Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Barrett!!!


What a very special day ~ my sweet boy is now a whole year old! Very hard to believe that a year has passed since my little tax deduction came along two weeks early. :) I can't imagine our lives without our little man. I might have gotten a little more rest the last year, but it wouldn't have been nearly as fun! We are blessed beyond words to have had the last 365 days with this adorable gift from God. I pray for many more years with his sweetness. We love you Barrett O'Neal!








Barrett is lucky to share his birthday with his momma's very sweet and bestest friend, too. Happy Birthday, Kim! We love you and miss you. Give your sweet little man lots of kisses for us. :)

Happy New Year to everyone! Here's hoping that 2011 is a blessing to you all! Birthday post #2: next Friday. Yes, Miss Charlee Marie is turning three!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ignorance is NOT Bliss!

PHEWWW! It's been a while, huh? Don't worry ~ I'm still here. :) It's just been a little busy. You see, we are the geniouses who decided to get married on December 22nd, have a baby on December 31st, another on January 7th, and Christmas is thrown in the middle, too. Talk about a busy, expensive two and a half weeks! Ha! It all gets jumbled together, unfortunately. We're making it, though, despite a case of the flu and croup. Poor Charlee came down with a very croupy cough on the 23rd, so I took her in to the doctor on Christmas Eve. She had been running a fever along with the croup, and she has literally only had a fever maybe 3 times in her life. I knew something had to be wrong. Sure enough, 1 flu swab later and we were purchasing the most expensive medication ever, Tamiflu, along with enough to prevent the whole family from getting it. I really don't know what families with 4 or 5 kids do when one of them gets the flu! That stuff was $75 for each person in our family......the day before Christmas.......guess what we got in our stockings? ;) I guess you can't put a price on your health though, right? Ha! Charlee is feeling a lot better, and the rest of us seem to have dodged the worst of it (fingers crossed).



Even though we had to suffer through the flu on Christmas Eve, we had a very wonderful and memorable holiday. Charlee and Barrett were VERY good this year ~ at least one could assume from the boucoups of presents they got! They had a ball opening presents, and Charlee still goes up to the tree and wants to open more. Gonna have to stress the GIVING part of Christmas more next year.... :) Barrett finally has some boy toys to replace all of the pink hand-me-downs. Finding a place for all of these new goodies has deemed itself difficult, though. Not to mention the many more gifts we'll add over the next two weeks from birthday parties! Sheesh! We may have to clean out some of the old ones. Chandler and I were both extremely good this year, too. ;) All in all, our Christmas was wonderful, and I couldn't have asked for a better time spent with our sweet little family.




Now, on to birthday party number 1 on Wednesday, and birthday party number 2 a week and a half later. Yes, I realize I could combine their parties, but where would the fun be in that? ;)

I set up a share site on shutterfly, and you can check out more Christmas pics here. This is a pretty generic site that I've just been uploading pictures to, so don't expect anything extraordinary or anything. ;) Two little ones leave me little computer time these days!


So, I had every intention of doing lots of Random Acts this Christmas season, but so many things seemed to hamper my ability to get them done. Poor planning on my part was the main culprit! I did, however, do a few things. One was a gift card to the cashier ringing my order at Wal-Mart the week before Christmas. Y'all, she looked weary and down-right exhausted, and who wouldn't when working at Wal-Mart the week before Christmas? I was already getting a couple of gift cards I needed for presents, so I just had her ring an extra one. When I was leaving, I handed it to her and told her "Merry Christmas". :) The way her face changed was all worth it. I prayed that God would bless her life as I walked away, and I have complete faith that He will. Not because of anything I did, but of everything He did through me, even if it was only to plant a seed. I really wanted to take Charlee and Barrett to buy coloring books and crayons and deliver them to kids at the hospital on Christmas Eve, but I figured it wasn't a good idea since Charlee had the flu. "Here you go, have a coloring book.....and the flu." Probably wouldn't go over very well. Ha! I'm hoping to take them for their birthdays. I'd like to take them for a "Random Acts" birthday like I'm planning for mine, only on a smaller scale. Probably only one thing for them while they're young. Maybe when they get older we can do one for each year. Any ideas for things I could do with them???

Now for the title of my post ~ Ignorance is NOT bliss. Ingorant. I remember when I was younger I used to always hear "ignorant" and automatically think "stupid". Totally wrong definition of the word. Igorant just means unknowing. The famous saying, "Ignorance is bliss" bothers me because I can't stand to NOT be "in the know". You know what I mean? :) I hate not knowing something. I have to go read up on it, google it, whatever, so I know what someone is talking about. It bothers me when people just believe whatever they hear. Do some research, people! Ha! Anyway, there are many, many, many people around this globe that haven't heard the name Jesus Christ before.....in their life......never even heard the name, much less the good news of the Gospel. These people are ignorant......unknowing that there is a savior who died for their sins. We could sugar-coat things and try convincing ourselves that these people will surely not lose an opportunity to spend eternity in heaven since they had no clue about Jesus or his saving grace. Is that right though? Jesus said that no one would enter the glory of heaven without Him. Noone. Not even the ignorant. I wouldn't call that ignorance blissful. Should make us ON FIRE to reach those people, no matter if we're "called" to missions or not. I'm not saying that there aren't people here in America who need to be reached. There are plenty. I'm saying that we need to have a heart for those all over the globe. The easiest way to start is to pray. I've been praying for months that God would show me what I should do about these ignorant people. Please pray with me. It's soooooo incredibly easy for me to get caught up in my day-to-day life and forget about them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hurricane Force Winds

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a song on K-Love that I'd heard countless times before but never really listened to the words. You know, one of those songs that you listen to and can even sing, and then one day you think, "Wow, didn't realize that's what I was singing! Ha!" It's a David Crowder Band song, How He Loves, but it was written by someone else. One of the lines in the song says:

He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.


When I listened to the lyrics, I was wowed. What an awesome illustration! His love is so powerful, it's like a hurricane, and I'm a tree stuck in the middle of all of that love! Wow! Us Mississippi folk remember Hurricane Katrina. Yes, Mississippi was a direct hit, not New Orleans. The problems in the crescent city were not from the direct force of the eye, but that's a different story. Anyway, Chandler and I lived in Henderson, Tennessee at the time, but he was working out of town and we decided to meet up at his parents' house in West Point. Great idea, Jamie, let's go CLOSER to the storm instead of farther away! We watched a huge tree in front of their house literally split down the middle throughout the course of the long (and at times scary) night. The force of the wind was so strong that it weighed down this huge tree that had been standing for who knows how long. Think about that wind as love that someone feels for you. Wow!

Not thinking of any other meaning to the words, I googled the lyrics to the song so I could post about how awesome I thought it was, and to my amazement, I stumbled upon a blog discussing the words. This lady, a Christian, told about how she hated this song because it was a terrible worship song because of how terrible it made God sound. (I'm paraphrasing, of course, but this was the overall gist.) She didn't think that God should be described as a hurricane because that is a sign of destruction, despair, hurt, death, and the trees in the paths of hurricanes? Well, they were twisted and snapped and stripped of their leaves if left standing at all. Wow, again! Hadn't thought about that! She goes on to discuss the other facets of the song that disturb her. I can see her point. But then I read a comment someone posted in response that basically said that he views the metaphor differently. Tornados in the midst of hurricanes are the real culprits behind the twisted trees, trees that aren't deeply rooted and are weak may snap from the force of the wind. Most trees, though, bend beneath the weight of the wind. They are often times forever bent, or changed, by the wind from the hurricane. He said that God "bends" us, molds us to who he wants us to be. Wow! I can totally see what he's saying!

My take on all of it:
Like it, love it, or hate it, the point is that God is God, no matter who we think He is or who we think He should be. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament and is the same God of today. We can sit around and imagine our God as a sweet, kind, loving, giving God (and He is ALL of those AND MORE), but we need to remind ourselves that we should still fear Him because He is our friend, our father, but He is also the MOST HOLY ruler of EVERYTHING who is ultimately seeking His glory, not ours. I thank Him everyday that He was gracious enough to love me and care about me soooooo much that He bends me with love like a hurricane. Wow! Who am I? NOBODY compared to Him. Yet He still loves me more than any other being I will ever encounter EVER. Nothing offensive about that to me. If loving like a hurricane offends you, how would you possibly be able to grapple with the fact that God would willingly kill His son, a part of Himself, in such a cruel and tortuous way. THAT'S how much He loves you. Wow!

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 2 Cor. 4:7-11

LOVE it! So, go love like a hurricane, if you can. :)

Ketchup

There is a definite difference between boys and girls. Okay, I mean, I knew that, but to experience it is quite eye-opening! Charlee has always been a sweet, go-with-the-flow, loving, nurturing, cuddling, little thing. Barrett? ALL BOY! Ha! This kid is all over the place, all of the time. He is still army-crawling, has been for two months, but buddy, he GETS it and gets it FAST! He is not scared of anything and could care less about sleep. My two Castles have been taking baths together for a few months now, and until recently it was fine. A few weeks ago, though, Barrett decided he wanted to teach himself to swim. When we put him in the tub, he is on his belly in no time, crawling over Charlee, climbing up the side of the tub, pushing the soap and shampoo off of the side, reaching for the faucet. It is near-impossible to get either kid bathed because he will not sit still! I can only imagine when he starts walking/running. (Sigh) He is a big ole belly of sweetness, though, and his smile makes it all worth it. Speaking of that smile, he has finally gotten a couple of teeth. The first one, of all places, came in up top. No, not the middle teeth, but the one next to the middle. Not sure of the name of it, but I can't wait to see what that will look like when it comes all the way in. Ha! The second tooth just popped through on the bottom (this one in the middle) a few days ago. I was getting a little worried that he was missing some teeth, but the pediatrician pointed out the buds under the gums and told me they should be making their grand (and no doubt painful and sleepless) appearance soon.

Charlee is quite the little priss-pot lately. She has been labeled as one of the "mother hens" of her preschool class. Great. Praying that doesn't turn into one of the bossy kids! She says the funniest and cutest things now, though. She is a SPONGE and picks up EVERYTHING said or done around her. Yesterday I heard her tell Barrett, "I told you tree times, Bubba. You listen to me? I'ma pop you!" Can't imagine where she picked that up from......
I'm teaching her Puggles (Awana) class at church, and it has been so much fun! Those two-year-olds are quite the handful, but it is so incredibly sweet to hear them sing and see them listening so intently to their lesson. Charlee loves pointing out all of the things that God made, and it melts my heart. :) A couple of weeks ago she said, "Mommy, God made the flowers to us! That is so sweet of Him." BIGGEST GRIN I've worn in a long time.

Pampered Chef is going fabulously! I'm having so much fun with it, and making some extra money! I've already earned over $350 worth of free products, too, which is AWESOME!

Running? Well, I have been consistently falling off the wagon! I'll do really good one week, then slack off for two weeks when something comes up, then do really good another week, and another two it's pushed aside. I keep managing to push back the 5k, too. I'm not even going to tell you when I'm planning to do one. I'll just surprise you and post about it if it happens. Ha!! I will say that jumping back into it after a hiatus hasn't been nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I can run 2 miles after not running for a couple of weeks usually, and that's pretty impressive given my history of athletic involvement (nonexistent). I'll take it!

The season is upon us. Where did the year go?? My little man will be a whole year in less than two months. My big girl will be three in less than two months. I will have been married for 6 years in less than two months. Christmas will be here before we know it! Yes, that's right. Two birthdays, an anniversary, and Christmas all within 2 1/2 weeks. Fun (and slightly busy) times!

My sweet "nephew" was born 6 days ago. :) I leave this for last, today, because it's the hardest to talk (or write) about. My bestie, Kim, delivered a sweet baby boy November 4th, and he is absolutely precious! At least from the pictures he is, anyway. :) I can barely stand being 8 hours away from my sweet friend and her sweet little man. Through her pregnancy, I couldn't look at pictures from her showers or of her belly without crying because I missed out on all of it. Life has gone on without me there. Not that I think it shouldn't, but the pictures make it all more real that it has. I'm happy where I am and where I'm raising my family, don't get me wrong, but I miss my friends. I miss their babies. I miss Target. Ha! (No, really, I do.) I can't wait to meet you, baby Cade (aka Ossy). I'll be there just as soon as I can! We'll be talking with your Mommy and Daddy about opening up the Culver's market in Mississippi......

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Angel Day

So, I've had several topics on my mind to blog about lately because it's been a while. I've been quite busy with The Pampered Chef stuff, quarterly payroll taxes and reports for my father-in-law's company, and life in general with two sweet handfuls. I have a few minutes to spare this morning, but all of my topics of interest have been overshadowed by the reminder of what tomorrow brings.

Over two years ago, I walked into a lonely, drab, window-less portable building to begin my year as a 4th grade teacher at Eagle Springs Elementary in Humble, Texas. Luckily, the looks of the classroom I would inhabit were no indication of what the year would be like. This was one of my favorite years. I made some sweet friends that I will no doubt remain close to for the rest of my life. I got to teach some of the sweetest kids I've ever had the pleasure of meeting (no, not all of them were that sweet, but you have to take the bad with the good, right? Ha!!) AND, I was teaching my favorite subject ~ writing. There were lots of other good things about that year, but we'll settle with those few for now.

One of my students that year was a sweet girl named Kristie. She is one of those kids that you thank God for sending to your classroom. You know what I mean, the one who always does her work to near perfection, is very polite, sweet, and always willing to help her teachers out with anything they need help with. I wouldn't call her a "teacher's pet", only because I have negative connotations of that as a bratty little girl who is bossy, none of the kids like her, etc. No, Kristie is not a teacher's pet. EVERYONE loves her: teachers, students, everyone. I will never forget this sweet girl. She is the product of a wonderful, nurturing, encouraging, and loving home environment. As I was beginning to learn more about my students this year, I learned from Kristie's mom, Cindy, that Kristie's older brother, Austin, had a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma. Cindy had stopped working as a teacher so that she would be able to take Austin to his numerous treatments. As she was telling me, I teared up. I couldn't imagine this sweet girl and her sweet mom and their family having to go through this. Austin was still receiving treatments, though, so I was hopeful that everything would be okay. Cindy sent me his CaringBridge site information and, of course, I saw her frequently and she would keep me updated on his progress.

Throughout the school year, I saw Cindy more than any of my other parents, mainly because she subbed for me and several other teachers as much as Austin's treatment schedule would allow. She was always at the school on party days for our class and her youngest daughter's class, for any school activities or functions, and she did her best to make sure she was there for her two girls as much as she was there for Austin. When she was given grim outlooks from Austin's doctors, she traveled wherever she could in search of doctors and researchers who had options for Austin. She never let discouraging news slow her down. A foundation was set up in Austin's name and the foundation sponsored an annual golf tournament to raise money for Austin's treatment. Austin was able to do lots of things through different organizations such as Make-A-Wish, and Cindy was always shuttling him and her two girls wherever they needed to go to make sure they were able to live a full life, no matter how short it was. This woman amazed me and will continue to amaze me for the rest of my life, no question. Her devotion to her children and their wants and needs, even in the middle of the storm she was surely experiencing at the thought of losing a child was tremendous. All I could think when I saw her was that I would surely not be able to get out of bed and face the day if given the same circumstances. Not her. She tried to make her kids' lives as normal as possible. I'm pretty sure God was having to hold her up along the way.

Kristie's younger sister, Karlie, would have difficult days at school, but Kristie never did. She seemed to hold all of the fear and hurt inside, and I couldn't ever figure out if that was a good thing or not. Towards the end of the school year, Austin's treatments weren't really working, and the family was confronted with the reality that he would probably not make it. Just as always, Cindy held her family together and didn't let them give up or give in and they kept going about their lives and made sure to make the best of their time together. Austin continued to live the life of a normal 12-year-old boy.

A few months after I moved to Mississippi, I got an update that Austin was not doing well at all. My heart continued to break for sweet Kristie, sweet Cindy, and sweet Karlie. I prayed and prayed and prayed. On October 17, 2009, Austin lost his battle with Ewing's Sarcoma. I was devastated. I traveled to Houston for his funeral. What a beautiful yet heart-wrenching service it was. This sweet boy lived such a full life with such a loving family. It was still much too short. The amount of people affected and touched by this family and by Austin's life was awe-inspiring. So many people were there to help lay Austin to rest and to celebrate the life he was blessed with. I can't even describe it for you with words. Green (his favorite color) balloons were released with messages attached from friends and family ~ SO awesome.

Tomorrow, October 17, 2010, is Austin's first angel day. His family is still heart-broken from losing him, but they know, as I do, that he is rejoicing and playing with Jesus today! How awesome that must be!

Please say a prayer for Cindy, Kristie, Karlie, and their family today, tomorrow, whenever else you think about them. They're going to need them for years to come. Also, love on your babies EVERY day as much as you can. I remember Cindy saying that Austin always wanted her to rub his back every night before he went to sleep, so she always did. If my sweet Charlee is terrified of sleeping by herself all of the sudden and wants to invade our bed, is it really that big of a deal?


What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer cannot cripple love,
it actually makes it overflow.

Cancer cannot shatter Hope,
it actually clarifies what Hope is for.

Cancer cannot corrode faith,
it actually strengthens faith's convictions.

Cancer cannot conquer the spirit
because courage faces cancer's affliction.


If you want to read about Austin's story, you can visit his CaringBridge site here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pampered

Y'all, I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but pooping in the potty is THE BOMB! My sweet Charlee hasn't had an accident in, gosh, I really don't remember! It's been THAT long! Yay!!! Now if I could just get this other kid trained..... :)

Mister Barrett is getting SO BIG! He's still a scooter, don't think he'll crawl before he walks because he gets where he needs to go quickly by scooting. We went for our 9 month checkup last week and he is 21 pounds 12 ounces. He's 75th percentile for height, weight, and head circumference! He is still a big fan of big sis and wants to do whatever she's doing, go wherever she's going, and eat whatever she's eating! Ha! Too bad he still has no teeth. Maybe soon. Charlee's came at 8 months, but different child, right?

These kids are so much stinkin' fun!! I absolutely LOVE my time at home with them. When people ask me if I'll go back to teaching my response is always, "I don't know. Maybe one day." What I'm really thinking is, "Heck no! I'd take my two snotty kids over 24 of someone else's any day!" HaHa!! :P Only kidding (sorta) ~ I loved teaching and do miss it sometimes, but life is so much less stressful these days. It's niiiiiiiiice. BUT, going from two incomes to one hasn't been as fun, SOOOOOOO (are you ready?) I have signed on with The Pampered Chef as a consultant! I am very excited about it because I can make my own schedule and work as little or as much as I want, PLUS I get to earn tons of free products!! I don't know if you've ever heard of The Pampered Chef or not, but their stuff is AWESOME! I held a show in Houston before we moved and got so much free and discounted stuff, and I almost signed on then, but I was moving to Colorado (my how things change!) and was pregnant and it just wasn't a good time for me. I'm ready now, though! Yay! I'm hosting a kick-off cooking show this Thursday and Sunday to celebrate and launch my business. I'm a little nervous about cooking in front of everyone, so if you're coming, don't make fun, okay? :) If you WANT to come, let me know! I'd love to have anyone there who's interested! I'll let you all know how it goes!

I'll leave you today with some pictures of my cutie-patooties over the last few weeks. These were (as most of my pictures are) taken on my handy, dandy iPhone. Have I told you how awesome these things are? No need to take a bulky camera with you everyday because the pictures are pretty awesome. No need to take a video camera with you because the video is pretty awesome, too. No need for a note pad, computer, calendar, compass, gps, temperature gauge, book, iPod, radio, flashlight (I could go on all day, but you get the picture). I really think iPhone should start paying me for all of this free promo! Ha! :) Hope you all have a lovely week with this B-E-A-Utiful Fall weather!!










Monday, September 20, 2010

Craziness!!

I am almost finished with another powerful book, Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Very good read and slightly similar to Radical. The overall theme of the book is that we, as Christians, don't typically reciprocate the kind of love that God shows us. His love for us is crazy, relentless, all-powerful, self-sacrificing, unconditional love!! How lucky are we? Have you ever experienced that kind of love from anyone else? My guess is no. I mean, sure, we all have people who love us, but I have a hard time thinking of someone I've loved that hasn't let me down at one point or another. God NEVER DOES THAT. His love is truly unconditional and He WON'T let you down! Look at all that he has done for us! The typical response to that kind of love, though, is doing as little as we have to to get by. We go to church, try to do the "right" things, and live better lives than those other people. Following the rules of a religion is not what God calls us to do, though. He wants us to follow His lead and LOVE Him, truly LOVE Him! We should be head-over-heels in love with this God who has done SO much for us. When we LOVE as He calls us to, our lives are changed and we can do the "right" things because we WANT to, not because we HAVE to. Easy enough, right? :) All you need is LOVE. Period.

Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." Matthew 22:37

He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27

I'll even throw in an Old Testament one for you. :)
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

So, we are to love him with ALL of our heart, ALL of our soul, ALL of our strength, and ALL of our mind! And why wouldn't we want to? By pure definition, we should be OBSESSED with God! Are you?

Okay, so that was the easy part. :) Now, on to something I struggled with while reading, and continue to struggle. (In all fairness, it's all a daily struggle, isn't it? I pray to be obsessed every single day of my life. Some are easier than others, though.)

Chan says that obsessed people are risk takers. Read this excerpt from his book (I totally hope it's okay that I'm quoting this. I mean, I'm giving him credit, right? Oh, Lora DeFore would be so mad at me for not remembering my MLA style here!! Ha!):

"Haven't we all prayed the following prayer? Lord, we pray for safety as we travel. We ask that no one gets hurt on this trip. Please keep everyone safe until we return, and bring us back safely. In Jesus' name we pray, amen." (HELLO, I pray this like EVERY DAY!)"..........We are consumed by safety. Obsessed with it, actually..........Would you be willing to pray this prayer? God, bring me closer to You during this trip, whatever it takes..."

WHOA. Hold up.

WHOA.

This one slapped me in the face. I never really thought about it, but I am constantly praying for safety. Safety for me, my husband, my kids, even my dogs. I left part of the passage out, but what Chan says is that it isn't wrong to ask for God's protection. As people OBSESSED with God, though, we should be more concerned with getting closer to Him than to being safe. 10 years ago, that may have been an easier prayer to pray, but since finding a man whom I love to pieces and having babies that make my heart grow more and more each day, it is HARD, y'all! I mean, really HARD! It shouldn't be, but it is. Stepping out on faith and believing that God is going to protect you and provide all things for you if you put his kingdom first is intimidating to say the least. Think about it....Would you put your family in danger if it meant getting closer to God? Should you? I've begun to be more concerned with praying that my daily walk will bring me closer to God, that His will be done in my life and the lives of those near and dear to me, and that my life will be used to further His kingdom. I still pray for safety, but it is no longer the center of my prayers as it was before. I mean, do we really have to pray for safety? It's not like we won't be protected if we don't pray for it.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Singing Allelu, Alleluia!) Matthew 6:33

I should end it there, but I just can't do it. I know you're all DYING to hear how my little pooh pie is doing. I am happy to report that Charlee went #2 in the potty a whopping THREE TIMES on Saturday, TWO TIMES on Sunday, and TWO TIMES today!!!! I don't think she's pooped that much since she was a newborn! Ha! Not ONCE in her big girl panties!! WHOOP WHOOP!!

Barrett is nearing his 9-month birthday. He has almost been out in the world longer than he was in my belly! SO hard to believe!

An update on my hubby: He's still as sweet as ever and I love him to the moon and back. ;)

Now that I've made you all gag from my mushy-ness (HA!!), have a GREAT week and remember to be blessed and obsessed! :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

V'Room V'Room

First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the cutest 10-year-old boy I know, my nephew Justin!! Also, welcome to the world, Eli and Zac! You share a birthday with a pretty awesome 10-year-old. :)

The running went a little better today. A LITTLE. I still only got up to 1.8 miles. My phone app told me I was supposed to start the cool down as I was driving away in my car. The app told me I finished my workout as I was leaving the Chick Fil A drive-thru. Ha! I don't know why, but I am always starving after a morning run. I even ate a light breakfast before leaving the house, but still HAD to get some chicken minis. Mmmmmmm. They were good! I mean, I just ran almost 2 miles so I can have them, right? During my run, I was able to push the stroller with one hand (there's a wrist strap in case I lose control so that the baby doesn't go flying if I fall on my face) and pump my other arm. There's just something about pumping your arms while you run that makes it easier! The heat of the morning and the sun beating down doesn't make it very easy when you're used to night running, but I'm confident that these hot days are going to end soon and fall will finally grace us with its presence! Let's hope, anyway. :)

For those of you who are thinking, WOW! That Charlee sure was fast to potty-train! Let me just say that I haven't mentioned it because I'm really hoping that her "accidents" will stop soon. She is just not a fan of pooping in the potty. She goes some, mainly when her daddy is home and I've run to the store or something ~ what the heck is that about??? I, on the other hand, change poopie panties every other day usually. Except yesterday when her teacher got the privilege of changing her. (Sorry, Ms. Chastity!!) We'll continue to work on it.

Today as I was driving along, I started thinking about cars. I was driving, so of course cars would be an obvious thought, right? Ha! Anyway, I was thinking about how I don't usually associate cars as having people behind the wheel. You know, "That truck ran me off the road!", or "Come on obvious retired person's car ~ get out of the fast lane!" I occasionally suffer from road rage. Especially when drivers aren't paying attention to the road. My repayment for my rage was to marry a man who is the worst driver in America. :) I'm really doing a lot better. I really try hard to control my frustrations with other drivers because I don't want my kids to see or hear it and learn an inappropriate way to react. Have you ever gotten mad at another car only to realize that you know the driver? That's the worst! In my efforts to be kind to others and to show God's love, I have almost forgotten about all of the people I encounter on the road every day.

Another thing about cars that I've always had to remind myself of is that we too often make incorrect assumptions about people based on the car they drive. I drove a Toyota Corolla for 10 years before getting a new car. I'm sure people thought I was struggling to make ends meet when they saw me roll down the window to open the door because the inside handle had fallen off. :) The truth of the matter is that we paid that thing off and it was a good car that got us where we needed to go. We could have afforded a new one, but why? Do you know how nice it is to not have a car payment? I do! Another incorrect assumption is when you see someone drive up in that brand new ________ (insert expensive brand of car here.) What do we all think? Come on ~ you know you do. "Wow! They must be loaded!" I realize that some of those people really are well-off, but some of those people are more than likely upside-down in debt and struggle to make ends meet. It always amazes me to see brand new rides pull up to houses in the projects or to trailer parks. Not that there is anything wrong with living in either of those, but it is again an assumption made on my part that priorities are set in the car, not the home. I worked with someone once who drove a brand new high-end car and everyone always said, "Wow! They must be paying her the big bucks!" Turns out she won the car in a giveaway! Dave Ramsey posted a statistic on his facebook page a month or so ago that said that the majority of millionaires, when polled, said they drive a $30,000 car. There are all types of other assumptions about cars that we come up with. Much like assumptions we make about people, these are our humanized minds' way of pushing us farther away from the love we should be sharing with all of God's people. Labels, stereotypes, mis-assumptions. They're soooooo incredibly difficult to steer away from. I pray everyday that God would help me in this area. It is an everyday struggle that will never get easier unless I have divine intervention. I am so blessed to have that intervention!!! How else would I ever make it in this world without becoming like the world?

Off to change a poopie diaper...... :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Retail Me NOT!!!

Once again, I was blessed with a wonderful weekend! Friday night, we had a sweet visitor (Grandma Gail) who was kind enough to watch the kids while Chandler and I went out to eat. That NEVER happens, and we were a little weirded out when we started driving with no kids in the backseat. Chandler proceeded to make work phone calls for the first few minutes of our drive. Lovely. He quickly put the phone away, though. :) We ate at Zack Garvin's in Newton, and it was sooooo yummy! I had spicy grilled catfish, one of my favorite dishes, and it was very tasty. I won't even tell you about the dessert because you would be SO jealous! When we left the restaurant, we were planning to go to Lowe's and pick up a few things (exciting date, huh?). On the way, we passed by Hudson's Treasure Hunt. Now, let me just give you a little background of me and this place. I went in one time when we first moved here and literally had to wait in the checkout line for 20 minutes before they moved my line to another checkout line because the register froze. The line they shuffled us into was even longer than the first I had waited in. The things I was planning on buying were pretty good deals, but I was so frustrated, furious, and pregnant that I put my items back and said, "To heck with it!" I vowed to never enter the store again. I mean, I like good deals and all, but that was SO NOT worth the trouble! For some strange reason, as we passed by Friday night I asked Chandler if we could go see what they had. We hit the motherload of a treasure! Ha! I have been wanting a BOB jogging stroller. Well, they had them. For CHEAP! I've also been waiting to find a Britax carseat on sale for Barrett. Well, they had those too. For CHEAP! It was by far the BEST deal we've ever gotten on anything, and it was the two items I've been wanting to buy. You can't beat that! Maybe it sounds ignorant, maybe not, but I really felt like it was a gift from God. I mean, how else would I have ever gone in that store on that night and found the two things I wanted. The carseat was even the pattern I wanted! I am still amazed!!!

By the way ~ my blog post title comes from one of my favorite websites. retailmenot.com You can find coupon codes for all kinds of online stores. Just type in the website (target.com, babiesrus.com, whatever) and it will pull up a list of recent coupon codes and their reliability. Awesome.

5k update. Prairie Arts 5k came.....and went. I had every intention of at least trying to run even though I wasn't up to more than 2.5 miles yet, but Barrett had others plans for me. The weekend before, he and I went to Houston where we had a fabulous time other than the fact that he didn't sleep much at all. When we got home, much like any other time he's been away from home, he was not all about the sleep either. Finally, the last few nights he has slept through the night for the most part. Only took two weeks to get him back on schedule! So, the week before Prairie Arts, he was waking up at least every 2 1/2 hours throughout the night. I was EXHAUSTED and there was no prayer of me making it even a mile I was afraid. Chandler wasn't ready for the race either, so we decided we will run our first 5k on October 2nd here in Meridian. I've got lots of work to do before then! I haven't run much in the last two weeks because of the exhaustion. My ankle did finally stop hurting, though, so that was a plus for the break I took. Today, I took out the ole (new) Bob and went after it once I dropped Charlee off at school. I haven't run in a week, and man oh man could I tell! Also, running with a jogging stroller is a whole other beast that I have not yet become familiar with. Hopefully it will get a little easier! Barrett had a good time, I think. I ran at Bonita Lakes. It is definitely a nice change from running around my block eighteen (okay, only 5) times.

I haven't updated you on my RAOGLs (Random Acts of God's Love) lately. I have put out several baggies with quarters and my RAOGL cards on vending machines. The first ones I placed were at Winn Dixie right down from my house. I put two out and the next day we went for groceries and one was still there. I was a little shocked that they didn't go fast, but then after thinking about it I realized that I wouldn't take the quarters ~ I'd leave them for someone else ~ so maybe that's what everyone else was doing. The next set I placed at Wal-Mart. My guess is that those didn't last long. ;) I've paid for several meals behind me in drive-thrus, but I've found that I'm not very comfortable with paying for someone if it's a man. I have only paid for ladies. I think it has to do with the fact that I really don't want them thinking I'm trying to hit on them or something. Ha! Also, the whole two-window system at most drive-thrus makes it a little more uncomfortable. I like to get out of there before they realize what has happened, but the two-windows don't really accommodate that! Today I paid for a lady behind me at McDonald's. She must've only gotten a drink because her total was a dollar and some change. I looked back as the lady at the window was handing her the card and she had the biggest smile on her face. I was glad I got to see that because it truly made my day! As I drove off, I realized they didn't give me a straw, but it didn't bother me at all. Giving to others truly makes my attitude better and helps me to not sweat the small stuff. I'm not saying I never sweat the small stuff.....believe me, I have my days, but the more I give to others the more I feel happiness abounding. THAT's a gift from God, too. You better believe it!!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Word-filled Wednesday

So, I've never really been a follower, and I'm a big fan of words since I love writing, so no Wordless Wednesday here. We're going to start Word-filled Wednesday instead! Today is devoted to a few simple nouns...

blessings

friends



playground

innocence



idolization

torture



cuteness

chub



smile

cherubs




Have a WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY everyone!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

You just don't know....

I had every intention of devoting this post to what an AWESOME weekend Me and My Castles (or My Castles and I ~ that's for you Kim!) had. We actually got things around the house done that we've been trying to get around to for eleven months, went to the park to play and take pictures, had a wonderful church service, cooked some pretty yummy food, WATCHED THE BEST MISSISSIPPI STATE GAME WE'VE SEEN IN YEARS (can I get a "Maroon....White....Fight, Fight, Fight...."), won a prize at a very fun night of Bunco, and enjoyed hanging out as a family without the added pressure of "Monday" being right around the corner. It was the best weekend I've had in a while.....until last night.

When I got home from Bunco, I had a message from a dear friend I taught with 3 years ago in Huffman, Texas. She was calling to tell me that on Sunday morning, around the time when I was enjoying a good Sunday School lesson, a teaching partner of ours was in a boating accident along with her 9-year-old son. They were on a friend's boat, a large boat that is capable of reaching speeds of 60 mph, when they hit something in the water and the boat was thrown 150 feet onto shore in a wooded area. My friend and her son were on the bough of the boat at the time of impact and were thrown from the boat. 4 wheelers were brought in to carry the 3 to the Life Flight helicopters which took them to the hospital. My friend was pronounced dead at the hospital. Her son broke every limb and injured his legs so badly that he won't be able to put pressure on them for quite some time. He is still facing at least one more surgery, and I don't know if he knows yet about the fate of his mother. She wasn't married to his father, but he was in the picture. Please, if you do anything today, say a prayer for this precious little boy. Please.

My friend loved her son with all of her being. He was her only child, and she had him when she was 39. Hardly a day went by when she didn't mention something about her son to us. She was so proud of every accomplishment he made, and I'm pretty sure he accomplished as much as he did because of the high expectations she set for him. It is so hard for me to imagine that he has to go on in this life without her. :(

Something that struck me last night as I was remembering my friend was that she had always taken such great care of herself. When she was younger, she was a body builder and she was in such great shape even years later. She always brought food for lunch that was revolting to me. You know, stuff that's good for you? I mean, salad? Really? I was pregnant with Charlee so if it didn't have at least 50 fat grams per serving, it wasn't for me. Ha! I also remember that she brushed her teeth every day after lunch. How many of us care enough for the health of our teeth to do that? I know I don't. Maybe that's why I had to go and have a root canal today. This woman looked to be only a few years older than me and she was almost 20 years older. I remember how shocked I was when I found out how old she was. She was literally in better shape than I have ever been in in my entire life. And she was 45! As I was remembering her, it struck me (and I've always known it in the back of my mind) that it doesn't matter WHAT you do to take care of your human body. You can be gone tomorrow. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO! I have such a heavy heart today because of the pain her son will have to experience, but also because I truly don't know if my friend will go to heaven or not. I can't remember anything about her that lets me know that she was for sure a Christian. But then, I really can't remember anything that would have let her know that I was a Christian......THIS makes me very sad.....

Please say a prayer for the family of my friend, especially her sweet son, and hug your own babies, spouses, parents, whomever, a little tighter today.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eight......Months........Old........

WHAT??? Already??? When did my sweet little boy get so old? He's going to be chasing his sister around in no time. Wait, he already does that. GEEZ ~ I know it sounds trite, but where does the time go? What a life-changing difference your life can make in eight short months. Happy 8 months, big boy!! You've made my world brighter and better just as your big sister has!




Next topic:

Elasticity

Elastic. Quite possibly the best invention known to woman. At least THIS woman, anyway! HA! I really wouldn't survive pregnancy (or postpartum, oh, say 7 or 8 months) without it. The thing about elastic is that it stretches. Think about it....what a miracle invention! :) At the beginning of the year, Chandler and I joined Northcrest Baptist Church here in Meridian. Around the same time, our pastor, Brother Danny, supplied our congregation with blue, elastic bracelets and challenged us to wear them as a reminder that God was going to stretch us individually as well as congregationally throughout the coming year. Let me tell you, that bracelet was a little tight and a tad uncomfortable at first. It reminded me of times when I have been faced with the possibility of change or growth. It's uncomfortable, right? And a bit tight because I think, "There is no way I can possibly fit anymore onto my plate right now." Funny thing happened, though. The more I wore the bracelet, the more it stretched out. Eventually, the thing stretched so much that I had to be careful that it didn't fall off when I was wearing it. Finally, it had stretched so much that it snapped one day. I can't even describe in words how God has stretched me, my family, and my church this year. It's UNREAL! God has been so busy at work in my heart lately and in the hearts of so many around me. I've still got a long way to go (don't we all?), but it is so refreshing and inspiring to see where God has brought me in just 8 short months. I am so incredibly thankful for a church home that is so on-fire, loving, supportive, and "stretchy"! Revival tonight at Northcrest, y'all. The Holy Spirit is sure to be there along with a healthy dose of "Radical Hospitality", as Dr. Dan Lanier would say! :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Drum Roll Please.......



We have had a weekend of CELEBRATION!!! Saturday night, a certain little girl tiptoed her way into the bathroom while I was getting her brother to sleep for the night and her daddy was watching tv. Seconds later, out she came and there was a new inhabitant of the local sewer system! HaHa!!! Even though Barrett had just gotten to sleep, I didn't care that I woke him when I began praising Charlee and hugging, kissing, and shouting YAY!! It was a house party, for sure! She immediately ran to the hall closet where I've been keeping her "prize" for her feat of #2 in the potty, a Disney princess ball. "Mommy, please I need my Tinkerbell ball." But of course, my dear princess, and take some M&M's and Sweetarts, too!! The next day, she did have an accident (if you can call it that ~ I'm pretty sure she knows she's about to poop in her panties, so that's probably not really an "accident"). She went to the potty immediately after, though, and went in there some too! I'll take it! Progress! Last night, she again went in the potty. YAAAAAAYYYYY!!! She's such a BIG GIRL!! Ahhhh ~ the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to shine.

Charlee and her prize



Riding with Daddy



Where did that Puff go?


Now I can move on to my rant.....
Since moving back to Mississippi from the 4th largest city in the country, I've noticed that the cost of living here is greatly higher than Houston. Crazy, I know, but it's true. We now pay state income taxes, grocery taxes, way too high car registration fees.....the list goes on. When we started the house search last year, we also became painstakingly aware that the people of Meridian think pretty highly of their homes. A little TOO highly, if you ask me. All of this, and they don't even have a Target to balance things out. :) My latest realization of the cost to live here came along today in the form of a dry cleaning bill. In Houston, I began taking clothes to the dry cleaners that weren't "dry clean only" simply because they did a far better job at getting wrinkles out and making my clothes look new again than I ever can with a simple iron. I would take 15 - 20 pieces to the dry cleaner almost monthly, and never paid over 20 or 25 dollars. I never asked them how much each piece was. I know that most places advertised laundering shirts at 70 or 80 cents (from what I remember), but I never really paid attention to how much dry cleaning was. After 3 years of taking clothes to Houston dry cleaners, I wasn't quite prepared for what I would encounter here in the large metropolis of Meridian. Small town, surely smaller prices, right? NO! EVERYTHING in Mississippi is more expensive. I think the only exception is daycare costs. I took clothes to the cleaners last week for the first time since being here. First off, I am used to dry cleaning being ready the next day. They told me it would take 4 days. Ok. Fine. I don't really need the clothes in a hurry. They've been sitting in the basket in my closet for, oh, a year or so. I picked them up this morning. You don't know how close I came to saying, "Just keep the clothes ~ SHEESH!" I don't know who to be more mad at, the cleaners or myself. I really should have asked for a price list. Here's my sign, right? I deserve the price I had to pay for not checking beforehand, but honestly, who would think that dry cleaning could cost so much? I was sure to let the lady know how ridiculous I felt the price was. I'm too embarrassed to even tell you how much I paid. Let's just say that $6 for a skirt when you probably only paid $20 for it in the first place is a bit much. Oh Houston....I could probably ship my clothes to any number of cleaners in Houston and have them sent back for cheaper. Needless to say, my blood boiled this morning. Not a good start to the week, I tell you! Things will get better, though. I'm getting my fix of Houston this weekend, along with some much needed time with some of the best friends in the world celebrating the impending arrival of what is sure to be the cutest little boy in the world (aside from Barrett, of course) with what is sure to be the longest legs on record! HaHa! YAY! I can't wait!! Guess I should've just taken my clothes with me this weekend.....

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ankle, don't fail me now!

As I alluded in my last post, I don't think I'll be able to run the 5k in September. :( Seems I have an injury. Likely excuse, huh? A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting indian style (or criss cross applesauce for you politically correct folks ~ ha!) on the floor playing with Charlee and Barrett when Charlee stepped on my ankle. It hurt for just a minute, but then the pain went away. That night, I ran on it. Ouch. It started hurting after I ran, but not so much while I was running. It quit hurting later that night, and it didn't bother me to walk on it at all. So, I've continued running on it every other day. It has gotten gradually worse, but still only really hurts while running and especially right after running. I should probably quit training for a week or so, but I know me, and I know that that week will turn into a year and I'll be back on the couch! Ha! So, I run. And then limp back to the house. Seriously, I could barely finish the cool-down walk Wednesday night because it hurt so bad. I did finish my 3rd night of week 6, though, and ran for 25 minutes straight. WooHoo!! I started icing the ankle a couple of times a day, and maybe that will help it heal. We'll see. Regardless, I don't know if I'll be able to hang in the 5k in 2 weeks. Maybe I'll have a resurgence, but I'm definitely not going to preregister for the run! Also, my running buddy, Chandler (who is now on week 3 of his C25k program), will likely not run with me because I'll surely be too slow for him. I just don't know if I'm up for embarrassing myself ALONE yet. :)

By the way, the zucchini has NOT been revived. Boo!

That's all for now....there's a cute little punkin' head asking me to go play in her room, so I think I'll oblige. :) Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RIP Zucchini Plant......

:( Yep. I'm sad to report that the Zucchini plant bit the dust. Not sure why, but I had been noticing a ton of ants on it. I sprayed it down with insect spray, but I don't think I got it in time. There are still a few green sprouts on it, and a flower bloomed yesterday, so maybe, just maybe all of the rain lately will help it come back. I sure hope so, because I was beginning to enjoy the zucchini! I have gotten lots of okra, jalepeno peppers, and banana peppers, and last night I tried okra and actually liked it, too! I read somewhere at the beginning of this gardening process that it's good to involve kids in gardening because they become excited about eating things they have grown even if it is something they would never touch before. This seems to hold true for adults as well. :) I am quite picky, but have tried, and liked, zucchini and okra. 2 for 2.

We won't talk about the potty training today.....

Not sure if I've mentioned it before or not, but Barrett is quite the eater. He has never protested feedings and would probably eat all day if I let him. He has been getting very mad lately, though, when he sees us (especially Charlee) eat table foods. He could care less about his mush. He wants the good stuff! I was a lot more careful with Charlee when introducing table foods. She never acted interested in food like this kid, though. He tried his first french fry this past weekend. LOVED it. I'm pretty sure the majority of it ended up on the floor, but still. He had ice cream a few weeks ago. LOVED it as well. I only gave him a little bit because I wasn't sure how his little tummy would handle it. He got some kinda mad when I stopped giving it to him! We're gearing up for raising typical boy here. He's gonna eat us out of house and home! He had his baby dedication at church last weekend. It was very sweet! He and a couple of other boys in the church nursery are typical boys and are known as "the linebackers". Ha!

I made up RAOGL cards yesterday! They are business card size and I printed them on bright colored card stock. I also counted and rolled all of the change from our laundry room stash. I rolled $101.50, and left about $13 that wouldn't roll in the jar! Wow! Rolling coins is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I don't know why, but I love getting my hands filthy and guessing what the grand total will be. It's like therapy. $50 worth of quarters were in there, so I'll use that for my baggies that I'm going to put on vending machines. I assembled a handful of baggies today, so I'll let you know how it goes when I put them out.

iPhones are the bomb, in case you didn't know. If you don't have one, you are definitely missing out! I lost mine at the beginning of the summer for a few days and realized what a big part it played in my life. Sounds sad, but seriously, there are so many things I use it for that I don't think I could make it without it. Probably not a good thing to rely so much on a piece of technology, but oh well. I have over 1000 pictures on there now. That is what I was most sad about losing because I rarely backed my phone up to iTunes before I lost it. This has since changed. :) I really don't know how I ever got through middle of the night feedings with Charlee since I didn't have an iPhone. There's an app for EVERYTHING you can imagine. I have a Total Baby app that keeps up with all of Barrett's feedings ~ time, length of time, last side nursed, average feeding time per day, etc. You can also use it to track diaper changes, baths, and sleep, but I don't use it for that anymore. I also have the C25k app that is training me for my first 5k. (We also won't talk about that in this post! Let's just say I may not be running my first 5k in September.) There is a Run Keeper app that tracks how far I run, tells me my speed, etc. I check email on my phone, facebook, and blogs. The internet on an iPhone is identical to internet on your computer, with the exception of mobile websites. Another app I have is Words with Friends. It's a game similar to scrabble that you can play against friends who have an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. I'm addicted to it, and pretty good if I say so myself. ;) The iPhone...It is pretty awesome, in case you didn't know. :)

I say all of this to lead you into my Radical Experiment plans. Let's be real. I'm a mother of two small children who is pretty frequently on my own since my husband travels a good bit. How on Earth would I have the time to devote to the Radical Experiment? The iPhone has been my answer. One of the 5 components to the Experiment is to read through the entire Bible in a year. I have a Bible app on my phone that allows me to choose whichever translation I would like. Through this app, I have set up a reading plan (I'm going through it chronologically, the order in which it happened) and the app tells me what verses to read each day and I can read them straight from the phone. Another of the 5 components is to pray for the world. The book tells about a specific website, operationworld.com, that tells you about a different country each day and its specific prayer and mission needs. I have this website bookmarked on my phone and look it up every day to read about the country I need to pray for that day.

There are a million other capabilities of an iPhone, but I think the point I'm trying to make is that it's pretty awesome and it is a very important aid in my Radical Experiment. I've also got the Big Brother spoiler network bookmarked so I can check and see what's happening inside the house each day. I have no patience and hate waiting for the next episode to find out what's going on. Ha!!!

Pray for the Zucchini..... :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Random Acts of God's Love



This kid is chasing toys all over this hardwood floor! I've always been so worried about having a baby learn to crawl on wood floors, but it hasn't bothered him one bit. I have a big quilt I lay down, but he always goes straight for the bare floor. I guess the quilt just gets in his way. He is such a little stinker! Good thing I bought some new running shoes because I have a feeling I'll be chasing him from here on out! He hasn't quit moving his legs since he was born, so once he figures out how to use those little (okay, chunky) legs to get somewhere, LOOK OUT!




Charlee Bug started her second year of preschool today. She is so happy to be back! There are a few of the same friends from last year in her class, and a new set as well. My letting her run around naked the other day didn't pan out so well. :( She went into the bathroom (progress, right?) and did her business.....on the floor. Not nice. Do kids just finally decide that they want to go in the potty? I mean, #1 hasn't been an issue AT ALL. She transitioned with barely any accidents. I can't seem to motivate her with anything for #2, though. I know it will happen eventually. I mean, surely I won't be cleaning up poopy panties when she's 14, huh? Ha!

I had a revelation today. I was thinking of ideas for making up cards to include with my RAOKs (thanks for the suggestions, Erin and Michelle!). I know I don't want to just make it about acts of "kindness". I really want to incorporate God's love into them somehow. Sooooooo, I decided that I will change the name to Random Acts of God's Love! (I'm pretty sure I am probably not the original creator of that phrase, but I'm going to use it anyway. Shhhh! Don't tell them! Ha!) My next project is to tape a baggy with quarters and a RAOGL :) card to vending machines and inside laundry mats. We have a jar in the laundry room that has been collecting coins from pockets for years, so I now have a use for all of that change. And it's not like I'll miss the money since it's been sitting for so long. Chandler obviously doesn't miss it since he doesn't ever bother to check his pockets before putting pants in the washer. That's another story, though. ;)

I finished Radical a few nights ago. It's a book by David Platt, a megachurch pastor in Birmingham, Alabama. I don't know if I would call it awesome, only because that seems like a word to describe a "feel good" book. It really makes you question your cush American life and the materialism that envelops it. It's definitely not a "feel good" book, but it is probably one of the most inspirational, challenging, throw-it-in-your-face books I've ever read. The beginning of the book had me feeling completely incompetent as a Christian. I felt like I had completely and utterly gotten everything in my life wrong and was leading myself in the wrong direction. I mean, who ever thought of the American Dream as being bad? I threw in a little prayer now and then, and may have done a devotional when I could find the time. I even did nice things for people. I counted my blessings and tithed. None of it seemed like enough or seemed like I was worthy enough to be called a Christian when I started reading this book. I have always been a sinner and my actions will always fall short of the Glory of God, but an AMAZING redeemer saved my soul from the fiery depths of HELL! And I've been sitting around barely finding the time to obey him. I tell you, I was DEPRESSED and MAD at myself the first few days of the book. Luckily, I have a pretty awesome Sunday School teacher (yes, they call it plain, old fashioned Sunday School here in Mississippi ;) ) who reminded me of Romans 5:19 in class the next Sunday after I began the book.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19

Oh yeah. I almost forgot! Jesus made me righteous! No matter what I do, no matter what I don't do. How amazing is that? Pretty amazing, I'd say. I REALLY needed to be reminded of that on that particular Sunday. What did I get from it? Sit back and go back to living my cush lifestyle and chase the American dream once again since I've already been saved? OH NO! I know that one day I will stand before God and he will ask me what I did to build his kingdom. He will also ask me what I did with the abundance of blessings he bestowed upon me. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect to EVER be able to answer either of those questions with my head held high. Jesus has filled my heart, though, and His spirit leads me to WANT to do all I can to listen to and obey His will for my life. Please don't judge me when I mess up, though. :) I'm bound to do that, you know. (Thanks a lot, Adam and Eve!!) Ha!

I've got lots more to say about Radical and my year-long commitment to the Radical Experiment, so stay tuned!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Regression

This post will be shorter than previous ones, mainly because I have LOTS to do today. Sure, Jamie, you're a stay-at-home mom. What can you POSSIBLY be busy with. :) Okay, okay, so it's a lot for me, as a stay-at-home mom. Ha! Trust me, I don't forget the busyness that comes with mothering AND working full-time. I don't miss it much, either! Anyway, I've got a naked jaybird running around today (new approach to getting Charlee to poo poo in the potty), so I'm busy shadowing her every movement to make sure we don't have a pile hidden in the corner somewhere. :P Next, I've got literally hundreds of boxes to go through (okay, maybe not LITERALLY) to get stuff ready for a garage sale this weekend. I also have a sick baby boy who is not very happy with the stuff stopping him up and coming out of his nose today. :( On top of all of this, my house is a wreck, which seems to put me in an icky mood. SOOOOOO, I have LOTS to do today. :) Blogging is my break while Barrett is sleeping and Charlee is watching Dora (in HER chair covered in a thick blanket).

Charlee has always been a great sleeper. She slept through the night at 8 weeks and would only wake up in the middle of the night if she was going through a growth spurt or if she was sick. Even then she usually only woke up once a night. At least, that's how I remember it for the most part. Lucky I was, I know! I realize that now that I have a little boy who likes to hang out with his momma in the middle of the night. We were doing good, but he's back to waking up a couple of times this past week or so. Back to Charlee, though. Right before Barrett came along, we decided we would use Charlee's crib for him and buy her a big-girl bed. We bought a full-size mattress and box springs and put up a side rail. She did great with the transition, but we had to stay in the bed with her until she fell asleep for the first few weeks. Finally, she was a BIG GIRL and let us read to her, pray with her, and sing a few songs, then leave her to fall asleep on her own with the door closed. A couple of months later, she started opening doors. She loved doing this so she would come out of her room several times at night before finally giving in and falling asleep. Then, she started wanting her door to stay open, so we would leave it open until she fell asleep then close it so that her brother didn't wake her up while he was wailing in the middle of the night. Soon, though, she got upset about us closing the door and would get up to reopen it at night. Now, she makes us promise we won't close it. The last couple of weeks, we've regressed even further. She started wanting one of us to lay down with her, read, pray, sing, then she would summon the other of us (if Chandler was in town) to come in and lay down with her. One night I went in after Chandler had gone through the nightly routine. I sang a couple of songs with her and then told her I was going in the other room and she needed to go to sleep. What was her response? "Mommy, I wanna play with your hair." Okay, I feel it necessary to explain that one of my absolute favorite things is for someone to play with or fix my hair. LOVE IT! I always try to get Charlee to play with my hair, brush it, put it in clippies, whatever. She is NEVER interested. Now, all of the sudden, when it's time for me to leave her at night, she is begging to brush it. So, I did what any of you would. I let her sleep habits regress a little more. I get to lay down with the sweetest little girl in the world and have her lull me to sleep every night now. :) At the young age of 2 1/2, she's already got her momma figured out. SCARY!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Heat Wave......More like TSUNAMI!

Sheesh! I don't think I have to tell anyone anywhere remotely close to Meridian what I'm talking about.


I feel like every cast member of "A Time to Kill". You've seen it, right? Perfect adaptation of Mississippi life. Ridiculous southern drawls and sweat dripping from foreheads (and shirtless Matthew McConaughey) at all times of day and night. Did John Grisham forget to tell them we had air conditioners here? No ~ they probably were filming during a heat wave like the current one and everyone's air conditioner couldn't keep up, like ours at the present time. If you know me, you know what a terrible tragedy that is! Ha! Anything above 74 and I'm sweating. YUCK! Please, Fall, hurry up!


Along with Mississippi Summers come Mississippi critters. I've been scared to step out of my house for a week since seeing a HUGE snake in my driveway. I opened the garage, and POOF ~ there he went. Slithered away into the grass where he was never to be seen again. You may think that's wonderful, but not me. I'd much rather have him in my sight then not know where he's gonna pop up next! From my description, "It's BIG and BLACK and FAST!", Chandler informed me that it was probably a black runner. He then proceeded to tell me that they will chase you if you get close to them. LOVELY. I seriously hope he was kidding, but I'm too scared to find out otherwise. Ha! This snake was obviously the solution to my, "There are way too many lizards around my doors," problem. Haven't seen too many of those lately... What I have seen are two creepy looking caterpillar-esque things in my house. They are furry and have granddaddy long-leg type legs. I welcomed the Terminix man with open arms on Monday.

Even with all the "fun" I've experienced lately, I must tell you that I've been feeling really blessed to be back in Mississippi. A year ago, you would NOT have heard me say that. I was gung-ho Colorado bound when we ended up here, and I was not looking forward to being back. I'm finally (a year later) starting to come around and I've realized that God has put my family and me here for a purpose. That purpose just doesn't seem to involve living close to a Target, Lupe Tortilla, or Panera Bread right now. :) I pray that I can recognize God's will for me here and that I will, more importantly, OBEY His will. Isn't that the difficult part? I am so quick to say, "No, that CAN'T be what He wants me to do. I'll do THIS instead." Afterall, if we're doing something labeled "good" by society and our world, isn't that enough? Hmmmm ~ not so much, Jamie. God doesn't call us to do "good" things to feel happy with ourselves. And the world approving of ANYTHING we do should be questionable since we are not to be OF the world. I'm trying really hard not to find satisfaction and glory in myself for my RAOKs. Loving others shouldn't be meant to build ourselves up, but to build GOD up. It's ALL about HIM, not us. May all the glory be to HE who deserves it. Lord knows I don't deserve anything but punishment and persecution. What a wonderful feeling to know that someone took that punishment and persecution in my place..... I'll NEVER be able to do enough "good" to repay Him. That's not what it's about. I should, however, completely embrace His will for me and obey Him. He told me to love, so by golly, I'm gonna love! (Or try my best to, anyway.)

I had a WONDERFUL visit with a sweet friend today, and I am so glad I got to have a great conversation with her about the radical idea of pursuing the Gospel and not the American dream. I'll talk more about this and my thoughts on the book I'm finishing up, Radical, later. It was so wonderful to talk with someone who has the same guilts and struggles as me. I'll never be a perfect Christian. I'm going to screw up EVERY day, and I know that. The Love of Jesus Christ is in my life, though, and I want to try every day to show that love to everyone around me. Some days are more difficult than others. Particularly, really HOT days. Ha!

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3,4

WOW. That's all I've got to say about that. :)

Pooh Pie and BoBo are living up to their nicknames this week. Charlee, who we used to always call Pooh Pie, decided to go poo poo in her panties at our friends' house. Nice. BoBo scratched his little booger nose again. Guess it's time to cut the fingernails. I mean, it's been all of 4 days since I cut them last! Sheesh! Little stinkers. Love them, though! Isn't it so wonderful that God put people on this earth that are SO EASY for us to love! I think our children are gifts for us to practice God's love on. Hopefully it'll create the domino effect to help us love those who are a little more difficult to serve. ;)





Monday, July 26, 2010

Run Baby, Run

Chandler and I are training to run a 5k. Well, I've been training for a few weeks, and Chandler finally started last night. :) We plan to run the 5k at Prairie Arts in West Point, which is the Saturday before Labor Day, September 4th. It hasn't been the easiest thing to do, mainly because it's 480 degrees in Mississippi right now, and also because physical activity (other than chasing kids around) hasn't been on my radar in over a year. Yes, I'm one of those women who, when pregnant, eat as much as I can and don't move for 9 months. I mean, what other time in our lives can we get away with that, right? I always planned on being an active pregnant woman, but the whole 'trying to stay as still as possible so I don't puke' thing in the beginning kind of sets the precedent for the rest of the time. Ha! That, and I enjoy food and cokes and candy. It usually takes me at least the 9 months following pregnancy to lose the weight, but that's okay with me. Thank God for the 500 calories burned each day from nursing! After Charlee, I lost all the weight plus 10 pounds. I was working full time, though. I've gotta add a little something this time to help out, thus the 5k training. I started with an iPhone app I found ~ Couch to 5k in 9 weeks. It's pretty cool. While you're walking/running and listening to music, a voice comes on and tells you when to walk, run, or cool down. Tonight is week 3, day 2. Since he started a little later, Chandler will have to convert the program to "Couch to 5k in 6 weeks", but I have no doubt he'll be able to handle it. My reward for finishing the 5k will be to finally get a BOB jogging stroller. Since I don't already have a jogging stroller, I have to wait until kids are in bed and hubby is home to watch them before I can go run. It usually works out well because I'd much rather run when the sun is down and it's not nearly as hot. Last week, though, Chandler had to go out of town. Kinda puts a damper on the whole training thing. Luckily, I have quite possibly the best in-laws around who came to my rescue and stopped by after work to watch babies while I ran. Love them! :)

My RAOKs since I last posted have included: paying for the lady behind me in the McDonald's drive-thru one morning, and another gift card at Wal-Mart (I'm beginning to think I spend too much time at that place). This time, I gave the gift card to the cashier after I bought it and asked her to put it towards the lady in line behind me's order. This way, hopefully my RAOK will affect TWO people instead of just one. :) The cashier seemed touched by my act, and I never saw the lady in line's face because I tried to get out of there quickly. I don't know why, but I try to get away as fast as possible, almost like I'm doing something wrong! Ha! With the McDonald's lady, I couldn't get out of there before she noticed. Guess it's the whole two window thing. Before I could get my Cafe Mocha, the cashier was shouting, "She said Thank You!", out the window. I felt a little silly and like I needed to explain myself or something. I didn't, though. Just grabbed my drink and sped out of there. :) My drink, which I might add, that didn't have the usual whipped cream and chocolate syrup. I know that seems little, but it really makes the drink! I could've gotten mad about it, but that would've probably cancelled out my RAOK or something, right? Ha! I think it helped me to realize that you can do kind things all day long, and it may help you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but the purpose for doing kind things is to obey the greatest commandment of all ~ LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Period. Point Blank. Not, love one another because you'll get something out of it or because it's easy, but love one another because HE first loved you! It may not always be the easiest thing to do or the most rewarding, but it's what we are called to do. So, bring it on! I don't care if you're covered in whipped cream and chocolate or not. I'm gonna love you anyways because that's what I'm called to do. :P Easy enough, right? Yeah right! Praying everyday is a must because, let's face it, it's just plain harder to love some people! We can't do it alone, but Christ in us can! Praise the Lord!!!


Silly head....



I'll leave you with my yummy supper plans....Marie's Easy Slow Cooker Pot Roast. No, I don't know Marie, but when looking for a good roast recipe one day, I happened upon this one at allrecipes.com. I've made it several times, and each time it has been YUMMO! It's easy, too. Chandler wanted me to add bell pepper this time, and I have to go run to the store to get carrots. Here it is before carrots and with added bell peppers.



Marie's Easy Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Ingredients:
4 pounds chuck roast (I usually get a smaller one)
salt and pepper to taste
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 cup water
3 carrots, chopped (I use baby carrots and don't chop)
1 onion, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed (I use petite potatoes and don't peel them)
1 stalk celery (I leave this out bc we aren't celery fans)

Directions:
1. Take the chuck roast and season with salt and pepper (we add cajun seasoning) to taste. Brown on all sides in a large skillet over high heat.
2. Place in the slow cooker and add the soup mix, water, carrots, onion, potatoes, and celery.
3. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours.
4. Serve with some rice and ENJOY!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 2

Day 2 of big girl panties, and so far no pee pee accidents and only one #2! Yay Charlee! She even went to school today and asked to use the potty twice. So stinkin' proud of her! Barrett and I went to Wal-Mart while she was at school and stocked up on candy and prizes for her to earn each day. How do you expect that candy to last under your roof for more than a day, Jamie? (some of you may ask) Well, I'm having tooth pain, and anything sweet intensifies that pain. I had a cavity filled two weeks ago and the pain has been coming and going ever since. I have to wait for an insurance estimate to get a crown put on it because the cavity was so bad. :( That's what I get for postponing dental work because of pregnancies and nursing. So, no candy for me. BOO!

Charlee put this hat on her Bubba...



2 years later and she still loves it... :) She climbed in all by herself and started jumping away!



Sweet babies...



A few weeks ago I read about a lady who celebrated her 38th birthday by committing 38 random acts of kindness, or RAOKs. She paid for the people behind her in the drive-thru, gave out gift cards at Target, took donuts and coffee to hospice workers, etc. It was very inspiring so I've decided to copycat her idea for my next birthday. Maybe it will help take the focus off of the fact that I'll be entering a new decade. :( Seriously, though, I love the idea of making my special day less about me and more about the One who has given me these 30 years. To thank Him, I plan on charting out 30 random acts and taking my family along for the ride! I've pretty much got an idea of what all I can do, but any suggestions are welcomed. I'm really going to have to get out of my comfort zone, but I'm VERY excited about it! Last week, I told Chandler about my idea (or, my copycat idea) and told him I couldn't wait until my birthday. He said, "Why do you have to wait until your birthday? You should do a kind act once a week or something." He's so smart. :) I didn't even think about that! So, I started praying for God to open my eyes to opportunities available to show love to others. I decided that I would get a $10 gift card when checking out at Wal-Mart and find someone to give it to. It was very intimidating! I gave the first gift card to a nice lady walking in as I was walking out last week. She was a bit confused about what I was giving her, but she ultimately thanked me. I was back at Wal-Mart today and got a gift card when checking out, but I had trouble finding someone. I made it all the way to my car when I saw a lady putting her groceries into a truck with "Habitat for Humanity" decals. I went over and gave her the card and told her that it was just a random act of kindness. She was very thankful and said she had many workers to feed so any little bit would help. There were a few other RAOKs last week, too. We're starting to think we may need to branch out to include RAOKs that don't involve money. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

This Little Light of Mine

One of Charlee's favorite songs is "This Little Light of Mine". She is quite the singer and loves the "hide it under a bushel...NO" part. :) She is so silly! When her daddy puts her to bed, that's the only part I can hear from the other room. It always makes me laugh. I'll work on recording her singing it to post on here. It's just TOO cute!

Hearing her favorite part of the song reminds me of all of the times I "hide my light under a bushel." Jesus is my light and too many times I hide that light to fit in with the crowd around me or simply because I'm too shy/scared/whatever to share the AWESOME gift I have been given from such an AMAZING and HOLY God! We all get into the grind of daily living and often forget about our purpose as Christians on this Earth. God wants us to let our lights SHINE for HIM, and who wouldn't want to after what He has done for us? I'm glad I have Charlee's daily reminder.

On a garden note.....
Garden ~ Week after Easter


Garden ~ Today


We enjoyed the fruits (or rather vegetables) of our labor a couple of days ago for the first time! Yes, our garden is a little slow in its production mainly because Chandler chose a somewhat shady location for the box. That's okay, though. Lesson learned for next year. I have never liked zucchini. I have never been willing to try it. (I'm a bit of a picky eater.) I picked the prettiest zucchini on Monday. (Forgot to take a picture of it, though.) I grew it so of course I've gotta try it out, right? We didn't have corn meal so we fried it up in some flour, eggs, and seasoning. It was YUMMY! Chandler claims corn meal would make it better, but I think I like it the way we made it. Charlee wouldn't have anything to do with it. Barrett probably would have, but I didn't give him any. Good thing I liked it because the plant is taking over the whole garden! Lesson #2 for next year.....give the zucchini squash LOTS of room to grow.

On a baby note.....

Lord help us ~ Barrett has become mobile! Ha! He's not crawling yet, but he rolls across the floor to get where he wants to go and he scoots all over the place. He doesn't like to sit up on his own, though. He's always gotta be moving those little legs. He'll be chasing his big sister around in no time. And I'll be chasing TWO!