Sunday, December 25, 2011

How Great Our Joy!

While by the sheep we watched at night,
glad tidings brought an angel bright.
There shall be born, so he did say,
in Bethlehem a Child today.
There shall the Child lie in a stall,
this Child who shall redeem us all.
This gift of God we'll cherish well,
that ever joy our hearts shall fill.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

I just want to feel better.

And that pretty much sums up the last two weeks!

I haven't been able to blog because my computer died. Yes. Died. Thank goodness I had just barely completed our family Christmas card. I was a lot later than usual getting them out this year because I wanted to include the baby's sonogram picture on our card. But, unfortunately, I hadn't finished my monogram orders. My software is on my computer, and there was nothing I could do. So I had to return several Christmas orders with huge apologies. Not to mention I hadn't done any of my OWN monogramming! But all is well now, and I have time to at least finish my stuff.

Having said that, you haven't missed much. I vividly remember why I said when I was pregnant with Hannah Kate that I could not go through that again. It. is. MISERABLE. It will be worth it in the end. I know that. But right now I'm just ready to feel better! If I were not convinced that this baby is a gift, a blessing from our Lord, I think I would just sit down and cry.

I have so many unfinished Christmas projects, so many things I wanted to do that I just haven't been able to do. I wanted to spend a day baking goodies for our neighbors and friends. I've hardly been able to look at my kitchen during the past five weeks. The garland I bought to decorate the stair rail with is still laying in my foyer. The toppers for the Christmas trees never got done. There are decorations still in the attic that never came down. And some that did are still sitting in the garage where they were put when they were brought down. I wanted to take a trip to New Orleans one evening to see the fabulous lights display in City Park. I wanted to go for a ride on Christmas Eve night to see the bonfires burning along the levee to light the way for Papa Noel. There were several crafts I wanted to do with Mason and Hannah Kate. I never found Christmas pj's for them. Oh well. I guess the good news is that I can just save all those ideas for next year.

We have our girl name picked out but not the boy name. Seth had the bright idea that we should let Mason choose the boy name (with a little guidance, of course). So Seth and I made a list of three or four names that we really like, and we asked Mason about them. He didn't like any of them! And when we asked for his ideas, he didn't have any. The next day he told me that he wants to name the baby Mason. So I explained that we can not have two Masons. He said, "That's okay. We can call him Little Mason and me Big Mason." He was serious.

And Hannah Kate has decided that she wants a BROTHER. I really think she has very seriously thought this through. She has realized that there just might be something in it for her if she is the only girl. She's a smart one.

But now we are celebrating the birth of another baby. But this wasn't just any ordinary baby.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for EVERYBODY, worldwide: A SAVIOR has been born in David's town, a Savior who is MESSIAH and MASTER. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger. At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, peace to all men and women on earth who please him. ~Luke 2:8-14, The Message

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baby's First Picture

Here (s)he is! Cute, huh?!?

(S)he is sort of upside down in this picture. The head is at the bottom right. The dark spot in the middle of the head is the baby's brain. And, moving diagonally up to the left, you can see the little arms sticking out and then the feet, which are on the top left. At 8 weeks, we have a perfect little "teddy graham."

The heart rate was 174 BPM. And the little thing was squirming all around. (S)he is about the size of a kidney bean right now.

I actually lost four pounds since my appointment just two weeks ago. I was a little surprised. I didn't really expect to have gained anything, especially since I've been sick, but I didn't expect to lose that much. But it's okay. I'm certain I'll gain that back and a whole lot more without any problem!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Well. I've felt better today than I have in three weeks! I have to say that Mason, Hannah Kate and Seth have been so patient with me and this new baby. They've not had a home-cooked meal in a couple of weeks now, and Seth comes home from work to find a kitchen that needs to be cleaned and two little ones who need baths and bedtime stories. But no one has complained, and everyone is excited.

At eight weeks pregnant, this baby already has lots of stories to tell. There were three times during the first year after we moved into our new house that I thought I was pregnant. But I was not. The fourth time came in September. I was 11 days "late." But I was not excited. I was nervous.

First of all, even though I hadn't yet taken a test, I knew I wasn't pregnant. I just knew. And I was concerned because I've never been that "late" before. And second of all, even though I knew we both wanted another baby, we hadn't really talked about it in awhile, and I was (for some strange reason) nervous about telling Seth. Crazy, I know.

It was a Tuesday. Seth was working in Texas that week. So I'd decided I was going to tell him that night. I'd also purchased a pregnancy test that morning but hadn't taken it. I was surprised that evening when he called me earlier than usual. I knew something must be wrong. I could tell when I answered the phone. He'd been in an accident. It really wasn't a big deal at all . . . except he was in his company truck so that made it a big deal. He was yielding at an intersection, and the car behind him rear-ended him. The damage (he thought) was minor, and the lady who ran into him begged him not to call the police. She called her husband, and he talked to Seth, requesting the same thing. But . . . company policy . . . he had no choice. And . . . company policy . . . he'd have to go the next day for a drug test. So he was really bummed about the whole thing.

After we talked through the situation, I shared my secret with him. His reaction wasn't quite what I was expecting. He was so excited and wanted me to take the pregnancy test right then. Even though I explained that I just really didn't think I was pregnant, he was convinced there was no other explanation. So we spent the next hour talking about "the new baby," and I promised him I'd take the test the next morning.

Wednesday morning came, and I was nervous! I managed to get Mason off to school. It was also the first day of my new Bible study so I was trying to get Hannah Kate and myself ready to go. The first time I tried to take the test, of course she walked in on me. So I had to find an excuse to keep her occupied for five minutes. I took the test. It took a couple of minutes before I thought I saw a negative sign in the window. But I wasn't sure. So I waited as long as I could before going to Bible study, and it still looked negative. I was sad and also a little concerned.

When I got to the church, I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes before going inside. I decided to text Seth to let him know the test result. Now, yall know how difficult it is for me to get a text out on my antique phone. But Seth likes text, and it seemed like the easiest thing to do. Besides, I wasn't ready to talk about it yet.

Now. Another thing you need to know about me is that I love grammar. I like punctuation marks. I like capital letters and complete sentences. And commas HAVE to be in the right spot (thank you, Mrs. Mangham!). So when it comes to this texting language . . . well, let's just say I don't always get it. Seth sent me a text on our anniversary, and I had absolutely no idea what in the world it said! I had to ask him about it later. So I was trying to decide what to text him . . . since negative is such a long word, I figured I'd just do short-hand as best I could instead of texting a complete sentence. And do you know how uncomfortable that was?! So my text to him said Test Negative (meaning, of course, that my pregnancy test was negative).

I waited a minute for a response. He always responds quickly. But I got nothing. I couldn't wait any longer so I went to Bible study. Two hours later, I still hadn't gotten a response from him. And then as I was pulling out of the parking lot, it came. And can I just tell you what his response was? He said still waiting.

Still waiting?!? Now what in the world did that have to do with anything?! And then I realized . . . he thought I was sending him a text telling him to "test negative" on his drug test! And he was telling me he hadn't taken it yet. REALLY?!? Had he totally forgetten about our conversation the night before? I wasn't sure yet what I was going to do. But I finally decided to text him back. I said Waiting on what? MY text was negative.

But before he got that text, my phone rang. When I answered, the first thing he told me was that he was still driving around trying to find the place and that they wouldn't tell him anyway that the test was negative. So when he finally finished that dialogue, I calmly told him that MY test was negative. And then there was silence.

When I got home, I checked the test again, and it still looked negative. So I called my friend, a nurse at Woman's Hospital. I'm not sure what I was expecting her to tell me. But she was honest. She said the test was most likely very accurate, especially since I was so late. I wanted another explanation, but, of course, there was none.

Two months later . . . the test was POSITIVE! This time I didn't bother with a text. I put the test beside Seth's sink so he could see it when he brushed his teeth!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Baby Talk

So if you haven't already figured it out, we're EXPECTING! It goes a little something like this.

Baby Bayham 3 is due July 20. But I will have another scheduled c-section. My doctor, Dr. W, initially targeted July 13 as the date; however, I told her that doesn't work for me. You can imagine her surprise. And then I explained that July 13 is Mason's birthday, and I do not want to schedule the 13th. So I suggested the 16th. But she's not crazy about waiting that long so it might be the 12th. I have my first ultrasound scheduled this Tuesday, and Dr. W said she would know more then.

Most were surprised by our announcement, and that's the way we like it! We've been trying to get this baby here for many months now, which was a much different experience for us. I mean, we just looked at each other, and Hannah Kate came along! I'm just 8 weeks along. Usually we would've waited a few more weeks before sharing our news, but the timing was just right since it was Hannah Kate's birthday, and my parents were in town from Georgia. So this is the first time we've been able to tell both sets of parents together. Besides, imagine the shock in the room when Hannah Kate pulled out her shirt saying, "big sis!" I'll have to see if I can figure out how to upload the video.

We will not be finding out the gender of this baby until he/she is born. But, if you really must know, the Chinese pregnancy calendar says we're having a boy.

Having said all of that . . . I've looked forward for many months to being pregnant again, but I was also hoping to escape the extreme nausea and sickness that accompanied my pregnancy with Hannah Kate. Let's just say that Zofran is my best friend right now, and even he is not doing the trick. I feel absolutely horrid, and it gets increasingly difficult as each day goes on to take care of Mason and Hannah Kate. But the good news is that the nausea doesn't set in until lunch time so I'm at least able to get Mason off to school without any problems. Besides, next week is his last week of school before Christmas break so we're all looking forward to that. But right now I'd just like to lay in my bed and fall asleep until the second trimester! The sickness subsided around 16 weeks with Hannah Kate and then at 20 weeks I repainted our entire house (except the bedrooms and bathrooms) so I'm hoping I'll pick up that same burst of energy this time around, too.

In the meantime, no matter how bad I feel . . . it's such a blessing to be carrying this child, especially when I thought I might never again be with child. July seems like such a long time away, and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of this little one with more anticipation as each day goes by.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday, Hannah Kate!

Dear Hannah Kate,

I can not believe you are FOUR years old today! It seems like just yesterday we brought you home, and you changed our world. You have been such a blessing, such a joy. And you have always been my girl ever since!
I have enjoyed everyday we've spent together! You add so much spunk and laughter to each new day. You've always had such a playful spirit, such a sweet spirit, too.
You are such a good sister, and Mason adores you. You are so smart! Your favorite cartoon is Dora the Explorer. I don't mind that too much because you can count to 10 in Spanish. Your favorite color has always been pink, but now you really like purple, too. You love to read. And you love to take care of your baby dolls, especially changing their clothes and brushing their hair. Your favorite food is spaghetti and meatballs. You love to help me in the kitchen and often ask to bake lemon maringue pie. You know all of your letters and letter sounds; you can count to 30; and you love rhyming words. You can write your name (even though the N's are still backwards). And you color the most beautiful pictures, always staying in between the lines. I love watching you color because you always make sure the girls have on some color eyeshadow and lipstick! I've watched you grow into a sweet little lady. You have such a soft and tender heart. You love Jesus, and I love listening to your prayers each night. He has big plans for you!And now you're going to be a big sister! Happy Birthday, baby girl. You've been asking for a baby to come live with us for a long time. It won't be much longer now. I look forward to sharing that journey with you, too. Our new baby is so blessed to have such a wonderful big brother in Mason and a wonderful big sister in you!
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." ~Jeremiah 29:11-13

Saturday, December 03, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Slow and Steady

Didn't someone once say something like, "Slow and steady wins the race?" I have to admit . . . I'm not a fan of slow. At all. So when we left to go to Georgia for Thanksgiving, here's where we were:
When we returned home a week later, there was definitely some progress. At least we now had scaffolding in the living room. But other than that, all I can say is that it's been slow. Real slow.

But I had a moment yesterday when I realized it's just alright. The job is getting done. And, one day, it will be done. Finished. In the meantime, I'd already told my guy I'd really like him to be done by this weekend since Hannah Kate's birthday party is on Saturday. He told me yesterday that he planned to be finished on Thursday so I'd have Friday to clean everything up and get it all back in its place. Now . . . I'm generally an optomist. And that should've been a sweet sound to my ears. But, more than that, I'm a REALIST. And the reality of the situation is that I didn't really believe him. And . . . honestly . . . after today, I still don't. He didn't get quite as far as he needed to so now he's "behind." But that's okay.

Here we are today:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Praise and Thanksgiving

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee
in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
then thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it,
though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-man,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.
I love thee above the powers of language to express,
for what thou art to they creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.
~The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan prayers and devotions

This past week we celebrated Thanksgiving. Giving thanks. Our holiday was spent in Georgia with my family this year. We played, we laughed, we spent time with family, we fellowshiped with friends, we ate. And ate. But I had to ask myself this question: Am I really thankful? If so, am I living a life of thankfulness? Is thanksgiving just a holiday? Or a lifestyle?

Last Tuesday night we enjoyed the annual Thanksgiving meal at my parents' small, country church. During the past couple of years, they have begun a ministry to the homeless. They go often to Atlanta, an hour's drive. And they are involved in a homeless community ministry in a nearby, local town. One of the church members drove to Atlanta and picked up four of their homeless friends to come to church for the Thanksgiving meal. Afterwards, there was a time of singing, praise and testimony in the sanctuary. When the pastor asked for someone to share what they're thankful for, no one volunteered. But one of the homeless men did. And do you know what he said?

Through tears, he gave praise to God and talked about how blessed he is. BLESSED. Yall. He and his wife are HOMELESS. Without a home. He has no home, no roof over his head, no protection from the storm or the sweltering summertime heat, no warmth from the chill, no promise of a next meal. He said he has so much that people in other parts of the world, third world countries, don't even have. And he is blessed. He has "so much."

And then I started thinking about the MUCH I have been given . . . a new house (a nice, big house honestly), food in the pantry and in the refrigerator, health insurance for my family and I, a nice vehicle, toys that overflow my children's rooms, my husband's job that allows me the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom, family, friends . . . and so much more that I haven't even named. And yet I thought of all the times I complain, all the times I'm ungrateful, all the times I've taken so much for granted. I even felt like nothing I could say, nothing I could give thanks for could compare to what my homeless friend had given thanks for . . . after all, do I really know what GIVING THANKS is?! So many times I don't act like it.

I even found myself on the way home that evening complaining yet again about how quickly the fireplace stone job was coming along, how frustrated I'd been the week before, how aggravated I was because I thought it should've already been finished. REALLY?!? I should've been giving thanks that I even have a house and a fireplace. I should've been giving thanks that we have been blessed with the financial means to lay stone. I should've been giving thanks.

Never again do I want to say . . . I should've been giving thanks. I should've been praising my God.

"And as He [Jesus] went, many spread their clothes on the road. Then as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: Blessed be the King wo comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out." ~Luke 19:36-40

God created me. God loves me. God sent His only Son to die for me. God desires fellowship with me. God has blessed me. May the stones never have to cry out in my place!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Favorites

Favorite Pin - There was no time this week for pins of interest.

Favorite Activity - watching Hannah Kate's tap/ballet class

Favorite Meal - This week's meals were easy . . . either a bit pot of something or another or something pulled out of the freezer. I made red beans and rice one night, which really weren't all that great. But Pioneer Woman's Skillet Cornbread sure did hit the spot!

Favorite Quote - When Mason got off the bus this afternoon, he yelled at the top of his lungs, "Now we're going to Pop and Mimi's." And then he proceeded with the following monologue: "Mama, we should just move to Georgia. I wish we lived in Georgia. MawMaw and us . . . we should move to Georgia. Then we would all be together. Then it would just be so easy. That's what we need to do, Mom. Move to Georgia."

Favorite Verse - The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. ~Hebrews 1:3

And so this was another week that I just want to forget about. We are four days into the fireplace project. We've made progress. Just not very much. It just doesn't seem like four days worth. Here's where we were on Tuesday afternoon. And here's where we are this evening.Just keep in mind we have to go 20-feet high. As for me, I'm trying to forget.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our Little Ballerina

This week was Observation Week at Miss Machita's. That means we finally got to sit in on one of Hannah Kate's ballet/tap lessons. It was the cutest thing ever! I can't wait for the recital.

The warm-ups were so much fun to watch.
And then Miss Machita reviewed with them several different movements and ballet technique.Hannah Kate always talks about dancing with the scarfs . . . they flit around like butterflies, pretend it's a baby, wear it as a veil.There are 10 little girls in Hannah Kate's class. Here are a few of them waiting their turn to dance across the floor.Miss Machita is reminding Hannah Kate to keep her arms straight.And then it was time for the tap lesson, which means we had to change shoes. MawMaw and Abbie came to watch, too, and Abbie helped Hannah Kate don her tap shoes.
I videoed the dances and routines, too, but I haven't had time yet to figure out how to upload them. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

86 million shoeboxes

We packed our shoeboxes . . . have you?

Operation Christmas Child is one of my most favorite holiday missions project. I believe so strongly in the Samaritan's Purse organization and the ministry they do here in our own country, as well as around the world. I wish I could remember the first year I packed a shoebox . . . 18 years and 86 million shoeboxes later, children in 130 nations around the world continue to receive a simple shoebox packed with gifts the likes of which they've never seen before. But the best part is that each box is delivered with love and the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ.

Mason and Hannah Kate love shopping for their shoeboxes. It's something that they remember and talk about throughout the year. Last year our boxes went to Madagascar and Benin. I can't wait to find out where they go to this year!

My dream is to one day hand-deliver our boxes myself.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." ~1 Peter 1:3

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fireplace: Day 2

Yall. Oh. My. Goodness. It's day two of the great fireplace stonework, and I can honestly say I am about to pull my hair out. Let's just say it's a slow process. Very slow. S. L. O. W. It wouldn't bother me so much if I could just go away and not come back until it's finished. It's just . . . inconvenient . . . having "workers" in your house. Or at least it is to me. But I just have to remember that it will be worth it when it's finished. And it will be finished. One day. Far away.

So after two (yes, TWO) days, here's our progress thus far:

Oh, and did I mention it's been only two days? Well, it seems like an eternity. The good news . . . or maybe the bad news . . . is that my guy isn't working tomorrow. He'll be back on Thursday. Will yall pray with me that maybe, just maybe, he can speed up the process a bit? I know it might seem trivial or insignificant or unimportant. But I know that the things that concern His children concern the Heavenly Father. And He wants us to come to Him with ALL things, even fireplaces.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Favorites

I have to be honest. There were very few favorites this week. It was just . . . rough. I don't even want a do-over. I'm just glad it's over!

Favorite Pin - The only thing I pinned this week was a printable pack from etsy for Hannah Kate's birthday party.

Favorite Activity - Decorating our Christmas trees was a lot of fun this week! Yes, I know it's early. But when we come back home after our trip to Georgia for Thanksgiving, everything is already done! Besides, I'll have my hands full planning for Hannah Kate's birthday party. And shopping with Mason and Hannah Kate for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes was a lot of fun, too!

Favorite Meal - We had breakfast for supper one night. I made a Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole and Gouda Cheese Grits. Yum!

Favorite Quote - There isn't one particular thing that stands out this week. Instead, there are conversations. And sometimes even silence.

When we were shopping for our shoeboxes, Mason asked if we could put the Cars 2 DVD in his box. I explained to him that the boy who was going to get his box wouldn't have a DVD player or even a television so he wouldn't be able to watch a DVD. Several minutes passed before Mason said anything else. I know he was thinking about what I said, trying to understand it, trying to comprehend it. We have SO MUCH . . . it's just unfathomable that there are so many with SO LITTLE, even NOTHING.

Since this is the month of Thanksgiving, I ask Mason and Hannah Kate to each tell me one thing they are thankful for every night after we read our Bible story. The first night, Mason said he was thankful for God, and Hannah Kate said she was thankful for Jesus. Now aren't those just the perfect, "churchy" answers you'd love to hear from your 6-year-old and 3-year-old?!? It reminded me of when I was a girl . . . every year Grandmother would have a birthday cake for Jesus at our family gathering on Christmas Eve. And every year we'd light three candles on that cake. And every year she would ask each grandchild, all eight of us, what we were going to give Jesus for His birthday. I don't really remember what the answers were. But I do remember the year I said, "My heart." Well. Didn't that just thrill their hearts? And the adults oohed and aahed and smiled. And then every year after that, I think all eight of us responded with "my heart" when asked the question. I can remember one in particular, maybe two (not naming any names . . . Jennifer and Denise) who would just roll their eyes at me everytime it came my turn. The next night when I asked Mason and Hannah Kate what they were thankful for, they responded with the same thing. But I told them that they had to say something different each night and that they couldn't say what had already been said. So the past few nights have been a lot of fun.

With all of the talk about Christmas and the decorations coming down from the attic, Mason and Hannah Kate are all about it now. As a matter of fact, the other night Mason said he was thankful for Christmas. I asked him why he was thankful for Christmas, and unfortunately I got a little too puffed up, if you know what I mean. I was expecting him to respond with, "because it's Jesus' birthday." But he didn't. Instead, he was honest. He said, "cause I get presents." So I gently reminded him that even though we do get presents at Christmas, and getting presents is fun, Christmas is really about Jesus' birthday. And that's why we should be thankful for Christmas. So he thought for a minute. And do you know what he then asked me? "Well, Mama, why do you have the Christmas tree then?" Ah yes, the honesty of a child. We've had lots of teachable moments this week . . . not only for children but for mother, too.

Favorite Verse - So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taght, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~Colossians 2:6-7

So as much as I'm really glad to have this week behind me, I'm just not looking forward to next week. We have one major project left in the house that we never finished . . . laying the stone on the fireplace. I have a stone layer coming on Monday morning to start the job. It'll probably take three weeks or so. And I'm just not looking forward to it. Well, let me put it another way. I'm not looking forward to the process. But I can not wait until it's DONE.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like . . .

Oh, yes I did!When a friend called last week and asked what I was doing, I'm fairly certain she didn't expect me to tell her I was putting my Christmas tree up! It isn't decorated yet, but it will be soon. Since we're going to Georgia for Thanksgiving this year and then celebrating Hannah Kate's birthday the following weekend when we get back, I decided to get a head start on putting my Christmas decorations out.

Hannah Kate decorated her pink tree today.Mason's tree is up, but it isn't decorated yet.

I even baked tonight's supper in one of my Christmas bakers!The wreaths will go up this weekend. And I'm attempting to fashion a pretty garland for the stair rail. But we'll see how that turns out. One of the things I'm most excited about though is the tree in the music room.

Don't worry. I have a lot of work to do. But it just might be my favorite when it's done. It's inspired by something I saw last year when we went to San Antonio and took a day trip to the quaint German town of Fredericksburg.

Even though we were living in our house during Christmas time last year, we spent the holiday in Georgia. So this year it seems like it's really our first Christmas in our "new" house. And we are so excited!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Favorites

Today is my FAVORITE NEICE's birthday! Happy 9th birthday, Abbie!
We celebrated with Abbie last Sunday afternoon at the ice skating rink in Baton Rouge. I had no idea there was even such a place until Abbie's party.

I was so proud of Mason! He did such a great job! He took a lot of spills and had several bruises on his booty and a blister the size of a quarter on the inside of his foot, but he's already asking to go back again. When he fell, he popped right back up and kept on going. After an hour or so, he was actually skating around quite well and didn't have to hold on anymore.
And Hannah Kate put skates on about five minutes before we left.
Favorite Pin - My absolute favorite pin this week is a genious idea for all of those precious photo Christmas cards we receive. I save all of them year-after-year, but they are all stored away in a box or albums. You can believe I'll be doing this:
Punch a few holes in the cards and bind them together with some rings or perhaps ribbon. Then display them throughout the holiday season on your coffee table.

Favorite Activity - This week was full of really fun stuff, like Abbie's birthday party and the hayride. Today I went with Mason's class on a field trip to a pumpkin patch. It wasn't just a pumpkin patch though . . . petting farm, face painting, huge trampoline, zipline, big slide, nature trail and tons of other activities.

Favorite Meal - Smokey Blue Cheese Chicken Salad Pitas with homemade sweet potato chips. Super simple but really good. Even Seth liked it! He said, "This sure is some fancy food." Really? Pita sandwiches? Fancy?

Favorite Quote - God is AWESOME! This week we talked a lot about God's creation and how strong He is. Finally, at a loss for words and wanting to say something, this is how Mason described our God.

Favorite Verse - I have to admit . . . this is hard. There were SO MANY verses this week that the Lord spoke into my soul that brought encouragement and peace and even conviction. But this is where it all started: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. ~Galatians 2:20

Monday, October 31, 2011

We dressed up today.

Well. Mason got off the bus this afternoon and said, "I'm going to be Spiderman today." Okay. Are you sure you don't want to wear the really cool Indian costume? He was sure. And that was that.

Hannah Kate wanted to be Tinkerbell. But there isn't a Tinkerbell outfit in her dress-up trunk so she decided to be Tiana (The Princess and the Frog) instead.

Our sweet friends invited us over for hotdogs and chili, hot chocolate and a hayride. My least favorite day of the year sure was a lot of fun!

This is the day the LORD has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
~Psalm 118:24

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday Favorites (on Saturday)

Yesterday was busy! But it was a great day! Hannah Kate and I enjoyed a Girls' Day Out while Mason was at school, and we ended the night with a lil bit of worship in the music room. But since it was after midnight before I had a chance to sit down at the computer, I figured we'd just talk about Friday Favorites today instead!

Favorite Memory - I will never forget seeing Mason dressed up in his daddy's old Indian costume. This is what he looked like on the way to school yesterday morning:
And the dozen red roses in his hands . . . those were for his teacher. He'd been telling me for a week or so that he wanted to take flowers to Mrs. E so we picked up a bouquet of flowers while Hannah Kate was at dance. All his idea!

Favorite Pin - My favorite pin this week is this DIY Christmas ball decoration. I absolutely love it because it reminds me of the special Connell Christmas ornaments. Grandmother Scott, (my great-grandmother) started making Christmas balls many years ago using those old satin balls. She would take all kinds of beads and pearls and ribbons and lace and pin decorations to the ball until it was absolutely beautiful. Grandmother continued the tradition. Grandmother's attic is full of these beloved treasures, and they decorate her tree every year. Those are the only decorations on her tree. I always thought growing up that Grandmother's tree was the most beautiful, most special of them all! Mama has a good collection of them now, including ten or so that Rob and I made one year. And Grandmother gave me several after Seth and I were married. If I had enough, these would be the only decorations on my tree!Favorite Activity - I REALLY enjoyed Bible study this week! I'm so thankful for God's Word and new friends.

Favorite Meal - It's beginning to feel a little "fallish" around here so last night I made a big pot of baked potato soup. It was perfect. But my favorite part of the meal was turkey and provolone paninies with basil pesto mayo. So good!

Favorite Quote - As usual, there are a couple of these. On Tuesday night I was trying to settle the kids down for Bible and bedtime. I was going through the usual be-quiet-pay-attention-settle-down routine. It took a little corraling, but we were finally there. Just as I opened the Bible to read, Hannah Kate piped up, "Yeah and no burping." Any and all seriousness was lost at that moment as we all busted out laughing. That's a rather fair indication of where we are with our 6-year-old son these days.

One of Mason's spelling words this week was mused. Yes, 1st grade. So I always make up sentences and try to think of funny stories to help Mason remember the meaning of his words. I explained to him that muse means to think about something. So every night at the supper table, Seth and I would ask Mason was he was musing about. Of course, Hannah Kate had to participate, too. When we were on the way to Bible study Wednesday morning, she spoke up from the back seat, "Mama, I'm thinking about going to Pop and Mimi's house. When Connor doesn't come and Daddy doesn't have to go to to work and Mason doesn't have school, then we can go to Pop and Mimi's house. Riiiiggghhhhhtttttt?"

Favorite Verse - I've been studying the book of Acts. This week we were on chapter 13. Paul was speaking in the synagogue in Antioch and quoted one of my favorite verses, Habbakuk 1:5. Look among the nations and watch- be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days whilch you would not believe, though it were told you. I am excited about what God is doing in my life, in the life of my family. I am excited about what God is doing in my community and in my church. Each of the last three Sundays, there has been a profession of faith. SEVEN people have accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior at our church during the last three Sundays. If you would've told me this last month, I wouldn't have believed it. God is at work, and He is calling people to Him. There's nothing more exciting than that!

And today is also a very special day . . . we have a sweet nephew who is celebrating his 9th birthday today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BEAU!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Like Father

My least favorite day of the year is quickly approaching. Halloween. I know. I'm the only person who would just rather wake up on November 1 instead. When the children were little, it was easy to ignore Halloween. But as they've gotten older, it's become nearly impossible to ignore Halloween. Especially when my 1st grader is invited to wear a costume to school. Last year was easy. We pulled Spiderman out of the toy box, and he still thought Spiderman was cool. But I had no idea what we were going to do this year.

Sure enough Mason started talking three weeks ago about what he was going to "be" for Halloween. My original plan was to somehow invent a costume out of something we already had or perhaps a piece or two of fabric from Hobby Lobby. Have I mentioned that the window treatments I began sewing for Hannah Kate's room are still laying on my dining room floor unfinished even after the first stitch was sewn what has now been a month ago? So it's not very likely that I'm going to sew anything of a costume. Besides, that isn't going to score me any points with my 1st grader or any of the kids in his class anyway.

Last week was when Mason informed me he wanted to be Captain America. Okay. The good news is that it could be worse. It really could. Besides painting his little body a deep shade of blue, I didn't really know where to start on this do-it-yourself costume. I'm just not that creative or inventive. So when I made my weekly jaunt to Wal-Mart and the grocery store yesterday, I took a stroll through the Halloween costume aisle. They had Superman, IronMan and Batman. But no Captain America. I nearly grabbed the IronMan costume, but I knew it wouldn't suffice. So I walked around to the girls' costumes and found one Captain America costume in the wrong place. It also "just so happened to be" the right size.

So I'm checking it out to be sure everything is there. I notice the big Captain America shield front-and-center on the front of the package. Just between us, I'm pretty sure that's why Mason wanted to be Captain America in the first place. He wanted that shield. But I wasn't born yesterday. I had a sneaky suspicion, and, sure enough, in microscopic letters on the back of the package was written shield not included. Great. The costume itself was $19. And I can't even begin to tell you how that $19 was rubbing me the wrong way. Don't get me wrong. I'm not an extreme couponer by any stretch of the imagination, but I do the best I can. In spite of all that was within me, I threw the costume into my buggy. But I knew it still wouldn't suffice.

I meandered to the toy aisle to look for a birthday present and "just so happened" to find a Captain America shield. It was "on sale" for $15. I just closed my eyes and threw it in the buggy. While I made my way through the store, that extra $35 plus tax was weighing heavily on my mind. I was trying to justify it . . . Mason had such a great report card! He brought his reading score up over 4 points and had all As and Bs on his report card! And he needed to be "rewarded" for his diligence and hard work. Yeah, I'm not buying it either.

So I make my way to one of the registers and get behind another mom who had also purchased Halloween costumes for her children, one of which was a pair of camouflage army fatigues. Now I'm really trying not to be judgmental, but I was thinking, Gosh, it's a shame he doesn't have a pair of camo in his closet that he can wear instead of her having to buy that. And then I had an "aha moment." Mason has all brand new camouflage in his closet waiting on hunting season. And he's been dying to wear it, orange vest and all. So when I got to the cashier, I apologized profusely and left the Captain America costume and shield with her, explaining that I'd changed my mind.

I couldn't wait to tell Mason about my idea. I was sure he would love it! So he gets off the bus, and guess what little 4-year-old blurts out, "Mason, we got you a Captain America costume." She missed the memo. Big time. And, unfortunately, he'd already heard her. So I'm trying to shush her up, but she keeps arguing with me, insisting that we purchased the costume. It goes down something like this:

Me: No, we didn't.
Hannah Kate: Yes, we did.
Me: No, we didn't!
Hannah Kate: Yes, we did!

All of this takes place at the end of our driveway. Finally, Mason looks at me and asks, "Mama, did you really?" No, son, I did not. He hung his head and started walking.

But I wasn't finished with him yet. So I began in my most excited voice ever to tell him my idea about him going to school as a deer hunter and wearing his camouflage, even his orange vest and face mask. Let's just say he wasn't as excited as I was. He reluctantly . . . VERY reluctantly, I might add . . . agreed. And then asked a minute and a half later what he was going to be for Halloween and asked if he could be Captain America. Sigh.

So when Seth got home, I told him my idea. I was sure he would be excited. Well, as excited as Seth Bayham can get. Which isn't very excited. And, of course, he was not excited. NOT excited. Needless to say, I'm not excited anymore either. I'm beginning to think I'm going to have to go back to Wal-Mart and just hope that the one remaining Captain America costume is still there. My chances are probably very slim to none.

But then Seth has an idea . . . Mason can wear the costume that he (SETH) wore to school when he was in 1st grade. I thought he was kidding. He wasn't. In fact, he left right then and went to his mom's house to find the costume. He comes back grinning ear-to-ear. Literally. There's very little that excites him, but obviously an Indian costume that was fashioned by his really cool aunt who lived in Chicago is exciting to Seth Bayham.
I'm wasn't quite sure how Mason felt about this, but he loves his daddy so much, and he wants to be like his daddy. And, of course, we had to listen to the story about how he got to wear it to school, and it was the best costume of anyone in the class. So Mason asked if he "won." And that's when it got ugly. No, he said, he got second place. Mason asked about the first place winner. Through gritted teeth, Seth tells us about the little girl in his class who came dressed as a pumpkin and won the 1st place prize for best costume. Pumpkins are cute. Really, they are precious. But the pumpkin costume was actually one of those plastic numbers from whatever store they had back then because Seth said he didn't remember there being a Wal-Mart. It's also quite obvious that this plastic pumpkin costume has scarred him for life and caused a seed of bitterness to spring up in his heart where pumpkins are concerned.

I asked him to go back to his mom's and find a picture of him dressed in the Indian costume. And when he did, he also found a picture of said pumpkin costume. He's right. He was robbed.

Like a good sport, Mason donned the Indian costume. I'm just going to be real honest here. I'm not sure that Mason even really knows what an Indian is! But he has agreed to go to school on Friday as an Indian. Here's my little satchmo in his daddy's 1st grade Indian costume.

Like father like son.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Favorites

Favorite Pin - Again, no time for pinning this week. But my one and only pin . . . definitely my fav!Favorite Activity - I don't necessarily have a favorite activity this week. There were so many fun, spontaneous moments. Everyday moments. I can tell you that sitting in the Louisiana Department of Public Safety Office of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday morning to renew the registration on my Tahoe that EXPIRED in AUGUST (Are you kidding me?!? Something else to keep up with?!? I had no idea until I went to get an inspection sticker - mine expired last month - that my registration had expired because I never received a notice from the OMV and didn't realize it was my responsibility to be "in the know" about that.) for 45 minutes with two screaming toddlers that did not belong to me was not a favorite. PawPaw got us some strawberry plants this week so Mason and Hannah Kate helped him plant those in our strawberry pots. On Tuesday afternoon the temperature dropped from the mid-80s to the mid-40s so I threw open the windows so the crisp, cool air could blow through the house. I can't even begin to tell you how exciting that was! We had a really awesome time of Bible reading and devotion with Mason and Hannah Kate each night this week. I enjoyed going back to BSF on Wednesday. And, if you missed her, Dolly Dingkle came for a visit.

Favorite Delivery - My Christmas tree arrived this week! Woot woot! After last year's Christmas tree disaster, I can not wait! I asked Seth if we can go ahead and put it up. I got the look. But think about it. We'll be in Georgia for Thanksgiving this year. And the following weekend we're back in Louisiana will be Hannah Kate's birthday party. So that means I have to get all of my Christmas decorations up BEFORE we leave to go to Georgia. And October is really nearly over. November is just around the corner. So why not?!

Favorite Meal - Hands down . . . homemade lasagna! I decided this week to go back to the basics, back to our favorites, back to my roots. And this lasagna was one of the best I've ever made. But I did sneak in a new salad recipe - Roasted Red Onion Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette - that's definitely on my list of favorites for fall salads. And I also have to mention the Toffee Apple Dip. Oh. My. Goodness. We had our Women's Fellowship Meeting at church last night, and this was one of the appetizers I took; however, I think it might also fall in the dessert category, too. Cream cheese (8-oz.) brown sugar (3/4 cup), granulated sugar (1/4 cup), vanilla (1 teaspoon) and toffee bits (8-oz package). Enough said. Just mix it all together and dive into it with your favorite apple . . . my personal favorite is Granny Smith . . . or a spoon. You'll thank me later.

Favorite Quote - Mama, sometimes I'm bad to you. I have to admit . . . I had no idea what Mason was talking about when he told me this. It was Tuesday night, and we'd just finished reading Hannah Kate's choice of Bible story and were about to read Mason's. I thought maybe he'd said he was mad at me so I asked him to repeat what he said. And then I still wasn't sure so I asked him to give me an example. That's when he told me that sometimes he does bad things, things he isn't supposed to do or say. So I told him that it's okay. We all do bad things. I do bad things. And that means that sometimes I need to say I'm sorry and ask forgiveness, even from him. Then I had the opportunity to share with him about Jesus' sacrifice for us, for him . . . that's why Jesus died on the cross. Because He knew we'd do bad things, things that would keep us away from God. But now we can ask forgiveness, and it is ours. I've had several opportunities during the past few months to witness to my son about a saving relationship and belief in Jesus Christ. He's getting close; I just know it! And I continue to pray over him, to pray that he will come to a saving knowledge of Christ at a young age, that he will desire nothing else than God's best and God's plan for his life, that he will remain obedient even in the midst of temptation, that he will love God with his all.

There's another one, too.

Since it's cold out here now . . . does that mean it's deer hunting season? Mason asked me this question on Wednesday morning while we were waiting for the bus. He was disappointed when I told him it still wasn't that time yet.

And here's something Hannah Kate told me earlier today as she was browsing the latest American Girl catalog that arrived in the mail yesterday.

Mama, let's get me a computer for my birthday and then we can get on-line and pick out my doll for Christmas. Oh really? And just what exactly does my 3-year-old know about "getting on-line?"

Favorite Bible Verse - Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shown in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, "Arise quickly!" And his chains fell off his hands. ~Acts 12:7 You do not have the situation that God can not change. You do not have the problem that God can not fix. Peter's chains FELL OFF. Not to mention he was also being guarded by no less than SIXTEEN soldiers at the time. What chains do you need the Lord to free you from?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dolly Dingkle

This week was Dolly Dingkle Week at Miss Machita's. It seems that every year about this time, Dolly Dingkle wants to dance. But she prefers to do things her way. This is really just Miss Machita's politically correct way of not celebrating Halloween but still encouraging the ballerinas to "dress up" but not in coustume. So here's my Dolly Dingkle:And here's my Dolly Dingkle with the Dolly Dingklest of them all, Miss Machita:Today was also the day that Miss Machita unveiled the theme, dances and costumes for the recital.I've actually known about this for several weeks, but I kept the information to myself until Miss Machita made the official announcement. There are two recital times each year, and one class of ballerinas from each recital time is chosen to dance with their daddies. Have you figured out yet where this is going?

Yes. It is our year. Hannah Kate will dance her tap routine with her Daddy. On stage. Big lights. In a theater that seats 1,900. If you know my husband, you understand the sheer magnitude of this situation.

Last year Abbie's class was picked for the Daddy Dance so Barry was on stage. My husband proudly proclaimed that they will never get him on that stage. It would've been nice to have a year or two to break him in. But no. It's Hannah Kate's first year. And . . . it just might be her last if her Daddy has anything to do with it.

I finally broke the news to Seth last night. I knew I had to or else he would hear it from someone else. When I first told him, he shook his head no and walked away. Maybe it wasn't necessarily a good idea to bring this up on the same day he received a jury summons in the mail. So later I brought the subject up again to be sure he heard me (which I already knew he did). His response was short and sweet. No. That's what he said. No. This also comes as he's shaking his head violently back and forth. It could've just rolled right off!

So now there's nothing else for me to do . . . what can I do? . . . rent-a-dad, anyone?!? He'll be dancing with the most precious little strawberry blonde ever!
To be continued at a later date. Saturday, May 5. 1:00. Mark your calendars. This is sure to be epic!