Wednesday, July 29, 2015

T-ball recognition night

Last week, Tommy had t-ball recognition night at the Towanda Pool. I was hesitant to go because I had a feeling it would be PACKED, but I remember all the little "end of season" parties that we used to have when I was a kid and how much I loved going to them. So we went!

And I'm glad we did. It WAS pretty full because it was for all of the league teams (three different towns). But Tommy had so much fun! Each player got a medal and then they got to swim.


 I was a little nervous about how the kids would do with so many other kids in the pool, but they did great! They can't swim by themselves yet, so Nick and I were both in there with them and they had arm floaties on.

Now Tessa.....she's a "daredebil" as she likes to call herself. She'll do almost anything (at least once). She saw all of the big kids jumping off the diving board and decided she wanted to do it to. Nick told her she had to be able to jump off the side without anyone catching her before he'd let her jump off the board. So she did! She jumped off the side, went under water and held her breath the whole time. So her daddy let her go off the diving board (while he was swimming in the deep end to kind of catch her or at least be right there). She looked SO tiny with all those other big kids around her, but she walked right to the end, hesitated for just a few seconds and then jumped! Twice!

Then there's my little Tommy boy. He wants SO badly to be fearless.......it almost makes me sad! He sees Tessa doing these things and I can tell he wants to also, but his fear holds him back constantly (hmmm....I wonder where he gets THAT personality trait?). He asked to jump off the diving board and Nick told him the same thing--that he had to jump off the side first. I thought there was no way he'd do it. But he did! He jumped in without anyone catching him twice. He came up sputtering but he didn't get upset and he didn't swallow any water! So he moved onto the diving boards. Again, I thought for sure he'd chicken out...... He looked super little and super scared. But he did it! Twice!

I was so proud of both of them. Fear of a LOT of things has kept me from having fun in the past and I hate to see it happen to my kids, so I am SO glad when they step out of their comfort zone and push themselves a little. Because they end up having so much fun!

It was so sweet watching Tommy get his medal and then watching him swim with his little friends. This boy is growing up too fast!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

To my Sunshine on her 3rd birthday

I'm still not sure how it's possible. And yes, I know I say that every year (and probably will until I'm dead and gone). But my baby is three today.

I always wonder if a woman ever stops feeling like the birth of her children was just days ago. I can still feel the excitement of going into labor, smell the hospital smell, remember how the room looked. I can hear the monitors going crazy when your heartbeat was almost non-existent, see the surgeon running beside me in the hallway, feel the crush of my heart when you didn't come out crying. I see the look on your daddy's face when he was finally allowed in the room. I can still see your little purple body out of the corner of my eye, notice the way nobody would look me in the eyes. I can feel the doctor's hands on my face, hear his voice telling me they're working on you and that they'd do everything they could. I can still feel the presence of God and the peace he gave me in those terrifying moments. I remember the 5 hour wait we had until we could see your sweet face, the pictures Daddy sent me when he got so fed up with waiting that he finally went to the NICU. And then finally.......the weight of you in my arms. Your little tiny burrito body--8.3 pounds of perfection--wrapped up in the white hospital blanket, resting in your mama's arms.

That was the beginning of one of the best love stories of my life.

Tessa, you are everything I could want in a daughter. Everything. I cannot WAIT to watch you grow up and see the young lady you'll become. You are sunshine and rain wrapped in the most beautiful package of curls, gray eyes and tan skin. My heart literally aches with love for you. I am so blessed everyday that God brought you into my life and although I would have been more than willing to skip your dramatic entrance into the world, I know now that that's just how you do things. You wouldn't have had it any other way.

Happy 3rd birthday, sweet baby.

I love you more.

Friday, July 24, 2015

By His wounds

Did I mention my kids are healed from asthma? No biggie. They've just been touched by the hand of God, that's all.

Seriously, I'm SO excited to report that they no longer need daily breathing treatments!! It's something I've prayed about for a long time now. Almost every night we'd pray that their lungs would work the way they were supposed to and that God would take their asthma from them.

And He was faithful to complete it!

They've been on daily pulmicort treatments for probably 1 1/2 years or so. We have albuterol that we use as needed. We originally started it because there was a time where they were sick ALL the time. Tommy would have some crazy episodes that we didn't realize were asthma attacks until he'd already had several (I can't even talk about how bad I feel that I didn't realize that's what was happening). They both seemed to catch every cold and virus that came their way and would be sick for weeks with it. They both have had bronchitis and pneumonia multiple times. It was scary! Especially that long ago because they were just babies and couldn't tell us exactly what hurt or what was wrong.

I knew a lot of kids outgrew asthma, but was always leery as to how you figured out that a child had out grown it. Do you just stop meds cold turkey and hope they don't have an attack?!? We went on vacation at the beginning of July and our choice was made for us. We brought the medicine and there was a nebulizer at our vacation spot, but when we got there, we realized there was no tubing. Basically making the nebulizer useless. I'm going to be 100% honest about my sometimes horrible parenting skills and admit that I didn't even realize we had no nebulizer tubing until we'd already been on vacation a few days and they had gone without pulmicort. We've missed treatments here and there in the past and it seemed like Tessa always did fine without it but Tommy would start coughing or wheezing after a missed dose. But once I realized we hadn't done their treatments for two days, I realized he hadn't had a single asthmatic symptom. Nick and I decided to just go ahead and keep them off of it to see what happened. We had their albuterol inhalers, so if they had an asthma attack, we had a rescue med.

And they did great! And still are doing great! I'm so glad to be done with the daily treatments. Not only were they such a pain (and took FOREVER), but I'm so glad to not have to put more junk into my kids' body! We talked to the doctor about it and he agreed with keeping them off it and said we could keep the pulmicort in case they had any flare ups in winter. I'm so thankful that God took their asthma away and they are able to breath normally on their own and haven't had any problems so far! Praise God that by His wounds we are healed!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lantern Fest 2015

Ever since I watched Tangled, I've dreamed of seeing Chinese lanterns released into a night sky. I had honestly never heard of that happening in America and had this crazy idea that I'd have to travel thousands of miles to ever see it happen.

However.

One day, I saw an article on Facebook for Lantern Fest 2015 and lo and behold.......they were coming to Wichita! Woot, woot! I was SO excited. Me, Nick, Brooke, Michael and Whitney made plans to go at the end of May. We registered early so we only had to pay $25 a ticket, which I was still hesitant to pay since we'd never been.

Unfortunately, the weather was bad and the event got rescheduled. I was bummed, but then I started reading reviews online about Lantern Fest (they hold events all over the nation) and got even more bummed. SO many people were talking about how unorganized it was and that it was a rip off, etc. I was REALLY hoping we hadn't just wasted $50.

It got rescheduled to July 11th. The weather was PERFECT, so I figured even if the event was horrible, we'd have a nice evening outside and I'd get to spend quality time with this guy.....
 When we got there, there were a lot of people, but the parking wasn't too bad and the area was huge, so it wasn't crammed. There was a tent to sign in where you just gave them your name and they gave you the supplies. I thought it was extremely organized and was happy to see everyone that complained about it was wrong!

We got these cute boxes that had the ingredients to make 4 smores, it had a little flashlight, a lighter and a sharpie to decorate your lantern.

 The lanterns were HUGE! I didn't think they'd be that big, but they went from the top of my head almost down to my knees! I wrote a message to my two favorite angels...........
They played music and everyone just hung around until it got dark enough to light the lanterns. There was face painting for kids and they had a bunch of food trucks and drink stands. We got some homemade root beer ice cream and it was goooooood.

And then finally.....it was dark. And it was time to light the lanterns! We weren't exactly sure how to do it but found it works best to have one person hold the top of the lantern up and the other person try to light it. There's just this big black piece of.....something.....that you set on fire and it fuels the lantern to fly. It took a bit of time to get it going, but once it did.......it was SO beautiful. 

 It was truly one of the most awesome moments of my life. There are no words to describe it. The music they had playing was PERFECT for the moment and just seeing thousands of people with joy on their faces and watching all the lanterns float in the sky........magical. They only thing that would've made it better was if my kids were with me. It was a moment I'll never forget!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Jesus over Isis

 Watch this video before reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjavBRLskpI

A few days ago, this video was on my Facebook news feed. With all the horrible things happening in the worlds, the title caught my eye. As I watched it, I could feel the Holy Spirit filling me. I got goosebumps and cried the whole way to work because his words are so spot on. I fully believe they are God given and I can tell HE is filled with the Holy Spirit!

Friends, I have an urgency in my heart to make sure you know Jesus. I'm not a preacher or a teacher or an expert. I can't quote scripture left and right and tell you a million facts from the Bible off the top of my head. But I'm a Christian. I believe Jesus died for my sins and yours. I am 100% sure that no matter what you've done in life, He still loves you and wants you to come to him. And I can pray for you and be here for you. If there's a question you have and I don't know the answer, we can look for it together!

So many people these days are calling Christians bigots and haters. But the people acting that way in God's name are not being real Christians. My biggest goal in Christianity is to show people Christ through love. It's something I have to work on every day because some people are really hard to love (myself included!).

But all I can think while everyone is hating on Christians is.......if I try my best to live a life as a TRUE Christian--showing love, forgiving others, working to spread the word of Jesus, being kind to people, giving to those who don't have--and then I die and find out God's not real.........what have I lost? But what if I DON'T live that life and then I die and find out He IS real.........it's too late.

Don't let your time run out. Don't wait until it's too late. Live a life with meaning and purpose!

I wrote out the words to the video so you can read them and meditate on them. Some of them are really powerful--okay, ALL of them are really powerful. But there are a few things that really stood out to me and I'll write those in red. A few lines were hard for me to make out, so this might not be EXACTLY like what he says, but it's close and still gets his message across. I hope this touches your heart like it did mine and that it reignites your fire and love for Christ and his people!

 Jesus over ISIS--by Clayton Jennings

I feel like I've been riding wings more than I've had my feet on the ground lately.
"Clayton, will you sign this? Your words have impacted me greatly."
I sign my name and step away and she smiles and calls me a saint.
In my gut I want to scream, "Wait!
Come back. Let me take that sharpie and scratch out my name and give it back to you....
Because you don't know me. And if you did,
you'd never ask for an autograph or for me to pray with your kid."
See, I'm no better than you. I'm not a saint, I'm not a role model
I'm just a sinner saved by grace, running full throttle,
Telling the world to put down the bottle
And drink Living Water instead.

Everywhere I go, I meet with the dead.
I stand on stage and machine gun the gospel like I'm shooting hot lead.
If denouncing Mohammed and other false prophets makes me a hot head
Then God, set this head on FIRE!
Give me a burning desire to rescue those who are following liars.

But don't let me be who they admire.

Cause who am I? I'm a nobody. I'm just flesh and bones heading to my grave
But along the way I had an encounter with grace that to this day
Takes the guilt of my yesterday's failures far away.
Because Jesus Christ is the ONLY way.
Unlike Mohammed, He didn't stay in the grave.
Three days later he came rushing back to life and He's coming back some day!
And when he does, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess
That Jesus is Lord to the Glory of God!

The shepherd is coming back with his staff and his rod.
And I find it odd that the the church. doesn't. care.
We're out to debate gay marriage like, "What's right and what's fair?"
We wonder why getting new church members is becoming so rare.
"Are tattoos wrong?" Really, bro? Who cares?
Get out of your church pew and chairs.

There's a dying world right outside of your stained glass windows.
Depressed people, poor people, addicts and widows.
But we'd rather sit on the couch and watch Veggie Tales with our kiddos.

While Christians overseas are getting their heads lobbed off and placed on videos.
That's why it's on us, to get up and go
And tell the world that Jesus IS coming back and the trumpet will blow!
ISIS can't behead the One who wears a crown on His head and holes in His feet.
And I pray to God that I'm there the day jihadists and Jesus meet
And they fall at those feet.....
Because Jesus Christ is KING!
And all the muslim chants and mosques around the world can't drown out the sounds of the angels
As they sing Holy, Holy, HOLY  is the Lord God Almighty!

Because God is mighty and ISIS is not.
And they think when they kill us our souls die and our bodies rot
But my faith is not built on your weak sand. It stands on the rock!
And when you kill us we live in mansions in Heaven that your oil money never bought.

We don't die with your cowardly shots.
ISIS demands that you follow a book that teaches you to kill.
They promise virgins in Heaven through Allah's will.
There will be no virgins in paradise awaiting them.
There will be hell for those wicked men.

But Jesus died for them too.
He loves them just as much as he loves me and he loves you.
So to any muslim watching this, let me tell you the truth.
Jesus died for you.
Mohammed lied to you.
Jesus can save you just like he saved me!
And when he did, he gracefully gave me everything that I needed.

I didn't deserve any of it, but he he displayed it and gave me plenty of it.
I was eating the world, but still had an empty stomach. But the bread of life changed my life!
Goodbye world, keep your forks and your knives
because I'm full and I'm satisfied! And I'm saved....
And the Holy Spirit lit a fire in my chest that I can't put out.
So if you're put out by the fact that I won't tap out,
You might as well shut up while I pull a map out
And look for the next place to step out
And tell the world that Jesus is a step up.

If hundreds of thousands continue to push my rep up,
Then let them see Jesus instead of the piece of trash he swept up, held up and saved.
So on every place and every stage,
I will shout one name, I will proclaim ONE name. I will beg sinners to repent and believe in ONE name.

Jesus Christ.

Why?

Because it's Jesus, Jesus, Jesus 'til the day I die.

Monday, July 20, 2015

4th of July 2015

We had such a good time this year! Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays!

We took our annual trip to Stockton with Nick's family. We left the weekend before 4th of July and spent about 4 1/2 days there. The water was nice and the lake was fairly empty (which is the BEST way to enjoy it). Nick got to spend a lot of time fishing and we both got to relax and ENJOY our children for long stretches of time.

We spent a few days on the boat. We got in lots of quality time with the grandparents....
 I got to spend AMPLE hours with these sweet kiddos......

 One day we took a trip to Springfield to see the huge Bass Pro shop they have there. There was SOOOOOOO much to see and they had a delicious brunch buffet that we definitely took advantage of.  Grandma bought them these shirts and they became the cutest models EVER....

We ate and ate and ate (and had a squeeze cheeseburger of course--which is life changing). 
The rest of our time was spent enjoying the scenery and the company.


We got home on Wednesday and went straight to Tommy's very last t-ball game!

We were off work for the rest of the week, so we spent a lot of time hanging out around the house and doing some small home improvement projects. We also got some new toys.......


 We LOVE them and have already had so much fun on them! Tommy was ecstatic when we showed them to him!

Then we had my whole family over to our house on the 4th. It was so nice. We ate some good food and had fun shooting off fireworks. The kids were all setting off their own (smoke bombs and snakes and little things like that). I was SO happy to see Tommy doing that. I hate to say it, but he's kind of a wimp (sorry if you're reading this someday, son. But you are). So to see him being "brave" and not being scared of fireworks like he was last year....it was a breath of fresh air. And his big cousin Alex was such a good teacher!


Then I got to take some pictures of THIS cute firecracker!!

This next picture KILLS me! Tessa ran up to me to ask me a question. I saw her face and just about died laughing. They'd been playing for a few hours by then and were obviously dirty, but the eyebrow...SO funny! I don't how she got just that one eyebrow black, but it reminded me of a ragamuffin character off of Annie! She even has a little dirt mustache :)

We had an awesome 4th of July. I love our country and I'm so thankful for the people that serve to keep us free!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

T-Ball Boy

We put Tommy in t-ball this year and he LOVED it. He almost didn't get to play because of a miscommunication between the athletic director in Benton and myself, but after some investigating and help from my cousins, we figured out he was eligible to play and got him signed up!

I'm SO glad it worked out. He had the time of his life. I was a little nervous on the first day of practice because he was the smallest kid on the team (it's 4 to 6 yr olds and I think he was the only 4 year old on there!). But he held his own!
See him? 3rd from the left in the red shirt and black shorts? The tiny little guy stuck between two bigger guys? That's my boy :)

Tommy LOVED his coach. My sister asked him who his best friend on the team was and he said, "Brian!" So funny. He liked him so much that there were a few times he was being ornery and I said, "If you don't straighten up, I'm going to have to tell Brian you can't play t-ball anymore." Worked like a charm.

They were such a fun team with some spunky little boys on it! It made me nervous for the day Tommy is 8 or 9 and wants 15 friends over for a birthday party. Because, MAN can those boys be rambunctious when they're all together. Trouble, trouble, trouble. But I loved it.

He did pretty good with hitting. He usually hit the ball on the first or second swing.

He had perfected the "stance." His coach (Brian) taught them to get into stance--with knees slightly bent and ready to catch/stop the ball. Tommy created what I like to call the "extreme stance." It's very.....special. And kinda looked like he was pooping on the field.  But he was SO dedicated to that stance and worked it whenever he was on the field!

Catching........well, that's something we'll have to keep working on. I have to tell a story that's going to make me feel horrible, but..........

A few days after Tommy's first practice, I was in the front yard playing catch with him with a real baseball (you can see where this is going, right?). He kept putting his glove over his face and when I asked why, he said because he didn't want the ball to hit him. I assured him it wouldn't and he caught the next few balls okay. And then I threw it and it smacked him RIGHT in the face.

Oops.

Now, we were only a few feet apart and I put absolutely no effort into throwing it so it wasn't going very fast or hard. But it hit his jaw and he. was. MAD. He started crying and threw his glove on the ground and pointed his little finger at me and said, "This is YOUR fault!"

Knife in the heart.

But then we had a little talk about accidents and using kind words and trying to be tough. And I apologized of course (even though it was really HIS fault because he should've caught the ball--amiright?!?). Just kidding.

Kind of.

However, this incident led to him being scared of the ball for quite awhile. The good news is...........it was a team of 4 to 6 year olds. So the skill level wasn't extremely high. So him being scared of the ball didn't ever really matter in the big picture! He did eventually get over it and started to get a little better at catching the ball or stopping grounders.

His first game was bittersweet. Awesome to watch him do something I loved as a kid, something I know will help shape him as a person and something he was INCREDIBLY excited about. But sad that he's already old enough to be playing!



Can I just note that by the way his ankle is turned in the picture above, I can't believe he didn't break it!

I LOVE this little face!! 

His last game was bittersweet too (isn't EVERYTHING bittersweet as a parent?!?). I feel like he's gotten so much bigger already! And he's definitely learned a LOT about tball!





 One last group huddle

I am so, SO glad we got him into t-ball. I feel like it (of course) helped his athletic skills but it also helped his social skills SO much. He interacted with all the kids much more than I thought he would and had so much fun. We can't wait until next year!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Preschool 2015

Somehow, my little, tiny, first-born baby boy has completed a whole year of preschool. What?!? And while I feel like he's fresh from the womb (sorry for that visual), in actuality, he's 4 1/2 and well on his way to kindergarten.

(Insert sob here)

While sending him to preschool was mildly traumatic for me, I have to say we are SO blessed that we have a wonderful preschool in our hometown with two teachers who I'm pretty sure are saints. I could kick myself for not getting a picture of Tommy with either one of them, but there's always next year. I tried taking a picture of him on his last of preschool in the same place we took one on the FIRST day of preschool and.......well........THIS is the best I got.

So I didn't push the whole teacher picture thing. I totally understand his shyness (he was hiding because some of the kids were looking at him while I took his picture), but I get bummed because he is a TOTALLY different kid at home. He's so funny and outgoing and sweet and I feel like people (especially the teachers and his classmates) miss out on seeing that side of him, so I sometimes try to push him out of his comfort zone and let's just say it hardly EVER works out. But I trust God is working in him even now, so I just need to get over it!

Towards the end of the 2014-2015 school year, he had a few little programs. One was on a Sunday during the church service. It was optional and not all of his class was there, but we attend that church anyways, so I took him up there to sing. He freaked out and wasn't having it and refused to go to the front and sing. He then proceeded to have a little meltdown during the service. So I spent most of my time in the hallway trying to teach my kid how we act at church (and in general)!

His whole preschool had another program on a Monday night where they sang a few songs and then each kiddo was given a few awards. I was a little hesitant given the way Tommy acted at the church program, but he went right onto the stage with the rest of his class with no problem! They sang their songs (which were ridiculously cute) and then it was time for their awards.








 ***Warning-- this is about to sound like I'm bragging, but I promise I'm not! I'm very proud of my kids, but I know EVERY parent is proud of their kids and none are better than others. I'm just sharing his school accomplishments!***

I wish I would've been recording our family's reactions to Tommy's awards. Hysterical! Nick and I had of course been to a conference with his teacher's at one point in the school year, so we already knew their thoughts on Tommy's school performance. But our family....they usually only see the ornery, silly, crazy side of our boy and I think they were a little shocked :) He got an athletic award (which didn't surprise anyone because he LOVES sports) and then they gave him a role model student award! No lie, my father and brother-in-laws jaws literally dropped down and everyone kind of did the side-eye gaze at me and Nick. I'm proud of Tommy because that's an awesome award, but I'm also proud because I think back to where he started at the beginning of the year and where he is now.

I remember being SO nervous for him at the beginning of the year because whenever we were in unfamiliar situations or around people he didn't know, he was PAINFULLY shy. He refused to talk, to look at anyone, to play, to get comfortable. He just did NOT like to be around strangers or out of his comfort zone. The first few weeks of school, he would hold onto my legs and ask me not to leave before we got into school. He'd get quiet when we walked in and wouldn't talk to the teachers. He usually didn't want to take his coat off (I think it was like a security blanket for him). He wouldn't play with other kids--I'd watch him through the window and he always picked a quiet spot off by himself. Now, I'm not one that tends to over-exaggerate.....okay,  maybe I over-exaggerate a little....OKAY! I exaggerate EVERYTHING. But I remember thinking he would never have friends and always be an outcast and never "blossom." I made it a big deal in my mind.

But after a year of preschool.......it's like he's becoming a new kid! And I'm so thankful. He's starting to be so much more confident and friendly and open. The other day, I was sitting in the car in the parking lot with the kids while Nick ran into the store for something and we had the windows rolled down. A man walked by and Tommy yelled hi out the window. And I was like, "Who the heck is this kid?!?" He NEVER would have done that a year ago. He's recently started playing with other kids better. We had some friends over and he had never met their kids before, but within 15 minutes, they were all playing together and played for HOURS! We're taking baby steps, but he's getting there! And I'm 100% sure it's because of his time at Noah's Ark (and lots of prayer from his mama!). They've taught him so much more than letters and numbers and I love the God is incorporated into his daily lessons.

I could NOT have asked for a better preschool for him (and soon for Tessa, too)! I'm so proud of my 'role-model student' and hope that next year is even better for him!