Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My First 23 Children

Dillon, Antonio, Lesley, Ebonisha, Allie, Hunter....

These are some of the names of the students who were in my second grade class. Last night, I laid awake in my bed, thinking about these little children (really not so little anymore), wondering where they are and what they are doing. It has been nearly five years since I was teaching elementary school in Mesquite, but I still think about these kids quite regularly.

That year was a whirlwind year for Josh and me. We graduated from ACU and moved to Garland, where I was blessed to get my first real job, teaching second grade at a local elementary school. That year was such a challenge for me, in many ways. I started the year out with a surge of excitement and anticipation about what I could do for the kids. My time spent student teaching in Abilene had shown me the jacked-upness of the public school system, so I immediately felt like I was going against the flow, instead of with it. (That is kindof my personality anyway, so it can't entirely be blamed on the school system.)

I entered the school thinking that I was going to have first graders and be team teaching with Beverly Ross, I woman whom I admire greatly and another fun woman that I felt had the same teaching goals I did. The week before school, however, I was told that I would actually be teaching with a different set of teachers on the second grade team. I was bitterly disappointed, and as I visited with the team I would be working with, I felt extremely unhappy. I just knew that God had wanted me to be with this first grade team. Now what was I going to do working with these other teachers with which I felt I had nothing in common? Looking back, though, I can see God's hand in this decision in many ways. God used that year, my first and only year of teaching, to change me, challenge me, and show me things about myself and maybe even to influence those kids.

I entered the year with prayer, asking God, "Why did you put me here? How am I going to function with this group of people that don't think like I do?" I come from a school of thought that is very relaxed in some ways, but very overdemanding in other ways. For example, when it comes to teaching, I value creativity and individuality more than papers with "the right answers" (although those are important too). On the other hand, I expected good behavior and respect from my students, and may have been slightly overbearing at times, in an attempt to get my kids to rise to the occasion. I don't take kindly to bossy britches, undisciplined kids who get their way by working the system. This is why I believe the public school system to be in such a sad state. There is no real discipline, but lots of emphasis on "self-esteem" and "helping them feel successful". But, that is really another story....

Anyway- I just felt like I was going against the flow, both with the school system and with the team teachers I was supposed to be working with. I threw myself into my classroom of little kids. That is really why I had this job anyway, wasn't it? On the first day of school, I happily admired my little classroom. I tried hard to follow the rule that every new teacher has heard about (not smiling until Christmas). I think I even scared some of the other teachers with my stoic face as my class marched past in the hallways. I really did love the kids in my class and tried so hard to show them that I loved them and was there for them (all without smiling, of course). Oh yes, and one other thing I did... I began to pray for each and every one of the kids in my classroom. I prayed for their specific needs, their sad and broken homes, their futures that seemed bleak, their futures that seemed bright, the lives that I wanted to see them lead, that they would somehow, some way, see Jesus in me, and that I would see them again in Heaven. I prayed that I would find a way to get along with the teachers I was supposed to be working with.

The year went by very quickly. (It didn't always seem quick or even happy while it was going on, but now seems like such a dream.) There were several sad cases in my classroom. There were people who were hopelessly behind on the first day of school (with really no hope of ever catching up). But even sadder was the vision of how I felt that some of these little ones' lives would turn out, if no one intervened. The lack of innocence that I saw in these young children at such an early age was what first convinced Josh and I to pursue home education for Mary Alice,at least during her very early formative years. I'm not saying that choice is for everyone, just that we were convicted that there was no way we could put our precious gift from God into that arena when we saw what would be her peer group. There was one mom who stated (in front of her child) "Yeah, if I had known how much trouble he'd be, I never would've had him!" Then there were two other parents whose children had serious unmet needs that could've easily been met, but they refused to help their kids. I also need to say that there were some wonderful parents, who loved their children and made the year so much easier for me. I don't know if I ever impacted these kids in a real way, but pray that God used me or will use someone else to bring their little souls to Him.

I had the blessing of keeping four of my students the next year (when Mary Alice was a baby) after school in my home. I feel a special attachment to two of those students, two sisters, who are now in the 7th and 8th grades. I still pray for these girls sometimes and wonder how they are doing. Anyway- it is the thought of these students, whom I love and care for just as much as the last day of school, that kept my thoughts racing last night.

Sometimes I am afraid that my whole life is going by and I am failing miserably at what I am supposed to be doing, teaching others about Jesus. Following Bev Ross's example, I did state to my whole class that I was a Christian. (That is a really scary thing to tell a bunch of kids if you really think about it. I know that there were lots of things that I did or said that year that didn't reflect Christ!) I didn't allow God's name to be taken in vain. I did bring up an occasional Biblical concept and even, if asked, shared my views on certain things, even pointing to the Bible's truths (gasp!) as a basis for my beliefs. I have no idea if any of that made one iota of difference to these kids, but hope that God used me in some little way for His glory.

Jeffery, Brandon, Katie, Charnae, Tevyn..... I love you all and hope to see you in Heaven some day!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

This is for you.....

Consider yourself tagged: HOLLY, because I know she likes to make lists,
MEREDITH, because I know she struggles about what to blog
and KATE, because I think she's funny.

If none of the above really wants to do this, though, we can still be friends. :)

Have a great day!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate with marshmallows
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Neither. Santa just puts the unwrapped gifts in stockings and leaves the rest by the fireplace (where the stockings are hanging)
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? white
4. Do you hang mistletoe? No. But I would if I knew where to buy it.
5. When do you put your decorations up? this year, I am happy to report... BEFORE Thanksgiving
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? probably beef tenderloin or one of my mom's yummy green salads?
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? my Christmas tea party
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Sadly, when I was about six or so... I was just too curious and snoopy. After my discovery, I was the brat who went around telling my whole first grade class that there was no Santa Claus
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No way!!
10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him? chocolate chip or whatever happens to be in the house
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it on occasion, though not for long periods of time
12. Can you ice skate? yes, but not well
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? something handmade from my sis
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? traditions: specifically my advent calendar, putting up decorations, and watching my kids open their presents
15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? pie, all kinds, but not storebought
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? making things with my kids or sisters, singing hymns/Christmas carols with my family
17. What tops your tree? an ugly angel that I don't like very much
18. Which do you prefer Giving or Receiving? for sure giving
19. What is your favorite Christmas Carol? So many choices!!! I absolutely LOVE Christmas music! Oh Holy Night, Mary Did You Know, The Carol of the Bells, Silver Bells, all of them!!
20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Yuck. (Unless they are cherry flavored)

Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tea Party Extravaganza

Have you ever seen the aftermath of a hurricane or other natural disaster? Structures have been turned to piles of rubble. Possessions have been misplaced. Families are walking around with a confused look in their eyes, like they can't believe what just happened and don't know what they should do next.

That is how I would describe our family right now. There were several different "hurricanes" that hit our house last week. A suburban load of boxes full of junk kept me busy for a few days. Yesterday, was Mary Alice's tea party, which kept us busy for several more days. Now, in the aftermath, we are all wandering around, trying to get our life back to some sense of normal. Our house is littered with tea party decor, boxes, leftover tea party crafts, Christmas items, and boxes and boxes of leftover Christmas goodies.

I am happy to report, though, that Mary Alice's tea party was a success. She had so much fun with her friends. She did cry for a little while when the tea was over, saying that she wanted her friends to stay all night. She was very very sad when the party came to an end.

This morning, we got up and ate a special breakfast together. I made tea for the two of us, made toast out of leftover bread that had been cut out into various shapes, and scrambled eggs. We had our own tea party to celebrate the fact that the tea party was over. (at least that is what I was celebrating :)

My girl sure does love to have tea parties! I think that is one of her favorite pasttimes. Lots of people have tea parties with my girl. I think her favorite tea party friends are her Nonnie, her Poppa, and her Aunt Hannah who is affectionately referred to by Mary Alice as "my best friend Hannah". She has been wearing her dress up jewelry all day today (not uncommon for her), and carrying around various tea party items. She even wore her dress up stuff to the library today. Something about my girl in her dress up clothes is just so sweet!

About her tea party.... some of you have commented on what a great idea it is. It actually wasn't my idea at all. When I was in the third grade, my mother decided to have a Christmas tea party for my friends and me. I had them over for goodies and tea, which my mom served them from her teacup collection. She made a big deal out of telling them how ladies act at a tea party and about where she got each teacup, etc. Everything was really very formal. I had a tea party every year until I was about 12 or so and decided that was really too silly for me to be doing. My sisters had Christmas tea parties too until they were about the same ages. This is Mary Alice's third Christmas tea party and a tradition that I would like to carry on with her until she thinks that she is too old for it. Then I might just have them all by myself, because I like them so much!

Each year, the tea parties have evolved a little bit. We've made many many different kinds of cookies, scones, tarts, etc. and have found the little girl favorite to be crackers with a squirt of Cheese Whiz. :) I don't actually serve tea, but apple cider, as I don't want parents to be mad at me because their kids won't sleep at night. We've figured out that having fun things to do is good. Sitting around, talking and staring at each other may have been great fun for the Brits, but is not popular amongst little girls. So, we usually make crafts, although one year we sang Christmas carols around the piano. We've made everything from Christmas cookies, Christmas cards, to tea party accessories (hats, gloves, etc.)

Yesterday, the girls decorated gloves and purses with jewels and trim. That was pretty fun. Poor Mary Alice must've inherited my artistic talent. While the other 4 year olds used the provided Q-Tip to put dots of glue on the back of their jewels to adhere them to the purse, Mary Alice smeared the WHOLE purse with glue and then tried to stick things onto the purse. The purse was cute, though, because she made it.

Major had GREAT fun at the party. We dressed him in a tuxedo that was left over from Miran's wedding this summer. He had the most fun of all, I think. He sneaked around from area to area, swiping Christmas cookies, quiches, or whatever he could get his grubby little hands on, and stuffing them into his mouth as fast as he could. Yes, my big guy had a great time. He is such a little man. I think he ate more than all of those little girls combined! I am a bit concerned, though, that the two hours prior to the tea party Major was clickety clacking around the house in my black high heels. Should I also be concerned that he likes to put on Mary Alice's necklaces, hats, and push her baby around in a stroller? This behavior is definitely not encouraged around here, but what am I to do about this? Grandparents, if you are reading this, Major needs some manly toys for Christmas!!!

So here we are, the whirlwind of activity has left us. My house, though it is clean, is full of random items that need to be put away/returned to their owner. We have been so busy with preparing for the tea party that we now seem to have so much free time to enjoy the day. What are we going to do today? I love to have days that I can ask that question.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tis The Season To Be Busy

Whew! The play is officially over now and I am breathing a sigh of relief. Now we're on to other things around here... Christmas time is just too busy. I would be really happy with Christmas if we could just stick to gingerbread houses, advent Calendars, cheery songs, and love in our hearts. But, Christmas has become such a hectic time of year. It is just too much sometimes!

-While Kristen O'Quinn's blog states that her organized self has bought all but 2 of her Christmas presents, I have only bought 4. (not all but 4, just 4)
This means I still have 23 left to buy.. Kristen, how do you do it?

-Mary Alice's third annual Christmas tea party is this Thursday. I still have to bake cookies and other special treats, buy crafties, figure out how I am going to decorate the table, get my house clean, go the grocery store, etc. I keep thinking to advice I've heard on various decor shows that says you should use what you have around the house to decorate your party table. So, if I went by that little bit of decorating advice, I would be forced to decorate my table with taped together trash bags or some other hodge-podge creation. I don't think the trash bags would flatter my china and teacups very well. So, I guess I can add to my list acquiring table linens suitable enough for a little girls' tea party.

-Josh, in looking for my teacup collection (which I use every year for Mary Alice's tea party), drove out to storage to hunt for my teacups and card table. When he came back home, he arrived having brought not only my teacups, but a suburban-load full of boxes. Full boxes. Boxes that I have to unpack and figure out what in the world I am going to do with all the stuff inside! So, I have been busily bustling about today, throwing away, washing, and putting away miscellaneous items. I have killed many a spider today too. (If only Miranda had been here to help me, I'm sure I could've knocked it out so much more quickly. ;) But, as it is, I am still working working on a job that wasn't officially in my pre-tea party plans. Does anyone have any idea where I can find clear cellophane (like for wrapping things)? Do they have that at Wal Mart? I can't waste a minute of my time going to any unnecessary stores!

-We are still in the process of looking for a church home. We've found a church that we really like, but it just seems so far away! Any prayers would be greatly appreciated. I just can't feel a part of things down here until we've established a church home. We're definitely ready to do that- the sooner the better.

-I am now officially involved with BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). I was put on the waiting list for about a month and finally was called. What an unfortunate time of year for me to begin an in depth Bible study program. I have met some wonderful women and am glad to be a part of something so intense and challenging. However, I haven't really met the challenge this week and am VERY behind on my Bible reading. I think that will definitely be one of my New Years' resolutions.

-I love my family so much. Josh has been so sweet to me lately. He knows that I have a lot going on and has really helped me out. He took Major up to Frisco on Saturday so that I could get some things done around here. He took the kids Christmas shopping with him tonight so that I could finish unpacking those boxes. He even offered to do all of the Christmas shopping for me. (He has a long lunch break and works right by the mall. Lots of times, he spends his lunch break trying to dodge gossipy women, so I guess he felt like he could spare some of his dodging time and use it for Christmas shopping.) So, I officially have the sweetest, most thoughtful husband around.

-By the way, has anyone seen The Chronicles of Narnia yet? I have really been excited about that movie and would love to put all of my chores on hold, drop everything, and head to the local movie theatre, where it only costs $2.00 to watch any movie.

I know this was a really random post. Just thought I'd give a quick update on all of the things that are going on here. On a positive note, I just got finished rocking my two little ones and putting them to bed. There is nothing sweeter than singing and praying with your two little kids. They sing to each other and make each other laugh. What speshes!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Play Practice"

The past week (and the past month if I really think about it) have all been about one thing---Mary Alice's play.

The poor thing! She loves being in the play, but it is really wearing her out! Last week she had practices at the beginning of the week and a performance on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday. Keep in mind that many of these performances are past her bedtime or during her naptime. This has led to her being sick with a cold for quite some time now. We're really ready for the play to come to an end. Honestly! I don't know how theatre people do it! I don't know how they function without crumbling under all of the stress. I really love when my day is orderly and predictable, so theatre life is definitely not for me!

So, Mary Alice did well in her first five performances, but by Sunday, she was hyper-active, crazy, and had dark circles under her eyes. The director actually had to get on to her for dancing and wiggling around with her candle during the Sunday performance. She had a few days to rest and recoup before performing again tonight. As I type, I can rejoice in that she only has four more performances!! I am just hoping she can hold up for a few more days. Funny thing! She still calls it "play practice" and doesn't seem to understand that she is performing for people. It is probably better that way. Mary Alice sees the whole thing as "play". She thinks that she and her buddies are having a good old time just pretending and "playing". They just happen to be doing it in costumes and on a stage. It is hard for me to believe that this same girl doesn't want to go up in front of the church to perform. You know when they have all of the kids go down front to sing a song or whatever? Not Mary Alice. It has to be her idea.

I am posting a picture of one tired Mary Alice after her Saturday night performance. Notice the far off, spaced out look in her eyes. She is exhausted, but she is sure having fun! Josh's parents, Chad and Miranda, and Josh's Grandmother got to watch her that night. Josh's parents brought her flowers. They weren't anything fancy, but boy was she proud! She treated those pink carnations as if they were the most beautiful, valuable flowers in the world! She clutched them tightly to her chest all the way home, even falling asleep with them in her arms. They are now proudly displayed in a vase on the dresser in her room.

Well, I hear the garage door opening. That means that Mary Alice is home from her "play". Now we can hurriedly get her to bed and get ready to do it all again tomorrow!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fun Times

Ahhh.... Today is such a wonderful day! Yesterday was just as great. I love Christmas time! It is actually cold outside, so I can feel okay about singing my favorite Christmas tunes about the weather being frightful, jack frost nipping at my nose, and other Christmas/wintertime ditties. YA HOO!!!! The Christmas season is here!!!

Yesterday, Mary Alice performed in her very first Christmas play. She is in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever". She only has one line, but she says that one line SO well. Let's hope she doesn't ever actually get a big part in a play, because I'm sure I will proud enough to be annoying to others. :) She plays a little baby angel. I got to watch the dress rehearsal last night. The play was precious. I do have just one suggestion for the director, though. I thought of a new, better name for the play. I think that the play most definitely should have been called "The Best Baby Angel Ever". I think that name is definitely a winner. Whaddya think? I better act quickly before the local newspaper goes out on Friday. It is probably copyrighted anyway. Oh well, our family can just refer to the play as "The Best Baby Angel Ever" because we know that is it's rightful name.

Yesterday, Mary Alice and Major and I decorated a gingerbread house for fun. Mary Alice had sooo much fun doing this last year that we decided to do it again. I like doing projects with her. It gives us lots of time to talk. She pretended that we were building the witch's house from Hansel and Gretel.(I would not recommend this story for a young child. I had forgotten how scary it was when I made the mistake of checking it out from the library a few months ago. I am surprised that this freaky story was ever a notable children's tale!)

Anyway- Mary Alice meticulously placed each piece of candy on the house. Major, on the other hand, ate each piece of candy that didn't make it onto the house. "Treat" is his new word (since Halloween). He is saying it fairly often these days, asking for "chocat teats" (chocolate treats) to anyone who will listen. The kids and I had so much fun making the little house. It now is proudly displayed in our kitchen, where it will remain until after Christmas, when it will be thrown away. But for now, the kids will daily ask me if they can eat the house.

Today, the air outside was cold and dry. After breakfast, I got the kids dressed (We all put on our warm jackets!!!) and took the kids out in the back yard. We played soccer (Major's fave) and in the playhouse (Mary Alice's fave). Then we came inside and made some hot chocolate with my new Flavia machine (my fave) and went back outside to drink our hot chocolate and play some more.

Another fun thing about today... it is December 1st!!!! I was so excited to put up my Noelle Piper Advent Calendar (something I absolutely love!) and read the first bit of the Christmas Story with the kids. This and the BEAUTIFUL Christmas nativity that I got to put up this year are sure to become my favorite Christmas traditions. I love love love the Christmas story and am sad to say that it was never really a part of my own childhood Christmas memories. Something about "Christmas not really being Jesus' actual birthday" and "We should be celebrating Christ's birth all year long." or some other such nonsense. I hope that times have changed enough that we won't have to stick to silliness like that, but can instead celebrate Christ all year long, but especially on Christmas!

The kids and I went to Target and bought way too many Christmas items and presents. Then we went to Home Depot and bought a 2 ft tall live Christmas tree. It was so cute to see the excitement on the kids' faces as we bought this funny little tree. It is kindof like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It is not our real tree, but one that the kids will decorate with the ornaments that they made. They are so excited! I am so excited with them. I love days like this when we spend lots of quality time together. It is days like this that I am so thankful to be at home with them, watching them grow and learn, savoring every minute...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving and The Hiney Story

This weekend we had tons of Thanksgiving fun! The whole family traveled up to Frisco to be with Mary Alice and Major's Grumpy, Nonnie,Uncle Chad and Aunt Miran. We did so many things that it seems too hard to narrow down, so I'll just stick with a few highlights...

Mary Alice and Major had so much fun at the area parks/playgrounds in Frisco. At one neighborhood pond over by my in-laws' house, they had fun feeding the massive amounts of ducks that reside there. Seriously. I have never seen so many birds and ducks all together in one little area. Mary Alice fed the ducks. She was way excited about getting to do this. Major, however, fed only himself, but had plenty of fun doing that. He would stuff his face full of white bread and than say "quack" or "duck" every once and a while. It was fun for the kids, but boy was I ready to get out of there! These white birds kept swooping down and circling overhead, waiting for the bread to be thrown. I was just counting the seconds until we were going to be pooped on or pecked. Yikes!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. Very very yummy. Josh, Chad, Miranda, and I went bowling at the Frisco bowling alley, which, by the way, is the nicest bowling alley EVER! We went to the movies with them, but I, personally, was much more entertained by Chad's antics than by the depressing movie we saw. We always have such a good time when we are with them.

A funny story about this weekend: Major was in the bathtub playing with some tub-toy alphabet letters. He was shouting out the names of letters. He looked at the W and said "W". He looked at the other letters, calling out "H"... "A".... "Q", etc. Then, all of a sudden, he yells out "Hiney!" I just looked at him with a puzzled expression, having no idea what he was talking about. He yells it again, "Hiney!" He looked up at the letters he had stuck to the side of the shower wall again and shouted, "Hiney!" He pointed to the sideways B stuck on the wall. Instead of a "B", Major called it what he thought it was, a "hiney". I laughed so hard. I guess he has heard his sister say that word enough that he has actually caught on to what it is. You might be wondering how and why my nineteen month old knows what a "hiney" is and exactly what it looks like. Just so you know, his sister has a "hiney dance" that she does on occasion (every night before bed) in which she drops her drawers and shakes her hiney at us to be funny.

Well, that's our weekend in a nutshell. I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with food, family, fun, and an abundance of good memories!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It's All About The Food!

I LOVE this time of the year! I love the crispness of the air. I love the colors of the changing foliage. I love the atmosphere of high school football games. But, if I really get right down to it, what I REALLY gets me excited about the fall is the food. And I especially love Thanksgiving, when food is in such abundance. I love the football games, but what I really love is the hot dogs or nachos I eat at the football games. I love the State fair, but what I really love are the funnel cakes, the caramel apples, and any other kind of fair-time treat. I LOVE Thanksgiving, but what I really love are the pumpkin pies, the cornbread dressing, my mom's delicious and unbeatable salads, the ever-so-yummy once a year beef tenderloin, and the melt-in-your-mouth homemade rolls. I love all things seasonal when it comes to fall: pumpkin spice lattes, maple scones, sweet potatoes, spice cake, gingerbread. Yum!

Mary Alice and I were working together today, getting ready for the holidays. There is a window above the kitchen sink, where we were working. I had it opened up while we worked and talked there together. A cool wind was blowing through the kitchen, sending a fresh breeze into our little cozy corner. I was reminded of so many of my own childhood memories of Thanksgiving. They were memories of times spent in the kitchen, cooking holiday treats. As I looked at my daughter's smiling face, I was reminded that we were making memories of our own. Whenever I make homemade bread or pies (not something I do often), I always let Mary Alice make her own creations out of the last bits of dough. When I get tired of making things, she gets to knock herself out creating her own special treats. So sweet. She loves to feel like she is a big helper.

She already loves to cook. So do I. The thrill of making a beautiful feast for everyone to enjoy is one of my favorite things to do. I think my love for cooking came from doing it--constantly. When I think about Halloween, I recall making edible haunted houses, chocolate covered spiders, and other such spooky treats. Thanksgiving and Christmas also bring back memories of time spent in the kitchen, with my mom and sisters. Oh-- and Christmas music was always playing in the background as we slaved away in the kitchen. Lots of happy memories...

What a sad and miserable Thanksgiving day it would be to eat your turkey and dressing at a restaurant! A Thankgiving like that would be no Thanksgiving at all to me. I guess Thanksgiving is SUPPOSED to be all about family and being thankful for your blessings. I'll agree to that, just as long as I can have me some homemade pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole!

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Only Thing To Fear Is Fear Itself

I think I need to see a therapist. It has recently been brought to my attention that I am afraid of everything. Many of these fears are irrational. I don't know if this is something that I inherited from my mother, whose paranoia ranges from travelling (anywhere) to being around strange people, or just something that is uniquely mine. I don't want to pass these fears on to my daughter, who I am starting to see is becoming, like me, a regular fraidy cat. So, in an effort to rid myself of some of these fears, I am making a list of some of them. I can't afford a psychologist, so maybe acknowledging these fears is the first step..

I am afraid of:

1) being hit by a train, while driving over train tracks.

2) being hit by a car as I cross the street.

3) snakes in tall grass

4) roaches, rats, and other pesky critters

5) flying overseas- the plane crashing in the ocean

6) my husband rear ending the car in front of us on the highway b/c he follows too closely

7) the eighteen wheelers that I pass on the highway: Specifically: a tire coming off and it swerving into my lane

8) the elevator door shutting on my kids' arm and hurting them

9) the elevator cable breaking

10) leaving my kids under the care of another person, something happening to them

11) not having any money at the checkout counter

12) talking to people I have nothing in common with

13) falling down the stairs

14) cutting myself when I am chopping vegetables

15) having a visible pantyline, or visible panties out of the top of my low rise jeans--- That is a real problem with today's styles!!!

16)wearing a colored bra under a light colored sweater

17) losing my vision

18) getting a fat potbelly and not realizing it

19) looking like a homeschool mom

20) letting my whole life go by and realizing all of the things that I wanted to do, but didn't and now can't do (for whatever reason)

21) not ever bringing anyone to Christ in my lifetime... in other words, wasting my life

22) not being a good enough wife

23) not being a good enough mother

24) not being disciplined

25) being at home alone overnight

26) someone breaking in and being unable to protect my kids

27) dogs (almost all of them) I was bitten by a dog at age three and have never cared for them since!

28) cats (They are nasty little beasts!)

29) Josh working with heavy tools. (I'm always afraid he is going to cut his arm off or hurt himself badly somehow.)

30) making the wrong decision

31) making someone mad (although there are a select few that I don't care if I make mad)

32) wells

33) my kids falling off of playground equipment

34) preventable accidents, that I failed to prevent

35) going bankrupt

36) Major losing his hearing

37) making my kids paranoid because I am that way

38) missing a God given opportunity to share Him with others, because I am afraid

39) our computer crashing and losing all of our kids' pictures

40) going senile and saying curse words at people (That is NOT who I am and I don't ever want to scare little kids by ever being that way. If I am senile, I want to be pleasant. Somehow, I don't see myself as being that way with no inhibitions, though...)

41) food poisoning (I am very vigilant about food safety.)

42) a gas leak (There is a funny smell in our garage right now... Could it be due to a gas leak? Josh said natural gas doesn't have a smell, but I'm still worried...)

43) someone calling on me in a classroom setting, saying "What do you think about...?" ( I hate that!!!!! NEVER do that to someone if you are teaching! If people want to comment, they will.)

44) getting skin cancer from a blister and freckle causing burn I got in junior high (Jessica Birchfield and I were having a competition over who could get the best tan. We both lost. We have the sunspots/freckles to prove it.)

45) having a party in which I have to sell something to my friends Don't even ask me. I will never throw a party for any sales-type event. I will gladly come, though, if invited.

46) any extreme sport

47) having a stalker ( I dated one for four years, so you'd think I would've overcome this one.)

48) snakes in lakes

49) being seen doing something gross

50) people thinking that my kids look like ragamuffins

51) any food that has a gross name: "puppy chow", "barf dip", etc.

52) Fear itself

As you can see, I have many fears. Now I fear that you will think me to be a nut when you read this list. Yet another fear....

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Busy, Barfing, and Busted Up

Whew! Take a breath... Life has been crazy busy around here the last few days!

The house got sortof messy this week due to the fact that our weekend was so hectic! Really, we've had a no good, very bad weekend... But it definitely has its good parts too.

I'll start with Saturday. My cousin, Betsy, was having a baby shower in Houston, so I put on my best pouty face and BEGGED Josh to drive me down there. (He is so sweet. He knows I hate to drive at night, so it turns out he was going to drive me anyway.) So...we loaded the kids up and headed off.. The plan was to stay with my other cousin, her husband, and her two adorable boys, Kellen and Charlie. We arrived in Houston about three hours later, lugged our suitcases upstairs, and started playing with the kids. Sadly, we had only been there about ten minutes, when Mary Alice threw up all over my cousin's futon, all over herself, and all over Josh. Luckily, the futon had a zip off cover, so it was salvagable. We threw everything and everyone into the wash and packed up our things and turned around and drove back home. We were back home and in bed a little after 1:00. Fun trip. Very fun.

The kids were sick so Josh and I took turns going to church. Our car broke down on Sunday night with me in it. I had forgotten my cell phone. Thankfully, the kids were not in the vehicle or I would have panicked. A friend gave me ride home from church. Then our good buddies Ross Thomas and his brother Mark the super-mechanic came to our rescue. They fixed the car on no time.

A few days ago Major chipped a tooth at the mini indoor playground in the mall. There was foamy flooring all around. He went to the ONE part of the floor that wasn't foamy and fell. Ugh! He CONSTANTLY has a whopper of a bump on his head. I know people think I beat him, but I don't. His head is just attracted to the ground- like a magnet to metal. Well today he fell again. He wasn't running or anything. He just fell. He tore apart his frenum. I don't know if I spelled that right. That is the little flap of gums between your teeth and your upper lip. You also have one under your tongue. He tore his in half. Yep. So he has a chipped tooth and a fractured frenum now. Maybe my little Major can be a hockey player next year for Halloween. He'll already have the teeth.

So that is my crazy weekend and last few days... Several good things though... I got to cuddle with my kids. Kids are so sweet and needy when they are sick. Major is a momma's boy anyway, despite his Daddy's urging for him to be a tough guy. Today I had a long chat with a sweet new friend while the kids were taking their nap. So other than my kids illness and accidents, things are great. The kids are spending the night with grandparents tonight, so Josh and I even had a date night.

I'll be glad when Mary Alice's play is over. We really don't like to shuttle our kids all over the place all the time. We like things to be relaxed and non busy around our house, especially at nights when Josh is home.

I feel like I have been so rushed today, yet so so productive. I got lots of cleaning done and feel really proud of all I accomplished. I love the feeling of making a list and checking it off. We have more busyness ahead tomorrow with a doctor appt and dinner with Josh's old college roommate and his wife. Go go go. I feel like that is all we do sometimes. I really like to just hang out at home and catch my breath before the next wave of activity and mishaps hits us. Maybe Thursday won't be so busy.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Those Crazy Kids...

My kids are down for their nap. They have been so funny today. At times they seem like they actually love each other's company. It is such a blessing to finally be able to see them playing together and having fun. I am posting a few pictures of the silly kids from this morning.

A little bit of info on the pictures:

Major was crying for me to read to him this morning. I told him I couldn't read to him right then because I was busy. Mary Alice was so sweet. She said, "Come up here on the bed, Major. I'll read to you." She grabbed him and pulled him onto her lap and started reading book after book to him. So precious! I just had to run grab the camera, despite my busyness.

Yesterday, I taught Mary Alice the story of Gideon. In part of the lesson, I explained how God chose men to fight against the Midianites. Some lapped the water from the river like dogs, some used their hands, etc. Anyway- that explains the second set of pictures. Mary Alice dragged out my cake pans and filled them with water. I found her and Major in the bathroom, drinking out of my cake pans like dogs. She said that they were pretending to be Gideon. Again, I pulled my camera out to capture the memory.

What funnies! That silly Mary Alice.... You never know what she'll think of next!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Must NOT See Movies

Last week, while Josh and the kids were away, I was flipping through the channels on the tv, and came across the most hideously ridiculous movie. I saw a goofy looking clown with sharp teeth jumping around and trying to scare a group of junior high aged kids. It was one of the silliest things I'd ever seen. I flipped back and forth, between that and another show. Each time I would flip back to the channel with the silly clown, I would start laughing. Folks, there are some baaad movies out there. I don't see movies that often, but I know a dud when I see it. So- I decided to compose a short list of MUST NOT SEE movies.....

Movies I've Found To Be Utterly Worthless....

1) Dancer, Texas: The plot consists of a group of four people sitting in the middle of a west Texas road in their lawnchairs.

2) Shadowlands: Anthony Hopkins, I believe. Slow movement, slow music, slow. This is, however, a good movie to fall asleep to.

3) It: A silly clown movie in which a goofy looking clown tries to terrify junior high aged students.

4) Arlington Road: I watched this with my sister in law, Miranda. It is the only movie that has ever left me feeling depressed for days.

5) Superman IV-A Quest For Peace- I am a huge Smallville fan, so I do enjoy cheese, but this was just too much!

6) Heart of Dixie- I saw this in the theatre when I was about 10 or so. My little friends and I were so bored by this one that we entertained ourselves by performing gymnastic tricks up and down the aisle. (If the theatre wasn't empty when the movie started, it surely was by the end.)

7) Pee Wee's Big Adventure- Ironically,this was a personal fave when I was little. I made the mistake of insisting we rent it when Josh and I were dating. Some childhood movie memories are better left alone.

8) Dumb and Dumber or Dumberer (or whatever): I fail to be amused by bodily functions and etc. I know lots of people do not share my dislike for this movie, but I feel that the title says it all...

Feel free to add to my bad movie list. Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Does God Ever Sleep? (Deep Thoughts by Mary Alice)

A little time in the car with a four year old can really make you think.... I spent a little time with Mary Alice in the car and got to hear her "deep thoughts" about God. Last night, on the way to play practice, our conversation went something like this:

Mary Alice: "Mom, does God ever sleep?"

Me: "No, Mary Alice, I don't think God sleeps."

Mary Alice: "Why not?"

Me: "Well, God isn't like us. We need sleep and rest so that our bodies can work well. God is so powerful. He doesn't ever have to sleep. We need rest. He doesn't ever have to rest, because He is so strong."

Mary Alice: "Then how come the song says, 'Day Seven, Day Seven, Then God rested in His Heaven?"

Me: "I think that means rest, like when we work and then we take a break after doing a hard job. God had just created the whole world, and He decided to "take a break" from His creating."

Mary Alice: "Oh... I bet He was pretty tired when he finished making the WHOLE world!"

Me: "Probably."

Mary Alice: "He had just made the WHOLE world! I don't know how He could do that! He must be pretty powerful! He can even count all of the hairs on my head and I know that that is hard to do. I tried to count all of the hairs on my head one time and I got too tired!"

Me: (laughing) "You're so sweet, girly."

(long pause)

Mary Alice: "Mom? Do you know how God puts the leaves on the trees? Does He use tape?"

Me: "I don't know how He does that. It's pretty amazing, isn't it? He can do all kinds of things that we can't do. He can do everything."

Mary Alice: "I can't figure out how he puts those leaves on. I think that is something I'm going to ask Him when I get to Heaven."

I think God is going to have a lot of explaining to do when Mary Alice gets to Heaven! What a precious reminder of God's awesome power from the mouth of a little girl.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Away From Home

Here are some Halloween pics of the kids. I'm still trying to figure out the layout thing, but at least I have something up there. They were so cute. We went to Frisco (where Josh's parents live) for their church's trunk or treat. The kids had so much fun getting lots of candy and seeing their grandparents too. Fun stuff.

This past weekend I went to Tyler, Texas to Pine Cove Camp for a women's retreat. It was INCREDIBLE!!! I always have so much fun around those girls. I don't know if everyone has friends like mine, but everyone should. I grew up sheltered much of my life, always churched, going to a Christian university, and even working at a school where the employees where predominantly Christian. Ironically, I never found girlfriends who modeled their lives after Christ in such a bold way until I was in my early twenties. I remember when we first moved to Dallas, Josh and I earnestly prayed that I would find some godly girlfriends. Within that year, I met these precious girls. God knew that I needed these friends in my life. Their actions and total reliance on God is so encouraging to me. They have such a passion for Jesus that really makes them "shine like stars in the universe". It was by His grace that I met these girls and we've been good friends ever since.

While I was in Tyler having so much fun with my friends, Josh and the kids headed the other direction to Lubbock to see my sweet nephew's one year old birthday party. When Josh got home last night, we were sitting around the dinner table talking about our weekend experiences. He was telling me about the trip down to Lubbock. Josh, Mary Alice, and Major were riding up to Lubbock with my Dad. Josh was driving my parent's car (a Toyota Camry) with Dad in the passenger seat and the kids in the back. They had decided to take an alternate route to Lubbock because of heavy traffic delays on the main road. So... they took some sort of alternate route that was a two lane road. Josh said that he was driving 75 miles an hour and went around a curve. All of a sudden he saw a pickup truck driving straight toward him in his lane. In a split second, Josh thought through what he should do: 1. swerve left (risking the possiblity that the truck would swerve back into his own lane and they would have a major collision), 2. swerve right and head off into a ditch (remember, they were going 75 mph), or
3. hit his brakes (which Josh presumed to be anti-lock) and swerve to the right. Josh decided to do number 3. As he hit the brakes, he realized that their brakes were NOT anti-lock and sent the car skidding and leaving him unable to control the direction of the car. Josh said at the last moment the pickup truck driver must have woken up or something, because he quickly swerved back into his own lane, narrowly missing their car. Josh said that they left "rubber on the road". He said that the skidding actually ruined the front tires of the car, causing them to make a very loud sound all of the rest of the way to Lubbock. He told me that if that driver hadn't woken up, they would have most certainly been hit and not survived. When he told me that, I started crying, realizing how my whole life could have been changed in that instant and so very thankful that God was watching over my sweet family. God is so good.

Sometimes we forget how very precious and temporary life is. This whole day I have been saying prayers of thanksgiving to God for my life and the lives of my family. Give your husband a kiss. Tell your kiddoes you love them. Remember to be thankful for the little blessings that God gives us every day. Every good and perfect gift comes from above.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Grinning From Ear To Ear

Before I begin, I need to note that there is a very noisy tuba player or something screeching an annoying tune outside my window. It is fairly distracting, but I will do my best to type my thoughts anyway...

I have always thought of myself as a pretty good wife. After all, I take good care of our kids, try to keep myself fit and reasonably attractive. I pray for my husband daily. The kids and I run to greet him at the door when he comes home from work with kisses and hugs. I keep the house and laundry clean (most of the time):). I cook healthy meals for our family. I wouldn't think of serving a frozen dinner, because I feel like I am doing something halfway. I make my husband's lunch every day and sometimes I even write lovey dovey notes and put them in his lunchbox. But, just recently, my husband pointed out to me that I was not being a helper.

I couldn't believe my ears! Not being a helper? I didn't really know how to respond to that. I really do try to be a good wife. But am I a "helper"? That really is my role. It isn't really my role to function independently of my husband, dotting my i's and crossing my t's, checking off the things that a "good wife" does, but rather to be a "helper" to him. It was rather insulting to me, mostly because I feel like being a wife and mother is my full time job. Just imagine if you are a teacher and someone comes in and says, "The students aren't learning. You are not being a teacher." What if you were an event planner and someone said, "You did a rotten job of planning that event. That was the crummiest party I've ever attended." My point is, being a helper is my job. If I am not being a helper, I am not doing my job. I am in the process of reevaluating right now to decide what will "help" my husband.

I thought about what had transpired in the last few months. We just moved to a new town recently. The day we moved I found out I was pregnant. (Very exciting, because we love children) I was moody and cranky for a while. (My husband says I blame everything on hormones, but they really did play a part) Ten weeks into the pregnancy, I had a miscarriage. I was moody and cranky for another period of time. (Again- I'm sure it was mostly due to hormones and not because of my grouchy, complaining heart :) Thereafter, I was overcome with sadness, moping around the house for weeks, complaining because we moved away from my cherished friends back in Wylie. My poor husband was having to deal with the move, a long drive to work, in addition to a bitter, complaining wife who lacked joy. A talk on the phone with a dear friend convinced me that I needed to change my ways. A life filled with the Spirit is a life filled with joy.

Sometimes it is hard when people tell you that you aren't doing a good job at something. While I think my little checklist (clean house, lovey notes in the lunchbox, etc.) is part of being a helper, I think I need to concentrate more on being content, thankful, and joyful. My husband is a wonderful man, he deserves nothing less than my best. So when he walks through the door today and looks at his wife, he may do a double-take. He is going to find me grinning ear to ear.

Thank goodness, that horrid tuba player has finally ceased his blasting!! (I am typing this with a big joyful smile! :)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Mary Alice and Major...

Well, we just put the kiddoes to bed. They are so cute and so sweet! Josh and I were just talking about how blessed we are. My kids are so much fun. I am so blessed to be able to spend my days with them. I thank God every day for this wonderful gift, being able to be a full time mom.

Last night Mary Alice went to stay the night with my parents. She is in a Christmas play. She really enjoys it, but the drive is a beating!!! She has play practice 5 nights a week. She has been having so much fun on the stage, though. At first, we had no idea how she would feel about singing in front of strangers. Her voice is so precious, but Josh and I weren't exactly sure how she was going to handle singing in front of a hundred or so people. At my mother's suggestion, we took her up to the auditions. She was supposed to sing "Away In a Manger" and "Silent Night" for the crowd. I was too uneasy to go, also thinking that me being there might actually make things worse. Josh went with her instead. I guess they asked her to go get in the middle of the stage and read some lines. (Not really "read", someone fed the lines to her) Apparently, Mary Alice just marched right up there and boldly said her lines. She went on to sing her songs with no problem. Josh said that he wished he would've been able to record her sweet little voice belting out "Away In A Manger" so that everyone anywhere around could hear her. So sweet. So- Mary Alice is a baby angel in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever". I think it will be good for her to do something outside of our house.

The move has been hard on all of us. We miss our old friends, being close to Josh's family, and our old church. Lots of people have been asking how we are doing. Honestly, things are starting to get better, but we REALLY miss our friends in Dallas. Mary Alice had such a sweet little group of buddies there. Tonight I was talking to her about something having to do with friends and she said, "I don't have any friends anymore, remember? They're all back in Texas, Garland." That sums it all up for me too. We are trying to make friends here, but realize that forming good friendships takes time. Right now we are praying for a church home and godly Christian friends.

On that note- we have been meeting some really sweet people at a congregation we've been attending the last couple of weeks. Last night, we went to their fall festival. Major was dressed up as a pirate. Mary Alice, of course, was not there due to her play practice. UGH! Major was so hilarious!! He had on these funny suede slippers that I had made into pirate boots. On the way in, he kicked them off. Underneath the boots he had on striped socks. They were adult sized knee socks that I had converted to Major-sized pirate socks by cutting off the feet of the adult socks and folding them over to fit around his feet. So- his toes were sticking out. (That wasn't supposed to show, but was supposed to be snuggly tucked away inside his pirate boots--the ones he kicked off.) So- He just ran around looking like a goofy pirate with his toes sticking out of his socks. It was a little past his bedtime, so he was a little wired. He kept running around the gym snatching things from people. (I like to think this rascally behavior was because he was really getting into being a pirate and NOT because my child is a greedy little stinker..) After a few minutes of that, he tugged at his vest and threw it on the floor. He also repeatedly threw off his cute little pirate hat and then would get mad shouting, "punny hat". That means "I want the funny hat, please." He wasn't really interested in the carnival booths, but had a great time poking at other children, shoving cookies into his mouth, and throwing things into the air. The professional photographer did manage to get a picture of him. (I think Major is charging at him with his pirate sword.) So funny. So.... we talked to some people at that church and headed home a little earlier than most other people. Oh, Major. He's a character. Such a little blessing.

I will try to figure out how to do the picture thing. I'm sure it is something that Josh can figure out. I'll try to get some Halloween pics up in a few days.

It is daylight savings time tonight. Don't forget to turn your clocks back!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Blogger's Mission Statement

Well, here I am sitting at my computer. I've been excited about starting this thing ever since I talked to Katie C. at Homecoming. I was talking about how I really wanted to be able to keep up with everyone there and how fun it was to catch up on people's lives, etc. She told me that I should start a blog. I laughed at her suggestion, partly because I didn't really know exactly what a blog was. I had read the blogs of deep-thinker types and read some great funny blogs, but really didn't think that what I had to say would be something that everyone would want to read on a daily basis. I consider myself to be neither extremely witty nor extremely bright and insightful, so I just laughed at Katie's suggestion. What I didn't know was how many people DO blog and just how many varieties of self-expression there are out there in the blog world. I looked up Katie C.'s blog, and then proceeded to read the blogs of her friends, and their friends, and so on and so on. I felt a little bit invasive of those people's lives, but realized that they wouldn't put their life stories out there if they didn't want people to read them.

I laughed SO hard at Shanta's and Amy B.'s blog and yawned at some others, but just realized that there was a kind of blogging that I was not previously aware of... I did not know that some people just blog to update their families on their lives. If you aren't funny or cute or well known for stimulating people's intellect. I can write simply for the purpose of updating family members on life events.

So.... I guess this first blog is a kindof my blogging mission statement...


1. The mission of my blog site is to update family members on life events.

2. This blog is a stress reliever for me and just something that I think will be fun.

3. This blog is kind of like an open diary of my life with some innappropriate parts excluded so that it can be read by young and old alike...

4. The mission of this blog is NOT to make everyone laugh every day. That would go against my #2 statement.

5. This blog will NOT be filled with exciting insight into the inner workings of world events and will DEFINITELY not talk about anything going on in Hollywood. Who really cares (about Hollywood that is)? My family probably doesn't and if they did, would probably subscribe to People or some such junk instead of soliciting my blog for that information.

So that's the deal.....