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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

GONE...but not forgotten

One year and 26 days ago, I delivered a beautiful 7 pound 3 ounce baby girl. The next day, I left the hospital with that sweet little bundle of joy and 72 extra pounds. That's right 72. (hey, at least it wasn't the 101 that I packed on with Hannah)
Today, one year and 26 days later, that sweet baby girl has turned into the most precious toddler. That baby is gone. And so is that 72 pounds!
That's right. Tooting my own horn for a minute to say....

I DID IT!!!!

(Now for the 40 or so that I was working on when I got pregnant with Charlotte in the first place. )

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tennesee Aquarium

Our last stop before leaving Chattanooga was the Tennessee Aquarium, which proved to be a hit with everyone. And Charlotte got to come with us, so that made it all the better!

Waiting for the Aquarium to open

On top of the bridge...still waiting....
And waiting....

And waiting!

So sweet...

Finally we get in to see the fish!

Petting the sturgeon...

and the sting rays

beautiful butterflies

and a beautiful baby

The penguin exhibit was new, and Hannah's favorite part

The girls in the shark cage

Out of all my girls, I think Maddy enjoyed it the most. I think she would have stayed all day!

We had fun, but we were ready and happy to go home to see Daddy and Josh!

Rock City

As a child, one of the best vacations I remember included a visit to Rock City. Since then, I have been back several times--once when I was pregnant with Sarah, again when I was pregnant with Madeline, and once a few years ago with Sarah. I couldn't wait to go back, and I hoped that my girls would love Rock City in all of its cheesy glory too. They did.

Getting ready to go in.
Can you tell who is my rebel?
When we got to the swinging bridge, I was sure that Hannah would balk and refuse to go across. After all, Fat Man's Squeeze and Thread the Needle had earlier just about done her in. We got halfway across the stone bridge, and she took a look at the swinging bridge and declared she wanted to go across it. She loved it, jumping her way across!

After we got over the bridge, the girls were in awe.....

of this waterfall at Lover's Leap
Sarah and Maddy at the top of the mountain. Supposedly, you can see seven states from here. Do you see them?

Silly, silly girls....

Sitting under Balanced Rock

Maddy, my ever dramatic one...

This was always my favorite part, but given the darkness, the dampness, and the gnomes, I was sure that Hannah would hate it. And she did for a while. She actually walked through the first half with her eyes covered with her hands.

She made it through--the camera really didn't take good pictures inside, but I do believe I saw a smile or two!

Clare and Cole 6 weeks old

The girls and I travelled up to Chattanooga earlier this week. It was one part mini-vacation since we are out on Fall Break, and one part "see Clare and Cole." (Oh, and you too, Kath and Jason!) Even though they are still smaller than all but one of mine were at birth, it seems as if they have gotten so big. I didn't get many pictures because this is basically what happened:

I think I got 15 minutes with each of them. Which probably was a good thing, because Hannah and Charlotte kept me plenty busy. Charlotte went exploring, chasing cats, picking up stuff off of the floor, and stole the babies' bottles. She also managed to get herself locked in their kitchen! I think we need one of those!
And Hannah? Well usually, she just has to compete with Charlotte, which is getting harder and harder to do, the more mobile and more verbal she gets. With two sweet little pumpkins there, she was determined that someone was going to pay attention to her! "Mom, take a picture!" seemed to be her mantra. I was all too happy to oblige!

Kath (or Kat as she is known to everyone but us) and her fur-baby, Turtle (I think). She has turned out to be such a good mama. So proud of my baby sister, who to me, should really be a baby still herself!

Not sure when we will be seeing the little ones again. November maybe? Til then, Flicker and I will be good friends!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cheer Competition Fall Out

One thing you can safely say about Maddy is that she is enthusiastic. I think that is one of the things that makes her a good cheerleader. When she gets interested in something, or wants something, or wants to do something, she is all that, all the time. And after sitting through 4 hours of a cheer competition on Saturday? She wants to be a flyer. And so for the next few days, she spent countless hours doing this.

She's nothing if not persistent. She's done it on the floor, on my Firm Fanny Lifter, on the wall outside our hotel in Chattanooga, inside our hotel in Chattanooga, at a McDonald's, at Rock City....Where she once bemoaned the fact that she was about the shortest person in her class, she is praying not to grow.
And of course, little sister had to get in on the fun!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

There was a popular song out a few years ago, by Martina McBride, called "Do It Anyway." And I loved that song. But I love the inspiration for it more. Based on The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith, Mother Theresa has said to have had this printed on the wall of her children's home in Calcutta India.

Do It Anyway

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and genuine enemies.

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.

Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, people may destroy overnight.

Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some people may be jealous.

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may often be forgotten.

Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.

Do good anyway.

In the final analysis, it was between you and God.

It was never about them anyway.

Pretty much, I try to remember this. Even though I have been deceived in some of the worst ways possible, I continue to trust, to believe, to live life as honestly as I can. I tend to be too nice for my own good, but can't imagine living life any other way. I do tend to care way too much about what people think of me, though, and this is something that I am always actively working on.

In the past month, I have added my own verse to this. ( Not that I, in any way, shape, or form consider myself on par with a Bible scholar or Mother Theresa)

You may think you can't, that you don't have time, that it isn't possible to do it.

Do it anyways.

And not that my weight loss journey is in any way significant to anyone else but me, but I have totally applied this last one, and a few of the others, to my life this last month. I have said before that I don't have time to exercise. That I can't fit it in. That it would take away from my family, my school work, my work at home. So I prayed about it. Because I knew that even if I couldn't juggle everything in my life and make time for me, that God could. God will always make a way. And he did.

As it turns out, we have a gym at school that you can join for $25. And that's for a life time, not per month. And in that gym, they do have the treadmill, which I can't walk on because of the plantar's fascitis, but they also have a recumbant bike, an elliptical, and a rowing machine, which I can use, pain free.

And so every day, after tutoring, or help class, or the rare day where I don't have either, I have been working out for an hour while the girls have cheer practice. And when they don't have practice, I have been making them go to afterschool, much to their dismay, until I am finished. Even though it means I have to take work home with me. Even though it makes me hot and sweaty and stinky and gross. (oh how I hate this, and now all my co-workers have had the privelege of enjoying this sight too) Even though my arms ache for Charlotte and my lap for Hannah. Even though others say, "I just can't leave my kids for one second longer than I have to," or "I just don't think it is fair to my family to have to work once I get home," and the mommy guilt threatens to eat me up. Even though it means my classroom gets less attention and my body gets more. But do you know what? I did it anyway. And on the weekends, I went to the park and walked while the big girls watched and played with the little girls.

And not only has it done my body good, but my mind, my heart, my spirit as well. It has been a wonderful time to clear my mind, to think, to brainstorm, to pray. A time where no one bothers me, talks to me, needs me, or wants me. (Except on the weekends, when we're at the park, and well...I guess that just isn't going to change. Someone always ends up running alongside me voicing their complaint, concern, suggestion, etc.) And, it gave me just the push I needed.

Tomorrow is weigh in day. And if today's sneak peak at the scale is any indication, tomorrow each and every one of those 72 pounds that I gained when I was pregnant with Charlotte will be gone, plus some. Then it will be on to the 40 or so I was working on when I got pregnant with her to begin with. And even though I would prefer chocolate cake to fresh fruit, hamburgers to grilled chicken, french fries to vegetables, and a good book to exercising, I will make the right choices. Even though I don't want to, I will do it anyway.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Oh what a difference a year makes!

This time last year, we packed up the whole family + Maranda, and headed to Warner Robins for Sarah's first varsity cheer competition. You may remember this:

This year, I packed up Hannah and Maddy, while the boys stayed home with Charlotte and Georgia football. I was hoping for better results this time.
Wish granted. No injuries!!! Just a flawless routine.

The "sit around the mat and have jumping and stunting contests while the judges tally" part
The "sit on the mat and wait for the judges to announce the winners" part. Usually this is accompanied by loud music and inappropriate dancing by some of the girls, but luckily this time, they left the inappropriate dancing part off!

Hannah, bored with all of the sitting, spotted some little girls she wanted to play with. She observed for a while.

Though she pretended she wasn't....

With a little encouragement from me and hand holding by Maddy, she made her way down...

And soon she was dancing and jumping with the rest of them!

Finally the winners were announced and for the second year in a row, we won! I was pretty sure they would...they have improved so much since last year and did soooo well today!

Labor Day Weekend

Long weekends are my favorite. I'm back to work, so a long weekend really feels like a treat. None of the Sunday rush or Saturday cleanfest. A day longer to finish the mounds of laundry. Just feels a little bit like a gift. And Labor Day weekend was indeed that, a gift of time with my family. We really did nothing exciting, but it couldn't have made me happier.

We watched the Georgia game. My boy came home and we were all together.

'We' played in the sawdust. Yes, the deer in the headlights look. She tends to wear this expression quite often. This time, it was because she was covering the dog.

We bought a new grill to go on our newly built deck. Here is Daryl showing me all of the nifty buttons and features.
And posing with his "helper."

And here is the box that the grill came in. This picture was supposed to be the subject of a blog (after it had been sitting on our deck for a week), but Daryl has grown wise to my scheming/blogging ways and cut me off at the pass after only a day!

On the actual day, I took the girls--big and small-- to the park. The plan was for the big girls to play with the little girls while I walked the trail going around the park. Ahhhh...the best laid plans of mice and men....Charlotte put one pinky toe in the sand and started screaming, Sarah got stung by a yellow jacket, and we forgot the sand toys. I got in a good 40 minute walk, though. Alls well that ends well.
Between the bad beginning and the not so bad end, they had some fun...

And this is the fun that Charlotte had. Hard to believe that the last time the girls and I went to this park was last August 22, and I was waiting for Charlotte to be born. Now she's running away from me!