Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

My Two "Goblins"

John Owen's Halloween bat bologna!

Jonah and his Halloween cat cheese!

Hmm...what to do to deter the attention from all of the Halloween candy we've gotten over the last few days? Jonah asked for candy before we even got home! Oh brother! It's definitely Halloween, huh? So, I got his attention off of the candy (at least for a little while) by having some fun making Halloween shapes out of our food. It was great fun! We used our Halloween cookie cutters to cut out bats, cats, and ghosts with our slices of cheese, bologna, and bread! My two "goblins" gobbled them up! Who knew lunch time could be so much fun? Happy Halloween to everyone!

Who's that behind the mask? hehe
I guess John Owen(AKA "Batman") decided that his baby sister should dress up like him since we're always telling him she looks like him. He put this on her while I was getting her dressed for the Fall Festival, and she was such a good sport about it! Oh, Baby Sister, just wait...this is just the beginning of a life lived with two older brothers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Never-Ending Love

I attended a funeral today for a friend and neighbor, a person who grew up in this community just as I have, a person whose family lives and works here, a person who has touched so many because of his profession as a doctor. Our community has suffered a great loss with the passing of Zach, but more than that, a family has lost their precious loved one. I listened intently as the minister spoke about Zach's life, spoke of the testimonies shared by so many touched by his life, reported of some 1800 people attending the visitation service, and as he spoke words of comfort to a wife, mother, father, and brother. I thought about the things the minister said, and I thought of Zach's ability to overcome the childhood disability he had, how my husband and I admired the doctor he had become. I should have told him! (I remember the disappointment when I was told he wasn't accepting new patients as I called his office to try to have him as our doctor.)

As I glanced at the order of service I noticed that the Epistle called for the reading of I Corinthians 13 . And I thought how appropriate its words. I guess that's why you see it used so often in wedding ceremonies and funeral services. It has been a verse that I have turned to many times in recent struggles and troubled times. (It is the verse for which I named my blog.) Now, it may seem to say different things to different people, but to me it reminds me that God's love is so great...the greatest love there is. No matter what and no matter how bad things seem to get, His love is always there. When we hurt, when we cry, when we laugh, when we are angry, when we doubt...God's love is there. And I know God was there today. I pray that God will wrap His hands around the Maxwell family and that they will feel His never-ending, abundant love.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Tradition Continues

So maybe I am a tad bit partial to little "pumpkins" with lots of dark hair, rosey cheeks, and dark eyes:-), but I think she's the cutest pumpkin in the patch. I guess I could've gone out and bought her her very own first Halloween costume, but the nostalgic side of me likes the fact that all of our children have been pumpkins for their first Halloween. (Gotta keep with tradition, right?) And actually, this is the same pumpkin outfit Jonah wore for his first Halloween! So, the tradition continues! Those pumpkins just keep gettin' cuter and sweeter, though!hehe
Speaking of tradition...All of my children have been given biblical and family names. Jan and I decided that this was something that was important to us, a tradition of sorts, if you will. Well, before John Owen was born and even before he was "officially" named, I attended a Passion Play at a local church and came across The Name Book. I have always been intrigued by name origins and meanings, and you can find tons of books on this subject, but this book stood out to me because not only does it give the meaning and origin of a name, but it also gives the spiritual significance and a scripture with each name. It is my hope that the Bible and the reading of its scripture will also be a tradition for our children.
"Mary"-Spiritual Significance: Blessed
And having come in, the angel said to her,"Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women." Luke 1:28
"Claire"-Spiritual Significance: Shining Light
For with You is the fountain of life, in Your light we see light. Psalm 36:9

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reflections of a Rainy Day

The rain started not long after I awoke this morning. So much for "rise and SHINE!" I do love beautiful, sunshine-filled days, but every now and then I long for days like today that make you just want to stay in your pajamas all day and watch TV or sleep! (Yeah, those days are not a part of this season of life I am presently in, but I can still dream about them.) We went about our daily routine of eating breakfast, getting dressed, and getting off to preschool! I picked the boys up early from preschool for a haircut appointment. And I will advise anyone with 3 small children to check the weather forecast before making hair was NO FUN hauling all of us into the Depot with the rain pouring down! Jonah was not happy! Thankfully, he settled down by the time he got in the chair. After that, we went home and finished our sandwiches I had packed for us to eat at the Depot. I put Jonah and Mary Claire down for their naps, and I got to enjoy snuggling down for a nap with (my first baby):-), John Owen.

Now let me tell you...John Owen has always been my "go-to-guy" for naps! I never let him get in the habit of sleeping with us at night because I remembered what it had been like when my parents made me move out of their bed when a certain little brother was born(hehe), but John Owen napped with Jan and me frequently as a baby. Still does now, if we are all taking a nap! Jonah holds the title for "Best Sleeper" in our house, but I have never been able to get him to sleep good with us. He likes to be in HIS bed with HIS things! John Owen would rather be with me, holding my hair as he falls asleep. That's always been HIS hold Mommy's hair. He'll tickle the inside of his ear with my hair and rub the ends across the side of his face. (One day he'll hide this information from his friends or deny it, I know!) Oh well! I'll have my memories of it.
So, for the first time in a long while, I enjoyed a much needed rainy day nap. It was a good rainy day! Hmm...wonder what the weather forecast is for tomorrow?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Congrats to Zac and "LiLi"

Our good friends in Germany welcomed their first child into the world yesterday! Robert Oliver is such a lucky little boy to have Zac and Lisa (AKA "LiLi") as his parents. Zac will probably be the most hilarious and fun dad EVER! Little Ollie will be telling corny jokes before his 3rd birthday! Lisa will probably be educating Ollie to be multi-lingual before age 3. Hey...he could tell his dad's corny jokes in another language! Now that would be impressive!! OK enough of that...
On a more serious note, I just can't wait to hold Baby Ollie in my arms just as Zac and "LiLi" have held all three of my children. So, guys, if you are reading this, hug and kiss Ollie for me and hurry home, please, so the rest of us can hug and kiss him in person! We love you!

P.S. Does he have Zac's feet? hehe

Monday, October 20, 2008

You Better Write That One Down

Anyone with children could probably share a wealth of funny stories about the things that have come out of their children's mouths. So many times I have laughed that I have lost count. Just one of the joys of parenthood, I guess. Many times I have been instructed, "You better write that one down." I guess so that I will remember it when they are grown 'cause my mind can only hold so much, right? Well, I am writing some of them down here and feel free to enjoy if you'd like.

Jonah was especially concerned about his baby sister's cord after her birth. You could say he was obsessed! And every day, several times a day, he would ask about it. Except he called it her "quarter." "Mommy, let me see baby sister's quarter." "Does she still have her quarter?" "Can I touch baby sister's quarter?" And it didn't matter that I would pronounce the word corectly in my response to him. "Mommy, did the doctor cut her quarter off?" "Where did her quarter go?" I wish I had a quarter for every time he asked about it! hehe

John Owen got a guitar for Christmas last year. It's pretty neat! Many a time I have found myself rockin' to the beat as it plays mostly on its own, but allows him to think he is puttin' out those rockin' tunes! Well, one day he's rockin' along and I say enthusiastically, "John Owen, that sounds great! You are a great guitar player." He responds by saying, "Yeah, 'cause I learned from Elvis." ELVIS??!! Hmm...

Jonah has always been my collector of little things. Little cars, little dinosaurs, little get the picture. And he obsesses over them sometimes. He carries them with him everywhere he goes, and surprisingly, I can't think of any time that he has lost one! That in itself is pretty amazing, I think. Last summer he was going through a "Cars" craze! He would take every car he could carry into his room, line them up on the toy box top, and proceed to turn every one of them upside down. He would tell each one "Good night!" When I asked him what he was doing, he said, "They are going to sleep." I thought it was too cute!

Jonah has a lizard he has been carrying around with him lately. He came into the kitchen the other day and asked,"Mommy, where is my ink-a-wana?" "Your what, Jonah?" I asked. "My ink-a-wana." Well, I was stumped! I didn't know what he was saying. And then it hit me! His iguana! That "lizard thing" he's been carrying around all day, that's what he's saying!(He still says it that way! I think it's cute!)

Recently the children and I were out for our usual walk in the neighborhood, and John Owen and Jonah stopped to talk to a friend who was out walking her dog. I had stopped to talk to another neighbor, and could not hear the conversation going on between my children and our friend. A few minutes later she laughingly approached me and proceeded to tell me that John Owen informed her that he has a chocolate dog named Sam(like her dog is named) and a "vanilla" dog named Sophie. (Translation: Chocolate Lab and Yellow Lab) But hey, his version sounds much more tasteful!

And if that wasn't we were ending the walk, John Owen discovers a cotton boll lying on the ground, picks it up, and excitedly proclaims,"Mommy, look! I found a piece of a cloud! It came from up there!" And he points to the sky. I almost didn't have the heart to tell him the truth. There was a part of me that just wanted to relish in the moment of child-like thoughts of actually touching the clouds! I'll remember this moment so that I can remember the sweet innocence of his childhood when he is grown.

Friday, October 17, 2008

How GREAT Grandparents Are!

This past Monday, October 13, was my dad's birthday. Happy Birthday, "Daddy Nick!" My grandparents came from Jackson, TN to visit and celebrate with a birthday lunch at my mom and dad's house. The children and I joined in the celebration, of course. My grandfather is 87 and my grandmother will be 84 next week. They still live in the only home I have ever known them to live in, drive themselves everywhere they need to go, and function without much help from my dad and his siblings. I have been privileged to have known all four of my grandparents, and they are all very special to me!

But something even more special is that they have all held my children in their arms!
I will try to always hold on to the pictures of them holding my children, their great-grandchildren, because I enjoy so much seeing the pictures of my paternal great-grandparents holding me and my brother. The only one of my mother's grandparents that was still living when I was born was my mother's maternal grandmother, Virginia Mary Warren Davie or"Me-Momma," She didn't live long after I was born, so I have no memory of her. Only a picture or two of her holding me as a baby. However, she did live to be 94 years old! (I'm hoping I will be be blessed with such longevity of life.) :-)
But my father's grandparents ALL lived to be at least 90 years old. My memories of them vividly appear in my mind. I remember their houses on quaint little streets in Jackson, TN. I remember the nice, neat little bun Great-grandmother Phillips always had her hair fixed in. We share the same birthday, so I remember her especially on Sept. 4th. We even blew a few candles out together before her passing. She was a little bitty woman, but I remember her voice and how it seemed just a little bit fiesty for someone so small in stature.

I remember Great-grandfather Phillips and despite the fact that he could not see me, I can still see his glasses on his face and him sitting in his chair beside the fireplace in their home. In my mind there are clear pictures of my Great-grandmother Wamble and the candy dish on her coffee table filled with my favorite and hers...butterscotch discs! I can see her walking through the kitchen with her limp from the polio she suffered from as a child. And I can picture in my mind the large hands of my Great-grandfather Wamble. The many years of working with the railroad company had taken its toll on his hands. I remember the look of them as he drank the tea from his glass. I remember his hair and dark-rimmed glasses and his fancy for watching wrestling on TV.

I am glad to have such memories and I can only hope that one day my children will look back on their childhoods and remember and appreciate what they knew about their grandparents and great-grandparents. I'll close with this one thought that came to me as I was about to go to sleep last night...It's funny to me how I can remember so much more about their lives and as much as I try, I cannot seem to remember much about their funerals or burials when their lives ended. The only memory I can find is one of my father singing his Grandmother Phillips's favorite hymn at her funeral. And then I thought...that's how it should be! Remember their lives and not their deaths. And in doing that you give them life forever in your mind and heart.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

He Loves Me...He Loves Me Not

He LOVES me! Well, let me start this from the beginning...Jan got sick yesterday with the stomach virus. He went on to work anyway! Those of you who know him know what a "work-aholic" he is. I checked on him several times throughout the day to see how he was. He did not look good when he got home last night, and he went straight to bed. When I got in the bed, he asked me about the weather forecast for the next day. ('Cause he knows I am a Weather Channel junkie!:-)) I told him there was supposed to be rain. He said, "I could really use a rain day to get over this stomach thing." And as I settled in, I prayed that the rain would come just as the meterologist predicted.

Well, the rain came! Jan went in to the office early this morning, but then called after breakfast to say he was coming home, and he asked if I needed anything from town. "I can't think of anything we need. Just come home," I replied. What happened next made the rainiest of days seem bright and warm. In walks my sick husband with a sweet yellow daisy and berries flower arrangement in the neatest little rustic concrete bird. He had stopped on the way home to buy it for me. It's funny how such a small gesture can say so much...I love my husband and that bird! I think that I shall never part with it!:-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fall Soccer

This is John Owen's second season of playing Fall soccer. He really enjoys playing goalie, and he's pretty good at it. Here are some shots from last Saturday's game. I love the one of him "down and ready!" Jan is helping coach John Owen's team, so I tried to include some shots of the both of them on the field. His team was undefeated last year! And until last Sat. he was still undefeated. Sadly, we suffered our first loss to a good team. It was a good time for the lesson of "winning isn't everything." :-)
And here's what the rest of us are doing during these soccer games! :-) Jonah and I go on our weekly hunt for acorns while Mary Claire usually naps or gets to sit in Daddy Nick's or Mimi's lap. Notice the changing leaves on the tree in the background! Don't you just love the fall? I am ready for some REAL cool weather! :-)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Winding Road of Memories

Today was a special day because we had a family get-together in Fayette County at my Uncle Davie and Aunt Mindy's house. I guess we have been doing this since my granddaddy passed away in March 2004. And as I drove the long winding roads with a sleeping husband and 3 sleeping children, I found myself completely comfortable with the uncommon silence that engulfed me. I refrained from turning on my favorite CD and let my mind wander wherever it wanted to.

It led me to the memory of my granddaddy. And I guess that is because I knew that I was going back to the place where he and my grandmother started this family. Back to Hwy. 64 and past Glen Geary Lake where he and my cousins took me fishing. Past the John Deere place that's been there as long as my mind will allow me to remember. I thought about the old house on the farm, and I could smell the smells and see the view out the living room window again. I think that I had forgotten how much I loved that house. I thought about all the hard work my granddaddy did to make sure his family had the best.

How he loved my grandmother! I always thought it was so funny the way he so fondly called her "Woman" when he needed her. I can still hear his voice today. He was such a physically strong man even up into his 70's, and he didn't let anyone working around him be lazy, no sir! "Nicole, go get those 2x4's and bring them to me." And I obeyed. You would have, too. I don't mean to make it sound like I feared him because that is so far from the truth. I respected him.

I knew his heart. He loved his family and God. And I can completely identify with why my grandmother married him. (It's almost eerie that my own husband possesses some of the same qualities.) He was strong, yet could be sensitive. He was a hard worker. He could be stubborn about things he felt strongly about. He desired to raise his children in a Christian home.

I think he would have been proud if he had been there today and seen the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I think he would have looked at my grandmother and said, "Jenny, can you believe all this started with just you and me?"

I am glad that I drove the road today...the road to my family's roots and the road to my memories.

Mrs. Mary Virginia Caudle and her great-grandchildren! (top: Mary Shields-13,Olivia-5 months, middle: Jonah-3, Max-10, Harris-4 months, "Miss Jenny", Mary Claire-4 months, Brooks-6, Isaac-6, bottom: Grant-4, Avery-5, John Owen-5) Christopher and Cooper were absent and we have another boy, Hardy, due any day now! :-) Our girls are a little out numbered, huh?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What About Weedeaters?

I tell you...I am having to start bed time earlier these days because John Owen and Jonah BOTH have particular books being read to them before sleep will come. (And if Mary Claire does this same thing later, that's three books to read in completion before sleeping. Maybe I should consider a group reading.:-)) Do other children do this? They both seem to get stuck on a book for a week, maybe two...and sometimes longer!

John Owen recently went back to a book we haven't read to him in a while...Dr. Seuss's "Oh Say Can You Say Dinosaur?" It's a great book, by the way! In the book they address the meaning of the words "carnivores" and "herbivores." I took the opportunity to REALLY focus on this one day while reading to him. You just never know what kids are thinking and what they are going to say...Here's our conversation about it:
"So see, John Owen, carnivores are meat-eaters, and herbivores are plant-eaters," I said in my greatest "teacher voice." hehe Oh boy! He 's gonna be so smart and remember this and impress everyone with his knowledge, I thought to myself. I went over it again just to be sure! :-)
"Carnivores are meat-eaters and herbivores are plant-eaters. Can you remember that?" There was a short silence, and then he said something for which I could find no response..."Mommy, what about weed-eaters?" hehe

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Let It Shine!

There's so much that God has to teach us, and it seems we learn something new or are refreshed with something we learned long ago every Sunday when we attend church. You might say that Jonah learned the lesson of "turning the other cheek" today at church. He and another little boy in his class had a little collision of sorts (not really sure what happened), and Jonah now proudly bears his first "shiner". Let it shine for all to see, Jonah! :-) These things are inevitable it seems! I'll just say that I am glad this happened AFTER our family pictures were made yesterday!!
And I had to put this picture on here! I stayed in the nursery after the incident with Jonah's eye happened. He loves seeing all of the babies like his baby sister. I laughed when I saw him patting both Sam and Faith (our friends' twins)on the head at the same time! I grabbed the camera from the diaper bag to snap this picture. We all laughed and said he looked like he was "laying hands" on them.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Good Times!

John Owen went to his friend's bowling birthday party on Sat. He had a blast!'s a couple of shots from this past weekend as we attended the children's parade at Heritage Day on the square. The theme was "Superheroes and Princesses." And the Prince Charming(Jan) in the picture isn't too bad either...hehe!

Are We There Yet?

When Jonah has been with his grandparents he seems to take on another life form! I am not kidding! I guess it comes from getting his way with everything and lack of sleep. :-) The boys stayed in Somerville with my mom and grandmother Monday afternoon and night and most of the day Tuesday. I went to pick them up late Tuesday afternoon, and the ride home was interesting, to say the least. Jonah talked the whole 45 minutes. And he didn't just talk, he asked for bubble gum 25 times until I told him not to ask me again. He said the sun was in his eyes 3 or 4 times in between, so I loaned him my sunglasses. I had to laugh when I saw him with them on. (I managed to snap his picture! Don't worry, mom, I didn't take my eyes off the road to take it!)

When I told him not to ask for bubble gum again, he started asking for candy pumpkins! He strategically "hit" me with this question at least 30 times or more. And where was all of the candy he requested? AT HOME!! And we weren't there yet!!

I was extremely proud of myself as I demonstrated great patience with all of this. My usual strategy of asking a question to their question had not worked today. Too bad! I laughed out loud, to which John Owen asked, "Mommy, what's so funny?" "I just thought of something funny, John Owen," I responded. "What was it?" Inquiring minds wanted to know. "Candy corn," I said.

Jonah was quiet for a few minutes...I couldn't believe it! Could me laughing like a crazy woman have ceased his seemingly never-ending questions for candy? Hooray! I overcame!

And then he asked again for candy pumpkins! Oh well...could nothing deter his attention? Good grief! His little sister woke up (after sleeping through all of this) and began to "talk." I almost doubled over in laughter when Jonah started crying and saying,"Baby Sister said I can't have candy pumpkins!" (Oh, Mary Claire, I wish you could talk and tell him a thing or two! ) Hehe!

When we finally got home, I recounted this story to my husband, but he didn't find it as funny as I did. He even asked me if I was delirious. Mommy (and Daddy) Lesson Learned: Sometimes it helps to remember to try to find the humor in things even when you think your patience has run thin. Laugh about it! It just might catch them off guard, and buy you a few minutes of sanity. :-)