Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Brother!

Yesterday was a much celebrated day. It wasn't JUST Thanksgiving with turkey and my mom's dressing and all of the other good food we were blessed to have on our table, but it was also my younger brother's 28th birthday! Happy Birthday, Christopher! That "turkey" was born on Thanksgiving Day 28 years ago...sorry, I couldn't resist that one! :-)

Now, it wouldn't be like me to not say something about the only sibling I have had in life, so here it goes...
What comes to mind when I think of Christopher (AKA "Bubba")? I don't think he prefers being called that, but my boys enjoy it! hehe
Well, I think about his talent for singing. I will always cherish the memories of my childhood that I have of us putting on "shows" and singing along to songs by artists such as The Temptations, The Beatles, Three Dog Night, and many more! He was quite the entertainer and loved being in the spotlight. He always took the spotlight which was ok with me being that I lacked the level of confidence and bravery he seemed to have.
And this would probably embarass him, but I think about how so many girls' faces would look when they would say, "You're Chris Phillips's sister?!" Like he was famous or something! (Whatever! was what I thought then...Now, I think a little differently about it.) I am proud that he was given such talent encased in such handsomeness.
I think about his athletic ability and how his abilities seemed to come so naturally for him. I am thankful that he was a good catcher for the many pitches I attempted to throw when practicing my softball. I will always have the pictures in my mind of us throwing ball in the front yard of the old house.
I have many good memories of time spent with my "little" brother and I could go on for days writing about them. I wouldn't change a thing about them. I hope that I was a good sister. Yeah, he got on my nerves his fair share of times, and I am sure I returned the favor my share of times, too. Funny, though, I can't seem to ever remember deeply wishing for a sister, so that must account for the happiness I have from being Christopher's big sister.
Happy Birthday, Christopher! I hope and pray that you will always find happiness and that the Lord will watch over your every step in life. I know He has great things planned for you, Bubba. And I am here if you ever need me, or if in the future you ever find worth in my advice, I'd be happy to share what little I have learned about life with you. Always remember that you have a sister who loves you, no matter if we agree or disagree about life and how it should be lived. Hope you had a great day! Love, " 'Cole "

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brave Little Indians...and Pilgrim!

Yesterday was the boys' Thanksgiving Feast and Pow-Wow at their school. I was looking forward to it very much because believe it or not, they still use the same song and dance they used when I was in the same preschool. It's a great song...I guess some things are meant to last!

I arrived at the preschool later than I would have liked to have been being that I was slightly detained by a hungry baby sister...hehe, but got there in time to turn the camera on and start filming. Some kind soul let me squeeze through to the front row of the crowd, and I sat on the floor so as not to block the others with my not-so-petite frame! I immediately spotted John Owen with his class dancing around the tee-pee, and I thought his class did a spectacular job! My brave little indian!

I held the camera aside for a second and scanned the crowd of "indians and pilgrims" for Jonah and his class. And there they were...boy and girl pilgrims crowded around a tee-pee doing their very three-year-old best to follow the song. I noticed after a few seconds that when my energetic Jonah stopped circling the tee-pee, he would look out at the small crowd watching. And the "Mommy instinct" in me KNEW he was looking for me. I had told him I was coming to watch him, and that child doesn't forget a thing!

I purposely filmed his expression as he scanned the crowd for my face. His expression was almost fearful, and I wanted to scream out, "Here I am, Jonah! Mommy's HERE!" I waved my hand once, but he did not see me. After a few more seconds and as the song neared its end, he stopped circling and again looked at the crowd. I was able to capture the very moment that he spotted me. I watched as the expression on his face turned from scared to confidence and excitement. It was priceless! My brave little pilgrim.

And here's the thought process that followed: It's funny how knowing that the ones who love you are there for you and knowing this can bring you such bravery and help you through the times when you are scared and nervous. (A thought that can be applied to alot of situations in life!) And like I was desperately wanting Jonah to know I was there, God wants us to know He is there, too. I can just imagine Him waving His hand and saying,"I am here, child!" We all need THAT reassurance.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for life, the loved ones who have been there, and thankful to and for the Lord and His presence in good times and in bad. I pray that everyone would know His presence when they are faced with situations that bring them fear. My mind is so full of friends and family who I know are facing fearful situations of all kinds today. I am praying for all of you. I enter His courts with praise and thanksgiving as I thank God for the things He has brought me and my family through. I hope everyone reading this, and even those who may not read it, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, Nicole

Friday, November 21, 2008

No Ordinary Day

Today, November 21, is what I would call "no ordinary day". Why? Well, for starters, Jonah is home sick with a stomach virus that we are nursing with rest, Pedialyte and lots of "Kung-Fu Panda." :-)Hmm...I think he could get used to this treatment, huh?

John Owen had "Cowboy Fun Friday" at school today so he was "up and at 'em" this mornin' decked out in his cowboy gear and rarin' to go! (At least somebody around here is!)

Jan got up and left for work before 6:00 a.m. which is pretty ordinary, but the real reason this day is truly a "no ordinary day" is because of something Jan did 10 years ago on this day...

He unexpectedly popped the question of "Will you marry me?" to a very surprised me!

TEN YEARS hardly seems so. We were enjoying a visit to the Smoky Mountains and planning to catch the TN vs. Kentucky game later that day. We hiked through the woods just a short distance down from the Missionary Baptist Church there in Cades Cove. I kept warning him that I really didn't think we should get off of the main trail. (I could just envision a park ranger coming and hauling us off in front of all those bystanders.) My adventurous and nervous husband helped us over the bobbed-wire fence, which I am pretty sure we weren't supposed to cross, and we walked out into the open field. There was one tree standing out in the field, so we decided that was our destination. With both of us dodging cow "patties" and me looking over my shoulder for that park ranger, we finally reached the tree. We talked about how pretty it was there in Cades Cove with the mountains in the backdrop. And then he said,"If I ever ask you to marry me, do you think this would be the kind of place you'd like me to ask you?" "Yeah, sure," I replied and then started to ramble about how I had several childhood memories of this place. And then he did it! He got down on one knee (such the traditional guy:-)) and said," Well, will you?" I think the rest went something like this: "Will I what? Oh my gosh...are you serious?" (Ever wish you had said something ELSE?) I looked into his face and eyes and saw he was serious, and I gave him the answer..."YES!" From behind his back he pulled out a small blue box and opened it to show me the ring that I would forever wear as a symbol of this day and our "marriage to be." And I have never tired of looking at it! I suspect after 50 years, I will not be tired of looking at it! As he left this morning, he kissed a sleepy-headed me good-bye and whispered, "Thanks for saying yes." With my eyes still closed, I responded with " Thanks for asking me." :-) And that's why today is "no ordinary day".

It's the anniversary of when he asked and I said yes!

Monday, November 17, 2008

We Like To... MOVE It!

It is inevitable that when you hear the theme song from Madagascar, there's just something in your body that's got to MOVE with the music!! I LIKE TO MOVE IT, MOVE IT...
OK...if you haven't seen Madagascar 2, you really need to go see it! We went with our good friends, the Bondurants, this past Saturday night to see the movie, and I think it's safe to say that the adults probably enjoyed it more than the kids did! (I really enjoyed it seeing that I haven't been to the movie theater since before Mary Claire was born!) Jonah's favorite part (and mine) were the hippos...Especially the incredibly LARGE, raspy-voiced hippo, Moto, that admired Gloria... "Moto, Moto...a name so nice you got to say it twice." :-) -Jan's been walking around saying this with his name since we saw the movie! - Oh, brother!

John Owen, Carter, Jonah and Shelby at the movies!

They like to move it, move it!!
Now we're hoping there will be another sequel! We loved it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Old Friend

I greeted an old friend the other day as we brought the exersaucer out of storage for Mary Claire. And seeing it was like seeing a familiar face I hadn't seen in awhile. "Hello, Exersaucer!" "Long time, no see!" "How are you?" "You look good!" "Is there anything I can do for you?" (Alright, I haven't lost my mind and started to talk to things around my house...just bear with me as my imagination runs wild! Haven't you ever wondered what something like an exersaucer would say to you if given personification?) Well, maybe not, but anyway...
In honor of my old friend, the exersaucer, I spent a long time IN THE COLD washing her off, soaping her down, and disinfecting her. I washed and dried her with extreme care! After all, it's the least I could do given that she has done so much for me in providing joyous entertainment for my boys. I am so glad she has safely returned to see MC and spend some quality time with her. When I think about it, she's like me in many ways. She's held my children, entertained my children, and taught a little independency to my children.
Like a good friend, she's helped out when I needed to accomplish other tasks, and I am indeed forever grateful for my friend, the amazing exersaucer. Sadly, I am aware that we'll have to part ways one day, but she should be happy to know that she'll forever be remembered in family photos and videos. So for now, we'll enjoy our friendship and good times together. And together we'll greet other old friends as they, too, come back from their storing places.
Now...if she could just help me talk the high chair into feeding Mary Claire. A stubborn one, he is!
Word to the Wise: This is what happens to you when you have 3 children in 5 years! You become "best friends" with every baby apparatus in your possession.
See why I call her "amazing"? She can entertain three at a time! Pretty amazing to me! :-)

Splish, Splash!

Mary Claire and Daddy

Mary Claire enjoys her bath! Bath time has become Jan's time with her, and I think she prefers that he be the one to give her her bath every night. She has never cried at bath time. (Well, except for the very first bath given to her by the nurse in the hospital. No, she was not happy then!)

But since we brought her home and began our regular bathing schedule with her, she seems to really enjoy it. I think she's just about ready to move to the big bath tub and into the other seat for bathing. I can't believe that she will be 6 months old on Thanksgiving! It seems like just yesterday that we carried her through the front door of this house for the first time.

"Mom, can't a girl take a bath in peace?!"

I try not to think about where the next 6 months will take us and how quickly they will pass! One year!?! OK...enough of thinking about that. I'm gonna slow it down as much as I can and just enjoy every minute of today. And then one day lovingly look back on the pictures of my baby enjoying her bath.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dear Momma,

Well, it's beginning to look alot like Christmas around my house! Is it just me, or does Christmas seem to start earlier every year? I don't think I have ever started this early putting Christmas decorations out! But because I gave in to putting our house on the Tour of Homes this year, I have to get decorated by Dec. 7th! I think I have lost my mind! Last year, they asked me to do the tour, but my expectant body was too tired as it was, so I sent them to Laura! hehe (Her house looked beautiful by the way!)

I kind of thought they wouldn't ask me again...but they did! So, I decided to not turn them down two years in a row. I gave in...but only after calling my momma and asking for her help. I think my exact words were, "Momma, I CAN'T do this unless you help me." And like the wonderful mother she is and has always been, she agreed! So, she has been working like a mad woman at my house for the last week or so. (I have to give her all of the credit because I feel like I haven't done much of anything except give approval or lift something here and there!) So, today as I looked around the house at the beautiful decorating she has done, I thought about some things I would say to her...

Dear Momma,
I don't know where to start. The small words of gratitude I have could never measure up to the deep thankfulness that I have in my heart for everything you have done and do for me. I guess I knew that you would help me with my house when I called you and asked you to. Because you have always been there to help me when I needed it most. I appreciate so much that you have allowed me to use your decorations from your own house because you understand that I don't have the money to buy new things since I am not working this year. I know you understand this because you, too, made the sacrifice to stay at home with me when I was little and live on one household income. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made for me. You have taught me through your example how to make sacrifices for my children, and I see through your lasting marriage to my daddy how a husband and wife must be willing to make sacrifices for each other. Sacrifices that are not always fun, but are necessary in making a loving marriage work.

I am thankful to have such a talented mom who can take something from a picture in a book or magazine and make it just as beautiful, if not more beautiful, on a table. I smile when I think of my wedding and how you and Aunt Dinah, Aunt Becky, and many of your good friends worked so hard to make everything so beautiful. I wish that I had the talent you have, but as it seems to be, God gave me different talents. Where you can sew anything perfectly, I would end up with a potato sack. Your smocking could be featured in magazines, and mine...well, let's just say I'm better off buying it! And eventhough we might excel in different talents, I am overwhelmingly proud of our similarities. (Because there are some ways we are alike!) I think we are similar mothers to our children. Our sleeping practices for our children may be different :-), but our love as a mother is still the same. Someone was watching me at the Harvest party with Jonah the other day, and stopped me and said," You even move like your mother." And I had to laugh! Thank you for giving me your moves, I guess! Coach Lawler always said I was fast on my feet and a good hustler and I know I get that from you! If people only knew how many times I heard, "Keep up!" as we went for walks in the neighborhood. Thank you for always being a Christian example of a mother. And as hard as it is for me to say this, thank you for disciplining me and never giving up on me. I thank you for loving Jan as if he were your son, too. He may roll his eyes in disgust at the things we do to the house, but he loves the person you are! And he is thankful for the things you have done to help us, too! I could go on and on about the many other things that I am thankful for, but let me just end this with saying, "Thank you for being my momma."
I love you,

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Jan Has A Birthday...We're So Glad!

Yesterday was Jan's birthday! Happy birthday to my wonderful husband! We love you!

The boys and I made him his favorite...chocolate cake! He loves chocolate! The boys insisted that their daddy have a chocolate cake since they are quite aware of their father's fondness for it.

So we ended up with what I would call a chocolate overdose. First we used chocolate cake mix, then topped it with chocolate icing. Then we sprinkled chocolate chips and drizzled melted chocolate over the cake! I was beginning to think that our cake resembled a chocolate mountain or volcano about to erupt! As I shared with my husband my thoughts about the cake resembling a mountain, I said, "It's a mountain of LOVE for you!" He smiled...undoubtedly thinking how cheesy his wife is. Happy Birthday, Jan! (My "mountain of love" for you grows everyday!)


nicole (your cheesy wife)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fun-Filled Saturdays

Hmm...wonder if I could take this pot-belly pig home with me?

Our Saturday agendas for the last several weeks have consisted of several events packed into one day's time. There's soccer in the morning, or a yard sale, numerous birthday parties or pictures in the afternoon, and then usually something we've been invited to do with friends to round out the night. Please don't think that I am's nice to have these things which bring so many memories, and we are grateful to have time with family and friends! Here are some shots from this past Saturday's birthday party we attended. It was a petting zoo and the boys had such a good time.