Monday, December 23, 2013

A Different Kind of Christmas

So last week I spent several days without the internet.  It went down on Wednesday morning, and it wasn't until Friday that they were able to get it fixed.  So I missed out on social media for basically three days.  I also didn't have time to watch TV at all those days so I really had no clue what was "going on in the world."  I really figured I hadn't missed much.  Until I saw my news feed on Facebook.  The first post was a friend begging everyone to post status updates and pictures that reflect the season of joy we claim this time of year.  You know, trees and lights and decorations and carols and stuff.  I thought that a little odd.  I mean, what in the world else would you be talking about this time of year?  And then I saw the next 50 or so posts.  In case you really have no idea what I'm talking about, there's been a lot in the news lately about ducks.  I could talk about ducks.  I really could.  But I'm not going to.

As the days of thanks gave way to the Advent, I found myself longing for a real kind of Christmas this year.  Now, don't get me wrong.  We did the Christmas plays, living nativity, parties, presents, decorations, lights.  We did all of it.  We did it in the midst of sick children and doctor visits and being just plain tired from it all.  We made lots of memories.  But this Christmas is different.  It's REAL.  

This week was a rather exciting one at school.  I had the pleasure of attending both of the kids' Christmas parties.  I don't have any pictures from Hannah Kate's party (because I gave myself permission to just go and enjoy it), but I did take this picture at Mason's party.  I took it with my phone so the quality isn't very good.  And it unfortunately highlights my least favorite feature about myself.  My teeth.  They are too big.  But my boy wanted his picture with me so that made it worth it.
Let me just tell you.  Mason's teacher is way cooler than I ever would be.  When I was walking down the hall to his class, I noticed a smell.  It was one of those smells that you can't quite identify.  When I walked into Mason's class, all of the desks had been moved to the perimeter of the room so there was a big, open circle in the middle.  The kids were all dressed in their pajamas.  And they all had their shoes off.  And I thought the smell in the hall was bad!  I quickly realized this was the origin of the smell!  Feet.  And pizza.  Now that's a winning combination.  But I'm thinking it would've been a whole lot better if the shoes would've stayed on the feet!

And this girl.  Well, she cracks me up.  She was so cute in her Santa outfit (compliments of Hannah Kate's hand-me-downs), and she even lets me put a bow in her hair now and will leave it in all day!  She's been really sick this weekend though, and it has not been nice.  She started with a fever on Friday and then she began vomiting.  I think we're done with that, but now it's really yucky diapers.  And she is a grump monkey!  Today was a long day, but I'm hoping she'll feel better tomorrow.  I just want everyone to be well for Christmas.  Hannah Kate was sick with some sort of something for over a week.  She missed three days of school, went to the doctor two of those days and had negative strep and flu tests every time.  She had a lot of vomiting, too.
Somehow I managed to finally mail our Christmas cards this week!  They may or may not arrive in Georgia before December 25, but that's okay.  I decided to make it easy on myself and use one of the pictures we had taken this summer.  And then I got one of those really great cyber Monday half price and free shipping deals.  Our cards were printed within 24 hours of me ordering them.  But they took quite a journey getting here.  They spent several days somewhere in Arizona and then got stuck in Dallas for over a week.  From Dallas they went to Mississippi and then to Memphis.  Tennessee.  Now, geography and history were my least favorite subjects in school.  And I'm really not very good with either.  But I know my states (or the southern ones, at least), and I'm not sure why they couldn't stop on the way to Mississippi being that Louisiana is between there and Texas.  But what do I know?

Here's another one for you.  I'd also ordered something else.  From Dallas it went to Memphis and then to Mississippi and then back to Memphis before coming here.  I guess I should just be thankful I got it.

Speaking of getting stuff.  My Christmas shopping is done.  But that isn't unusual.  This year I bought my first gifts in September.  The kids were actually really easy this year.  Mason and Hannah Kate are going to be really surprised with their gift.  The difficult part was deciding what to get for Ellie.  She already has everything I could think of because she gets everything from Hannah Kate.  But the big kids each have a big bean bag in the playroom, and she doesn't have anything.  So I decided to get her one of those anywhere chairs from Pottery Barn Kids.  I ordered it at Thanksgiving.  After I ordered it, I got an email saying it was on backorder and wouldn't be available to ship until December 8.  I wasn't worried.  And then December 8 rolled around, and I got an email saying it wouldn't be available to ship until the 10th.  The 10th came and went.  And I heard nothing else.  Last week I found out it's on backorder until mid January.  

At first I decided I wasn't going to worry about it because I knew it would eventually arrive, and Ellie would never know the difference.  She's one.  But then I started feeling "guilty."  I wanted her to have a gift on Christmas just like Mason and Hannah Kate.  I didn't know what to do.  So I called PBK to see if there was any chance it would be here for Christmas, and I was told there was no chance.  So Wednesday morning I decided to cancel my order and get her something else.  Only I couldn't think of "something else."  There's a PBK in New Orleans so I called them on a whim Wednesday afternoon.  I really didn't think they stocked the anywhere chairs in the store, but I figured I would take a chance anyway.  So I called and found out that had only two left in the store.  And one of them just so happened to be pink.  So, of course, I did the most logical thing any mother would do.  I paid for it over the phone and told the girl I'd come pick it up on Friday or Saturday.  And then I told my husband I had to go to New Orleans to get Ellie's Christmas present.

Going to New Orleans to get Ellie's Christmas present turned into an overnight trip for just the two of us!  I'd never been to New Orleans at Christmas time.  And it's not much different except for a few palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights.  But there was a gorgeous tree on the roof top of our hotel, and the lobby was very festive.  It was a quick trip, but I had an amazing time just Seth and me.

Speaking of Seth.  And gifts.  What you need to know is that he plans ahead for NOTHING.  And he waits until the last minute for EVERYTHING.  This is rather annoying, especially considering that my birthday and our anniversary (and every other major holiday for that matter!) are all on the SAME DAY EVERY YEAR.  They don't change!  But Seth does his Christmas shopping on December 24 or maybe December 23.  I've also found that the best thing to do is to tell him not to worry about it and instead go and buy my own present after Christmas is over.  A couple of years ago I even started keeping my wish list on my phone.  So all he has to do is pick up my phone and look at my list.  Yeah, he's never done that either.

So imagine my SHOCK when he came home Thursday A WEEK AGO, meaning December 12, and asked me if it was okay for him to spend a certain amount of money on my Christmas present!  And then he proceeds to tell me how excited he is about it.  I dismissed this conversation and blamed it on the weather, I guess.  But the next day he did, in fact, buy my gift.  Well played, too.  He got cash out of our account so I couldn't look at our online banking and discover what store he spent the money at.  And then he tells me later that night how he can't wait to give me my gift.  So I start asking questions.  And then he gets a little aggravated and finally tells me that I'm never going to figure it out because I "don't even know that it exists."  Needless to say, he obviously did NOT look at my handy dandy list on my phone (yet again).  And I have to admit.  I'm a little worried.  Because he's obviously excited about it.  So I'm going to have to be excited about it.  But what if it isn't any good?  Because that's a possibility, you know.  So I'm really interested to see how this turns out.  And I can't shake the box either because it's obviously hidden somewhere at his parents' house!

Here's one more Christmas picture for you.  This was the night we went to the drive through living nativity and then to get ice cream and then to see the lights.  Santa was just an added bonus that we weren't expecting.  As you can tell, Ellie could have done without him!

And, now, here I am.  It's late.  VERY late.  Everyone is asleep.  And I'm enjoying the lights on my tree.  I try to add to my Christmas decorations every year, but I'm two years behind.  This year I caught up!  So we have a garland on the stair rail.  It didn't quite turn out like I envisioned it so I'm sure I'll be doing it all over again next year, but at least I finally have a garland.  All of my presents are wrapped and under the tree.  The past few years I've wrapped gifts the night before they were opened.  There are gingerbread house pieces in the pantry waiting to be assembled on Christmas eve.  The pantry is full of goodies that I hope to bake and cook tomorrow.  And I'm just soaking in all of this Christmas!

Having said all of that . . . it's been a "different" kind of Christmas.  I was thinking about that first Christmas over 2,000 years ago.  And how quiet it must have been.  But maybe it wasn't so quiet after all.  I mean, I'm pretty sure those angels lit it up when they appeared to the shepherds in all their glory proclaiming that the SAVIOR had been born.  Can you imagine the sight?  But I wanted THAT Christmas.  The one that's just full of Jesus.

So as I prayed that I would take the time this Christmas to PREPARE HIM ROOM, He did something that only He can do.  In the midst of all the parties and the gifts that are already wrapped and under the tree and the decorations that somehow all made it out and up this year, the Lord has given us the opportunity to share and to minister His gift - love and mercy and grace - in a very tangible way this year.  I will NEVER forget this Christmas!  It would seem like the others would receive the greatest blessing.  But it is we who are receiving the greatest blessing!

This whole year has been quite a journey for me.  And it's been all about His grace.  His grace and His mercy.  I know what and who I am without Him.  I know what would happen to me in this life and beyond without him.  I know I am a wretched sinner in desperate need of a Savior.  And because I've accepted His free gift, that perfect, spotless, Lamb of God that was born and given on the very first Christmas, He doesn't see me as who I was but as who He makes me to be through the process of sanctification.  I KNOW how much I need His grace and His mercy.  And other people need that, too.  They need that most of all from Him.  But they need that from me, too.  And then I was thinking . . . it seems like, that since I know just how much I need His mercy and His grace, I would also be willing to show His mercy and His grace to others, to those who are His and to those who are NOT His.  But that's just not always been the case.

People need Jesus.  It's just as plain and simple as that.  This Christmas I guess you could say I went back to the beginning, back to where it all started.

For God so LOVED the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  ~John 3:16

This time last year I blogged about salt and light.  I need to add to that love and mercy and grace.  God poured all of that out into that manger of straw over 2,000 years ago.  And then Jesus shed that on the cross.  For me.  For you.  For the WORLD.

Joy to the world!  The Lord has come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room!
And heaven and nature sing; and heaven and nature sing.
And heaven and heaven and nature sing!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Today is HIS birthday!

Today we celebrated another birthday.  Seth's birthday is today.  And the celebration began at 3:30AM this morning as I was bathing Hannah Kate and washing her hair after she threw up while Seth was sitting in the bathroom with us.

This is the second day of school this week that Hannah Kate has missed.  I took her to the doctor on Monday because she was complaining of a headache and sore throat.  Since there had been a lot of sickness in Georgia when we were there last week, I decided to go ahead and take her.  The strep and flu tests both came back negative.  The only thing Dr. K could find was a slightly red throat.  So we just took it easy (not really) the rest of the day, and she went back to school on Tuesday.  She's really not been herself this week, but nor has she complained of any other symptoms.  I thought that perhaps the 3:30AM episode was just a fluke.  Seth said he'd heard her coughing so maybe that's what caused her to throw up.  She went back to bed until I woke her up for school.  She seemed fine.  She ate breakfast, got dressed and was excited to start her day.  It wasn't long before she lost her entire breakfast.

I already had her an appointment scheduled this morning for something else so we headed out to the pediatrician again.  Dr. S said her tonsils were really yucky, red, swollen and pussy.  Her glands are swollen, too.  So they did another strep test.  Yet again, this one came back negative.  Dr. S said she wasn't necessarily convinced and wanted to send it for further testing in the lab.  We should get the results of that tomorrow.

In the meantime, she still couldn't keep down just crackers for lunch so Dr. S gave her a prescription for Zofran, the wonder drug that made my last two pregnancies tolerable.  After taking that, she was finally able to make those crackers stay down.  She still isn't complaining of any other symptoms, not even a sore throat.  That's surprising to me considering how bad her throat looks.  So for now we're just waiting to see what the lab says tomorrow.

Obviously the day didn't go as I'd planned.  My original idea was to go out to eat for Seth's birthday and then go to Nottoway Plantation for their Christmas tree lighting.  Never mind that it was 80 degrees yesterday and 40 degrees today and raining.  So, needless to say, the only Christmas tree lighting we saw tonight was the one in our family room!

So today is my big love's birthday.  He's still thirty-something.  The only thing really that's changed is how much I love him.  Because that would be more and more with every passing day, especially while he's sitting up with me while I'm bathing a child in the middle of the night who is sick!  There is no one else I'd rather do life with than this man.  He is such a strong man, a great provider for our family and a super dad.  And he loves Jesus.

We had a little birthday celebration for this Daddy and his big girl while we were in Georgia next week, and we'll have another one with his family this Sunday after church.  I think he should be the one to blow out the candles on Sunday! 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Happy SIX Years Old, Hannah Kate!

Exactly six years ago, I was holding this tiny bundle of pure joy and all pink!
Hannah Katherine Bayham was born December 4, 2007.  And from the first moment I saw her and even until now, she still takes my breath away! 
That precious, darling baby girl is growing up.
She might be six years old today, but she's still my baby girl!
Today I surprised Hannah Kate at school with a mini-party for her.  We had cupcakes and ice cream.  The cupcakes had these super cute ballerina slippers on top that I didn't know until the kids were pulling them out were actually rings!
And today was just the beginning of what will be a nearly week and a half long birthday celebration.  We gave Hannah Kate a small gift today of books and coloring books, but her "real" gift will be given to her on Friday.  It's a surprise!  It's not to her because it's what she asked for.  But she doesn't want anyone else to know yet.  She loves surprises, just like her Momma.  We'll have a little family birthday party celebration this Sunday after church.  Her party is next Saturday.  She requested a spa party and wanted to get her nails done.  Now, I thought about this.  I really did.  I envisioned little tubs of warm water and bath oils.  I envisioned nail polish and painting 100 fingers and toes.  Can I tell you how quickly that vision went out the window?!  So next Saturday Hannah Kate and a few of her friends are going to Ms. Prissy Princess girls' spa for a morning of pampering.  They will have manis and pedis, get their hair done and a makeover.  And then they'll dress in tutus and boas and take a walk down the runway.  It's a Glitz and Glam party! And the best part is I don't have to do a thing!  I don't even have to take pictures because they do that, too!

This girl.  She is even more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside!  I love her spirit.  I love her tender-heartedness.  I love the way she giggles.  I love that she dances around the house from room to room.  I love that she's a girlie girl to the max!

God has big plans for this one!  What an honor to be her Momma!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Prepare Him Room

“I don' t want a Christmas you can buy.
I don't want a Christmas you can make.
What I want is a Christmas you can hold.
A Christmas that holds me,
remakes me, revives me.
I want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus."

~Ann Voscamp

That's it.  That's exactly what I was trying to say this morning.

We sang "Joy to the World" during our worship service at church today.  That's one of those Christmas songs that we all know, that we all sing, that we are all so familiar with that we sing those words without giving thought to what we are actually singing, what we are actually saying.

I'll be honest.  It's that time of the year.  It's the most wonderful time of the year!  But it also seems like the most stressful time of the year, too.  All of the holiday parties and the food and the decorations and the programs.  All the STUFF.  Don't get me wrong.  I love the stuff!  I LOVE the stuff.  But right now?  All the stuff is overwhelming to me!  And I'm dreading it.  But I don't want it to be that way!  I want to enjoy it.  I want to savor it.  I want to soak it all in.  I want to watch my littles enjoy it.  I want to watch them savor it.  I want to watch them soak it all in.  

But right now all I can do is think about the cookies that have to be baked for Tuesday morning, the surprise party in Hannah Kate's class for her birthday on Wednesday, the food that has to be prepared for the ladies' annual Christmas party on Thursday, the Christmas musical narration that I have to write by next Sunday, supper that needs to be cooked for the next three nights since we go back to our crazy therapy and dance scheduled tomorrow.  Oh, and I'm afraid the baby has another ear infection so I'll be calling the pediatrician first thing in the morning to see if I can get her an appointment.  I guess I might be calling for the big girl, too, because she's complaining of a sore throat and headache now and wouldn't eat supper.

So here we are.  And I really don't want to be here!  This is not what I want this most blessed, most joyous season to be this year.  So that's what I've been praying about these past few days.

Lord, I want to enjoy it.  I really want to enjoy it.  I want to enjoy my family, my children.  I want to just sit with them, play with them.  I realize that hasn't happened lately, and I need a change.  Hannah Kate has been begging me for a week to put her pink Christmas tree up in her room.  And every time she asks, my answer is the same.  I tell her I'm "too busy" right now and reassure her that it will eventually get done.  Lord, I don't want to be "too busy" anymore.  I sat tonight and just held sweet Ellie in my lap. She stayed there, laid her head against my chest.  I told her I was sorry that I hadn't held her more often lately.  Lord, I want to hold her more often.  

I was singing "Joy to the World" last night.  And then it hit me.  It was so familiar that I almost missed it.

Joy to the world!  The Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King.

That's it!  This Christmas season, that's what I want.  I want to prepare my heart for HIM, fill my heart with more of HIM.  Because when I do that, all of the other stuff that doesn't matter, all of the other stuff that seems so overwhelming . . . well, there isn't room for it anymore.  When I am FULL OF JESUS, well, I can't even explain it, can't even find the words for it right now.  But when I am full of Jesus, everything else fades away, and all that's left is what's most important.

So this Christmas, I want it to be different.  Yes, there will be parties and decorations and all the STUFF, but I want a heart that is ready and prepared for my Jesus, ready and prepared for the work He has for me to do, ready and prepared for the ministry and mission of mothering and homemaking, ready and prepared to tell others that baby Jesus was born FOR YOU.  He was born to DIE for you.

I don't want it to be perfect.  I don't want it to be all of the Pinterest pictures and activities and crafts (that I will never really do anyway and then lament on how horrible of a mom I am because we don't have a hot chocolate bar on Christmas Eve night).  I want it to be excellent.  I want to do it with excellence.  And guess what that means?  Instead of making those butter-nut truffles for Tuesday morning, I'm going to the grocery store tomorrow to pick up a tray of brownie bites.  And guess what else?  I'll probably leave them in the ugly plastic tray instead of arranging them on one of my Christmas plates.

And while I'm at it . . . the annual Christmas card?  Well, I have the girls' dresses, but I haven't monogrammed them yet.  So I was waiting on that before taking their picture for the card.  But I don't know when that will get done.  My sweet friend took the kids' picture this summer.  They're dressed in blues and greens, summertime clothes.  Are you thinking what I'm thinking?  Maybe I should go ahead and get that Christmas card done tonight with one of the pictures I already have!  I mean, does it really matter that they aren't dressed in red and green?

Here's something else.  I rarely blog without a picture.  But today?  There won't be a picture.  I'm giving myself permission to post on my blog without a picture!  And you know what?  I'm sure the tens of people who read this will be perfectly okay without a picture today!

Because I'm going to PREPARE HIM ROOM.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  ~Romans 15:13

Monday, November 25, 2013

Here's some happy for you!

After my last post, my friend called me and told me I "sounded sad."  So here's some happy for you!

We just finished up one of our most favorite missions projects - our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child!
I had so much fun shopping with Mason and Hannah Kate for their shoebox gifts.  I was so proud of them!  They did a great job picking out much needed gifts and even some fun things for their boxes.  We found some really great treats this year.
We had our annual Shoebox Packing Party at church last weekend.  Mason and Hannah Kate did a great job wrapping their boxes.

And then it was time to fill their boxes.  We usually end up having a hard time getting our tops on the boxes because they are so jam packed!

They spent some time writing a special letter to the children who will receive their boxes.  We always include our address and are hoping that one day we might receive a letter in return!
Even Ellie got in on the fun.  I was so excited about the gifts I found to include in her box.  She was, too, obviously.  I probably should've gotten her one of everything!
My most favorite thing was this little dollie.  She's so soft and cute and colorful.  And, apparently, she's the "it" thing.  Hannah Kate was impressed that Momma picked out a ring-around-the-rosie doll.  When I asked her about that, she proceeded to explain to me in detail about the dolls that you hold hands with and ring-around-the-rosie.
This year our Children's Ministry at church packed and collected 50 boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  We also collected $1,334.00 to donate and sponsor even more boxes.  So exciting!
This isn't a great picture because it was one morning before school, and we were in a hurry and Mason was not excited to see the camera.  In case you can't tell (because I know you can't), he's holding the FIRST PLACE ribbon he won in the science fair!  His project won 1st place in the Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering category.  Yes.  I know what you're thinking.  I better start saving now for his college education!  On a side note, a year or so ago I read an article that listed the top five careers of individuals with dyslexia.  Engineering was number one.  Dentistry (which he has been saying since he was 4 years old that he wants to be a dentist) was number five.  
We spent some time researching science fair project ideas.  It just so happened that we found one about hot air balloons.  We'd recently been to the Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Festival, and Mason really loved watching the balloons.  He was intrigued by the different shapes and sizes and colors and very inquisitive about how they worked.  So that's what sparked his interest in his project.

The purpose of his project was to find out if the size of the balloon affects how long it can fly.  We used a dry cleaning bag for our balloon and a toaster as our heating source.  We tested with five different lengths.  Of course, the biggest balloon stayed in the air the longest.  His display board turned out really cute, too.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it before we turned it in.  And now we won't get it back anytime soon because his project is going to the district competition.  I don't know yet when that is, but I don't think it's until January or February.

Once we turned the project in at school, Mason had to go before a panel of judges and give a verbal presentation of his project.  I just can't tell you how proud I am of him!

And I'm proud of this girl, too!  She's quite the artist.  I don't know where she gets it from.  I can't even draw stick people!  She is all the time crafting and drawing and coloring and cutting and taping and pasting.  Lately she's been drawing pictures from some of the books we have.  Here's the first one she did:
Remember this?
Last Wednesday parents were invited to attend the Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast.  The kids were encouraged to dress as pilgrims or Indians.  Hannah Kate was so excited to wear her daddy's old Indian costume.
And this girl . . . y'all, she is a MESS!  There are not enough hours in the day to tell you about the many ways she makes us laugh!

She loves books and is always crawling up in our laps to read.  She loves music and loves to dance.  I guess she gets that from her brother!  She loves baby dolls and purses.  Usually she has a baby in one hand and a purse on the other arm.  She's a firecracker, too.  She wears her emotion on her sleeve always, and she will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to get her way.  She throws more fits than Mason and Hannah Kate ever did!  So I'm already a little concerned.  But she is so full of love and joy that it's just contagious.  

She loves shoes.  She gets it honest.  The other night she walked in to the bathroom wearing Hannah Kate's shoes.  She'd even rolled up her pants!
So, yes, there have been lots of happy days!  And now that Thanksgiving is here and birthdays are right around the corner and Christmas is quickly approaching, I'm looking forward to even more happy!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Well, this post is just a hot mess.

It seems like lately our days have been filled with a lot of dress up and a lot of football!  The way I see it, you really can't go wrong with either!

Last week was Dolly Dingkle (and who knows what Dolly's REAL last name is because two years ago it was Dingkle, and this year it was Dinkle and some even said Dingle!) week at dance.  Hannah Kate put a lot of careful thought into her outfit.  Really.  She did.  
But my favorite part of Dolly week is finding out what dances Hannah Kate will be performing to at the recital and seeing pictures of her costumes.  This year's theme is At the Movies.  So each performance will pay homage to a movie.  Hannah Kate's ballet will be You Are So Beautiful from The Little Rascals.  I can't even tell you how excited we are about this!  The Little Rascals is one of the kids' favorite movies, and they watch it often.  Her tap will be Twist and Shout from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  Can I just say I really never cared much for that movie.  But what a fun song to dance to!  So not only does Hannah Kate have two great songs to dance to, but both of her costumes are absolutely adorable!  It's going to be difficult choosing which one to have her dance pictures made in.  It's not until May, but we're super excited about this year's recital!   

And then last week the kids got to dress up to go to school.  Mason was Jase Robertson, and Hannah Kate was a butterfly.
So let me just take a moment to tell you what happened with Mason's hat.  His sock hat from the past couple of years is too small this year.  So I was going to buy him a new one and thought he could use that as his "Jase" hat.  About three weeks ago, Seth and I had a date night.  I had to get a few groceries at Wal-Mart.  Yeah, we date on the wild side.  Can't you tell?  Anyway, as usual, he doesn't have much patience with me and wanders off on his own.  When he came back to find me, he had this fleece hat with Duck Dynasty on it.  Perfect for Mason!  So we got it for him and told him he could wear it with his Jase costume and then use it this year during hunting season.

When Mason came home from school that day, he wasn't wearing his beard or the hat.  I wasn't surprised.  I knew the beard wouldn't last long because it was hot, and I'm sure it was itching him.  But then he proceeded to tell me that he lost his hat.  LOST his hat?  When I asked him what happened, he told me that he was outside playing on the playground and it was so windy that it blew off of his head.  Okay, so you tried to chase it, and you just couldn't catch up with it? I asked.  Then he tells me that he didn't know it blew off his head until after he went back inside.  What?!  Are you kidding me?!  Your hat blew off your head, and you had NO CLUE???

I asked him if he went back outside to look for it, and he said he did but that he couldn't find it.  So I asked him if there was a lost and found in the office that he could check the following day.  Honestly, the bottom line was that he really didn't care.  But I did.  And I got aggravated.  Really aggravated.  I mean, again, your hat blew off your head, and you had NO CLUE???  How does this happen?  Responsibility, son.  Money doesn't grow on trees, you know, and that hat was a whole $7, and now you don't have anything to wear on your head for hunting season!  It was not one of my finer moments.  Not to mention the fact that I'd just taught my little two year olds at Bible study the day before that the Bible tells us to store up our treasure in heaven and not on the earth.  And here I was fretting over a silly fleece Duck Dynasty hat.  Part of me really did want to go buy another one.  But I didn't.  And I'm glad I didn't.

He came home with that hat on Monday.  Yes, he did!  Before I had time to even think about it, I asked him who found it for him.  That made no sense because I'd actually forgotten to write his name on the tag so no one would know who it belonged to if they did find it.  That's when he explained to me that it was in his cubby.  It had been in there the whole time because he'd taken it off before they went outside that day.  He'd just forgotten.  I really have no words for that.  I'm just glad he "found" it.

We had a Fall Festival at church so they got to dress up again.  I didn't realize until I got home that I did not even get a picture of all three kids in their costumes.  Ellie just dressed in the tulle outfit she wore for her one-year pictures, and we called her a fairy.  I didn't get very many pictures that evening.  That's what happens when Mommy is in charge of an event and is running around like a crazy lady all night.

I did try to get their picture in the photo booth, but Ellie wasn't cooperating.  So I got Abbie, Mason and Hannah Kate instead.  Sort of.
Here are Hannah Kate and Abbie with their friends Emma and Kathryn.  Don't you just love their costumes?  Those came from TJ Maxx, I think their mom told me.  Emma was Queen Elizabeth, and Kathryn was Marie Grace Gardner, one of the American Girls.  So precious!
And now on to football.  Abbie was a cheerleader this fall for the 5th/6th grade football team at her school.  So we went to watch her cheer.
I honestly didn't see a whole lot of cheering because I was chasing a certain someone around the bleachers.  I think Ellie enjoyed the game the most.  We sat right in front of the cheerleaders.  She'd start clapping and jumping and bouncing along with them.  Mason later complained that he didn't get to watch the football players because the cheerleaders "made" him watch them!  Oh how I hope that's not a sign of things to come! I really didn't have much to say to that so I just let it go.

And we spent our weekend in Pearland, Texas with Avery and Beau.  Ellie stayed here with Seth's parents, and Abbie went with us.  Avery is in 9th grade.  He plays the saxophone in the Dawson High School marching band.  So we went to watch him march.  Here the kids are showing a little Dawson pride before the game.
Dawson High shares the football stadium with the other high school in Pearland.  It's called The Rig.
You know what they say.  Everything is bigger in Texas.  Well, that goes for high school football, too.  The Rig is, by far, the nicest and definitely the largest high school football stadium I've ever seen.  I mean, they sell season tickets to the games!  Season tickets to a high school football game!  The band has a fleet of five school buses and an 18 wheeler.  No joke.

The kids enjoyed the game but especially Hannah Kate.  Yes, Hannah Kate!  Can you not see her sporting those binoculars?  She was all about it!
And, apparently things have changed A LOT since I was in high school (which wasn't that long ago, by the way!).  The football team ran out onto the stadium through this huge inflated eagle tunnel (their mascot is the eagle).  Yes, they did!  And, just in case you're wondering, (because I was, and I asked) you can get an inflatable eagle tunnel, too.  It'll cost you about $38,000.  Yes.  High school football.  In Texas.
It was a lovely evening for a football game.  It wasn't too hot or too cold.  There was a breeze.  It was senior night.  Since they were recognizing the senior band members during half time, the band was going to perform their show after the game.  With three minutes left in the 4th quarter, we heard thunder in the distance.  And then the football players started running off the field.  I thought that strange.  Dawson was winning by a landslide, but I thought it odd they would call the game at that point.  And then they announced that a storm was coming and that the game was over.  They asked everyone to quickly exit the stadium.  So we did.  As soon as we got under the bleachers, it started raining.  We waited it out for 30 minutes, and then they decided the band wouldn't perform after all.  So we didn't get to see Avery's show.  I was pretty bummed.  But they are on YouTube.  They went to the state competition this week and placed 7th in Texas.

After a few hours of sleep, we got up the next morning to go to Beau's football game.  He is number 52.  His team is the Patriots.  He's played for this same team for three or four years.  He's quite the player.
If you look closely in the middle of the huddle, you can see him in on the action.
Again, it was another beautiful day for a football game.  We all enjoyed cheering him and his team on.  They had a great season and were undefeated!

The cousins were having a little fun after the game while we were waiting on Beau. 
And here they are with The Beast.  That would be Beau.  That's how he signs all of his outgoing messages.  And, yes, Avery really is that tall.  He's taller than me now.  I have to look up to him.  He'll be 15 years old next week!  
So in the midst of all the school stuff, we really have had a lot of fun the past couple of weeks.  Lately I've felt like "fun" is missing in our lives.  I'm ready for Thanksgiving break.  We're all ready for Thanksgiving break.  Ellie is getting over an ear infection.  Mason had some sort of sore throat laryngitis something or another this week.  He fell asleep in the truck on the way home from therapy yesterday evening.  Of course, it was DARK.  This whole daylight savings time thing . . . well, I am not a fan.  It's dark when we drive home from therapy and dance now.  I know Mason is just tired.  Every night this week he fell asleep on the couch before bedtime while I was bathing Ellie.

I knew our days and weeks were going to be long and tiring.  I also knew it would get worse the longer we get into the school year.  This was that week.  Last Wednesday I watched as a girl graduated her therapy program.  The therapists made a really big deal over it, gave her gifts, took her picture.  And I thought, "I wonder when we'll graduate?  Will we ever graduate?!"  Of course we will!  It just doesn't seem like it right now.  And then this weekend as I thought about Avery being in high school, I wondered what it would be like when Mason is in high school.  How in the world will we ever make it to high school?  We will.  But how?  How long will I have to sit and help him read everyday? Will he ever be able to read by himself?  Of course, I know he won't want to, but will he be able to?  Will he ever be able to sit and write something without me having to spell words for him?  Will he ever be able to do his homework without me sitting beside him the whole time?  And not that we've been at this too terribly long, but how much longer will he be in therapy?  I'd give anything to have those afternoons and evenings back!

So yesterday I asked Mason's occupational therapist "how long?"  And, of course, she can't give me a concrete answer.  I knew that.  But I asked anyway.  Without me saying it, she knew.  She told me that she saw my reaction when the girl "graduated" therapy last week.  She explained that their mission is to work with children and get them to the point where they CAN be successful in the higher grades, where they CAN work independently.  She also explained that there are some things that will always be a struggle and that will never be perfect or fixed.  But, regarding the girl who graduated last week, she said she was "ready to spread her wings," and she knew she didn't "need" therapy anymore.  And at that point, in the lobby, I just broke down for a minute.

I want to see Mason spread his wings.  I want to see him FLY!  I want to see him rise above what we know as dyslexia and overcome all of the struggles and the barriers to reading and processing and expression.  I want to never go back to therapy again.  I never imagined in a million years that this is where we'd be with one of our children.  Never.  I wonder if we're doing the right thing, if we're in the right place as far as schooling is concerned.  I mean, I know we are.  But I still ask.

When Mason is all grown up, I don't want his memories of me to be just trips to therapy and hours at the dining room table doing homework.  But that is our life right now.

And then I look at my precious Hannah Kate.  She is thriving in school and just blossoming.  She is pure joy and sunshine!  But sometimes I wonder if she feels . . . left out . . . in the midst of all the time we spend scheduling our lives around Mason's therapy and homework . . . and Ellie requires more attention because she is still a baby.  I mean, Hannah Kate watched the tears flow yesterday when I was talking to Mason's OT.  And then after that, Ellie climbed up in my lap so I held her for awhile.  Hannah Kate was sitting across from me.  Just looking at me.  I wish I knew what she was thinking in that moment.

Most days I feel so inadequate for this mothering thing.  These three children of mine are amazing.  AMAZING!  I'm certain they're teaching me a whole lot more than I'm teaching them!  As much as I want Mason to spread his wings (Hannah Kate and Ellie, too), I have to admit I'm more than a little glad they're still in our nest for awhile!    

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bragging On My Babies (the big ones and the little one)

I know I haven't blogged a whole lot.  It's just that I'm busy.  So busy!  And every time I say that, which is A LOT (I'm sure I sound like a broken record.  And I'm also sure I've decided I'm just not going to say, "I'm busy," anymore.), people look at me like I've grown three horns and an extra eye.  I suppose it's just ludicrous to think a stay-at-home mom is busy.  Worse yet, what about the stay-at-home mom who just can't seem to keep up and has a longer to-do list at the end of the day than at the beginning?  GASP!

Here's a little glimpse of my life.  Every morning except Saturday begins at 5:00am:
Sundays - Church Day:  teach 4/5 year Sunday School class, play the piano for worship, direct choir practice
Mondays - I try to catch up on laundry, pick up around the house and prep three days worth of meals before leaving to pick the kids up from school so Mason can go to Speech and Educational Therapies.  Oh, yeah, and play with Ellie!
Tuesdays - This is my third year in Bible Study Fellowship.  But this year I was asked to be a Children's Leader so I co-teach the young 2's class while their mommies are in Bible study on Wednesday mornings.  So my Bible study and Leaders' Meeting are on Tuesday mornings.  Ellie and I leave around 7:45 to go to Baton Rouge.  We usually get home with only a couple of hours or less before having to leave to pick the kids up from school so Hannah Kate can go to dance.  During that time, I finish supper so it will be ready when we get home and do laundry.
Wednesdays - Ellie and I again leave around 7:45 to go to Baton Rouge for BSF.  Again, we usually get home with only a couple of hours or less before having to leave to pick the kids up from school to go back to Baton Rouge so Mason can go to Occupational and Educational Therapies.  Just like Tuesdays, I finish supper so it will be ready when we get home.
Thursdays and Fridays - Basically I spent these two days catching up on laundry and housework and grocery shopping.  I try to go grocery shopping or run errands after Bible study or even during therapy sessions, but that doesn't always work out.  If I haven't finished my Sunday School lesson or music for Sundays, I'll work on that, too.

Seth has been working a lot in Wyoming lately.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Wyoming.  He's actually there right now.  It started snowing about three weeks ago, and it has snowed on him everyday this week.  He called me on Monday complaining about the snow and the cold.  I told him he was more than welcome to come home and help Mason with his science fair and social studies projects.  Otherwise, he could stop complaining and build a snowman.  He decided on the latter.  I haven't seen a picture of a snowman.  But neither have I heard anymore complaining.  Except yesterday he did say that it was REALLY cold.  Cry me a river, buddy!  Science fair project, anyone?  That's what we spent our Saturday working on today.

The hot and humid days of summer and early fall have finally given way to some not-so-hot days.  I did try boots and leggings this week, but it's still a little warm for that.  It isn't too warm, however, to enjoy being outside.  Last Friday the big kids didn't have school so we went to the zoo.
I didn't take a lot of pictures, mainly because I was chasing a certain 15-month old around.  But they're always a sucker for the tiger cage.  Even Ellie had fun with it.
This picture makes me smile.  These children bring so much joy to my days.  
This week at school was one of the kids' favorite weeks of the year.  It was Pink Week.  There were activities throughout the week and opportunities to dress up each day to raise money for cancer research.  Yesterday was Pink Day.  Mason requested pink hair.  Hannah Kate wanted just the ends of her hair pink.  This was Abbie's suggestion.  The tips of her hair actually just blended in with her shirt.  Mason's hair was a lot pinker than what this picture shows. 

Report cards came home this week, too.  This year I'm a lot more relaxed when it comes to grades, and I don't have to constantly monitor Mason's test grades online.  Most weeks I even forget to look.  I could've looked at his report card online, but I didn't even do that either.  So Wednesday afternoon we were on our way to therapy when Mason matter-of-factly from the back seat informed me that he had all A's and B's on his report card.  All A's and B's?  And that's it?  No other letter grades?  I asked him to pass his report card up to me so I could see it.  And there it was.  A B IN READING!  And not just a B, but a B that is only two points away from being an A!  I couldn't believe it!  I knew he'd had a lot of B's on his reading tests lately and even an A three weeks ago.  

Regarding this test in particular, Mason came home and told me that the reading test that was was really hard and that it was so hard that most of the kids in his class made a D.  Well, that usually means that he makes an F.  I was shocked when he said he made a B on this test.  A few days later, he came home with the test.  Because the majority of the class scored poorly, his teacher went back over it again and adjusted everyone's grades.  So he ended up with an A!  This was the first A he's ever made on a reading test!  EVER!

I just can't tell you how proud we are of him!  He is working so hard!  We have so much encouragement and support from his educational, speech and occupational therapists and his teacher, too.  This year is, by far, the best start we've ever had to a school year.  I can also tell you that the Lord recently blessed us with another victory.  Mason is now receiving 504 services under Bulletin 1903 (Louisiana's state dyslexia law) at school.  This means that the school has finally recognized that Mason is indeed dyslexic (he had to complete yet another educational evaluation and some additional testing) and was at a disadvantage from the rest of his peers who do not have a learning disability.  So some accommodations have been put in place to help level the playing field for him.  For example, one of the accommodations is that he has more time to take his reading tests.  I fought for this for eight months.  And when I say fought, I mean FOUGHT.  But it was worth it, and if I had to do it all over again, I would!  What I really wanted to do was say I TOLD YOU SO to the "powers that be," but I just graciously acknowledged their conclusion and then nearly went dancing down the hall like Annie did in that scene in Field of Dreams after she called Beulah a Nazi Cow during the discussion of the differing interpretations of Terrance Mann's book and delivered her emblazoned plea against censorship at the PTA meeting.  Now, I'm not calling anyone a Nazi Cow.  But that's one of my favorite scenes from that movie, and I've always loved Annie's passion and enthusiasm and especially her reaction as she was walking down the hall afterwards.  That's what I felt like after our 504 meeting that day.

But I digress.  Mason's report card, and Hannah Kate's, too, were something to be celebrated.  So I came home with Mason's favorite cookie cake yesterday.  I surprised him after school, and he was so excited.        
I couldn't get the cake for Mason and not do anything for Hannah Kate (because she couldn't have done any better on her report card either!) so I got her a new hair bow.  That's what she's holding in her hand.  It's cheetah print with a hot pink H embroidered on it.  Did you know that cheetah print is a neutral?  I know!  I felt the same way at first.  But now I get it!  I just found that out a couple of weeks ago, and it has revolutionized my wardrobe!  Well, not really, but I'm on the cheetah print train these days.  I'd seen this hair bow earlier in the day and really wanted to get it for Hannah Kate, but I didn't because I couldn't justify it.  So after I got the cake for Mason, I realized I could indeed justify the hair bow so I went back and got it.
Besides being so proud of Mason for how hard he is working at school and in therapy, I'm just beyond blessed to have him as my son!  He has so much energy and enthusiasm for pretty much everything in life.  He lives it to the fullest and to the loudest.  He is growing up for sure.  I bought new blue jeans a few months ago, and now I'm doing it again because those are too short.  He has recently become very interested in sports, as in watching sports (baseball and football in particular) and understanding what is going on and who the teams are and who he wants to cheer for and why.  He is such a great big brother!  He loves both of his sisters very much.  He is especially protective of Ellie.
Hannah Kate experienced her first field trip last week.  We went to the pumpkin patch, and she had a great time.  I'm so glad I was able to go with her and spend the day with her.
Hannah Kate is really loving school right now.  She just loves everything about it and truly embraces learning.  She's always very excited each day to tell me what all she did and what she learned.  She looks forward to their new sight words and letters each week.    She is very creative and is always drawing new pictures and stories and cutting and pasting things.  She, too, is a great sister to both her big brother and her little sister.
And this little girl . . . oh my is she something!  I love spending my days with her.  She is so funny and always gives me something to laugh about.  She talks constantly.  Her vocabulary is growing daily.  She can say a lot of words now.  Some of her new favorites are juice, bath and thank you.  She loves to look at books.  She also loves music.  Her favorite toys are those that play music, and she also loves to dance.  She loves to give kisses.  I think that's mainly because she likes to make the "smacking" sound.  It's the cutest thing ever!  Oh, and she loves to wave!  She has that Miss America wave down!  No matter where we go, she's waving at folks . . . in the line at the grocery store, in the carpool line, at cars in the parking lot.  She waves when we leave to go somewhere, when I put her down for a nap and when she goes to bed.  She's also a very loving, affectionate child.  She enjoys giving hugs and sitting in my lap.  She also likes to rub my arm, especially when she's tired.  She's a picky eater though.  A very picky eater.  She might be a little better than Mason, but that's about it.  She'll eat sweet stuff all day long if I let her.  Other than that, she likes corn, chicken, sometimes macaroni and cheese and hotdogs (gross, but I buy only the expensive, organic, "real" ones).  She will not leave a headband or a bow in her hair at all.  That's such a bummer, especially considering all of the cute hair candy she has.  Her hair is very different from Mason's and Hannah Kate's.  It is very straight and doesn't have any curl or wave in it at all.  
I thought it was finally cool enough last night to put her in footie pajamas.  Well, not really, but I did it anyway.  I'm just a sucker for footie jammies!  She was being so silly.  She LOVES playing with her big brother and sister.  

But this girl is a mess, too!  This is what she does when she doesn't get her way.  She throws herself down on the ground.  One day she's going to hit her heard so hard that she's going to knock herself out.  Not really.  Hopefully.  Right here she was mad because we weren't going back through these red doors to the wild bird habitat at the zoo.  I think she mainly wanted to just open and close doors, but you have to keep the doors closed so the birds won't fly out.
And last but not least, I wanted to share this picture with you.  This was the sunrise at my house yesterday morning.  The sky was full of pink, just like Mason's and Hannah Kate's hair!  There were some oranges, too.  The fog was lifting from the field beside us.  And it was just gorgeous!  These are some beautiful days the Lord has blessed us with!  They are mostly beautiful because of the people in it, particularly my husband and three babies!