Saturday, May 31, 2008

2007 - Year in Review - December cont.

A few days before Christmas I got a call from a friend who had two tickets to go see Carolina play basketball. At home. In the Dean Dome. Now, I had been to the Dean Dome, but it had been many, many years ago. She said "I would love for you to be able to take C to see the Heels play. Do you think you can work it out to go?" Of course, I'm thinking, "Ooooooh, I get to go see the boys play." And then I got convicted. I thought "I really, really ought to give L the opportunity to take C, but if he even as much as breathes one breath of hesitation before he says yes, then I'm taking him."

Well of course the man didn't breathe before he said yes. So off the two of them go. To see my Heels play in the Dean Dome. Without me. We intentionally didn't tell C where he was going, just to add to the surprise. C did figure it out, after they got to Chapel Hill, where EVERYTHING is Carolina Blue. He called as he was on the walk up the hill to the Dome and you could just feel him smiling in the phone. It was definitely a great surprise for him!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

2007 - Year in Review - December cont.

Every year, just as many do, we send out a family pic as our Christmas card. This year’s “photo shoot” did not disappoint. Of course, the timing for the photo shoot is always critical, and I’m sure I did not pick the best time for the pics. But time was running out. After checking wardrobes and deciding on white turtlenecks, again, for the boys and A’s Christmas dress from Grandmommy, we set out to our front porch for the shoot.

After lots and lots and lots of pics (I don’t know what I did prior to digital photography) and a little bit of fussing by me (I mean, come on, they are 11, 10, 8 and 4. This shouldn’t be that difficult.) we came out with one I could work with. We went with black and white this year, so I guess color will be it next year!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

2007 - Year in Review - December

With our plans of recovering from surgery, and having a low-key holiday season changed, we decided to take advantage of the new-found time. We spent December enjoying things we normally don’t do.

Early on in the month, we went to Old Salem to enjoy the Candle Tea. It was definitely a neat experience and one that is a must do. Maybe not every year for us, but at least every other year tradition it will be.

We also took a trip to the NC mountains and went to the Smoky Mountain Railway for the Polar Express train. They had a “homeschooler special” so the rates were great for our small group. We spent the night in Cherokee and drove over to the railway. This particular train ride mimicked that of the Polar Express in every detail. We drank hot chocolate, had a snack, saw Santa Claus and sang Christmas carols. The Polar Express book was read and all of the children received a silver bell as a treat.

All three of the boys were in the Children’s Christmas musical at church. C had one of the lead roles and G had the “entertainer” role of the play. N, who I think is the best singer in the house, always chooses to remain in the choir, and just isn’t moved to audition for a solo. I’m just glad he loves to sing in the choir.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

2007 - Year in Review - November

Well right around the corner from N’s birthday is G’s b-day. Last year we had a joint party for the two of them, but this year we did a small family thing.

G is such a special boy. His name means “man of God” and he is definitely living up to it. A lot of pressure for such a young boy, but he teaches me things daily. He’s the kind of guy that everybody loves, everybody wants to be around. He’s funny and caring, desires to please, loves to help and very passionate. He is a performer and always wants to have the role in the musicals that are the most entertaining. He has yet to disappoint. He’s so smart, pretty cute and I’m proud to call him my son.

Toward the latter part of November, the 20th to be exact, A was scheduled for the first of many back surgeries. For reasons really known only to God, we got to the hospital that morning and A threw up, spiked a fever and they sent us home. We left pretty much dazed, but thankful that for whatever reason, God decided that was not the day for her surgery. Because of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we weren’t able to reschedule until January.

One of our family traditions is to go see the Festival of Lights at Tanglewood Park every year, and this year was no exception. We always stop to roast marshmallows, look in the gift shop and enjoy looking at all of the lights. Definitely one of the high"lights" of the year!

Friday, May 16, 2008

2007 - Year in Review - October cont.

N turned 8 at the end of October. He is such a hoot. He has always been the quiet one, but boy has that changed. He is now the comedian. Still shy everywhere but home, but he has definitely come out of his shell. I’m kinda wishing he had a little bit of the calmness back, but he really is a neat kid. A absolutely adores him, as he does her as well. He has such a sweet spirit towards her and will always be her protector. He loves, loves, loves to play basketball. Happy B-day N!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

2007 - Year in Review - Disney cont.

Our third day we decided to take off, recuperate and hang out at the pool.

Day four had us going to Epcot, and over to the ESPN restaurant. That was C’s number one request because of his love of sports. He has said for a couple of years now that he wants to be a sports commentator, so this was definitely a dream destination for him. Food was mediocre, but the boy was happy.

On day 5, we tried to get in the things we had missed, and those things we wanted to experience again.

This was by far one of our best vacations ever as a family. Thanks lots and lots and lots to Uncle Todd for great memories.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

2007 - Year in Review - Disney cont.

On Monday we headed to Magic Kingdom. I got goose bumps when the kids saw Cinderella's Castle for the first time. We had talked about it for soooooo long. "A" knew she was going to Cinderelly's house. And the look on her face when she saw it was great.

We had touring plans printed out, and my hope was that we could follow them and make great use of our time. I didn't feel like we were able to do that as much at AK. They aren't kidding when they say that you have to be there when the park opens.

Our day at MK was great. I can't remember the order of our activities, but this is what all we did:

Mad Tea Party

Cinderella's Golden Carousel


Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Mickey's PhilharMagic

Peter Pan's Flight

It's a Small World

Goofy's Barnstormer

The Hall of Presidents

The Haunted Mansion

WDW Railroad

Splash Mountain

Swiss Family Treehouse

Pirates of the Caribbean

Jungle Cruise

Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Enchanted Tiki Room

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

Monsters, Inc.

Space Mountain

Tomorrowland Indy Speedway

Tomorrowland Transit Authority

Carousel of Progress

Stitch's Great Escape

That's basically the whole park. The main attraction that was closed while we were there was Big Thunder Mtn. Railroad. I'm looking forward to that being open next time we go.

I think some of our favorites were Mickey's Philharmagic, the Hall of Presidents, It's a Small World, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and Splash Mountain. I think the least favorite was Stitch's Great Escape. "A" wasn't tall enough, so I didn't get to experience it, but the consensus said that I didn't miss much.

With Disney, the prime height for most rides is 40 inches. A was 38 inches when we went in October. After her surgery in January, she hit the magical 40 inch height, so lots more opportunities are there when we head back down.

2007 - Year in Review - Disney Characters

Characters. It's one of the things that makes Disney great. You can see all of your favorite characters from your favorite movies. And you can have your picture made with them. And hug them. And tell them you love them. You can do all of those things.

As long as you aren't scared.

And guess what? My girl was scared. Even of the princesses. No pics of my girl with characters. (Unless you count the Cinderella statue at DTD, or any of the other great photo-op characters at DTD.) The boys were definitely troopers and let me get some pics with a few characters.

Next time, there will be lots of character pics with my girl. I hope.

2007 - Year in Review - October Disney cont.

We left for Florida on Friday and spent the night in Savannah, Georgia. We arrived at our resort on Saturday, got settled and headed to Downtown Disney. It was Saturday night. Apparently DTD is the place to be on Saturday nights. Very, very, very crowded. We went to the Lego Store and walked around a bit.

Sunday was our first day at the parks, and we went to Animal Kingdom. According to the crowd predictions, Sunday was not a good day for Animal Kingdom, so we decided to hit AK and MGM this day.

For me, AK was probably my least favorite park. I thought it seemed more crowded than any other, but it's probably because the walking paths are more narrow than any other.

In Animal Kingdom, we saw It's a Bug's Life. (OOOOH, the crawly bugs on the seats were neat. Kinda.) We also did Kilmanjaro Safaris, Dinosaur, Triceratops Spin, and watched Finding Nemo - The Musical. We weren't able to do Expedition Everest, so we knew a return trip to AK was necessary.
Definitely the highlight of AK for me was the pic above from Dinosaur. L and the boys rode it and I stayed off with A. I was at the monitors looking for their pic when I saw that. My guys are in the front row. The row that has 1 adult, 2 children bowing in prayer, and another one screaming like a girl. So, so, so funny. And of course, I did what any good mother would do......I took a picture of the monitor. I did convince someone to go on it with me. It was pretty scary, I'll have to admit.
We left AK and ate a picnic in the van. We then headed over to MGM for the rest of the day. At MGM, N and L went to Tower of Terror and the rest of us headed to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. We attempted to ride Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, but it was about a 2 hour wait. Maybe next time.
To be continued.......

Monday, May 5, 2008

2007 - Year in Review - October cont.


Disney World. The most magical place on earth. And it was.

We took our first trip to Disney World in mid-October. I've decided to take several posts to document EVERYTHING that we did because I don't want to forget it. (Lucky for me, we circled every ride that we rode on our maps because I knew I would never be able to remember. Now I just have to find the maps!)

A's surgery was scheduled for November and I KNEW that I had to get her to Cinderelly's house before then. To be honest, I really wanted a distraction, and what better way than to spend lots and lots of time planning a trip.

To pay for the trip, we had decided to use some of the $$ from the sale of our house in July. I knew that it would be expensive, but my goal was to be as frugal as I could. We had never planned on staying on-site, because even though Disney is "family-friendly", I feel that the overall friendliness stops when you have more than 2 children. Not much to choose from for a family of six. (Yes, I know there are a couple of suites, and maybe I'll check into them later.)

My brother had heard me talk of our plans and knew that we were excited about going. One day in September, he called me up and this was the jest of our conversation.

Him: Hey hon, (I love my brother. He is so sweet.) I have these reward thingys at work, and one of the things I can buy with my points are Disney gift cards. So I've used some of the points and have gotten you some cards to use while you are at Disney. $500 worth of cards.

Me: Blubbering I say: Oh, T, you didn't have to do that. I can't take all of that. On and on and on. You need to use those points for you.

Him: Shut up (not really), but I want to give them to you.

Me: Still blubbering, and on the verge of tears. O.....K..... Thank you so much.

Him: Oh, and by the way, I'm also buying your tickets.

Me: Silence. For a long, long time. Don't really know what to say. Definitely crying by now, cause I know he's serious.

Him: How many days did ya'll want to go?

Me: Stupidly, I have no way to respond. I'm telling you, I was blown away. This was tickets for 3 adults and 3 children. (Yes, my 11 yr. old is an adult according to Disney. Maybe they'll give him a job.)

Me: Finally I say, well, we were going to do 4 days at the parks.

Him: OK - I'll get them.

I really don't remember the rest of our conversation verbatim, but I know it included lots of "you don't have to do this" and lots of "but I really want to". I remember the gratitude that I felt and knew that I could never express it in words or ever, ever, ever pay it back. I've gotten better about accepting when people want to do something for us/me because of being in the ministry. Our current church is very, very giving, and so I've had to learn to be very, very accepting. Definitely not my nature.

This gift, for me, was huge. I've always felt like my brother has taken the role of my parents in giving. He's always been a huge giver. He's got such a sweet heart. I smile every time I think of him. He's always had some cute catch phrases. A couple of recent ones are "big smiles" and "it's all good."

Anyway, so the trip was being formed right before my eyes.

A couple days after our phone conversation, I get another call. This is how it goes:

Him: Hey hon, what week are you guys planning to go to Disney?

Me: 2nd or 3rd week of October.

Him: OK, let me tell S (his wife). She's going to call the timeshare place and get a week for you with our timeshare points. They've got some locations in Orlando that should work.

Me: Oh my word was the first thing I thought. Again, I don't think I spoke. At all. This was far more than I could handle gracefully. And without blubbering. Again. He just blew me away.

He called back later and said that the timeshare place would be mailing a confirmation to us with all of the details.

Wow. What could I say. I do remember joking with him after all of the initial shock and saying, "hey, why don't you come and drive us down. that is the only thing you haven't done." Definitely said in a moment that needed laughter, so he understood.

So you know how you always dream of winning a trip to Disney. That's how I felt. The only thing we paid for was a night's stay in Savannah on the way down, and our gas. All of our souvenirs and eating out were done on the gift cards.

To be continued.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

2007 - Year in Review - October

October took us on a field trip to the Lazy 5 Ranch just outside of Charlotte. We went with the homeschool group from our church.
Lazy 5 Ranch is a great place for seeing animals up close and personal. You can drive your car through the property or you can take a "wagon" ride. I've never done the car thing, and I think it would freak me out to see a large animal trying to get it's head in my van.
This day, we took the wagon ride and had lots of fun. The kids were given buckets of food to feed them. We had preschoolers to preteens with us and it was neat to see all of the reactions. A's buddy from class, Isaac, was there with his family and they had lots of fun hanging together. Isaac is such a little gentleman, as he was sharing his bucket, telling A about all of the animals and helping her off the wagon.
If you live in the area, it is definitely a great place to visit.

2007 - Year in Review - September cont.

One of our favorite activities during the month of September is preparing for the local county fair. I have gone to this fair for as long as I can remember, and I'm pretty sure that my kids will be able to say the same thing.

Our fair has tons and tons of contests that can be entered. We have decorated pumpkins, potatoes, apples. We have done lots of arts and crafts. We have baked lots of items. C started his fair career when he was 5. He has won numerous ribbons for this and that, and has determined that baking is his favorite category. G & N have followed suit and are collecting their fair share of ribbons as well.
This year was A's first year entering the arts and crafts category and she had fun. She won the coveted Judge's Choice in her age group with her cute little clay piggy. She is the first one in the family to get the purple ribbon and her brothers were thrilled for her.
We also spend the day riding lots of rides and eating "not-so-great for you" food. It is definitely one of the most anticipated events in our home.

2007 - Year in Review - September cont.

September took us to the football field for the first time. C & G played Upward flag football. We had never done an Upward sport other than basketball, so I was curious to see how football worked.

The boys had lots of fun, but I was less than thrilled with the way the program was run. Having worked in our Upward basketball, I understand how it works. And if you do it by the book, it works very, very well. I didn't feel like there was much, if any, emphasis on the devotions, either at practice or game days. I was very disappointed in the game day because they didn't do anything at half-time. For the size of church that it was, I'm 99% certain that they had the capability of taking a sound system outside for a half-time devotion, but it just didn't happen. I wonder how many souls could have been reached if they had taken the time to do the program the way it's supposed to be done.

2007 - Year in Review - September

September 11. A sad day for our nation. A happy day in our home. My girl was born on September 11, 2003. What a special day.
A had a pretty big b-day party when she was one. You know the kind. You invite pretty much everybody you know and the b-day baby doesn't really have a clue. Then for b-day number 2, we had another big party. (A initially had surgery scheduled in October, 2005, so I felt like she needed a big ol' blowout. That surgery was cancelled, by the way.)
Well #3 rolls around, and A decides she doesn't want a party. At all. Doesn't even want Grandmommy and Granddaddy to come over. Only wants to go to Chuck E Cheese. Doesn't want anyone to tell her Happy Birthday, and God-forbid if we sing her a song. So that's what we do.
2007 is #4. I'm hoping we'll get some kind of party out of her. Something. She does finally agree to having G'mommy, G'daddy and Cousin Sami come over. She goes with me to W*l-mart to pick out her cake. I just knew it would have a princess or Dora on it.
Nope. She picks out a little doggy cake. I mean really little. Like, it was made out of 2 cupcakes and icing. Very, very, very cute. But not quite large enough to feed a party of 10.
But it was her day, so her choice. (I did grab another pre-made cake for those of us less fortunate ones who can't eat the doggy cake.)
I bring home the doggy cake, and the first thing G says is:
G - What's that?
me - A's birthday cake.
G - Birthday cake? That's not a birthday cake. That's a cake topper.
So, so funny. I love that boy. He's so quick-witted. And it was. A cake topper.
Oh, and the other thing that the Queen of the house insisted upon was that she didn't want to turn 4. She wanted to remain 3. So we compromised, and decided that she could be 3+1. Duh, but it worked. And she remained 3+1 for many months until apparently 4 was acceptable to her. That girl. She's really not spoiled. She just has my heart wrapped around her curvy little spine.

2007 - Year in Review - August

August. My birthday month. Usually it's fine. Not in 2007. The big 4-0. I wasn't ready to be 40. At all. So I told my husband that he needed to take the day off because we were going out of town.
We went to Charlotte to Discovery Place for the day. I wasn't thrilled about all of the phone calls and such that comes with a birthday, so this was a great day for a road trip.
Discovery Place is pretty cool and the kids enjoy it. We go every year or so. They don't change the exhibits enough for me, but it's like any other children's/science museum that has their permanent exhibits and travelling ones.
The trip served it's purpose and the day was enjoyable. Despite entering a new decade of life.

2007 - Year in Review - July cont.

What would July be if it didn't involve water. We got to spend one afternoon at a friend's home who lives on a small lake. They have lots of water toys, including a jet ski built for 3 and a kayak. As has been the custom, we were invited by our pastor to go over there, even though it's not his house. He was taking two of his grandkids and thought our gang would enjoy going as well.

Lots and lots of fun on the jet ski and big tube that you can drag behind it. My lone goal was to try and sling my husband off the tube, but I was never able to make a quick enough turn to get it to happen. I can't wait until we can go again this summer. (Insert evil giggle here!)

We also took a beach trip in July. We are not normally "middle of the summer" beach travellers, but we were invited by some friends who have a house at North Myrtle. It was a great trip. Lots of kids and lots of laughs.

(A wasn't thrilled about getting her pic taken in the sand. Can you tell?)

2007 - Year in Review - July cont.

July also gave us a treat that we had not partaken of before. COW APPRECIATION DAY at Chick-Fil-A. If you dress up as a cow and go to Chick-Fil-A, you could get a free combo meal. I love to feed my people free.

Since we don't do Halloween, this was another opportunity to let the kids dress up. Since I am extremely cheap, I thought I'd dress up as well. My husband was working late, so we decided to go for dinner. Some white shirts, black felt spots and paper cow masks were our costumes. All 5 of us. Our local CFA was having a kids festival of sorts, added to that fact, it was Friday night, and the place was slammed. I mean tons of people. And not a single one of them looked like a cow.

No one looked like a cow, except for us. The absolutely crazy homeschool family who likes free food. Of course, the kids think it's great and we all go up to the counter and moo for our food. I'm thinking it's not too bad, because even though it's only about 10 minutes from our house, it's the opposite direction (and one county over) from church, so surely we won't see anyone.

No one but our NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS. They saw me dressed as a cow. Lovely.

And if we are in town for the next Cow Appreciation Day, you can bet we are going to get out our cow shirts and head back to CFA for some free food.

Friday, May 2, 2008

2007 - Year in Review - July

July is hot in NC. Very, very hot. I've lived here my whole life so I've become accustomed to it. But it is still hot.

We sold a house in July. The house I grew up in and lived in for the first 22 years of my life. The house where I brought all of my babies home from the hospital. The house that held lots of memories, good and bad.

When my husband and I got married, we moved to Charlotte. He worked for a summer camp, so after our honeymoon, we moved to camp, and lived in a cabin with two other people. Lots of stories there. Short version - camp life is hard for newlyweds. Shortly before the camp season was to end, my mother died. Lots and lots of stories there, too. Short version, my dad remarried later, and the house I grew up in was now vacant.

Fastforward to February, 1995. We decide to move back home. And we moved into my old home. With all of its stuff that my dad left behind. Lots and lots of stuff. We worked and worked and worked and worked. Remodeling. Cleaning out junk. Ripping out cabinets, and walls and floors and ............. Everything. But it was still home. Full of memories. Some good and some bad.

In February, 1996 we brought home our first-born, right in the middle of remodeling the kitchen. Stove was on cinder blocks and you could see the basement through the kitchen floor. I can't believe I brought a baby into that.

3 babies and 2 churches later, my husband accepts a position at a church in the next county. It's really too far of a drive, so we decide to rent the house and make a move. Our renters are great and the house stayed rented from October, 2004 until May, 2007. When the renters moved out, we decide to try our luck at selling the house. Our plan was to keep it for a college fund, but with the change in the neighborhood, we felt like we may be able to get a decent amount for the house at that time.

We worked like dogs during June and listed the house on July 4th. We had an offer on it two days later. It closed in August. Praise the Lord. We got to pay off our van, have some $$ in savings and I could take my girl to see Cinderella's house. (We knew at this point that A would have surgery in November, so we wanted to go to Disney before that time.)

It was tough getting to the point where I could emotionally sell the house. My father died of lung cancer in June, 2001, so the house was really symbolic of my heritage, for lack of a better understanding. I was ready though and we were thankful for God's timing.