Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Memories of 2010

7Well, today I have worked, worked, worked on taking ALL of my Christmas decor down. After our pancake breakfast and clean-up this morning, I got busy. Mary Claire likes to watch Sesame Street, so I used my time wisely while she giggled at Elmo and while the boys played their new Wii game. It always amazes me how fast things seem to come down...much faster than they went UP! I bet I set a record today! I almost hesitated when I thought I might be the first person on my street with no more Christmas decorations, and I'm the only one here with small children! Here were my thoughts as I swiftly pulled down ornaments, stockings, ribbon, and threw out the un-eaten candy...yes, I threw it all AWAY!

"Is this terrible? Am I subconsciously wishing Christmas away with this action of getting everything down and put away so quickly? Christmas was just the day before yesterday! Do I really want to just leave this stuff up for another few days?"
(I wrestled with these thoughts for only a moment and then thought about going back to work in one week, and spending time with my children this week. Then I worked even faster getting it all down.) "I will not procrastinate! I will get it put away and then clean up and spend the rest of my week off enjoying time with my children. After all, we made some wonderful Christmas memories this year, and now it's almost a new year! I want to start the year off with no clean-up of Christmas."
And tonight, the big tree goes in the attic before I hit the sack! (Thanks, Jan, for your help in meeting my deadline.)
Here's some memories I'll treasure from Christmas 2010!

Making our gingerbread house! (No it's not homemade gingerbread. Look, my life does not allow time for the making of homemade gingerbread...the $9 box set at Wal-Mart works just as nicely and with less effort on my part. And we had a great time putting it together which is the most important thing, right? :-)

 Owen at school for his Christmas program. These are some of his friends from his class sitting beside him. Don't you just love the look on his face? Cutting those eyes at me...

My sweet Jonah with his class performing at their Christmas program.

Only Jonah would spot me in the crowd from across the gym and wink at me while pointing! :-) "I see ya, Momma!"
 Oh, the excitement for Mary Claire when she saw the larger-than-life globe with snowmen and Santa at Jonah's Christmas program...
 And oh, the disappointment when we told her she couldn't go over to touch it until after the show! (This became a struggle that lasted pretty much through the whole program. Gotta love 2 year olds!)
 The excitement of waiting in line to see Santa! Thank goodness it wasn't too cold that night! Too bad Mary Claire didn't like Santa. But...it's a good thing Santa liked Mary Claire anyway and brought her some exciting gifts! 

This year, our school had a Christmas shop set up for students to buy gifts. Owen took his own money and bought presents for his grandparents, parents, siblings, 2 great-grandmothers, and even his special friend, Shelby K. (Yeah, that is something I'll have to post about later. Seems I have a hopeless romantic on my hands in my 7 year old son!) I was proud of him for picking out the gifts, wrapping them and presenting them all on his own. Sniff, sniff...he's getting so big.
I think Mimi liked her ring, and Daddy Nick loved the tape measure.
The live nativity scene in town. (The little angels up top were so funny!) Mary Claire loved it!

Carols and candlelight service at church on Dec. 22 when the children and I sang "Away in a Manger" with Daddy Nick. Don't Mary Claire and Jonah look excited? Actually, Jonah sang very loudly, and Mary Claire blew kisses at her friend in the crowd, then waved really big. John Owen was the only reserved one. (Can't say I am too surprised at that!)
This is probably not the best picture, but it's the only one I have of the whole group. (Plus, it shows Mary Claire waving to her friend.)

Christmas Eve with cute cousin Wesley!
(I know Ms. Sue would have loved seeing how big he's gotten. We missed her terribly this Christmas season...it just wasn't the same.)

My handsome boys so excited to open presents at Mimi's house on Christmas Day!

"I'll help you, Granny!" Mary Claire helping Granny open her gift whether Granny wants help or not! hehe My grandmother came from Jackson and spent the 23rd and 24th with my parents and us since this is the first Christmas without my grandfather. 2010 has brought about many changes for our family.
Well, I guess that's about it...
Santa was very good to the Hensley children this year. The boys' favorite gift from Santa was their Star Wars collection, and Mary Claire loves her indoor trampoline. You should see her jump!
(Since I videoed the discovery of their gifts under the tree, then somehow neglected to take a decent still picture, and since the video won't print in this here "scrapblog" book of mine, I won't be posting the video. hehe)
We hope your Christmas was full of cherished memories as well.
Now, we march on to 2011...Happy New Year to everyone! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wherever You Are,

My Love Will Find You
(by Nancy Tillman)
(NOTE: This is one gift that will be under the tree from Jan and me to our 3 little ones this Christmas. I can bet that right now it won't be the gift that "WOWS" them, but I hope one day they'll appreciate it as I do.)
I found this book a while back and ordered it because it's one of those books that I just can't read without crying...you know, like when I read books such as Love You Forever and Love You Like Crazy Cakes, etc. I'm just a mess before I ever get to the end of the book. The book emphasizes feeling loved and knowing you are loved no matter where you are. I highly recommend it!

On the same note with feeling loved, my hope and prayer this Christmas is that everyone knows the love of Christ. I think as a child, I took for granted the story of Christ's birth. I didn't truly understand what all Mary and Joseph went through, and the super special responsibility bestowed upon them by God. I try to remind myself daily that God has given me a super special responsibility in being the mother of the 3 blessings He has given me. I may not be the mother of the Messiah, but I am mother to Owen, Jonah and Mary Claire. And God has a plan for their lives just as He had a plan for Jesus. I pray every night as I put them to bed that God will help me to guide them, to raise them up to be servants of Him, that he will protect them from any disease, destruction and injury, and that He will guide their paths all their days. I pray they will always know they are loved...not just by their parents, but by God. Wherever they go, whatever they do, they will  never doubt that they are LOVED. 

My Christmas Wish For You:
Dear John Owen, Jonah, and Mary Claire,
I know that one day you will read this. Perhaps when you are grown or maybe one day when you feel troubled and need to hear it most. (I will probably need to read this again one day as well as a reminder for myself.) We all need to hear it said more often than not... "I love you!"
I love you with a love that will never end, no matter what you do or what you say. I love you even when you are angry with me or feel you don't like me because I won't let you do something you think you are big enough to do. I love you when you are learning from your mistakes. And guess what? I am still learning, too. :-)
 I love you enough to tell you no when you need to hear it. I love you so much that I will do my job as your parent to teach you how to live in this world. The world needs to be loved, too. There are so many people who do not know what love is or that they are loved. The world needs to know God's love. My Christmas wish is that you, my children, will know God's love and return His love by believing in and accepting Him. I know that you are still young right now, but I pray there will come a day when you realize God's love for you. He loved you before I even knew you. It brings me comfort and happiness to know that He fit you for me before I had even dreamed of you. He knew we would be together. Only He knows our future together.
His love for you is never-ending. No matter where you go in this world, I hope that you will always feel my love for you, but more than that, God's love for you. 
 I am so thankful for all of you and that God gave each of you to me.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's a Family Tradition

(And immediately enters the sound of Hank Williams Jr.'s voice in my ears!)
Guess "family tradition" is about right when you know that the first time I saw the lights of Christmas City, I wasn't too much older than John Owen is now. We try to go once a year, maybe just to say we've been. :-)We spent Friday night with friends driving out to Burlison to do our yearly traditional tour of the Rose of Sharon Campground's Christmas City. "The true meaning of Christmas in a half a mile of lights!" was what the advertisement read this year. 

Well, they do focus alot on the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ in lights, various signage, and just about every well-known Bible character, BUT...they have also added a ton of secular novelties as well. Certainly not a reflection of our society, I'm sure. (Insert: sarcasm) Seriously, it's fun to do with the kids! The kids named everything they saw, asked questions about some of things they saw (hehe) and enjoyed the fact that Santa made a "special visit" to Burlison, TN and the lights of Christmas City!
That's right, Santa was there! And we made no haste in making our way up to him to tell him our wish lists!

Here's John Owen going through his wish items with Santa...

I just sadly realized as I looked at the above picture that my baby is getting too big to sit in Santa's lap! :-(
 O.K., refocus...
Here's Jonah thoroughly explaining his 3 wish list items. Notice the counting on the fingers! Too cute! They both counted out their 3 things as they told Santa. Jonah, by the way, has never shown any aversion to the man with the white beard. (Can't say the same for Owen and Mary Claire, though!)

She started out like this, and I thought all was going good!

But then it quickly turned to this...Mommy to the rescue!

Oh, well. Maybe next year!

Enjoying his candy from Santa!

I thought this was a sweet picture of Mary Claire. It looks like she's praying, but reality is, she was just trying to warm up her little cold hands as we rode the train through Christmas City.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Caught Red-Handed

With her hand in the Christmas candy jar! I looked up and she had pushed the chair up to the counter and climbed on up to reach the delicious treats that awaited in each canister. Maybe the Christmas candy wasn't such a good idea...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Goodbye, Gemini!

One of John Owen's first teeth that came in before his 1st birthday was extra special because it was a "gemini" tooth. I had never seen anything like it, so we had our family dentist take a look at it a long time ago. He was the one who told us this was a "gemini tooth" and informed us that this type of tooth is not very common. The term gemini means "twin". So you see, a "gemini" tooth is 2 teeth fused together. It is really a quite interesting phenomenon! But after 7 years with an extraordinary tooth ...we must now say goodbye to the gemini! For today, the gemini tooth fell out! :-)

And we're thinking this type of tooth should bring double the money from the tooth fairy! Don't you think so, too? :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In Everything Give Thanks!

Today, our pastor preached a Thanksgiving message, a message of giving thanks to God in everything. I just wanted to take a few minutes to pour out what's been on my heart and mind for a while now. You see, this year has been what some would describe as a rough year for us. But in everything that has happened, I can honestly see God's work. I sat and listened this morning to the words coming from Bro. Chuck, and I wanted to scream out loud how thankful I am for the fact that I am breathing and that I see today and that I have a wonderful husband and 3 beautiful miraculously-created children...that God allowed His mercy to shine down upon me even when I don't deserve one bit of it.
I became a Christian at a very young age. And eventhough my choices in life have not always been ones that would make my heavenly Father proud, I am thankful that he still chooses to love me and forgive me. I think He's been working on me this year through all of the hardships and fears I have encountered...Almost as if He's saying directly to me, "Come to Me, I am the only One you need." I did not refuse His calling to me this past Feb. when I went down at the end of the service and rededicated my life to Him. And little did I know that Feb. morning, that I would be running to Him this year. (See, He already knew what I did not know.) I believe He finds a way to work on our faith, and He used my daughter's medical diagnosis in late January of this year to start working on me. After hearing everything the doctors said about her brain malformation, I was terrified beyond belief. Here was this child who had never had a seizure or any reason to suspect something like a brain malformation and these things the doctors were telling me were just overwhelming. I allowed Satan to fill me with anxiety and take over my every thought and even thoughts of things which hadn't occurred. I think Satan knew my weakness, and he came at me with his very best ammunition...the thought of something happening to my child. None of us wants anything bad to happen to our children, it's terrible to even think about. We do so much to shelter and protect them and make sure they have the best of everything. So you see, I had a huge problem with the fact that I couldn't fix this malformation she has and that I, as her mother, couldn't control the future. (No one else has that problem, right? :-)) Thanks to my own mother and grandmother for stepping in and helping me to fight Satan. I cried, I prayed, I even said outloud, "Get behind me Satan!" when I felt those thoughts and fears entering my mind. I finally found peace in reading scripture in Beth Moore's Praying God's Word, book given to me by my mom. I know this might sound crazy to some, but one night as I was reading a section of the book, I felt as though God said to me, "Nothing bad is going to happen to Mary Claire and you will use this to share with others about Me." I will never lose that thought or feeling. I immediately shared it with my husband. I then turned my thoughts to giving thanks for Mary Claire and the way he formed her brain. I felt bad and disappointed in myself when I thought about how I had allowed Satan in. God made this child this way for a reason. How could I pray for miraculous healing? The truth, I believe, is that he has already healed her and miraculously created her.
(I am so very thankful for the good report she got last week when we went for her 6 month check up with her neurologist. I am doing everything within my control and knowledge to do. I give thanks to God for everyday with Mary Claire and that she has not had a seizure or suffered any developmental or physical delay from the brain malformation.)
In February, my attitude changed, and my heart changed, too. And everyday, I turn to God. I highly recommend Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There by Ruth Graham as a daily devotional book. This book has helped me tremendously as I will read it first thing in the morning or as I get ready to go to bed at night. 
In March, my grandfather passed away. I miss him...(Boy, was he crazy about Mary Claire!) and the life he and my grandmother had in Jackson. Right before his death, my grandmother was diagnosed with the early stages of dementia and had to be moved to an assisted living facility. So much changed so quickly. Now the only house I had ever known them in on Lesa Drive is empty with a for sale sign in the front yard. My grandmother likes the new place she lives, and we are thankful that she is just across the hall from my grandfather's sister and her husband. It's a nice place with lots of activities to keep her busy. She has had some minor health issues, but for the most part, is doing well. We just celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago. Here's a picture of Mary Claire helping her blow out her candles. :-)
I am thankful for having and knowing and being close to all 4 of my grandparents! God blessed me with 4 of the best!!

This past summer almost seems a blur as we dealt with the sudden death of my mother-in-law, Ms. Sue. I cannot put into words how much we miss her right now. Today is her birthday. She would have turned 61 today. We took the children to the grave this afternoon and placed some roses there. I did not go to sing in the Community Thanksgiving Service tonight at church because I felt like Jan needed me to be there at home with him and the children. I am thankful for Ms. Sue's life and that she gave life to my husband. I am thankful that our relationship was good before God took her. We didn't always see things the same way, but we both loved Jan and John Owen, Jonah, and Mary Claire more than anything. That's where we found common ground. I wanted to call her last week when I left the neurologist to tell her what Mary Claire's doctor had said. (I always called her after one of their dr. visits, if she didn't call me first!) And eventhough I miss her, I am thankful that God's got another angel to help watch over these children from heaven. That's one of the thoughts that gets me through this.
Even when it seems impossible to do, give thanks! For everyday He allows me life, I give thanks! For His mercy and love, I give thanks!

Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us and we are His-
His people, the sheep of His pasture. (taken from Psalm 100)
In everything give thanks.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Well, another Halloween season, come and gone. And it's a good thing 'cause I have probably gained 10 pounds from the mellowcreme pumpkins and candy corn that's been "decorating" my house this month. :-)

Tonight was the last thing for us in our week full of Halloween events. We celebrated at our Fall Festival where we played games and won candy. We dressed up for school, Jonah on Thursday and Owen on Friday. We made Halloween cupcakes on Saturday with cute cupcake toppers. And we finished it out with perfect weather for Trick or Treating in our neighborhood!

Everybody say, "Happy Halloween!"
As you can tell, we are very into Star Wars right now. Jan bought the set with every Star Wars movie in it, and he and the boys have been watching them for the last few months. So, I thought it was only fitting that we all dress up as classic Star Wars characters...Darth Vader, Yoda, and Princess Leia.
 Mary Claire was telling people, "I be Pwincess Weia" translation-"I'm going to be Princess Leia."
She was sooo cute tonight as she walked up to the neighbors' doors and without one bit of shyness said, "Tick r Teat!" She even got into handing out candy once we got back to our house.
I was glad that our friends, the Bondurants, decided to come over, too. It was fun "trick or treating" with them!

Here's a shot of the group. I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Halloween!

Oh, and I couldn't leave myself out on this one...
I don't think I blogged about this last year, but our school has Book Character Day on the Friday before Halloween which allows even us grown-ups a chance to dress up, too! Last year, I was Pippi Longstocking complete with the stand-out, braided pigtails! (I can't seem to find the picture I took and downloaded last year. Maybe I'll come across it later and add it.)

And this year, I was Olivia the Pig. (My co-workers, Mr. Peter and Ms.Rachel, were having fun on Book Character Day, too, dressed as Robin Hood and Bad Kitty.) 
See, we grown-ups can have fun at Halloween, too?!
(Now...what to dress up as next year?! Hmm...)

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mountain Memories

(Pardon me while I play "catch up" on our scrapblog.)

Back from the Smokies and back to daily life at the Hensley house...
Here's a glimpse at our 2010 Fall Break Vacation in Gatlinburg.  

We felt as if we were sleeping in the tree tops in the cabin where we stayed. It was awesome!

Jonah clowning around & hugging the bear!

Jan, Jonah, John Owen, Mary Claire and Mimi at the trolley stop in Gatlinburg

 The boys loved the Touch-A-Ray Bay at the Aquarium of the Smokies.
 Mary Claire loved waving at the diver feeding the fish!
 Jonah and his Davy Crockett hat at the Pancake House..."Minnie Pearl style" with the price tag still on!
:-) This made me laugh!
Why does John Owen look as if he's laughing? hehe

Are we having fun yet?
Inside the Missionary Baptist Church at Cades Cove.

After our picnic, this is what ran out in front of our car. I was so excited, I almost didn't grab the camera in time before he crossed the road and headed into the patch of woods. The kids (and grown-ups) loved it!

These are just two of my favorite pictures from the many pictures I took of our trip to the Wilderness at the Smokies Indoor waterpark. We finished our trip to East TN with our stay this resort and had a great time. The food was great, and we had a blast on the water rides. I felt like a kid again screaming on the "Storm Chaser"! We had a great trip, and we are looking forward to a trip back soon for more memories in the mountains.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Busy Month Begins

We had a very busy 1st weekend for October in which we prepared for & held a yard sale on Sat. with our neighborhood, then celebrated 2 birthday parties with friends, and finished the weekend up with our church activities on Sunday. The yard sale was a success...we made over $400.00! I thought that was pretty good and the best part is we have less "stuff" now! That always feels good. I let the boys have $5.00 each and we rode around the neighborhood on our golf cart checking out the othe other neighbors' "stuff". I told them they could pick one thing out. Jonah wisely chose a "Luigi" from Super Mario Bros. dress up outfit, a former Halloween costume for some other little boy...a perfect fit for Jonah! And it only cost him $1.00! He was so proud, and he has worn it every day since, I think!
John Owen chose to buy a Tennessee jacket for $4.00 formerly owned by his new friend, Scout, who lives in the house directly behind us. Scout even brought his own money Sat. morning and joined us as we shopped at the different yard sales. We had a great time at our neighborhood yard sale!

After a busy work week, we are packed and just about ready to head off to the Smoky Mountains for Fall Break! I just have to finish cleaning. I have this wierd thing about cleaning my house before going on vacation...I know, it's probably stupid, but it sure feels good to come home to a clean house after being gone. The boys are so excited about staying in a cabin in the mountains. Mary Claire even chimes in with, "We goin' to 'da mountains!" My mom is going with us, and we are going to brave the Wilderness at the Smokies indoor water park while we're there! With a 3 to 3 ratio of adults and children, I am hoping we can pull this off successfully! hehe

So, off we go! Next time I blog, it'll probably be with pictures from the trip. Here's a few cute pictures from the birthday party I took Jonah to at the Firefighter Museum last Sat...which, by the way, was a terrific place for a birthday party!!

Pretending to drive the fire engine!

 I love this picture! Don't they look like they are swapping a good firefighter story? :-)

Wonder what all these buttons do? Boys love buttons and gadgets!!

Jonah and Owen T. climb, climb, climb!

A neat place for a party! As you can see, he had a great time pretending and playing and celebrating his friend's birthday!