Thursday, December 29, 2011

What's Ahead?

I am choosing to look at taking down my Christmas things as the process that takes place when getting ready for the New Year, for what's ahead, and trying NOT to think about how sad it kinda is to see it all come down. I love Christmas decorations!! I love the lights in the house and ornaments and everything! Today, I finished taking all the Christmas decorations down and simultaneously, putting up our "Let It Snow" (winter) decorations. (You know, snowmen, icicle/snowflake ornaments...leaving some red berries and greenery from the Christmas "stuff" up as they will work for another month or two, right?) Oh, and I always leave our Christmas cards up until well into January so I can look upon the faces of friends and family a little longer.
I have been working off-and-on since Monday. It's really hard to work without interruption around here, so that explains why I am just now getting it wrapped up TODAY! 3 Children to be played with and taken care of, a house to keep "afloat", plus the added interruption of an 8 week old puppy that needs to be watched like a hawk and taken outside frequently as we try to house train him. (What was Santa thinking?!)

Additionally, my grandmother has been in the hospital since Chistmas night. (That's another story in itself.) She had hip replacement surgery Tuesday afternoon, and she is recovering now. We hope she'll be able to return to the nursing home in the next few days. Her dementia has progressed to such a level that communication with her is very difficult, almost impossible. Last night, she smiled at me and she touched my face twice as I fed her, and I just hoped that was her way of letting me know that somewhere deep inside her she recognized me. For selfish reasons, maybe, I wanted her to recognize me. But the truth is, we all love her no matter what's ahead and will do what we can to make her comfortable. My mom has been the one that has been with her most since early Monday morning. When I went down yesterday, I took Jonah with me, and Mom and I left Jonah with my brother, Christopher, while we went outside to jog around the hospital. (I was glad I had worn some appropriate shoes! Not running shoes, but shoes I could jog in.) This Saturday morning, I have signed myself up for a 10K in Collierville. (Gotta end the year on a "running note", you know?) I have only run once and gotten on the elliptical two times in the last week and half. I might be dragging the New Year in!:-)
We don't have any set New Year's Eve plans yet. And it's not that important really. Having big plans for ringing in the New Year, I mean. What is important is remembering to celebrate God's blessings every day, every moment, in whatever is ahead...what He will give in what's left of 2011 and that to come in 2012.
From my devotional book: (And because I thought it pertained to this.)
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. Psalm 67:1 NIV
No matter what lies ahead, Lord, I will trust in You and Your plans for me, my family, and my friends. I ask that You use me as You see fit, and that my heart be open to the paths You will lead me down. In good times and in bad, I will look to You. Amen.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


our new four-legged family member...

 And you can see from these pictures, he is not in any way lacking for attention!

I looked up and they had all, including Amos, crawled into Jonah's bed and gotten under the covers. Worn out from a busy morning, I guess. :)

Sweet little face.
Welcome, Amos!
We already love you bunches!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Santa Shared a Secret!

Santa called our house today, and the kids were so excited! He told them to get to bed early tomorrow night because he's bringing them a special surprise! John Owen said, "I think we should go to bed at 7:50!" :)
(Hey! That sounds good to me!)
And Santa shared a secret with Jan and me...

We are on pins and needles waiting to help reveal the surprise to these kids! If you PROMISE not to tell, I'll give you a hint.

He's cute as a button, black as coal,
has four legs...just a sweet little soul!
Can you guess? Oh my goodness!!
The kids are gonna go NUTS!
Santa says he'll be here Christmas Eve,
And his name is Amos!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kids' Christmas Party

Today, we had so much fun celebrating Christmas with our friends! There were Christmas games including...
"Musical Pillows" (played to Christmas music),

"Pin the Carrot Nose on Frosty the Snowman",

and a "Freeze Dance"! (Dance til the music stops then everybody FREEZE!):)

Question: Where are the boys?!
Answer: Playing upstairs and not interested in the dancing...girls just wanna have fun!

But the best part of the party was the creativity put forth by all the kiddos in making the BEST gingerbread houses!
Houses like this one by John Owen...
And this one by Mary Claire...

And this one made by Jonah.
I just LOVE the little heart he made from candy canes!

See, making gingerbread houses is so much FUN!

Jonah and Bo "discussing" the design of their houses.:)

Mary Claire takes a break from working on her house and poses for a quick picture for Mom!
Every one did such a great job on the houses!
Great time with great friends!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Tis the Season Part 2

Last Thursday, we rushed to Millington right after school for trumpet and piano lessons. And since we didn't have enough time to get home and then back to our school by 6:15, we opted for dinner at IHOP. (Kids' choice, not mine!) Pancakes for everybody but me! Crazy face pancakes just didn't sound appealing for me at the moment. My face looks crazy enough as it is...

After we ate, we were off again! Dash away, dash away, dash away all! I changed Jonah into his "program clothes" in the teachers' bathroom just in time for him to make it to his classroom at 6:15. Whew! My little reindeer was ready to go! They all looked so cute dressed as Christmas trees, reindeer, little Santas, and snowmen. And they did a wonderful job singing several Christmas songs!

Best friends, Jonah the reindeer and Bo the snowman!

A quick shot of Mommy and John Owen at Jonah's program:)

And last night, we ventured out to Starry Nights at Shelby Farms! I had never been, and neither had my children. So, my mother  insisted that we ALL go and run/walk through it. It was great! Jan and I ran, and MiMi and Daddy Nick walked with the boys and pushed Mary Claire in the jogging stroller. The weather was  not too cold, and there weren't any cars to contend with since it was run/walk/bike night.

The kids loved this t-rex made out of lights!

Lots of lights! A beautiful sight!

Lots of holiday spirit!!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

'Tis the Season

What a busy time of the year! Lots to remember to do... Last week, my day planner looked like a "big ole mess" with basketball practices, dance class, one last music lesson for both boys, Snowball Express at school, Singing Christmas Tree at Bellevue, remembering which day I was assigned to bring food for staff at school, 2 different pajama days for the kids, 2 different Christmas party days and the gifts for all 3 to take to teachers and classmates, and finishing the mailing out of our family Christmas cards. Whew! Pencil in Jonah's Christmas program at school, baking 12 loaves of homemade banana nut bread to hand out to the school office staff, baking our favorite cookies to go in Christmas treat boxes for our Sunday School teachers, Mary Claire's dance recital**see pics below**, and a solo for Sunday worship service, and've got a recipe for weakening Mom's immune system just enough to bring on a case of laryngitis and a sinus infection. Yeah, just in time for the Christmas solo I had been practicing for the last few weeks. I was put on an antibiotic Friday afternoon. (Thank goodness it was a half day of work so I could pencil in a trip to the Walgreens Walk-In Clinic). I thought it was quite funny how the nurse prac. looked at me, and then glanced at my 3 children sitting on the exam table, and said, "And try to get some rest." Now, I don't care who you are, THAT is funny!
I was up most of the night before my scheduled solo coughing my head off. It seemed everytime I laid down, the coughing began. Poor Jan got so tired of hearing me cough, he finally said,"You are gonna have to get up and do something." :) A glass of water, cough drops and Vicks Vaporub finally helped a little. Enough that I guess I finally rested for a few hours. Sunday morning arrived, and I got everybody ready for church, trying not to talk too much as I thought it might save what little singing voice I had left.

I prayed, "Lord, it's in Your hands. May the message of Your Son's birth come forth even if it sounds like that of a donkey. Not for my glory, but Yours."
And I am happy to say that God was with me. Thank you, God. Jan said he couldn't believe I did it!:) (He had heard my voice's condition all week and was very skeptical about my singing.) There was one point in the song I found it difficult to hit one of the high notes, but perhaps it wasn't too noticeable.

After the church service yesterday, I began to feel a bit more relaxed. After the last two weeks and the busy daily schedules of things, I am happy to look at my day planner and see lots of openings. :) It is a wonderful feelng of accomplishment when you think about it. Christmas shopping done, cards mailed out, programs attended and enjoyed, presents given to people we want to say a special "Thank You" to...this truly is a wonderful time of the year!
Merry Christmas to everyone! May the Lord bless you and keep you this Christmas season and may you not get too "bogged down" with the daily whirlwinds to remember the REASON we celebrate.

Oh, and here's the pictures from our Mary Claire's 1st Dance recital. A star is born!! She did so good and loved being on stage. She kept asking, "Is it my turn?" And a couple of times I had to keep her from going out on the stage when it wasn't her turn.:) She was only one who took a bow for the audience at the end of each of her dance numbers. I just couldn't believe it! (We really had no idea what to expect from her.) So, here's our tiny dancer...
I know this is a little blurry, but I loved the way she waved from offstage. And she wasn't waving to me! I was too far away for her to see me, so I don't have a clue who she was waving to. The other little girl's face just screams "I'm nervous!" :)

The beginning pose!

The little girl next to her didn't quite get into like Mary Claire did...

The whole tiny dancers group at the finish

The big finish!

Yesterday, we had some special visitors from Nashville. My friend, Natalie, and her husband, Adam, and their 2 girls, Emma Kate and Della Claire came to play! Mary Claire and Emma Kate had a good time dressing up as Snow White(s) and flipping over the couch. I think Mary Claire is trying out her princess act with Adam here! That look will get 'em everytime, honey. :)
I'll post some pictures of Jonah's program and our Starry Nights adventure tomorrow! (We are going to Starry Nights tonight to run/walk through it!) Should be fun! 'Tis the season!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Let's Celebrate!

It's almost here! Christmas Day is only 2 weeks away. Hard to believe...

We have had 2, that's right, 2 accumulating snows already!! I can't remember the last time this has happened here. It's certainly been a nice addition to the Christmas season.

Snow angels!

Snowball fight, of course.

Our super tall snowman! Notice two little people who enjoy eating the snow. :)

Our front door stockings. I just love these! I found these at Sam's 3 years ago for like $10.00 each and then added the greenery, ribbons, and berries.

Breakfast with Santa in our Christmas pajamas!
"Now, Santa, please pay attention. Before I sit on your lap so that my mom can take this picture, I need to outline what's on my Christmas wish list this year." :) Priceless...

Christmas 2011
(And despite her "talk" of sitting on Santa's lap this year, Mary Claire would only allow Mrs. Claus to hold her, and it took a little bribery candy involved to get her in the picture. Still cautious about the man with the white beard...)

Music recitals!!
I was so proud of John Owen and the spectacular job he did playing "Jingle Bells" on his trumpet.
 Funny story I want to remember: The night before the recital, I told John Owen we needed to go ahead and lay out his clothes for his recital. He said, "I want to wear a tuxedo." With a smile on my face I replied, " Well, I don't think you have a tuxedo, son." To which he responded, "Yes, I do." And he went to his closet and pulled out the sportscoat he wore on Easter Sunday. I thought it was so cute, that I just said, "It's not exactly a tuxedo, but close enough. Let's find you a shirt to wear under it." Then he added, "I want to wear a tie." So we picked out a tie for him to wear, too. Doesn't he just look so handsome? (The tennis shoes with the outfit add a nice touch, don't you think?) I'm saddened, but happy, too, that my little boy is growing into such a big boy.
We laid out his outfit and he went to bed with visions of trumpet-playing in his head...

And our handsome little Jonah got up and played "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" like a pro!:)

Wow! Good job, boys! We are so proud of you.

Our snowman with chocolate peppermint bark for the eyes, a carrot for the nose, and spice drops for the mouth.

Last night, we braved the cold and went uptown for the Dickens Christmas on the Square. I have never seen our square decorated so beautifully. I loved the candles and carols we sang and the people dressed like characters straight out of A Christmas Carol. I hope this event continues for years to come.
Today, we celebrated the season with our church choir's presentation of "Answer the Call."
It was a wonderful reminder of the REAL reason we celebrate Christmas...the birth of Jesus Christ!
Sure, Santa, decorations, snow and recitals are fun, but knowing that God loved us enough to send his Son in the form of a baby is the REASON for the season. Merry Christmas to you! May the love of Christ be in your heart this season.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Diary of a First Half Marathon

On December 3, 2011, I did something I never dreamed I'd do. I ran 13.1 miles in the St. Jude Marathon Weekend in Memphis, TN. I have never been a long distance runner, never even liked the thought of being a cross-country team member in high school. I wondered what good reason those people would have to just run all that distance and time. So, go figure...I decided earlier this year that I wanted to start running and maybe enter a 5K. My motivation for this included several things, and perhaps the reason I could do it is because, I confess, I was at "that point" that I needed this. Consider it cheap, non-medical therapy...

I found a training schedule for novice runners and did some research on what to eat, what not to eat, etc. I asked for and listened to advice from others who have done it, and I am thankful for all the help so many offered in my quest to run my first race. Sometime this summer(and before I ran my first 5K), I set my sights on not just a 5K, but a 1/2 marathon...why not?! It was for a wonderful cause...St. Jude! I joined Team Lucy and set my sights even higher.

I did suffer some "minor" issues along the way as I trained. I lost one toenail due to the fact that I didn't trim my toenails before a 10 miler in October. Sorry if that's too much information, but this is my diary and I'm laying it all out there!! :) (I laughed to myself last Saturday as I ran the half when I saw someone holding a sign that read, "Toenails are for sissies!!" Does that officially make me NOT a SISSY?!)

I have never been so thankful for a new sports bra as I am for the $44.00(bought on sale for $10.00) sports bra I got over a month ago. Shoot, I even bought 2 of those suckers! I had had 2 or 3 chaffings from the previous sports bras and was at my wit's end with it!! Burns like crazy when the shower water hits it! I was in heaven the first time I put the new bra on. Praise the Lord, no more chaffing since!

I have had blisters, but none that have caused pain for me. I would just say that my toenails just don't look the same as they did this summer in my flip-flops. I wouldn't dare wear those flip-fops right now. Thank goodness it's too cold anyway!!

I have clocked over 50 miles run in races since August, and I couldn't even begin to tell you how many miles I have run weekly since this summer. It's kinda crazy when I think about it. I looked at my shoes the other day and thought, "Man, those shoes have carried me lots of miles, over lots of pavement, and up lots of hills." They have been good to me!
No longer "novice" is what I might say about myself now. 13.1 miles under my belt and in the ultimate time I wanted to finish in = HAPPY ME!! And what's crazy is, I have already signed up for another 1/2 marathon!!!
Yep, the St. Jude Country Music 1/2 in Nashville on April 28th, 2012. Nashville hills, here I come! (I have heard it's more difficult with the rolling terrain. What have I done?!) This is another St. Jude Children's Hospital fundraiser, so I am very happy that I can be a part of such a wonderful cause again. What's ahead for me is continuing to train and stepping it up a bit to prepare myself for the Nashville 1/2. With the winter season upon us, this should be interesting. My diary may read of different issues encountered next time. :) Guess we'll see...happy trails!!
**I don't know if this will work, but try clicking here to see pictures from my first 1/2 marathon. Not sure if I'll order anything:), but they were fun to look at. Such a neat thing done by Marathonfoto.**

Thursday, November 24, 2011


For a lot of things...

Thankful to be home safely from NYC. (We arrived home late Wed. night.) What a great trip with memories I'll treasure for a lifetime! We had an almost 2 hour delay leaving the airport in NYC which in turn caused us to miss our connecting flight out of Atlanta. With a couple of hours to spare, I walked to a nearby book/magazine stand and began perusing the many choices of latest novels and bestsellers. I had already finished one book during our travel time...Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. (Pretty good book and uplifting in an affirming-sort-of-way. I don't doubt that Heaven is for real, but I guess it was nice to hear about the author's son's experience and to see how they are sharing their testimony with the world. Jesus is for real!! Amen and Amen!)

O.K., back to my search at the bookstand...I couldn't believe I was even thinking about starting book #2! Woo Hoo! (I never have this much time for reading...) What's funny is that with the "leisure reading time" that lay before me, I WOULD choose something that relates to parenting. You can't run away from the season of life you're in, right? (And truth be told, I am thankful for the season I'm in.)

If you are a mom, you just might want to buy this one, too. (Heck, you can just borrow mine if you want to.) Well, at least when I finish with it. :)  See, it's so good, I had to share it with you now, and I'm only about half way through it. The book is 52 Things Kids Need From a Mom by Angela Thomas.

Now, some of you reading this are great moms already. I know 'cause I am blessed and thankful to call you my friends, and I have witnessed your "mom skills". But I think this book can give (and already has given me) some good reminders and ideas for leading our children with God's love and grace. I am thankful for being called "Mommy"!

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks be to the God in Heaven (who is as real as ever) and from whom all blessings flow.

Final Farewell to NYC

Our last day in NYC was spent wrapping up some last-day shopping at FAO Schwarz.

(Below) Me and the life size Indiana Jones made out of LEGOS!
Jan and the LEGO Lady of Liberty

 Then we decided to skip the walking endless blocks as we had been accustomed to and hop on the subway to head to Wall Street. (This turned out to be a smart transportation decision as the rain began to move in to the city.)
NYC Subway!!

With the rain beginning to fall, we strolled down Wall Street, admired Tiffany and Co., and then headed back up to Trinity Church and St. Paul's Chapel. (I said in an earlier post that I wanted to go back to St. Paul's Chapel and go inside, hence our trip back to the WTC site.)

Jan on Wall Street and in front of the NY Stock Exchange
 Tiffany and Co.
 The rear entrance to St. Paul's Chapel and the cemetary there..
 I took the picture below from the back door of the chapel because it shows the spot where the twin towers once stood.
"They fell. One tower, then the other. They fell, fell, fell. They fell with a rush, and they fell with a roar. The sky was blank where they'd been before." (quotations from: The Little Chapel that Stood by A.B. Curtiss)

"Some say the giant sycamore wood
had saved The Little Chapel That Stood."
 George Washington's pew and the Bible he read from.
"Since Seventeen Hundred and Sixty-Six, has stood this house of God and bricks."
 "Rescuers worked through the night and the day. In the chapel they'd pause, then go on their way."
 The view from inside the chapel. The beautiful chandeliers which could tell their own stories, right?
"It was something of wonder, a symbol of grace.
The steeple still there, not a brick out of place."

Being there is hard to describe. There were moments I cried when I read the letters left by family members searching for their loved ones and saw the pictures of the faces of people who lost their lives that day. And then there were moments I stood in awe and disbelief at what had taken place and how our country rose up from the ashes and destruction and at how people (Americans and people around the world) rushed to help in whatever way possible. Nothing I can ever write can accurately describe this experience...

After the St. Paul's Chapel experience, Jan had one more thing he wanted to do. So, we hopped back on the subway and headed to Chinatown. We did some street shopping...I just stood back and watched him bargain. haha This didn't last too long because the rain REALLY started to come down. We had thought we might head to Little Italy to eat, but we decided to call it quits and hop back on the subway to Times Square and our hotel.
When we reached our hotel, Jan's cousin, Clay, who lives in Brooklyn, called to say he wanted us to try to meet up with him before we had to leave. (He had just arrived back from being out of the country the day before.) We rested for a short while, and then once again, jumped on the subway and headed to Brooklyn. (I'm pretty sure I could get REAL good at this!) Clay and his girlfriend met us in the rain, and we all quickly walked a few blocks to a wonderful restaurant with a "fancy southern kick". We enjoyed some great food and time together. Jan and I opted for a cab ride back to Times Square instead of the subway. I'm glad we did because we got to experience coming across the East River on the Manhattan Bridge and seeing the city from a different angle. Even at night, it's an amazing sight.
So, there you have it...1st NYC trip is done!
Yes, I plan to return. Perhaps with my children when they are a little older and can "handle" this great city and possibly appreciate it for all its history and culture.