Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Give Me Five!

My baby is five today. I would cry about it, but last night she told me, "You don't have to cry about it." Later she asked me why I would cry about it and I told her because she's not a little baby anymore. But, I assured her that I am ok with missing my little baby since I get such a cool big kid now. Then, she made us both feel better when she reasoned that she is still the "littlest" in the house so that makes her still the baby. So, I asked her if that meant she would still be my baby and she agreed. We're good.

Kate, (I won't call you Katelyn, because I know, you're just Kate) today you are five years old. The changes that have happened in the last year have been evident to everyone who knows you. You've gone from a shy, reluctant pre-schooler to a talkative, social kindergartner. You know all of your letters and numbers and how to write your name. The only thing you didn't master in pre-school was learning our address, but you told the lady testing you at school that, "It's ok, my brother is here. He knows it." :) You have now had two nights of homework and gone to dance class without me. You are independent, spunky, silly, sweet and fun. Nothing in the world right now does my heart as good as walking past your bedroom and watching you play with your dolls or catching you dancing on the bed. You love to sing and break out in song wherever you are. My favorite was the first day of school when I caught you in the bedroom singing, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".....

You have become such a big girl. You put your shoes and backpack in the closet everyday, you help me fold towels and you even put a new roll of toilet paper on the holder, something I haven't been able to teach anybody else in this house to do.  :) You like to help me cook and set the table. Sometimes that means plates of spaghetti accidentally end up on the floor, but that's ok. It's still not as messy as a toddler covered in peanut butter.

You adore your brother and sister and they adore you. You show Eli your affection by tackling him, and he shows you his by giving you turns on the computer. You think the sun rises and sets on Sarah, and she thinks you're pretty special, too!

This is your birthday card from them and I hope that one day you will realize how the relationship you have with them is one of the greatest gifts in life!

I love watching you grow and mature, but also watching you carry your pillow pet and bear around with you. This is a precious age of sweet hugs and kisses and learning new things. I would cry thinking about you growing out of this little girl phase, but instead I'll just be excited to watch my little bundle of personality continue to grow and turn into the gift God plans for you to be!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Dark Cloud

Image courtesy of Google Images
At the end of last school year Eli developed a weather phobia. I didn't realize that's what was going on. I just knew I would wake up in the morning and he would already be on the computer checking weatherchannel.com. How'd he even learn to do that? Anyway, I later found out that he had been upset one day at school during bad weather, but his reading teacher shared that she has a weather phobia of her own and was very compassionate and kind and calmed him down.

Then, the summer started. I haven't checked any records, but I'm thinking this was a record breaking summer for bad weather. In our family it was also a record breaking summer for nerves, public meltdowns and repeated use of the phrase, "It's fine. There's nothing to be scared of." By the way, I don't think you are supposed to say that to people and minimize what they are going through. And by the way, it doesn't help anyway.

I don't know if it was that the weather was so much worse during the summer or just that we were out in it more, but Eli began to have extreme anxiety over a cloud. Or a breeze. And what I mean by that is that in the course of a week we left 2 parks, a beach and a pool due to the weather. Granted, a couple of times we really had to leave because the weather was bad, but one of the times it was merely breezy. And my child came running across the park screaming like someone was chasing him with a butcher knife screaming, "I WANNA GO HOME! I WANNA GO HOME!" 

I won't lie. It's been frustrating. It's been heartbreaking. It's felt hopeless. I've felt helpless. My child will most likely grow up to be a meteorologist because Josh constantly explains what is going on to him. As someone who can at times be oblivious to the weather, I am now painfully aware every time a dark cloud hovers overhead. 

We've tried to get to the root of when this started and I thought it might go back to this experience, but finally  Eli told me that in kindergarten his teacher read a story about a boy who blew away in a hurricane. Awesome. I'm sure it was a cute, funny story but obviously it traumatized my child. Bless his heart, my right arm weighs more than him. Maybe he has a legitimate concern when the breeze blows! The crazy thing is that one day I was driving and it came a downpour. I've never driven in weather that bad. It was lightning like crazy. I had to turn my hazard lights on and drive extra slow. We were on our way for Josh to preach a funeral and that is a bad thing to be late for, or I would have just pulled over. I kept waiting for Eli to freak out. Truth be told, I was freaking out! It was really bad. Eli laughed about it! I didn't get it. I was so confused.

Finally, we were discussing the weather again last night and he said something that really made me think. He's not afraid when it is already raining because he knows how hard it is raining. When the dark clouds start coming, it's an unknown. It could sprinkle or it could be a hurricane. And I totally got that.

Let's face it, is there anything worse than the fear of the unknown? I've experienced that fear quite a few times. When God called us to Mississippi and neither of us had a job until literally the week before we moved. We had never even seen our house until the night we pulled up with the moving van. I've experienced a chronic illness for years that went unnamed, and I googled symptoms until I convinced myself I was dying 48 different ways. I watched my Daddy breathe on a machine for an entire week before we got the news that he was really gone. 

The thing is, in the midst of our most difficult, trying circumstances, we deal with it. We just do because that's what we have to do. Sometimes we do it with the peace and direction of Jesus and sometimes we just survive in a zombie like state. But, we get through it. It's those unknown moments that get us every time. The times when fear and the dangerous playground of our imagination shackle us and keep us in bondage to worst case scenarios and what if's. We begin to doubt God has a plan. We begin to question Him. We begin to stress and worry and take things into our hands.  The fear of the unknown is a dark cloud that does it's best to crowd out any other bright spot in our life. Our doubts and questions turn to complaints and discontentment. 

Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? ..."

-Matthew 6:25-27

Then, we are told, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God"

-Philippians 4:6

When the dark cloud starts to loom on the horizon, we can take comfort that even if we can't see it, the sun is still in the sky. In the same way, when the unknown threatens our peace and contentment, we can know that our Heavenly Father is still there and He knows the forecast.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Speed of Kate

When we were on vacation at Wild Adventures, we walked. A lot. And it was approximately 250 degrees in  the shade. I tried to keep everybody herded, but quite often I would find myself waiting on Kate who was strolling like we had all the time in the world. I began to joke that we were moving at a "Kate pace" or at "the speed of Kate". The second day we were there felt extra hot and exhausting and my personal mission was to make it to the waterpark, get a frozen lemonade and SIT DOWN and drink it. Well, because we were moving at the speed of Kate, I watched a lady and her daughter take the last table. I thought ugly thoughts. Anyway, the point of this blog is that while Kate likes to stroll and take her time, it sure seems like time has flown!

Today, my baby started kindergarten.

 I'm telling you, I just don't know how that is possible. 
This was yesterday....

Timing has always been different with Kate. She was a surprise baby for us and we found out she was coming 6 months into a move that took us 6 hours away from family, 6 months into a new job for me, and less than 1 month into Josh's first pastorate. I was so nervous about telling everyone at work because not only had I not been there that long, but my maternity leave would mean the other social workers having to divide up my caseload while I was out. I'll never forget being at a conference with one of my fellow social workers. I had a cold on top of my morning sickness and 5 hours of lectures felt extra miserable that day. Finally during a break I broke down and told my co-worker my news. She shared that she was also expecting and we were due the same day!!! We decided to just be excited together and let everybody stress about the details later. :)

My pregnancy was spent on the road traveling to visit my Hospice patients. My ever growing belly seemed to be a bright spot for many of them and we bonded sharing stories and they always wanted to know details I learned from the dr. I lost one of my dearest patients a week before Kate was born and while I was recovering in the hospital his sweet wife called to check on me, concerned the stress of that event had caused Kate to come early. Kate did try to come early one time and my labor was stopped. A couple of weeks later I was driving out in the middle of nowhere and made the decision to head to see a patient of mine in town. I started having contractions standing at her front door and thankfully, she wasn't home. I decided to head to the hospital where they kept me, even though it was 4 weeks before my due date. Josh was an hour away and as I found out when I finally got a hold of him, he was on the side of the interstate because his gas gauge was broken and he had run out of gas. Of course. :)  Despite Kate's efforts to come early, I labored for about 24 hours. (That would turn out to be diving timing. She was born exactly a year from the day I started my job, ensuring that I got my medical leave.) Then, when it was time for her to be delivered she came so fast and didn't have time for the liquid to clear from her lungs and that landed her a trip to the NICU for a week. I had my own complications and I ended up not being able to see her because I couldn't leave my room and she couldn't leave the NICU. Torture, I tell you! Despite my extended stay due to my complications, I still had to leave the hospital without her. That was the worst feeling ever. When we went to pick her up I was so grateful for the sweet nurse who had her dressed in her outfit, complete with headband and shoes, ready to go. I just hugged that nurse and cried and I was surprised they let me take her without completing a psyche evaluation first. :)

There is so much more to that story, but I know I've shared it before. It was just one of those times that was so overwhelming and life changing it is hard not to remember it often. To praise God that we both came out ok. To stand in awe of the details and how God was all up in them. Every time I look at Kate, I am reminded of how blessed I am to be here to witness every minute of each of my kid's lives.

So, that bring me back to today. I've sent two kids to kindergarten and they were both bittersweet days. But, this is different. This is my baby. This is life changing. Things will be different in this house in a big way. Sippy cups are being traded for lunchboxes and thermoses. Feet that used to look like this....
                                           just moved out of toddler sizes into big girls shoes.

Kate still strolls at her own pace. Just last week we were doing back to school shopping and on a trip to the bathroom Sarah and I turned around to see where she was and she was strolling, crossing her eyes. Just because she could, I guess. And making us laugh, which is what Kate does best.

She has grown up so fast. If you have a baby right now and you don't believe the people who tell you how fast it will go by because you are up to your neck in diapers and bottles and getting your little ones into the car seat seems to take decades, let me tell you, they're right. So, I'm going to enjoy the days that we move at a Kate pace. And I'm going to cross my fingers that the next decade will move at the speed of Kate. And, I'm going to have lunch with a friend today. :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Fun!

This blog will be an attempt to hit the highlights of our summer. Fasten your seatbelt and please keep your arms in the vehicle. :)

Our first big event of the summer was Vacation Bible School. We were supposed to have a youth group come and do our VBS this year, but at the last minute their trip didn't work out. It meant that we went in feeling a little frazzled, but God was so good! I can honestly say it was one of my favorite Bible Schools, and I've done a lot, y'all. :)  We just had a sweet spirit and a lot of fun!
Loved these hats!
We were so glad Eli's friend from school came!
We had so much fun flying
I taught the pre-school class and we had the  BEST time!
This is what happens when I'm crafty. We made trumpets that everybody thought were plungers!

 That same week during the mornings I taught the Tiny Tot dance camp. SO MUCH FUN! I came up with a theme for each day. The first day we had a sports day and I brought in bases for them to practice 1st, 2nd and 3rd position at. Then, they would LEAP home! We decided they should stick with dance because they were a little confused by which base to go to. :)  Then, we had princess day and they all came decked out in their princess dresses. The last day we read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and worked on becoming butterflies! They were so good and such a joy to teach!

 Sarah competed at a national dance competition and got gold. We enjoyed getting to watch her as a family. And going out for breakfast while we waited for the awards ceremony. :)
                                                      We celebrated Father's Day!

We took the kids to play putt-putt and learned that Eli and I carry the same trash-talking gene. :)

We took Kate and Eli to see Madagascar 3 and it was totally worth the price of admission to watch Kate laugh at the movie! Sarah was off getting a pedicure with T. :)

Josh and I celebrated 11 years of marriage and had the most FUN date ever! We played putt-putt and couldn't believe how fast our game went without 3 kids with us. :) We then went to FunLand, an arcade Josh used to take me to when we were in college and needed a "mental health day". He beat me at everything, but we had a blast playing Guitar Hero. Next we went to Miracle Strip at Pier Park. We rode the Scrambler and then....the Ferris Wheel! Everytime we go to the movies at Pier Park I would ask Josh if he would go on the Ferris Wheel with me and he was not ashamed to admit he was scared. But, for our anniversary, he took me on the Ferris Wheel! The truth is, we were both scared! But, I knew he must really love me. :) We ended the night at the movies and it was really late when we got home and we were really tired. We realized we're not as young as we used to be. :)

On the 4th Josh's uncle and his family was in town from Texas so they all came out to have hamburgers and hotdogs with us. 
                                                   Mammy with a few of her great-grands!
                                That night we went to our favorite spot to watch the fireworks!
                               We were right on the bay, but we decided to use the Jeep as our backdrop. :)

That week I helped my Mom move and then my sister came into town with her babies! Josh was getting ready to go on a fishing trip so he took the kids to fish for some bait for him. 

                                           I love this pic of my nephew fishing with Josh.
                                                               And this one too!

                                                       All that bait fishing paid off!
We had so much fun with my sister in town. We went to the beach and the park and swimming at the pool with my Mom, mybrother and his girlfriend. 

During this week we also went to pick up Sarah's BFF from Mississippi so she could come to Sarah's birthday party. My sister was sweet enough to take some awesome pics of them. 
                                              How cute are they?? This is my favorite! :)

We celebrated Sarah turning 10!!!!

Our sister, Leah and her family moved back from Italy literally on the day of Sarah's party! I was so thrilled to have both of my sisters there!

After a week of my sister hanging out with us, we packed up and went to her! Bless her heart! She was kind enough to let us stay at her house and take a mini vacation to Wild Adventures. We went two days in a row and were so glad she and her kiddos could join us one of those days. The kids had a blast! Almost as much fun as the grown-ups. :)

                                The "Kate Face" and the "Lyla Face". Ha! Are these two related???? :)
                     Jacey thought she was going to die on this ride. I'm proud to say she didn't.
                                                             So thankful for my sis!
                                                  There was a hot guy on the scrambler......
                                              He was so happy to be in that truck!
                          They were not impressed by this baby ride, but it made a cute pic. :)

My most favorite pic. Poor baby. I was torn between laughing hysterically and wanting to jump up there and get her down!
                          This last weekend we got to celebrate our niece Layla's first birthday!

Whew! What a summer! It's been so full of fun and people we love!