Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Our Little Pumpkin is SIX

Can you believe that Jude is already SIX?!?!

Well he has been six for over 2 weeks now.

We decided to hold his party the weekend after his actual birthday in hopes of cooler weather.  Eventhough his birthday in on the 12th of October, his parties have always been pretty hot, and it always seems that cooler weather appears only a week later.  

This year was no different.  It was so warm the week leading up to his birthday- like summer was never going to leave.  Then I woke up one morning the week of Jude's party and autumn was HERE!  Oh GLORIOUS cool weather and beautiful brown leaves on the ground.  The weather was just perfect for the Fall Harvest party I was planning for Jude.  Only problem was I hadn't planned it.  


Well I had the date and time set aside, but I hadn't nailed down a single detail!  Seriously!  Well some of the family knew the date and time, but I hadn't sent out the first invitation or sent the first text to anyone.  SO UNLIKE ME!

So I had to throw a party together quick.  Lane was working nights until Thursday morning and then that day we had a field trip and parent teacher conference so there wasn't even time to do any planning, buying, decorating until FRIDAY.  The party was scheduled for 11am the next day.  Not only did I have to do everything THE DAY BEFORE THE PARTY, but I had to do it for CHEAP because I hadn't budgeted for it.

Well before you start to fret, the party was so successful and so cute that even I was surprised!  

I had at least thought arrange for some fall themed cupcakes from a sweet friend, Amy.  And since Amy's daughter was celebrating a birthday, I made some gifts and we kind of bartered services.  So the delicious cupcakes and oh so yummy treats didn't break the bank.  

The cupcakes were pumpkin and candy corn, and the treats were chocolate dipped pretzels coated in crumbled Butterfinger candy bar.  OH SO YUMMY!!

As for decorations, my sweet friend Beth bought some candy corn pom poms from Hobby Lobby for my booth at Southern Charm Marketplace.  So I went and snagged those and added a few more to it.  Actually all the party supplies came from Hobby Lobby.  All the Fall goodies were 40% off so I made sure to buy the paper plates, napkins, plastic table cloths from the Fall section instead of the party supplies section.  Once again, a money saver!!

To add to decorations, I filled jelly jars from my mother in law's home with Halloween Candy and placed them randomly around the tables.  I also used yellow, orange, and white punch balloons to hang around the porch for decorations.  They later turned into favors as each kiddo was leaving.  They were free also thanks to reward tickets won at a birthday party the week before.  

For activities we decorated miniture pumpkins that we bought from the local church pumpkin patch the MORNING OF THE PARTY.   I had the idea, but the night before we couldn't find any pumpkin face sticker while we were out gathering party goods.  So I went home and cut out a bunch of eyes, noses, mouths, even mustaches on black vinyl with my Silhouette.  

Jude loved decorating his pumpkin, as did the other kids.  

Then I set up an apple bobbing station.  I really didn't expect the littles to bob for apples, and they didnt... BUT the older children and adults did!  It was so funny watching different ones getting soaking wet going after an apple.  Cute hair and makeup were even sacrified to bob for apples.  

Even Lane's mom bobbed for an apple!!!

Then after cupcakes and hotdogs, we had a hay ride.  The hay was also free because Lane great uncle loaned it to him. 

After it was all over, I couldn't believe how cute everything was and how much fun everyone had!  It was the pefect day and it didn't break the bank!

But most important, it was Jude's special day.

I'm so thankful to be able to celebrate his 6th birthday.  There was a point in time when celebrating his 1st birthday didn't seem very likely.  And for so long I lived in fear of what the future brought Jude.  Five seemed to be that magic number in my head.  

"What if he's five and not walking?"  "What if he's five and not talking?"  "What if he still has the feeding tube when he's five?"

Well, five has come and gone, and despite that my worst fears from 6 years ago were confirmed, they are not my worst fears now.    My worst fears now is that Jude would be unhappy or feel unloved or not special.  And I am pretty sure that he is happy and I work hard to make sure he knows he is loved so so much and he is so special to everyone who meets him.  

I am no longer fearful of the future, but excited for it, expectant of it, and thankful for it!

"However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all."
                                                                     Ecclesiastes 11:8

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy October

Happy October, y'all!!

Fall is officially here!

Sure we started decorating for fall a month ago and the first official day of fall is September 22, but it never really feels like autumn to me until October.

October. When the pumpkins start arriving in the store. When you see a pumpkin spice latte in the hand of every friend. When there are fairs of all sorts. When the smell of cinnamon and brown sugar start filling your kitchen.

Isn't it funny how new seasons come? Just when you think you can't take the one before it a day longer.  It always seems to me that spring and fall always arrive at just the right time every year.

Reminds me of God's grace. It always arrives at just the right time; right when I need it the most.  Not before, not when we want it to, but right when we need it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Little BIG Deals

The past couple months have been pretty eventful around here.  Aubrey turned two and Jude started kindergarten.  I kept thinking that once Jude started back to school, we'd fall into this boring but welcomed daily routine...  Well our days have been far from boring and no week has been alike as far as time schedule so no steady routine either.  Our days have been full of therapy, doctors' appointments, bible study, dance class... you get the picture.  I guess the only routine to be found is that we routinely stay on the go.

Amongst the chaos, though, have been some fun things too.  Some little Big deals.  So here they are in chronological order.

First, our town approved our land subdivision request!!  YAY!! So our property lines are officially drawn and filed with the courts.  I'm guessing that it didn't change our street address, because I haven't heard anything different yet.  I really don't care if it does; I'm excited either way.

Right after that we met with a drafting firm to discuss house plans. I enjoyed the meeting, and really felt confident in the draftsman to draw plans to meet our needs.  We told him we'd get back with him soon to start the preliminaries, then... then doubt started creeping in.  The first concern was the size of the living room.  With our floorplan the furniture has to be floated off the wall to make a walkway.  So I had Lane mark off the dimensions of the proposed plan in our yard.  Then I set up lawn furniture to get an idea of the space- I wasn't thrilled with how small it felt.  The second issue is the driveway and placement of the house.  Our house will face North, and we have a driveway on the West.  However, our backdoor will be on the East.  So that means that we have to come in front of the house and around to the carport on the East side.  We don't really want to put the driveway in our front yard, but if we flip the plan that would put my kitchen and sunroom windows facing West and full of evening sun.  UGH!!! I can't seem to problem solve here.  Anybody have kitchen windows facing the West?  I do now and I hate doing anything in front of the sink on Summer evenings because of the glare.  Is a driveway in the front yard that big of a deal?  

How am I ever going to build a house when the details of picking the right house plan could make me just scream?! If any of my friends that are good at this sorta thing wanna come have coffee with me one day and help me, you know where to find me... Don't make me beg... PLEASE!

Moving right along...

During this time frame, Aubrey Lane potty trained.  We took away her diapers on a Friday and by Wednesday she had gotten it.  She has done great, until recently.  She has quit telling me she needs to potty when we are in the car and she always pees in her carseat.  It's driving me bonkers.  I hate to put her back in pullups, but I am going to end up washing the cow spots off her carseat.  She still wears pullups at night because she's still in the crib.  

The next little Big deal: My Judey Jude started riding the bus home from school a couple weeks ago.  I struggled with the decision as I thought I would always pick my kids up from school, but afternoons were driving me insane!  Aubrey Lane, who still takes a 2-3 hour nap a day, would refuse to go to sleep until 1/1:30. Then I would have to wake her up by 2:15 at the latest (I get next to nothing accomplished) so she could potty and go get Jude from school which is a 20+ minute drive without any traffic.  Once we get Jude around 3, I had to endure him screaming and crying all the way home because he has decided to hate his carseat.  On top of that, AL screams at him because she is annoyed with his screaming.  By the time we get home, I feel like a basket case, Jude is beyond upset, and AL has once again peed in her carseat.  

Now that Jude rides the bus home, AL gets her 2+ hour nap in, I can work on more orders or housework, Jude loves the ride home and is always in a good mood when I get him, and my sanity is no longer at stake.  

Next on our list of little Big deals is Lane's accomplishment.  After ten and a half months of training, crazy hard classes, lots of studying, stressing, and testing, praying and praying, Lane finished his initial training course for his job position.  And he finished with an A average.  Okay, I just gotta brag... these courses were tough; I knew my husband was smart, but I had no idea my country husband was THAT smart.  But he is!  And I'm so proud of him.  Now off to work he goes so we can build that house... if I ever find plans!

And my final little Big deal is a something that means the most to me.  Jude seems to be thriving lately!  First, with the insight of his WONDERFUL teacher, we realized that a lot of Jude's stress is simply because he's hungry.  This is great news!  Jude has never really shown signs of hunger; I was worried that sensation just didn't register with him.  

So you're probably wondering "why don't he eat if he's hungry?"  Well there are two answers to that.  The first one is that Jude hasn't completely connected the idea of eating by mouth to soothe hunger.  And since he is orally and visually defensive (answer number 2), when he's stressed from anything, in this case hunger,  the last thing he wants to see is a spoon headed towards his face.  He now gets a bolus feed through his G-tube at school around snack time so at lunch he's calmer and can focus more on eating by mouth.  And he's overall happier throughout the day.  His attitude and disposition has done a 180!

We are currently working with a pediatric gastroenterologist to rule out any medical reasons for Jude's oral aversion.  If there seems to be no medical reason for Jude's defensive behavior, then I'm going to chalk it up to plain old fear and HE WILL OVERCOME!

Not only has Jude's dispostion improved, but his development as well.  I'll be honest; there tends to be long stretches of time when I don't see any improvement with my own eyes.  It can be hard to keep the faith, but I'm reminded faith is not based on circumstance.  Anyway, from time to time my faith is rewarded when my eyes do catch a glimpse of all the incredible triumphs of this little boy with bright blue eyes and auburn hair.  One of those triumphs was tonight.

I was reading to the kiddos (Jude's absolute favorite thing), and after about the 4th book, I brought out the big guns for the finale.  I held up our very worn, but very beloved "Brown Bear" and Jude went nuts.  After reading it I put it down next to me and told and signed "the end" to Jude.  Well once is never enough for Jude, but instead of throwing his usual fit, he started reaching for the book.  I held my breath because I just knew the book was about to be thrown; however, it wasn't.  I watched carefully, and after a few good tries, Jude got both of his hands on the book, turned himself around, and handed me the book.

I wanted to cry.  

I could still cry thinking about it.

Jude has NEVER handed me anything.  This is a skill we've worked on in occupational therapy for years.  And he did it tonight so sweetly.  

This probably won't seem like a big deal to hardly anyone else, but it's a big deal to me,  and that's all that matters.

It's moments like these, these little Big deals that keep things in perspective and remind me how blessed I really am.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Called

Pull up a chair.  Grab a glass of sweet tea.  This could take a while.


Over the last month, I have really found myself in unhappy territory.  I felt overwhelmed by my circumstances in life; mainly the circumstance of having a child with special needs.  I have felt so much despair as I thought about how much further Jude should be right now.  Shouldn’t he be walking, talking, and eating?  Have I dropped the ball somewhere?  Was there some sort of special therapy he should have been in?  Have I pushed him hard enough?  Have I pushed him too hard? Have I quite believing in him?  Have I been unrealistic in my goals for him?


This kind of led to a depression.  In fact, I probably cried for the entire first week of school with grief over my own short comings as a mother.  What was really plaguing me was my shortcomings as a person.


This led to some deep thoughts deep!


Am I doing all the things I am being called by God to do? 


A couple years ago, I was faced with an issue over Jude’s needs in the church.  His developmental delays and lack of disability awareness was hindering his ability to participate in Sunday School and Children’s Church.  Time and time again, I would complain.  I wish they would do something. I wish they would start a disability ministry.  And talking openly about it, I was quick to say that disability ministry is not where I feel called; not what I what I feel passionately about but they could start a ministry…”


They.  They.  THEY!

Who is they????


Then the Lord showed me that I had been given His special child to love and raise.  I had been chosen to be that child’s advocate and protector.  I was to be the first person that showed Jesus to this child.  The Lord clearly asked me what other sign did I need than to be given a child with a disability?  That my first ministry is my family and now that included disability.  Like it or not.


You see, I didn’t choose to have a child with a disability.  I didn’t pray for hours on end to have a baby with special needs; on the contrary, I prayed for health.  I did not choose to be Jude’s mom.  I was CALLED to be Jude’s mom.

I didn’t want to be passionate about Disability Ministry.  If the honest truth is told, a lot of times the word disability makes me want to throw up! I get so tired of trying to tear that label off my family.

I now believe that being called into a ministry is not always this passionate, over joyous event.  Having neighbors in need with you having an ability to serve is being called.  Being a born again believer in a lost family is being called.  Sometimes, actually many times, the Lord places you in undesirable circumstances to serve His Kingdom.  Desirable or not, you are still being called. Being passionate about the Lord is what calls you to ministry. 


But here’s more truth- The Lord will give me the desires of my heart.  It’s a promise.  Written right there is in His Word.  Truth.  This doesn’t mean that the Lord will hand me everything my heart desires.  It means the desire for the Lord’s will to be done is placed within my heart.  I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed for a fleshly desire to be replaced if it not His will.


So I am called to Disability Ministry.  As to what scale, (to lead, to participate, to serve, to comfort) I don’t know.  But if my first ministry is to my family and my child is disabled, I don’t think the calling could be any clearer than God himself showing up on my doorstep to tell me so in person.


But I feel so unequipped and unqualified for any ministry- there is no way I can lead.  I can only serve.  But I’ve heard too often too recently that God doesn’t call the equipped.  He equips the called.


I am the Called. 


Last Sunday, our pastor gave an analogy using Kate Turabian as an example.  She set the standard for the writing style of college research and thesis papers with only a high school diploma. Her only credentials were that she was the secretary for the office of dissertations for the University of Chicago.  She had no formal training in the writing of dissertations, but she read them day in and day out for 30 years. 


I may not be a doctor, special education teacher, or therapist, but I have lived disability for 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the past 6 years. 


All this being said, I know I am being called to disability ministry somehow, but I don’t care where.  I am just going to follow the Lord and see where He takes me. 


I don’t think the buck stops here.  I don’t think that disability is my only ministry or will even be my biggest ministry.  I also feel like I am called to women’s ministry.  Why?  Well because I am a woman, obviously, but more importantly because I have a daughter and she needs me to teach her and show her how to be a Godly woman.  I am her first example.


And I know I am not the only one that has been ignoring a call. 


All born again Christians are called to a full time ministry!!!


We all have a responsibility to witness to, love, and serve God’s children. Each one of us need to be in prayer about our calling.  God is calling you somewhere, but you can’t hear the calling if you aren’t communicating with God.  I can’t hear someone tell me something if I’m not openly communicating with them. 


Don’t sit there reading and inspired and say I am not being called anywhere.  If there has been something or someone that you are thinking about a lot or causing you a disturbance in your spirit, good or bad, you are probably being called to minister to that situation or person.  And don’t feel like you have to sign up to preach, teach, go on mission trips in Africa, give all your finances to the homeless shelter If the Lord is calling you to do that, by all means trust Him.  But look around you.  I’m sure there are people in your life that need your love or situations in your community that could use your helping hand. 


Talk about the Lord and how good He is.  If you are not a good speaker, sing about His goodness. Or in my case, if you can’t speak or sing, write about His glory.  Do it now.


Don’t wait on them to do it.   It’s not comfortable.  In the flesh, this is uncomfortable for me to be so bold.  However eternity is more important than my insecurities! 


In the book of Judges (I just so happened to start a new study of Gideon this morning and my pastor just gave a sermon on this, yet this post is been in the process for over a week and my mother-in-law has been talking about it for over a month now- How cool is God’s timing?!), the works of the Lord were lost with just one generation because no one talked about God.  No one taught the children and neighbors about the works of their God.  It was all lost in Just. One. Generation!! Let’s learn from the past and learn from the Lord. 


It’s time to answer the call.  They aren’t going to do it.  There is no they. 


WE are the called!
Sunday, July 21, 2013

Aubrey Lane turns TWO!

It's amazing to me that I am posting about Aubrey Lane turning two when it seems like just yesterday that I shared with you my heartache for more babies.  Then a very short time later I got to share my exciting pregnancy news with you; and you all prayed fervently with me as we held our breath and waited for nine months to pass....

Then the baby arrived.

A daughter.

She was more beautiful, more healthy, more perfect than could ever be imagined.  The Lord answered our prayers above and beyond our desires and expectations.

It's hard to believe that the same little profile in that sonogram picture, the same little crying newborn in her daddy's arms on her way to meet me is already two.

But she is.

And she is two in every way.

She talks constantly. Her most popular phrase is "What's this?"  She loves to name her body parts and tell you what sounds all the animals make and name people she knows.  

She is possessive, so everything belongs to someone.  Everything is "Mommy's", "Daddy's",  "Ju-Jude's", or "mine's".   It drives me a little crazy but we are working on it.

She is very smart.  She knows her letters and can name them when she sees them written.  She loves to carry around her daddy's clock and count on it.  And it's impossible to list her current vocabulary because it's so vast.  However, I think that all Mommy's think that their kids are brilliant.

Her personality is sooooo girly.  She loves jewelry and shoes and dresses.  In fact, at her birthday party she received some earrings from her aunt and cousins and her response when she saw them was an exaggerated "Oh my goodness!"  

And just like any little girl should be, at least in public, Aubrey Lane is very polite and uses her manners.  She says thank you whenever given something and whenever she passes someone she says excuse me.  Little ladies get such a kick out of her when she does that in the store.  She also loves responsibility.  She is so eager to help with anything... Putting away clothes, picking up her toys, throwing things away, etc... 

I have to remind myself of all these sweet and wonderful things when she is in the middle of a temper tantrum.  She is in the throws of the wonderful "terrible twos", so we get a lot of crying, refusing to eat what we fix, refusing to wear the clothes we pick out... well, you get the picture.

But I love every stage of motherhood.  Even the ones where I have to leave the house in tears because we are super late for an appointment thanks to potty training and temper tantrums.

To celebrate Aubrey Lane's big day, we had a watermelon themed birthday party.  I ordered the most adorable pillowcase dress that looks like a watermelon slice. 

 My best friend came over a few nights before and helped me with some party decorations.  We made fabric scrap bunting and cut outcupcake wrappers and pinwheel templates for the cupcake toppers.  

I followed my sweet friend, Beth's, tutorial for making the cupcake toppers.  You can see it by clicking here.

We used the same bottles from her party last year that I decorated with baker's twine and paper straws, as well as the lemonade stand to hold the presents.  I also made a watermelon slice pennant banner from pink burlap, green and black acrylic paint, and jute twine.

After we sang happy birthday, everyone changed into their swimsuits and played in the backyard with a couple of kiddie water toys and snack on fresh watermelon.  All the kiddos lined up and let Lane slide them down the slip and slide.  It was a cute little sight to see.

Everyone had fun; Aubrey Lane felt special; it was a great day. Watching her grow this past year has been the thrill of a lifetime. I am sure her third year will be just as exciting.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Aubrey Lane!
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

American Beauties

I absolutely love holidays!

I love the symbolic and sentimental meaning behind each holiday.  I love an excuse for celebrating anything.  I love an excuse to hold a family and friend gathering.  I love an excuse for making pretty treats and sweets.  And I love an excuse to decorate.

So being that the 4th of July is a holiday in which we celebrate the freedom of our country, have parties for our family and friends in which good food is served and the house is decorated... I would say it's safe to say I love that holiday too.

I can just see the porch of our future house with an red, white, and blue bunting along the porch rails and friends gathered, eating good food, and watching our children play. 

Well this year, our Fourth was a little less festive.  Southern Charm Marketplace was opening for the first time on the fifth so I had some detailing to do that morning, but once I dropped my goodies off at Southern Charm, we went off to finish our Fourth with a tradition that has kind of formed over the past handful of years.

Since the year I was pregnant with Jude (6 years ago), we have spent some part of the day in Plaquemine with our best friends, Darren and Nickey. 

There is always a band, lots of food and craft booths, and tons of fun going on in the Locks in Plaquemine. 

I love to go and watch the Aubrey Lane and Hannah Grace (Darren and Nic's oldest daughter) dance around and act silly.  Then the evening ends with an incredible fireworks display.  I think that is Jude's favorite part.  He loves the music of the bands, but he is frozen with fascination at the fireworks. 

I love this little friend family that has grown past several years!  I know that with Lane's new job, there will be holidays that are missed due to shift work, but I'm looking forward to the day where there is patriotic bunting around the porch during the day and fireworks in Plaquemine that evening. 

Hope everyone had a great Fourth!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Refreshed and Blessed

Hi there!  Hope your summer is going well.  Mine?  It's fantastic!!

Seriously! No sarcasm at all in that previous statement. 

I took a break from orders and just did family life the past 6 weeks, and I got some REST!  We've played, we've been lazy, we've created, we've pretended, we've grown, and we've had a lot of fun. 

We ended the school year with lots and lots of fun things like school plays and school parties.

Jude was the Baker from The Three Men in the Tub.  And because of his need for assistance in walking, he was the last person to go up to take a bow and the had to go solo.  This Momma got super choked up when the audience cheered and clapped loudly for my redhead!  Never a dull moment with him.

We got most of the family to come out and eat crawfish, listen to good music, and support the Central Community and Schools during Cooking in Central.  In fact, Central sent a large part of their proceeds back with two dignitaries from Moore, Oklahoma.

Then we started with the fun. The children have been in their swimsuits about every day.

And Lane and I decided to give Atkins a try since we both had a little "baby" weight we wanted to shed.  It was successful!! So I've been in my swimsuit just about everyday too! (I don't want any grief about dieting- you have to be comfortable in the skin you're in!) The plan was much easier than I thought it would be, and besides helping us shed a little weight, it has thrown us into a super healthy eating lifestyle.  We were such fast food junkies before.  Now we eat so much better and feel better too!

We have played in the sprinkler, the pool... we've gone to the library, the movies, and the aquarium!

We have given potty training somewhat of a lackadaisical effort.  I say that because I haven't really been a drill sergeant about it for two reasons.  The first reason is that I'm not sure Aubrey Lane is ready, and secondly, I'm not sure that I'm ready.  Sorry if I get criticized, but I think she is growing up too fast and I don't think that she's going to start school in a diaper.

Speaking of school... the realization that school starts back in only a month just blows my mind.  School just got out for the summer!  I have really enjoyed having my Jude home.  He has been so happy and sweet.  He's also been doing some new fun things like pulling to standing position and standing up and doing toe touches... just that much closer to walking!!!

Also speaking of school, I have seriously considered homeschooling Aubrey Lane for preschool.  Well I'm about 99% sure I'm homeschooling her.  Never in my life had I ever felt driven to homeschool my children; however, homeschooling Aubrey Lane came in a tiny whisp of an idea one day.  Well as I talked about it, looked into it, and prayed about it, my enthusiasm for taking control of my daughter's education foundation has overwhelmed me!  I am still looking over some curriculums and haven't made a decision on which path to take, but I'm super excited to get started!

Other exciting things have been going on this summer.  One thing is the opening of Southern Charm Marketplace.  I now have a permanent retail space!  It's actually more like a retail display,  but I love it and it's just another little part of the dream coming true.  And since I took a break from orders, when I got back in the sewing room about a week ago, I felt so refreshed and inspired.  I'm truly feeling like me again. 

Well.. school is just around the corner, but there is still lots of summer left to enjoy.  Hope you are all having a great summer!