Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gratitude Journal Day 5: Seasons, Friends and Music

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
~Psalm 19:1

1.  I am thankful for the changing of the seasons.  I especially love when the hazy, hot days of summer finally give way to fall.  Okay, so that may not be happening her for another, oh, two months or so.  But as I am sitting here watching the first college football game of the season, I can at least pretend.  Because nothing says fall like football!  And pumpkin spice lattes and leggings and boots and pumpkins and falling leaves and did I mention FOOTBALL?  It's been too hot to enjoy doing anything outside, but I've noticed lately that the sky has been absolutely beautiful!  Big, white, puffy clouds have dotted the bright blue sky, all different sizes and shapes and swoops.  There have been magnificent sunrises and sunsets, all shades of pink and purple and orange.  I can't help but marvel at the CREATOR when I breathe in the beauty of His creation.  I stand in awe!

2.  I am thankful for my friends near and far . . . the old ones who've grown up with me and known me forever, the ones who go "way back" and the new ones, too.  I am thankful for those who encourage me, who laugh with me, who cry with me.  I am thankful for those who call me out, who give accountability, who sharpen me.  Those are my Proverbs 27:17 friends.  I am thankful for the one who texts me pictures every time she returns to our alma mater because she knows I haven't been back in 14 years, and it reminds her of "us."  I am thankful for the one who calls me and keeps on calling me even though I can't always answer and don't always call back.  I am thankful for the one who is nearly just like me in every way and can give me the best book recommendations.  I am thankful for the ones who always ask how they can pray for me.  I am thankful for the ones who've made me feel like not just a friend but family.  I don't spend nearly enough time with these dear ones, especially those who have over 500 miles separating us.  I miss them the very most.  But the best thing of all is that when we do finally get back together, it's like all that time and all those miles never even existed at all!

3.  I am thankful for music . . . I am thankful that God gave me the talent to make music on that baby grand in the next room . . . I am thankful for my parents who invested much time and money in years of piano lessons . . . I am thankful for Mrs. Jamie, my very first piano teacher; Mrs. Sallie, the one who challenged me beyond what I thought my limits were and was not only my teacher but also played along with me; and Sara Beth, who made music part of my everyday life and holds the key to some of my most favorite memories growing up. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gratitude Journal Day 4: More Than Three

There will be more than three things today.  Because that's the kind of day it was!

1.  I am thankful that MASON MADE A B ON HIS FIRST READING TEST OF 4TH GRADE!!!  Yes.  I am yelling.  Did you hear what I said?!  Look.  This is a big. deal.  Ginormous!  These first three weeks of school have not been easy.  It will never be "easy" for Mason.  This is a huge accomplishment for him for so many reasons.  And it's super encouraging to me because this year hasn't exactly been off to the start I'd hoped it would be.  This kid just never ceases to amaze me!  I can not believe he is in 4th grade!  I mean, I can not believe he even made it to 4th grade given what 1st and 2nd grades looked like!  It's been a long road.  And we have a long ways to go.  But we are going day by day, step by step, one thing at a time.  I've had some very honest, heart wrenching conversations with God this week about all of this.  Yesterday morning I went back to 2 Corinthians 12:9 (this was God's answer when Paul begged Him to take away his "thorn in the flesh"):  

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  

We look at weakness as being such a bad thing.  We don't want to be weak.  But God's Word tells us that it's in our weakness that He is strong.  I don't know about you, but I want Him to be strong in me.  Later in the day a friend of mine posted a devotion by Anne Graham Lotz on Facebook.  It was the same 2 Corinthians 12:9 verse.  And here was the life application: Could it be that God has given you a platform of suffering from which you can be a witness of His power and grace to those who are watching?  I CAN NOT wait to see God's plan continue to unfold for Mason, to see the kingdom work that I know God will one day call Mason to.  It's my hope that one day Mason will also have the opportunity and the desire to help other kids who have experienced the same academic difficulties that he has.  But I also wonder if God might give me the opportunity through all of this to minister to other parents in similar situations or even to advocate for children with learning disabilities and their families.

2.  I am thankful that Seth called me from work today and offered to pick Hannah Kate up after her dance class.  I'd already thought about asking demanding that he help with all the logistics of getting everyone to where they needed to be today, but I didn't.  He recently moved offices and is no longer in Baton Rouge anymore.  He's in a completely different location the opposite way now.  So that's why I didn't ask.  But I was relieved to have his help today.

3.  I am thankful for Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).  We begin our study of the life of Moses in exactly two weeks, and I can. not. wait!  This will be my 4th year in BSF, and I am so thankful and so excited and so humbled that the Lord has called me to also serve in the children's program again this year.  We picked up our leadership packet today, and I nearly devoured it while in the carpool line this afternoon. 
I love BSF for so many reasons.  BSF is an in-depth interdenominational Bible study that helps people to know God and equips them to serve the Church effectively.  It's just studying the Bible - no commentaries, no comments from anyone else, no notes in those BIG Bibles - it's all about what God is revealing to YOU through His Word.  I love that we don't know anyone's church affiliation or religious denomination.  We don't discuss politics.  We just study and discuss the Word of God.  It is LIFE CHANGING.  And the women, the friends, I have met through this organization are some of the sweetest, Jesus-loving ladies I've ever known.  This group of women has literally been my life line during the past three years.

I can't even tell you how excited I am to begin our study of Moses!  Today our Teaching Leader posted several reasons on Facebook regarding why you should join us (my personal favorite is number 3!): 

There are classes all over the place, day classes and night classes.  There are classes for men, for women and for families.  We have a children's program, and it's free!  If you want your life to be transformed by the study of God's Word, BSF is the place for you!  Go here to find a class near you.  Even if you aren't in my class here, you can still join our Facebook page.  I'm telling you . . . you will not be disappointed!  As a matter of fact, this will be one of the best decisions of your life!  (It's late, and I'm super tired . . . I wish I could do so much better sharing my heart with you on this one . . . I just can't seem to find the words to tell you how amazing BSF is!)

4.  I am thankful that my mom came home from work everyday and prepared a home cooked meal so we could all sit around the table and eat supper together.  Every. day.  And because of her example, I do the same for my family.  This is something that I look forward to everyday.  Sure, there are days that I just don't feel like cooking anything.  But those days are few and far between.  And sometimes I get frustrated that I have to depend so on my crockpot during the school year.  But I do take a great deal of pride and pleasure in providing for my family in this way each day.  I learned from the best!

5.  I am thankful that Ellie is doing so well with potty training.  She still won't tell me when she needs to go, but it's easy with her.  The only oopsies she's had this week were during nap time, and those were my fault.  I should've put a pull-up on her, but I didn't.  She actually pretty much refuses to wear the pull-ups now.  She's worn her big girl undies for two days in a row now.  We still have a bit of work to do on pooping in the potty (meaning it would be so much easier if she would just tell me instead of me having to guess and predict), but I can't complain at all.  She even stayed clean and dry for a couple of errands this morning.  I nearly died when we walked into the big box store, and she looked at me and said, "Potty."  So, of course, I had to take her.  But the restroom had just been cleaned, the toilet seats were still up and bubbles were still in the potties.  So it wasn't so bad.

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
For He satisfies the longing soul,
and fills the hungry soul with goodness.
~Psalm 107:1, 9

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gratitude Journal Day 3: It's Tuesday.

The following quote showed up on my Instagram feed this morning, and I've thought about it throughout the day:  What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?

1.  I am thankful that today was Tuesday.  Tuesdays have become my most favorite day of the week since school started!  Tuesdays are not Mondays.  And we have no therapy and no dance.  Tuesdays are not errand day.  So that means I get to stay home all. day.  Ellie and I are lazy on Tuesdays.  When she wakes up, I get her out of the crib, and then we lay together in Hannah Kate's bed for a few minutes.  This morning it was 30 minutes of pure bliss with my little baby doll.  She laid her head on my shoulder and rubbed my arm up and down, up and down.  When Ellie wants to give some love, that's what she does.  After breakfast we went for a bike ride.  That's another of my most favorite activities to do with her in the mornings.  We live on a very remote dead-end road.  We talk about all kinds of things on our bike rides, we see all kinds of different animals, we hear all kinds of different sounds.  We usually ride about six miles, but it was a little shorter this morning.  The air was very still and thick.  It's just real hot in a surface-of-the-sun kind of way.  I can not wait for bike rides in cooler weather.  I also clean my house on Tuesdays during Ellie's nap.  I love the smell of mopped floors!

2.  I am thankful that Mason's teacher announced today that tomorrow's Social Studies test will be open book!  Oh, how we needed that.  After two hours of doing homework, nobody wants to have to study for a Social Studies test!  That was the best news I got all day!

3.  I am thankful for the written Holy Word of God.  It's true.  It's TRUTH.  The enemy loves nothing more than planting seeds of doubt and frustration and anger and discouragement, all based on LIES.  Even though I know in my head what God's Word says, my heart can still feel the sting of the lies that Satan would like for me to believe.  That's when it's time to go back to His written Word and replace Satan's lies with God's truth.  Let's just say I had to do lots of "replacing" today!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Gratitude Journal Day 2: Getting Up Again

Picking my three things today . . . well, that's easy.  I could pick so many more than three things though.  But yet it doesn't make a whole lot of sense that this day has just been yucky and crummy, one of those days that just knocks you off your feet.  And you don't even want to get up.  Because you're tired of getting knocked down over and over and over and over again.  Because it seems like you're getting up just to get knocked down again.  But I find that it's in the giving of thanks that it's possible to get up again.    

1.  I'm thankful for Ms. Kim and Mrs. Sandy.  These ladies are Mason's speech therapist and educational therapist.  They've walked this journey with us for a year and a half now.  They have been our biggest cheerleaders.  We see these ladies twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays.  Mason's improvement and success during the course of the past year has been tremendous, and I know it correlates directly with the work these ladies have done.  They get it.  They understand.  They know what dyslexia is.  They know the challenges Mason goes through everyday.  I could never adequately express what these ladies mean to me.  Today Ms. Kim told me that Mason will most likely be ready to graduate in December.  That means he won't go to therapy anymore.  That means HE DID IT.  And while that's the day I've been longing for and waiting for, I'm not ready.  I really don't know what I'm going to do without these two ladies cheering us along the way.

2.  I'm thankful that Ellie stayed dry all day today and tee teed in the potty!  Some of you are reading this and thinking that I must be digging deep for this one.  Others of you are reading this and understand exactly the depth of my gratitude!  Ellie has been very aware of what's going on in her diaper since she was 15 months old.  At 18 months old, she would even go to her diaper bag and take a diaper out and give it to the nearest adult for a diaper change.  I bought pull ups at the beginning of the summer with the intention of potty training her before the new school year started.  But the first day I tried to get her to use the potty, she wouldn't at all.  She just wanted to sit there and play with the toilet paper and flush the potty.  And then promptly tee tee in her pants immediately afterwards.  That lasted for one day, and I put the diapers right back on her.  Because I'm not even messing with that!  I spent a year and a half potty training Mason.  I fell hook, line and sinker for the books, the potty parties, the charts, all of it.  When Hannah Kate asked to use the potty at two years old, I told her that's why she was wearing a diaper.  I had no intention of training her before the age of three.  And then one day I passed by the bathroom and saw her sitting on the potty with her diaper on the floor.  I bought her some big girl panties the next day, and that was it.  I never knew potty training could be so easy!  I really was proud of Ellie today.  I prefer to stay at home several days in a row while potty training, but we just aren't able to do that.  But she stayed dry the whole two hours we were in the truck, and then she went to the potty when we got to therapy.  That's the first time she's used a potty that wasn't hers at home.  So I just might bring out her big girl panties tomorrow.  I bought her favorites - Dora and Minnie Mouse.  Oh, and I'm also not ashamed that I'm bribing her with candy.  Candy is not something we keep in our house.  Needless to say, my kids LOVE the holidays for this reason.  I had to scrounge around to find the left over Easter candy so I could make good on my promise to Ellie.  Again, I am not ashamed!

3.  I'm thankful that Seth is not out of town this week.  He is home.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
~Philippians 4:6-7

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Gratitude Journal Day 1: Preteen Invasion

I've been challenged by a friend to post three positive things for seven days on Facebook.  I'm going to be posting on my blog and then uploading to Facebook.  I've seen this done several different ways . . . I've seen some post "positive" things, others post things they're thankful for, others post "blessings."  I'm going to post three specific things from each day that I'm thankful for.  I was supposed to begin yesterday, I think, and yesterday is a great way to begin!

1.  I'm thankful for the opportunity I had to spend my Saturday with 650 4th, 5th and 6th graders at the Preteen Invasion Conference at First Baptist Church in Lafayette.  PTI is kind of like a mini-evangelism conference for tweens.  This has become an annual event sponsored by the Louisiana Baptist Convention.  The day was jam packed with all kinds of fun activities (inflatables, rock wall, dodgeball, photo booth, missions project, games), a praise band, a guy from Mega Force (a strength team) and a speaker.  I took five of my favorite tweens (although I'm really having a hard time thinking that my boy is one of these "tweens") from church with me.  This ichthus they are holding here is actually some sort of, like, iron or steel rod or something (I don't know my medals!) that the Mega Force guy bent while holding it with his teeth!
2.  I'm thankful for my friend Amy who volunteered to go with me as an additional chaperone.  She's a very special Momma to five very special children, one of which lives in heaven.  I really enjoyed hanging out with her.

3.  I'm thankful I got to see Mrs. Faye, the lady who is my Children's Ministry mentor.  She was the Children's Minister at the church we went to years back, and she's currently living and serving in New Orleans now.  Every once in awhile I see her at one of these events, and it's always so encouraging to chat for a minute.  Most of the things I've learned about serving in Children's Ministry I've learned from her.  And anytime I have a question about Children's Ministry, I always contact her.  I never thought I'd land in Children's Ministry.  I really thought Women's Ministry was more my speed.  But the Lord had other plans for me.  I didn't know that Mrs. Faye was going to be there yesterday so I was really excited when our paths crossed while we were watching our kids climb the rock wall.

The theme for PTI this year was Stand Strong.  The kids heard sound, Biblical teaching about what that means and how they can make practical application of that to their day-to-day lives, especially as they begin a new school year.  During one of the sessions, the speaker talked about the tongue - the words we say, how we say them, the impact of our words on others.  I'm a sucker for a good visual, and I always use visuals when I'm teaching.  But this one beats anything I've ever done before.  He whipped out a cow tongue!  A real, live cow tongue.  Y'all.  Have you ever seen a cow tongue?!  I mean, like, not in the cow, but, like, removed from the cow?!  Let me just tell you.  It. is. huge.  Ginormous!  Anyway.  Just thought I'd share that.

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."  ~Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fishing in the Bayou

Last Friday Seth came home and asked me what I had planned for tomorrow (meaning Saturday).  "Why?" I asked, knowing he had something up his sleeve.  He proceeded trying to talk me into going fishing.  As in leaving at 5:30AM to go fishing.  You lost me at 5:30.  In the AM.  Because Saturdays are now the only day of the week that I do not have to get up at 5-something in the morning.  So then he suggested we go fresh water fishing instead and try to find a little fishing spot closer to home.  None of the above matters to me.  I just want to know what time I have to leave.  Apparently he really wanted me to go.  I haven't been out fishing with them since Ellie was born.  We agreed on 7:00 (although when it was all said and done, we were pulling out at 6:53, which totally rushed me and made me forget my sunglasses and a pony tail holder for Hannah Kate's hair).

It was an absolutely gorgeous day.  It's August.  In south Louisiana.  So it was hot.  Real hot.  But it was almost a bearable kind of hot.  Either that or I've just gotten used to it over the years.  We went fishing somewhere in a bayou.  I couldn't get back there if I tried.
Mason caught our first "keeper," a little catfish.  We only ended up with three keepers though, and we gave them away to a man we met who was trying to catch supper for him and his friends.

Hannah Kate did a little fishing.

But she also did a lot of sitting.
We rode all around looking for some fish to bite our hooks.  But eventually both Mason and Hannah Kate lost their patience and instead began playing with the fishing lures.
And as for me, I did some fishing, too.  I didn't catch anything.  But I kept getting distracted.  The swamp . . . the water and the trees and the moss and the lily pads and the irises and the herons, the songs of the frogs and birds and all kinds of living things that you can only hear but not see, the vast blue sky dotted by big, puffy clouds.  I'm just in awe of God's great creation, His paintbrush, His imagination, His world.  The beach is my favorite.  But the swamp is right up there, too.  I was captivated . . . 

The heat of the day was no match for its beauty, for the serenity of the swamp.  It's captivating and nearly intoxicating.  It was so incredibly peaceful.  Seth and I recently watched a documentary titled Atchafalaya Houseboat: My Years in the Louisiana Swamp.  It chronicled the life of a couple of left the city in the 70s and lived on a houseboat in the Atchafalaya Basin.  They lived off the land and the water for several years before leaving their houseboat and returning to mainstream America.  It was absolutely fascinating!  I'm not saying I'm a houseboat-living-in-the-swamp kind of girl.  But I could definitely stay for several days!

Speaking of creation, this is Seth's view this week.

He's in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this week, and he sent me these pictures yesterday.  He took them through the windshield of his truck so I know these pictures really don't do it justice, especially the last one.  He told me earlier that he woke up to 41 degrees this morning and didn't take his coat off all day!  We've recently been talking about taking the kids on a road trip to Colorado and up into Wyoming.  But I think we've decided to wait until they are a little bit older.  I do hope that maybe one day in the meantime I will have the chance to travel with Seth to Wyoming.  I've never been to that part of the country.

Oh, sing to the LORD a new song!  For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.  The LORD has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.  He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.  Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice and sing praises.  Sing to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of a psalm, with trumpets and the sound of a horn; shout joyfully before the LORD, the King.  Let the sea roar, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it; Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth.  With righteousness He shall judge the world, and the peoples with equity.  ~Psalm 98

And that's what I felt like on Saturday . . . like I was just sitting in the middle of a big ole praise song to God, like the cypress trees and the lazy water of the bayou were singing and shouting joy before the LORD.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The rice is already done.

Wednesday.  Oh.  my.  goodness.

It looks like this is going to be my view on Wednesday afternoons for awhile.
Just in case you don't know what this is, it is the on ramp to the Mississippi River Bridge that gets us across the river and into Baton Rouge.  And traffic is bumper to bumper.  Everywhere.

When Mason graduated from Occupational Therapy (OT) in May, a lot of people thought that meant our afternoon therapy schedule would become a lot easier.  That was not really the case.  Last year we had therapy on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Mason had Speech and Educational Therapy (ET) on Mondays and OT and ET on Wednesdays.  So even though he doesn't have OT anymore, we can't "drop a day" yet because ET requires two sessions a week.  So in addition to our therapy schedule on Mondays and Wednesdays, Hannah Kate had dance on Tuesdays.  So for three days in a row, we would carpool after school, fight traffic, get home late and live off of crockpot meals.  I also had Bible study in Baton Rouge on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, too, so those were some long days that eventually wore us down by the end of the school year.

But we had summer time to rest up and get ready to do it all over again.  Not that I was ready or wanting to do it all over again!  Scheduling activities for multiple children in different locations is not easy.  So I knew that I'd just have to do the best I could between the therapy and dance schedules and prayed in the meantime that God would just work it out for us.  He did last year, and I knew He would do it again.

The dance schedule was posted first.  Hannah Kate was placed in a Wednesday class this year.  At first my heart sank because I already had a feeling that Mondays and Wednesdays would be our therapy days again.  But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it just might work out.  Hannah Kate wanted to take jazz last year in addition to ballet and tap.  But we just weren't able to do that because of scheduling and time constraints.  She really wanted to take jazz this year so I told her we would try it.  Instead of dancing for an hour, she now dances for two hours.  Her ballet and tap classes are a little longer, and the jazz class was added.  

Her class begins at 4:00 and dismisses at 6:00.  I knew if I could schedule Speech and ET on Mondays that we could schedule only ET on Wednesdays.  And it would have to be in the same time slot as Mondays, which is 5:00-5:30.  So I could take Hannah Kate to dance, get her dressed and to her class and then leave and head across the bridge into Baton Rouge for therapy.  We would have an hour to get there.  It's a 15 minute drive on a normal day, but I knew it would take a little longer during "rush hour."  But I was hoping "rush hour" would begin more around 4:30 and that it would take no more than 30 minutes or so to get across the river.  And then I should have enough time after Mason is finished at 5:30 to run back over the bridge and pick up Hannah Kate at 6:00.  Whew!  But at least we'd drop a day this year and have to do this only two days a week instead of three days a week.  So I specifically requested the Monday-Wednesday schedule for therapy, and I found out this past Monday that they accommodated our request.  Yesterday was our first Wednesday.

It was a mad rush getting to the studio and getting Hannah Kate dressed, all the while dealing with Ellie, too.  And then I got her settled in her class, and Mason, Ellie and I headed over to therapy.  But traffic was. a. nightmare.  It was so awfully frustrating.  Just sitting there with no other way to go and no reason for traffic to be that way other than a poorly design interstate system that no one is addressing, not to mention Mason and Ellie lost their patience pretty quickly so it was all kinds of crazy up in my Tahoe.  A 15 minute drive took us 51 minutes.  But we made it.  We made it.

After all was said and done, we didn't get home until 6:50.  Again, traffic made a 20 minute drive home 50 minutes.  And we still had to eat supper, take baths and do homework.  By the time it was all said and done, all I wanted was a big bowl of ice cream.  I had ice cream left over from Ellie's party.  But I didn't have any chocolate syrup.  And last night called for chocolate syrup!

One Wednesday down.  But we sure have a lot of them to go!  And we just can't have every Wednesday like that.  I'm always reminding Seth to have a glass half full instead of half empty.  But last night I kept focusing on the half empty.  Heck, my glass was EMPTY.  Some of my Facebook friends have been posting three positive or thankful thoughts each day for seven days.  I've not participated in that "challenge," but when I woke up this morning, I thought of all the many positive things about Wednesdays:

We only have to do Mondays and Wednesdays this year.  We get three afternoons at home instead of only two!

We did make it to therapy on time yesterday and had nine minutes to spare!

Hannah Kate absolutely LOVED her classes!  I was a little concerned that two hours would be too long for her, but she said it didn't seem like she was dancing for two hours at all.  She said it only seemed like 50 minutes!  And jazz was her favorite.  (And because we were so rushed yesterday and just trying to figure things out, I didn't get a great picture of Hannah Kate on her first day of dance.  This was all I got.)
Because we have to be somewhere else at the same time that Hannah Kate has dance, Mason, Ellie and I do not have to sit in the lobby at the dance studio for two hours waiting on her!  Oh, my, I don't even want to think about that!  Because Ellie.  sitting.  two hours.  DOES NOT HAPPEN.

My neighbor friend called last night after I put the kids into bed and asked if she could come borrow my sewing machine really quick.  I love neighbor friends who need to borrow my sewing machine and come bringing gifts of chocolate syrup!  So I had chocolate syrup on my ice cream after all! 

My Bible study class will begin in less than a month so I'll have a super fun Wednesday morning teaching the life of Moses to my sweet children.  I can think of no better way to start a Wednesday than that!

So I am determined that next Wednesday will be better, traffic or no traffic.  Okay, so traffic is guaranteed.  But it WILL be better.

Today was a welcome relief.  But I am so. tired.  It just honestly seems like the week that never ends!  The first day of school seems days and days ago!  I'm telling you, those 12 weeks of summer time sure were a lot shorter than these 4 days of school!  And would you like to hear what I did today?

I made chicken enchilada casserole for supper tonight.  I really didn't feel like being in the kitchen this afternoon.  Ellie and I took care of a week's worth of errands today so when I got home, all I wanted to do was sit down and rest a minute.  But I knew I really needed to get my casserole together before Mason and Hannah Kate got home from school.  I was really tempted to wait, but I didn't.  I got it all put together and finished right before they got home.  I washed the dishes and then turned around to admire my enchiladas.  That's when I noticed it.  The pot of brown rice I had cooked to add to my chicken, black bean and roasted corn mixture was still sitting there.  In the pot.  Beside my already-assembled casserole.  
Seriously.  Is it not Friday yet?!

But looking at the glass half full . . . Maybe we should have stir fry for supper tomorrow night.  The rice is already done!

Monday, August 11, 2014

First Day of School

Y'all.  I think this was the best "first day" we've ever had!  I've always said we've got the mornings (not that I particularly like being in my kitchen at 5:30AM making lunches because I am so NOT a morning person at all).  It's the afternoons that seem to be the hardest.  

This morning was easy.  As I was making those lunches, it seemed like just last week I was standing in my kitchen doing the same thing, like we didn't just have 11 weeks of summer.  Hannah Kate was up and ready to go.  Mason was up, but I think he had a few jitters.  He wasn't excited.  He wasn't not excited.  He was rather indifferent.  I really think he was a little anxious about meeting his teachers since he has different teachers than the ones we met at orientation two weeks ago.

They had biscuits and bacon for breakfast (because I'm determined to spend more time on breakfast this year).  The most exciting thing was putting on their new tennis shoes.  And then it was time for pictures.

I still can't believe my boy is in 4th grade!  This is his 5th first day of school!
And my 1st grader!
I took them to school this morning.  We went to Hannah Kate's classroom first.  She immediately found her desk and got to work.  I took her picture and then asked if she needed anything before I left.  She asked for a hug (be still my heart!).
Then Mason and I went to meet his teachers.  He has two teachers this year and will "change classes" three times during the school day.  I immediately liked both of his teachers.  They were so laid back and easy-going, which works really well for Mason.  It helps him to be calm, too.  I don't have a picture of him at his desk because he wasn't necessarily into all of that, and I didn't want to push the issue.

As I drove home, for the first time since Mason was in 1st grade, I was not worried or anxious about the day ahead.  I wasn't worried or anxious about homework time.  I wasn't worried or anxious about how Mason would do in reading.  I was so thankful to God for bringing us to where we are now, for bringing us through those really difficult years in 1st and 2nd grades.  I mean, here we are in 4th grade!  I was even excited . . . excited about a new year and new beginnings and new opportunities to learn and grow.  I  am excited to see how the Lord is going to work in Mason's life this year, how He is going to continue to lead us down the path He has chosen for Mason.  One of the most amazing things about being a mom is watching God's plan unfold in the lives of my children, watching my children grow in the Lord and learn from Him.  I just get excited thinking about how the Lord is going to use Mason in kingdom work.  I have no idea "what Mason is going to be when he grows up," but I know it's going to be good!

I have to be honest.  One of the things I was most looking forward to today was Ellie's nap time.  And do you know that girl would NOT nap today?!  That has happened maybe three times in her entire two years.  But it happened today.  We finally went outside to wait on Mason and Hannah Kate to get home.  They rode the bus home today since we didn't have therapy or dance.  I wish I would've captured Ellie's expression when she saw that big yellow bus coming down the road.  She was squealing and jumping up and down and waving as furiously as that little hand would go.  And then she took off running down the driveway.  Hannah Kate got off first and started running, too.  Ellie was screaming and yelling.  They finally met up together, and Hannah Kate picked her up in a big hug.
And, by the way, did you notice Hannah Kate's new kicks?  Her "new" favorite color is aqua and then purple and then pink!

Mason was much slower getting off the bus.  That was unusual so I was not necessarily thinking happy thoughts.  He took his time walking down the driveway, but I finally caught up with him.  Hannah Kate was already chatting away about her day and how much fun she had and how she likes her teacher and how she made some new friends and how she had homework.  She finally came up for air, and I asked Mason how his day was. He said he had a great day and that both of his teachers were really nice and that he didn't have any homework.  Whew!

We came inside, and the kids got a snack and something to drink.  Ellie was super hyper so I had to wait until Seth got home to do homework with Hannah Kate.  When he came home, he went upstairs and asked the kids how their day was.  Hannah Kate's enthusiastic response was, "IT WAS FUN!"  Even Mason responded, "AWESOME."  That's not the answer anybody was expecting to hear.  So Seth asked him why it was so awesome, and he again went on and on about his teachers and how nice they are (not to mention he didn't have homework . . . and he should also know by now that that won't last long!).  Again, I'm just so thankful for the teachers the Lord has blessed us with this year.

Hannah Kate was excited to sit down and do her homework.  It went very quickly.
And then I asked both of them to do MY homework assignment.  Looking at this . . . I wish you could understand . . . Mason did this all by himself and asked me how to spell only one word.  He didn't even ask me to read anything to him.  And his handwriting has improved leaps and bounds over what it used to be!  This just made my heart full.  I can only give the praise and glory to God for Mason's improvement and academic success in the midst of a very challenging learning difference.

Oh, and it seems like Mason's aspirations of becoming a dentist have taken a back seat.  Now he wants to be a baseball player.  I'm still saving for dental school!
And I can't wait to meet these "new" friends of Hannah Kate's!  I'm telling you, that's nearly all she talked about all night!  She seems quite the social butterfly these days.  And it looks like we might have TWO doctors in the family!
I always pray for Mason and Hannah Kate during their school day.  I've prayed many different prayers for them.  But this year I want to have several specific Scriptures that I pray over them each and everyday.  So I've been praying about that and asking the Lord how to pray for them.

This verse keeps coming up a lot during the past year, and it's really been pressing on my heart during the past two weeks.  So this is the first verse that's on my list:

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  ~Matthew 5:16

That's my prayer . . . that Mason and Hannah Kate will shine for Jesus at their school, with their teachers, with their peers and that they will bring glory to God in their mission field.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ellie is "tutu" years old!

Her birthday was July 16.  But we waited until yesterday to have a "proper party" for her. It was a Tutu and Bow Tie party because our little Ellie is "tutu" cute and now "tutu" years old!
"Ellie, how old are you?"
I enjoyed getting ready for this party.  It was very fun and very girly and very pink.  It was also very much Pinterest inspired.  There are no original ideas here.  None.

There were tutus everywhere.  Even the cake wore a tutu.  And I gathered several yards of tulle together to make a tutu for the table. 
There were tutus on the glasses for the ladies and bow ties on the glasses for the gentlemen.  But the punch . . . well, that's another story.  That would be the one thing that did NOT turn out like I expected it to.  It was definitely a Pinterest fail!  First of all, it was this horrible goldy looking color.  In the picture on Pinterest, it was a beautiful hot pink.  And second of all, it wasn't very kid friendly.  Apparently it wasn't very adult friendly either.  Everyone complained about it and pretty much refused to drink it.  So I had to pull some juice boxes out of the frig for the kids.  I really don't know what happened.  I followed the directions exactly . . . ginger ale, pineapple juice, water, frozen pink lemonade and strawberry ice cream.  It was very tart.  I like tart.  So I drank three glasses.  But everyone else?  Not so much.  And my friend pointed out the fact that I used organic strawberry ice cream instead of the typical hot pink neopolitany kind.  So maybe that had something to do with the yucky color.  But I did love having the drink station on what was my great-grandmother's tea cart.
And the cake . . . oh, the cake!  It was just beautiful!  I had a little help here from my favorite bakery.  I thought about making it myself.  I knew exactly what I wanted.  I even watched YouTube videos about how to pipe rosettes onto a cake.  But in the end, I had no problem ordering that cake because I knew I would go crazy if I tried to do it myself.  Best decision I made!
We had little pink candies and rock candy suckers and pink white chocolate covered popcorn . . .
. . . and pink chocolate covered pretzels and these little marshmallow "ballerinas."
You can't have a party without fresh flowers.  These definitely aren't Cindy flowers, but they were just fine.
Hannah Kate said this party involved a lot of fabric.  I guess she's right.  I made these little bow ties for the gentlemen to wear at the party.  They were cute and super easy to make.
And, of course, I wanted a picture of all three.  And this is what happened.  This is what always happens.  And then I can't choose just one!

Ellie was a little more willing to have her picture made with Abbie.  Notice Abbie came already dressed in her tutu (and her new glasses, too - aren't they presh?!)!

It was time to blow out the candles and cut the cake.
At first she wanted nothing to do with it.  I don't know why.
That was a big cake for a little girl, and Abbie had to help her get close to the candles.
And then this happened.  At the same time that she's covering her face with her hands, she's also yelling, "Hot!  Hot!"
So I got down with her, and we blowed those candles out together.  Of course, no one got a picture of that!  And then it was time to eat cake and ice cream.

Remember what I said about the punch?
This was Ellie's reaction after taking a sip.
And then it was time to open a few presents.

She was excited about her little Minnie Mouse scooter.

She couldn't get this one open fast enough when she saw Dora on the side of the box.
We got her a precious wooden train set.  Most times it's hard to think of gift ideas for Ellie because she already has everything that Hannah Kate had.  But when I found this I thought it was absolutely precious.  I thought she might like it because she likes putting things together, and she plays with Mason's matchbox cars a lot.  I was right!
She was very patient while Daddy put her scooter together.

And here she is playing with her train set.
And here's my party of five!  Notice Ellie has her hand on top of Mason's head.
She had a good time with this sucker.
And then there's the AFTER party . . . the guests go home, the dress comes off, the hair lets down . . .
But we're wearing our statement necklace!

So that was Ellie's Tutu and Bow Tie Party.  It was a joy to host this little party for her.  I am grateful for those who came and blessed her with their company and gifts yesterday.  I am so very thankful for the blessing that little Ellie is and for the BIG personality in that little bitty girl.  I still can't believe I have a 2-year-old again.  I'm not sure right now that I'm cut out for this.  Either I forgot a whole lot about the 2's when Mason and Hannah Kate were that age.  Or I'm just a whole lot older this time around!  Or maybe a little bit of both.  Regardless, I have to admit I'm giddy with excitement too see what Ellie's next year of life brings, to see how she grows and learns and explores her world.