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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How Blogging Became My Therapy

I'm late in posting this, but here is my column for the August-September 2009 issue of Valley Babies.

I think I have shared this before, but blogging is truly a form of therapy for me. It has given me this outlet to be real and express my thoughts about the death of Melissa. I am so grateful to those of you who have reached out to me through my blog, and I am truly honored that you find it interesting enough to actually read it. You have all given me strength as I navigate this journey with Chris and the girls. Losing my daughter changed my life forever. Though the pain will never go away, I am grateful that God has given me this outlet to share my grief and just be myself.

I love you all, my bloggin' friends!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

He Never Sleeps

I want to share something with you all. And since my post includes the word "sleep" I wanted to share this picture, too.

AC's class is studying the letter "p" this week. So today they had a pajama party and picnic. How cool is that? AC was beside herself about wearing PJs to school and carrying her own lunch. Here she is:

Now onto the real reason for my post. I am currently doing an Beth Moore Bible study called Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent. It's an amazing Bible study that focuses on Psalms 120-134, otherwise known as the Psalms of Ascent.

Last week, we focused on Psalms 121. Here is the New International Version (NIV):

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
The LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

As I was reading it last week and doing my homework, these two verses just jumped out at me:

he who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep

Then I had this "a-ha moment" with God.

I thought back to when Melissa died. Night time was, by far, the worst. I hated going to sleep at night, because when everyone went to sleep and the house was quiet, I would think about her. And the grief felt like it was more than I could bear.

I would see her sweet, angel face. I would re-live every moment of her death. I would remember holding her for the last time. I would hear a song in my mind that made me think of her. I would wonder why in the world this happened to us.

And I would sob. I mean intense, painful, heartbreaking sobs.

It was so incredibly painful. I would just wake up crying and Chris would hold me. I couldn't sleep because each time I closed my eyes, I saw her. I'm telling you, it was a hard and horrible time for me.

As I was reading this particular verse last week, God said to me:

"Amy, remember all of those nights that you didn't sleep? I didn't sleep either."

Oh my.

I just began to cry. I thought back to all of those sleepless, painful nights and I realized that when I didn't sleep, He didn't either. He was right there with me.

It's not exactly news to me that God doesn't sleep. He is God, after all. It's not like he needs a power nap here and there.

But, I had never really thought about it. Just think about when we are going through rough times. When are they often the hardest?

At night.

We toss and turn, we cry, we wonder what's going on and we worry. The house is quiet, everyone is sleeping, but we are filled with pain and dread.

You know what? On those restless nights where you toss and turn, thinking "Why me God?" or "Why is this happening?" and you just are full of hurt and worry, guess what?

God isn't sleeping either.

Isn't that the most comforting thought?! This most powerful God doesn't need a nap. He is with us.


Even in the middle of the night when we are at our darkest.

As God showed this to me last week, I just thanked Him. When I was at my darkest and absolute lowest, He wasn't off somewhere getting his rest. He was with me. And I wanted to share it because I hope it gives comfort and hope to those of you who are going or have been through a tragedy.

When tragedy hits, night time is so hard. And when you are lying in bed at night crying/worrying/hurting, God is there.

He never sleeps.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

AC's First Pair of Skates

Today was a happy day at the George household.

Ann Catherine got her first pair of hockey skates!

And only at our house would a little girl wear a Fancy Nancy dress while she's wearing her new hockey skates. (What can I say? She's well-rounded :)

When we went to Canada a few weeks ago, (I know, I know, I haven't posted my pictures yet. There are just so many that it gives me anxiety thinking of going through them to choose which ones to post. But I will - I promise!) Chris wanted to buy her a pair of hockey skates. We went to a sporting goods store and she tried on a pair.

But we couldn't find her size. Plus, they were a little pricey. And we really didn't want to spend a hundred bucks on a pair of skates for a 4-year-old who has never been on the ice before.

So when we got home, Chris got on eBay and found this pair. We paid a whopping $20. Woo hoo!

AC loved them. She loved them so much that she wore them all over the house and during dinner and cried when Chris informed her that, no, she could not wear them on our neighborhood walk after dinner.

And she took great pleasure in telling LB, "You're just two, Lily. You don't get hockey skates. You have to wait until you're four."

She, on the other hand, can't wait until her daddy takes her to the rink and lets her try out her new skates. Should be fun!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shout Out to SisterBug!

I have to show off these cute shirts!

My friend, Kera, has a business called SisterBug Embroidery and Gifts that she runs out of her home. She does a little of everything - monogramming and appliques on shirts, burp cloths, bibs, purses - you name it!

I recently asked her to make cute Alabama shirts for the girls and she did this!

Is that adorable or what?! She used a houndstooth material for Big Al and then did his ear red and used a red button for his eye. I absolutely love these shirts and so do the girls!

What makes it even more special is that Kera is an Auburn fan - and did it anyway. That makes her a good friend - and an even better business woman :)

This summer she made my girls these shirts with their initials on them. They lived in them! (You know I'm a good Southern girl and love anything with initials and monograms :)

So mosey on over to Kera's site. Get a cute Bama shirt (or Auburn - I'm betting she has some!) for your little one. She also has some cute Halloween shirts and other stuff.

And while I'm showing cute stuff, look at the girls in their Bama dresses this weekend. Too cute!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Yum Yum - Not!

I was having a tea party this morning with the girls. I asked AC what we were eating and she said, "spigotti" - which is how she says biscotti. (We always have biscotti at our tea parties - don't ask me why :)

Anyhoo, I told her it was delicious and asked what was in her recipe.

"Well," she said, "it has ravioli, gravy, pickles and chicken nuggets. I also added some little chicklets that just hatched, some fries, coffee and the letter of the day cookie."

Oh my! Does that sound good or what?! (Not sure what was stranger - the ravioli and gravy or the little "chicklets" that just hatched - ha!)

Gotta love their imagination :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm a Big Girl, Mommy!

Lily was telling me the other day about a little boy in her class who had cried that day.

"Why was he crying?" I asked.

"Because he wanted his mommy," she answered.

"Did you want your mommy?" I asked, quite sure that the answering would be a resounding "Yes!" (or at least hoping it would :)

Instead she said, "No! I don't cry. I'm a big girl, mommy!"

Like a knife to my heart.

You know what it's like with the youngest. You just want them to stay babies forever and when you realize they are growing up, it's like getting side-swiped.

Oh, I know she still needs me. She can't get the Orange Juice down by herself (and those of you know LB know that she drinks about a gallon a day!). Until she can, I can be assured to hear, "Mommy, I need you!" as if it's the most pressing thing in the universe.

But she doesn't need me for everything anymore. Because of that, I do find myself hugging her a little harder these days, snuggling a little bit more.

'Cause you know what?

I need her as much as she needs me.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hang 'Em Up!

I don't know what I did to deserve this, but Lily has found something new that she loves - hanging up clothes!

I'm telling you, when she sees me getting her clothes out of the dryer she comes running and says, "Mommy, I want to help!"

Now, as you moms know, when a child tells you they want to help it usually means you'll spend thirty minutes after their "help" cleaning up a huge mess.

Not in this instance. Lily is very meticulous with everything she does, and when she hangs her clothes up she takes her time and even puts the coat hanger in the right way.

I did it!

Here are all of the shirts she hung up. Not bad for a two-year-old!

This morning she hung up her shirts and Ann Catherine's. Those of you with children who love Elmo will love this part. You know how in "Elmo's World" the children show Dorothy the goldfish how to do things? Well, as LB was hanging up her shirts she would say, "Dorothy, this is how you hang up a shirt. First you put the coat hanger in the shirt..." Too cute!

Now if I could just teach her to vacuum, wash clothes and mop the floors... :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How Did I Get Here?

I love my conversations with Ann Catherine. She's at the age where we can just talk and she still comes up with some of the funniest things to say. Like this one yesterday. I had just read a book to her before nap and she had her fingers on my wedding ring, twirling it around.

AC: Mommy, can I wear with this?
Me: No Ann Catherine. Mommy's wedding ring is really special.
AC: Why?
Me: Well, because your daddy gave it to me on the day that he promised to love me forever.
AC: Was I there?
Me: No, you weren't born yet.
AC: Oh, I was in Heaven.
Me: That's right.
AC: How did I get here? Did God just throw me through the clouds?

Now, you have to understand how she said this. She put such an emphasis on the word throw and made a motion with her arms like she was throwing something down. As if God winded up his arm and just let 'er rip through the clouds to Earth!

Me: No, baby, he didn't throw you.
AC: Then how did I get here?
Me: He just sent you here.
AC: (a bit exasperated now) No, how did I get from Heaven to here?!

These are the questions I have absolutely no answer for. Seriously how do you answer that with a four-year-old?! And AC is too much like me - she'll keep needling you until you give her the answer she's asking for (Chris says it's the reporter in me). Luckily for me, she just let it go.

Isn't motherhood fun?! :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lily's Special Night

Ok, I know I promised that the next post would contain pictures of our trip to Canada. But I'm going to change gears because Lily was in pure Heaven last night!

We went to Sesame Street Live! - Elmo's Green Thumb at the VBC last night. Let me just say, what a treat for my girls, especially LB!

AC is out of the Elmo phase, although she will still watch it with Lily sometimes. But as a child, she LOVED Elmo. In fact, he was the first character that she really loved.

But Lily? Oh. My. Word. That child LOVES LOVES LOVES the little furry red monster. In fact, this is the picture we used on her birthday invitation last year.

So when Chris came home in July with a flyer about this show coming to the VBC I think my exact words were, "I don't care what it costs, just get four tickets!"

So off we went last night to see it. We were on the second row! As it started all of the Sesame Street characters started coming out, and I do mean all of them! Lily was shouting their names as they each came out and when they started singing the Sesame Street theme song, she was singing along so loud.

Is there anything that makes you happier as a mom than watching your child enjoy something that he/she loves? It was just precious.

On a funny note, AC associates the VBC with food because at every Havoc game the child has - and I am not making this up - a hot dog, a slice of pizza, a tub of popcorn and Dippin' Dots. All to herself. As Chris says, she has a hollow leg.

So yesterday she informed me that she was "going to Sesame Street Live! for the food."

And she didn't disappoint.

Here she is scarfing down her Dippin' Dots...

...and LB got in on the act with the giant tub of popcorn!

Funny moment of the night: some of you may remember this post when we went to Disney Live! Chris thought it was insane to buy those overpriced souvenirs but I persuaded him that even though they are a complete rip-off, it would be cruel to take the kids to an event like that and not get them something.

Fast forward to last night. I tell Chris when we get there that he has to get the girls something. So at intermission, he took Ann Catherine to get a souvenir. I told him to get LB an Elmo shirt.

So they come back and he says "Lily, look at your shirt!" She's all excited until she sees the Elmo toy that AC is holding. It lights up and twirls when you push a button.

"You didn't get Lily one of those?" I said.

"No, you told me to get her an Elmo shirt," he answered.

"I know I did, but you can't get AC a cool toy and just get Lily a t-shirt. What a rookie mistake!!"

I mean, this is not our first rodeo. We've had the two of them long enough to know that you have to be equal when it comes to stuff like this. "Look Lily, your sister just got this cool toy. Here's your t-shirt. Enjoy!"

So poor Chris trudged back to the souvenir table and got Lily her overpriced toy. (You can see it in the picture above).

Ridiculous? Yes. Did it keep them from fighting over the same toy? Yes. Completely worth it.

The highlight of the night was when Grover came over during the show and gave LB a big hug. (AC, by the way, wanted NOTHING to do with the big blue monster. She prefers to enjoy them from afar. ha!) Lily was still talking about it today.

And so was I :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Can We Get a Refund?!

Hello everyone! Chris, the girls and I just returned from Canada. We took the girls to visit Chris' family and had a wonderful time! It was their first trip to Canada AND their first airplane ride and they did great. I'll post pictures later but I want to devote this post to our trip up there.

Or as I like to call it "the trip from blazing, hot Hades."

Seriously, it was so bad it gets its own post.

It all began last Friday before we ever arrived at the airport. We are all loaded up and pulling out of our garage and Chris says, "You have a flat tire."

"What?" I say.

He repeats with much greater emphasis, "You have a flat tire."

You have got to be kidding me.

Luckily for us, Chris keeps car seats in his car so we only have to move everything to his car - including the kids - and we take off. But still, not the way you want to start your trip.

We arrive at the airport and the girls are excited. We have talked about flying for a couple of weeks and they are ready.

There's only one problem. Lily HATES loud noises and they were doing construction at the airport. As we were walking to security it got really loud.

The screaming ensues. "I want to go back home! I want to go back DOWN the escalator! I want to go DAT WAY!" Lily screams as she points backwards.

I try my best to calm her down, but she's having none of it. So as she screams, we trudge on.

We get to security and we start putting our belongings on the conveyor belt. Then it hits me. Lily has to put Bunny on the conveyor belt.

Again, you have got to be kidding me.

I think I have pointed this out before, but Lily doesn't go anywhere without Bunny. Bunny will be under her bouquet at her wedding as she walks down the aisle. Mark my word.

"Um, Lily, you have to put Bunny down," I gently say. So, screams of "I want to go home!" turn into "I want my Bunny back!"

Oh this trip is going to be great.

We finally get through security and get Bunny back. We get to our terminal and Lily wants nothing to do with getting on the airplane.

I say to Chris, "You know how we always said we never wanted to have THAT kid on an airplane? Well, we have THAT kid."

But you know what? She surprised me. Once we got on the plane, she was fine. I mean, she loved it!

Thank you Jesus! Score one for mommy.

Let me back up a little. As we were waiting for our plane, we were informed that it was delayed because of thunderstorms in Atlanta (where is where the plane was coming from).

It ended up being an hour late. As we finally boarded, the pilot said he would get us there as quickly as possible to try to avoid us missing our connections. We were sweating it. The flight attendant told us that while we were going to be late, we probably wouldn't miss our connection because almost every flight in and out of Atlanta was being delayed.

Famous last words.

We land about 20 minutes before our flight is about to take off. I still have some hope as long as we run to our flight. But then the pilot comes on and says, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we've had some miscommunication and the ground crew here in Atlanta wasn't prepared for our arrival. We're going to have to wait a few minutes."

Say it with me now - you have got to be kidding me!

So that eats up about ten minutes of precious time for us. We finally get off the plane, and Atlanta being Atlanta, we arrive in terminal B and our next flight is leaving from terminal D.

Chris scoops up AC and I pick up LB and we are hoofing it through the airport. I mean, we are running. We jump on the trains, finally get to terminal D and run like the wind to get to our destination.

We make it! There's our plane!

But the door is shut and there isn't an agent in site. We can't get on. It's five minutes from take off.

We just missed our connecting flight to Buffalo.

Chris and I just look at each other like 'this is not happening.'

We find a ticket agent at another gate, tell her we just missed our flight and ask if she can help us. She looks us up in the computer and says, "They've already re-routed you. They have you flying into Charlotte."

"Charlotte?" Chris says. "And then to Buffalo?"

"No," she answers. "Just to Charlotte."

I thought Chris was going to lose it.

"Why Charlotte? We are not going to Charlotte. WE ARE GOING TO BUFFALO!"

She answers, not at all concerned about any of this, "I don't know sir. You need to go to customer service."

Now let me just have a quick aside and say this - And the airlines wonder why they are going bankrupt!!

Back to our story:

We go to customer service and I pick up the phone to talk to an agent. She tells me the only other flight to Buffalo is at 8:20 p.m.

That's FIVE hours later. Keep in my mind we have two little ones with us.

Can we say it all together now - you have GOT to be kidding me.

When I ask if she can get us there any sooner, she tells me no and that the 8:20 flight only has four seats left.

Fine. I'll take it.

Forget that we won't land until 10:30 p.m. Forget that after our drive to Chris' house, we won't arrive until 2 a.m. Here's my most immediate problem - how am I going to entertain my kids for the next five hours.

Lucky for them, their mother is neurotic. Before we left, I went and bought five brand-new DVDs and new coloring books and activity books (new being the operative word there. I didn't even let them see them until we left the house that morning)so they would have plenty to do on the plane. So, we ate lunch, parked ourselves outside our gate and they did great.

I'm telling you, I could not have asked for them to better. We even had people approach us who had noticed we had been sitting there for days and comment on how good our kids had been.

The Lord was watching out for us.

We FINALLY boarded our plane five hours later and made our way to the great white North.

LB fell asleep on the plane and AC watched one of her new DVDs. They were so good. And we pulled into Chris' parents' driveway at 2 a.m.

I'll tell you this, I've never been so happy to arrive at my destination in my entire life.

The rest of the trip, however, was wonderful! Believe me, it was all uphill from there!! I'll post some pix from our trip soon.