Monday, June 30, 2008

The old memories flood in with the new

For us, just before sunset is the best time to be on the beach. It is not crowded, cool, and you can see lots of wildlife.
We discovered that Lydie's hair becomes curly with humidity. Our boys' hair has never had a single wave, so it was fun to see her with a head full of waves all week.
This picture was taken by the Ripley's Believe it or Not place. Jaybird loved all of the exhibits. Toot and I weren't so sure. I felt like we were at a circus side show, and a little strange for paying to see it all. Some exhibits like the one below were very interesting.
Anyone ever seen the Coliseum recreated with matchsticks? Pretty impressive.
We had lots and lots of fresh fish and shrimp. If you have ever been to Panama City, I'm sure you have eaten at Capt. Anderson's. I ate at this restaurant with Mom, Dad and my brother almost every summer growing up. (Ignore my not-so-lovely beach make make-up and wind blown, frizzy hair)
Walking the same piers as I did years ago, only as the Mama this time.
Old and new...we found a new favorite restaurant. Lydie made friends with the scary looking wooden tiki carving.

I am praising God that He has provided the resources for us to go on family vacations each year. These times of travelling and exploring with the children are so important and special to me. I'm going to stuff these memories into my little treasure trove and cherish them for years to come!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vacation memories

We have always loved a week at the beach. I grew up going to the Gulf coast regularly throughout the summer, and it's a tradition I have loved passing on to our children. Last year was the only year that I can remember in our (almost) twelve years of marriage that we did not visit the beach. So we have been looking forward to our trip. My aunt offered her condo to us for a free week's stay. Normally we go to an island or Fort Morgan and rent a quiet house away from the crowds. But this year we went decided that free room and board was too generous to pass on, so we stayed right in the main hub of Panama City Beach. Our condo was away from the street and very quiet, but still in the middle of the most popular restaurants and hang-outs.
The kids enjoyed a week of indulging each night in trips to different restaurants and money-pit entertainment spots. We played mini-golf (three times), we rode go-carts, we visited "Ripley's Believe it or Not", the water park, and we played in an arcade...we were typical tourists. During the day we were in the sand or water. Normally, we have one night of hoopla, and the rest of the time we walk, fish, catch crabs by flashlight, read, and just relax. So this we are not used to all of the commercialism! But, all and all, we had a great time and the kids had a ball. Here are a few glimpses into our first few days:On our way down to the beach, we stopped and stayed for the night at our Alma Mater. There is nothing more surreal than walking the streets of your college town, steeped with memories of the bridge you took between childhood and adulthood, arm in arm with your three children and husband/college sweetheart.
My sweet little boy was overjoyed to go into the library. He has never been in a collegiate library and it looked so huge and exciting. (The library is one of "his favorite places on earth".) We missed the closing time by 10 minutes. Here he is just "sitting because he needs to be alone". Thankfully, his disappointment was nothing that a McDonald's milkshake...
and a visit to Toomer's Corner couldn't cure!
Lydie bug eats her first big-girl ice cream cone. Doesn't she look tiny in comparison?
My Dad gave the kids a big bag of change for spending money. It turned out to be $35 for each child. We went to this huge souveneir shop that had alligators and sharks inside. The boys are supposed to be squatting down to Lydie's size...but she insisted on squatting,too.
She is our first child to experience mountain snow before beach sand. Here are her 21-month old toes feeling the beach for the first time.

Back again

We have been away at the beach for the last 8 days. We had a wonderful trip. Lydie had never been to the beach before and was the perfect age to fully appreciate the beautiful Gulf. She loves the sand and the water. I'll post picture highlights tomorrow.

Our trip ended with the news that a very close family friend had died suddenly on Thursday morning. We made a detour through Alabama to attend his funeral. It was a very sad day for our family. We had seen our friend last Saturday on our way down to the beach. It is so much more difficult to mourn a sudden, unexpected tragedy. After so many days away and long hours in the car, we are so glad to be back at our own home.

Home, sweet home! It looked so beautiful in the moonlight as we drove up tonight. And God gave us so many small, gracious blessings on our trip. Thankful children, great sleep for every one, and peaceful car rides. Many new, precious memories... catching crabs, fish, jellyfish, and any other small aquatic animal that would fit into a sand pail, so many "Mama, look at me..." memories, tanned little faces at candlelight dinners, reading together, ice cream after mini-golf, their first trip to the water park, and so much more.

"The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Themes from our summer

"If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance."
Bern Williams
Enjoying the outdoors


Fresh garden food

Visits to "the farm"Cooking

Country roads

Monday, June 16, 2008

A time to give

This is my Dad. He and my Mom have been there for me all of my life. But somehow, this year has been the best ever with Dad. I think maybe I feel that way because this has been the first time in my life that he has asked me for help. He has always been a source of security and strength for me, but that has only been received and really never given. Did I mention that this man is the most generous man I know? I could give countless examples of gifts he has given that are unbelievable. One example, is giving away his car to a family member that was in need. Another one is buying school clothes for a daughter of his employee every fall. The list of what he has done for us could go on and on.

What a joy it has been for me to serve my Dad for a change. I have had the bittersweet honor of walking closely with him as we watched my Grand mom pass on. Those days with him were heartbreaking and bonding at the same time. And recently, he has embarked on a brand new adventure with us as we look toward moving back to our home state in a year or two and living here. This land will simultaneously fulfill my husband and my Dad's life-long dreams. I can not wait to share that time with my two favorite men! I hope that with this experience and all the others in between, each year is full of memories like the ones I will cherish from this year with my Dad.

Happy Father's day!

At least the boys are happy Surprise, surprise, her mood changed :)

Dear Sweetie,
I am so thankful for you. When I try to pinpoint what makes you such a great Dad, I think it might be your humility. Thank you for being so gracious to us when we mess up, and for being broken and honest with your own sin in front of us. This seemingly small, but very significant trait is what sets the tone for our family. It gives us all the courage to be apologetic and concerned for one another. You, without saying a word, help us to strive to be like Jesus, leaving the old behind and forging ahead to what He has for us. Thank you for leading us faithfully, as a servant. We appreciate, admire and love you very much!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Would you pray with us?

We are assuming a new role at church. In addition to my husband's company and biology classes, he has accepted the position as interim youth director at our church. One of his best friends is our current youth pastor and has taken another position. He will leave next week and we will step in. I say "we" because every wife knows that with a husband's added responsibility away from home comes a wife's added responsibility in the home. I am very excited to see my husband serve the teens of our church this way. He has a gift and has been working with the high school guys for three years. God has been gracious to dole out blessings in many ways through this ministry and he is needed. He will work 15 hours a week to prepare for the Wednesday night "message", Sunday morning classes, student leaders, and social events. I am very thankful that our new homeschooling venture will lend more time for all of us to be involved in the socials and maybe a retreat. I am going to join him in participating with the high school Sunday school this school year and look forward to small group time with the girls.

My prayer requests would be that we would keep the hedges of protection up consistently to guard our family. (We have set aside certain times for family, time alone, time together as a couple, and will hire someone to help me a little with housework. We are also making time in prayer and the Word the first priority in the morning together.) I pray that our new target for the Evil One will be thwarted by the only One that can protect us from the effects of spiritual warfare. I pray for balance and good stewardship of time for my husband. And I pray that God's kingdom will be built by an increase in faithful followers and strengthened believers in our youth ministry. As I say a lot around here, " we go!".

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Shaken up

I had a day today where I am forcing myself not to ask the "What ifs...". This morning the kids and I were all in the family room. We were just finished with breakfast and still in our pjs. I was having a quiet time and a cup of coffee while they watched cartoons and ran around. Jaybird and Lydie were in the oversized chair laughing and talking (jabbering). All of a sudden, I heard a quick, cry and loud gasp. Lydie had grabbed the pull string to the blinds and wrapped it around her neck like a necklace. She leaned forward and it pulled tightly enough around her neck to take her breath away. Thankfully, I was five feet away on the sofa and I picked her up and unwrapped the string. It was such a close call that it actually left a red burn around her neck.
When it was all over, I was shaking.

The spot

The Lord only knows how many times a day we come in harm's way. Maybe this incident could have been prevented with safer kid-proofing. But many such accidents are unavoidable. And the truth is, most things are completely out of our control (even with our precious babies). I am reading an incredible, life-changing book called Bold Love by Dan Allender. It addresses the situations in life that seem from our perspective to be injustices doled out by God. I love it when an author will go there, to that place that is uncomfortable and that we all stuff down deep because we are afraid of what the truth might be. This book invites us to actually wrestle with God over our anger and misunderstanding of these type of situations. It is fascinating. Here's a clip:

"A hint may now be offered as to why grace is so demanding in its free offer- all that's required in response is stunned silence and overwhelmed gratitude. A stunned and grateful heart is free to love because it has been captured with the hilarious paradox that we are unlovely but loved, and unable to love but free to try without condemnation. And all efforts to love are made lovely and useful by a great Lover who superintends all our bumbling efforts and turns the dross of mixed motives to the gold of eternal intentions.

If this is true, why do so many seem to love so poorly? Part of the answer is that few are that silent or that grateful to God for the work of the Cross. Instead, most of us are somewhat irritated with God that He has not done more to resolve our struggles with an outstanding mortgage debt- or with the debt that is owed to us by a parent who abused us. To be honest, few Christians are that overwhelmed by the power of the gospel to save our souls from hell, because the unpleasant consequences of living in a fallen world feel too much like a hell in which God refuses to intervene."

Sunday, June 08, 2008's swimsuit season

It's swimsuit season. I like the swimsuit that I bought this summer. It looks more like a tennis outfit than a swimsuit. But regardless, I dread swimsuit season. My I-will-get-my-pre-children-body-back-tomorrow attitude has left me a little nervous to sport the pool attire. I am glad that I am finally feeling up to trying to lose a little weight. Remember this post? I started a "diet" and just became more obsessed with food, with the calorie counting and fat-gram counting. I just kept putting it all off.

Finally, the day after Mother's day I set my goal. You know, I don't do a thing without a goal in mind. I don't even get out of bed without goals for the day. (Is this strange?) Anyway, I set out for a more updated version of the mommy body. I've lost ten pounds so far. It's not about getting more healthy, because I am healthy as a horse. Low blood pressure, perfect iron count, low cholesterol, etc. Praise the Lord for that gift! It's about looking at this area of my life and seeing that I am not giving my best to Jesus. I am not being the best steward of my body.

Even so, I will always be tempted to diet for vanity's sake. For that reason, when I saw the picture below, I shamelessly took more solice in it than I would care to admit.
See that tummy? I guess even Cindy Crawf*rd fights this battle! Who knew?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Poo-too in potty

Today my little toddler ran to find me as fast as her little one-foot long legs could go. I heard, "Mama, Mama, MOMMY!" I was in the dining room dusting when she found me. She sat down and stared for a minute and then said, "I fink...I fink I go poo-too." "You think you need to go poo-poo?" She nods her head up and down quickly. She has been telling me this statement for two days. I hold her hand and we find a restroom quickly. But she always goes in her diaper before we can get to a potty. But today was different.
I slowly peeled down her diaper, expecting it to be full. But it was empty! She said a little irritated, "I go poo-too!", and pointed at the potty. So I sat her down, no step stool, no potty seat. This was unexpected and I was unprepared. She is still so small, without help she could have fallen in with water up to her chest. So I support her under the arms and she did it! Her first time to tell me and go! She stood up and looked in, a little disgusted at first. The look was hillariously priceless as if to ask, "Is THIS what you clean out of my diaper every day?" But after a few seconds she starts giggling and clapping and yelling to her brothers, "I go potty! I go poo-too!" They both had to come and see, bless their hearts. And being the sweet, precious brothers that they somehow are, they clap and pat her on the back like she is the first human being to ever discover and use a potty. Then she found the phone and brought it to me and said, "I go potty. " I new she was too proud to keep the news to herself. So we called both Mimi and Nana and she shared the news, "Mimi. I potty. I poo-too."

If you are a mom, and you have potty trained one or more children, you know that this step, while wonderful, does not mean she will be in big girl panties next week. But after three children, and the small hint that we might be at the end of the diaper era, a girl can dream, right?

Friday, June 06, 2008

De-sus uvs me

Have I mentioned that I love the summer? This week has been uneventfully amazing. Swimming, apple pie, friends, cartoons, books, pajamas until lunch. I love it!

Tonight after a day at the pool and an evening of pizza and a movie, my little girl melted my heart. She is 20 months old now. Tonight as I put her to bed, she sang along to "Jesus Loves Me". She has been singing for a while, mainly humming. But tonight, she remembered almost every word, in her own baby talk. Those big blue eyes stared up at me from my lap in the rocking chair and she loudly sang her heart out. Every little part of her face was smiling.

Just for posterity, I want to remember what it sounded like. She has pretty good pitch and sings loud and proud. The words went something like this:
De-sus uvs me dis KNOW.
Foe da Biii-bu tells SOOOO,
Lit-uh ones he beWOOONG.
Dey weak...STOOONG.
Nes...wuvs MEEEE.
Fah Biii-bu tehs SOOO.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


In college, one of my sorority sisters turned me on to poetry. She was going through an odd stage as she was fascinated with death. During that year, she shared what the famous poets had to say about death with me. I knew quite clearly my view of death. Regardless, in those months I fell in love with poetry. I even secretly try to create my own from time to time. Today I was telling someone my favorite poem. I have not read it in a long time. I feel like I am in the dorm again!

Here is To a Skylark, by Percy Shelley. Enjoy!