Thursday, December 31, 2009

Decade in Review 2000-2009

When I think of this past decade, these are the big moments that stand out in my mind. Some happy memories & some sad, all things that I learned from...all things that make me who I am today.


*Savannah's 4th (and last) eye surgery; she still had thick glasses to continue strengthening eye muscles, but she was finally done with surgeries!
*major ice/snow storm at the end of the month, much of the area lost power for several days (which so rarely happens here! Snow & ice? What do we do with this stuff?)
*hospitalization for Labrynthitis (I was 32 weeks preg w/ Samuel at the time), thankfully I was better after an overnight stay & came home to the snow & ice storm! This was also the end of my job as a Nanny for the family I had been working with for about a year.
*Larry's grandfather, Daddy Jack, died. Samuel was due on Daddy Jack's birthday (3/23). From that point forward, we hoped he would arrive on that day to honor the memory of sweet Daddy Jack.
*I dilated to six centimeters, never went into labor on my own, finally consented to allow the doc to "needle prick" my amniotic sac to start a slow leak & hopefully throw me into labor (a week past due), scary day, emergency Csection: Samuel David Reeves arrived at 2:21pm 3/29/00 weighing 1/2 an ounce shy of 9 pounds (read:
huge for my side of the family who all deliver 7 to 7 1/2 pound babies!); lots of complications (for me) after surgery, stayed in the hospital for 5 days before I could finally go home, then had to return to the ER afterward. Yuck.April, May
What? I'm supposed to remember the first few months after having a baby?
I do know that Larry graduated from LeTourneau University with his Bachelor's in May & began looking for a new job...but that's about all I remember.
June 30 (note this date in reference to the next item)-Larry started a new job, working for our county's probation department.June 29, 2000 (Yes, this deserves it's own bold-heading...big day in my memory)
*Found out I was pregnant. Again. Did I mention my son turned 3 months old that day? In shock & denial, I took another 8 or 10 tests before I finally admitted that MAYBE it was right. 2 weeks later when the morning sickness began, the reality finally set in. We were having another baby! I was due 3/4/01 -- just a couple weeks shy of Samuel's 1st birthday.
July, August
*Hello, high powered morning sickness? Yes, I'd like a heavy dose of puking while I hold my newborn & try to avoid hitting him with the spray. Thanks! I loved the jacked up hormones, too. Good times. LOL! (Thank goodness for Dramamine & B6 & Ginger Ale. I lived on it for weeks!)
*Christmas Day - my grandfather died. He had Parkinson's disease & heart problems. He left behind a wife of 58 years.

*At 36 weeks I was beginning to dilate on my own, so my OB decided to induce a little early & attempt to skip the 9 lb baby & repeat Csection if possible! Sarah Deanne Reeves joined the family at 37 weeks on 2/15/01 at 1:36pm. My quickest, smoothest, simplest labor ever -- 4 1/2 hours, start to finish. She was born on the day her big brother turned 10 1/2 months old.


*From the time Sarah was a week or so old until mid March, we struggled with deciphering her little body's system. Between severe reflux & a milk protein allergy, she was constantly either vomitting & gagging loudly or having bloody diarrhea. It was a very scary time as we ran tests and tried her on different types of formula & medicines to try to cure the problems she was having. Finally found the right combination of Zantac and Nutramigen! Hooray!
My grandmother died. Just a little more than 3 months after her husband died, she succumbed to the after-effects of a stroke & passed away. We all feel like she died from a broken heart. She too had Parkinson's Disease.
May - July

*I have no idea what happened during this time frame. Remember, 1 twelve month old + 1 sick newborn + 1 four year old = one big blur.
*Savannah started Kindergarten. We had no idea, then, that this is the year she'd meet her dear girlfriends (twins) who remain, to this day, 2 of her best friends! Even though they moved away the summer after 1st grade, the three of them still get together a few times a year and hang out.
*Larry started seminary while working a full time & a part time job! No one can ever claim he's lazy or lacking ambition!
*9/11 I don't think any of us will ever forget what happened that day, where we were, our first thoughts or the days ahead as we watched more & more details unfold.
*For the first time since having children, I left them home with daddy & grandma for the weekend & attended my church's annual women's retreat. I will never forget coming home to my 6 year old in a backward dress. She'd been to church like that & I didn't dare to say a thing! She was alive & well and Larry had made it through his first ever weekend to take care of one of the kids alone.
Sarah got pneumonia on the day before her birthday. Poor sweetie. Unbeknownst to us, the illness would cause enough damage to later become asthma.

Spring....I don't remember exactly when.

*Samuel's ongoing recurrent ear infections finally led to ear tube surgery.

*Savannah started 1st grade.
*Savannah asked Jesus into her heart. Larry was able to baptize her at the church's annual baptism service at a local camp in their pool.
*I received the phone call no cop's wife wants to get. By this time, Larry had moved from being a regular probation officer to being a fugitive officer for the department. It was his job to investigate & snoop around to locate the fugitives and then drag them back to court to deal with the time they'd been on the run. On the day that I got 'the phone call', he had been chasing down a felony crook who was high on crack. The chief could only tell me a few details: Larry's in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, I'm not sure what all his injuries are at this point, you need to get to the ER.

Feeling like the rug had been pulled out from under me, gasping for breath and feeling my heart race 90 mph, I quickly called my mom & asked her to come be with the kids while I went to the hospital. I sent a quick email to the church secretary who relayed it to the elders, deacons & pastors. While I waited for mom to arrive, I dropped to my knees & begged God to care for my husband & protect him. Not knowing if he'd been shot or knocked unconscious or had his neck slit was terrifying. As I prayed, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I thought my mom had walked in without my hearing her, so I lifted my head & realized I was alone. In that moment, my heart stopped pounding, I stopped sweating, my breathing slowed & God reminded me that He was with me and would walk us through whatever was ahead. I remember the tears running down my cheeks when I realized that I was visited by the Holy Spirit that day & that very physical presence of a hand on my shoulder was all it took to give me the greatest strength & faith that everything would be OK.
When I walked into the hospital room that day & saw my bandaged up husband who fell weeping into my arms, I was so grateful for what God did that day ... reassuring me, protecting my husband, giving me a peace that passes understanding. Since that day, I've been blessed with a supernatural faith in Him. I had faith before, but that day, the Spirit of God gifted me with a deeper level of trust & faith than I had before. It alternatingly reassures & annoys Larry when we're in the middle of a crisis because I tend to shrug my shoulders & say "it'll be OK. God's gonna take care of us." He loves to tease me about getting upset about things. While I really *don't* get upset and it cracks the kids and I up when he looks at me & tells me to calm down when I am cool as a cucumber. ha ha! He likes to jokingly say "Liz, you've got to settle down. You're scaring the children." We all burst into giggles when he does that.
*I'm not sure of the date, but I'm figuring it up to be November. I remember the day my sister called me, ecstatic. After years of infertility issues, she was pregnant!!!

Sorry...this was a long time ago, I can't remember too many 'big' details.
*Sarah had surgery to put in ear tubes. Within days, she was speaking in sentences! Prior to the surgery, she only had a couple of words. It was shocking to see how much she talked afterward.
*July 14 Baby Robyn Nicole was born. This is the baby from my sister's pregnancy announcement in November! After several boys in the family, Cindy was THRILLED to have a little girl.

*Savannah began 2nd grade
.*After years of knowing 'something' was wrong with Savannah, but never being able to pinpoint it, we finally went to a psychiatrist for an evaluation. Unfortunately, Savannah inherited the family gene for depression & anxiety. She began taking medicine for it that year and has been pleasantly even-tempered ever since. What a blessing pharmaceuticals are! :)
September or October...maybe even November?
*One of Samuel's ear tubes never came out on its own, so we had to do surgery to have it removed.


Again, this was a long time ago! What else did I do in '04?
*In mid June, Larry felt a call by God to go to New York City & attend a Brooklyn Tabernacle Tuesday night prayer service. He had no idea WHY he was being called to do this and even questioned his sanity when discussing it with me. I told him he better start researching airline ticket prices & such. One thing led to another & God lovingly dropped every bit of money into our laps to cover this unexpected trip. Without a reason to NOT go, Larry got on the plane & flew to New York, not sure what to expect from God. In an awesome Tuesday night service, Larry experienced a time with God like nothing he'd experienced before. He came back on fire for God, ready to burst into the full time ministry career he'd been pursuing with his years in seminary. Little did we know that the trip he took would be one of the deciding factors in which church he accepted a job in later. God planned that trip to prepare Larry for the place he'd serve!
*Larry began the job hunt for his first full time pastoral job. He was due to graduated from seminary in the Spring & wanted to get started on the job hunt. Many times pastor search teams take up to a year to hire someone.
*Savannah began 3rd grade.


Larry went on staff at Rose Heights Church of God as Singles Pastor.
*Larry graduated with his Master's Degree from the seminary.
*Just 6 years after our bankruptcy (1999), we were able to buy a house! Beauty from ashes!

*Samuel began Kindergarten. His sweet baby sister who had never lived a day without her constant companion (Samuel) was left at home with her boring old mom. A few months prior, we signed her up for Mother's Day Out. I ended up working there because I loved the hours! Little did I know that I would fall in love with teaching because I began working a little part time job at a local day care.
My passion for teaching preschoolers was ignited!

Oh my...where do I begin?
*2/9/06, about 4:00pm - my dear, sweet, beautiful girlfriend, Lisa Hardel, lost her battle with leukemia. Although the cancer was gone, she didn't survive the effects of all the drugs she had to take to continue thriving in life. She left behind three young children and a husband of 10 years.
*2/10/06 Less than 24 hours later, my brother in law was driving drunk & had a wreck. His sweet wife, Kelly, died in that wreck. G was arrested & eventually went to prison.

*2/13/06 Both Kelly & Lisa's funerals were held at the same time. In 2 different states. I went to the one for Kelly, but internally grieved that I couldn't go to both. I was still aching over the loss of my beloved girlfriend. I had to set that aside & take care of what was ahead, though.
*2/18/06 G & Kelly's kids (Andrew and Kourtney) moved in with us and very quickly became 'our kids'.
You can dig through the archives of this blog to fill in the details of our life with Andrew and Kourtney. Plenty of details were blogged. :)

*I discovered Karen Kingsbury's books. Yes...that is a big deal. She's filled my book-reading time for the past couple of years now. Love her stuff!


*Savannah & Andrew attended church camp. It was the first time either of them had been to an overnight camp away from home. They both LOVED it, but watching the bus drive away with them on board was SO very hard.

*Sarah & Kourtney started Kindergarten
*Samuel & Andrew began Cub Scouts. Larry was one of Samuel's den leaders.
*After many years of back problems & a million minor tests & treatments to attempt to resolve his problems, we finally resorted to seeing a neurosurgeon who did a spinal fusion on Larry. (L4 & L5) Although the recovery was HORRIBLE, Larry has never regretted having the surgery.
*Larry's Aunt Sandy died after a year long battle with cancer. The world lost an incredible lady that day. She was nothing but smiles, always laughing, always enjoying her family and life. Every memory I have of Sandy includes her laugh. We miss you, Sandy! It was only about 2 weeks after Larry's back surgery. He performed the service on a walker with the aid of narcotics. It was such a touching service.
*We got Coco, a black lab puppy.
*Savannah had her tonsils removed. After a couple years of 7-8 cases of strep throat per year, it was a welcome surgery.

*Coco bit Savannah in the face. Savannah had to go to the ER & have stitches. Not knowing if it was just puppy playfulness that got out of hand or a dog who might bite again, Larry decided that we should have the police department come take Coco. We were so upset about Savannah's face, but also sad to lose Coco. We found out months later that the officer who took Coco home with him (as a pet) had to put her to sleep a couple months later. She had Parvo. To this day, we've never told the kids. They still believe that Coco became a drug dog for the police department.
*Far too many details to write out all over again, instead just read this post. And the next one after it. (It's a 2 part post.)
*It became clear in the latter part of the Spring that the day care where I was working would be shutting down in the Fall. Knowing that we needed far more money with all the debt that fell into her our laps when the extra kiddos moved out, I had to go ahead & quit & begin a job hunt for something 5 days a week when the spring semester ended.
*Going on the recommendation of a friend who was working for a local private preschool during the summer, I visited & put in an application. I loved the environment and prayed it would work out. Within a week, a phone call confirmed that I was hired & would begin in the Fall! Hooray!
*Larry's boat went crazy. The kill switch did not work properly, so when the motor fouled up & went full speed and threw him out into the lake, the boat did not die. Watching him bob in the water & dodge the boat that circled him & threated to hit his head with each pass was terrifying. Thank God for the kindness of strangers! A man from the group "Fishers of Men" stopped & picked him up. A lake warden had to wreck the boat to get it to stop. We got rid of that boat the next week! No more "death trap" for us.
*2 local firemen lost their lives in a fire. One of them was the son of some friends at our old church. The other was the nephew of one of my closest friends. Such a tragedy! I won't forget that day or the men who lost their lives. RIP Austin & Kevin.
*Once in a lifetime trip to Los Angeles, CA to attend our friend's son's Bar Mitzvah. So many good memories made on that trip!
*Savannah began her band career as a French Horn player.

*Samuel asked Jesus into his heart. Larry baptized him at our church.


*We added a beloved member to our family, our sweet old dog King. With the two younger kids having a fear of dogs, King was the PERFECT dog for them. He was sweet, quiet, gentle & old. I will never regret adopting that sweet fella.
*I was nominated as Teacher of the Year by my coworkers. I was completely blown away to earn such a high honor my first year at the school!
*Sarah asked Jesus into her heart! Larry baptized her a few weeks later at church.
*Samuel attended overnight church camp for the first time ever. He LOVED it.
*We had our first 'staycation'. Instead of vacationing far from home, we stayed at home & spent each day driving to a nearby attraction that we had not experienced before. SUCH a great way to vacation with the family & save money!
*Larry & I flew to Missouri to meet one of my best friends. We met online a decade before, but had never met face to face in all those years. After 10 years of emails & phone calls & videos shared online, we finally had a chance to spend time together! I will never, ever, ever forget the first few moments...tears, hugs, such a great joy! It was a very short trip, but I am thrilled I was able to take it!
*Larry took a group from church to Romania on a mission trip. The group accomplished much & came home richly blessed for the time they spent serving Him. It was a very long 2 weeks back home, though. Sure did miss our husband/daddy!

*Larry & I came to grips with God's call on our lives this was time to step down from the church where we'd been serving since 2005. Until he had another job to go to, we kept our lips sealed. It was quite an emotional time.
*Loss. Not mine, but a friend's. I won't forget you, Wonderland. Your sweet life touched me in more ways than even your sweet mom knows.
*On Samuel's 9th birthday, Sunday the 29th, we said goodbye to our church family as we shared our last Sunday with them. Lots of tears & hugs, lots of love & sweet words of encouragement were shared. It was hard, but we know it was the right thing.

*During a first-day-of-Spring-Break bike wreck, Samuel's arm appeared to be broken. After spending day 2 of spring break in the pediatrican & then the orthopedist's office, we learned that it was not broken after all. Whew. That's the closest we've come as parents to a having a kiddo with a broken bone. I figure it's only a matter of time, though. (still crossing my fingers that we hold off a little longer!)

*Larry began his new job. I am not able to tell much about his job online, but rest assured he is back in law enforcement, investigating bad guys & protecting the innocent.

*The Sunday after Easter, our sweet dog, King, passed away in our laps. He was 10-11 years old & the lifespan for each breed in his mix was 10-12 years, so it was just his time. We came home from church & found him struggling. We walked him to the front yard to put him into the van & go to the emergency vet, but he never made it. He layed down in the yard & we sat around him and stroked his fur and talked to him....we loved him into Heaven. It's hard being the mom when a beloved pet dies.
*Samuel had his 2nd set of tubes put in.
*Savannah's Social Dance 'party'. She took a class that was part dance class, part social etiquette. I loved having her in it! The final class ('party') was so fun to watch. All of the parents were allowed a time to come watch their child dance with members of the opposite sex, doing all sort of ballroom dances & even a few fun ones.
*My niece & nephew's adoption was finalized! After nearly 2 years of having them in our lives, it was exciting to 'officially' welcome Jake & Kate to our family!
*our family's first rodeo -- Samuel even tried his hand at calf wrangling! He didn't win, but we all had a blast!
*Larry & I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary
*Savannah turned 13. We're officially the parents of a teenager now. yikes!
*Samuel read for pleasure. For the first time ever! And then begged for the sequel to his book. And the one after that! This was HUGE!
I'm sure I'm missing some big moments along the way. If I think of more I'll come back & edit this post to add them! It's amazing to me to look back on this decade. Larry & I entered the decade as young naive parents. We started the decade with one child. Before it was over we'd have as many as five at a time. I'm looking forward to all God has in store for us in the coming decade!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

I'll let the pictures tell the story of our day.

Favorite gifts from Santa:

Ok, so I'll explain the last one. It's red & green scrambled eggs. The colors are 'off' in the picture! They really were red& green! We had those with sausage & biscuits for supper tonight!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

What a full, but fabulous(!) day we've had!

At 8:00AM, we reported to our bell ringing station at WalMart. Since we had to be there by 7:50-ish, we made a quick stop through the local donut shop drive-thru on the way. Yum! Pigs in a blanket for breakfast! (The kids had donuts...gotta get that sugar buzz!) We spent two hours ringing the bell & people watching. It's always encouraging to see how many people stop & talk to the kids & pat them on the back for doing something positive. I love to see the kids give of their time for something imporant like this, but to have other people tell them that is great!

Today, I do believe we saw a few people who'd qualify for this site. I didn't take any pictures, though. After all, I was there to collect money for a good cause. It wouldn't have looked very nice for me to be snapping pictures of odd people.

Upon our return from WalMart, I made a quick trip to our local discount store. It's kind of like a dollar store, but things aren't $1. I don't know if they're a nationwide chain or not, but the store is called Fred's. I had to pick up the last couple of items needed for tomorrow's birthday party celebration. When I checked out, the cashier said "I guess someone has a birthday close to Christmas!". I just nodded & said "Yes, Jesus!". She kind of rolled her eyes, but the lady behind me in line piped up & asked about the party plates & napkins & such. I shared about our Christmas morning tradition and she loved it. Even if the cashier thought it was silly, I'm glad to be able to point out the one whose birthday we celebrate. How fortunate we are to live in a country where we can say things about Him in public.

Back at home, we made Jesus's birthday cake and had lunch. I attempted a nap, but it didn't happen. Too many doors being knocked on, phones ringing, etc. Oh well. I tried.

The biggest "thing" of the day (at least for the kids) was this: it snowed! Sure, it was just flurries & it only lasted maybe an hour. But wow...snow on Christmas Eve in Texas. That NEVER happens!

Tonight we went to our church for a non-traditional Christmas Eve service. I think most churches who have a Christmas Eve service do something along the lines of candlelit hymn-singing, reverant prayer time, etc. Or perhaps this is the time for Christmas musicals by the choir. Whatever the case, tonight our church did something different. We are blessed to be a part of an amazing church who really endeavor to reach the community & the world. A couple of weeks ago, we were given a wish list for several local charities/mission groups (Salvation Army, PATH, Living Alternatives, etc). Tonight we were asked to bring our gifts to the manger. Our church's stage had a small manger set up with a (doll) baby Jesus in it. The lights were dimmed and we were directed to place our gifts at the altar & spend a few moments praying for the organizations we were donating to, for our families, for those who are spending their Christmas alone, etc.

I realize it's hard to see in this pic, but if you click on it & blow it up maybe you can see things better. This is the stage in our sanctuary. The entire stage is covered in gifts!

The next station of the service was individual communion tables where each family could stand, read the Scriptures about communion (which were on the table, printed ahead of time) and then take the elements as a family. Very reverant & beautiful!

After giving your gifts, prayer & communion, you could leave or take a seat and watch a looped video of music set to scenes from The Nativity Story movie. Such a sweet time of worship & giving.

Larry & I were so moved. It didn't take a ton of money for the church to provide this time. The members were encouraged to give. Nothing flashy went on, but it was one of the most moving things we've done for Christmas in years as far as church services go. Just goes to show that it doesn't take a grand gesture to please Him. I am honored that we were able to go & focus on Him tonight as a family.

We drove home & enjoyed a movie & cocoa before the kids hit the beds. What a great day. I can't wait for tomorrow!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Traditions at the Reeves house

Over on Facebook, several friends have been asking for their friends to post Christmas traditions their family shares. We do so many fun things at our house that I wanted to share! And so, without further adieu:

1. Most years, we take the kids to an angel tree & find 3 angels of the same genders as the kids who are roughly the same age. We let the kids help us shop for those children. It's so much fun to see them getting excited about giving!

2. Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child: read more about it here. Again, this is something we do to help our kids learn the importance of giving. We love the challenge of filling a shoebox with as many things as we can cram into it. Our box is usually about to pop by the time we turn it in. So much fun!

3. Salvation Army bell ringing! When you read up on all the many many things that the SA does, it becomes such a privelege to be a part of this important ministry. I would love to see the SA offer some sort of bell ringing/collecting for the poor year-round. I guess people would get tired of seeing the red kettles outside store doors, though. Maybe the novelty of the bell ringing ministry is that you can only do it from Thanksgiving til Christmas. Anyway...we take the family & ring the bell for the SA each year. We only started this tradition last year, but it's such a neat thing. The kids LOVE it. Savannah makes it her goal to say hi & bye to EVERY person who walks by. I guess she's our PR person! :) Samuel does his best to ring the bell near his sisters' ears & pester them anytime he's got the bell. Sarah just smiles & waves to everyone as they go by. Larry and I stand back & grin a lot. It's fun to see the reactions that people have to CHILDREN ringing the bell. It's also fun to people-watch. You might be surprised by who is the most generous! Last year, while ringing the bell, Larry & I both noticed that the most generous givers were the people we least expected to see stop at all. Sure is a good reminder not to judge a book by its cover!

4. Baking/icing cookies together. The kids & I buy those packages of pre-cut sugar cookie dough & bake them. (Honestly, they only want to decorate them, so cutting down on the mixing & baking & cutting time suits me just fine.) Aside from being really silly while decorating them, we get the added benefit of eating them!!

5. In years past, we've helped in serving a meal to the homeless. Such a cool way for the kids to see, face to face, that there are indeed homeless people living RIGHT HERE.

6. Driving around & looking at lights. We make it our mission to find the most gaudy, tacky displays each year. We have a saying in the car while we're driving around looking for it, too...that is, "Money can't buy class!". I can't believe how many years the tackiest displays are in the fanciest neighborhoods. Complete with 3 inflatables, 2 snowglobes, reindeer on the roof, Santa on a Harley, the "flowing" river of lights in the get the idea. That one is the winner!

7. A few weeks in advance, when we're in the car & the kids get rowdy, we start a game. I usually go first by humming/whistling the tune to a Christmas song. The first one to guess which song it is gets to go next. It continues on for a long time because everyone wants to get several turns.

8. Canned food drives! By Christmas, we're usually totally stripped of canned goods in our pantry. Between the schools & church & other community food drives, it's fun to see how many cans of food we can give. This year, Samuel's teachers organized a night for the kids in their classes to meet at the school & drive around the local neighborhoods going door to door to collect food. It was so much fun to see the grins & hear the giggles as the kids piled back into the car with ONE can of green beans or a couple cans of soup! I love seeing them get excited about helping someone else!

9. Giggle & Spit
Yeah, you read that right. If you read my blog last year on Christmas Eve, you heard about this & saw pictures. (Feel free to dig back through the archives if you missed it.) The idea behind this game (it's called Giggle & Spit) is that you have 1 person who's "it". The rest of the group gets a big mouthful of water & holds a towel. The person who is "it" has to say/do/act funny, telling jokes, dancing silly...whatever it make the others laugh. Whoever laughs (& therefore spits the water out--onto the towel!) is the new "it" and the game begins again. It's hilarious!

10. We have a very BIG birthday party for Jesus on Christmas morning. Our 'rule' in our house is that the kids aren't allowed to go into the living room (where the gifts & Santa stuff is) until AFTER our party (we do it in one of their bedrooms). The idea behind that is that they focus on the reason we are celebrating this special day BEFORE we dive into piles of wrapping paper & bows & boxes. The first year we did this, I wasn't sure if they'd just 'tolerate' the party time in order to get to the gifts, but it turns out that they LOVE IT. In fact, it's grown each year. We've added new layers to the party. It's grown from just singing Happy Birthday to Jesus & reading the Bible story to a full-fledged, all out party! We bake a cake on Christmas Eve & decorate it. We have candles & party hats & noise makers & party plates/napkins. We take pictures & act silly and have a blast, as if Jesus was physically in the room with us to celebrate His birthday. After we have cake (for breakfast!) and party it up, we read the Bible story (Luke 2). This year, we're adding a new layer to that. Samuel has asked if he can read the story. Before we agreed to that, the girls were asking if they can do it next year and the year after. Looks like we're going to have an annual fuss over who gets to read the story of the birth of Jesus now! How fun is that?!

11. Christmas movies! There are several movies that we watch EVERY year. The original animated version of The Grinch & Elf are at the top of that list. Then we enjoy lots of family nights where we pop popcorn & watch other movies together. This year, ABC Family did a cool thing. Beginning on the night after T'giving, they've played a different Christmas movie every night. We've watched a lot of those!

12. We have a few special snacks/treats that we only make at Christmastime. We love Puppy Chow & rainbow bark. Yum yum! In addition to those things, we usually spend more time than usual in the chairs of local restaurants. We are blessed to do that by my students at school. A common Christmas gift for me is gift cards to local places, so we get to enjoy those special treats while the kids are out of school for the holidays!

13. That brings me to our last 'tradition' of sorts. I'm thinking of tweaking this one next year...I'll explain that in a minute. I'm not sure if this really counts as 'tradition' or not, but anyway, we don't go very crazy on gifts. Our family members get very minimal gifts costing no more than $10 each. On both sides of our family, it's gotten to be too costly to buy for *everyone*. We don't buy for any of the adults on my side of the family. And because there are so many kids, we draw names & only buy for a few of the kids. We have birthdays to spoil them if you missed buying for a neice or nephew at Christmas time. The adults don't swap gifts at all. On Larry's side of the family, the gifts are small & simple. The kids get fun stuff, but our get together is about spending time together, not focusing on presents! In our home, the kids get "matching" gifts, meaning each one of them gets the same basic items (but specific to them). This year, each one of them got 1 $10 gift card to a store we know they'll enjoy, 1 pkg of socks & 1 pkg of underwear, 1 DVD, 1 CD & a new set of pajamas. Santa brings things that are only slightly more "fun" than mom & dad. You know...magazines, toys, things that particular child would enjoy.

I've heard from several friends over the past few years about a new thing that I think we may do next year. Because Jesus only got 3 gifts (gold, frankenscence & myrrh), they only give their children 3 gifts. They can spend slightly more than usual on those 3 gifts because there are only three things. I like that. We may do it next year.

I know there are more things, but I'm drawing a blank & beginning to get sleepy. If I think of others, I'll come back & edit this post later. Comment with some of your family's traditions! I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Boy are we righteous!

Over the course of the past several days I've been tossing around some thoughts in my mind. I haven't verbalized them yet, so you're the first to hear of this. (Well, figuratively....I'm sure that SOMEONE has to be the first one to read this post.)

You see, all my friends (and myself, I'm not singling anyone out!) have been spending lots of time in these past few weeks doing service projects. I love that! I love seeing families working together to meet the needs of less fortunate families at Christmastime. I love seeing husbands & wives ringing the bell for the Salvation Army together. I love hearing about children giving of their own things for the sake of another child who doesn't have as much. I enjoy hearing about families who make an effort to make Christmas about something more than "gimme gimme". I applaud those efforts. Please don't misunderstand me, those are fantastic things!

But it's got me to much of this do we do for ourselves? I mean, if we really care & want to help the less fortunate, why aren't we doing this year-round? Do all the homeless people magically find homes on December 26th? Do the hungry people who come to soup kitchens during the holidays have food when March rolls around? Do the children whose parents can't afford to buy Christmas gifts have enough to cover their birthday in May? What about all those food banks that we stock up during the holidays? Do they have enough to fill the bellies of the hungry people in July? All the blankets & coats & warm socks sure do help in the winter, but what about shorts & flip flops & fans in August?

Do we do our fill of "good deeds" during the holidays so that we can live the rest of the year without feeling the need to help? To serve? To give? Does it somehow give us permission to be gluttonous, living lives of luxury from January through October?

James 1:27 tells us that "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." Of course, I think that it goes beyond widows & orphans, as well. Who can you serve this coming year?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Tis the season...

This week has held a plethora of emotions, events & pride for me. I'm sure we can all relate to the events thing at this time of year, so I'll stick with the pride & emotions stuff!

Pride & emotions story #1:
About a month ago, Sarah brought home a CD of the 3rd grade Christmas musical. She began listening to it, learning the songs & speaking parts for the whole play, just getting a feel for the show. They had auditions at school & the music teacher allowed the kids to select parts they were interested in, but she also had them read for parts that she thought would be a good fit for them. Sarah told me that she auditioned for a couple of parts, but she really didn't want to get a big part. (The music teacher had her read a few of them.)

She has the most tender heart & the most soft-spirited personality of all my kids. She certainly warms up to people once she gets to know them, but overall, she is very shy & mild-mannered. She doesn't like to be in the spotlight and doesn't like to disappoint others. When she was younger, she would literally cry in embarassment if she walked into the room & you acknowledged her too loudly. She's such a people-pleaser and a self-inflicted perfectionist. On the day that she climbed into the van after school & started crying right off the bat, I knew what had happened. She got the lead role, Mrs. Claus! She was mortified that she'd mess up, forget a line, not do a good job....or worse, stage fright! She *just knew* that she'd get on stage & completely panic & she was terrified that she'd be standing at the microphone & cry in front of the whole crowd. As her mother, I wanted to run to the school & tell the music teacher that she'd have to pick someone else for the part. But I stopped myself. I KNEW that if she could pull it off, having this part would do WONDERS for her self confidence. So before we got upset & called the school, she & I sat down with the script & ran through it. Interestingly enough, on the day she was assigned her part, she ALREADY knew every single one of her lines!! Realizing that, she relaxed a little & found new things to panic about, like whether or not she would look silly in a granny costume? ha ha! I spent a ton of time praying for her nerves, for her courage, for her faith in the teachers & the work she'd put into this play. And ya know what?


Not only did she NOT forget a single line in the play, she did just fine on her short solo & she smiled & looked like she was enjoying it!!! She got a ton of compliments after the play, too!! I'm sure you can imagine how proud we were! Seeing HER smile after the play was worth all the tears & worrying & prayers in advance. Here are a few shots of our little superstar.

This is the costume she wore. My mom made it.

At the microphone for one of her speaking parts.

After the play, with her buddy Madison.

Santa had to be convinced to "go green" in the play. During the final song, they switched costumes. Very cute!

Pride & emotions story #2:
Tonight, the reality that my children are about to get out of school for the holidays hit like a ton of bricks. While I really do enjoy being with my kiddos, they don't always enjoy being with each other. Primarily the oldest & middle child. The term "Cats & Dogs" most readily jumps to my lips. We are working a lot on kindness & watching our tongues lately....or rather, I'm TRYING to get them to work on kindness & holding their tongues. There are days, though, when I wonder if they hear anything I say. Needless to say, it makes the prospect of 2 weeks at home together a little less appealing with tempers are high & attitudes are quickly gaining new levels of yucky-ness!

I needed to run to McDonald's tonight to buy two $5 gift cards for Samuel & Sarah to give at their class parties tomorrow. Savannah is capable of staying home alone for a few minutes (McDonald's is less than 5 minutes from my house), so I let her hang out while I went. Sarah decided she wanted to stay home with her since they were watching something on TV. I had NO intention of leaving Savannah & Samuel under the same roof without some supervision, so I took Samuel with me. Having JUST broken up a giant argument between the two of them, I figured it was good to give them both some cooling off time as well. Samuel grunted & groaned & stomped on his way to the van. As we were getting into the van, he & I started talking. The conversation went something like this.

Me: Samuel, you need to stop stomping your feet & acting ugly. This bad attitude needs to GO.
Samuel: (gruffly) Then tell Savannah to stop being mean to me.
Me: She is inside the house & you are out here. Whatever SHE is doing does not effect your behavior out HERE. You make the choice to be a snot out here. So, drop the attitude.
Samuel: grumble, grumble
Me: Sam, I don't like this stinky boy you've been lately. Could you please drop the bad attitude & bring back a nice one? I don't want the stinky boy as my son.
Samuel: softer grumblings
Me: Ahem...Yes M'am?
Samuel: Yes M'am.
(We sat in silence for a while. I heard him sniffling a few times, so I knew he was thinking & crying quietly. After a little while, he said...)
Samuel: Why does the Bible say to treat other people the way you want to be treated?
Me: Because those are God's words & it's how we're supposed to act.
Samuel: But Savannah doesn't do that!
Me: You're right. Sometimes she doesn't. But you can't control Savannah. You have to control YOUR behavior & actions. If you want her to treat you nicely, you need to treat her nicely.
Samuel: You need to tell HER that.
Me: Samuel, first of all you need to be careful how you talk to me. And second, I *DID* tell her that. She & I had this very conversation last night. That was between she & I and it's none of your business. If she chooses to act rudely, that is between she & I. YOU need to act nice regardless of her behavior.
Samuel: But I'm just treating her the way she's treating me.
Me: Yeah, I have seen that. But one of you has to be the "big kid" & make the choice to treat the other nicely even if they're not being nice.
Samuel: She's mean to me though!
Me: Yes...but sometimes she's just responding to the way you treat her. If you treat her kindly, she will treat you kindly.
(Things got quiet again.......we went into McD's & got the 2 cards. While we were there, I decided to surprise him with a drink. He went over & filled his cup with Sprite. He doesn't usually drink Sprite, but I assumed he was just in the mood for something different.)
Me: Sprite?
Samuel: Yes. Can you hand me 2 straws?
Me: Two?
Samuel: yes.
(So I handed him two. He banged one on the counter & put it into his cup & took a drink, then banged the other one out of its wrapper & put it into the cup, too.)
Me: Samuel, why do you need 2 straws?
Samuel: Savannah likes Sprite, too.

I got down on my knees in McDonald's to be eye-level with him & gave him a big hug and told him how proud I was that he was making an effort to do something nice for her, right in the middle of a time when he was feeling mad & hurt by her. He just smiled. And while I sat at the table & waited when he went to the bathroom, I thanked God for showing me that he really did "get it" tonight. Tomorrow might be a whole different story, but tonight, he GOT IT.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Review: Let Go by Sheila Walsh

Several months ago when I finished reading my last review book, I was given the option to receive a new book & I selected this one. To be quite honest, I've listened to Sheila Walsh speak at Women of Faith conferences for the past several years and while I've always LOVED her, I have only read (part of) one of her other books. I wasn't all that impressed with that one & gave up before I finished it, so I was curious to see if this book would be different. After reading this book, I have to assume that when I read the last book, I must've not been in the right place in my life to "get" what the book was about because this book, Let Go, was simply amazing!

Sheila has the appearance, at the WOF conferences, of being a high class lady who would never understand my world. But every year when she steps onto the stage & opens her mouth, she immediately speaks into the depths of my heart. In this book, she does the same thing! While the book is advertised as being for women, I found that much of the book could apply to either sex. Sheila tackles burdens that we place on ourselves & reminds us of the depth of Christ's love for us. While not removing those burdens, getting a new perspective on them can certainly help. And with Sheila's words of great compassion and grace, tenderness & wisdom, it is easy to see why she is a best-selling author & amazing speaker.

I've found that in her speaking as well as this book, she can tell a story very specific to her own life while speaking very intimately to mine. She is a gifted lady with a heart for communicating the truth of God's heart to us, the readers. I highly recommend this book.

I am a book review blogger for Thomas Nelson Publishing Company. You can learn more about the program here:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sure enough...

Just as I suspected, Samuel has strep throat. Ugh. I'm staying home with him tomorrow and if he's still running fever by tomorrow afternoon (thus requiring a 2nd day at home), grandma has offered to let him come hang out at her house Tuesday. Yahoo! Go Grandma! :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Don't ya hate it when....

This morning, at just about straight up 8:00, Savannah came in & said "Samuel's on the couch. He's got fever." I got up & went to the living room & found him laying there with no shirt on & a thermometer sticking out from his armpit. It read 98-point-something, so he may've had 1 degree of fever, but considering that he was shirtless in a cold house, I thought his body temp may've risen a tad to heat him up! He didn't go to bed feeling sick and he didn't FEEL warm to the touch at that moment, so I said "'re ok". My kids tend to be fever-phobic & I constantly find them taking their own temperature just for fun. If it ever crosses the 99 degree mark, they think they're dying. Don't get me wrong. I do take fevers seriously if they actually look sick or have any other symptom of illness, but if you've been running & playing and irritating your siblings all day long and your temperature is 1/2 a degree above normal, I do NOT worry about it. Anyway...I gave Samuel a dose of Motrin just to be safe & went back to bed where I was actually able to sleep a little longer. By the time I got up, he was JUST FINE & stayed that way ALL day long.

We went to Hobby Lobby today & got some things for a school project he's turning in on Monday and came home to watch a little TV & eat lunch before heading back out for our evening activities. Samuel was totally fine all day long. The only thing that was slightly 'off' was that he never ate lunch. He kept saying that he wasn't hungry. I didn't force the issue because he always has a teeny appetite, so I just figured he'd eat later.

Tonight, my brand new niece sang at a little BBQ restaurant in town. We went to hear her. Samuel was less than enthusiastic about going, which usually leads to moping, so when he said that his throat hurt, I blew him off. He has a habit of being overly dramatic & can fake a symptom like nobody's business, so until I see ACTUAL signs of an illness (fever, vomitting, diarrhea, etc), I tend to blow him off a lot. I sounds bad, but really, he's a great actor.

We had appetizers (chips & queso for the kids) and he ate that just fine. He had already slurped down an entire soda before the food arrived at the table, so it was no shock that he didn't want to eat supper---he'd already filled up on chips & coke! I think he ate 1 chicken strip before I finally called him to me (he was at the other end of the table). He had on his coat still, so I made him take it off so I could figure out whether he was running fever...he felt a little warm. Sure enough, after having his coat off for several minutes, his cheeks were red, his ears were turning red & he was warm all over. By the time we got home & I took his temp it was 101.9! He went to bed with another dose of Motrin.

:::Sigh::: I've called a sub to teach my SS class in the morning. Looks like I'll be hanging out at the after hours doc office instead. I'll step onto the podium now & accept my bad mother award.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

10 Things that might surprise you about me

Our sweet music/worship/tech dude pastor at church posted this to his blog & Facebook and I love I'm stealing it. (It's ok, I told him I'm stealing it.) Read it, then comment if you're going to post it too so I can read yours.

1. Despite my obsessive/compulsive issues at work and in many other areas of my life, my house is an absolute wreck. Most of the time. I've come to terms with that fact for now. When the kids are grown & gone, I can be OCD at home again. Til then, I've given up.

2. I do not like tea or coffee.

3. I have no idea how to burn a CD. (don't offer to come show me...our CD drive died over a year ago)

4. Larry & I don't own a DVR/Tivo. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I had it.

5. I have never watched a single episode of Dancing With the Stars, American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance. Actually...I don't watch much TV at all. (THAT part is probably no surprise at all, though.)

6. I bite my fingernails. Always have. I've tried to stop lots of times, but it just hasn't happened. At this point in my life (I'm 34), I don't see it happening. Oh well. I'm not that vain....don't really care that I have no nails. I don't think I could function with them anyway.

7. I go barefoot about 90% of the time, year-round, when I am at home.

8. Sarah fed me a booger when she was about 18 months old. I ate it & even said "Mmmmm" before she told me what it was. (I'll share that story one day.)

9. I love to wrap presents.

10. I am not real offended by people saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". Maybe I don't have enough righteous anger in me, but I just don't care one way or the other.

Comments, please.

1. What do you think of the new background/banner at the top?

2. What is your favorite Christmas memory of your childhood?

3. What traditions does your family have at this time of year?

4. What is your favorite holiday treat/snack/food?

5. Do you even TRY to watch what you eat during the holidays? Or do you attempt to do well the rest of the year so that you can pig out during the holidays? Do you keep up a workout plan during the busy holiday season?

6. Do you love me? :)

7. What is the very best gift you ever gave?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sneak Peak....

I'm still reading a book by Sheila Walsh that I got months ago from Thomas Nelson publishers. I'm going through it very slowly, highlighting about half of every page. There is so much wisdom & "WOW" on every page. I'm not done, so I'm not going to post my full review for this book just yet...but I wanted to give you a sneak peek. Here are a few pearls from the first couple of chapters.

1. When we are satiated with God's grace, it is much easier to extend grace to others; but when we are on starvation rations ourselves, we have little to spare.

2. As you are, right at this moment, God loves you.
He knows all that is true about you, and He loves you.
Even when you can't forgive yourself, He forgives you.
There is nothing you can do to make Him love you more.
There is nothing you can do to make Him love you less.

This is the grace of God.

3. The ground at the foot of the cross is even. There are no podiums for those who feel most worthy. There are no pits for those who feel they don't belong. The only way to break free from this dead, stale religion is with the glorious gift of fresh-baked grace every morning for the rest of our lives!

4. (This one actually came before read this & then go back & re-read #3)
A common thread throughout human history is our inability to live up to God's standards. But another thread can be traced: our desire to squeeze people into a mold of our making--to embrace a dead religion rather than a living truth. Both realities would leave us miserable...if it weren't for Christ.

5. God's promises are not derailed by human circumstances.

6. Forgiveness means we surrender our right to know the outcome.

7. Most of us struggle with wanting to avoid pain.....And yet, in taking things into our own hands, we lose the oppurtunity to allow God to work on our behalf for the greater good....One of the hardest elements of our walk with God is to keep worshipping Him even when it hurts. Jesus looked at everything Satan offered Him, looked ahead to the cross and the agony, and chose to worship God.

I'll stop there because I could keep going & going.

(By the way, this all came from Sheila Walsh's book let go.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coming to grips with cold weather

I've lived in Texas all my life. Eastern Texas to be more specific. I really should be used to things by now, but every year when winter rolls around, it hits all at once. We go from ever so slightly chilly days now and then (read: 65-70 degrees) to a sudden drop in temps that require a coat. (Read: 30s & 40s) Ironically, those 65-70 degree days bring out lots of jackets & coats, too, because none of us hot-weather folks know what to do with cool weather. And Heaven forbid we actually get 3 snowflakes on the ground. Schools close, stores shut down. Tumbleweeds could roll through the streets. The world shuts down & we stay inside til it's all gone. I'm telling you....we don't know what to do with cold weather. We may LOVE it, but we don't know what to do with it.

Yes, for all you Pacific Northwest, Midwest & New Englanders, 30s & 40s is really WINTER here. We get an occasional day here and there where the temp drops into the 20s, but it's not often. And usually that doesn't happen until late January or early February. Anything beyond Valentine's Day is the start of Spring. And about two weeks after that, it's Summer again.....where it remains til somewhere around mid-November.

I was talking to a girlfriend yesterday who moved to Texas from Nebraska. She said she has to fight depression every Winter because she wants to see snow & ice. Or at least some distinct seasonal weather. Sorry hon....east Texas has Summer about 9 months out of the year. The other 3 months are very short & sweet "seasons", all crammed into a short period of time.

So anyway, this morning it became Winter here. We woke up to the kind of weather that makes my kids giggle & exhale know, to see if they can SEE their breath. (They couldn't.) But visible breath clouds or not, they needed to wear coats to school. These are different than the usual light jacket that they can wear to keep warm. That's where the problems started.

You see, my youngest offspring has her elder sister & an older cousin who pass things down to her. She is always & forever covered where clothes are concerned. No issues there. The problem is with my elder daughter & their brother. With no one to pass clothes down to them, we have to :::gasp::: actually buy their clothes. Luckily, grandma is awesome with garage sales and once in a while, we do get a hand-me-down from someone. But every now & then, we come up with an item we need right now and there is no time to wait for a good garage sale.

Today was one of those days.

It was time to leave for school so I told the kids to go get on their coats & come to the front door. It was time to leave. Sarah came out in a suitable "big coat" (that's what we call them at my house---anything bigger than a hoodie is a "big coat"). Savannah came out with a light jacket tied around her waist. (a light jacket that I've been telling her needs to go in the Goodwill pile for a couple weeks!) Samuel came out jacket-less. (of course, being the 9 year old boy that he is, I was just happy to see him dressed) I told them both to go back & get a coat.

Try #2...
Savannah came back announcing, "I don't have a coat."

Samuel came back wearing a mid-weight jacket.
I told him to go back & get his big coat.
"I don't think I have one."

Frustrated that we're getting closer & closer to time to LEAVE, I go into their rooms to investigate. I dug in Savannah's closet and sure enough, no coat. Oops. It's supposed to get cold enough for some "snow flurries mixed with rain" this weekend. She needs a coat!! I found a really thick sweatshirt & had her layer up.

In Samuel's closet, I found several jackets....but no big coat. Good grief. How did I miss that two of my children didn't have a coat when we got out the Fall/Winter clothes???

And so, with Savannah in her double-layered shirts and Samuel in his jacket and Sarah in her appropriate big coat, we left the house for school. I just knew today would be the day the teachers eyeballed each other & said "Oh yeah....she (ME) is one of those mothers." You know, the mothers who send their kid to school in shorts & a tank top when it's 40 degrees outside...the ones who drop their kid off first & pick them up late....the one who routinely sends her child with a half-eaten sandwich & a leaking Thermos of juice for lunch. I'm a teacher. I know how that works. As we drove to school, I announced to the kids "We're going shopping this afternoon!!".

And that we did. Samuel got a green coat & Savannah got a blue one. Thank goodness for cheap coats at Walmart.

At least tomorrow I will be able to redeem myself. I'll no longer be that mom. (and for the record, none of my kids own a Thermos!)

The Announcement

The Announcement
By: Elizabeth Reeves 12/21/03

Eight pounds, one ounce. 19” long. 7:53pm. Born in the manger behind the Inn. Mary & Joseph joyfully welcome baby Jesus into their lives. Please join us in celebrating the newborn babe.
Being a mom, I have always wondered about those birth statistics of the Christ child. Was He an easy baby? Did He eat well? Did He sleep through the night from day one or was He up during the night til well into His toddler years? Just what would the birth announcement say if that had been customary in His day? I suspect it would’ve been a hard one to write. How exactly do you word a card proclaiming that GOD is in the cradle in the bedroom? Can you tell the Son of God that He has to “cry it out”? Is it even feasible to try & feed the Prince of Peace on a schedule? How did He react to His first tooth? Did He potty train early?
There are so many questions I’d love to ask Mary when I meet her someday! Surely raising the One who would bear the sins of the world on the cross was a challenge….or was it? With Christmastime arriving soon, I wonder how Joseph & Mary celebrated Jesus’s birthday each year? Did they put up a tree & drape it with lights & tinsel? Did they have a guy dress up in a red suit & bring him gifts every year? Did they shower Jesus with gifts at all? Did they eat turkey, ham, potatoes and pie? How does Jesus feel when He watches us do this? Whose birthday are we celebrating anyway?
Why do we feel the need to write a different birth announcement every year? What if the story in the gospels read something more like this: “Come & celebrate the birth of Jesus with 15 gifts per child. Watch preschoolders throw tantrums in the line at the mall while waiting to see a fat guy in a red suit. Endure lines with a dozen shoppers waiting impatiently, trampling mobs seeking the very last Hokey Pokey Elmo…… binge eat turkey, potatoes, ham, pumpkin pie & assemble ½ a dozen toys at 10:30pm on Christmas Eve so that Junior will be pleased on Christmas morning. Oh and by the way, put a little nativity scene in the corner of the living room if you have time.”
Whose birthday is this? This year, let’s try & imagine the birth of the man who would shed His blood for us …….let’s feel the labor pains of a teenager giving birth in a barn surrounded by cattle & chickens……..let’s ponder the birth weight & length of our Savior…..let’s consider the weight of raising GOD and let’s celebrate in a way that honors Him. Make sure He is the guest of honor at your birthday celebration this year.