Sunday, February 28, 2010

Video: Evan is reading!

Video: This one I had to share! Our little man is growing up so fast, and we think that he will soon be reading all by himself! Here he is reciting his favorite book from memory, and we think it is pretty amazing for a not quite 3 year old!

Daddy's Dream Comes True



He got his hunter!

Hosanna!

Video: They performed this song again at church, and everytime they do, I just feel something deep down inside. The part of this song that says "Break my heart for what breaks yours" is usually the line that brings the tears. If you have never heard this song, I hope that you will listen. God is so good!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Reflections

As we are approaching the big 3 year mark of Evan's young life, we want to pause for a moment to reflect on the young man our baby is becoming. We strive every day to show him how precious he is to us and how much love we feel for him. It seems impossible that he will ever fully comprehend the depths of our love! And how much more his Saviour loves him! When we dedicated him to the Lord just a few weeks after his first birthday, we prayed that we would have the wisdom necessary to train our child to follow the path of righteousness. We have strived every day to teach Evan to be a caring and compassionate person for all people. We are so proud that he doesn't seem to yet recognize "differences" in people, i.e., skin color, gender, age. Of course, he already seems to think girls are pretty and loves to play with his little male friends at school, but I think that is just normal human perception. He really is so loving to everyone, and people that know him well do seem to notice. His teachers at school all brag about how smart he is and how quickly he shares with his friends.



Some things about Evan at almost 3:



1. He is a true football fan. At any particular time, he can appreciate almost any sport (baseball, golf, basketball, soccer), but football is obviously his first choice. When asked what sport he likes best, he will always reply "football" without a moment of pause. He is still a diehard Carolina Panthers fan and doesn't care whether they win or lose...he just loves the game!


2. Right now, he is not afraid of anything. I mean it, he doesn't have even one phobia. He doesn't have nightmares, and he can watch anything on TV without getting scared. He and his Daddy love to watch the movie "Ghost Rider" where Nicholas Cage's character morphs into a demon motorcycle-riding superhero with flames coming out of his head. Evan says, "That's cool, Daddy!" He occasionally tells Daddy in the morning that he dreamed about Ghost Rider, dinosaurs, or some other seemingly nightmarish theme, but he always says it like he is proclaiming the most joyful news. Just this weekend, his Daddy found a History Channel dinosaur special where computer created "real" dinosaurs were eating each other, etc. Pretty bloody stuff. He loved it and was mad when it went off! He understands what dinosaurs eat and loves "meat eaters" the best! Yikes!


3. He still loves to cuddle. Thank goodness for this! What would Mommy do if her little man didn't want to cuddle with her? He gives the biggest hugs and squeezes! We cuddle every chance we get!


4. He loves to laugh. Sometimes he will just start laughing and guffawing to make us laugh with him. When he gets in these moods, he will not stop for anything! He loves to be silly and will repeat silly phrases over and over to keep laughing...especially phrases he hears from "Wow Wow Wubbzy," a favorite cartoon of his! One phrase that he used to repeat and laugh at himself for saying was "That looks kind of like Whoopi Goldberg." He had heard his Daddy say this about some person who had the Whoopi hair going on, and he must have thought her name sounded funny because he kept saying it over and over again and laughing! So don't be offended if Evan ever tells you that you "look kind of like Whoopi Goldberg." (Not that we think Whoopi is unattractive either! Daddy's comment was not said in a derogatory way at all!) Anyway, Evan is just always trying to be funny! This kind of thing happens a lot because our boy is so SILLY! He also loves to be tickled into laughing! His daddy loves the sound of his laughter so much that he recorded it as his ring tone on his cell phone. We definitely get some looks when his phone rings! :o)


5. He has an awesome imagination. We love to hear him playing with his dinosaurs and giving them voices and personalities when he doesn't think we are listening! He also loves to pretend he is a cowboy, football player, dinosaur, or some other interesting character.


6. He loves music. He is an aspiring drummer, but he has a great voice too. He loves to play the drums to the dinosaur song while Mommy sings it and acts out the motions! He is also quite an aspiring dancer as you may have already seen on here!


7. Whenever he finds an interest, he takes it very seriously. As you have also probably noted if you read much of this blog, he is addicted to dinosaurs, football, cowboys, the Panthers, etc.


8. He loves his family. He loves his Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Nana, Papa, Uncle Paul, Aunt Jessica, cousins Emma, Lanny, and Reade, Aunt Naomi, and a host of other extended family members! He is so verbal with his affections these days and will tell us often that he loves us. He tells and shows Mommy that he loves her by giving her every heart he sees and telling her "You are my heart, Mommy." I know, so sweet! He loves to play with his Daddy and just idolizes him so much! He is the biggest fan of Grandma and ask to go see her ALL THE TIME! He sends his Nana and Papa sweet kisses over the phone. He loves to play with his Aunt Naomi and Uncle Paul, and he apparently loves to eat Aunt Jessica's cooking (she always spoils him by making his favorite foods). He loves loves loves to play with Emma and Lanny! Just yesterday, he and Lanny were wrestling on the floor in Carrabba's after our traditional Sunday lunch. Ha! He gives Reade some very special baby love too! Evan is also extremely devoted to his great-grandparents. He is so excited to be going to California to meet his Great-Grandma!

9. He is so proud of being a big boy. He loves wearing big boy underwear now, and just this weekend started wearing them to bed. He takes very good care of his underwear and hasn't had an "accident" in a long time. He still has a little trouble on occasion with number 2 and not quite getting to the potty in time, but he never wets his pants anymore! We are amazed at how easy potty training was once he was ready. Pretty much he started wearing big boy underwear the first of January and has been accident free almost ever since. Last week he actually complained about wearing pull-ups to bed so his daddy let us "run out" of pull-ups this weekend and put his big boy underwear on him at bedtime. No wet bed yet! I guess we won't be buying diapers anymore until the next kid! :o)

10. He is very excited about his 3rd birthday and dinosaur birthday party and has already verbally invited all of his friends and family! I think he says this to his favorite new school friend at least once a day: "Hey, Jackson, do you want to go to my dinosaur birthday party?" So cute!

11. He wants to be a DUMP TRUCK when he grows up! Yes, you read that correctly...not even a dump truck DRIVER! Just a DUMP TRUCK! Ha! Just the other night, we were taking my niece and nephews and him to get dinner, and they were all saying what they wanted to be when they grow up. Emma wants to be a teacher...sweet. Lanny wants to be a fireman...noble and brave. Reade just wants to play with his feet...understandable for a 14 month old. But Evan announced he wanted to be a dump truck. Ummm...what does this say about our son? And a SUPER BIG DUMP TRUCK at that! I think my son is just full of TESTOSTERONE!


Mommy and Daddy are so excited about all the changes Evan has made this past year and can't wait to see what he can do in another year. Reading, writing, and arithmetic perhaps?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our Snowy Valentine's!

On Friday, Evan had a special Valentine's party at his school. Mommy, of course, prepared his class Valentine's to hand out. She was a little disappointed that she didn't have time to do more than store bought Valentine's with suckers, but Evan had fun picking them out. He really wanted dinosaur Valentine's, but those could not be located so he settled for sports themed.


Here are a few pictures from his school fun:

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Evan and his friends are ready for their treats!


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Evan gets a pink cupcake!


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Evan's favorite new friend, Jackson, is on his right.


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The sweetest Valentine!


So Valentine's weekend started out with something very special...SNOW! As you can tell, we love snow. Of course, it helps that we don't get a ton of snow, and our snow storms are usually few and far between. This snow was 100% better than the last because it was so soft and fluffy! Perfect for snowman building and snow cream making! And if you Yanks or Westerners are not familiar with snow cream, you definitely don't know what you are missing! Yum-Yum! Google it!

Here are some pictures from our fun Valentine's adventures:

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Starting to snow on Friday evening! It started to snow about 5:00 p.m., and by the time we went to dinner, it was already covering the ground and roads.


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By the time we got home, our pot was full of snow so we made some snow cream!


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Evan's first snow cream. So cold but so delicious!


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Checking out the snow the next day.


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"Cheeeeeeeese! The sun's in my eyes!"


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He loved the soft snow!


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A family shot


A Snowman's Tale

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The beginning


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Evan got scared off by a small blizzard that blew snow into his face!

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Evan helped Mommy dress his snowman like a cowboy. We didn't have any carrots so we borrowed Mr. Potatohead's nose and eyes.


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Evan holds up the snowman with his shotgun and then runs him out of town!

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I love this picture! My baby looks so grown up! (*sniff*)

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Our family snowman!

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So cute helping to keep Mr. Snowman's nose on!

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Evan with Mr. Snowman after he had taken a beatin' from the rising temperatures and the high winds that kept blowing his head off! :o)

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Yeah, he was a little sad!

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On Sunday, Mommy made Evan this Panther's football player snowman on our back deck where there was still plenty of snow!

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Daddy and Evan check out Mommy's masterpiece. Evan actually wasn't too thrilled with sharing his helmet!

A SNOWY VALENTINE'S

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I used one of my roses as a way to memorialize our snowy Valentine's!

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Me with my beautiful bouquet of yellow roses my sweetie brought me at work! Thank goodness he just went to Harris Teeter for these and didn't spend a small fortune for flowers 'cause I seriously would have hated that!!!

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Mommy's little Valentine!

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We did our Valentine's ritual with Evan earlier in the week because he couldn't wait. He was at the store with me when we bought all our Valentine stuff! ;o)

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Sweet kisses for Mommy!

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Reading his sweet card from Mommy...

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and Daddy!

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Lots of love for Daddy!

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Now this is what he was waiting for!

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A Nerf gun!

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Evan got lots of Valentine goodies from Aunt 'Omi and Grandma who came to stay with him while Mommy and Daddy went on their date!

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Mommy and Daddy are ready to go out!

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But first, a little romance and PDA!

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On Sunday night, we watched my niece and nephews while Uncle Paul and Aunt Jessica went out. We had to make them pose for a picture before they left!

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Gotta love some PDA!

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I love feeding this little guy! This, of course, is my youngest nephew, Reade, and he is such a great eater. He ate two whole jars of his organic baby food and then ate a piece of pizza crust too.


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Aunt Sherry taught him to use a spoon and feed himself!


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Apparently, Aunt Jessica thought the same way I did about Valentine's gifts, but she bought bubble guns for them instead of Nerf guns!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Cardboard Testimony

My childhood friend, Tara, who I admire so deeply for her faith through immense challenges, just posted a blog entry that just blew me away! I love her dearly! Please check out her blog to learn more about her struggles and her strength in the face of unimaginable adversity. You will be touched, I know!

Last night, I read her blog about her cardboard testimony and watched videos from church services where they did a cardboard testimony service. It was so amazing! I was in tears lying in my bed at almost midnight while my husband was sound asleep beside me. I know I have so much to be thankful for when I read about what other people have gone through. However, I felt that I should share my personal testimony as well because it might touch someone's heart in a special way and maybe even help them find the ANSWER they need...and there is only ONE! He is the answer to all of our problems, no matter how big or small! He suffered and died so that we don't have to!

My testimony:
At an early age, I was faced with what some would call hardship but what I deem as a necessary and important step on the road to my own personal discovery. My brother and I were born to a single mother who struggled with raising her two illegitimate children while suffering from severe depression and mental illnesses. I can remember being left on many occasions in the sole care of my older brother who was no more than 9 or 10 years old at the time, and my brother can remember feeling afraid at times because we did not live in a very safe neighborhood, and the door to our house did not even have a proper lock on it due to numerous break-ins. My biological mother loved us and cared for us to the best of her ability, but the local Department of Social Services soon discovered that her ability was severely encumbered by her mental condition. With all of these hardships, I still have fond memories from this period in my young life, including receiving beloved Christmas presents, learning to ride a bike, learning to read and developing what has become a lifelong love of books, and developing a profound adoration of my older brother.

After numerous attempts to help my biological mother care for her children, my brother and I were placed in a local children’s home. We were very fortunate that a Christian children’s home was located very close to our biological mother so that we could visit her on occasion. I was 6 years old when I went to live at the Church of God Home for Children, and my brother, Paul, was 12. We experienced many happy occasions while living in the Home for Children and made many lifelong friendships.

After we had lived in the Home for less than a year, a Christian couple came to the Home to work and became my “house parents.” The gentleman was a minister, and he and his wife had no children of their own. With their arrival, they brought a feeling of hope to our “house” and made it feel more like a home. The woman even took pains to redecorate the house and make it more beautiful. She always went the extra mile to give love and attention to all the children under her care, children of all ages, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. Her “children” soon learned to love her in return. After being at the home for about a year, my house parents realized that they had developed a special attachment to me, a very shy little girl. I was so shy that I did not reach out immediately to new people, but my desire to love and be loved by people who were mentally capable of loving soon led me to reach out to the only real “parents” I had ever known. When my house parents realized that they may need to offer a more stable home environment to me, they took extra care to get to know my brother who had to live in another house because he was a boy. They offered to let him live in their apartment that adjoined the house. My brother had already made it clear that he would not allow his sister to be separated from him through adoption. He developed a strong attachment to my house parents, especially to the “house father” because he had never had a real male role-model.

When I was almost 9 and my brother was almost 15, my house parents became my “real” parents and took my brother and I to live with them. It was definitely a learning experience for all, since my brother and I had never had a normal parent-child relationship, and my parents were dealing with being new parents and parents of a teenager all at the same time. They continued to struggle to bring their shy little girl out of her shell because they had learned that she may have inherited her biological mother’s depression-related mental illness, and her psychologist had advised them that she needed to learn to communicate her feelings. With love and patience, they slowly drew me out, and after a year of living together, I was able to verbally call them “mom” and “dad”.

My brother was stronger than I and was very grateful for being brought out of a situation and a community that would have undoubtedly led him into dangerous situations as he grew up. He graduated from high school, successfully graduated from college with honors, graduated from law school at the University of North Carolina, became a very successful lawyer at a very young age, and has become a loving husband and father of three beautiful children.

My struggles were probably more inherent because of my inherited mental state, but I am an example of what a loving familial relationship centered around Christ can produce and overcome. I remained a shy adolescent, but I worked very hard in school and graduated from high school with a 4.0 average after taking the highest academic classes offered. Although I had to change schools in the middle of my high school years because of my father’s decision to re-enter the ministry, I managed to make a few close friendships that have remained true to this day. In college, I was still very shy, but at a small women’s college, I was able to develop respectable relationships with my professors and to participate in active classroom discussions. From the time I graduated from high school, I held several part-time jobs to keep my parents from having to provide all of my financial resources because I knew that my father’s desire to re-enter the ministry had significantly decreased his income. Working provided me with a profound desire to become a successful, independent woman. During my junior year of college, I applied and was offered an opportunity to work in a small plaintiff’s workers’ compensation law firm. The job I was hired to perform was supposed to involve minimal clerical and receptionist duties, but my desire to learn more soon led me to take on more responsibilities so that during the summer, I was able to take over the job duties of the office’s paralegal, the only legal support staff for the two attorneys, while she was on maternity leave. I utilized this professional opportunity to gain a lot of knowledge about the legal field and the North Carolina workers’ compensation system. My heart was often touched by injured workers who could no longer work or provide for their families.

While in college, I met a young man who was attending North Carolina State University and studying forestry. I was drawn to his incredible strength of character and integrity and soon learned that his background was not completely free of hardships either. His parents had struggled financially his whole life while working very hard in local textile mills. When he was a teenager, his father decided to leave his mother and had nothing more to do with either himself or his sister. Although many impressionable young men would have allowed this treatment by their most important role-model to sour their disposition, I discovered that this young man had remained a caring and compassionate creature who respected his mother more than any young man I have ever known. I also discovered that he had been profoundly influenced by his grandmother who had earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education later in life and held education in very high esteem. She had died from cancer a few years before I knew him, but he went on to make her proud by graduating from college and beginning a successful career in his field of study. Our friendship and relationship grew for over three years so that when I graduated from college, we became husband and wife in a beautiful ceremony performed by my father that paid tribute to all of the people who had inspired our lives.

As all newlyweds soon discover, independence is not always easy, especially for two people who enter it with very little financial resources and a significant amount of debt due to educational expenses. With a lot of love and more than a few disagreements, we stuck together and have now been married for almost seven years. Three years ago, we celebrated the arrival of our beautiful baby boy who has already proved to possess a fiery disposition to match his lively red hair. After living a significant distance from both of our families for almost four years, we decided to take an opportunity of relocating to Charlotte, North Carolina. This move felt like coming home for me. After almost 20 years, I had moved back to the area of my birth. My brother and his family had moved to Charlotte a couple of years before, and my husband’s family was also in the vicinity so when my husband had the opportunity to relocate for his job, we did not hesitate to make the move even though it involved moving with a new baby and attempting to sell our first home that we had purchased just two years earlier.

The last few years of our lives have been both difficult and wonderful. It has allowed me to give my son a chance to have a close relationship with his extended family and to grow up with his biological cousins, both advantages which I never had. Now, I have been blessed with a wonderful job working in the legal practice area that first opened my mind and touched my heart with a desire to help others. I also have the opportunity of pursuing my life-long dream of becoming an attorney and possibly doing more to help the clients that already touch my heart.

My Cardboard Testimony would read:

Front: Born to a single mother who battled with serious mental, emotional and depression-related illnesses and who verbalized her suicidal thoughts in front of her young children. Wondered if I would inherit her condition and what kind of mother I could hope to be as a result.


Back: Saved through GRACE and now the proud Mommy to a beautiful and amazing little boy!



Monday, February 1, 2010

Video: Evan the Basketball Player

Video: Evan plays basketball! Look out Tarheels! Yeah, right! Daddy would never go for that! He still loves football the best, but he is really good at all types of ball.



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