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

Monday, November 30, 2009

Random Happiness

Lots and lots to make me happy right now...

Little girls playing dress up
Littler girls who no longer sleep in the living room (notice the absence of baby bed)
Bigger kids that are home from Louisiana safe and sound

Children who don't mind dressing alike--and in Christmas dresses!

Reindeer antlers and chubby cheeks!

Another thing that makes me happy this week is the scale. Down another 4.5 pounds for the week for a total of 14 pounds lost this month! The best part about it is that I've done it sensibly, eating good, mostly natural foods. I am finally seeing a difference in my clothes, and I definitely feel the difference. And...for the most part, not missing the junk. But the Diet Coke? absolutely!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Pictures

We had a great Thanksgiving Day, as we traveled to Lake Oconee to celebrate with my family--my parents, my sister and her husband, and my brother. We were a little sad not to have the big kids with us, but it was a good day all the same. It has been since Christmas last year that we have all been together, so it was nice to catch up.

Here's Charlotte, all ready for the trip to the lake. She looks like a boy, but I couldn't resist putting her in her Thanksgiving shirt that my mom got her. Couldn't find a headband that matched and figured that everyone there knew she was a girl anyways! She did real well on the trip there, nary a peep from her. the way back was a different story!
My little sister, Kathleen holding her newest neice. I can't wait to hold her children!
Hannah in the too cute car!
Kath and Jason brought their dog, Bri, along for the trip. What a sweet old dog! She didn't jump up on the counter or beg once. I would have been so embarrassed to have our dogs there!

Charlotte missed her swing--and so did we! She slept very little while we were there, hanging out in Grandma's arms (thanks, Mom, for letting me eat!) or on the floor.
The "boys" minus Daryl (who was playing cars with Hannah) watching the Green Bay game and talking Alabama football.

A family picture, minus grandma. Ya know how you never realize how old you look until you see a picture of yourself? I'm just sayin....

After a loud trip home (Thank you Charlotte!), Hannah decided she was going to make pie!

Speaking of pie....I did extremely well yesterday, food wise. I had decided that I was just going to throw caution to the wind and eat at Thanksgiving, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was not worth it. Dieting is so much in my head, and I tend to have an all or nothing mentality. One slip, and usually, that is my excuse to give up entirely. I had turkey and green beans, strawberries, and one tablespoon of mashed potatoes and stuffing. Then when I got home, I made myself a meal that I had already calculated the points.
This morning, we are enjyoing Black Friday from our home. We both hate crowds and lines and waiting, so we do not go out on this day. I did make a trip to the grocery store for some staples, but from here on out we are home together, fire in the fireplace, getting the house in order so we can decorate when the kids get home (TOMORROW!!! Yippee!) I am also furiously working on Hannah's stocking...remember the one that I started on when I first found out I was pregnant? Not sure it will get done in time for this year or not, but it will be done eventually! And for Charlotte....I guess I have four years to finish hers too!
Daryl watched the girls while I cleaned and mopped the kitchen. Hannah had fun "helping" Charlotte play with her babies.
***Note to self: Check setting on the camera before you start taking pictures, or otherwise they will end up all blurry!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So Very Thankful

Today, and every day, I am thankful for....

Jesus That He loves me despite the fact I am often unloveable, that He saved me despite the fact that I do not deserve it, that even if I were the only one on earth, He would have died for me. Just amazing....mind boggling....but amazing.

Daryl Out of all the men in all the world, there could be a more perfect match for me. He is the kindest, gentlest, most patient man I know, and I am so blessed to have him in my life. He has shown me what true love really looks, sounds, and feels like and I have no doubt that we're in this forever. He makes me laugh every day, and even after 8 years, I still can't wait to see him at the end of the day.

My children Each one is a precious gift from God, and each has enriched my life in a different, wonderful way. I can not imagine my life without even one of them, and I thank God every day for allowing me to be their mother.

My parents Unconditional love and acceptance, even when they don't really understand. They have always been there for me and the kids, and always will. Their generosity amazes me.

My in-laws Both sets :) They both love the children so much and they are great grandparents. The Louisiana grandparents make every effort to stay involved in their lives, even if their son doesn't. Daryl's parents welcomed us with open arms and open hearts the very first time we met.

My church family We may not be the biggest church, but I do not think I have ever met a more loving, giving group of people. I have learned and grown so much in my walk with the Lord.

My job In a time when so many are unemployed, I am so grateful to be employed, and to love what I do and the people I work with. I get to teach children about Jesus and to show them His love. What could be better?

My health After the last three months, I will never again take my health for granted. I am even thankful for the high blood pressure and the problems that came with it, for it has led me to change my lifestyle for the better.

So much to be thankful for. Pictures of our Thanksgiving to come tomorrow--the camera battery is charging tonight!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude....Harder than it sounds

OK...I did well for...what? Two days? And then the clock struck 9:30 pm last night, and I found it just a little harder. Nothing life changing. Nothing terrible. Just the nuances and nuisances of every day life.

9:30 pm Watching Biggest Loser and trying to get sweet baby girl to go down for the night. Just about get her there...eyes are getting heavy...ahhhh...time for the old stand-by, the one piece of baby equipment that we could not do without....the swing. She falls asleep every night in the swing, and then we just make the transfer to her bed when we go to bed for the night. Stand up...still, her eyes still heavy(yes!). Walk to swing...eyes still closing (YES!) Put her in the swing (YES! YES! YES! I think, doing my best Meg Ryan in Harry Met Sally impersonation). Turn swing on. NOTHING HAPPENS! So for the next thirty minutes, I lay on the floor, pushing the swing back and forth, while Hannah lays on top of me wiggling and fidgeting, trying to get comfortable so she, too, can fall asleep. (No lectures on good sleep habits please! :)) At this moment, I think of all the reasons I should be thankful. I have two beautiful girls. I have a warm house. I just cleaned the carpets, so I am not inhaling dog hair. I have the money to buy batteries in the morning. All is good.

10:00 pm The switch has been made, and I am off to take my first bath since Charlotte was one week old. Last time I took a bath, I got dizzy, ended up in the emergency room, and discovered that I had high blood pressure. So in all of my hypochondrical (is that even a word?) logic, I more baths. Now that I've got my blood pressure under control, I decide to risk it. A long hot bath with a book. What a perfect way to wind down. After cleaning out the tub of all of Hannah's toys, I turn on the water, and busy myself until it is full. Book? Check. New Body wash? Check Towel? check Hot water? ummmm....half a check? For it is only warm. I decide to get in anyways and run the hot water only to make it a more pleasant, more sleep inducing temperature. Turn on hot water and can guess. How is it that three teenagers can take twenty minute showers back to back and still have hot water, yet I cannot even get enough to fill a tub? But still....I am thankful. I have water. I have a big tub. There is no danger of overheating and getting dizzy.

10:30 pm In bed. COLD. Can't get warm. Can't sleep. Hey, at least I don't have to get up and go to work in the morning. At least I am in a house that is 68 degrees instead of out on the street, really really really cold. I pray a prayer of thanksgiving and fall asleep.

12:30 am The door flies open, jarring me awake, and soon, there are little cold hands and feet in bed with me. Hannah. Who usually makes her journey downstairs sometime after 5. She rolls around and tosses and turns for a good half an hour or more. On my side of the bed. but still. I am thankful. I just slept for an hour and a half. I have a child that I prayed for and waited for for three and a half long years. Our slovenliness has finally paid off...we have her old crib mattress still in our room, propped up against the wall and the laundry I have not put away contains two blankets and a pillow. Problem solved. Back to sleep.

2:30 am Charlotte, who has been sleeping from 7pm to 4:30 am every night(and then drifting right back to sleep), is awake. And it is my night. I feed her, change her dirty diaper, and put her back in her bed, but she is having none of it. She is awake until 5:00am. But still, I am thankful. She is healthy. We have a recliner that rocks. I don't have to go to work, so I can sleep a little later. I have a husband who takes turns with me so I know that is his turn.

5:00 am Crawl back in bed, only to find Hannah in there with Daryl. So sweet, she looks, but bed, my pillow, So off to the pallet on the floor she goes. I get warm and cozy, say another prayer of thanksgiving and drift off to sleep, thankful that the insomnia that so often hits me at times like this, is not.

5:30 am are reading that right. THIRTY MINUTES. The child slept for thirty minutes. I was at the worst expecting 7:00...two hours to sleep before she got hungry again. But still, I am thankful. But can I just say that it is not so easy this time. That I am totally saying words in my head that I have not said aloud in decades (and oh how sad that makes me to realize that it has been twenty years since I was young and stupid--when did I get old?) I am in tears. I am already planning how I will beg Daryl to take her for just an hour or two so I can sleep. I would like to say I immediately thought of all the reasons that I am thankful....I would so like to say that. but I didn't. But I am...really, I am. Thankful for this child that God has sent to us. Thankful that she is up because she is ready to start her day, and not because she is sick. Thankful that I am not breast feeding and can hand this job off to Daryl tomorrow night.

This attitude of gratitude? Easy, when life is good. Harder, when things get rough. And heaven knows that I am extremely thankful right now that a sleepless night is as rough as it gets!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stealing this from a blogger friend, because I need this right now...

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of my, football, family, friends and lots of fun. But, originally, it was meant to be a day to pause and give authentic thanks to God. Unfortunately, for many, including myself, thanksgiving is more of a one-day holiday that a way of life. I don't know about you, but I've been blessed beyond comprehension, and even in the unwelcome moments of life, I have so much to be thankful for.What would it look like if I ONLY spoke words of gratitude the entire week of Thanksgiving? If I went so far as to look at a pile of laundered clothes that awaits my folding and putting up, a task I normally hate, and instead think and speak out loud, “God, thank you for these clothes, for providing covering.” When my daughter voicing her grumpiness, “God, thank you that she has a voice that works and you are shaping her own unique personality.” If every time next week I see a person, I tell them why I am thankful to God they are in my life.

Can I do this? Of course I can. It will have to be a choice, for so often I let the negative thoughts overtake my mood for the day. But when I think about it, it makes so much sense. There are women out there aching for a baby to hold in their arms, and I have been blessed with five, and all the messes, chaos, and sleepless nights that come with it. There are people living on the streets with just the clothes on their backs, and we have been blessed to be able to provide the clothes that make up the piles, the food that stains the dishes in the sink, the toys scattered on the floor. There are people who would give anything, who seek out, unfinished homes, so that they may have shelter from the cold and night. There are people, like the sweet checker at the local grocery store that greeted us with a smile and a "How ya doin today baby?", who don't know they have blood pressure problems until it is too late to do anything about it. There are people who can't get a job and would love to have work to take home with them. Lonely people who would love to have a schedule packed with things to do, parties to go to, performances to give. There are unsaved all over the world that do not know that matchless grace and love of God and seek love in the arms of others, in needles, in a bottle, in food.

How blessed am I, and how much do I take it for granted? This week, I pledge to live a life of thankfulness and gratitude. I know it won't be easy, that I will have to adopt a new outlook, that I will fail, probably daily. But that I serve an awesome God. A God who forgives. A God who gives second chances. Who loves me unconditionally. And for that, above all, I am truly thankful.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

And cheer is finally over....

Last weekend, Sarah wrapped up her cheer season with the state tournament. This weekend, Madeline's team competed in their one and only competition of the season. This one was held at ELCA, a nice change for us, as we didn't have to drive for hours to get there. Neither did we have to sit for hours. This was a CCA tournament (Christian Cheerleaders of America) and it was short and sweet.

Speaking of is how Charlotte spent the first little bit of the competition, the same way she spent most of Sarah's.
Hannah, also so pretty in pink and pigtails, was not happy to get her picture taken.
UNTIL...Maranda got there!

Here's Maddy before the competition started.

And during competition

Charlotte did wake up to watch part of the competition. Can I tell you how much I love love love this picture????

Maddy's team won their division and grand champions in their age group. A sweet ending to a sweet season!

Tonight, we'll watch the Georgia game as a family and then tomorrow morning head out to take the big kids to meet PawPaw in Tuscaloosa. They are super excited, and me? Not so much. Things just aren't the same without all of them home!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Few Hannah Funnies....

Because she's cracking us up lately, and I want to remember these!
Hannah: (looking sad)
Me: What's wrong, Hannah?
Hannah: I really really want to make a mess. Can I please make a mess?
Hannah: I'm scared of the dark Daddy.
Daryl: It's OK, Hannah. Jesus is with you.
Hannah: He's scared too!
Hannah: Why did God make curly hair and straight hair?
Sarah: Well, I think he just wanted to make us all different.
Hannah: You have curly hair, I have straight hair, Mommy has straight hair, Maddy has straight hair, Joshy has straight hair, and Daddy has a little hair!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wishing I could think of a snappy title....

But really...just. so. fried. right now. It was a busy weekend following a busy week. It wasn't supposed to be all that busy. Just State Cheer Competition in Columbus, but I didn't count on that taking all day. But then you throw in church x 2, laundry, housework, kids, and yes, even exercise, and my weekend was gone before I knew it.

Here is sweet baby Charlotte in her Gymboree strawberry outfit, that was given to me when I first found out I was pregnant by my sweet friend, Melinda. Don't you just love the hat????
Hannah cheering on her big sis and being a bit camera shy.
It was a huge auditorium and we were way way way way up high, so this is the best shot we got!

And after they performed, waiting for the results. Don't know what we were talking about...lovely picture, dontcha think???

It was a good trip overall. The girls didn't win but did great, we had some good family time, and Charlotte didn't make a peep the whole way there or back. We also ate lunch in what has to be the swankiest Burger King I have ever been in (never fear...a side salad and apple slices for me!)
Speaking of is weigh in day and I lost another two pounds this past week. Eight down, too many to count left to go!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The First of the Lasts

And so it begins....the first of the lasts of Josh's high school career. Sniff sniff. Sigh. It's inevitable, I know, but still. It feels so, I don't

Tonight was the end of the season cross country banquet at school. I didn't make it to his last cross country meet, and I regret that. The last meet I made it to was the night before I had Charlotte. Anyways...the banquet was tonight. It was, as cross country seems to be, totally and completely laid back and casual. They had black and white pictures taken throughout the season scattered on all the tables. We found three of Josh on our table and brought them home.

Here's Josh and his certificate. I wasn't fast enough with the camera to get him actually getting it, but you get the idea.
And here he is with the other seniors on the team--Cameron (his screamo music buddy), Luke Cathy (of Chick Fil A fame), Chris Mench, and Luke Baker (1st place in state).

Charlotte was the only one to come with us to the banquet. At $15 a person, our family is officially too big for all of us to go. The big girls and Hannah went home with Nanny and PawPaw and Charlotte hung out with us. We caught her sweet smile this sweet!

Do you not just want to eat her up???? Speaking of eating....
In the diet news...Monday is weigh in day for me, and as of today (weigh in #1), I am down six pounds. Pretty good, I'd say. Also went to the doctor for a fasting blood test and a blood pressure recheck. She was happy with my numbers and I don't have to go back for three months. Good news!
Long long loooonnnnnggggg day, but in the end, a good one. Looking back on tonight, I am wishing that in the last four years I would have spent less time stressing over the busyness of my life and more time enjoying the time with my family, even if it was in the car, at the ballpark, wrestling meet, cheer competition, etc. Hindsight is 20/20.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Another Competition Saturday

Today marked Sarah's return to cheering competitively, the first time since her injury the first week in October. So the little girls and I packed up and headed to Forsyth for the Regional Championship. The girls did well and came away with the first place in their division. But better than that, Sarah came away, knee in tact! Here is a picture of her in the stands. All the other pictures of them competing turned out blurry. We were not allowed to use flash photography, so I couldn't use the trusty "auto" setting on the camera!

Charlotte spent most of the day doing this...which does not bode well for sleeping tonight, and of course, it is my night. Don't know how the girl does it...cheerleading competitions have to be the loudest of loud sports and she snoozes on through them. I guess that's because she's used to so much noise at our house! Ha!
Hannah took all of her little toys that her sweet cousin Benji had given to her way back in September and spread them out on the bleachers.

We go back to the doctor for Sarah's knee on Monday, and hopefully will get the "official" OK to go back to cheer...and then it's on to State Championship next weekend in Columbus!
I go back to the doctor on Tuesday morning for a recheck of my blood pressure and a fasting blood draw. Turns out that not only do I have high blood pressure, but high cholesterol too. I was feeling better about my blood pressure, despite the rise last week and the increased medicine. I was finally not worrying about it all the time. Then on Tuesday, it spiked again. Also Tuesday, I had to have an echocardiogram done on my heart to check for structural damage, and thankfully, all looked normal. And then Thursday the dr. called to tell me my cholesterol was high.
That's how I felt...that I must be this walking time bomb, just waiting to have a heart attack. I was mad at myself for letting myself get to this point, frustrated with my body for not reacting the way that it always has, scared that I was a heart attack waiting to happen. (Daryl says that he knows where Maddy gets her dramatic streak...I'm just not seeing it...)
This past week, I've had all of this confirmation that my lifestyle needs to change. First the medical tests, the blood pressure, the cholesterol, and the ever present pain in my back and knees. Then, more confirmation, this time from first graders, and you know...when a child tells you something, you know it is true. Six year olds have no tact. So when, in one day one of them tells me that I look like a grandmother and another gets in trouble on the playground for hitting another child who said his teacher was fat, you know it's time to change.
But most of all, this is my motivation....

and this.

Now don't get me wrong. I love my big kids every bit as much as my little ones. But they got the young mom, the mom with energy, the mom who ran around with them and played with them, the mom who could play airplane and sit on the floor, and the mom who wasn't tired all the time. It's bad enough that Chick Fil A waitresses are mistaking me for Charlotte's grandmother. (And I'd like to thank my wonderful husband for pointing that out to me and laughing hysterically and then retelling the story to all of our friends!) I won't miss out on their childhoods. My desire to be there for them, to be a mom that they can be proud of, inside and out, has to be more than my desire for that cookie, that Chinese food, that Reese's cup, and yes, even that Diet Coke. It has to.
I pondered just putting it all out know...the number. "Just type it out...let everyone know...then you have to lose the weight to save face!" Then came the echo on Thursday and I had to tell the tech doing the front of my husband. And yeah, I figured I probably had to tell the truth and not fudge it like on my driver's license. So I just closed my eyes, said it, and didn't look at him. Didn't want to see what he thought, his reaction,...just couldn't bear to see it. So yeah...putting it all out there...not gonna happen.
Just know that in addition to some pretty average pictures of some pretty amazing kids, you're probably going to be getting a pretty good dose of diet rambling as well. I'll try, though, to keep the ranting to a minimum. But hey, five days without nary a drop of Diet Coke....I'm just sayin...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I realized today that I have totally and completely broken my New Year's resolution to post every day. And thinking of something to post about every day is tough. We often have days that are just unremarkable. Nothing worth photographing. Nothing worth recording for posterity. Today is one of those days. Now that Halloween is over, it's like the calm after the storm (and yes, I do know that this is backwards!) So, instead, a meme that someone sent to me last week.....

1. I’ve come to realize that my chest-size. . . is far less important than its made out to be at the age of 13.

2. I’ve come to realize that my job. . .is much more than a career, but a calling...and defines me much more than it should.

3. I’ve come to realize that when I’m driving alone. . . I like the fact that I can control the radio station selection.

4. I’ve come to realize that I need. . . to spend a good three hours in my closet, organizing the chaos.

5. I’ve come to realize that I have lost. . . the ability to stay up later than 10:00 pm. Sad. I've turned into my grandmother.

6. I’ve come to realize that I hate it when. . . I compare myself to other people. And I do this waaaayyyy to much.

7. I’ve come to realize that if I’m drunk. . . someone has slipped something into my diet coke. I don't drink.

8. I’ve come to realize that money. . . goes just as matter how much we have.

9. I’ve come to realize that certain people. . . enjoy the drama.

10. I’ve come to realize that I’ll always. . . NOT. (see above)

11. I’ve come to realize that my sibling(s). . . have a lot in common with each other, and not so much with me, but I still wish we were closer.

12. I’ve come to realize that my mom. . . was and is a much better mother than I will ever be. And that is OK. June Cleaver I will never be, but I think so far, my kids have turned out pretty great.

13. I’ve come to realize that cell phones. . . are a mother's best friend. I love it that I can always get in touch with them.

14. I’ve come to realize that when I woke up this morning. . . I slept for 9 1/2 hours and actually dreamt for the first time in weeks.

15. I’ve come to realize that last night before I went to sleep. . . I enjoy falling asleep with sweet three year old breath on my neck.

16. I’ve come to realize that right now I am thinking. . . how much I enjoy my kids now that they are older, and I really didn't think I would. I have great teenagers!

17. I’ve come to realize that my dad. . . is one of the most generous people I know, and that I have been blessed by his generosity way more than I deserve.

18. I’ve come to realize that when I get on Facebook. . . it is totally addicting. I love facebook...and catching up with old friends. And strangely, looking at their pictures. Funny how all of the things that mattered in high school don't so much today.

19. I’ve come to realize that today. . . was so much better than yesterday in so many ways.

20. I’ve come to realize that tonight. . .there is a big bright full moon. Anyone who is a teacher or an insomniac knows what that means.

21. I’ve come to realize that tomorrow. . .I will spend an hour on a bus,carsick, with 80 first graders, on the way to Rock Ranch. Five hours later, I will spend an hour a bus, carsick, with about 10 first graders on the way back to school. I love that almost every child will have a parent present on the field trip.

22. I’ve come to realize that I really want to. . . lose massive amounts of weight, wear a bikini, run a 5K, feel good about myself again. I also want to raid Hannah's candy bucket, but that would defeat the purpose, now, wouldn't it?

23. I’ve come to realize that the some people… will never get it.

24. I’ve come to realize that life. . . really is too short, like everyone always said. And that I've wasted too much precious time being afraid.

25. I’ve come to realize that this weekend. . . was heavenly. No school work.

26. I’ve realized the best music to listen to when I am upset. . . is the Grease soundtrack. This movie can always make me happy.

27. I’ve come to realize that my friends. . . that I have now are so much different than those that I had ten years ago.

28. I’ve come to realize that this year. . . has been amazing and amazingly difficult, all in one.

29. I’ve come to realize that my ex(s)...paved the road for my life today. And as hurtful as it was, I would not change it for a thing.

30. I’ve come to realize that maybe I should. . . ...choose my clothes for tomorrow tonight, thus avoiding the "stand in the closet and cry because everything I try on is either too big, too small, missing a button, stained, or dirty. OR...I can't find it" routine.

31. I’ve come to realize that I love. . . my kids much more than I thought I could.

32. I’ve come to realize that I don’t understand. . . the secret to a clean house. or where all of the socks go.

33. I’ve come to realize my past. . . affects me much more than I would like. And I hate it that it has that much control.

34. I’ve come to realize that parties. . . are scary when you are shy.

35. I’ve come to realize that I’m totally terrified. . . dying and leaving my children motherless. Even though I know that I would be running to the arms of my savior, for now, I would much rather have my children running into mine.

36. I’ve come to realize that my life. . . is far too amazing and complex to answer in one sentence. God is good.