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Monday, May 23, 2011

Graduation Day

Well, I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat . . . wondering whether or not my waterproof mascera held out today! Why, yes it did!

So we were on our way to school this morning for the graduation ceremony . . . waiting for the crossing guard to allow us to turn into the school . . . and you'll never believe what song came on the radio at that very moment. Blink. And, no, I didn't cry. I smiled. Because, you know, isn't that just like God . . . to meet us right where we are? To give us a Word at just the right time when we need it the most?

Here's Mason . . . in his cap and gown . . . with his beloved Ms. Alexander. Or, should I say, OUR beloved Ms. Alexander!
All of the kindergarteners marched in from the back of the gym. At this point, Mason is all bobble head. He just couldn't leave that tassle alone and kept swinging it back and forth in front of his face. That's my boy!
Proud moment . . . So after various and sundry announcements and welcomes and presentations, 80 of the cutest kids you've ever seen are awarded their kindergarten medals and diplomas.
At this point, I was doing really good! My mascera is still intact, and I hadn't even pulled the kleenex out!
But then . . . something happened that I had no idea was going to happen. I actually don't even have any pictures of it because it was just so unexpected, so shocking. I'm sure you're just dying to know . . . on the edge of your seat . . . but I'm going to save it for later. If you look closely in the picture below, you might can figure out what I'm talking about. But I promise to fill you in on the details in a later post. And here's me and my boy . . . my pride and joy . . . he made this Mama proud today! And everyday, actually . . .
BLINK. Mason graduated from kindergarten today.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Last Day

Today was the last day of kindergarten. I totally wasn't expecting it . . .

We spent all week . . . well, really the last several weeks . . . looking forward to the last day of school. It meant sleeping "late" and "lazy" days. So that's what was on my mind all week. Until last night. It hit me like a load of bricks. It's the LAST DAY of kindergarten. I didn't even bother going to bed at a decent hour because I knew what was going to happen. I tossed and turned all through the wee hours of the morning. It was worse than the night before the first day of school!

Mason and I woke up, ate breakfast, got dressed and walked down the driveway for the last time this school year. Of course, I just happened to have my camera with me! Mason wasn't digging it at 6:40am, but who can blame him?When Mason got on the bus, he turned around and looked at me.That's when it started . . . you know, that lump you get in your throat that starts burning. I knew I was in trouble. I just didn't know yet how much trouble. He got on the bus, I made my way back to the house and then it happened. I turned around and looked back. All I could see were the tail lights on the bus, and I lost it. In the middle of the driveway. It was rather . . . unexpected. I managed to pull it together, and the morning was underway. Connor arrived and the littlest ones ate breakfast. I cleaned the kitchen, dressed the babies and then we loaded up to go to school to spend the morning with Mason and his class.

We were listening to the radio, and the "morning crew" was talking about a marriage proposal on youtube that had generated millions of hits (I'm thinking to myself that this must be the video Mama emailed me the day before that I hadn't had time to look at yet and that I must do so when I get home) . . . how the guy created a movie trailer that his unsuspecting bride saw when she went to see a movie with friends. And then they played part of the audio portion of the video. That would be the second time I lost it. I also realized that I had neglected to apply waterproof mascera this morning . . .

Just really quick about the proposal . . . if you haven't already seen it (and I'm sure you probably have), you can check it out here. And I also have to say that this took place in Georgia not too far from where I grew up. AND one of my friends knows this guy who put the proposal together! When I looked at it on Friday, it had over 6 million hits. Now the number is over 11 million! But . . . whatever you do . . . just don't compare it to your own! :)

Back to school. When we entered the parking lot, I noticed Mason's class playing outside. So we joined them. And you can see who's the big dawg on the playground!By the time it was over with, there were at least 20 children crowded around Connor's stroller. One of the teachers finally shooed them away.

Hannah Kate thought she was hot stuff, too. She insisted on bringing her backpack and had even filled it with several of her favorite books. I ended up reading Silverlicious to a crowd of kindergarteners before it was over with.
And then it was time to go inside. Hannah Kate was such a big girl and insisted on doing everything that Mason's class did, even walking in line.When we got back to class, Ms. Alexander read Ms. Bindergarten Celebrates the Last Day of Kindergarten to everyone.And then Ms. Alexander gave awards to her class. She really wanted every child in her class to receive an award so she spent a lot of time creating a unique award for each child. She gave a little speech about each one and explained how each was special. So about three children into the "awards ceremony," I couldn't help myself. I totally lost it. Again. And it wasn't even Mason's turn yet! I knew I had to pull myself together before Mason's award because I didn't want to miss a thing. Unfortunately, my kleenex were back home . . . next to my waterproof mascera . . . so I grabbed some from the table behind me.

It was finally Mason's turn. And yall. I have never been a more proud Mama than at that moment. Mason received the Learning Words Award.Ms. Alexander explained that Mason was the best in the class at learning new words . . . he was the first to learn all of the sight words . . . and he was excited about learning new words and reading. This was such a huge accomplishment for him. Because it hasn't always been that way. It took awhile . . . a lot of creativity on Ms. Alexander's part . . . a lot of work at home. But he did it! If you would've told me at the beginning of the school year that Mason would graduate kindergarten knowing how to read simple words and simple books, I never would've believed you. But he can. And he does!You'll never believe it. But I didn't cry when Mason received his award!

However. The story doesn't end there.

After the awards were given, Ms. Alexander told her class that she had something very special to show them . . . something she was going to present to each parent. She then showed a DVD that she created with pictures from all of the activities and field trips and just day-to-day stuff in the classroom. She played some of their favorite songs in the background, songs like You Are the Sunshine of My Life. Yep. You guessed it. I lost it. Again. Only this time it was worse. Much worse. It wasn't even a pretty cry! It was one of those awful I'm-trying-really-hard-not-to-cry-and-not-to-let-you-know-that-I'm-really-crying-so-I'm-trying-to-preten-I'm-not-really-crying kinds of cries that just erupts with snorts and sobs and the whole shabang. I was a mess. And I was beginning to attract the attention of 20 graduating kindergarteners. And then Ms. Alexander came over, patted me on the back and asked if I needed anything. I couldn't even answer her! I did later apologize, by the way.

At that point, Hannah Kate kept trying to sit in my lap . . . but honestly, I just really wasn't paying much attention to her because I was trying to watch the video, and I was trying to stop crying. (Did I mention I'm blubbering even right now as I type this . . . at just the thought of that video?!? I mean . . . best gift EVER to this Mama!) It was then I realized that I wasn't the only one crying. Hannah Kate had huge tears in her eyes and on those rosy cheeks, and I could tell she was about to go bezerk. So I scooped her up and tried to explain that Mama was crying because she was happy for Mason, not sad. Yeah, that didn't go over too well with a three-year-old.

The both of us finally pulled it together in time to enjoy cupcakes. One of the other moms made cupcakes for everyone with their names on them.
And then the last day of school . . . was over. It was only a half day anyway. So we packed up, loaded up and headed out. Mason requested McDonald's for lunch. Let it be said right here and now that I do not do McDonald's. Just the mere thought of it makes me feel the need to begin a 30-day cleanse. But it was the last day of kindergarten. And my boy just received the Learning Words Award. So what's a Mama to do except go to McDonald's?

We're headed down the highway. And you'll never guess what happened next. Really, you won't. I saw blue flashing lights up ahead. And I knew immediately what it was. A funeral procession. So. I'll bet you CAN guess what transpired next. Did I mention my kleenex and waterproof mascera were AT HOME?!?

We made it to McDonald's. And everyone enjoyed their chicken nuggets.I have to confess. I ate a Big Mac. And I sort of enjoyed it. Until I started feeling like I needed a 30-day cleanse! Somehow, I managed not to cry through the sloppy greasiness of the whole thing. Maybe I should have though!

And Monday . . . well, Monday is kindergarten graduation. I've learned my lesson. I'll not forget the waterproof mascera. Or the kleenex.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Crawfish Boil



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

First Swim



Sunday, May 15, 2011

It Was Easter

It was Easter. Three weeks ago. So I guess that means I'm about three weeks behind. But anyway. Here we are (or were).
We don't "do" the Easter bunny, but Seth and I always give Mason and Hannah Kate a basket of goodies.My favorite hymn (right now) is Stuart Townend's How Deep the Father's Love for Us. I found myself singing the words . . . over and over . . . during the days leading up to resurrection Sunday. In the midst of the Easter dress, new church shoes and baskets, I sometimes lose sight of the wounds and bruises and chastisement borne by my Savior for me (and you, too!) so we might live forever with HIM. So really, every Sunday, EVERY DAY is resurrection Sunday for those who are in Christ. Here are the words to Townend's hymn. Soak them in, and let them sit awhile.

How deep the Father's love for us,
how vast beyond all measure;
That He should give His only Son
to make a wretch (that would be me) His treasure (that's me!).
How great the pain of searing loss;
the Father turns His face away
as wounds which mar the Chosen One
bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon a cross,
my sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there (tears . . .)
until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life;
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything:
no gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ;
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I can not give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Wow.

So after church and after lunch, we came back home. It was a beautiful day . . . and Seth and I planted two pecan trees in our backyard. These were actually Christmas presents to us from Barry and Ashley. Um, yea, one of the best Christmas presents ever! Mason and Hannah Kate were outside, too. Playing in the dirt. Because that's all we have around here lately. I honestly wasn't paying too much attention to them until this little face came to the door . . . and I had to take a picture. Of course, she wouldn't get off of her Dora phone, but that's okay.This little princess knows how to get down and dirty! And she loves every minute of it.

I have to share one more Easter memory. This one is for Mimi.

Someone (Mimi) included a set of press-on nails in Hannah Kate's Easter goodie. Can I just tell you how much I LOVED press-on nails when I was little?!? And how I always begged Mama to buy them for me. But never did I have PRINCESS press-on nails. Are these not some of the . . . gaudiest . . . things you've ever seen?!? But you know my girl loves them! So thank you, Mimi.



Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mothering

I've spent this Mother's Day just like all other 364 days in the year . . . mothering! Let's just say my family isn't exactly the breakfast-in-bed-for-Mom kind of family! Today has been a regular, ordinary Sunday. We woke up. We ate breakfast. We got dressed. We brushed our teeth. And we went to church.

I actually began the weekend partying. Not that kind though. I had one of those feeling-sorry-for-myself parties . . . a big fat PITY party. I spent a few hours wallowing in the grief of my-husband-has-to-leave-after-church-on-Sunday-to-go-to-work-and-it's-Mother's-Day-for-goodness-sakes kind of parties. It was just plain ugly. I know. It's just ridiculous. I mean . . . my children are beautiful, healthy, smart (at least in my opinion) . . . my husband has a great job that provides abundantly for our family (realizing that we know WHO provides for us through Seth's job) . . . we are safe . . . we have been blessed with a nice house . . . the kids' rooms are brimming over with toys . . . we have a huge supply of food in the pantry and refrigerator . . . I could go on and on and on. But I won't. You get the idea.

So yesterday I was driving back from Beaumont (I'll spare you the details of that story, but let's just say we left on Friday and came back yesterday with a new-to-us truck for Seth), and I decided that I would spend the majority of that time in prayer instead of flipping through the radio stations and whatever CDs I had on hand. The first thing I asked the Lord was that he would lift my burden and instead give me joy in this Mother's Day weekend, specifically joy in mothering.

Because I'll be really honest with you . . . mothering is hard! Or at least it is for me! I mean, I love it, and I love my children with my all. But mothering is hard work! And I'm just plain tired! I read other blogs, and I see the Facebook status of my girlfriends . . . you know, they all talk about how wonderful being a mother is and how they love it and all that. It just seems like they all have it together on this journey of motherhood while I'm sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire or something! I'm right there with them on the part about it being "the most wonderful thing ever," but it certainly isn't the easiest thing ever, and most nights I go to bed wishing I could have a "do over!" I've made so many mistakes. I know I have many more to make. I've had so many less than stellar moments. Someone once made the comment that it takes a village to raise a child. But, as of yet, no one has told me where this village is! But my children have loved me unconditionally through it all. That's what's so amazing!

So we pulled up in Seth's parents' driveway yesterday to get Mason and Hannah Kate. They were playing outside. I didn't see Mason at first, but I saw Hannah Kate. She stopped what she was doing, gave me the heartiest wave and the biggest grin and came running to me when I got out of the Tahoe. I got one of those really good around-the-neck hugs. Then I saw Mason come around the corner of the house. When he spotted me, he took off running, and I got another hug! That's not his typical response these days . . . remember the kid who gets off the bus and whizzes past while I'm standing there with arms wide open that never get a hug? And then they had to tell me all about their day. Now that is MOTHER JOY!

When we got home, I spent some time practicing the music we were going to sing at church this morning. I'd already decided one of the pieces I was going to play, but I hadn't decided on the other one. I was thinking about it as I was driving home, thinking about the songs I knew we were going to sing . . . and then I decided I was going to play a simple arrangement of Be the Centre. It would go well with the other music, and I felt like it really expressed my heart when it comes to mothering. So I grabbed my song book and turned to the arrangement. That's when I saw this:If you look closely, you'll notice that someone (a cute little 2-year-old at the time) took a pencil and added some of her own notations to my music. I never erased them. And I'm so glad I didn't! I had forgotten that this was the piece of music in question, and when I turned to the page and saw all of the pencil markings, my heart just melted. Now that is MOTHER JOY!

I guess I just needed a little encouragement this Mother's Day. In the midst of the skinned knees, spilled glasses of milk, bedtime stories, chicken nuggets, mounds of laundry, constant discipline and reminders . . . the day in day out mundane tasks of home-making and mothering . . . I often times forget that MOTHERING MATTERS. My children aren't exactly going to rise up right now and call me blessed (Proverbs 31:28) . . . they're ages 5 and 3 . . . but what I'm doing, what we're doing, MATTERS to the Lord. And I believe He knew that young mothers would need such encouragement.

" . . . admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers . . . " ~Titus 2:4-5

My absolutely favorite parenting / mothering book is Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman (a must-read if you haven't already). In it she writes:

"Sometimes I feel like just getting dressed and making it through the day is all I ever accomplish. (Can I hear an AMEN?) 'Isn't there something more that You wanted me to do today, Lord?' . . . Yes, my greatest accomplishment today was nurturing the two precious children that God has entrusted to my care. Now let's talk about my greatest challenge today . . . and everyday. It is raising these two precious children in the ways of the Lord. God does have an important job for me, and it does require much skill. It is my calling, my priority, my struggle and my goal. I will rise to the occasion and accept the task at hand. I will love, nurture and train my children the way God has called me to do. Moms, we need to be reminded of the awesome responsibility that God has given us. When we respond to the high calling of motherhood with passion, the rewards are far greater than any we could ever gain outside of that calling. The joys of motherhood are rare and beautiful treasures that can be easily missed if we don't seize the opportunity to grab them. Being a mom is more than being a cook, chauffeur, maid, counselor, doctor, referee, disciplinarian, etc. (just to name a few). It's about molding character, building confidence, nurturing, training and guiding. There is nothing like the influence that a mother has on her child. A mother's influence has enormous potential to shape the person a child becomes, for good or ill."

I don't know about you, but I needed to hear that today. And listen to what Thomas Edison said about his mom:

"My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt that I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint."

This is my favorite Mother's Day picture with Mason and Hannah Kate . . . Mother's Day 2009.

I'll leave you with the words of a Puritan prayer:

"Let those that are united to me in tender ties
be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory.
Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion,
instruction, discipline, example,
that my house may be a nursery for heaven,
my church the garden of the Lord,
enriched with trees of righteousness of thy planting,
for thy glory."



Thursday, May 05, 2011

Royal Reflections (and Relations?)

My earliest childhood memory . . . and I kid you not . . . is watching Princess Diana walk down the red carpet to marry her prince. I was barely three years old. But I remember. That dress just captivated me. And so did Princess Di. So much so . . . that when I was in Mrs. Jones' 4th grade class and given the assignment of reading a biography or autobiography and then reporting on it to the class while dressing the part, I, of course, chose Princess Di. I mean, what little girl doesn't want to be a princess?!?

I also remember the day of the book report presentation. I wore a pastel blue or green (I can't remember which, and that's really aggravating!) gown that Mrs. Jones let me borrow. And that morning when I woke up to go to school, I asked Mama to French braid my hair. I still remember her response: "Princess Diana doesn't wear her hair in a French braid." Well, her hair was too short for a braid. And my hair (at half-way down my back) was too long to do anything with that remotely resembled Princess Di. So why a French braid? Because when I was in 4th grade, that was the most elegant hairstyle my mind could fathom for my long locks. And, of course, my Mama obliged, and I went to school with a French braid that day.

I was always fascinated with Princess Di . . . I sure wish I had People Magazine's special wedding issue of her! I was so sad when her marriage to the Prince fell apart. And I remember very vividly exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news of her death. Since then, my infatuation with the royal family waned.

Until last Thursday night . . . I found myself greatly anticipating William and Kate's wedding, so much so that I even entertained the thought of waking up early (really early) to watch the wedding. But then I realized how silly that was, especially since I could just DVR the thing. So that's what I did. And then I found out that there's actually a Lifetime movie devoted to the couple. I've never seen it, but I understand it was aired multiple times leading up to the day of the wedding. I'm secretly hoping for another repeat! I'm also debating on whether or not to purchase People Magazine's special issue of the wedding!

I have very little time to devote to television viewing, but I wanted to see that wedding. I couldn't wait to see THE DRESS! I made absolutely sure throughout the day that I didn't catch a glimpse of Kate's dress on the news or the internet. I didn't want to spoil the royal viewing. So Friday afternoon, I sat down to watch the wedding. I'll admit . . . I had to skip through most of it . . . and after 45 minutes, I'd already seen what I wanted to see (or had time to see).

The first thing I wanted to do was go out and buy me a hat! I still haven't decided which one was my favorite, although I know which ones are not! And then Kate herself . . . I thought she was absolutely gorgeous. And I absolutely LOVE THE DRESS!

I've often thought . . . if I had it to do all over again (which I will not!) . . . what my dress would look like. Let's face it . . . I wouldn't choose the same dress today that I chose 11 years ago . . . although that was the perfect dress for me at the time. But. I'm certain I wouldn't choose Kate's dress either. It was perfectly lovely, and I really do love it . . . but did you see PIPPA'S DRESS?!? Oh my . . . absolutely stunning! Love love LOVE it!

So. Beyond the clothes and the hats (and the music), do you know what else really captured my attention? Prince Harry! And do you know why? I felt like I was looking at someone I know. I mean, really know. Here. Let me show you. Here he is (and you know I chose this picture so you could also see Pippa's dress! . . . although it really doesn't do it justice since you can't see the entire length of it).
But doesn't he look just like HIM?!?
In case you're wondering, that's MY BROTHER!

And, by the way, I don't have to dream of being a princess or even being related to royalty. I ALREADY AM. You see, I am a child of the King. So that makes me a princess!

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." ~John 1:12

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" ~1 John 3:1

And can I just tell you . . . I CAN NOT wait to see my King one day! I'll bet all the castles in England can't even compare to the mansion He's prepared for me!