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I'm a mother of 3 who started blogging as a way to share our many adventures and to expand beyond the everyday "mommy world". While there IS so much more to us mommies than the title, there is very little that doesn't in some way or another lead us back to or influence our children...if anything. So, I hope you enjoy following our family's randomness, because as all moms know- you can never anticipate what tomorrow will bring! Thanks for visiting and have a blessed day! :)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cracking Up at Cracker Barrel

The food was good.  The service was good.  The wait was long.

Yet, who knew I had such a polite child?  After waiting patiently for quite a while for our food to arrive, my loving 6 year old son caught our waitress's attention when she came by to check our glasses.  "Excuse me, waiter.  I would like some macaroni and cheese, please."  He had to be hungry.  It was around 7:30 before we even sat down (and I was ready to eat as well).  Even so, Jackson didn't fuss, whine, or pitch a fit.  He just took matters into his own hands and made his desires known in a polite and respectful fashion.

The waitress said she'd go check on his order and it would be out in a few minutes.  As she walked away, he looked at my mom and said, "Well, I think she's going to go tell the chef and then bring my macaroni in a little bit."  If you know Jackson and are familiar with his sing-song, yet matter-of-fact voice, then you can picture how funny this was!

This incident reminded me of another instance that his kindergarten teacher told me about shortly after the school year started.  Apparently, she had called on him to answer a question during one of lessons.  Instead of answering the question, he just said, "Mrs. Freeman, would you stop talking please?"  She wasn't mad or upset with him...just surprised by his response.  Nonetheless, this is not something you say to a teacher.  It looks like at the tender age of six, he's already mastered the art of respectful criticism.  I think this is a character trait that will carry him far, don't you? :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Jackson's Birth- Part I

If you haven't already read the "prerequisite" to this post, you might want to do so, although it IS optional. ;)

Jackson was born a day after my due date (at least what I considered my due date.  My doctor said it was more like April 8th but I thought April 10th was more accurate.  Turns out I was right...or at least, closer.)  At the time, I was working as a special education paraprofessional at Madison Middle School .  My last day there was April 8th because I thought I was in labor that morning.  When I showed up at school the next day, no one could believe it.  They just knew "Ibby" had joined our world.  Well, one day later he did.

Early, early Thursday morning I went into what the medical community calls "spontaneous labor".  Basically, natural labor.  I remember these contractions felt a bit different than the Braxton-Hicks contractions that I'd been having.  Slightly more intense, closer together, and more consistent.  While I started getting ready, Justin called the doctor to see if this was really it and if we should come in.  She must have asked him if I'd lost my plug because he came into the bathroom (while still on the phone) and asked me if I knew what that meant.  Theoretically, I knew it existed but I really wasn't sure if I had lost mine or not.  (First baby, people.  Still trying to figure things out.)  The nurse told Justin, "Oh, she'd know.  It's hard to miss."  As luck would have it, I lost it a minute or two later...while he was still on the phone!  So, she told us to go ahead and come in.  Once off the phone, Justin came into the bathroom and found me in the shower.  His reaction went something like this:
"What are you doing?!  We're supposed to be going to the hospital."  
"We've got time.  My contractions aren't  that close together yet and I want to look as good as possible for the pictures."  
"This isn't the prom.  You are about to have a baby!"  
"I know.  Trust me, we're good."  
"If you end up having that baby here or in the car on the way to the hospital, don't blame me.  And I'm not going to be very happy about that, either!"  
(Believe me, I know.)

To try to ease my husband's irrational fears, I showered and shaved as quickly as a pregnant woman can and then painted my toenails.  I tried to hurry with that, too, but you can imagine Justin's frustration.  Finally, I was ready to go.  Justin drove like a maniac...which is saying something because many a time I've grown impatient with his leisurely pace.  This time, however, I was more than a little irritated with his speed.  The truck wasn't known for its shocks/suspension and every bump hurt!  In fact, I took to sitting mid-air just to ease the pain.  Justin's behavior was somewhat understandable, though, with this being our first child coupled with the fact that we lived on the north end of town and the hospital was on the south end.  Still, Abilene is no metropolis.  It was only about 15-20 minutes away.

Once we arrived, we had an "informal" check-in and were then sent to a "holding area" (or that's what I called it.  You know, that's where they send you to make sure you are in labor before getting you a room of your own.)  We had curtains for partitions and after only a few minutes in our little "cubby", Justin tells me to put my fingers in my ears and stop listening.  WHAT??  Being the good wife that I am, I humored him even though he wouldn't tell me why.  (Can you picture it?  And I don't know about you, but when I had a contraction, my natural instinct was to put my hands on my sides and my stomach.  You can't so much do that with your fingers in your ears.)  Even with my fingers in my ears, though, I could still hear some of what was going on.  There was another woman in the "cubby" next to us who was pregnant with twins.  Apparently, at least one of them was breech.  She was screaming.  I mean, really screaming.  (That would be the part I heard.)  My sweet husband was concerned that if I heard all that commotion, I'd freak out.  My heart really went out to this woman and I hope she and her babies were ok, but it didn't so much scare me in relation to my own labor.  I don't know why.  It just didn't.

After what seemed like forever, they finally sent us to a room and formally checked us in.  I'll pick up there with the more exciting part of the story next time.  Like I said before, bite-size pieces! :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jackson's Nickname & Our Birth Plan

Before I go straight to his labor and delivery story, there are three things I'd like you to know first:

  1. We were determined not to find out his gender so my husband dubbed a prenatal nickname for our unborn child which became a bit of a tradition for our future children.  In fact, we already have a nickname picked out if we ever have a fourth.  We called him "Ibby" which was short for "Itty Bitty Baby".  Justin wasn't intentional about picking this nickname, at least not originally.  It just sort of happened one day that he said the name and then had a "Eureka" moment.  "That's it!  That's what I'm gonna call the baby.  Ibby!"  At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about this.  Ibby?  Really?  Now I'm glad that he persisted.  It's actually kind of cute.  Subsequently, Josiah became "Tibby" (Tiny Itty Bitty Baby) and Sadie was "T-Tibby" (Teeny Tiny Itty Bitty Baby).  Should a fourth ever come along, he/she will be "Twibby" (Teeny Weany Itty Bitty Baby).  I wasn't really excited about Sadie's nickname (it just sounds less than cute to me) but I wanted to save "Twibby" in case we had twins, which run in my family and have already skipped a generation...but now I'm getting ahead of myself.  Secondly,  
  2. I was determined to have a natural childbirth.  Justin begged and pleaded with me to take the meds but to no avail.  After all, it only seemed fair.  He got to pick the nickname so I got to decide whether I wanted medication or not.  Leave alone the fact that it was my body and I'd be the one enduring the pain.  That, in and of itself, was reason enough.  Thirdly,
  3. I was considered a high-risk pregnancy due to my epilepsy and the medication that I was taking to prevent seizures.  Therefore, I had ultrasounds every 4 weeks for the first and second trimester, then every 2 weeks for the beginning of my third trimester and then every week for the last 2-3 weeks before his actual birth.  I am really grateful for the privilege of seeing our baby gradually develop in the womb.  Not many mothers are afforded that.  We now have some terrific ultrasound pictures and video footage, too!
So, now that you've taken the "prerequisite", if you will, we're ready for the actual event!  That story coming up in the next day or two.  Having two preschoolers at home necessitates breaking this up into bite-size pieces.  Plus, I know all of you have lives, too that don't revolve around mine so it helps if I don't write a novel each time.  I mean, I know we're interesting and everything but... ;)  Until next time!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Honk if You Love Jesus

For those who read my recent post "I'm Pregnant???", I mentioned Justin's occasional "road rage" (I'm guilty of this, too.) and it reminded me of this story a lady in my bible study class read several weeks ago.  I put the words under the video clip for those who have trouble hearing it.  I hope it brings you a chuckle or two!

The other day I went up to a local Christian bookstore and saw a "Honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker.

I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance, followed by a thunderous prayer meeting, so I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper.

Boy, I'm glad I did!  What an uplifting experience that followed!

I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord and how good He is... and I didn't notice that the light had changed.

It is a good thing someone else loves Jesus because if he hadn't honked, I'd never have noticed!

I found that LOTS of people love Jesus! Why, while I was sitting there, the guy behind started honking like crazy, and then he leaned out of his window and screamed, "For the love of GOD! GO! GO! Jesus Christ, GO!"

What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus! Everyone started honking!

I just leaned out of my window and started waving and smiling at all these loving people. I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love!

There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a "sunny beach"...

I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air.

Then I asked my teenage grandson in the back seat what that meant, he said that it was probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something. Well, I've never met anyone from Hawaii, so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign back.

My grandson burst out laughing...why, even he was enjoying this religious experience!

A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment that they got out of their cars and started walking towards me. I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed.

So, I waved to all my sisters and brothers grinning, and drove on through the intersection. I noticed I was the only car that got through the intersection before the light changed again and I felt kind of sad that I had to leave them after all the love we had shared, so I slowed the car down, leaned out of the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one last time as I drove away.

Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Justin's Reaction to my "News"

I don't know how many of you were actually fooled by my last post, but based on the radical change in my number of typical pageviews, I'd say a lot.  :)

I wish ya'll had been here to see Justin's reaction.  I'm so glad I was.  He had no idea I was posting it so was quite surprised when he saw it on his facebook newsfeed this morning.  The only thing he said was, "What?!"  Then he immediately clicked the link, turned to face me and said, "That's not funny."  Well, I certainly got a laugh out of it!

Seriously, hon.  Do you really think I'd announce to the world that we were expecting before I told you?  Silly boy! ;)

I'm Pregnant???

Gotcha!  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  I love doing that just to see people's reactions.  Given our track record, though, I don't think anyone would be surprised if I were...with maybe the exception of me, my husband, and some extended family members.  That would be a wee bit of a shock!

One of our "couple friends", Zach and Emily, just found out recently that they are expecting their second child and she's been sharing their story on her blog.  Anytime I hear about a friend's pregnancy or talk to a pregnant friend, (like most mothers) I'm reminded of my own pregnancies and birth experiences.  It occurred to me that I haven't shared those stories on my blog so I thought this was a good time to start.  I probably won't be going into as much detail as Emily.  I'm still a bit of a prude, although breastfeeding three babies helps you get over that pretty quickly so maybe I'll be sharing more than I anticipate. ;)

This is Jackson's story:

I'm pretty sure we got pregnant with Jackson about a week or so before our first anniversary.  We were living in Charlottesville, Virginia, at the time and quite literally moving on our anniversary.  Nearly 1400 miles and two days later, we arrived in our new hometown, Abilene, Texas.  We had found a one bedroom apartment online in a little complex called Timber Ridge and signed a six-month lease.  The online floor plan made the place look so much bigger than it was in reality.  I remember opening the door and seeing the living room and the hallway and then asking, "Where's the kitchen?"  Well, it was behind the front door.  It was literally the size of a walk-in closet.  In fact, you could not have the oven door and the refrigerator door open at the same time and it was impossible for two people to be in there if you were planning to cook anything..  Nonetheless, it had everything we needed and we were grateful for it.

I first became suspicious that I might be pregnant on our first Sunday drive to Highland Church of Christ for bible class and assembly.  At the time we had a cute, little, red, 5-speed Chevy S10 pickup truck.  I hated that truck.  It was good to us and the most reliable vehicle we've ever owned but it probably went from 0-60 in about 2.5 years.  (Although, I couldn't help but be amused whenever Justin got a case of "road rage" and tried to pass another car.  It was like watching a turtle trying to sprint. LOL)  That particular day I really hated it...and Justin's driving.  I could have sworn he hit every bump and every pothole along the way.  Once we were in the parking lot, I was ready to vomit.  It crossed my mind that I could be pregnant but I just chocked it up to an empty stomach.

There were signs even before that happened.  I just didn't recognize them.  No one told me my boobs would hurt.  I suspected I had breast cancer before pregnancy ever crossed my mind.  They were so sore and tender.  I just knew I had cancer.  It was only after the truck ride that I considered this as another symptom.

I don't really remember but I'm thinking that since we only had one car and I wasn't supposed to drive that we already had a pregnancy test and I didn't have to go out and buy one.  I didn't want to tell Justin my suspicions because I knew he'd worry and I didn't see the point in worrying him about it if there was nothing to worry about.  I do remember deciding to wait until the next morning to take it so I'd have the most accurate result.  I had taken pregnancy tests before and remembered waiting for what seemed like forever for the result.  Not this time!  I couldn't believe it!  I think the second line showed up even before the first one did!  I'd look at the test, then look at the directions, then look at the test get the idea.

At this point, Justin was still in bed.  It was pretty early, after all.  The only reason I had gotten up in the first place was because I had to pee and therefore, had to take the test.  I wondered how I would tell him.  I wished I'd been more creative about it now, but I was in such shock over the whole thing that I didn't really know what to do...and I knew he was going to notice me acting weird.  I went back to the bedroom and kissed him.  He made some joke then by saying, "Ah, now I need a cigarette."  So I seized the opportunity and responded, "Well, you're really gonna need a cigarette after what I have to tell you."  "What?"  "You're gonna be a Daddy."  Yep.  That was my look right there.  The look I had on my face in the bathroom, now staring back at me with the eyes of my husband.  "What?!  Are you sure?"  Well, he tried to look happy about it (and deep down he was) but, in typical Justin fashion, he worried.  He definitely needed some time to get used to the idea.  After all, we'd only been married a year AND he'd just quit his full-time ministry job AND was getting ready to start grad school full-time AND we'd moved to a new community where we knew absolutely no one AND neither of us had a job.  It was certainly a lot to take in.

This being my first pregnancy, the only thing I really knew to do was call the doctor and schedule an appointment.  Then, I started taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid.  We decided to wait until after the appointment to "make sure" I was really pregnant before telling anyone.  (Justin wanted to hear it from a doctor first...have an "official" pregnancy confirmation.)  We both expected that they would give me another test, but of course, they didn't.  The nurse was getting ready to dismiss us when Justin asked if they were going to take a test or anything.  The nurse looked confused.  "What kind of test?"  "A pregnancy test, to make sure she's pregnant?"  Then she looks at me looking even more confused.  "You took a test at home, didn't you?"  "Yes."  "And what was the result?"  "Positive."  "Then you're pregnant."  That's when she told us that the tests measure a certain hormone in a woman's body that is only present when she's pregnant.  In other words, there's no such thing as a false positive result, only false negatives.

We made several phone calls after that visit and told our families the news.  Chris, my stepdad, mysteriously guessed what I was calling about.  I hadn't told him yet but when he handed mom the phone he said, "It's your daughter.  She wants to tell you that she's pregnant."  How dare he steal my thunder! And what gave me away, I wonder? ;)

So, that's the story of how we found out we were having Jackson.  It's probably more than you cared to know.  No matter.  Now it's written for my kids to read when they want to know their story.  Next time, I'll write about his birth.  That's one story you don't want to miss!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Reflections: Traditions worth keeping?

This was the first Easter that I didn't go out and get the kids brand new outfits for the occasion.  For the most part, I didn't make a big deal out of what they wore at all.  In fact, Josiah sported blue jeans and Jackson wore long olive shorts (or what some of us refer to as "nickers").  For the boys, my main requirement was a collared shirt but that's what I require every Sunday (most Sundays anyway).  Jackson professes that truth every time I try to put him in a polo shirt or button down any other day of the week, "But Mommy, we're not going to church.  We're going to...(fill in the blank)."  He hates them but he knows he'll be expected to wear one every Sunday so he hardly ever makes a fuss over it anymore.

Now, I will admit that Sadie had an Easter dress "of sorts".  I say that because it's one I bought last year when a local upscale consignment shop, Toads & Teacups, had a huge sale.  I got several things that were way too big for her at the time but were such good bargains that I bought them anyway.  I knew it would make a nice Easter dress but I didn't buy it expressly for that purpose.  Besides, of the five of us, she is typically the best dressed (That is, when she's not dressing herself.  She rarely even matches on those occasions and often times something is either on backwards or inside out.  It drives her aunt crazy. LOL).

Anyway, I wondered a time or two what our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ thought about their attire or if they even noticed.  (I'm almost positive most of them noticed.)  Then, I was irritated that I even wondered about that.  First, it was a pride thing...a lack of "keeping up with the Jones'".  Externals shouldn't matter.  Why was I granting them more importance than the reason we were there...which was to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, rejoice in our hope of eternal life, and above all, to praise Him for his great love and sacrifice, our undeserving gift?  Second, I was focusing on what other people thought.  God's opinion is the only one that matters, not theirs.

There were a couple of reasons for why I didn't get them new clothes.  Number one, they didn't really need them.  They are not walking around naked or exposed.  They have clothes that are clean and stain-free (Although even that isn't a true need, but a cultural expectation.).  Number two, we're drastically cutting our spending in order to save for a memorable vacation.  Now, a vacation is not a need either but I think that focusing our means on time spent together is more important than wearing the latest fashions.  I think God would approve of that decision.

Still, it was difficult to fight the desire and feeling of obligation to go out and buy them something.  It's what I've known.  It's what we've done in our family for atleast the past five or six years.  It was also difficult not buying a bunch of stuff for their Easter baskets, although that concern faded pretty quickly after our second Easter egg hunt.  They raked in loads of candy and small prizes.  I did buy them a couple of things but I tried to get things that were actually useful or that they needed.  I tried to make what I bought a little special, too.  For instance, Sadie needed panties.  Ordinarily I would have gotten the most inexpensive package (per panty).  This time (although by coincidence it was the cheapest package, just not per each) I got her Disney princess panties.  I knew the boys would love the flashlights I found (only $.30 a piece!) because they are always playing with ours and I thought it would be a fun thing for them to take on our Disney trip.  If they get lost, so what?  They were only $.30!!  :)

Ok, this post is becoming WAY too long so the gist of what I'm saying is that I'm pleased with my decision.  There was actually freedom in it.  I didn't waste time shopping from store to store and fretting about what we could afford to spend on an outfit.  I didn't get AS stressed out as I would have been Easter morning with getting them all decked out in their duds and making sure they didn't spill something on themselves before we left.  Instead, I was able to relax and enjoy our time together (for the most part.  All you moms know how hectic any Sunday can be).  I was able to let them play outside at their Nana's that afternoon too without making them either change clothes first or watch them like a hawk to make sure they didn't muddy up their outfits.

I hope you had a wonderful Easter this year as well.  Maybe we'll do this again next year, maybe we won't.  But you'd better believe I'll think long and hard first about whether it's necessary and how it will affect my attitude and our family's well-being.  Time, stress, financial freedom, and most importantly, our family's happiness will be at the top of my list for consideration.    God bless!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Rose & Conquered the Grave

This is one of my favorite songs.  It's just impossible for me to hear it and not sing along.  In celebration of Easter, when Christians everywhere are focused on Jesus' death, burial, and RESURRECTION, this is the kind of song I want to sing!  I've loved this song ever since I heard it but like so many other things, it has renewed meaning since Matt's death.  I know I mention Matt alot in my posts.  Some of you may think that he's all I ever talk or think about.  There is a constance of sorts but I like to think that I'm not "obsessing" over my brother.  He wouldn't want me to do that.  However, as I've mentioned in previous posts, there are defining moments in life.  I see the world differently now.  Things I once considered good are now great because what I once considered bad was really just "not so good".  "Bad" was like stepping in dog poo or staining your new dress.  "Bad" doesn't even begin to describe how horrible things can be.  We aren't capable of appreciating the good without the bad.  The worse things are, the better the good feels.  It can just be much harder to see the good when the bad is that bad.

Anyway, I digress.  The point I'm trying to make is that we all know the Easter story.  We say "Jesus died for me" and "Jesus rose again".  We sing songs like "Because He lives" and "Jesus loves me".  But where's the passion?  Where's the awe and wonder?  We can get so comfortable or so familiar with the story that it becomes rote or routine.  It's in our head, but not our heart.  But then some things come our way with the power to change all that.

My brother died.  His soul did not.  Jesus is Mighty to save!  He saved Matt.  He saved me.  He saved you.  When death hits so close to home, Jesus' resurrection heals the heart.  It's not just a story anymore.  It's the hope of eternal life!  It's the abundance of great joy!  It's Jesus conquering DEATH!  What a Savior!  How can we keep from dancing before the Lord, thanking Him for his immense love and incredible gift?  I hated losing my little bro.  I love knowing that I'll see him again.

Enjoy your Easter holiday.  Hunt eggs, enjoy a basket of treats from the Easter Bunny but please (as we often say at Christmas) remember the reason for the season.  Hug the ones you love, remember how much God loves you and dance!!  We're eternal, brothers and sisters!  Death has no sting!

Friday, April 22, 2011

What Happened to My Size 4 Self??

Ok, so I can't sleep tonight and this is the question that's keeping me awake.  A ridiculous question.  The answer is simple.  I started eating again, for starters.  Then, I got married.  (Yes, the infamous "I heard somewhere" that marriage alone tends to add a few pounds.)  Then I had baby, after baby, after baby.  With pretty much no breaks.  Until now.  Add to that the loss of a dear brother, my lack of exercise and poor dietary habits and this is what you get.  One fat mama.

I didn't get here overnight.  This was a gradual, slow descent into the ugly word, "obesity".  According to, my ideal weight is somewhere between 142 to 156 pounds.  If you're curious about your own, check out their chart.  Dr. Graber (whoever he is) gives a little more wiggle room allowing 160 as an acceptable "ideal" weight. defines "obese" as being more than 20% over your ideal weight.  So, basically even with Dr. Graber's wiggle room, I'm still in the "obese" category.  That really is an ugly word, isn't it?  I mean, I don't even want to type it.  It sounds so much nicer and less offensive to say "overweight" instead.  The only problem with that is it's just putting lipstick on a pig.  Dress it up however you like.  At the end of the day, it's still a pig.

I never pictured myself here before.  At my heaviest I weighed 214 pounds.  (Gasp!  Did I just share my weight with the entire cyber WORLD?!!)  Thankfully, I've lost some of that weight, but not an incredible amount by any stretch.  I'm merely teetering on the fence of "One-derland".  (I did it again!!  Is nothing sacred anymore, Stephanie?!)  I suppose I feel comfortable sharing this because for one, (sadly) I've got plenty of company and secondly, light scatters the darkness so I'm thinkin' that if I shine a REALLY BIG LIGHT on my obesity (ugh, I really HATE that word.  This is like shock therapy.),  THE POUNDS will scatter and disappear, right?  I wish it were that simple.  Like I said, I didn't get here overnight.  It's not going to magically go away overnight.  It will take time and it will take effort but I will do it.  "As GOD as my witness, I WILL do it!" (just picture me standing, yelling, and shaking my fist in the air.)

I'm not naive enough to think that I'll ever get back to my size 4 frame.  I mean, hello!  I did birth 3 babies.  Hipbones have moved and it's highly unlikely that they'll be returning to their original state.  (Besides that, I was really TOO skinny at that size, probably weighed 130 pounds fully clothed and soaking wet, and going through a mild depression now that I look back on it.  Apparently, my family was worried about me then too.  Maybe I'll share that story some other time...and pictures.)  However, the layers of fat (That's right, I said it!  F.A.T. FAT!) surrounding those bones are in for a surprise!  I'm gonna obliterate them!  I have muscles that haven't been used in years but I can guarantee you they are still there!  After all, I played basketball and did track and field in high school.  I survived "Lady Tiger Pay the Price Week", People!!  That's no sissy stuff!!!  And I've got the shirt to prove it! ;)  So, who's with me?

Look out, Obesity!  You BIG, UGLY, DISGUSTING WORD, you!!  We got your number!!  You're going down!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My First...I mean, JACKSON'S First Field Trip!

Jackson had his very first field trip last Friday to The Florida Museum of Natural History where they went to see the Butterfly Rainforest. I am pleased to report that he had a wonderful time!

I was a little nervous about sending him at first for a few reasons: 1) Parents were not allowed to come. 2) It was in Gainesville (about 1 1/2 hours drive away). 3) He had never been on a bus before (1 1/2 hours is quite a distance for a "trial run") and 4) I didn't know how he'd react to or behave in the museum. After all, it was definitely out of the daily routine.

So, I did what most concerned mothers do and set up a meeting with his teacher. She was very helpful. After speaking with her, my options were 1) he rides the bus and I follow behind. Once there, he'd be with the group and I would be on my own until it was time to leave, at which point they would release him to me, or 2) he rides with me, is counted absent for the day, and he can't participate in the exclusive group tours/talks/activities his kindergarten class would have. He would just be with me.

Initially, I planned on driving him down there and just "following" (or shadowing) one of the kindergarten groups. He'd be marked absent for the day (which still seems crazy to me if he's in the same place, doing the same things, but I digress..) but I figured that at least he wouldn't be missing anything and I'd have more peace of mind by being right there if something were to happen.  Once I realized that he would be excluded from some things that only the groups were doing and that I knew he'd enjoy, I was back to square one.  Not. knowing. what. to. do.

So, I decided to send an email to Jackson's principal who also happens to be a family friend.  I knew that he could put my mind at ease and help me figure out a solution.  I told him about my concern with putting Jackson on a school bus and that if at all possible, I'd like Jackson to be able to participate in the "exclusive" activities, with or without my presence, whichever was preferable and most beneficial.  I mentioned the attendance issue too, but was clear that if I could only win one battle, I'd like to have Jackson in those classes.  Just like Jackson's teachers, his principal was also very understanding.  After speaking with him, my new options were 1) Jackson rides the bus.  We follow.  If there is any issue, they will immediately pull over and Jackson can ride the rest of the way with me, or 2) I drive Jackson down there and he joins the group upon arrival.  He stays with the group until it is time to leave.  Since I was given EVERY assurance that they would pull over if the bus ride upset Jackson, I felt like this would be a good time for him to give it a try.

After dropping Jackson off at school, I drove around to the bus entrance and parked on the side, a safe distance behind what I assumed to be the buses for the field trip.  We (me, Sadie, and Josiah) watched as the teachers packed the lunches and coolers in the back of the bus and again as they helped the kids board.  We were parked to the left of the bus so we couldn't actually see them loading, except for their feet.  I remember seeing Jackson's feet from under the bus as he got ready to board.  I was all set to snap a picture.  I just wasn't quick enough!  Having only seen his feet, I could already tell he was excited!

Finally, our caravan began.  I kept a safe distance away from the bus but was still close enough that I could see some of the kids in the back.  I was cracking up watching them try so desperately to get a truck driver to honk for them.  I can remember doing that as a kid, too.  (Heck, I think I even tried to do that while on college trips. haha)  After what seemed like an endless number of semis, finally one honked.  You would've thought they'd won the Superbowl the way they were carrying on after that! LOL

Jackson's teacher showed me a picture she'd taken of him on the bus.  His smile was so big that you couldn't even see his eyes.  What was I worried about, right?  I bet all his teachers think I'm the most ridiculously overprotective parent they've ever seen.  If that's true, it's a great irony because I've been accused of being too "inattentive" before...more than once.  Anyway, I'm glad he enjoyed himself and had such a great time.  I'm also very glad and very grateful that I was afforded the opportunity to experience part of his journey on his VERY FIRST SCHOOL FIELD TRIP!  YAY!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What An Entertaining Day!

The kids have just been a hoot today, particularly Sadie.  There's no telling what she might say next!  I thought I better write these down while I was thinking about it and before I forget.  They are always saying funny things but today they've really outdone themselves!  If you keep up with my facebook page, you've already heard about a couple of these.  But keep reading. :)

In the car on the way back from taking Jackson to school, Sadie starts having her own conversation:
"God created everything, didn't He?"
"No, He didn't."
"Yes, He did."
"No.  He didn't."
"YES, He DID, Baby Van Gogh!!"
There is a wonderful theological message buried within her words, I'm sure, but we won't go there today.  :)

Later this morning we had to make a special trip back to the school to turn in money and a permission slip.  As we pulled under the awning (It helps to know that my son is a car-rider and Sadie is nearly always with me when we go to pick him up), Sadie asked in amazement, "Mommy!  WHERE did all the people go?!"

When we got home it was time to clean rooms.  As Sadie is picking up her toys, she finds a penny and runs to me saying, "Mommy!  Look, I found money!  Now we can save it for Disney World!"  (When I first mentioned this on facebook, I left out the part where Josiah started crying because he wanted to find money for Disney World too.  I assured him that he would have also have spending money.  Maybe I should start leaving change in random places for them to find around the house. LOL)

The following is a conversation we had at lunch (and I don't know why on earth Sadie thought of this):
Sadie: "Are you married?"
Me: "Yes.  Do you know who I'm married to?" (poor English, I know, but that's how we talk around here.)
Sadie: "Uhhh, Momma T!"  (She would be the mom.)
Next we went into a litany of who is married to who.  Then, 
Josiah: "Are you a mother?"
Me: "You know I am.  Whose mother am I?"
Sadie: "Uhhh, Momma T!"
  (Well, I guess that will be the right answer to something eventually.)

And this one's everyone's favorite topic of conversation (insert sarcasm):
Sadie: "Mommy, do we eat roaches?"
Me: "EWW!  NO!  GROSS!"
Josiah: "No, Sadie, because we should (meant "could") choke on them."

Finally, I'm busy in the kitchen doing a quick mop.
Sadie: "Mommy, what are you doing?"
Me: "I'm mopping."
Sadie: "What does that mean?"
(Hmm...upon reflection, this has me asking myself how often has she seen me mopping.  Obviously, not often enough.  But in my defense, I usually clean the floor by hand and rarely use an actual mop.  Still, it sounds like my housekeeping skills could use some improvement.)
Me:  "It means I'm cleaning the floor."
Sadie: (excitedly) "Mommy, I got to get bigger and older and then I can clean the floor, too!"
(You better believe that when she's old enough, I will be reminding her of THIS conversation.)

As you can see, today has been quite entertaining.  I'm looking forward to hearing whatever comes out of their mouths next.  There's really just NO WAY to know...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Reminders Everywhere I Look

Ever since Thursday it seems like thoughts of Matt have surrounded me.  Our kids' birthday parties bring him to mind because his kids are around the same age.  I think about how nice it would have been to share these parties together.  I had hoped that moving to Valdosta would mean seeing more of him and his extension, OUR family.  I had visions of our kids having a closer relationship and playing together.

Then, Justin and I attended a marriage seminar at church Saturday morning.  This is a small thing but one comment that Donnie Hilliard made struck a chord with me.  He said, "Families with small children in the home whose parents have been married 3-5 years are at highest risk of divorce."  Matt had small kids.  Matt had been married a little over 3 years.  Given the reality I'm living right now, I wish he had just gotten divorced.  Atleast then I'd still have my brother here.

Saturday night I had the opportunity to see Toby Mac in concert.  It was wonderful.  What made it even more meaningful is that Toby Mac was one of my brother's favorite artists.  After hearing Mac live, it's easy to see why.  I saw so much of Matt in Toby.  Matt couldn't sing very well, of course, but the way they talked and their mannerisms favored somewhat.  Mac's music was definitely Matt's style.  I remember thinking, "If Matt were alive, I'd probably be calling him right now just to rub it in that I was here.  I might even tease him about meeting Toby in person even though I didn't."  Then I thought, "No.  It would be so much better if he was here with us.  There'd be no need to call.  He could enjoy this concert with us and it would be so much more exciting because he would just be going crazy."

I couldn't escape his memory this morning either.  I've written once before about how meaningful the song, "How Beautiful" is to me.  It's become bittersweet.  I walked down the aisle to that song right before I began a new life, arm in arm with my little brother.  How ironic, yet fitting, that we should sing it in church today when the focus of the entire weekend has been about marriage AND at a time when reminders of Matt seem to be popping up left and right.

After church, we came home and I changed before fixing lunch.  I just grabbed a pair of jeans and a t-shirt from the dresser without paying much attention.  Wouldn't you know that the shirt I picked was one I got in 1998 when I went up to Ohio to watch Matt play basketball in the USA Junior Nationals March to Madness tournament.  Every time I think of that trip, I'm reminded of Matt's shock as he took a huge gulp of his tea while we waited in a drive-thru line for the rest of our order.  In disbelief, he said in all seriousness to the cashier, "This tea is not sweet."  The look on his face was priceless.  She just paused as a smile curled up her cheek and replied, "You're not from around here, are you?"  For whatever reason, that conversation has always made me laugh.  It's another small thing, but it's a sweet memory.  No pun intended. ;)

Even though Jackson's already had his party, tomorrow is his actual birthday which means I'll be thinking of Matt again.  Jackson's birth was a significant day in his life, too.  That's the day he became an uncle for the first time.  And what a proud uncle he was.  He was so taken with him, wanting to hold him.  Standing him up to get a good look at him and make him "dance".  It was really cute and fun to watch.

My view of the world changed the day I lost my brother.  It's as if I'd been watching a 3-D movie without the glasses and then someone offered me a pair.  Everything suddenly became sharper, more vivid.  Everything has more depth now.  The only problem with this analogy is that I can't take the glasses off now.  I can't go back to viewing the world the way I once did.  I'll always miss my brother.  I'll always wonder what might have been.  I'll always wish for a different ending, an alternate reality.  Yet hope springs eternal and I know I WILL see him again.  In God's good time, I will celebrate with my precious, only brother once more.  Until then, I will cherish the memories and moments that remind me of him.  I will try to live every day to the fullest and never take another second for granted again.  That's what God intended.  And that's how I'll honor my brother's memory.