Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Since they are not being used to grow tomatoes...

Dear Ella,

If anyone ever asks me to give them an example of why I love you like I do, I am going to show them these pictures. While cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, I looked out the back windows and saw you carefully creeping up behind a bunny carrying one of my tomato cages. Your plan was obviously to catch the rabbit with this impressive idea I must admit. I dropped what I had in my hands and grabbed my camera.

Over the next 30 minutes, I followed you and Caroline around the back yard, and then the neighbors front yard, then the neighbors back yard while you guys chased that rabbit; which by the way seemed to really care less that it was being hunted. The little guy certainly had many opportunities to run into the bushes and hide, but it never did. It simply kept you at a safe 3 foot distance. I think it kind of liked the game you were playing. You would direct Caroline and show her where to stand and at what time she needed to throw the lettuce at the bunny. You thought it was like a dog and anticipated the rabbit to leap into the air and catch the lettuce.

You never caught your rabbit, however I am happy to report that you have 3 traps set up in the back yard right now. All involving tomato cages, lettuce and even a soccer ball. You rock Ella...I love you!

Uniformed Decisions

Ten years. Let me say it again, ten years! The cute craftsman and I have been married ten years now and I stand here in shock. In some ways it seems like so long ago that we met, and in other ways it seems like just yesterday. I know this is the saga of every one's lives, and for me there are certain milestones that flood my heart and brain with such realizations. Bringing a new baby home, sending your first baby to kindergarten, or little things like celebrating your ten year anniversary with your husband.

But today my reflections are on a small detail of what he said to me when we were out to dinner that night, "Even though it was an uniformed decision, I have never, never once regretted it". How does that come off to the ear of someone that doesn't know us...I wonder? To me, it is romantic beyond words.

Uniformed decisions. How many uniformed decisions do we make in our lives? As Christians, we are called to pray about everything...everything! But what happens when you are making decisions, big decision and you are not a Christian. Often, life gets messy. So why isn't my marriage messy? One word...GRACE! It's the only explanation I have. Our marriage is far from perfect, and it is hard many days, life in general is hard. But all the big stuff is just how it should be. So today I celebrate that God knows the past, present and future and is not held by time. I celebrate that though there were two lost people making a very uniformed decision ten years ago, He was keeping watch over our lives even then. I celebrate that even though at that time our vows were a formality to us, He knew that one day they would mean so much more. Today I am giving thanks for the undeserved grace that has been poured out over top of uniformed decisions.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's just a box!

To the lament of my husband, we do not have a garage, so most of his carpentry work happens on the back patio. Like we often have, there was left over material from when the cute craftsman had built the shutters, so naturally we wanted to do something with it. A couple Saturdays ago, he spent an afternoon outside on the patio building flower boxes. They were so easy to do, it's just a hard can it be? The best part is, they hang up high and so I did the messiest paint job you have ever seen in your life and I bet you will never notice!

What a fun and charming touch! Now I have no idea how I actually intend on keeping these plants alive. The hubby says he will try to figure out some kind of watering system for the meantime, he is my watering system. He is not happy about this and promises to put fake plants in them if these die, so I suppose that is enough motivation for me to figure something out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Life and Death of a Candle

This is all I have left. It turns out that will not be making my candles anymore. Would you like to know why....oil prices. Yep, the cost of oil has driven my beloved candles out of production. They are a petroleum based candle apparently, and the company can no longer afford to make them for the rock bottom price of $5. They told me that I could buy their new ones that are soy thanks. I am sorry to inform, but though soy may be saving the environment, it is not saving the beauty of my home. Painting on a soy candle is not an option...too slick, too shiny...not an option! I begged them to make just one more batch for me. I told the lady I would buy a huge order if that meant they would turn on the candle machine one more time, she said I would have to order at least 2,000. I asked the cute carpenter and he said no and that I should start getting over this....I can't get over this. It's the end of an era!

These candles were fabulous. They were pretty, their scents were awesome, monograms looked gorgeous on them and they were so cheap! I loved painting these candles, and a great little local shop loved selling them for me! They were wonderful, personal gifts and I am just so sad that their existence has come to an end.

So now I am rationing. If it turns out that you end up getting one of these candles as a gift from me, please know that I must really, really like you. Because these beauties have to last me a lifetime now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Give her an inch, she will take 10,000 miles

Dear Ella,
A couple of weeks ago while at one of my favorite beach stores, I bought these really cool decorative lights. They kind of look like sticks but they have tiny white lights on the end. I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with them, but I bought them anyways because they were so unusual. Then while at my favorite local store, Hobby Lobby, I bought this decorative arrangement on clearance for $5...originally $50. Who would buy this thing for $50 I have no idea, but I was thrilled because all I really wanted was the base.

As soon as you saw me starting to mess with this thing you were right behind me, "Can I help, please Mommy, what can I do, please can I do something". So you and I tore all the ugly stuff out of the top and stuck my lights and then a few more sticks in it's place. What we came up with is fun and different, the lights are way fabulous for sure!
As soon as you saw the lights come on in this arrangement your mind started spinning. The next thing I knew, you were lighting candles, setting our dinner plates in the "fancy room", and putting on fancy clothes and lipstick. When your Dad came home from work, you made your entrance and he made a fuss over you like he always does. We all sat down to eat and during our prayer you thanked God that "He was in our lives". I sat and looked at you in awe and amazement....all this from a 6 year old! So there at our fancy table that we do not use enough, I thanked God that you are in our lives. What would we do without you Ella? You are the life of our house party everyday. Without you, we would have never sat in the fancy room, in fancy dresses, with candles lit, eating grilled pork chops. Had I known what our night was in for, I would have planned something a little more elegant for time I will know.

Thanks for being you Ella, I adore you!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tap shoes are always an option

Dear Caroline,

While walking out of our side door yesterday, I noticed something that made me smile. We have a mat at the door where you and Ella kick off your shoes when you come in the house, and it is subsequently the place we always go to find your shoes when trying to leave the house. The pile is always high, and that is what caught my attention yesterday. I was preparing my lungs to holler for you and Ella to come downstairs to carry all of your shoes to your bedroom when I saw one pair that was in your collection at the door. Tap shoes. I sat there and thought, "I wonder when she walked around town in those shoes". I love it that to you, tap shoes are a really strong contender in the many options that you have of what shoes to wear for the day. I think life would be simpler and so much happier if more people would consider tap shoes as they are getting dressed in the morning. You are always so carefree and joyful, and I have decided that it is because tap shoes are an option for you as you are getting ready to go out and brave the world everyday. Maybe that's what us adults are doing wrong, not fully absorbing the simple joys of life that God has put right in front of tap shoes. Certainly if more of us did, there would be a whole lot more smiling while walking around town. Who isn't in a good mood with tap shoes on their feet?

I love you Caroline!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We all still like one another!

Family Pictures. Never have there been two words that could bring such joy while also bringing so much heartache. Lets begin two weeks out from family beach vacation 2009. I get the genius idea to make my girls dresses for our family pictures this year. Why you ask? Well, several reasons. First, I get very tired of once a year paying ridiculous prices for dresses that I am always certain I can make myself anyways. Secondly, I have a good friend who makes her girls clothing like it's her job, and she promised me it would be easy. Thirdly, I could envision looking back one day at this years family portrait and smiling at the fact that I made those dresses for my girls.

Now that we are on the other side of this adventure, I have to believe that all of those lies I just wrote above must be from the devil. Each dress took about 10 hours to make. If you subtract the cost of fabric and the gas I burned going to and from JoAnn Fabrics 75 times, I am certain buying them would have been more affordable. Also, they were not easy. Patterns are my worst nightmare. I do big picture, its okay if its a little messy kind of work...NOT pattern following. Lastly, I am fairly certain that I will remember the hours of late night sewing before I will remember the charming look of the dresses on my children....but I am holding out that this last one isn't true. Now add into the mix that my sister is the photographer and you have a recipe for some awesome entertainment.

Bless my sister's heart, she is a good sport for sure. Everyone in the family wants their own individual family picture, then one with just the kids, then just the spouses...and oh by the way, we only have about an hour to accomplish all this because of the sun issue. Oh and one more thing, we are not going to pay you a dime for this. Bless her, she is without a doubt storing up treasures in heaven! You know its going to be fun when as you are walking to the beach your six year old is crying that she doesn't want to smile because her "teeth are crooked", your 4 year old is crying because her "eyeballs are sunburned", your 8 month old is crying because he is cutting four teeth, and your photographer is lecturing your children and your husband on how their attitudes better be good ones.

Though there was a little bit of torture, there was a whole lot of laughing and we did indeed endure. I think I actually got three children to look at a camera and smile. The sun set perfectly in the background and we all walked back up to the beach house still liking one another.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Why do we nickname our children silly names? Doesn't everyone do that? Maybe everyone doesn't do it and it's just us. For the most part, all of my nieces and nephews are more often than not, called by their nicknames rather than their real names. They are as follows:

  1. Jackson, AKA: Jack-Man
  2. Kathryn, AKA: Katie Kate
  3. Ella, AKA: Ella Bean or The Bean or Beanie
  4. Joshua, AKA: Poshy Joshy or The Posh Man
  5. Claire, AKA: Claire Bear or CB
  6. Caroline, AKA: C-Lilly or The Carolinian
  7. Allyson, AKA: Ally McBeal
  8. Kamryn, AKA: The Terrorist or Kami Kamerson (usually The Terrorist)
  9. Thomas, AKA: T-Bone or The Dude

We are a strange bunch.....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

He is enough

Families. I wish I understood better the heart of God when He created them. I mean I understand a mother and father, a husband and a wife, I get that, I can wrap my brain around that concept. But what about the rest? What about all the extended family stuff. Why? I have a wonderful family, I really do, they are so much fun! And so many times, they have been the life line that God has thrown to me. But we are full of a lot of personality. We are all of course flawed, and a lot of flawed personalities put into one beach house for a week can get interesting. Now I am just laughing at myself....we are having a wonderful time and I love that God is giving me a chance for reflection.

Yesterday while sitting on the beach listening to Travis Cottrell sing "God is Great" and watching all of my beautiful nieces and nephews swim in the ocean, I got the urge to start thanking God for each of them. So one by one, I starting thanking God for the first thing that came to my mind when I saw them. Then I moved to the beach, at those relatives sitting in front of me, thanking God for them too.

We are all here for a reason. We are not the random, accidental creation of cells...but rather the intentional, deliberate placement of a Creator. So though I may not fully understand why God desires us to have these huge families, for now, I will choose to simply be grateful for mine. I will choose to sing right along with Travis that "God is great, sing His praise, all the earth, all the heavens, for we are living for the glory of your Name"....and that is enough. Quite frankly, its always enough and today I praise you Father once again that You are always enough.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Isn't that cute!

There is a store in South Caroline that I love to go into. It's the kind of store that you wish you lived in. I just want to plop myself down on a sofa (one that always has a sign saying "please do not sit") and have a cup of coffee. I just love stores like that! This place is that kind of store and I can't get enough of it.
Like many stores of this nature, it ain't cheap! So my new pattern is to go in and take mental pictures, and then go home and try to copy it. Easy enough...right? Well this time it actually worked. They had beautiful picture frames that I loved for OVER $50...who pays that??? So I went to my beloved Hobby Lobby and bought a simple, but very cute frame for $5 (it was 50% like they always are) and started working on it.

You will need:
- a picture frame (find one you already have ideally)
- a drill
- ribbon (preferably the kind with wire in it)
- some kind of decorative charm to attach to the ribbon
- thin wire
All you need to do is make a pretty bow with your ribbon and thin wire. Next, drill two very small holes in the top of the frame and then loop your wire through the holes to attach the ribbon. I attached my charm with a glue gun, but you could use the wire for that too if there was a place to hook the wire on the back of the charm. Stick a picture of a darling four year old in the frame and you are done. I spent $7 on my frame, but you could obviously do it for even cheaper if you use existing frames. What a great gift this would make!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Test me in this" says the Lord Almighty

Thomas...our little man. If ever there was a heart of a mother that was stolen by her baby boy, it was mine. My sister has boys that she adores too...sweaty, stinky, edible little boys that she loves to no end. And she has always told me, I hope you get to have one of these someday and you will see. I ignored her because I was too busy putting bows in little girl's hair and picking out sparkly pink shoes for their feet. But then the ultrasound tech said at 12 weeks (yes, 12 weeks)..."uhhh, wow, it's a boy"....and the rest is history.

Speaking of history, I have some to share. Many years ago when I was checking out at a store, a man asked me if I wanted him to tell me what I was having. I was very early pregnant with my first child and though a little strange, I said sure because honestly he seemed normal. He told me I was pregnant with a girl. Then he proceeded to say that I would have 3 children all together, my next would be a girl and then my last would be a boy. Please understand me well, I am NOT superstitious and I am not trying to make this into something that it is not, I am just retelling the event. He was very nice and said he didn't know why he always knew this about pregnant women, he just did and was never wrong. It was what it was, I kind of laughed and went on my way. I never really even thought of it again until after I had my two girls. Kevin and I started joking about it and I kind of became pretty convinced that our last child would be a boy.
Now fast forward to 25 weeks pregnant when the doctors started freaking us out. Thomas was huge, more specifically, his head was huge. His head consistently measured 8 weeks larger than it should. They ran test, after test, after test. We should have bought our own ultrasound machine when I got pregnant, it would have been cheaper. While they were scaring us, God was preparing us. He continued to whisper... "trust me". He gave me a verse that I clung to and am certain God wrote in His book for me..."Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." Malachi 3:11. Though the time leading up to his birth was hard, very hard, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I wouldn't want to miss out on the blessing of walking by faith, not sight. We just started believing God. We believed that He would throw open the floodgates of heaven if we asked him to. Don't you just love that, "throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that we would not have room enough for it". God's word is so descriptive!

In those few weeks before Thomas was born, I started thinking a lot about that man that told me my last child would be a son. I wonder if he was angel. I wonder if God dropped him from heaven just for a few moments to talk to me and then brought him back home. Probably not, but I am grateful for having met him no matter who he was. That man never told me I would have a healthy boy, just a boy, and that brought great comfort to me through my pregnancy. Healthy or not, I felt like God had told me I would have a son. And because God said it, then I knew however it played out it would be for His glory...and so I had peace. He poured out blessing that we did not deserve, He walked beside us though we sometimes doubted, and He put His arms around me as I lay desperately sobbing in His presence asking Him for a healthy child. I will tell you that God never assured me that Thomas would be healthy, just that He was in control. That and that alone is what gave me peace.

So at 37 weeks, though God owed us nothing, He gave us a 9 lb healthy baby boy. What a blessing he is to us. Next time perhaps I will blog about his name....oh how I love the gospels telling of "doubting Thomas".

Monday, July 6, 2009

It begins, again...

We have had a break now for 4 months. It has been a nice break from dust, noise, strange people walking in and out of the house. Sometimes they were not strange people like the two fireman guys that built our portico, they were awesome contractors. They prayed in our yard the morning they tore off the front part of our house (in 2o degree weather) that God would make everything fall into place. And He did, He always does. Anyways, strange or not, remodeling can get old. I know I sound like a brat and I don't mean to, and if you know me you know I handle it well and I am grateful to be able to do it. But as I sit in an orderly home, I sigh a little at the storm brewing. Don't get me wrong though, I am gitty with excitement to finally have a master bedroom and bathroom after three years of living in this house. Oh to not have my clothes in three separate closets all over the house!

Here is the before...