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Monday, January 31, 2011

Sweet Conversation

At dinner tonight, Ann Catherine asked if Melissa goes to school in Heaven. As I usually do when I don't know the answer, I said, "I don't know. What do you think?"

"I think she does," she answered.

Then she said, "Mommy, when I'm at school I feel Melissa in my heart. But, sometimes I feel like she's right there next to me."

Chris and I just smiled at each other. There was a time that a sentence like that from my daughter concerning Melissa would have paralyzed me. But God is giving me strength and I could definitely feel it.

"She is with you," I told Ann Catherine. And that flowed into a sweet conversation where Lily Baker proceeded to tell us all that Jesus also lives in your heart. I was just waiting for her to ask how there's enough room in there for both Him and Melissa. That would be so Lily Baker :)

I'm so glad Ann Catherine feels Melissa's presence.

It's good to know I'm not alone :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Goodbye Spelling

Every parent does it.

Spelling words so you can have a conversation in front of your kids about something you don't want them to know.

Apparently, those days are over for us.

The other night at dinner, we were talking about signing AC up for T-ball. I said to Chris, "You should volunteer to help c-o-a-c-h. They're always looking for dads to help." I was spelling because Chris has a crazy schedule and I didn't know if it was something he could even do.

Ann Catherine immediately jumped up from her chair and said, "Yes, yes, Daddy! Please coach my team!"

Chris gives me that "are you kidding me" look to which I replied, "How was I supposed to know she can spell coach?!"

Oh spelling, we're going to miss you.

You've allowed us to have discussions in front of AC about Christmas and birthday gifts, whether we were going to a hockey game that night and whether this particular checkup had S-H-O-T-S or not.

We're going to miss you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Where Were You?

The question on the front page of our newspaper today was bold, yet simple.

"Where Were You?" it asked, with a picture of Space Shuttle Challenger exploding in the sky.

I remember where I was. I was in 7th grade sitting in class. I can't remember what class, but I want to say science for some reason. A teacher came to the door and told my teacher something about the shuttle. I don't remember if she said it had blown up or just that something had gone wrong.

They immediately moved us all to the library, where we sat in chairs and watched the coverage. I didn't really understand what was happening. Did the shuttle just explode? What happened to all of those astronauts on board? My 12-year-old mind knew it was bad, but couldn't come to grips with what it meant. It seemed surreal.

Then I turned around, and all of the teachers were at the back of the room crying. And I didn't really understand why.

I eventually would. A teacher was on board. Christa McAuliffe. A real ordinary person. Just like each of my teachers. She represented the best of what teaching had to offer. And she was gone - just like that.

When my mother picked me up, I learned there had also been a tragic shooting in my small town that day. The mother of one of my friends had been shot and killed. That just didn't happen where I grew up.

I remember going to bed that night with such a heavy sadness, and a lot of fear. It was probably the first time in my life I had been faced with so much sadness, so much tragedy, so much death really, in one day. My perfect world didn't seem so perfect anymore.

They call events like the Challenger explosion "flashbulb moments." Each generation has them. They are those experiences that had such a profound impact on you that years later, you remembered where you were when you found out. For my parents, it was the Kennedy assasination. They can tell you vividly where they were that day. For their parents, it was Pearl Harbor.

For my generation, it was the Challenger explosion. For the younger generation, it was no doubt 9/11.

I can also remember where I was when President Reagan was shot (Mrs. Mitchell's second-grade classroom. We watched the coverage on TV as soon as it happened). I remember where I was when Bear Bryant died (I was getting my books out of my locker after school when Mrs. Ray walked down the hall and said, "Bear Bryant just died.") There are those moments that you just don't forget.

9/11 was, by far, the scariest. Chris and I had just returned from the beach the night before and were tired so we slept in. Channel 19 employees were building a playground for a local daycare that morning and I didn't have to be there until 10 am. When I woke up, I didn't bother turning on the TV. As I showered, Chris came running in. His mother had called and told him what was happening.

I immediately got dressed and got into work. Jerry and I were on the air until the wee hours of the morning. Even though it was certainly a national story, we had so many local angles since we were home to Redstone Arsenal. There were rumors that we could be attacked. Every hour, we would do 15 minute local updates.

I remember in the middle of the night when Jerry and I left the set - the morning crew came in to relieve us - our news director called us all into the conference room and told us to go home and pack enough clothes for a week.

Why? Because at that time, we didn't know if another round of attacks was coming. I remember being so scared of what was going to come the next day.

Luckily, gratefully, that didn't happen. And just as my parents have told me about the Kennedy assasination, living in Birmingham during the Civil Rights movement and the turbulence of the 60s follwed by Watergate, I will tell my children these stories.

We pass down history to those who come after us. We may forget little details here and there, but we never forget the emotions we felt on those fateful days.

I kept my scripts from 9/11. I remember that night thinking, 'there is no way I can throw these away.' One day I'll show them to my children as proof of what we went through that day. That's what history is all about.

God rest the souls of the Challenger crew, as we remember them 25 years later.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let Me Help, Daddy!

Who says only little boys can help their daddies build stuff?

Yesterday, Chris was putting together a cabinet for our closet. As soon as LB noticed she asked if she could help. Chris said yes, she took off for the playroom, and came running back with her Handy Manny toolbox.

There is nothing cuter than watching a little girl in her dress, tights and pink headband using her tools to help her daddy put things together.

Gotta love a girl that can get her hands dirty!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Love It!

I absolutely love Saturdays like we had yesterday. Not a thing on the calendar that we "have" to do.

I made a big breakfast for my family.

I watched princess movies with my girls.

Chris made chocolate-strawberry milkshakes with the girls.

I made cookies and we ate them. For lunch.

I drank coffee until 2 pm.

I stayed in my PJs until 3:30.

The four of us played Princess Yahtzee just before bedtime.

Absolutely awesome!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wreaking Havoc and Raising Money!

Another year, another great hockey game and a lot of money raised!!

Saturday, January 8th, was Melissa George Night at the Huntsville Havoc game.

I was just happy to be there. If you recall, last year I came down with a stomach virus about three hours before the game and I missed it. This year, Lily Baker was a little under the weather, but we were all there and accounted for!

All of the kids who swam on AC's Swim for Melissa team came this year and it was so much fun watching them have such a good time! We are so lucky to have such good friends that we can share this special night with.

As she does each year, AC dropped the puck with Chris. I tried to take LB out there too, but she didn't want to go. She tends to be a little more shy than AC. :)

During the second intermission, AC and her friend Alex competed in the three-legged race. And they won! We couldn't have been more shocked because when they first tied their legs together, they could barely walk. It was pretty funny!

After the game, we auctioned off the players' pink and blue jerseys. I wanted Mom and Dad to take the girls home because it was so late and LB didn't feel great, but the girls - along with the clandestine efforts of Jerry Hayes - found their way down to the ice anyway.

We let them stay for some of it. And I was so glad we did.

Mike Carter is AC's favorite player. When it came time to auction off his jersey, she joined him on the ice.

A VERY generous donor bought it...and then gave it to Ann Catherine! She was pumped!!! Can you tell how excited she was?! :)

Thanks to all of you who came and supported the game. And to those of you who purchased sticks and jerseys - or have in the past - thank you, thank you, thank you!!

We raised $31,400 in that one evening for Melissa's Fund. We'll use the money to buy another Giraffe Isolette and a Transport Ventilator.

In five years, this event has raised $245,000 for Melissa's Fund. We have purchased so much equipment for the NICU over the years because of this one event. I continue to say it - hockey fans have the biggest hearts!! Our sincere thanks to the Huntsville Havoc for partnering with us to make life better for premature babies and their families.

What a wonderful night!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Get Up and Try Again

AC has been begging Chris to teach her to skate.

He took her last weekend to a public skate session and she had a blast. But later that night he told me there was no way he could teach her there. The ice was way too crowded with people and she got way too distracted.

She would need lessons.

There went my hope that I could save that money since my husband is a former hockey player and has been skating longer than he's been walking.

So we signed her up for lessons and she started last night.

She started out clinging to her teacher's arm. Thirty minutes into it, she had let go and was actually starting to get into it.

She came out midway through the class to use the restroom and told me she loved it and was having the best time.

I was so happy for her.

And then it happened.

Two minutes before class ended - TWO minutes! - she took a nasty spill and landed on her cheek. She cried but after composing herself she started skating some more.

Then class ended. And she saw me.

And she started wailing.

The poor thing was crying her eyes out and had a big 'ole raspberry on her cheek.

I loved her and held her. She kept crying.

Once we got home, I put some ice on it and gave her some Ibuprofen. I focused on the positives.

"You skated so good tonight!"

"You can do something Mommy can't do!"

"Except for the fall, what was your favorite part?"

Not falling, she probably thought.

Chris figured that was it. He thought she was going to be too scared to try again.

I wasn't so sure. But the thought of it broke my heart. Not because I want her to skate, but because she was so excited about learning and doing so well for her first lesson.

She woke up this morning and told me her cheek hurt. I gave her more Ibuprofen then she said, "Mommy, can I go ice skating Saturday?"

"You want to go?" I asked, somewhat surprised.

"Sure," she said, then ran to ask her daddy.

I told her I was so proud of her. I told her that life was a lot like ice skating. Sometimes you're going to fall. And it really hurts. But it's not about the fall. It's about whether you get back up or not and try again.

Looks like she's choosing to get back up. We'll see when her next lesson rolls around.

She's a tough cookie, that little girl.

Maybe at the next lesson we'll add a little padding.

And I'll be sure to pack the Ibuprofen. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Is it Time for This?

I found this sign on Ann Catherine's bedroom door the other day.

Are we really there? Is it really time for her to start asking for privacy??

I can live with that on one condition.

I get some too.

Here's my offer: my girls can have some privacy when I am able to finally go to the bathroom alone. Without interruption.

Somehow I'm thinking that's not going to happen. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Snow Days!!

The newspaper says the kind of snow we had this week comes around once in a generation.

Crazy to think about, isn't it?!

We had an entire week off from school thanks to Mother Nature. My kids loved it, but AC won't be loving it so much at the end of May when she's making those days up! :)

Snow Day - Part One

All of the hubbies were home and we got together with our neighborhood friends to play in the snow. Our friends Chris and Katherine have a golf cart and we tied our sled to the back of it and pulled the kids (and grown-ups!) through our neighborhood. LB was a little scared. AC, on the other hand, could not get enough!! I enjoyed it myself :)

Best of all, Chris broke out his "Cousin Eddie" hat (see "Christmas Vacation").

After the sledding, the golf cart was almost dead so we headed inside to Brooke's house. The kids got in dry clothes and warmed up while watching a movie. Sweet babies!

Then after their bellies were full, they headed back outside for more fun!

The best part for me on this snow day? Chris was off and I got to sleep in on a Monday. Woohoo!!

Snow Day - Part Two

Our friends Jammie and Ken built a snow ramp in their backyard and the kids slid down it. It was so cool!!

Then Mimi dropped by to say hello!

Snow Day - Part Three

By this day, we all needed a little break from the snow. AC invited over her friend Isabel and the girls played all afternoon. This is where I love my girls being so close in age, because the big girls were so nice to include LB. And believe me, LB was right in the middle of it all!

AC fixing Isabel's hair at the beauty salon Santa brought her :) And AC wearing a sundress inside - go figure!

Snow Day - Part Four

Cabin fever is setting in. We are on day four of school being out and certain people in our home are starting to get a little stir crazy (or maybe just one certain person is!) So I load up the girls and off we go to the library to check out some books and then to lunch. It was perfect.

When Chris got home from work he began sweeping the snow, or as he calls it, "the reason I left Canada."

Then they headed to the back yard with him and played.

They threw snowballs at me as I tried to snap pictures...

...while LB quickly got cold and headed inside to sit next to the gas logs (my kind of girl!)

I learned something about my kids this week. LB may be just like her daddy, but she is just like her mommy in one way. She goes outside and within minutes she's freezing and so over the snow. But I swear AC got Chris' Canadian genes. That child can stay outside in the cold forever!

Snow Day - Part Five

I decided I couldn't look at my messy house any longer! And I told the girls they were helping. They cleaned with me for two hours and when they finished, I let them paint (which they love to do!). I continued to clean for two more hours, and my house still wasn't where I wanted it to be. If we have another day like that, they might be begging me to let them go back to school!

Girls, I hope you enjoyed these snow days. The other night your daddy told me he doesn't remember ever being out of school for snow. Then I got "I remember walking to school backwards because the snow and wind was pelting us so hard" which totally reminded me of your Mimi and Poppy's "In my day we walked uphill both ways to school..." stories.

I have no such stories. But I'll always remember the week you got out of school for snow!