Monday, November 30, 2015

We are Thankful

Thanksgiving is a very special holiday here.  As our new pastor said on Sunday, Thanksgiving is probably the only holiday that cannot be over commercialized these days.  It is a holiday that places more emphasis on those around us than on ourselves.  It is a chance for families to get together and express gratitude for the really important things.  While I think it holds a lot of significance for Christians, I also think it is a holiday that everyone can and should appreciate.  Of course, as Christians we express our gratitude for all of our blessings to God who bestowed them to us.  This Thanksgiving, we enjoyed our traditional gathering with Eddie's large extended family, and we enjoyed just being together.  It is still so important to me to be able to give my children the gift of family, and I am thankful Eddie's family is still so close.  Watching all of the great-grandchildren grow over the past 8 years has also been so exciting.  I love watching our kids playing with their many cousins.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Psalms 107:1

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We are so very thankful for this little family of ours.  They are my heart! 

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And an extra special thanks for this little blessing!  

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Our family celebrating another Thanksgiving with Grandpa. 

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Great-Grandpa is happiest surrounded by many of his great-grandbabies. 

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Aunt Dava's family 

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Some of Aunt Homa's family

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Great-Grandpa with all of his children. 

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Uncle Matthew's whole large family

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Just enjoying a beautiful Thanksgiving day outside. 

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Aunt Homa with her daddy. 

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Cousins Hudson, Jason and Eddie enjoy catching up. 

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Sweet Mattox found his Mommy taking pictures. 

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Oh Brody!  He enjoyed terrorizing little Bella the dog while cousins Robert and Jacob watch his crazy antics. 

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Brody and Jacob had a lot of fun running around. 

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As did Evan and cousin Robert. 

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And little Grady was busy busy busy as usual. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cousin Grady is 3!

I can't believe it has been 3 years since this little Thanksgiving blessing joined our family.  He has faced (and overcome) some incredible odds and become quite the little firecracker.  He is so funny and fits in well with this crazy herd of boys.  He has developed an intense love of trains (much like big cousin Brody) so nothing but a train theme party would do.  The party kicked off with a some fun over at Discovery Place Kids.  Unfortunately, his cousins just couldn't get there in time much to their disappointment.  We met them afterwards at Pizza Inn for lunch and cake.  Then, we headed over to Grandpa's house to open presents and play outside on a reasonably nice Fall day.

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This kid loves trains, especially Thomas.  He was definitely more interested in getting the Thomas train off the cake than actually eating the cake, but he was a good sport to wait while we sang to him. 

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The Batman shirt was very appropriate for this kid.  He's a super hero!  I love the train balloons his mama found.  When I had Brody's 3rd birthday with a train theme, I looked everywhere for a train balloon than wasn't Thomas and couldn't find one.  Brody wasn't a Thomas fan (he preferred Disney's Chuggington) so I just wanted a general train theme.  These balloons would have been perfect.  In reverse, Naomi wanted Thomas balloons for Grady and could find any.  

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Little train hoarder.  He did not want to put down his choo choo's to open up the rest of his presents.  He was happy to get some Thomas movies though.  He and his little "girlfriend" were so cute walking with their arms linked together all around the restaurant.   They are sort of cousins as she is the granddaughter of our Papa James.  
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Little man Mattox enjoyed spending time with Daddy and Great-Grandpa.  I think Great-Grandpa held him for an hour.  It was so sweet!  Brody was probably the only kid eating his cupcake.  He actually didn't want all the icing though. 
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Grady got a whole tool set and an awesome toolbox to put them in that was hand painted by his mommy.  She even stenciled his name on it.  Of course, as she noted, it will probably be used for his trains instead of the tools.  

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Big cousin Grady loves his baby cousin.  He gave him sweet hugs and shared his toys with him. 
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While the kids were playing outside, I decided to use the opportunity to get some Fall leaves pictures. 
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Baby's 1st Fall!
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Great-Grandpa's yard with some big hardwood trees and an old split rail fence just made a perfect spot for picture taking. 

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These cousins are awesome! 

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And big big cousin Evan too. 

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Happy Fall from Evan, Brody, Mattox & Grady! 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ordinary or Outstanding October

I guess October could be classified as both ordinary and outstanding.  We had some outstanding events like our fun little trip to the beach at the beginning of the month and our fun little Halloween festivities, but most of the month was pretty ordinary and mundane, i.e., school, work, taking care of kids all day.  That's just real life, and I guess that is what it is all about around here.

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My Fall/Halloween decor was pretty minimal with just some window clings, a banner, and some little wooden signs from Target, and a silver pumpkin from Home Goods.  I actually decorated a little outside for the kids, but I took 0 pictures of it.  I always meant to, but the weather was always so wet and the yard so muddy that I never did it.  Sigh.  I hung a little pillow case ghost from a tree, put some spider webs on the bushes, hung some spiders from the outside lights, and had a paper mummy hanging on the front door.  It was cute but nothing extraordinary like some of our neighbors' decorations. 

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At the beginning of the month, Evan went back to school after his first quarter break.  To surprise him on the first day, Brody and I baked some homemade cookies.  Nothing says love like homemade chocolate chip cookies and heart and dinosaur sugar cookies. 

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Brody made the fantastic accomplishment of wearing his clothes completely backwards one day.  Both of his pants and shirt were on backwards.  In the second picture, it almost looks like he turned his head around backwards.  Freaky! Haha! 

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The weather at the beach was surprisingly lovely after a huge storm had left most of the state in devastating and disastrous flooding. 

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The boys and I enjoyed playing on the beach, eating "fancy" dinners in the hotel ballroom with Daddy, and eating at the Hard Rock pyramid.  

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We lit our candles for Mattie on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. 
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Brody was very excited one rainy Saturday when we found this free playhouse sitting out by the road to be hauled off to the dump.  We thought Santa might be bringing him a playhouse for Christmas, but now he may just bring him an indoor one and maybe some house accessories.  The house needs a little TLC when the weather cooperates, but he loves it. 

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We always have fun on our shopping expeditions to Target.  We saw an abominable snow monster, Chewbacca, Darth and a little storm trooper.  The boys practiced balancing on the big red balls. 

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Brody and I learned the letter N is for night.  

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Brody accompanied me to my doctor appointment and had some fun with the kid camera app on my phone.  I had a promising visit with a new nurse practitioner to check my thyroid levels and discuss my current symptoms, mostly just tiredness.  My energy levels still aren't up where they need to be, but I just figured that was the life of a mom of three boys.  The NP has dealt with hypothyroidism personally so she understands the symptoms and treatment options better than most.  Even when thyroid levels appear normal and stable, there can be unresolved symptoms.  She wanted to test to see if my condition is indeed Hashimoto's thyroiditis, the autoimmune cause of hypothyroid where your body's immune system creates antibodies that attack the thyroid gland in the neck.  Blood work confirmed I have high thyroid antibodies so I do have Hashimoto's.  She wants me to see an endocrinologist and to have an ultrasound to see if the gland is enlarged.  I am not sure what options I have to help my body stop making the thyroid antibodies.  I am sure that my immune system's constant attack of my thyroid is a major cause of my lack of energy.  Sigh.  

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Evan and Brody have really been playing together more, and Brody is really maturing these days.  He and Evan put their United States puzzle together.  Of course, Brody is whining and complaining the whole time with comments like "you mess it up" and "where does it go" and "I want to put it together by myself."  Haha!  Evan had some spelling work to do and wanted to practice writing his words in his yogurt (I didn't have whipped cream).  We also ate at Red Robin for the very first time this month.  We have always had one right down the road and have never been.  The kids wanted a picture with the Statue of Liberty holding the cheeseburger. 

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On one of our few not rainy days, the boys enjoyed playing at the park. 

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I discovered my inner kid on the tire swing. 

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We learned that the letter O is for Octopus...and Opera singer and Orq the cave boy.  I cannot express my love of the Orq books enough.  In this one, Orq and his mammoth pet learn to combat bullying and discover fire! 

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Mattox enjoys having his daddy at home.  Okay, we all do! 

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Brody and I also did our P is for pumpkin craft.  

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I have to get the word out there about this great book.  Eddie discovered it and ordered a bunch to give out to teachers for their classrooms.  The author, Chuck Leavell, is a former member of the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers bands and is also a big tree farmer in Georgia.  He is a big supporter of sustainable forestry, and his children's book really teaches the value of caring for the land and using and replacing trees.  Tree farming can be a very viable business and very important for having sustainable, healthy forests in our future.  He teaches about all the wonderful products we get from trees and wood and how important it is to plant new trees to replace the ones we cut down.  

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Brody, Mattox and I met Daddy for lunch at a chinese restaurant I hadn't eaten at since college.  We have been looking for a good Chinese restaurant (besides the chain places like Pei Wei and Panda Express), and I remembered this place that my family used to eat at when my brother lived in Raleigh in college.  It is still there although it has changed names from Neo-China to Neo-Asia and now serves sushi and other Asian food.  The boys and I also stopped by my old college campus, Meredith College, to see it in the Fall.  The main administration building is undergoing a big renovation as the school celebrates 125 years of educating women.  I have sadly read of so many all women's schools closing their doors or converting to co-ed in recent years, but Meredith is as strong as ever.  It really is a great school with some awesome history and traditions like Cornhuskin', the faculty's performances of Alice in Wonderland, Big Sister-Little Sister, Spring Formal and White Iris Ball, and of course, our very special onyx class rings.  I haven't worn mine since I was pregnant with Brody, but I still own it and love it.   

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I have really been trying to read more.  I still love Kristin Hannah's books.  I really want to read her current bestseller, The Nightingale, but it is very expensive to purchase and hard to get at the library right now.  Until then, I am enjoying her other books.  On Mystic Lake and Night Road were both books that hit some major issues with me on grieving the loss of a child .  The woman in On Mystic Lake had suffered through issues with infertility and losing a baby born very premature and then years later after her husband left her for another woman, she discovered she was pregnant with her "rainbow" baby.  Although she tried to put her marriage back together, her husband couldn't do it, but she found love again in her old hometown with her old high school friend.  Night Road showed the battles of a protective mother after she lost one of her children to teenage drunk driving and then almost lost her other child by pushing him away in her grief and anger.  Kristin Hannah definitely has a way of touching her readers with stories of human emotion.  The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days was just a fun little read I picked up because I figured I needed a laugh after the more intense emotional reads.  Plus, it did remind me a little of myself.  Haha!  I haven't actually read all of it because the cursing and ridiculousness does get a little old after a while. 

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My littlest sweetie was a good sport when I put pantyhose on his head to make his Halloween costume.  He loves loves loves his dog.  He also loves to eat, and I just love the picture with the empty bowl where it looks like he is begging for more.  

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Of course, we celebrated Halloween by dressing as Harry Potter characters and pirates.  Overall, it was a fun ending to a fun month. 

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