Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #5

Thirteen Things about South Carolina Mom

13 Reasons to live in SC. . .

1. Mild winters- it only snows about 1 time per year (unless, of course, you live in the mountains, although I don’t know how much snow even falls there). The average temperature hovers around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. On a cold day, it may drop into the low 40s. On a really cold day, it may be in the 30s, but those are few and far between.

2. Hot summers- summer is my favorite time of year. I love to swim, as do my kids, so we spend a lot of time in our pool. We also like to travel to the beach (we went 3 times last summer!)

3. Friendly people- most everyone waves as you drive down the street. Also, gathering in the warm summer evenings on the front porch is common and a great way to meet new people.

4. Sweet tea- I know you can get this in any Southern state, but I live in SC and that’s why it’s on my list!

5. Peaches and Strawberries- these are the main fruits grown in the part of the state where I reside. I love fresh fruit, especially strawberries, so we go picking every year as a family tradition. I make my own strawberry jelly, and freeze strawberries for shortcake and other delectable desserts.

6. The mountains and beaches are both only a short distance from any part of the state. I have spent time at both places, and I love that it doesn’t take a long time to get to either.

7. History- I love history, especially war history, and SC has tons of that! Battles from both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars were fought in the State, and I love to go to the battlefields and monuments. Also, Charleston is a historical city that hopefully we will be visiting this summer. I can’t wait until my kids get a little older so they can appreciate the veterans who have sacrificed their lives and families for our freedom (not just from days gone by, but those currently serving, as well).

8. Slower pace of living- Southerners, especially those in SC, understand the value in taking the time to form relationships with people rather than merely saying a brief “Hello.” I find that most strangers tend to find a way to connect with others out of sheer compassion. These encounters typically occur at the grocery store or Wal-Mart when my kids are screaming and I am at my wit’s end. Countless people have attempted to hold a conversation with me as my almost 3 year old is kicking and screaming because he wants out of the “buggy” as it’s called here. Or, better yet, as my 5 year old is busy performing janitorial work for the store because he feels it’s his duty as a costumer to pick up used tissues, chewing gum, and who knows what else. Yes, people here really go out of their way to make conversation with strangers, especially women with children.

9. Less traffic- I have lived and traveled in a variety of places both in the U.S. and abroad. Trust me, traffic is light here compared to other cities such as San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C., Paris, Tokyo, etc. South Carolinians get flustered because they’re in a “traffic jam” for 10 minutes heading to Charlotte while drivers merge from 4 lanes down to 3. I guess it’s all what you’re used to!

10. Rural areas- although I live in a relatively populated area, I don’t have to drive far to find the beautiful countryside farms that I absolutely love! Sadly, urban sprawl is infesting us here as it is everywhere else on this planet.

11. Bar-B-Que- this is definitely a Southern thing, and I love it! My favorite is pulled pork. Southerners pride themselves on their bar-b-que grilling abilities, and I’m almost certain there is at least one restaurant in every town in S.C.

12. Family roots run deep- families have been here for generation after generation. In the part of town where I live, I am amazed at how one family has influenced the community. They instituted the volunteer fire department, run an automotive repair shop, teach at the local schools and university, attend the same church since birth, etc. I have such high respect for this family, especially because one of its members was a former professor of mine and her daughter will be a future teacher of my children.

13. S.C. is pretty much the center of the Eastern seaboard. We are located about halfway between Florida and the New England states (depending upon which state, of course) and have a lot to offer tourists. Come check us out!

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bugs- and not the good kind!

T.G. has a bug of some type. She is over the vomiting part, but now has diarrhea, which lead to diaper rash and a raw bottom. She reluctantly sat down in the bathtub last night, but after she did, it seemed to provide some temporary relief. Please pray for her (and me!) to get over it so we can still go visit my sis. I don't want to go if either of us are sick, and I know Erin wouldn't want us there, anyway.

I aced my test yesterday! Thanks to all who prayed for me. I will be the first to admit that I could not do well in school without divine intervention. I pray before I study and before I take every test. . . it is only by the grace of God that I am able to go to school and be a wife/mom. If I tried to do it on my own, my life would be in more disarray than it already is.

I picked up some gifts for my sis and sis-in-law. I am using the guise of their birthday to give it to them. It is really special and something I have been wanting to do for a long time. I hope they both use it and come to love it as much as I have with mine. Jenn, I'll be mailing yours at some point- sorry I forgot to bring it with me last Saturday. I really wanted to see your face when you opened it. Maybe I'll just wait to give it to you when I see you again. . .

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monster Jam!

We had a great weekend! We spent all day (I’m not exaggerating- from 10:30AM – 4PM) at the Monster Truck Show in Greenville. It was awesome and the boys loved it! We went early to meet the drivers in the Pits. We arrived shortly after the Pits opened so there were no lines for each driver. Th wore a hat to the show, so he was able to get it autographed by each driver. Ta was in heaven- unlimited amount of dirt, big trucks, and tractors. He didn’t know what to make of it all!

We attend this show every year. It’s something that we’ve done since TJ and I first started dating. It just so happens to coincide with my birthday and is shortly after Christmas, so it’s kind of a combined gift thing for the family. T.G. stayed with my in-laws, although next year we will probably all attend. Ta attended his first one last year, and he wasn’t even 2 years old. He enjoyed it much better this year because he remembered it from last year, plus we frequently look at the pictures from last year and watch Monster Truck movies on YouTube and DVDs. The boys were so excited that they didn’t go to bed until very late and woke up at 5:45AM. They were more excited for the Show than they were on Christmas!

Busy week ahead. I have a test tomorrow for my class on Autism, and I need to study this afternoon. I am also finishing some assignments that are due the day of T.G.’s surgery (Feb. 11, by the way-I’ll write a separate post about that). I am getting my hair highlighted Thursday night (birthday gift from TJ). I need to plan the menu for next week and make a grocery list for TJ, plus wash clothes and pack for my trip this weekend. I also need to get everything ready for Sunday School because I have a substitute filling in for me and she doesn't know where I keep anything. I am going to visit my sister. My mom is driving down early Friday morning, and then when I get out of class, I am going to pick up T.G. from preschool. The three of us are going to visit Erin. I am so excited! I won’t be home until sometime on Sunday.

If I don’t post for a few days, it’s because I am carrying out my to-do list. I will definitely post pictures of Kaylee when I get back (or maybe while I’m gone, if I get a chance).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Valentine's Day. . .Early!

TJ "casually" questioned me about Valentine's Day while we were playing with the kids last night.

Him: "Do you want your Valentine's gift now?"

Me: Chuckle a bit. "Like you really have one now anyway. It's still 3 weeks away!"

He sits quietly and continues to press buttons on his phone while the kids drive trucks around him.

Me: "Do you really have one already? Wow! I'm impressed!"

He changes the subject and we continue to play with the kids. A while later we trek downstairs for a snack before the kids get ready for a bath.

H: "Would you believe me if I told you we got into the Wilds?" (We were 10th on a waiting list to attend a couples' conference the weekend of Valentine's Day).

M: "No way! I don't believe you! Seriously?"

He proceeds to show me the email on his phone that confirms his statement. Yeah, we got in! I am so excited! The speakers for the retreat are Ron and Shelly Hamilton. Many years ago, Ron lost his eye to cancer and now wears a patch. He took what was a tragic circumstance in his life and used it to bring glory to God. He transformed himself into "Patch the Pirate", and he and his family compose, record, and produce Christian-based music and radio-theater for kids. My children love the Patch CDs, and Th is involved with our church's Patch-the-Pirate program (similar concept to Awana). Anyway, we are going to hear them and as cheesy as this sounds, I hope to get some autographs on our CDs.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #4

Thirteen Things about South Carolina Mom

13 places I have been or would like to go. . .

1. Santiago, Chile, South America
This was my first trip when I was in the military. It was awesome!

2. Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.
Traveled here with the military. I had a great time, although I only stayed for a few nights. It was too cold to swim in the ocean but it was nice to see the beach.

3. Palermo, Sicily, Europe
This is my family's roots. My great-grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Palermo, and it was so awesome to be able to share in my heritage. I traveled here while in the military, and I loved every bit of this country. Mt. Etna is also located in Sicily, and on several occasions (I've been to Sicily several times), Mt. Etna was erupting. It was majestic to see, especially at night. Too many highlights to say what my favorite part of this country was, but the memories I hold will definitely last a lifetime.

4. Rota, Spain, Europe
Again, traveled here with the military. Rota is on the Mediterranean Ocean, and it was beautiful. I've also been here several times, and one trip we stayed in a villa overlooking the ocean. The hotel was a square shape, with a pool in the center. The climate is similar to that in the Southeastern U.S.

5. Al Dhafra, United Arab Emirates, Asia
This is located about an hour outside of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The 763rd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron conducts in-flight refueling missions throughout Southwest Asia in support of Operation Southern Watch, a coalition force tasked to monitor United Nations Security Council resolutions restricting air and ground operations in Southern Iraq. The Air Force operates KC-10 refueling planes which are involved in sustaining US warplanes covering the southern no-flight zone over Iraq. Arab nation, Arab customs. I did learn a few Indian (from the country of India, not Native Americans) words as many Indian nationals lived and worked on the base. Sand everywhere, and I'm not kidding! High heat even in December and low humidity. I enjoyed learning new customs but truly was scared. This was during the time that Saddam Hussein was still leading Iraq. I was glad to leave and return home.

6. Suffolk, England, Europe
Again, I traveled here while in the Air Force. I met a friend of mine who was stationed at the base (I had not seen him in over a year) and he showed me around a bit. It was cool to eat at an English pub, and a bit scary to drive on the other side of the road. It was December when I went there, so it was very cold and rainy, much like England is portrayed in movies and such.

7. Oahu, Hawaii, U.S.
Beautiful! Once again, I traveled here with the military. A friend that I traveled with had friends here, and it was neat to tour the island with a local resident. I went hiking and of course swimming, along with shopping. The airplane "broke" while we were here, and it was the first time I replaced an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit- what provides power while the plane is just sitting on the ground before the engines start up). This was the best learning experience for me and I couldn't have wanted it to happen in a better place. We had to wait 2 days for another APU to arrive from the mainland, so we spent our time sightseeing. It was the first time I saw a rainbow while it was raining, and we were driving around in a convertible. It was so much fun! Obviously I have great memories of this place, and TJ and I had talked of returning together (he's been here, too). We'll see if that ever happens.

8. Yokota, Japan, Asia
Cold when I visited. I did not travel into Tokyo, which is the nearest big city, because of the weather. It was also rainy and foggy. I only visited once and would like to go back just to sight see.

9. Paris, France, Europe
I traveled here as an exchange student in high school. I visited many other cities besides Paris, and I have wonderful memories from the summer I spent here. I learned so much about French culture and language, and I am so glad I went. Traveling to France is what prompted my desire to travel the world, and had I not gone here, I probably would still be living in Ohio and never joined the Air Force. Most of my fears when joining the military were subsided because I had already spent time in a foreign country away from my friends and family.

10. Niagara Falls, Canada, North America
I traveled here on vacation with my family. I loved it, and TJ and I plan to bring our children here when they are a few years older. So much history and geography to learn here! The falls are breathtaking and I encourage you to visit if you have not.

11. Alaska
I have never been here, but I would love to visit one day. TJ's grandmother did an Alaskan cruise and had plenty of good things to say. Maybe for our 10 year anniversary coming up in '09?. . .

12. The Caribbean
I have never been here, either, but would love to, especially the Virgin Islands. That, too, would be an awesome anniversary gift (hint hint!)

13. Scotland, Ireland, Wales
I have never been but I was very close. I just couldn't raise enough money to get there. It was another exchange program, similar to the one I participated in when I traveled to France. I would still love to go, perhaps as a 25th wedding anniversary or something. I don't think I could go while my kids are young (and I couldn't afford to bring them with me!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What did you say?

Conversation I overheard this morning between my boys. . .

Ta: “Where’s the crale?” (in his Southern accent)

Th: “Where’s the whale?”

Ta: “No, where’s the crale?”

Th: “Where’s the mail?”

Ta: “No! Where’s the crale?”

Th: “Where’s the nail?”

Ta: “NO! Where’s the crale? A-R-H-O-T-B. Crale.” (he’s attempting to spell what he’s trying to say because he overhears TJ and me spelling things when we don’t want the kids to know what we’re talking about.)

Th: “Oh, where’s the grill?”

Ta: “Yes, where’s the crale?

It was really cute to overhear. It put a smile on my face and made me chuckle a bit, and I’ve been thinking about it all day because to hear them get along together is something that occurs few and far between (as anyone who has young children understands).
T.G. had her ENT appointment this morning. Not sure when, but she will be having tubes put in both ears, her adenoid removed, and a procedure called an outfracture done. The doc explained the outfracture (with the aid of a drawing) as basically opening up the breathing space in her nasal cavity (or thereabouts- I had Ta and T.G. with me and it was difficult to concentrate). While I was there, I had the doc look at Ta’s ears because we’ve been having difficulty with them, too. I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve slept for more than 5 hours, let alone more than 3 hours at one time. Either Ta or T.G. (usually both) have been waking in the middle of the night for the past month. I have been having terrible headaches because of lack of sleep, but enough about me.

So, Ta’s tube in the right ear fell out about 2 months ago or so. The hole has healed up and his eardrum is back to normal. The doc removed the tube out of his left ear today because it was about to come out anyway. Both of his ears, like T.G.’s, are full of fluid and causing negative pressure behind the eardrum. In turn, both have suffered a moderate hearing loss (oh, that was another test we had to do today). T.G. favors her left ear and Ta his right, although both ears have loss. Hopefully after T.G. has her tubes in place her hearing will return. I have to take Ta back in 6-8 weeks to see how he’s doing. If there is still fluid behind his ears, he’ll have to have another set of tubes. Of course now my main concern with both of them is permanent damage to their hearing, but I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

The other test we had done today was allergy testing on Ta. He would not allow the nurse anywhere near him so she ended up having to do the tests on his back. The tests came back normal (good news, I guess) but his back hurts from the prongs. He had a rough morning and was physically and mentally exhausted when we got home at lunchtime. I was/am pretty distraught over the course of events that transpired this morning, but I suppose that this is another opportunity for me to really put my faith to the test. Of course tubes and surgery don’t seem like a big deal, and they’re not, it’s the hearing loss that I am upset about. Again, I know about hearing loss and the learning/speech/language/social deficits that accompany hearing loss. Will my kids need hearing aids at an early age? Will they do well in school because of it? I guess more and more I am just becoming uncomfortable with being away from my kids for extended periods of time. Anyway, my heart is heavy for them tonight, and if you think of it, pray for there not to be any permanent damage.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Love your kids tonight. . .

Please pray for the Avery family. Julian passed away this morning. His mother's own words:

"Time of Death ,11:22am ... Never thought I would ever hear these words about my 4 1/2 year old son. But this morning , those words got engraved in my mind and my heart forever. Julian fought until the last painful breath. Again NOTHING peaceful about this process until , until he stopped gasping for air. Julian looked like a fish out of the water, trying so hard to fill those lungs ,but nothing. You could see the normal breathing motions his body made, but nothing got past his throat.Finally he stopped fighting. When he started having a hard time breathing I went to get Ken . He stood on one side of the bed and i was on there with Julian . We talked him thru his transition . We told him it would be ok . We told him we were proud of him . I told him to say Hi to Jesus for me. I told him that Cody and Jacob were waiting for him . I told him that we would be ok . I told him he wouldnt hurt anymore. I told him good night. I told him I loved him . I told him to play and run . The nurse took his shirt off and told us to touch him , that he could feel us and we needed to feel him . I put my hand on his chest. I could feel his heart beat. Then it slowed down . Then I could not feel it anymore. I heard his first heartbeat and felt his last one . I was texting Debra right before , texted her Julian was gone, she called and got in her car and came. I got Mamie, she told Ju bye.And Papy. We got the boys and told them . Sam asked if we were sure he was gone. Then he said it was wierd because he didnt feel like crying . Then he asked to hold him . I needed to clean and dress Ju first . Debra got here, helped me a little, cried a lot... They are not supposed to get attached,how can you not get attached to Ju? I held Julian . Debra gave him a bed bath , as she had been doing for the past few weeks, put lotion all over him , loved and kissed on him . 1 month ago , she didnt even know him , now she is grieving just as we are . That is what Julian is all about . LOVE, unconditional love... He touched Debra, she touched my heart... Ken , Debra, Mamie, Sam , Gma and I held Julian. Maybe others did , I am not sure. Dana and Jessi came.Pastor Kevin and Vicki, Zach and Sam.Diane came by, Pastor Blair and Pat. Vickie and Gerald. Nanny. It is now 6 something pm. Dana and her family are still here with us . I love those guys! Thank you ... Funeral home men came to get him this afternoon. Ken carried him to the van , with his blankie (his Christmas blankie he would share with every one) one of his mimis and one of his dinosaurs. We dont know any details on viewing and funeral yet. We will let you know, just make sure you have your YELLOW SHIRTS HANDY !!!! FLY HIGH MUNCHKIN ... I love you all the way to China, you are the best ,you know that? I love your smell too baby... Your mama, your little mama ..."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Homeopathic Remedies?

I know about AD/HD. I know about the symptoms and treatment options. I have studied and even worked with kids who have this exceptionality. And I know Th does not, although he does have the hyperactivity part down to a 'T'.

Th has an excellent attention span for a 5 year old. He can sit and draw or color for a good 45 minutes to an hour. He does not have trouble watching television (unfortunately!) or a movie, nor playing games. He likes to read books and have books read to him. But, he is constantly moving while he does all of these activities. I never worried before because I just knew that he was an active child. I am not really worried now, either, but I am becoming more concerned, especially the closer he gets to entering kindergarten.

His current preschool teacher has even talked to me about it, especially because it has gotten worse since returning from the Christmas break. She, too, agrees that he is just an extremely active child and so far it is not disrupting her teaching (he goes crazy during other times of the day, like during free time), but at the same time, he needs to learn to calm down, especially when playing indoors. I have the same trouble at home (too wild inside). Getting outside does help some, but he could have been playing outside for 2 hours and have just as much energy as he did when he first went out.

Working in the public schools and studying the many disabilities that face children today, I am almost certain that his teacher next year will refer me to have him tested. Now, I know I am reaching well into the future, but trust me on this one. As much as I am for testing and diagnosis and treatment, I know my child better than anyone. I know he displays only one characteristic, yet it is becoming more difficult for him to "hide". Before, it was easier for his teachers (and me as his mom) to attribute his enthusiasm for life to his age. However, he is getting older and should be calming down more, especially as his ability to attend to activities lengthens. I guess I am just concerned that he won't have a teacher who will appreciate his zeal for life and instead focus on the negative: that he is constantly moving and excited to be alive.

If you've ever spent any length of time with him, you'll agree that he is a great kid who aims to please. But, at the same time, he never tires, leaving me exhausted at the end of the day. Does anyone have any advice as far as foods to try/avoid that may help to calm him down just a bit? I don't want to crush his excitement for life, just perhaps help him display it in a different manner.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #3

Thirteen Things about South Carolina Mom

13 jobs I have held. . .

1. Special Olympics Swim Coach
Best job ever and very rewarding!

2. Preschool/Youth swim instructor
My first job (I volunteered until I got hired on at the Y, then I was paid.)

3. Lifeguard
This was my first paid job.

4. Crew Chief/aircraft mechanic on the KC-10
I loved it- I saw the world on this plane and pushed myself the farthest mentally and physically I ever have or ever will again. Of course I missed my family and friends, but if I had to do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat.

5. Debrief personnel
I talked with aircrews after they landed about their flight/mission. I learned the logistical side of flying.

6. Tool Crib personnel
I gave the mechanics tools for various jobs needed to fix the airplane. I also inventoried and ordered new tools, and that was fun. Until this job, I had no idea that tool companies have a representative drive around in a truck full of tools for people to use and try. It was during this job that I realized why men get excited about tools. I was able to get my husband some really neat tools and tool boxes, and used the same "tactics" for inventory control on his tools that I used in the military. I really enjoyed this job and learned so much about tools- something most females know very little about.

7. Admin. Assistant for the Regional Office of Marshall's Stores
I worked with the Regional VP and learned a lot about the clothing sales industry. I was the first peson in each day and it was my responsibility to get sales from the previous day. If sales were up, it was a good day. If they were down, it was a bad day. I liked the job but hated not knowing how my boss was going to act, therefore requiring me to walk on eggshells. This was my last job before leaving CA.

8. Admin. Assistant at Beringer Wine Estates in Napa, CA
I liked this job but most people who worked here were snobby. I also didn't like the commute each day. I worked here for only a short time before being hired with Marshall's.

9. Admissions Clerk at a local community college
I enjoyed talking with people, especially non-traditional students, to help them get back into college. My boss was a retired Army sergent and we had a great relationship. I liked my coworkers and I liked working in downtown (or Uptown, as it's called) Charlotte. I learned a lot about the "insides" of many of the processes of going to college- Admissions, Financial Aid, Registration, etc.

10. Phone-a-thon caller
I had to call alumni to solicit donations for scholarships. I decided this job wasn't for me after the training session. I never actually called anyone!

11. Professional student
I have been working on my undergrad degree for the past 11 years, taking classes here-and-there while I was in the military and working and being a mom. I was able to quit working outside of the home 4 years ago and became more devoted to my school work. I am now 3 semesters away from finishing.

12. Private Pilot
I entered ground school and began my training. I quit about half way through because I was pregnant with my first child and my belly would not allow my feet to reach the rudder peddles in the aircraft. Being a pilot has been my dream since I was a child, and I am determined to finish it one day.

13. Mom
My most noble calling yet. Although there are too many duties to list or even describe, this is probably the most difficult job I have ever held. Stressful situations like those in the Air Force helped to equip me for life with my kids. Working with athletes in Special Olympics taught me patience, and God has given me the grace and wisdom so that I am "lacking nothing" as James 1:4 teaches. I love being a mom and definitely took my own mother for granted until I myself was a mom.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, January 14, 2008

My Challenge For You

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, save me!”
The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
~Psalm 116:1-9 NIV

This is me. This is my life. This is my God. As I live each day and struggle with the mundane and not so mundane, I pray I meditate on these words as a reminder of God’s love and mercy and kindness and grace for me. Thank you Lord for who You are.

I challenge you to keep a journal or log (or blog!) of God's answer to prayer in your life. I promise you will be blessed. It's so easy to think God is not listening when in fact He hears our every cry. I know when I go through trials, I am so focused on the trial itself rather than on the Lord. This blog has helped me to grow immensely in my walk with the Lord. Whenever I come across a verse that really touches me or I feel applies to me, I share it with you in hopes that you, too, will be blessed. Let me know how the Lord is working in your life; I am very interested. . .

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sweet TJ

Well, my wonderful husband spilled the beans yesterday. . . he was planning to surprise me for my birthday with another couple's conference at the Wilds over Valentine's weekend. But, there is a waiting list and we are number 10. I am praying for some others to cancel but am not counting on being able to go. How did I get it out of him, you ask. Let me back up to Friday night.

We had a T-n-T event at church and just as we were about to begin the adult game time, TJ's phone rang. It was his grandpa who lives in PA. He was calling to tell TJ he had just registered for the Spring Family Camp in April at the Wilds and he wanted us to attend with him. Yesterday I was filling out our registration form and writing the deposit check. I inquired about the Valentine's conference (I really want to go as the speakers are going to be GREAT!) because I wanted to register for that, as well. He opened his email to show me he had already attempted but it was full. So, while I am disappointed we won't be going away alone again, we are going to the Family Camp (that is, if there are still openings) and I know my kids are going to love it. Plus, we'll be with the grandparents and it is always nice to see them. Unfortunately TJ's dad and stepmom are busy that weekend and won't be able to go, but we plan to ask his sisters to see if they want to attend with us, sort of like a mini family reunion. I am so excited to go back!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Life, continued. . .

I ended my last life post when I went on my first date with TJ. That was in April 1998. I was 19, he was 23. We have been together ever since, but here is the story of how our relationship has evolved over the years.

We began to date seriously, and I moved in with him and his friends in June or July 1998. I know it was sin (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8), but I still didn’t understand how the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7) should shape my decisions. Even though I was saved, I wasn’t spiritually growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (Colossians 1:10). TJ and I occasionally went to church together, but our schedules changed and I was going back and forth between swing (3:30-11:30pm) and mid shift (11:30pm-7:30am). Plus, there was a hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico that summer, so TJ was gone every weekend supporting the hurricane relief effort. One weekend while he was away, I got a phone call from one of my commanding sergeants and went TDY to Chile, South America and some other places within the U.S. When TJ got home, I was gone. This was the early days of cell phones so neither of us had one. He came home to a note. I had no idea when I’d be back, and this sort of became our routine, with 1 or the other other being gone. Once we began to miss one church service, it became easier and easier to miss others. I drifted away from the Lord.

In September of 1998, I received orders to deploy for 3-4 months to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in support of Operation Southern Watch, which monitored the No-Fly Zone over Iraq. I left while TJ was TDY, so I didn’t get to say goodbye. That was very difficult for me, but before I left, I purchased 14 cards and mailed him 1 every day for the first 2 weeks I was deployed.

That was my first deployment, and it was fun but scary. I was in an Arab nation and had to adjust to the customs of the nation. I know you’ve seen the gowns women are required to wear, with no skin allowed to be shown, including their faces. The American base was an attachment of an Emirate base, and there were Arabs all around. It was in the middle of the desert, so it was hot and sandy. Even though it was September, the temperature during the day reached between 115-120 degrees. At night, it fell into the 70s. I worked mid-shift, so it wasn’t too hot to be around the aircraft. I would sleep as soon as I got off-shift, and wake with enough time to go to the pool (yes, there were 2 above-ground pools in our Tent-city). Oh, I forgot to mention that everything was in a tent- the dining hall, the recreation center, the weight room. The showers were in trailers, so that wasn’t too bad. I slept in a tent with 5 other women. I didn’t know any of them until I got there. It was great! I met some people from other bases all over the world. I won’t even mention the size of the spiders (appropriately named Camel Spiders) or scorpions, but if you’re curious, Google them. I promise you they exist, and before going to bed, it was IMPERATIVE I do a “bug check” before crawling under the sheets!

Once I returned back to the States, TJ and I became almost inseparable. In February 1999 we moved into our own apartment. We began to consider marriage, but I had not met his family and he had met mine only once. I was still traveling TDY a lot (at this point TJ had switched into another position within the squadron so he was no longer traveling). In late March of that same year, I received orders to go to Kosovo. I was to leave 1 Apr 1999 (April Fool’s Day) for another 3-4 months. The night before, I packed my bags and made my routine telephone calls to my family to say goodbye. I had spoken to everyone except my grandmother (Nana). Every time I called, the line was busy. I kept trying until I thought it was too late. I never got in touch with her, and decided to phone when I woke in the morning. I was in California and my family was in Ohio- a 3-hour time zone difference. I received a phone call in the middle of the night from my mom. My beloved Nana had passed away. I thought my mom was joking when she called. I immediately went to the Squadron to begin the arduous process of getting out of my orders TDY. I wanted to go home to attend the funeral. The Red Cross had to get involved and I almost wasn’t able to go to Ohio, but at the last minute someone else offered to take my place and go to Kosovo. I flew out the next day to Ohio. I miss my Nana very much. She was only 65, too young to die in my opinion, but she was a heavy smoker and suffered from lung cancer as a result. As my pastor always says, we can choose our sin but we can’t choose the consequence.

I was very depressed and homesick. I used these feelings in the most productive way possible, and relied on my experience with Special Olympics (SO) to get my mind off my family. In March 1999, I held the first ever Solano County Special Olympics swim practice. I enlisted the help of TJ and some friends from the Air Force. It was awesome, especially because we literally started a SO swim team from the ground up! I won’t go into the details because I’ve digressed so much already, but I would love to share pictures and stories with anyone who is interested. SO is what got me interested in Special Education. I have such a heart for working with individuals with disabilities, especially those with autism and mental retardation, and I thank the Lord for that!

TJ and I continued living together, but by June of 1999 I was ready to take the next step. Basically, we decided to get married July 4th weekend in Reno, NV. So we did. Nothing fancy, just some close friends were at the ceremony with us. It was memorable to say the least, and we enjoyed the sights and sounds of Reno. Now, I must clarify we DID NOT elope- his family and my mom knew we were getting married. We attended a “Reno version” of “Riverdance”, and it was awesome! I was 20, he was 24. My family said I was too young, but I was at a point in my life where I didn’t really care what they had to say (bad attitude, I know). I was in California and we had been dating for over a year. I knew TJ was “the one” ever since the day I agreed to go out with him, and nothing was going to change my mind.

My memory is foggy because it’s been so long ago, meaning I may mess up some of the details and order things happened, but you’ll get the gist of it. The exact timing isn’t necessarily important; rather, the choices I made and the outcome of those choices are what matter.

Remember I said TJ had switched positions within the squadron? He was no longer working on aircraft, but had switched to the training office. He was responsible for ensuring that everyone within the squadron was current on their training (i.e. weapons, hazardous materials, flightline driving, chemical warfare, and too many others to list). This was a 7:30-3:30 job, and he no longer traveled. He began to take classes to earn a bachelor’s degree in Computer science. At some point in his education, he had to take a class on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. I had befriended 2 males and we became known as the 3 Musketeers because we worked together all the time. One of the guys was a higher rank and had his own airplane (meaning he was the head mechanic) and could choose whom he brought with him when the airplane was scheduled to go TDY. I went with him on my first TDY to Chile, and ever since that trip, he sort of took me under his wing and trained me on all sorts of other requirements. He liked my work ethic and fun personality, and I was very eager to learn as much as I could about the aircraft, so I was open to his critique of my work. Anyway, once TJ began to attend class on Friday night and Saturday mornings, I took advantage of the situation. Now, I want to be very open and forthright: I have never cheated on my husband, but as you will soon read, I was participating in activities that I should not have been.

One night I was home alone because TJ was in class. I got a phone call from one of my friends described above to go out to a place called “The Cabin”. The Cabin was a local, rundown bar and TJ hated it because it was so dingy and attracted the “less desirable” folks in town. Most of the crowd consisted of older men and women, and occasionally a few in their 40s, so my friends and I were definitely the exception. I loved it because no one noticed us and I didn’t have to worry about fitting in. Going to the Cabin became my routine Friday event, and I would come home late, and very drunk. My routine began to affect my relationship with TJ because he didn’t like that I was out drinking with other guys and he didn’t like that I didn’t want to stop. Needless to say, we fought constantly. Eventually I reached a point where I was tired of fighting and being married. I told him I wanted a divorce unless something changed. Now, I totally take responsibility for the way my marriage began, but back then, I sure didn’t. I put the blame on TJ for not making himself “available” on Friday nights (how selfish is that!)

One Saturday, after arguing again, I told him I wanted to start going back to church. He surprised me by agreeing with me, and we began the arduous task of finding a church in our local town. We visited many (that’s a whole story in itself!) and settled on a quaint, little Baptist church called Orchard Avenue Baptist Church. The first Sunday we attended, the pastor introduced himself and asked if we were the couple that had contacted him from the AF Base through email. Confused, we said no. Turns out another couple had contacted him that was new to the area. They attended that same Sunday as we did, so we all went out to lunch with the pastor.

We liked the church, and I was eventually baptized at the church, and then we joined. I attended a Ladies’ Bible Study during the day (I was working midshift again) and we brought friends from the base with us. However, because we didn’t have children, we found it difficult to relate to some of the members. To make a long story short, we were members of the church until we left California, but we did not attend regularly and only attended the morning service when we did attend.

God was patient with us, though. The same couple we met the first Sunday we attended Orchard became very good friends of ours. Their names were Casey and Lisa, and they had a daughter named Brittney. In July of 2000, we moved from our apartment off-base to a brand new duplex on-base. Housing assignments are random, but nothing is random with God! Guess who moved 2 doors down? Yep, Casey and Lisa! They helped keep us honest and involved with church, although we were increasingly becoming more distant.

In February 2001, I completed my enlistment and got out of the AF. I began working for the Regional Office of Marshalls Stores, a subsidiary of TJX, Inc. In May 2002, TJ graduated from Chapman University with a B.S. in Computer Science. In July 2002, TJ found out he was eligible to get out of the AF. Ever since 9/11, stop-loss had gone into effect and he was being forced to reenlist. I was pregnant with Th and definitely wanted to move back East. Everything happened very fast, but again, there are no surprises with God! We traveled to NC for a week in order to secure a place to live and try to find TJ employment. We found a house to rent near Charlotte, but no luck on the job. In August of that same year, we said goodbye to our friends, packed up, and moved to NC while I was 8 months pregnant. We drove 5 days across the U.S. with 2 dogs and 3 cats. We made some stops along the way, and it was definitely an adventure!

I will leave off here for now. God has done some amazing work in my life, especially in the early years of my marriage, and I am forever grateful! I will share "the rest of the story" another time.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I finished the main bag this afternoon; I still have a smaller bag that I need to make (to hold diaper creams, loose change, ink pens, etc). What do you think? I love it- I think it turned out better than the one I made for myself! I will be personally delivering it to her the first weekend in February. My mom and I are going to visit together. I am excited and looking forward to it!

I begin school on Monday. I am a little nervous about taking 4 classes; I haven't taken this many at one time since my first semester. I have a break between classes for about an hour and a half on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I am hoping to be able to get some uninterrupted work done on those days. Please just pray for me. I am looking forward to the semester, especially one class in particular. I will be working one-on-one with students who have autism. If you know me, autism and mental retardation are "my thing". These two areas of special education are my passion and I have extensive knowledge and history advocating and working with all ages of people who fall into one or both of these categories. I love learning about and enjoy meeting and working with people who have these specific disabilities. Can you tell I am excited? I am rambling. . .

Have a great weekend! We are enjoying a game night with the T-n-T group from church- much fun! :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #2

Thirteen Things about South Carolina Mom

13 of the many places I have lived in my almost 29 years of living. . .

1. Columbus, Ohio- born here
2. Houston, Texas- moved here at age 2
3. Richmond, Texas- moved here at age 5
4. Mayfield Heights, Ohio- moved here at age 8
5. Cincinnati, Ohio- moved here at age 9
6. Boys Town, Nebraska- moved here at age 10
7. Akron, Ohio- moved here at age 12
8. Tallmadge, Ohio- moved here at age 13
9. Wichita Falls, Texas- moved here at age 18
10. Vacaville, California- moved here at age 19
11. Travis Air Force Base, California- moved here at age 21
12. Belmont, North Carolina- moved here at age 23
13. Somewhere, South Carolina- moved here at age 24

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Lifetime of Love

I just read Mimi's latest update on Julian. I am convicted with each update I read. I take my children for granted every day, and I have found myself trying to be more thankful and kind and loving towards them. We are trying to break Ta's habit of wanting someone to lay with him until he falls asleep. We want him to be an independent sleeper. Well, the past 2 nights I haven't stuck to my guns. I've laid with him, talked with him, hugged and kissed him until he couldn't stand it anymore. Then I kiss him one more time before taking my post until he's asleep. His last images before he drifts off to dreamland are me standing at his door. Speaking only for myself, I guess I just realized I was being selfish by wanting to hurry up and get downstairs. I know, I know. I do need some time alone with just TJ, but at the same time, my kids are growing so fast and soon they won't need me to lay with them, let alone want me to. I think this is another meaning behind A Lifetime of Love. Anyway, here is the latest update on Julian copied from his Care Page. It was written last night, and I will be surprised if he made through the night. Please pray for this family, as the Lord wakes me several times a night to pray for them. . .

So ,how did we get here? Here it is January 8th 2008 (wow 2008??) , our family of 6 humans,1 cat, 2 dogs, 3 lizards and a bunny is about to be amputated of one of its main limbs.The rest of the body won't ever work the same. Unlike the lizards and their tails, we all know it WILL NOT grow back. The wound itself will heal but something will always be missing. The body will have to find a new balance, and for sure lean on something for support... A friend? or two? try thousands!!! For sure we will need a rock. This rock , I have personally grown to rely on more and more along this journey . Long ago ,I believed rocks were just an annoyance on a soccer field,they made you trip, you skinned and bruised your knees on them,and they could send you to the hospital if you got one thrown at you! Just a matter of perspective. Then this Psalm just keeps floating in my head since Chris brought it up in Sunday school... "Find rest, O my soul in God alone, my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God, He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people, pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge"Ps 62:5-8 God is my rock...What a concept... Strong, unshakable,unbreakable, what an amazing support to lean on when you are the most broken! HE can be strong and unshakable for me, and caring, loving and gentle for Julian. Who else can bring you such peace and comfort? For those who have been following Julian ,I hope that if anything,you turned to HIM for support or even it made your faith stronger than ever. I am afraid that with Julian not being healed on this earth ,it will bring anger to some hearts and God will be blamed. God, the one who let me have 4 beautiful boys, the One who gave Julian such a beautiful and amazing soul,God , who gave me the strength ,patience and wisdom to get thru every single day of this journey so I could care for Julian, his brothers and still be able to share my little king with you all...So thank God for our little King,thank God for what he has taught us and is still teaching us daily (that you don't have to be big to be brave),thank God for His will to share this little guy with us...I know I thank God for Julian and for his brothers... Good night... Mimi

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


She looks just like my brother-in-law! I have never seen a baby with light colored hair; quite a change from my own kids' dark hair. I can't wait to meet her- hopefully it will be soon!

Monday, January 7, 2008

She's Here!

Kaylee Madison made her debut at 8:14pm and weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces. She was 19.5 inches long. I haven't received any pictures yet, but hopefully soon. Mom and baby are doing great, Mom is trying to figure out the nursing thing. It's amazing how much I love this little girl and I haven't even met her; I can't even describe it!

Here She Comes!

I was talking with my sis about 11:45 this morning and in the middle of our conversation she stated, "I think my water broke." Yeah!

She had a friend drive her to the hospital, but thankfully along the way they saw a police officer (the hospital is a good 45 minute drive) and flagged him down. He wasn't able to provide an escort but he did call an ambulance to take her (she was feeling extreme pressure). I am assuming she is at the hospital now, well on her way to delivering baby K. Please pray for her and the baby, and I will update as I find out more. . .


Oh, above is a picture of the bag shell. I was dropping it off to be embroidered when talking with my sister. It's not completed, but the lining and shell are both done. All I need to do when I receive the shell back is attach the lining to the shell. I had it embroidered using green thread. I'll take another picture of the final bag.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sew Busy!

I have been busy working on a diaper bag for my sister. I had hoped it would be done for Christmas, but with school and everything else, I didn't even have time to go to the fabric store. I finally got a chance to buy the fabric yesterday, and this morning I began cutting out the pattern. I gave myself a deadline of Monday because I have other sewing projects I need to get done around here before my semester begins. I'll post a picture of the bag when I finish. I hope she likes the fabric I chose for her!

Speaking of my sister, I have been really concerned about her lately. I have been praying earnestly for her, and ask that you do the same. I can't go into the details, and I don't really want to, but please lift her and baby K. up in prayer. I appreciate it!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #1

Thirteen Things about South Carolina Mom

13 Goals for 2008, in alphabetical order. . .

1. Appreciate the Lord’s blessings more
2. Attend a ladies’ retreat
3. Attend another couple’s retreat
4. Be a better listener, especially to my family
5. Be a better sister
6. Be a better wife and mother
7. Be an encouragement to others
8. Become more physically active
9. Lose between 15 and 40 pounds
10. Spend more alone time with my hubby
11. Spend more alone time with the Lord
12. Spend more time playing with my kids
13. Visit my grandmother (who will be 94) before I miss the opportunity

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Here We Go Again!

I had T.G. at the doctor again today. Turns out she still has a double ear infection. I left with another prescription. . . and a referral to the E.E.N.T. The doc wanted to begin a series of Rocephin shots on her but I opposed. I went through the same thing with Ta- the series is 1 shot per day for 3 days. The shots did nothing except traumatize Ta. To this day he is petrified of the doctor, even if the appointment is for a sibling. It's the only appointment I don't mind having him with me because he is on his best behavior out of fear of getting a shot! I am waiting to find out when the E.E.N.T. appointment will be.

Also, Ta broke his glasses again. He just got this pair last Thursday, so it hasn't even been a full week. I believe this was pair number 5, and unfortunately his spare pair is broken too. TJ is going to see if he can somehow take parts from both frames to make a complete pair until the new ones arrive. It just really stinks because all of this is happening now, in 2008, when we have to meet our insurance deductible all over again. I guess that's just the way things go. . .

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I rejoice in the opportunity of having a fresh start at a new year; I wish you all a happy, healthy, blessed New Year!