my old one back!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I'm Giving Thanks

Last year, I participated in the Giving Thanks Challenge hosted by Leah at South Breeze Farm. It was a great reminder of all the things for which I have to be thankful, so I decided to do it again. Click here to see my list from last year, and if you want to participate, go to Leah's blog and grab the button.

I've created a running list in my sidebar, and I'm going to try my best to remember to update it each day. Sometimes I get so mired down in the daily grind that I can't see the blessings in my life. My children are healthy. I have a job. There is food on the table each night. We have a place to live. All of the basics are covered and the rest is just gravy.