As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2: 4-5

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year, New Look

It's hard to believe that an entire year has passed since my very first blog post. I honestly did not think it would last this long, given my aforementioned difficulty with following through with things, especially New Year's resolutions. But here it is, one year later, and the blog is still going and I am actually enjoying keeping up with it. And for once in my adult life, I have a record of the events that have shaped my family this year. This, perhaps, is the best part yet.

Given the fact that my one year resolution has now come to an end, and the fact that we are now in the second year, and the fact that I really didn't post every day, I thought it was fitting that the blog get a new name. As I go into the next year, my focus will shift as well. I will still be the memory keeper. There will still be lots of cute pictures, and I am quite sure many stories of our adventures (and misadventures!) But as I strive this year to become a better, more spiritually grounded mother, wife, and teacher, this blog will also be a place for reflection, sharing, celebration, and I am quite sure, the occasional vent as well.

As I sit here on New Year's Eve, in my pajamas, trying to stay awake until midnight despite the fact that Josh turned out all the lights (You know you are getting old when...) it is my hope for my family and myself that when I look back on 2010, I will see how we have grown closer to each other and closer to the Lord. That we have handled success and failure with the same grace. That we each have grown in our walk with the Lord. That our household and our family were indeed "living stones," representing our Lord to the world in both word and deed.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our New Pet

I never ever ever ever ever wanted to say this, but yes...we have a new pet in the Stone household. Thankfully, it is not of the four-legged hairy barking kind (we have quite enough of those thank you very much), but of the four-legged scaly kind. Yep,...a lizard. Now lizards are generally NOT my favorite animals. In fact, I have been known to jump in fear upon seeing them. But while on a service call today, Daryl found this little guy curled up in a meter base. At first, he wasn't even sure that he was alive, but then saw that he was and knew Hannah would just love him. And he was right. She was smitten.

She named this little guy Lizzy and then has carried him(her?) around all day. She and Daryl are headed to the pet store tomorrow for a bigger cage and all the lizard fixin's. Not sure what kind it is. When he first brought him home, he was black and lethargic. We put him in front of the fire and he pepped up and turned green. Then as Hannah carried him around the house, he was brown. Leave it to a pet of ours to have identity problems!

And that, quite honestly, was the highlight of our day. Both Josh and Hannah stayed in their PJ's all day and I tackled our bedroom and the laundry. The bedroom, I started yesterday, as it was quite an undertaking. It had become the dumping ground for everything that needed a place, everyone's wardrobe, various toys, books, a mattress for Hannah to sleep on when she wanders to our room in the middle of the night, and an awful lot of stuff. These containers hold all of Hannah's outgrown clothes from the last two years. These have been housed in our bedroom for at least...well...two years.
Embarrassingly, this is all of the trash and clothes that we never wear any more that were taken from our bedroom and laundry room.

And this is something I haven't seen in at least siave x months...our laundry room floor. It usually has clothes all over it, or someone dumps a blanket or sleeping bag on it (because you see, if you are cleaning your room and there is nowhere to put something, say it is dirty and put it in the laundry room). And although it isn't spotless (note the sticker on the floor...a staple in nearly every room in the Stone household thanks to Hannah and Maddy), it feels sooooooo good to actually walk into the laundry room and feel the floor beneath my feet.
Proverbs 31:27 says that the virtuous woman " looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." Which means that she is a good manager of her home. And of all the things that I am, I am definitely NOT a good manager of my home. I won't lie, it has never been a strength of mine. But the last year? It's been all about survival. Getting through, day by day. Doing laundry when we run out of clothes. Cleaning the house when someone was coming over. Cooking whatever is easiest, buying whatever was quickest and easiest, rushing through life and putting the household chores to the side to pacify, entertain, make time for the kids, sleep. Doing two or three different things, all at the same time, and none of them well. So one of my goals for the upcoming year is to get out of survival mode. No more just surviving, but thriving.
How will I do this? How do I make more time in my day, more bang in my buck, more pep in my step, quality instead of quantity? That I don't know. Because let me tell you this. I have spent the last two days working my tail off on these two rooms, and I have hated it. Because that was all I did. Hannah had to play by herself most of the day or follow me around, and Charlotte got far fewer snuggles. But I do have to admit, I love the way it feels afterwards, when everything is clean and shiny. But is it worth the time lost? Will it get easier? Is there a happy medium?
And perhaps the most important and intriguing question of the day--How long will the trash bags remain in the hallway???

New Year, New Me?

I know that the title should probably have an exclamation point after it, to proclaim my determination. But knowing myself, the question mark seemed like a better choice. Those that know me well know that I have a problem with following through with my goals. For instance, it has been a New Year's Resolution every single year for the past eight years to run the Peachtree, to be a runner. And once, I even completed the Couch to 5K program. I felt good, even though it took me much longer to complete, I thought...OK, just improve my time and I, too, can be the proud wearer of a t-shirt at the Fourth of July fireworks. Then my dad burst my bubble by proclaiming..."You do know that the Peachtree is a 10K don't you?" Then I got pregnant and my running went by the wayside.

I have, for the past um, 30 years, vowed to lose weight. And just the fact that I am still resolving to lose weight gives you an idea of how well that has worked. I have wanted, for the past ten years or so, to become more organized. Ditto to the weight loss thing. We still live our lives in chaos and at times, to quote my dear husband when he was cleaning the living room, "like pigs." (To his credit, he had just found 19 pens, countless fingernail clippers, assorted toy pieces, and enough stray food to feed a small country under our couch.)

In fact, the only New Year's Resolution I have ever kept is this blog...and really not so much. As the title so aptly explains, it was to be a daily thing. Not a "whenever you have the time and some cute pictures you want to share" thing. I think the reason that I have even kept this up is that it incorporates two of my favorite things--writing and my kids. But I do need to change the title. Suggestions???

So in thinking about my new year's resolutions, I thought I would look to God's word to see not what I wanted for myself, but what HE does. And I haqppened to fin, among other things, this. The bolded is my interpretation--may be wrong or misguided, but it is how I felt it speak to me and my life.

The Proverbs 31 Woman is
Rare and Precious
10An excellent wife, who can find?For her worth is far above jewels.

11The heart of her husband trusts in her,And he will have no lack of gain.

12She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.

A Joyful Worker
13She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight.

Careful to go the extra mile to get the finest for her family
14She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar.

15She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.

Enterprising and Prudent with her money
16She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong.

Good steward
18She senses that her gain is good;Her lamp does not go out at night.

19She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle.

Compassionate and generous
20She extends her hand to the poor,And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

21She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23Her husband is known in the gates,When he sits among the elders of the land.

24She makes linen garments and sells them,And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25Strength and dignity are her clothing,And she smiles at the future.
26She opens her mouth in wisdom,And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

A good manager of her home
27She looks well to the ways of her household,And does not eat the bread of idleness.

28Her children rise up and bless her;Her husband also, and he praises her, saying

29"Many daughters have done nobly,But you excel them all."
30Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

31Give her the product of her hands,And let her works praise her in the gates.

wow. a tough bill to fill. some big expectations. much more than a yearly goal, but a lifetime of work in progress.

I think it is safe to say that this is not a goal I will accomplish by next December 31. I think it is safe to say that this is not a goal I can accomplish by myself, but by walking hand in hand with the Lord. And I think it is safe to say that this blog is going to get a new focus (co-focus...there will still be lots of cute kid pictures).

Now...onto a new name....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mission Impossible

(Insert funky movie theme music here) Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to drive to Jonesboro, McDonough, and Lithonia with five teenage girls, one three year old, and an infant. Once at your final desitination, you are to navigate crowds, find elevators, and simultaneously hold said infant and Build-A-Bear box, push a stroller with three year old inside, and manage to NOT knock down clothing displays and small children. That's are going to the mall. The day after Christmas. By yourself. With a busy three year old and an infant with a stroller aversion. In short...if you accept this mission, you are insane. name is Lisa. And I am officially, unequivocally, undeniably crazy. Because this is how I spent my day yesterday. Last year, I had Hannah in the umbrella stroller. I did the drive all over the greater Henry County area to pick up Sarah and Maddy's best friends, then made the short drive to Tanger. Where I leisurely shopped the amazing sales and picked up a lot of cute things for Hannah. Cold, but was shopping, one of my very favorite things to do...especially if I am shopping for the kids. When the girls asked if we could do it again this year, I thought....sure, it wasn't that bad last year. Charlotte is a good baby. I can do this.

Excuse me for a minute....
HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!, anyways. This year, they wanted to go to the mall, and the closest, safest mall was Stonecrest. So after spending an hour and ten minutes getting everyone picked up, we started the thirty minute trip to the mall.

Here is Maddy, Sydney, and Olivia...pre-shopping. Sarah's friend, Rachel, didn't want to have her picture taken, but they were indeed there.
And here is my sweet big girl about a half hour into the trip. Before she threw up. Yes. You read that right. THREW UP. All over her cute new outfit, her carseat, the floor of the car. Carsick.
Once we got everything cleaned up, we finally got to the mall. The big girls went their way and Hannah, Charlotte, and I headed to Build-A-Bear. I thought she would love it, but I had forgotten that the stuffing machine makes a loud noise...and that loud noise terrified her. She did put the heart in.

And "wash" her bear

And pick out clothes for her. Here she is with Princess in her box at check out. (And just for the record, this is NOT the super cute outfit. This is the "outfit that you always kept stuck in the bottom of your diaper bag for emergencies that you haven't ever had to actually use" that really makes her look like an orphan child)

After trying to navigate Kohl's holding Charlotte, who would scream hysterically every time I put her down, and knocking over a display of Christmas dresses, and bumping into a small child, I gave up and we headed to the play area. Which was far more fun than any other part of the trip and about 1000% less stressful.

And once again, lesson learned--I am no super-mom and way way way too old for this!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

What a wonderful day...after a not so wonderful night with Miss Charlotte. She, and consequently we, were up most of the night, so 6:45 came early this morning. Here are all the children, excited and ready to see what Santa left, but having to wait until Mom (me) turned on the lights on the tree and the music on the stereo and got in prime picture taking position!

Hannah was so excited by every little thing in her stocking, but by the time we got around to the presents, she was a bit overwhelmed.
Maddy and her long awaited cell phone.

My wonderful husband, looking a bit goofy in these pictures, gave me the best gift today. Not only was he incredibly cheerful (despite the fact that it was his night with Charlotte and he is NOT a morning person, nor one to do without sleep), he really outdid himself on his gift to me. I really was expecting nothing, seeing as that was what we had agreed upon. But after all the gifts were open, there was one left for me, from him. He gave me a calendar, with a date night scheduled for each and every month, gift card to a different restaurant attached to each month. Thoughtful, romantic, and totally unexpected. swoon. And just a little note about his choice of apparel in these pictures. In the first, he is wearing Josh's gift to him. In the second, a gift from Hannah every time she opened a gift.

A few pictures from my mom's house. Kathleen and Jason got her this Little People castle, which she loved. She loves to set things up, and now in our living room, we have a castle, a dollhouse, a littlest pet shop mall, a barn, and a jungle. It seriously looks like a toy store exploded!

1Charlotte's big present from my parents, besides a big box of diapers (thanks mom and dad!) was this Bumbo seat, which allows her to sit up with some assistance. And that big warning on the side of it??? A warning to keep the seat on the ground and not on elevated surfaces. Oops!

Anyways, now that she is 4 months old and has this nifty new seat that helps her sit up, she can now do this!!! That's right, we started cereal today. She has been eating like a maniac anyways...lots and often, so we figured she was ready. She did great. Didn't eat a whole lot, but seemed to enjoy what she did keep in her mouth.

Tomorrow, I am braving the cold weather, the crowds, and my fear of taking both little girls to the mall at the same time, and making good on a promise to the big girls. We are picking up some friends and heading to the mall for them to spend their Christmas money. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Christmas is a time of traditions in our household...some that I have carried on from my childhood and some that we have made together as a family. Our Christmas Eve seems to be one tradition after another...just the way we all like it!

Here's my little elf at Sonny's BBQ, where we have spent every Christmas Eve for the past seven years.
The whole gang--Nanny, Paw Paw, David and Mary Margaret and their three girls, and all of us!
We got home to find that Santa's elves had brought us all new PJ's while we were gone!

A new tradition that we started this year was telling the Christmas Story using some neat story blocks tht Mrs. Conkle gave Hannah for Christmas. Hannah has heard the story of Jesus in Sunday school and from us, but she wasn't quite putting it together with Christmas. She has been so excited about Santa this year, that we wanted to make sure that we included the Christmas story in our celebration.

Then, as Maddy stacked the blocks up in order, we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.

Hannah hung out with Josh in front of the fire for a little while,

...while Charlotte hung out on her play mat. Shortly after this picture was taken, she had a complete meltdown, and we had to take a break from our usual Christmas Eve activities so I could get a very tired, very overstimulated, baby with sore gums and some serious gas issues to go to sleep. It took a while...about 45 minutes...a sort of record in Charlotteworld, as she is so very rarely fussy and usually goes down so easily.
Finally, though, after much walking and rocking and shhhhh-ing, and yes, I admit, praying, she was finally asleep, and we could get to another Stone tradition....watching A Christmas Story.
During which, Josh asked me...and I quote, "Mom, when did you get a TV?" Not sure of what he meant, I asked for clarification, only to realize that he thought I had been alive BEFORE TV was invented!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lazy Day...

for most of us, but not for sweet Charlotte. She spent the day hanging out in the walker, practicing standing on my lap, and rolling over!
Almost over!
She couldn't quite get her arm out from underneath her, but she almost made it! Kay Kay called me at work last week to tell me that she had been rolling from tummy to back for about a week but had forgotten to tell me about it. This was despite my asking her NOT to let me know when she rolled over for her, so that I would see her first time and believe it to be her first time...but I digress. She's getting so big so fast. It won't be long before she's crawling after her little sister!

Day 2...More Christmas Fun

And the Christmas fun continues....

Today we celebrated Christmas with Maranda. Below you see all my kiddos...Maranda included. I don't really like this picture because it shows the complete and utter disorder that has become our living room, but I love the kiddos on the couch (and the one in the walker).
Hannah showing off her wand and cell phone from Maranda.
Where's mine????
Other highlights of the day include Hannah's fashion show, which included looks like "Princess Pirate," and my personal favorite, "Daddy's work outfit."

I love this next picture---Hannah and her daddy. She is such a Daddy's girl!

And just to show you that Hannah is still enthralled with all things baby. She didn't even like this when she was little, but now, she couldn't wait to try it out!
As for the laundry and closet that I vowed to get done today....well....hmmmm. Some laundry did get done, but the closet will hqave to wait until there aren't Christmas presents hanging out in it!

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Official Day of Christmas Vacation

Sarah informed us all this morning that this was indeed the first official day of Christmas break--I guess the weekend didn't count--and what a busy day it was. Daryl and I did our annual last minute, Christmas shopping. For us, this means starting...and finishing all of our shopping in one morning. We have done it this way since we have been together, and have never had a problem. We leave early, to miss the crowds, and usually are home before lunch. The best part for me is getting to spend a little time alone together. That happens so rarely, but we always have such a good time.

We came home, wrapped all the presents, and then got down to baking. I had promised Hannah that we would make Christmas cookies, so make them we did. We did this every year growing up, so it brought back some good memories. I'm quite sure that my mother made her cookie dough from scratch, but we just poured a little flour with the refrigerated cookie dough and it worked just as well!

Here are my bakers/cookie makers...all excited to make cookies. This lasted through one sheet of cookies...then it was just me and Sarah with the occasional Hannah appearance.

Charlotte hung out with us for a while, too. She is finally strong enough to sit in her walker, andwhile she doesn't go anywhere, she seems to enjoy it.
She also hung out in her bouncy chair, doing her very favorite thing...eating her hands.

As a child, we used the last of the dough to make initial for each of us. So I decided to do the same. Which would have been great if they would have stayed this size, but they all exploded into big blobs.

Maddy's one and only cookie that she decorated.
Hannah decorated these.

Our plan was to bake chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies as well, but in the middle of our cookie adventure, Daryl decided to quickly fix the leak under the sink. And, well, as things often go over here, it ended up more complicated than he thought and he had to replace the faucet.And recaulk the sink. And wait for three hours to let it dry.
So chocolate chip and peanut butter will have to wait until tomorrow. Also on the agenda for tomorrow--probably about 15 loads of laundry, cleaning out our closet, and best of all, staying in my PJs all day. Gotta love Christmas vacation!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Family Fun

Today was the Stone Family Christmas Party after church. And for all you grammar gurus, I do realize that it should not be all capitalized, but in my mind, it qualifies just because of the magnitude. Lots of people, lots of food, lots of laughs, lots of kids, lots of love. I will admit that this has not always been my favorite holiday party. I grew up with a very small family, and Daryl's family is soooo not small. I am extremely introverted with people I don't know...painfully shy even, so parties, in general, are not things I look forward to. Then there is the fact that all of Daryl's sisters and neices are model gorgeous and maybe weigh 100 pounds soaking wet. Nicest, most genuine people you would ever want to meet, and they never made me feel anything other than totally welcome, but I found them all a little intimidating and myself paling in comparison. And finally, the fact that they are all so spiritually grounded, and here I was so new in my faith. So in my mind, the Stone Family Christmas Party felt like the equivalent of being thrown to the lions. Nerves galore a week before, agonizing over gifts to give and what to wear, praying that I would not appear to be as uncomfortable as I felt, that I would make Daryl proud, and not embarrass him. Over the years, though, I've grown to love this party, mostly because I have grown to love this family. The feelings of inadequacy remain, as I fear they always will, just because of who and how I am, but I am now able to look past that and enjoy the loud, boisterous beauty of Daryl's family.

And as tradition dictates, I once again forgot to take the camera. If I had remembered to bring it, you would be looking at pictures of these sweet moments from today:

*Hannah performing, with angel wings, in the children's Christmas program this morning. Daryl and I didn't even know that Hannah was going to be in it until this morning, and even then, we weren't sure she would actually go through with it. But rest assured, she was precious. She did come on stage with her dress hiked up, pulling up her panties and tights that had slid down her backside (note to self...size 4T-5T tights...too small), and she stood in the wrong spot (with the speakers instead of the nativity scene), but she was just precious.

*Maddy singing in church today. Once again...I didn't even know she was singing until we were up on the stage and the service had started!

*Hannah and cousin Benji chasing each other up and down the hallway. They were both so red faced, and Hannah was "fweaty, Mommy, I am so fweaty. Dis is a big pwobwem."

*Charlotte being passed around and not fussing a bit.

*Daryl giving the devotion. He did such a good job--I love to hear him teach. I swear I fall in love with him all over again every time. I love it that he is the spiritual leader of our family and that I can still learn from him and that he still gives me butterflies after eight years.

So another Stone party is in the books, and next year there will be more spouses and more children (but NOT from us on either count!), and most likely, I will forget my camera.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ready or not...

Josh has applied to three colleges--North Georgia College, Atlanta Christian College, and Toccoa Falls Christiann College. And today, he got his first acceptance to Toccoa Falls, the school of his choice.
North Georgia is cheaper, Atlanta Christian is closer, but he really wants to go to Toccoa Falls--has prayerfully considered it and feels led by the Lord. And we know that God will provide. And he....he is ready. His momma? Considering the nauseous feeling in my stomach upon reading his housing request form...not so much!

I'm just sayin....

When, in one week, you get this in the mail from your sweet Mama....

And get this from your sweet Aunt Mary...
And your dear dear husband decides it is a great night for pie (because, after all, he is going on a diet after the new year and in order to win the biggest loser contest at school, he needs to gain all the weight he can in the meantime)

and your sweet mother in law sends you home with these from AWANAs...

It is sooo sooo hard to be satisfied with....this.

But...I didn't give into the temptation, although I will admit to one peanut butter cup. Because, after all, everything in moderation, right?
And just because, a little Charlotte cuteness...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday of Service

This Saturday morning saw us all up and at 'em this morning, and for once it wasn't for a game, a competition, or to work, but to do for others. Josh headed out with the Student Leadership Institute at school to hand out food to some needy families at a holiday celebration, and the rest of us headed to the assisted living home to spread some holiday cheer. Our church choir met there at 9:30 and we sang a few songs from our Christmas program. I took the big girls because I thought we needed a little bit more power with our little choir, and they both knew the music because they had been in the drama portion of the program. I took the little girls, thinking that the residents would like to see them, and had visions of Hannah charming them and learning to come out of her shell around strangers.

But first...a picture of my sweet baby girl who has slept through the night for two nights in a row! This is how I have found her both mornings, thumb in mouth. She is my one and only thumb sucker, and I am least there is something about her that is like me (not that I still suck my thumb, but I used to!). Heaven knows that other than this newfound habit, she is all Daryl!
Nanny and PawPaw, while not in the choir, came to support us, and to watch the little girls.
Or should I say girl. Hannah was having none of the "charming the old people." Note how I sang most of the program...holding a 40 pound three year old. The rest of the time, Daryl was holding her.

Not only did we sing, but Doug played some carols on the piano.

The "crowd" enjoying the music.

And Charlotte was sound asleep by the end of it. It was nap time-ish, and it was so incredibly hot, she probably had no choice but to nod off.

It was a good morning, and it made proud of my teenagers who willingly got up on a weekend morning to come to the aid of others!