Shabby Blog Background

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recitals and Trampolines

Ann Catherine has wanted a trampoline for a long, long time.

Chris and I finally gave in :)

We bought it for her birthday, which is tomorrow. We decided to surprise her with it so this weekend Chris and his dad put it together while I took her somewhere. I called him as we pulled into our neighborhood and he was in the backyard with camera rolling when she came outside and saw her trampoline for the first time.

I could not love this video more!!! Do you think she's excited?! :)

Also this weekend: the girls first dance recital! The beach baby and calendar girl did great! And yes, Lily Baker's bow is bigger than her head :) I'm quite sure it was Chris' first dance recital - and he survived! We gave the girls flowers when it was over and then went to one of their favorite restaurants. It was perfect!

Lastly, my blogging friends, please keep our family in your prayers. Tomorrow is Ann Catherine and Melissa's birthday and the anniversary of Melissa's death. Those of you who have read my blog know the range of emotions we feel on that day. Please pray for peace and a wonderful day that will allow us to celebrate Ann Catherine AND Melissa's lives. I appreciate you all so much!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Goodbye Kindergarten!

As I tucked Ann Catherine in Tuesday night, I told her I couldn't believe this school year was almost over. It just seems like yesterday that Chris and I walked her into her kindergarten class on the first day of school. Since she was our oldest child, it seemed like such a huge step. And now here we are closing the book on that chapter.

I went back last night and read that post from a year ago. It brought tears to my eyes thinking of the pain I felt when I left Ann Catherine at school on that first morning. No, I wasn't sad that she was starting kindergarten. In fact, I didn't even cry for her.

I cried for Melissa.

I cried because we took one child to school that morning to start kindergarten instead of two.

Now here we are nine months later and what a year it's been. AC can do things that she couldn't do nine months ago. Read. Spell words. Count coins.

I also learned some things about her. She is tougher than I thought. She doesn't need me every minute of the day. Her independence has multiplied.

But it's more than that. It's the overwhelming sense of gratitude I have that she's here. How incredibly blessed we are that almost six years after entering the world 14 weeks early and weighing less than two pounds, that she even had the chance to go to kindergarten.

To celebrate her last day, we went to get ice cream with our friends. The girls had a blast!

A great ending to a great school year :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chocolate in Heaven!

I went to the funeral of a dear sweet family friend this evening. I didn't want to tell Ann Catherine I was going to a funeral because she is so sensitive to death after what happened to Melissa. So I told her I was going to see a good friend of Mimi's (my mom) and our family who was sick and was going to Heaven soon.

"Oh!" she smiled. "She's going to see Melissa!"

"That's right," I told her. Then she looked at me as if she were the adult and I was the child and said, "You know, Mommy, it's a good thing that she's going to Heaven. She'll see Toby, Melissa, and Mimi and Poppy's parents." Toby, by the way, is our neighbor's dog who died last year. My girls took it pretty hard. I agreed with her and wondered how my five-year-old was so much wiser than me at times.

She followed me into my bathroom where I began putting on my makeup. She pulled up a stool next to me and said, "I wonder if she'll see the big bubble gum machine when she gets there?"

"What?" I asked. I had no idea what she was talking about.

"Mimi's friend who's going to Heaven. I wonder if she'll see the big bubble gum machine when she gets there?" She looked at me bewildered, as if thinking, 'Seriously Mommy, how can you NOT know about the bubble gum machine in Heaven???'

I smiled and said, "Well, I didn't know there was a bubble gum machine in Heaven. What else is there?"

"A big chocolate factory," she said with a smile that took over her face.

I don't know what Heaven is going to be like, but how cool does AC's version sound?!

I decided I should remind AC of the real reason why we should look forward to Heaven. "Who else will be there?" I asked. "Jesus!" she answered.

Then she said, "Mommy, when I get to Heaven I'm going to find Melissa. Then I'm going to run to her and throw my arms around her and hug her and say, 'Melissaaaa!'"

I smiled at the thought of it. "I think I'll do the same thing," I told her.

And after we exchange hugs, Melissa will take us by the hand and lead us to the chocolate factory. What an awesome day that will be :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Put Down that List!

Yesterday was an “errand day.” I had a list of things that Lily Baker and I needed to do and we needed to do them before we picked Ann Catherine up from school.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a list person. I love love love a list. And I love marking things off as I do them. I even put “wake up” and “go to bed” on my list just so I can cross them off.

Okay, I don’t really do that. I’m not that bad. Yet.

Chris helped me out yesterday morning by taking AC to school. As soon as they left, I informed LB that I had get ready.

“Will you watch Snow White with me, Mommy?” she asked. The movie had just started.

“Lily Baker, Mommy has to get ready. We have lots of things to do today!”

“Please Mommy! Pleeeeeease!” she pleaded.

I started cleaning the kitchen. She asked at least five more times. As she usually does, she finally wore me down.

“Okay, but I can only watch a little of it,” I told her. “Mommy has to get ready. We’ve got to get going!”

“No, Mommy,“ she informed me. “You have to watch the WHOLE movie.”

The next thing I knew, we were halfway through it. As we snuggled on the sofa, LB provided commentary.

“Mama, that’s Sneezy. See, he sneezes a lot.”

“Mama, look at Dopey. He’s crazy.”

“Mama, that Queen is mean! God DOES NOT love her.”

“Mama, this is where Snow White eats the poisoned apple.”

“Mama, this is where her prince comes!”

We watched the entire movie. It was wonderful. I don’t think I’ve watched Snow White in thirty years. Then I got ready and we went on our merry way.

How many special moments do I miss with my kids because I’m in such a hurry to cross things off a list? I mean, thanks to LB’s persistence, I actually had a conversation with my daughter that went like this: “Well, God DOES love the wicked queen. He just doesn’t love what she’s doing to Snow White.” Oh yes, I did.

And you know what? We still got a lot done after the movie.

Did I cross everything off my list yesterday?

No, I didn’t.

Was it completely worth blowing off to watch Snow White with LB?


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

'This' is Wonderful

You know how sometimes your kids say things and you think, "I have to write this down!"

You do it partly so you won't forget it. You also do it so when they hit puberty and go from thinking you're the greatest person on Earth to thinking you're an idiot, you'll remember how much they once loved you. :)

I had one of those moments yesterday.

We were sitting at the kitchen table after school. Ann Catherine was working on her homework and Lily Baker was eating mac and cheese. It was just one of those neat moments. The house was quiet, sunlight was streaming through my kitchen window and I was with my girls. I silently thanked God for allowing me to have this time with them.

About two seconds later Lily Baker said, "Mommy, let's all tell what's been our favorite part of the day. I'll go first."

"Okay," I said. I waited to hear some cute story of her playing with her friends at school that morning.

"This," she said simply. "What?" I asked. I didn't know what she was talking about.

"This!" she said, getting a little irritated. I just looked at her, still confused.

"This, mama," she explained. "Just being here with you."

I didn't know what to say. I was so touched, especially coming from Lily Baker. She's not my sentimental child.

"Me too," I told her. "'This' is my favorite thing today too."

And it was, because 'this' is perfect.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

My day started off the best way possible. My two favorite little people shuffled into our bedroom and crawled in bed with us.

AC snuggled up next to me. As soon as I opened my eyes she said, "Happy Mother's Day, Mommy!"

I love that child. No prompting or reminders from Chris. She just woke up and remembered.

Chris snuck out of bed and retreated to the kitchen. AC informed me that she couldn't tell me what he was doing, but I was pretty sure I knew. A little while later, when he returned with eggs and bacon on a tray my hopes were confirmed.

Then the girls stole all my bacon. Ah, the life of a mother... :)

It was a beautiful day. The girls gave me their cards - complete with their precious writing - and a spa gift card. Oooh la la! :)

My favorite gift came Friday when AC got home from school. She made me a cute little cup in art class. I'll put my jewelry in it while I cook.

Homemade gifts from your kids are the best!! I told her I wouldn't take a million dollars for it. My mother still has the plate I painted for her in kindergarten on display. And she still uses my sister's ceramic handprint as a spoon rest when she cooks. There are some things that you never get rid of. This is one of those things!

After church we had lunch with my parents. How special for me to spend Mother's Day with my children and my mom. Just perfect.

I thought of Melissa often today. I missed her immensely, but I had a peace that I haven't always had on Mother's Day. I felt her with us all day long, but I didn't feel that sadness that often invades my heart. Instead, I just felt so incredibly grateful for what God has given me.

A husband who loves me with all of his heart. Two daughters who fill my heart with more love than I ever thought possible. And another daughter who I KNOW I will see again one day.

I can't ask for more.

I am constantly reminded of God's love for our family. I am constantly reminded of how he never left us during the worst storm of our lives. I am constantly reminded of the miracle of Ann Catherine's life. I am constantly reminded of the rainbow he sent when he gave us Lily Baker. I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am to be the daughter of three amazing little girls.

But never more than on Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Our First Day Volunteering

The night the tornadoes roared across Alabama, we lost power not long after 5:30 p.m.

It will be on in a little while, I thought. Luckily we had a battery-operated clock radio which continued to feed us information. As the night went on, it didn't sound good. Apparently TVA had suffered some damage. Just before we went to bed we heard it could be 5-7 days before we had power.

5-7 days??!

When we awoke the next morning, that information was confirmed. The thought of living without power with two small children for 5-7 days seemed a daunting task so we decided to load up and head out of town.

Our first thought was to head to Tuscaloosa where my parents have a place. Remember, we hadn't watched television coverage since 5:30 p.m. the night before. We had no idea that Tuscaloosa was in shambles. Once we learned that horrible news, we decided to head to the beach - where our closest family lived.

As we drove south, we listened to the radio and heard the harrowing reports of how badly our state had been damaged. I looked at Chris and said, "I feel so guilty heading to the beach while so many people are hurting." He agreed, but felt there wasn't much we could do at that point with two little girls in tow.

Once we reached the beach, we turned on the television. We were astounded by the devastation in Tuscaloosa and the Birmingham area. Then Chris turned on our laptop and we saw the destruction that happened in our own county and in nearby Hackleburg and Phil Campbell.

We couldn't believe what we were seeing.

We enjoyed our time away - the girls got to play with their cousins which is the greatest thing ever in their books - but a heaviness hung over us. We mourned the lives lost, we cried over video we had seen and stories we had read, we hurt for those who had lost everything.

And I continued to feel guilty.

Friends of mine pitched in to help victims. As I read their stories and emails, I felt such admiration for them and knew that once I got home, I wanted to help.

We finally did today.

Chris and I went to a church in the Harvest area where they were handing out supplies to people in need. We got to pack up what they needed, then personally deliver it to their cars.

To say it was uplifting was an understatement. It was so touching to look these people in the eye, load supplies into their cars and give them encouraging words.

The very last person we helped seemed to be in a daze. She had a two-month-old child and as we loaded things into her car, her thoughts seemed to be somewhere else. I told her of the things we were giving her and she said little in return. She almost seemed numb.

As we loaded the last thing into her car, she grabbed me and hugged me and thanked me. It was a spontaneous outburst of emotion. We hugged her back and wished her the best.

As we pulled away, I said to Chris, "Did that last lady seem..."

"In shock?" he said, taking the words right out of my mouth. "Yes!" I said. "Amy," he answered, "we have no idea what she has been through. We don't know if she lost her home or not. And she has a two-month-old child to care for. She's probably scared to death."

I hope that somehow the kindness of strangers gave her hope. Not just from us, but the kindness of those who donated the supplies that would help her family. The kindness of those whose hands sorted those supplies long before she had received them. The kindness of those who had put in untold hours to help people like her.

Chris and I haven't even done a sliver of the work that most of you have this week. As we drove home I told him I knew we had only skimmed the surface during those hours this afternoon, but that brief work has given me a burning desire to do it again. I feel as if I have an actual hunger to go out and help the victims of this horrifying disaster. And I can't wait to find the many opportunities that lie ahead.

My hat is off to those of you who have spent countless hours volunteering this week. To those of you who left the comforts of your own home to help others. To those of you who worked on your off days instead of relaxing at home. For every tree you cut, limb you pulled, meal you cooked, item you sorted and hug you handed out, you have made a difference in the life of someone who is hurting.

You have shown the love of Christ in a mighty way. You may never know the impact you've had on the people you have helped.

You have proven that actions really do speak louder than words.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Tooth Fairy Came Back!!

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I blogged about Ann Catherine losing her first tooth? Haven't had that much excitement at the George household since Chris came foot first through Lily Baker's closet (but that's a post for another time)!

Last night, another tooth started wiggling.

I'll let you in on a little secret about myself. I have been pooped on, peed on, spit up on and thrown up on by my kids. And I am fine with that. Didn't miss a beat.

But, I CANNOT pull a tooth!

Can't do it. I don't know what it is, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Just the thought of yanking that tooth out gives me the willies.

Luckily, I married a hockey player.

He grabbed a kleenex and started pulling. AC began to cry and came running to find her lamby. I told her just to wait and let it come out on its own. But she wanted that sucker out so she went running back. This time Chris pulled and out it came!

When the tooth fairy took her first tooth, she was a little bummed. I had shown her a little container for her first tooth that someone gave her when she was a baby and she really wanted to put it in there. So Chris and I told her that the tooth fairy always brings back your first tooth, but you never know when it's going to happen.

It happened last night! She brought AC a card with her first tooth inside - and a dollar for losing her second tooth!

Does it get any better for a five-year-old??!

Now she's really a Snaggletooth with that big gap in the middle. And she could not be happier!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hackleburg is Gone

Hackleburg, Alabama is just a little dot on the map.

It's a tiny town (population 1,516) where everyone knows everyone. There was one Pharmacy, one grocery store, one manufacturing plant, one high school.

Now all of that is gone. Gone. As in, wiped off the map. The EF-5 tornado that slammed through the city last Wednesday with 200 miles per hour winds took care of that. So far 17 people have been confirmed dead and others are still missing. Rescue workers are still finding bodies there.

My dad grew up in this tiny little town. My precious grandparents helped start a church there that they attended until the day they died. They are both buried there.

My aunt and uncle and cousins still live there. The good news is they are all alive. The bad news is my aunt and uncle lost their home when a tree fell through it. Luckily they have insurance, but it can't be easy to start over in your seventies.

Please pray for the people of this small town. Not only have they lost their homes and loved ones, most of them have lost their jobs since everything there was destroyed. Please pray that they won't be forgotten!

My grandfather passed away in 2006. It would have broken his heart to see his town reduced to ruins. Please pray for those in this tiny town who are dealing with the aftermath of one of mother nature's deadliest blows.