Monday, December 29, 2008

New Years Resolutions

So, it's that time of year again when we look forward to a new year. Most people look upon the new year as a chance for a clean slate. An opportunity to start over and get some things right that we struggled with in the past. Unfortunately, many people make a resolution and like myself, it is shallow and we quickly give up on it when we don't see the results we desire in a timely manner or when we don't get the satisfaction out of it we hoped we would.

I want my "resolution" this year to be something of substance. I, of course, have plans to take better care of this body God provided me with but, that has more to do with all the holiday gluttony over the past couple months than the fact that a numerical change is ahead.
Last year I received an e-mail that had a resolution worth keeping. At the time I wasn't in a place where I could recognize the importance of it. I printed it out and stuffed it in a drawer and recently it called my name. It's amazing that it survived the move!

So, here it goes...

I will put my time with the Lord before the TV, the radio and even before good Christian books, for my children will know my priorities by the way they see me spend my free time.

I will make prayer requests known before God and my children, enlisting their help in the process and informing them of the outcome, for by letting them help when I petition our Lord they will learn of a living God who still answers prayer.

When times of crisis, conflict or confusion arise, I will hit my knees before I hit the phone knowing that by my example my children will discover that although friends are important, God alone is the one who holds the solution to life's every problem.

I will erase the words "luck" and "lucky" from my vocabulary and will instead by my speech point my children toward the One who orchestrates every detail of our lives and brings all good things to pass, for by this my children will learn of an omniscient God.

When bad things happen, I'll neither grumble nor complain, but will instead help my children see that in the scope of our lives even the bad times are allowed for a reason, for by this my children will learn quiet trust in their Maker.

When normal childhood mishaps occur, I will remember that although difficult, it is still easier to remove grape juice from off white carpet than to erase harsh and unloving words hurled at a child whose chubby little fingers have failed her, for by this my children will see a God who understands when our best efforts fall short.

When my children have witnessed something ugly in me - unkind words, an angry temper, "harmless" gossip, biting sarcasm or even my infamous "mommy pout" when things don't go my way - I will confess it as sin before them seeking their forgiveness, for by this my children will develop the much needed habit of wiping their spiritual slate clean before God and man.

I will teach my children the importance of cleanliness and order while at the same time remain sensitive to the fact that a skinned knee or hurt feeling is more crucial than a spotless floor or uncluttered counter, for by this my children will learn to value people above things.

I will make time for the lonely, the sick, the elderly, the difficult to love, and will bring my children along, for with each afternoon visit, each ride to the doctor, each raked lawn or washed window they will have the opportunity to serve Jesus by serving the "least of these".

I will make our home a haven of rest and retreat from the outside world and a welcomed place for my children's friends, for with each impromptu backyard soccer game, each video viewed on a rainy day, each cup of hot cocoa or chocolate chip cookie, my children will have the opportunity to practice the art of Christian hospitality thereby learning to share all God has given them.

I will by my actions and speech let my children see a mom love their dad, for by this will my children sense family stability at a time when marriages all around them are crumbling.

I will not require of my children obedience, honesty, patience or kindness without first being willing to submit to the same rules whether in speed limit, in miscounted change from the store or when answering a toddler for the fourteenth time, for by this my children will see a mother who is also learning and not a perfect parent to whom they'll never measure up.

In all things will I remember that more is caught than is taught.

Truthfully, I was not so sure I wanted to share all this with you because now I have some accountability. I KNOW that I will fail at times but I really want to try and be the best child of God I can be this year. Some of those I got down, others...not so much. To be honest some seem really, really difficult but then I read the line about what important lessons my children will learn, it doesn't seem as difficult. As a Mother or Father our greatest mission field is our children. All I really want out of this life is that they all come to know Him and follow Him all the days of their life. Everything else is just gravy.

On a side note...this should not only apply to us as parents. It's not just our children who are watching is it? There is a whole world of non-believers out there who have been let down by what they've seen from us "Christians". Imagine the impact God could make on them if they saw us behave in this manner! Now go back and read it again only this time every time it says "my children" replace it with "this world".

So what are your new years resolutions? Are they worth keeping, worth the effort? I think this one is. Nothing worth doing was ever easy and this one seems worth doing and definitely NOT easy.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pittsburgh at Tennessee

Kick off!

My man Hines Ward!


TOUCHDOWN PITTSBURGH!





This one's for you Ann!

Last week Steve got to attend his first ever NFL regulation game. His two favorite teams were playing. Truthfully, we were pulling for the Steelers but they were not on top of their game and it was a disappointing loss but the silver lining is that now the two will meet up again in the playoffs here in Nashville. That morning after Steve left, the kids and I, along with Grammy and Pap, headed to Cracker Barrel for breakfast all decked out in our black and gold. Wes wore his Willie Parker jersey and Bailee was in her cheerleading outfit while I sported my Big Ben shirt. We were pleasantly surprised to find several Pittsburgh fans also there and we greeted each other. Steve had an awesome time, thanks to Harold, he scored some awesome seats on the 50 yard line on club level! Thanks Harold! Next time Tennessee won't be so lucky.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

From Me to You

Merry Christmas from all of us. Here's some cookies I made for all of you. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Catching Snow Flakes


We had some ice fog last night(don't ask me what that is) and when we woke this morning the trees outside look like they were made of crystal. As the temperature climbed the trees began to "shed". Joshua decided to see what it tasted like...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stress

About 36 hours ago I was peaceful and blissful. I was discussing with my friend Ann how stressful the holidays can be for "some" people and how ironic that is. It is, after all, supposed to be a time to reflect on the year and Christ's birth, spend some quality time with the fam and just relax and enjoy the pretty sparkly lights and eat some medicinal pie...right? I was sitting back revelling in the fact that I had a quiet Christmas planned this year and laughing at all the poor shlubs who were wearing themselves out shopping and cooking and entertaining.

I'm not laughing anymore! At about 11pm last night it all began to sink in. By 6am this morning I had formed a list of things to do that would make Santa tired. How did this happen?!! Steve and I were up until midnight discussing all the details of this Christmas. Literally, almost every minute is scheduled out. At one point we both stopped and looked at each other and decided that next year we are outta here! We are hightailing it outta town. We are literally going to RUN away from Christmas next year.

Isn't it so stupid? Did you know that Christmas is when heart attacks and suicide rates are at their highest? Why? I don't think this is what God had in mind. How do we as Christian's refocus and quiet ourselves? How do we avoid the chaos? I'm all for decorating(clearly), baking, gifting, etc but how do we avoid all the other "stuff"? Maybe by next year I'll have the answers to those questions and I can have the peaceful Christmas I long for.

Well, I gotta go...fast!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Parade





Today was the Christmas Parade. The Kimmel's and us went down and found a nice cozy spot right in front of Starbucks (I'm a genius I know). Steve was riding in the new engine this year that was carrying the man himself, Santa! We opted out of riding in the truck so we could collect as much candy as much as possible. This year Darth Vader and the cast of Star Wars were there. When the boys spotted them in the distance you would have thought that some major rockstar was headed our way. It was so fun. Cold, but fun.

Buddy the Elf Day

Thursday is National Buddy the Elf day. This means that whenever you answer your phone you need to answer it "Buddy the Elf. What's your favorite color?" I'm so stoked about this I cannot tell you. You know I'm totally gonna be into this. Here's a few clips from MY favorite christmas movie. Merry Christmas!



Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Christmas Tree






I love my christmas tree this year. This is my fancy living room tree. It makes me so happy just to sit and look at it. I have a family tree upstairs in the family room and it's loaded with all kinds of hand crafted ornaments that my children made over the years and some sentimental ones that I've collected. But my downstairs tree is so "grown-up" with all it's silver and aqua blue ornaments. I thought I'd show you all, mostly because I wanted an excuse to take some pics with my new camera.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Restless...

These past few weeks have brought alot of difficult situations into my life. With the poor economy a few of my family members have lost their jobs and my Father suffered another heart attack. That has been more painful than I expected. Occasionally it hits me right between the eyes and I am overwhelmed with emotion. I know that I won't have much more time with him and the distance doesn't help the situation.

My head has been so full of thoughts and worries and my heart has been so heavy. I've felt emotionally absent from my family from time to time. All this seems compounded by the holidays. I've always felt the pressure to be happy, bubbly Aly and during the holidays I seem to feel even more so that way. But somehow this year I can't seem to get into the swing of it.

Somehow, it's not enough.

I want something more of substance this holiday season. I've felt God urging me to serve...to give...to love. I'm not sure where to begin. Their are so many needs out there. I've begun praying that God would direct me to where he wants to use me. I want to be His hands, His feet and His heart.

I'm restless...somethings gotta give.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Early Birthday Present


Last night I got home from dinner with the girls and on my bed was an early birthday present. My birthday is not for about 3 more weeks but I guess Steve couldn't wait and he wanted me to have it to shoot those all important christmas pics. It's a Nikon D90 and it ROCKS! Ladies and gentlemen I have finally gone digital and what a way to go. This baby packs 12.3 megapixels of Nikon love. Be prepared for lots of pics in all future posts. YEEEEEEE!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Aly and the Very Blustery Day

Today is a very blustery, fall day in Tennessee. It's drizzly and windy and grey and chilly and I LOVE it! To celebrate I decided to cook up a big pot of homeade chicken noodle soup. I even made the noodles from scratch.

Unfortuneately, clumsy me scalded myself in the process. Turns out that flinging boiling water on yourself causes 2nd degree burns. My flesh was literally melting off! After a little first aid from my hubby and Captain Scotty (thanx Scotty) oh and a big fat pain pill, I finally sat down to enjoy my first bowl of soup. Now, I'm not one to brag but...OH...MY...GOSH! Totally worth it! I wish y'all could sit down with me in your most snuggliest sweats and I'd serve you up a steaming bowl and we could make yummy noises together.

Hope you all have a wonderfully, cozy, fall day wherever you are!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nashville Zoo

On election day last week the kids were out of school so to keep myself from going crazy I packed them into the grocery-getter and we headed to the Zoo. The weather was beautiful and all the animals were up and about. We had the best time. I've never taken my kids on an outing by myself before so I was a little worried about how things would go but the kids were great despite the distinct absence of "Daddy the Discipliner" and we really enjoyed our day.

I think the boys really enjoyed the reptile house. We watched as a rattlesnake shed its skin and saw a huge anaconda. Bailee and I enjoyed feeding the Lorikeets nectar. At one point one of the birds grabbed the cup out of Bailee's hand and helped itself. One of them landed on my head! "Please don't poop!" Although it wouldn't be the first time I got pooped on.

We packed a picnic lunch and stopped at one of the many picnic tables scattered about the zoo and talked about what we saw and what we wanted to see next. Weslee and Kolby were the map keepers and kept us on track.

We fed the camels too and petted the cute little baby goats that wandered around the Creature Encounters Exhibit. One of them even helped itself to a zoo map that was hanging out of some guys pocket. Turns out that their is not much goats won't eat, much like Joshua. Nancy Van Kamp from channel 4 news was there with her two kids.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Our Angel

Bailee was an angel for halloween this year. The boys opted out of costumes at Mimi's party because they wanted freedom to move and play.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Bubba




Okay, is that weird or what? Ever since the Olympics every time I talk to my Aunt Patti or some member of my family it inevitable gets said. "You know who looks just like Michael Phelps?" This is not the best picture of my "little" brother (I say that because the dude is 6'5") but they both have eerie similarities. I do think my brother is better looking though. I'm not a hater or anything but Mike's nose is kinda weird.
Anyway, all this to say, please pray for my Vinnie guy. He's been wearin' himself out planting churches in So Cal and now because of harsh economic times and the foreclosures out there the church can no longer afford to pay him. He has an incredible wife named Tami and two little ones to support. So, a paycheck is helpful. He's recently interviewed at a church near Brentwood, TN! I am so hoping that works out, I miss him terribly and would love the chance to play Auntie to Ashtynne and Steele.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bubble Baths


After years of wishing and hoping I finally have a great big jacuzzi tub. I've always seen those pictures of people soaking serenely in a big bubble filled tub and longed to experience that. We've always had bathtubs in our homes but they were never deep enough or long enough for me. I am pushing 5'9" so I need a larger than average tub. It's no fun to sit in a nice warm bath with your legs hanging out the other end.

Shortly after moving day I finally got an opportunity to try out my new tub. I filled it up and plopped myself in...aaaaaahhhhh. Heavenly! About 5 minutes into it I found myself kinda twiddling my thumbs and whistling. Hmmm, what now? I was a little irritated with myself, "Why can't you relax and be still Aly?" After a few more attempts I started to get a little better at this sit and be still thing. Here's some of my tips...

1. You must have a comfy bath pillow. I recommend one that is covered in terrycloth otherwise you'll here squeaky sounds everytime you move your head.

2. Bubbles! Highly debated amongst bathers. I didn't think I would need them but I threw some in on my 3rd attempt and it was kinda like a big fluffy blankie and I didn't feel so exposed. However, if you have a jacuzzi tub like I do you may want to forgoe the bubbles if you plan on using the jets. Turns out that using the jets with bubble bath is a like puting a marshmallow in the microwave. Another problem with bubbles is I tend to start "playing" with them. You know bubble beards (ho-ho-ho), scooping them up and blowing them around the room or clapping your hands together and they go flying. I may not be mature enough for bubbles yet.

3. Music. I have a "chill" playlist on my ipod specifically designed for such an occasion. It helps to drown out the sound of the jets, bubbles popping or annoying midgets (I got 4 of em and they can destroy your chill session pretty fast with all their racket).

4. Make sure the water temperature is just right. Everyone has a different preference. It's a delicate balance between tepid or too hot. If I go too hot I'll be on the verge of heat stroke 3 minutes in and will be outta there. Better to go more towards to tepid. You can always add more hot water to adjust the temp after you're in the tub.

5. Candles. There is something about a great scented candle that just makes me sigh.

6. Keep the phone nearby. I know you're thinking "You don't want to be disturbed by the phone!" but lemme tell ya, when that phone rings you immediately start thinking "Who could that be? I wonder if it's important? What if there is an emergency?" Chances are it's probably a telemarketer but at least you won't be tempted to jump outta the bath and go streaking through the house or worse lay there and "What if?" yourself into a panic attack.

So, there you go. That's how Aly relaxes. I'm getting pretty good at it now. Maybe I'll go give it a try right now.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm It!

I've been tagged by my younger brother so apparently I have to share 16 random things about me. I'll try not to bore anybody...

I was born just outside of Chicago, IL
I spent most of my life in California
I was a Catholic schoolgirl, knee socks and all. (Back off Britney)
I was voted biggest flirt in High School
I have a rare form of anemia known as Beta Thallassemia so, if you see me gasping for air buy me a cheeseburger.
Nat "King" Cole soothes my soul and makes me miss my Daddy
My first car was a 1995 periwinkle blue Dodge Neon
I have 5 brothers and 3 sisters
I took english horseback riding lessons when I was a kid
I got married at the tender age of 20
I lived in a converted hotel above my parents restaurant in Michigan on Lake Superior for a year
I've always wanted to be a barista
Hiking and camping renew me
I love old movies, especially musicals
I was a Medical Assistant for three years before I retired and started poppin out babies
I make the best cookies, all kinds; chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter...you name it!

That's me. Ladona, Amy, Becky, and Dene your it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Butter

So, last night I was laying in bed and a post that my brother had on his blog popped into my mind. I stewed over it so long I thought I should touch on it.
Margarine vs Butter
Butter, mmmmm. It's is one of my most favorite substances. I've noticed that many throw that word around willy-nilly like using it to describe margarine (Aly shudders). It's borderline insulting to butter connessieurs like myself. You see I was raised in a butter house. My Mother ran a catering company, made wedding cakes and even owned a restaurant at one time and never, NEVER...did I ever encounter a TUB of margarine. Consequently I grew to believe it was the devil.
Years later I married a man from a "County Crock" house. I immediately set about banishing it from the house and changing his preferences for him. Now I'm here to spread the butter love to all of you.
Margarine is basically one molecule away from being plastic!
YOU can try this yourself, purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or shaded area, within a couple of days you will note a couple of things, no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it, (that should tell you something) it does not rot or smell differently...Because it has no nutritional value, nothing will grow on it, even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow...Why? because it is nearly plastic. Would you melt your tupperware and spread that on your toast? Butter is made from milk and it has been around for thousands of years so do the right thing for your body and make the switch today.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blog Love

Thought I'd share some blog love with y'all by featuring one of the blogs from my shout out list.

A Day in the Life

is my dear friend Anne's blog. I love her insight and her mixture of comedy and heart felt wisdom. She's passionate about her family and has a unique perspective and a very compassionate heart and she's HILARIOUS! I found out recently that she also writes bible studies. I knew I picked a good friend! She loves the Steelers even more than my hubby I think and she sports a nose ring and several tatoos, two things little conservative me would never have the guts to do but I feel like I have them vicariously through association.

I think I can officially place her in the "Very Best Friend" category because when I'm outta town she's the first person I want to talk to when I get home. She's one of the only people I feel comfortable sharing the gory details of my life with and when I'm in a bad mood she can tell immediately when I pick up the phone. Our lives have eerie similarities and she completely "gets me". When we first moved to Tennessee from Cali 7 years ago I prayed and prayed for a good friend and I'm convinced she was an answer to that prayer. Ok enough mushy stuff! Go check out her blog, you'll love it!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Destin




We're home from our annual beach trip! We had an awesome time but it is always so good to come home.

A few highlights from our trip...
The boys have been bitten by the body boarding bug! They absolutely loved catchin' some waves.

Kolby was riding a wave in on his body board when a stingray swam right in front of him...it was so AWESOME! I can't decide if that makes me a really bad Mom or a really cool Mom that I thought it was awesome.

Hands down the coolest part of our trip went as follows....

Me sitting on the beach watchin' the boys search for shells and building a sand castle with Bailee. I look over to my left and notice a "commotion" in the water about 10 feet off the shoreline. I jump up to go investigate. As I get closer it appears to be a dorsal fin sticking up out of the water! Dolphin? I alert the rest of the family, (when I say "alert" I mean frantically squealing and jumping up and down and waving my arms) Then I start to walk out towards it and stop dead in my tracks...NOT A DOLPHIN....SHARK! A 6 foot long Tiger shark is looking for dinner approximately where my kids were swimming moments earlier. Now we're chasing the thing down the beach kicking ourselves for not having our camera. The strangest part was I wasn't scared at all and neither were the kids. If it hadn't been for the jellyfish we saw earlier I probably would've tried to get closer. (scared of jellyfish but not sharks? I'm an enigma, I know) After about 3 minutes of awe the shark finally took off out to sea and we trekked back to our beach towels. Weslee is a shark enthusiast and proclaimed "This is the best day of my life!" Kolby grabs a body board and heads back out to catch some waves! We feel compelled to be somewhat responsible parents and redirect our kids to the sand. We found out from locals that it is best to stay outta the water during sunset as that is feeding time for the sharks. We celebrated the occasion by purchasing shark tooth necklaces for all the boys. Bailee opted for a pink stuffed Dolphin. We'll never forget that experience.

Keeping with tradition on the last day of our trip we headed to our favorite restaurant The Backporch for a yummy seafood dinner. We were fortunate enough to get seated on the deck overlooking the gulf and as we waited for our food we reminisced over a wonderful week and watched the sunset.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Boy Oh Boy!


Today I had the all to rare opportunity to hang out with some of my dearest friends for lunch at Chili's. As I sat back and observed the different personalities surrounding me I quickly placed them in two categories...those raising boys and those not raising boys. It was quite obvious to me the differences. Next to us was a table with our darling children happily coloring and wiggling and making odd noises. Those without boys were quick to notice the odd noises coming from the adjoining table while the mothers of boys seemed blissfully unaware that one of the testosterone driven types fashioned a mega phone out of his placemat and went happily about grunting and growling at the passers by.

I can remember being relatively young like in High School and having a conversation with God. I was basically puting in my "order". I wanted to have four children, three boys followed by a baby girl. You see, I had five brothers myself. Four of which were older than me and I just thought they were the funniest people I'd ever met. They were so intriguing to me and also, quite protective. I wanted the same thing for my daughter should God choose to bless me with one. So, when I became pregnant for the fourth time I just knew it was going to be a girl. I had even purchased some little pink outfits and had the nursery all planned out.
Now that I am a mother of three wild, noisy little dudes of my own I have come to the conclusion that there are two ways to parent them...

1) Be completely horrified, terrified, mystified, grossed out, overwhelmed and exhausted.

2) Or like my darling friends...Be completely amused and infatuated and frankly, in a constant state of AWE. (All the above still come with this package by the way but not quite as frequently)

I consider it an honor that God thought I could handle this great responsibility. Raising boys is definately not for that faint of heart. They come with a lot of strange smells and odd sounds and hair raising, death defying acitvities. I don't think they have any respect for gravity whatsoever. As a mother of boys you must accept the fact that trips to the ER are going to be a fairly common occurence. You must appreciate bodily function humor and not get queasy at the dinner table when, inevitably, the conversation turns that way. Along with all of that comes a lot of sweetness too. They are naturally protective of their Mama's and they wanna be just like their Daddy's. They are also good to have around when giant mutant spiders jump out of the closet.
I've heard a phrase at church that has been thrown around a lot recently. "It stole their joy" A good friend and mentor of ours out in California (Our sweet Ben Evans) corrected us on that. He said "Nobody, no situation or circumstance can STEAL your joy. You give it away" No where in my life has that been more true than now. When my boys are hanging upside down at the dinner table or running through the house pretending to be spider men, I have two choices...I can either give my joy away by scrunching my shoulders up around my ears and squishing up my face or I can watch in wonderment the incredible creation of BOYS! What was God thinking?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Invisible Moms

This is for all my "Mommy" friends. I love you all so much and you are all doing an AMAZING job raising your babies...

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.' I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone! One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England ..

Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.

I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.' In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.' I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.' At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.
It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.' As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.


And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women. Great Job, MOM!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Politics...

The photo below captures a disturbing trend that is beginning to affect wildlife in the USA .
Animals that were formerly self-sufficient are now showing signs of belonging to the Democratic Party...as they have apparently learned to just sit and wait for the government to step in and provide for their care and sustenance.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Summer is Over

It's labor day weekend, all the swimming pools are closing so summer is now officially over. I was just reflecting on how fast it all went. It just seemed like a few weeks ago we were kicking of the start of summer by camping at Cumberland Falls.
We had a good summer for the most part no major injuries or trips to the ER. (Those of you with boys...I know you understand that last sentence completely) I was really looking forward to school starting and now that it has I'm a little sad. Joshua just started kindergarten, much to his dismay, and it's REALLY quiet around the house during the day. It's definitely gonna take some getting used to.
Soccer and swim lessons have started and I spend most of my time in the car as evidenced by the piles of McDonald's bags and empty water bottles strewn though out my mini-van. It's hectic but a welcome break from the monotony of hot summer days with no schedule and bored kids.
I'm looking forward to seeing the pumpkins and mums out in front of homes and the fuzzy hug of a favorite snuggly sweatshirt. I love the fall!

I'm Dying!

Okay not actually dying but as Steve puts it...I look like death warmed over. (Heartwarming, I know) I have strep throat and have been quarantined and isolated. I've gone through two boxes of Kleenex and my nose is chapped! I didn't even know that was possible. I have lost 3 pounds because the idea of swallowing anything other than my own phlegm is horrifying...that's me always looking for the silver lining. I thought I'd let you all know in case you thought I was neglecting you. I'll return to the land of the living soon.

4 Year Old Wisdom

After a traumatizing morning of dropping off Joshua at school Bailee and I met up with Mimi at Cracker Barrel for some medicinal pancakes and bacon. Yes, we are emotional eaters here. Bailee and I split Momma's Pancake Breakfast. She gets all the Bacon and a pancake and we share the eggs. I look over and notice everything but the eggs are gone.

Bailee: Mommy, my tummy is full.

Me: Did you eat too much pancakes and bacon?

Bailee: Yeah....(pauses to think) Actually just too much pancake.

If you know Bailee at all you'd know that she LOVES bacon and to her there is no such thing as too much bacon.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's Time For Something New


It's time for a haircut. I'm looking to take off some serious length. I'm a little nervous but also looking forward to having not so much hair to take care of. I've had hair halfway down my back for about 4 years now and I think now is the time to try something new. I like both of these haircuts and there is an even shorter one that I LOVE but I don't know if I'm brave enough. Bangs seem to be a popular trend. I need advice. Should I go for it?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ninja Kitty



I don't particularly care for cats but this one's kinda cool!

My Favorite Toys


Okay, this is going to make me look very old but I wanted to share some of my favorite toys that I had as a kid...

*Rainbow Brite and twink
I can still picture her sparkly, plastic dress and her yellow yarn hair. Whoever did her make-
up rocked!

*Barbie Fashion Plates
These were like paper dolls on crack! I was a fashionista from a very young age.

*Easy Bake Oven
This was a defining toy for me. You see, I never used their mixes or recipes. I use to make up my own! This is when my love for cooking began.

*Lego's
Alright, I know most of you are saying "That's a boys toy!" My brother and I bonded over our giant red boxes filled with Lego's. We'd spend hours constructing houses and buildings. I wish I could get my kids into them.

*My sparkly blue banana seat bike
My Daddy bought it for me and taught me to ride it. My brother and I would take off for the day to 7 eleven and drink coke slurpees and then head over to the playground and climb up on the picnic shelters and jump off. Then we'd go off-roading and build these giant mounds of dirt and try and "catch some air" at the local construction sites. Our bikes vastly expanded our horizons and play spots. I guess I was a bit of a tomboy then. Where were my parents!?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

We've Found Our Home!

Interior Photos

After much weeping and gnashing of teeth we've finally found our new home. It took some patience and diligence to agree on the price. You see the home was way out of our price range, I don't even know why we looked at it, I think because we desperately wanted to be in that neighborhood even though we didn't think we could afford it. At one point we even walked away thinking that we just weren't going to be able to do it but, they came back twice with lower offers. (Twice as in two times!) My agent was in shock, apparently that never happens. We had warned her early on that God seems to do some wild things in our lives when it comes to real estate.
It is centrally located. Right near all our activities and work. So hopefully we can cut down on filling up.
Some details about the house...4 bedrooms 2 1/2 baths, almost 2800 sq ft. Master bedroom is downstairs and all hardwoods downstairs. His and Hers vanities and closets and a jacuzzi tub in the master bath. Large bonus room and new frieze carpet upstairs and a side entry garage. We close on the 28th of August. Anybody with a pick-up (or a sweet Lincoln Navigator with push button, fold down seats) is expected to be at my home bright and early. I promise pizza and back rubs.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and encouraging words! Tiffany and Joyce (my agents and friends) thank you for all your hard work and dedication and sacrifice. We couldn't have done this without you two. We love you both, even your "business" side.
...That kinda sounded like an acceptance speech...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Real Estate Rollercoaster

Most of you know that we've miraculously sold our home...
We made a commitment to list our house for 90 days. In today's market, we're told, that it takes about 6-9 months to sell your home, so if it sold then it would be God's will...right? Well...our home sold on the 90th day! We literally showed our home 4 times. God just loves to mess with us.

So now comes the fun part right? WRONG! Turns out that not everyone out there realizes that I have very specific needs for my home and those who have a home that meets those specific requests need to sell me there home for the price I want it for! That seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Yes, I am a little irrational right now but in my defense it is not entirely my fault. I'm a little panicked that registration day for school is about 2 weeks away and we are for all intense and purposes, homeless. Or are about to be.

We could probably get everything we wanted if we built in some of the new developments around town but that would mean being displaced for an undetermined amount of time and being in a treeless neighborhood surrounded by Mexicans with hammers and Porto-potties on the lot across the street. Or we could buy an older home in an established neighborhood surrounded by large shade trees on a peaceful court but then again, said house would have hunter green counter tops, brass light fixtures and mysterious stains on the shag carpet. It's enough to make me lose my mind!

Anytime I get a little "uncomfortable" I (eventually) remember that God is on His throne. I feel VERY hypocritical saying that right now because my memory failed me last night as I laid in my bed sobbing and full of fear because things weren't working out according to my Plan A...or B....or C...you get the idea. Evidently, God is teaching me about faith, trust and patience. Did I mention I've never been very good at any of those things when the chips were down? My good friend Ann brought a little perspective to the table this morning...THANK YOU ANN!

In conclusion, please pray for us as we go on this "adventure". Pray that we'd remember who's in charge and that we'd sit back and enjoy the ride as we watch God do His thang.

Ephesians 3:20
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy 9th Birthday Weslee Cole!





On July 17, 1999 my life as I knew it changed forever. At 9:45 am, after 10 hours of labor, my son was placed in my arms. We were in love! At 7lbs and 1 ounce never could we have prepared ourselves for the emotions that rushed through us the first time he opened his eyes and looked right into ours. How could something so tiny rock your world so hard? Steve and I were in awe. Isn't awe one of the most incredible emotions? We spent countless hours staring at that tiny little thing with his giant eyes and bald head. I have the home movies to prove it. With pure elation and pride we toted car seats and diaper bags and proudly wore infant carriers and burp cloths.


I look back now and laugh at those times. I can remember feeling overwhelmed at times and other times I thought I had it all figured out. Little did I know what God had in store for me...


Since that time we've added a few more to our quiver but those subsequent birthing experiences didn't quite compare to that first time. Through Weslee, God has taught us countless lessons of faith as we rushed out little man to the ER in the middle of the night. Wisdom when we couldn't soothe his crying. Patience after we told him a thousand time to stop throwing his toys at the TV. If anything we've learned to pray without ceasing. That, after all, is one of the job requirements of parenting. The thing I'm so thankful for are the memories. I remember sitting around the dinner table when I was a kid and listening to my brothers tell horror stories of how they swung from the chandeliers and landed in the giant bowl of potato salad in their Sunday clothes. We laughed and laughed. I'm thankful that I can look back on some of those disastrous moments we've had and laugh about them, even though at the time the humor of the situation may have escaped me.



Being Weslee's Mom is a blessing I never could've imagined. God knew I'd need help after his siblings arrived and Weslee has always been there for me. He's changed diapers, applied band aids, done dishes since he was 2 (I also have video to prove this) and was always my informant. He adores his brother's and sister and loves to go paint with his Dad. He loves football and rollerblading and is a straight A student with very little effort. He's sticking to his original career goals of Marine Biologist. He's completely fascinated with sea life, especially sharks. He wants to get his SCUBA certification as soon as possible so he can begin his research. He has a soft spot for the underdog and he's willing to risk life and limb for the chance to crack up his baby sister.

Thanks Weslee for blessing us these last 9 years! Your future is bright buddy, we look forward to the next 9 years.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Aly's Mind

1. Today I went to the grocery store with a list of things I needed and STILL I forgot to buy juice! It was on my list.....HOW did I forget it???!!!! Absolutely infuriating!

2. Isn't this weather unbelievable? Went to the park with Ann and her boys today just to enjoy the beautiful day. All 5 boys decided they needed to pee so they all lined up facing the trees. Where is my camera when I need it!

3. I HATE dealing with car salesmen....BLECK!

4. Phineas and Pherb is the most annoying cartoon....make it stop!

5. Should I dye my hair red? Steve thinks not but I looked HOT as a redhead.

6. Happy 80th birthday Daddy! I miss you and love you!

7. Taking all the kids to NCG tonight to see Wall-E. C'mon, we'll be there at 6pm and back home for pie and ice cream after.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Car Shopping



So, we've decided it's time to buy a new vehicle. Mainly because the Lexus spends more time in the shop than in our possesion and because it gets about 5 miles to the gallon. So now I'm going to lose all my cool status by returning to the mini-van. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make in this tight economy, not to mention I'm sick of my kids falling out of that big ol' SUV. We've spent the last month researching what would be the best ride for us. After talking to our mechanic (who also happens to be my cousin) we're stearing clear of all things Dodge and Chrysler. I don't care for the Toyota's suspension, all the Toyotas in my past provided a pretty rough ride.

That leaves me with the Nissan Quest or the Honda Odyssey. Being that I'm making such style sacrifice I want ALL the bells and whistles, DVD, power sliding doors, power liftgate, Bose speakers and an ipod doc. I need some advice and helpful tips to help me make my decision. I'll admit I'm leaning towards the Quest because its body style is kinda cool and edgy, as edgy as a minivan can be I suppose....

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth!

So today is Independence Day. Admittedly it is one of my favorite holidays. It's not that I'm super patriotic or anything it's just that I have a lot of happy memories associated with this time of year. I had my first flirtatious encounter with my hubby at Ben & Darla's annual 4th party and 3 years later at that same party I was 9 months pregnant with my first son.....I could go on and on.

Last night we went out on Old Hickory Lake to watch the fireworks over Fairvue Plantation. I love boaters, they are some of the friendliest people. Perfect strangers waving at each other as we pass by. Okay, so some of them were a little tossed but still, very lovable. We tied up with a couple of houseboats and kicked back while the boys jumped off the back of the boats and swam around.


This year we're celebrating the fourth like any red blooded American would by stuffing ourselves with vats of potato salad and blowing stuff up. If that doesn't scream Independence than I don't know what does. In the south we are fortunate enough to have access to some pretty sweet pyrotechnics that are illegal out west so there is always some story on the news the next day about some inebriated, moron who blew off his thumb. God Bless America!


So here's to being American, pass the ribs!

Monday, June 30, 2008

I CAN do all things....


READ THIS BEFORE YOU WATCH THE VIDEO...

A son asked his father, 'Dad, will you take part in a marathon with me?' The father who, despite having a heart condition, says 'Yes'. They went on to complete the marathon together. Father and son went on to join other marathons, the father always saying 'Yes' to his son's request of going through the race together. One day, the son asked his father, 'Dad, let's join the Ironman together.'To which, his father said 'Yes' .

For those who didn't know, Ironman is the toughest triathlon ever. The race encompasses three endurance events of a 2.4 mile (3.86 kilometer) ocean swim, followed by a 112 mile (180.2 kilometer) bike ride, and ending with a 26.2 mile (42.195 kilometer) marathon along the coast of the Big Island Father and son went on to complete the race together.

How much more does our heavenly Father do for us?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cumberland Falls

Last month we loaded up the trailer and headed up to Cumberland Falls, Kentucky for our first camping trip of the season. It is SO beautiful! Despite the cool, drizzly weather we had the first day we had and awesome time. Cumberland Falls is the only location in the western hemisphere where you can see a Moonbow. If you go during the full moon, which we didn't, you can witness this phenomenon. Next time we go we hope to catch it.
Cooking hot dogs & s'mores over the campfire-YUMMY!

We hiked some really pretty trails that wound through the woods and up and down some great elevations along a river. Cumberland Falls is known as the Niagara of the south. In total my little guys did about four miles one day and two the next day. We're proud of our little hikers! We can't wait to return.












Little Izzy came along too and those little legs worked so hard. Although, anytime a butterfly flew by she'd hop off the trail into the woods after it. Silly puppy!

I learned how to skip rocks too. A skill that has always escaped me. Apparently it's all in the wrist. Which leads me to ask why is it so fun to throw stuff in bodies of water? I found myself searching for an object everytime we approached the river!