Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year...Happy New Decade!

So, 2009 is winding down....and as I write, there are only 3 more hours left. Everyone is talking about the New Year, but are people forgetting that there is a new decade on the horizon as well?!?!

I know a lot of people like to look back on the year that is ending, but I think I will recap my decade.

2000: As everyone was worrying about Y2K, I was living life as a college student. As long as email worked and I could write my next term paper, I was good. I didn't do a stockpile of food and water. I just wanted to finish school. I have a very distinct memory of New Year 2000. Buddy, his brother-in-law Brian, and I ran up and down the street in front of his parents' house with sparklers screaming Happy New Year at the top of our lungs! Brian even got a battle scar, as the sparklers burnt his scalp.

2001: I had two major moments this year. I got engaged in March that year. I also, like everyone else in the world, lived to witness the 9-11 attacks on our country.

2002: This was a hard year, as far as school goes. I had my toughest round of classes that spring, and in the fall I had my semester of student teaching. But I worked really hard and that December I became a Clemson Graduate....magna cum laude, thank you very much!

2003: Buddy graduated Clemson. We got married in June that year. I got my first real job teaching that fall.

2004: This year was a pivotal moment in my life. This was the year we made our big move. I left a town I had lived my whole life (where all my family and friends were) and moved to a town where I knew only 2 other people...Buddy's college roommate and his wife. This was a tough year, since he had to start his job here in April, and I didn't move up until the summer, so I could finish my first year of teaching. I had quite an adjustment and it was very hard on me for many months. ***I do like living here now*** Buddy joined the fire department this year.

2005: We bought our first home this year. It was so much fun taking an empty house and making it a home. And our house has a Bible verse. If you know me in real life, ask me and I'll tell you the verse.

2006: I joined the fire department and took classes to become a NC EMT.

2007: This year started out tough but ended up great. We decided to try and start a family, and in January of this year, we became pregnant. Unfortunately the Lord saw fit to bring this child to be with Him in Heaven in March, at only 9 weeks gestation. However, the Lord was gracious to us, and later on, we became pregnant again. This time, it ended in a happier way!

2008: This was the year I became a Mommy (1-9-08)!! This year started out very sleep deprived, but life was so grand. Seeing my son smile, roll over, crawl, pull up, and begin to walk were just some of the many highlights!

2009: This year was just more of the same joy of last year, with running and jumping and climbing taking the place of crawling. We had some tough times and scares with Buddy's job, but again the Lord was gracious to us. And if you want to know all the details of 2009, just check out the archives!

So there you have it. My decade in a nutshell. When you look back on 2009, don't just consider the past 365 days. You really have 10 years to look back on. I think back to all the good times, when the Lord and I walked side by side. I think back to all the rough times, when He carried me through them. I am so looking forward to being side by side with my Saviour in the next decade of life, knowing He will continue to scoop me up and carry me through the hard times when they show up.

I'll do a post later on about our Christmas...some really cute pictures to share. But for now, I will say goodbye to 2009....Hello 2010!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Photo Session

I wanted to have our family pictures made for Christmas like we did last year. When I called two weeks ago to get our appointment the only thing they had that fit our schedule was this past Sunday. So I've been using last year's picture as my blog's main picture until now. I just could not get over how stressed I was taking the pictures this year. I guess with Quinn being almost 2 years old made a big difference. Last year, we just plopped him down and that was it. He did great for the pictures by himself, but in all the pictures of the three of us, you can tell he's trying to squirm away.

I cannot believe how much Quinn has grown this year! He doesn't look like a baby anymore. :-(

I know he's got to grow up and be a big boy but does it have to happen so fast?? Take a look at these next two pictures. The first one is Christmas 2008.
Here is Christmas 2009.....see what I mean. He's so big!

Ok, this next picture has a story behind it. I remember from last year, at the photo place, they tried to get Quinn to lay on the floor and look at a book. That was the one thing he wouldn't do, so this year, I hoped he would do it....and I had the perfect book for him to look at.

When I was a little girl, my Grandma used to read a book to me and my cousins called "Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree." A basic plot summary of this book is this: A rich man, Mr. Willowby, gets his Christmas tree delivered, but the tree is too tall. His butler cuts off the top and gives the top to the maid. She uses the tree top but it is still too tall. She cuts off the top, and throws it out. It is then found by the gardener, then other animals. Each time another character gets the top, it it always too tall for their little space, until only the tiniest part of the tree top is left. It is found by a little mouse, who's mouse home is inside Mr. Willowby's home.

My grandmother's copy of this book was printed in 1963 and she let me have the book this year to read to Quinn. And it's in black and white, except for the tree, which is green. So I thought how cool would it be to have Quinn's great-grandmother's book in the picture with him. I still can't believe how sweetly he laid down on the floor to look at this book.

The only thing I do not like about our family picture is that it is on black background. That just doesn't say Merry Christmas to me. But we are all smiling and Quinn is cooperating, so here you go!

These next two I just thought were precious. They had a fake plate of "milk" and "cookies" and a fake "Santa" arm. It was actually just a sleeve and a glove and the photographer's assistant put the sleeve and glove on. Then they crop off the edge so you can't see the assistant.

We had a few more pictures made this day, but these will have to wait. They are Quinn's 2nd birthday pictures...which happens in only 18 days!! Slow down Quinn. Mama's not ready for this!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's Been "SNOW" Fun!

I can hardly believe all the snow we've gotten this weekend. When the weatherman said it would start at noon, I figured it would be more like 3pm. So I was extra happy when I got the phone call from the school system saying school would let out two hours early yesterday. That meant Christmas Break would start sooner.

Much to my surprise, after lunch, it started snowing and we were still at school. I glanced at the clock, and it was about five minutes after 12! I could see the excitement building inside all my students, but especially my two from Burma, who have never before seen snow, given that they grew up in a tropical country. So all 25 of us bundled up and spent the last 15 minutes of school playing in the snow!

It snowed most of the afternoon, with just enough let-up to allow me to get home safely. Thank you Lord! Then it snowed pretty much all night long. I measured in 3 different places to see how much snow we got and got the same measurement in all the spots.....5 and a half inches!

So Quinn and I spent some time this morning playing in the snow. Buddy was at the fire station yesterday and this morning. Here are a few pictures of our wonderful, almost Christmas, snow!

This is our house.

Here we are in the front yard.

Quinn could walk on the snow without falling through, but my steps crunched down. Quinn was walking along and fell into some of my footsteps.

You can see some of my footprints behind him, which shows how deep the snow is. Five and a half inches is a lot for North Carolina!

And here is on of Quinn's cute little snow prints! He didn't even make a dent in the snow, except if he fell down.

I was trying to remember the last time it snowed so close to Christmas. I believe it was 1996 because I was a senior in high school, and that was the year I had jaw surgery. Some friends wanted to visit me in the hospital but their parents wouldn't allow them to drive in the snow. (Which was the right choice.)

Now, we just have to sit back and enjoy this snow. And we will see if we go 2 for 2 Christmas weekend....I hear we have another "system" coming through. In my 30 years of life, I've never had a White Christmas. It would be a wonderful thing to experience.

And the Lord says to the snow "Fall on the earth."
Job 37:6

Monday, December 14, 2009

Santa Run 2009

Each year at Christmas, our fire department does something we call The Santa Run. Basically, we take one of the big fire engines, some candy canes, tins of cookies, and Christmas cards and go visit all of our retirees and families of current members with small children. This is one of my favorite things that we do. Usually we get one of the "new guys" play the part of Santa. We have our own costume and everything. Some drivers will even decorate the truck with Christmas lights. There are plug-ins on the trucks to run different pieces of equipment, so we have a place to plug in the lights.

Side note: Buddy's first year in the department, he got the "honor" of being Santa...we had to stuff him with pillows. Earlier that year, due to lots of intense fire training, he lost a bunch of weight. We called him "Skinny Santa"!!

Anyway, tonight was the Santa Run. Buddy and I used to ride this every year. A lot of our retirees are getting older and have a hard time getting out, and it was always a blessing to hear about how these guys got our department started. So many have passed away since we have joined the station. Of course, it's always fun to see the little kids light up when they see Santa.

The past two years, though, we haven't been involved. Two years ago, I was pregnant, and Buddy stayed home with me...just in case. Last year, I can't remember why Buddy didn't go, but I know I was home with Quinn. Maybe he had a meeting. But I do remember that by the time the truck came by our house, Quinn was asleep already.

Anyway, Buddy was the truck driver tonight. I asked Buddy to be sure to come by our house tonight, since I have something at school tomorrow night. I wanted to see Quinn's reaction. Buddy called and gave me a head's up as they pulled onto our street. I could see the fire truck's lights from the front door, so I grabbed Quinn and we headed outside. He was a little apprehensive at first about "Santa", and would not let Santa hold him. What's funny is that the guy who was dressed as Santa, Michael, is one of Quinn's favorite guys up at the station. Michael even came to see us in the hospital when Quinn was born.

I did manage to get this picture, though. Quinn would not humor me at all and look at the camera. He was too distracted by the lights on the fire truck. Oh well...better than not getting a picture at all.

It's fun to think, that about 15-16 years down the road, Quinn might decide to join the fire department too. Then all three of us could do the Santa Run together.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hodge Family Update--December 2009

It's been a while since I've posted an update on my friends, The Hodge Family. I recently received their December newsletter. They've been so busy in Language School, that they haven't been sending out newsletters as frequently as they were before.

They have finished their second trimester in Language School. As you may remember, they are in Costa Rica learning Spanish for future missionary service in Argentina. In their spare time, they created a video to support the Lottie Moon Offering for Foreign Missions. They are being sent out by the International Mission Board, which is part of the Southern Baptist Convention. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and remember giving a special offering every year to help missionaries in other countries. 100% of this offering goes directly to the foreign missionaries.

This week, December 14-18, Michael and Amanda will be involved in a week-long conference on "Chronological Bible Storytelling" which is a way of sharing God's Word through a set of stories that will present the Gospel in a meaningful way. This will help them increase their ability to share God's Word in Spanish, and will help them while in Costa Rica and in Argentina next year.

Michael continues to host Spanish Bible studies. Amanda's Spanish has increased enough that she recently began hosting a Spanish Bible Study for single moms. Pray for them as they share God's word with Costa Ricans.

Here are their prayer requests.

1. For their Bible studies to impact the lives of the people who attend.

2. For new opportunities in 2010 to be able to share God's Word with the people of Costa Rica.

3. For the 2009 Lottie Moon Missions Offering to be a success so that the IMB will be able to continue to support their foreign missionaries.

4. For Alexis and Jarrett as they must say goodbye to friends whose parents have finished language study and will be leaving for the mission field.

5. For Michael and Amanda's final semester in language school, and that the learn as much as they can in these last few months.

6. And finally, pray for the entire family, as they prepare to celebrate their first of many Christmases away from family and friends.

Thank you for praying for this sweet family! You can follow their blog from my list, or you can click here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

You gotta be cool to be this H-O-T

Ok, so I've been a little slack in posting lately. What with extra choir practices for the church musical last weekend, tutoring two days after school, an almost-two-year-old who is wide open, I barely know what day it is. In fact, I wrote this post two weeks ago, and am just now getting around to publishing it.

I've mentioned before how Buddy and I volunteer with our local fire department. We both have our EMT certifications and he is a fully-certified fire fighter. In fact, he has the same credentials as someone who would choose firefighting as their career. Every Monday night we spend several hours at the fire station doing our weekly training. One week we have medical training, two weeks are spent on fire training, and the other week is our business meeting.

Back in November, our station hosted an LP Gas Burn. LP stands for Liquid Petroleum, and is used daily by many people. It could be someone grilling out on their deck with a gas grill. It could be used by a business. It could be traveling up and down the road on transfer trucks. We haven't had a training like this at our station since the first year Buddy was involved. I never got to see this, since at the time, I was not yet involved with the department.

Here are some pictures from the event.

Quinn couldn't help but notice that Daddy looked a little different once he got all his fire gear on.

What do you expect, when Daddy goes from looking as he normally does to this....

As with all fire scenes, whether it is training or an actual situation, you always have to meet with your OIC (Officer in Charge) to get assignments, information, etc. Here, our Captain (guy with clipboard) is letting the guys know which group they will be in.

You start with a couple of large tanks . I know this picture is hard to see, but there are two really large LP tanks. These tanks were actually hooked to a LP truck that pumped the LP into the tanks. Then different valves are opened and lit on fire so the guys could practice putting the fire out.

Now, there were about 30 firemen at this training, so in real life, it might not take this many people. But for training purposes (and to give everyone a chance to practice) there were several firemen on each hose. Two groups were "attack" groups, and the third group was a "safety" group. Basically, they had to push the fire off the tanks so they could get close enough to the tank to turn the valve off.

I was standing pretty far away from the setup, and the heat was so intense. I can't begin to tell you how hot it must have been closer to it.

It certainly makes for some pretty cool pictures!

If only all of our Monday night trainings were this exciting. And I'm sure the guys are glad that the LP Burn was rescheduled for November. We were originally supposed to do this back in the summer!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Visit to SC

About two weekends ago, we made a trip to SC to see the family. We've been very fortunate (for now) that both sets of our parents live within 15 minutes of each other. Buddy's parents will be moving out near where his sister Kristel lives in NC, so once the new year gets here, our house will actually be the midpoint. Anyway, on this trip, Quinn got to see Grandma, Grandpa, Great-Grandma Margaret, Nana and Papa!

Here are some pictures from our weekend.

Now this first picture was taken about a month ago by my dad. The house in the picture was originally my great-grandparents' house. My parents and I moved there after Grandma and Papa passed away. I think I was about 6 years old. We lived there until I was a Junior in high school. Anyway, my parents now live with my grandma, and this picture is made from her house, looking up at our old house. It was so nice growing up next door to Grandma. I also remember when my dad planted that tree. Now look how big and beautiful it has become. By the time we got there, all the leaves were gone.

On Saturday morning, my mom and I took Quinn outside to play. We walked up to see the horses. One thing I forgot to mention is that the street my parents and grandma live on is all family. All of my grandma's sisters live on this street. In fact, my Papa owned all the land, and this was their farm when my grandma was growing up. My cousin Glenn, lives on the street too, and these are his horses. We tried to get "Rusty" to come closer to the fence so we could pet her, but this is as close as she got. Quinn is trying to call her, and was even making a clicking sound with his mouth, like I was, to try to get her closer. It was really cute.

Then we went over to our old house to play in those leaves. The people who are currently living in the house actually have it for sale, so no one was home. They told Mom that Quinn was welcome to play on their play set too.

I've mentioned so many times before how much Quinn loves to slide. He was actually able to climb to the top and slide down without any help.

Gosh, I love this boy! Can't you see how much fun he had? The slide was so slick there were times he actually slid across the grass!

It was such a beautiful day, as you can see. Check out that blue sky! I couldn't help but stop and have some fun myself. And of course, there's the slide master climbing up for another turn.

After sliding and running around, it was pretty close to lunchtime. So we took a break and Quinn took a nap. When he woke up, we wandered down to my parents' backyard. There tons of old oak trees back here, and the leaves made that perfect crunching sound. We only have a couple of trees in our yard, and their leaves don't crunch, so this was probably Quinn's first time with lots and lots of leaves.

He was pretty impressed with the big trees in the backyard. I'm not sure if he's trying to figure out how to climb it or knock it down!

At some point, my mom threw leaves at him, and then the fun began! With all the movement and leaves being thrown, this is the best shot I got of Quinn throwing leaves. Oh, he and his Grandma had so much fun!

We invited Buddy's parents over for supper, so we could see Nana and Papa. My dad made his specialty....Chicken Bog. For my NC friends, this is nothing like Chicken Stew, so please don't be confused. Here it is. It's chicken, smoked sausage, rice, and lots of spices. This is one of those recipes that if I tell you, I'd have to kill you. The recipe comes from where my dad grew up in SC, what we call the "lower part of the state". It has become a family favorite, and when I say family, I mean every member of my family! Trust me, I cannot think of a single person who has not tasted this and immediately loved it and wanted more!

It was a fun weekend with my parents, and a nice visit with Buddy's parents. I will miss these times with all of us together once they move. I have been so blessed to have a family where we all get along. Buddy and my parents get along great. I fit in perfectly with Buddy's parents and sisters. In fact, I'm considered a "fourth daughter"!! It was a great time. Thanks Mom and Dad for letting us come down for a visit!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Are you the Mother of the Year?

This is the question of the day.....and a way to tell you about a new blog!

Are you the Mother of the Year?

My cousin's wife Ashley has created a fun, new, Mommy blog. She is a first time mom, with an outside-of-the-home career. She knows, like all of us moms do, how crazily busy life can be when you've got a house to clean, laundry to wash, diaper bags to pack, bottles to make, and on and on. She knows that we will sometimes have the moments in life where we jump for joy and realize that yes, we are the best mothers out there. And sometimes we will have the moments where we want to go back to the bed, crawl under the covers, and wait for the next day to begin.

Her new blog is a place for you to come and share your funny, slightly embarassing, I-can't-believe-I-did-that moments. All you have to do is email her your Mother of the Year moment, and she posts it to the blog. You read these posts and realize, hey, I'm not the only one! I've been reading these since she started the blog a few weeks ago, and I actually laugh out loud over some of these posts. She also highlights "moms in the news", with different news stories that involve mothers from all over. Then at the end of the week, she does a poll to see who is the "Mother of the Week". Maybe it will be you!

If you need a laugh, or just proof that others have done those crazy things too, then be sure to check out Ashley's blog: I am Mommy of the Year

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

Here are a few fall pictures to share. We tried to make it to the pumpkin patch, like we did last year. Unfortunately, it was super cold, and my camera died after about three pictures, but I did manage to get a few decent ones.
I'm not sure what he was trying to say here, but he was checking out both the pumpkins and all the cars driving by.
This was the last picture I was able to get that day, but what a good one! It's just so classic.
Tonight we took Quinn to a few neighbors' houses for Trick-or-Treating. We also went to a Trunk-or-Treat at a church near our house. Our fire station does a lot of community service with this church, so we decided to it helped us stay out of the rain. ***(Side rained almost every Halloween of my childhood....go figure.)***
Here he is in his costume. He's a Saint Bernard, complete with a barrel for under his chin!
Not sure why he looks so serious here....and excuse the red-eyes. Couldn't make it go away.
Halloween isn't my favorite holiday, but I did have fun dressing Quinn up and visiting some of our neighbors. Tonight he had his first taste of candy....M&M's from his treat bag. He had a sugar rush you wouldn't believe. We were letting him stay up a little later to compensate for the time change. He was using the couch like a trampoline and jumping all over and giggling like crazy. Then he crashed!
We had a fun evening together as a family! Quinn walked the whole time and wouldn't let us help him with his bucket. He insisted on carrying it by himself. Mr. Independent! Last year at this time, he was just beginning to pull up on things and preferred crawling.
Trick-or-Treat, everyone!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Law of the Garbage Truck

I don't normally post two things in one day, but after receiving this email today, I couldn't help but post it here. I have been guilty of this, and maybe you have too. But after reading about the Law of the Garbage Truck, I definitely have a new look on life. Enjoy!!

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly. So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!' This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'
He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets. The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so...Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't.

Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it!
Have a great, garbage-free day!

Red Ribbon Week 2009

This week in our school we are celebrating Red Ribbon Week.

Red Ribbon Week is our nation's oldest and largest drug prevention program. It is generally acknowledged during the last week of October and is spent sharing ways to help our communities stay drug free. I learned a little more about this program this year, and wondered how many of you knew the history behind Red Ribbon Week.

In the mid-1980's Special Agent Kiki Camarena, of the Drug Enforcement Administration, was working undercover to expose a multi-billion dollar drug cartel coming out of Mexico. S.A. Camarena was originally from Mexico, having moved to the United States as a young boy. He wanted to make a difference and eventually worked his way through education to become a police officer, and later begin working for DEA. He was extremely close to cracking this case when he was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by the Mexican drug traffickers.

Not long after, one of his high school friends, along with a Congressman from California, began Camarena Clubs, which educated children about being drug-free. These children made pledges to stay drug-free. The pledges were given to First Lady Nancy Reagan, who then began the "Just Say No" clubs in elementary schools. The first official Red Ribbon Week was held in October of 1988. (For perspective, I was in 4th grade, and was a proud member of the Just Say No club at my school.)

My school is participating in several of the Red Ribbon activities. Tomorrow is Wear Red day, and we have a guest speaker coming to the school. One of our county sheriffs is coming to speak to the children about being drug free, general safety tips, and Halloween safety, given that this holiday is a few days away.

I hope you will help me in encouraging your family and friends to stay DRUG FREE!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Hero's Final Goodbye

About two weeks ago a city policeman in our town was shot in the line of duty. Yesterday was his funeral and it was the major news story of the day. I had no idea that I would get to witness a part of his service.

I stayed at school a little later than usual for a Friday. I always drive home the same way, and I was a little surprised to see a few police cars and a firetruck parked on the bridge that I drive on to get to the interstate. I didn't put it together until I got on the interstate, and just up ahead, I could see traffic coming from the other direction had stopped. I could see tons of blue lights. I looked back at the bridge and could see that there were several policemen and firefighters, in full dress uniform, standing on the bridge, facing in the direction of the stopped traffic. That's when I realized....this was the funeral motorcade for the fallen officer.

I immediately pulled onto the emergency lane and watched. For several minutes, I saw just a few random cars drive by. I guess these were the last cars to get out of the way so the funeral procession could begin. I had never seen one of these before, except the brief footage they would show on TV.

First came a single police car, with blue lights flashing. Then there were at least 30-40 policemen on motorcycles, riding in pairs, with blue lights flashing. Then came the funeral hearse, a white one, carrying the body of this fallen officer. Then were several family cars, also white. After that began an endless parade of police cars. I counted at least 150 before I lost count. They all had their blue lights flashing. As I watched, more and more cars pulled over, on both sides of the interstate. People who parked on the grassy median even got out of their cars, hands on their hearts. Some cars almost came to a stop in the middle of the interstate. I've never seen anything like this. It was very somber, very moving, and ingrained in my mind forever.

I am so glad that I worked later on Friday. I was able to witness a part of this final goodbye for a local hero. A man who was simply doing his job, protecting the citizens of my town. We should pray for the policemen, firefighters, emergency service workers, and military men and women who are daily putting their lives on the line for us citizens.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Child-Like Faith

In the past few weeks, I have heard about several people at my church whose children have gotten saved. One lady talked about her daughter's profession of faith on Facebook. A friend, and fellow blogger, wrote the sweetest post of how her daughter and nephew got saved in the car while driving to the beach. It's always sweet to hear of children coming to know the Lord at such an early age.

But then there's the people who question "Did they truly get saved? They are too young to understand." Even Jesus Himself said in the book of Matthew that "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 20:2-4)

All this talk about children getting saved has made me think back to my own salvation. I never had one of those "life-defining moments" like you hear some people tell of when they got saved. I have heard of people giving testimony after testimony of how they had drifted into a life of drugs, or alcohol, or abuse, or some other horrible lifestyle, and how someone brought the Gospel to them in such a way that they realized they needed Jesus in their life. And how their lives changed so dramatically afterwards.

Salvation didn't come that way to me. I was brought up in a Christian home, by parents who brought me to church every time the doors were open. I was that little girl standing up on the pew during the songs. I remember going to Sunday School and VBS and revival services. I had wonderful teachers in Sunday School and Sunday Night groups and on Wednesday night services too. It was at summer church camp where I met Jesus, on a warm summer evening after bedtime devotions with our counselor. I don't remember her name, except that everybody called her "Glo". I remember this because the "song of the week" was "Footprints of Jesus", and a line in the song says, "Foot prints of Jesus, that make the pathway glow.." I was only 9 years old.

I remember sitting on the front porch of the cabin with Glo, praying and telling Jesus that I was a sinner and that I wanted Him to be the Lord of my life. I remember going down to the front of my church the following Sunday, with another girl who also got saved at camp. I remember Pastor Thompson praying with me and all the people of the church shaking my hand. I remember a big cinder block in the bottom of the baptistry for me to stand on so I would be above the water.

I am so thankful that I was able to come to know Jesus at an early age--that I did not have to live through the things that some people had to. I am thankful for loving, Christian parents who taught me the Gospel. I am thankful for a heritage of Christian Grandparents and Great-Grandparents. I pray that Buddy and I can be the example to Quinn that he needs, and that he, too, can come to know Jesus at an early age. We've been praying with him at night since the first night he was in this world and we always pray that he will one day come to know the Lord as his personal Saviour.

All we need is the faith of a child....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The United Nations is within my reach...

Every year, I anticipate the start of a new school year. For me, the first day of school is like New Year's Day for other people. I know that anything that happened in the previous school year (difficult students, difficult parents, etc), is gone and I have a new group of children to begin working with.

Because my school is an ESL Site (English as a Second Language), we have many students in various stages of learning to speak English. Some children live in families where a different language is the predominant language of the home, and English may or may not be spoken at all. Some families use their children as their interpreters. We have such a high Hispanic population that we have a full-time bilingual secretary, hired specifically to help us communicate with our Spanish speaking parents.

I've always been lucky in the past that, if I did have ESL students, a lot of the parents could communicate with me without the help of an interpreter. This year is different. In addition to having over half of my class represented by Spanish speakers, I also have four students from countries where we have NO interpreter at all! It's been quite the challenge to learn to work with these kids, but I also feel so grateful that the Lord allowed these kids to be placed in my class! I have learned so much from them already, and we have so many months to go. I can already tell it will be hard to let them go in June.

My school represents 28 countries, and my class alone is made up of students from 9 countries. This is so fascinating to me....I could almost make my own United Nations!

I have 8 students plus myself representing the United States.

There are 7 students who are from Mexico.

There are 2 students who are from Puerto Rico.

One student's family is from Colombia, South America.

Another student's family is from Guatemala.

One student is from Vietnam.

One of my students who doesn't speak English at all is from Turkey.

Another student who doesn't speak English is from Iraq.

And finally, my last two students who do not speak English are from the Karenni state of the country of Burma.

These two students are so special to my heart. They are refugees and have come from such horrible conditions. One of these students came to my class at the very end of last school year and is staying with me again this year. This girl read a Kindergarten level book to me a few weeks ago, and boy did the tears flow! It is so amazing to watch these kids learn.

So this is what I'm dealing with this year! It's exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fire Prevention Week 2009

This is a public service announcement from your friendly, neighborhood fire-chick!

October 4 - 10, 2009 is Fire Prevention Week. I thought I would share some information about this year's theme, and also give you some handy links, as I know some of you are homeschool mamas. Others of you may simply want to share this with your families, if it is not being included in your child's school. And some of you may just want to read this because it makes good sense to be prepared.

Fire Prevention Week was established to honor and remember the "Great Chicago Fire of 1871." This is the same fire that, according to legend, started because Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked over a lantern, which caught the barn on fire, which caught the city on fire. While this is not entirely true, 250 people died, and thousands were left homeless. Over 17,000 structures and over 2000 acres were burnt. The fire began in the night on October 8th, but did most of its damage on October 9th. Fire Prevention Week always falls around those two dates.

Some other interesting facts about fires...
In 2008, US Fire Departments responded to almost 400,000 home fires.

Every 81 seconds, a fire department in our country is responding to a fire.

Two-thirds of all home fires are in homes with either a malfunctioning fire alarm or none at all.

Cooking continues to be the leading cause of all home fires.

This year's theme is "Stay Smart: Don't get burned" and focuses on ways you and your family can keep from being burned in a fire.

For example, does your family have a home escape plan? Did you know you need at least two ways to get out of your house? Do your kids know how to get out of their room if they can't leave by the bedroom door?

Do you put all hot foods in the center of the table so they can't be pulled off by little hands?

Do you check the temperature of the bath or shower water?

Are lit candles out of reach of little hands?

Do you allow food cooked from the microwave time to cool before serving it?

Are all smoke alarms are tested by an adult each month...and work every time?

Is there a smoke alarm on every level of your home (and in every bedroom?)

Do your children know what the alarm sounds like, so they would recognize it in the middle of the night?

Visit the Fire Prevention Week website here. On the left side there is a link for teachers, or for kids and families. And those of you who homeschool (or teach in a regular school) will see the lessons are split by age and grade level. There are some pictures you can print off and color as well as helpful sheets for planning an escape plan.

As always, I'm not trying to scare anyone, but it's always better to be prepared! Our department, thankfully, doesn't have to go to too many house fires, but when we do, you can bet that those people weren't expecting their home to go up in flames either.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

And The Winner Is.....

I know you have probably all been anxiously waiting to see who the winner will be for my giveaway.

I went to Google and found a random number generator. Out of 7 choices, the website chose #2.

Congratulations Beth!!! Please check out Beth's blog, where you can read about miracles, her cute kids, and even learn some random Spanish words....hee hee.

Beth, be looking for an email from me soon....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's My Blogaversary!! (and a giveaway)

One year ago today I started my blog! I was looking back over all my posts recently, re-living some of the events of the past year. It made me wish I had started a blog earlier. There were several events I had forgotten Buddy's Citizen Arrest. Or the time I sent a wormy apple in his lunch. Or the Honey Baked Ham I found on our doorstep.

So I've decided to do a "Top Ten List" of my blog posts. These were the top-ten posts with the most comments for this past year.

Take a trip down memory lane with me. And then leave a comment on your favorite top-ten post. One lucky reader will win a $10 Walgreens gift card. You know how much I love getting good deals, and I've gotten a lot of them at Walgreens this year. (I'm hoping this will help bring some of my readers who never comment out of the shadows!!)

Do you remember....
#10--Quinn's Artistic Debut click here.

#9--My Mom's Miracle click here.

#8--Mr.Fix-It Click here.

#7--6 years of marriage click here

#6--Leaving my comfort zone click here.

#5--Why I didn't win Mother of the Year click here.

#4--The Pumpkin Patch click here

#3--Quinn's 1st Haircut click here

#2--Popcorn for two click here

and the number one post with the most comments

#1--My 100th post click here.

I will be leaving the comments open on this post for several days...probably until Thursday or Friday. Then I will close comments and announce a winner!

Thank you for following along, because This Is My Life!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The 5th grade version of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar"

I'm sure you are all familiar with the classic children's book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. This is a wonderful story about a cute little caterpillar that eats his way through a whole bunch of things, only at the end to turn into a beautiful butterfly. I would say this book is probably appropriate in pre-K up to maybe first grade.

In fifth grade, though, the book should be changed to "The Very Weird, Horned, Ugly, Humongous Caterpillar and How It Scared The Teacher". Because that's what we discovered on the playground yesterday at recess.

Check him out....wouldn't he scare you if you saw this crawling around under a tree?

Of course all the students wanted to know what kind it was and what it would turn into. Was it poisonous? What are the spikes for? And about a million other questions that I won't bother typing up here. Of course this happened to be the time when the WHOLE 5th GRADE was outside, so I was getting these questions from all three classes, not just mine! So, like the good teacher I am, I spent the majority of my planning time on Google, researching this particular caterpillar.

This caterpillar is known as the Hickory Horned Devil, and is the larvae that turns into a Regal Moth. The caterpillar can be up to 5 inches in length. It has five pairs of antenna that resemble horns on its head. These "horns" and the black spikes along its back are used for scaring away its enemies. It has three pairs of legs directly under its head area. It has several pairs of darker "feet" that are actually not feet at all, but structures to help the caterpillar grip the bark of trees more easily.

The Regal Moth is nocturnal and has a wingspan of 5-6 inches! (Well, you would expect a big caterpillar to make a big moth, right?) It also has no mouth, so it only lives long enough to mate and then lay its eggs. What a life, right?!?

And here is a picture of the Regal Moth, what this caterpillar will turn into.

I can only imagine what kind of tales were told by my students when they got home. Would you really believe your kid if they came home from school and said they saw a huge green caterpillar with spikes and horns that makes it look like a dragon?? I wouldn't have believed it myself, either!

PS...these pictures are courtesy of The pictures I took were on a co-worker's camera and the files ended up being too big to post on the blog. However, if you are my Facebook friend, I've posted pictures of my caterpillar there. It was quite the learning experience yesterday!

Friday, September 11, 2009

9-11-01 will never be forgotten

Today is the 8th anniversary of the September 11th tragedy. I can hardly believe that eight years have gone by since this terrible day. When I was growing up, I would always hear people talk about where they were the day President Kennedy was shot or older people telling about where they were the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. I'll never forget where I was when our country was attacked on September 11, 2001.

I was just beginning my junior year at Clemson. It was a Tuesday morning and my first class didn't start until 9:30, so I usually took my time getting ready. I had just gotten out of the shower and turned on the TV so I could watch the Today Show while I was getting ready. It was about 8:45. Not long after I turned the TV on, Matt Lauer announced that one of their cameras had caught images of a plane hitting on of the towers of the World Trade Center and they would be cutting to this camera and find out what was going on. Within a few minutes, I watched the second plane fly into the other tower. I remember thinking what in the world is going on....are we at war...was this a terrible accident? No one seemed to know what was happening. I continued watching the news until I absolutely had to leave for class. I remember that as I walked to class, I kept looking up into the beautiful blue sky, wondering how something like this could happen.

It only took me about fifteen minutes to walk to class, but by then people were sharing new details. A third plane had hit the Pentagon. Both towers had fallen. A fourth plane landed in a field in Pennsylvania. I don't remember learning anything in class that day. Within a few hours, a lot of professors began cancelling classes, out of respect.

We all know what became of this day. We remember the stories of survivors talking about all the firefighters who were running into the Towers as civilians were trying to get out. We remember the stories of the people on that fourth plane taking matters into their own hands to keep the terrorists from committing a final act on our country. We remember watching all the members of Congress standing on the steps of the Capitol Building, singing God Bless America.

But now eight years have gone by. Are our memories of this day as fresh as they were that day? Probably not. No one wants to constantly re-live the worst day of their life. Just as we want our worst memories to fade, the memories of this day are fading too. However, we should never forget.

We should never forget that almost 3,000 innocent people lost their lives that day.

We should never forget that 343 firefighters lost their lives that day, simply doing their jobs and answering the call of duty.

We should never forget what our country went through on this day.

We should never forget.....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day Weekend 2009

We spent our Labor Day weekend at my sister-in-law's house. You may remember reading about our previous trip to "Aunt Kristel's" house back in the spring. We always have fun at their house. Buddy has three older sisters, and Kristel is the youngest of the girls. Her youngest son, David, is three months older than Quinn. The boys really had a fun time playing together this time. Our first visit since both boys were born, Quinn was barely crawling. The visit back in the spring, Quinn was still very unsteady on his walking. This time though, they ran around playing together. It was so sweet to watch them.

Kristel and Ed didn't have too many plans for us, so we went back to the park we went to before. The weather was so nice this weekend, so we did more of the outdoor stuff. Back in the spring, the weekend we were there was so cold and rainy, that we did the indoor stuff.

Saturday was a beautiful day so the first thing we did was ride the train around the park. Quinn had never been on a train before, so I was really excited to get to do this with him. This is us waiting our turn.

Because Kristel and her boys have ridden the train before, Kristel stayed on the deck and took pictures for me. Quinn and I rode the train with my nephews. Trey is the boy in the blue shirt, and you can't see David who is sitting on Trey's lap. (Trey is a SUPER BIG BROTHER, by the way!!) Quinn was too busy checking things out to "pose" with me!

After the train, we went to the park area. Quinn of course had to slide down the slide. Here he is climbing to the top with cousin David. Cousin Trey was waiting at the top to help the boys.

For some reason, Quinn wouldn't slide by himself this time. I think because the slide had a twist in it and he couldn't see me while he was waiting at the top. He made Trey slide down with him.

We came home and ate Chick-fil-A that Buddy and Ed, (our brother-in-law), brought home for lunch! That's mine and Kristel's favorite place! The little boys took naps in the afternoon, while Buddy, Ed, Trey and I took in some target practice. Ed's dad has some land nearby and so we went down to the field, set up a target and took aim. Turns out: I'm a pretty good shot!
Ed did some grilling for us for supper, and afterwards we all went outside to play. Quinn found a tricycle and tried his best to ride it like David. Quinn is tall for his age, but David is about two inches taller....which makes his feet hit the pedals. Quinn's feet just didn't quite make it! He had fun sitting on it though.

This is Quinn and Uncle Ed riding on the 4-wheeler. Now, don't worry. Uncle Ed did not drive very fast at all while riding with the little guys. I believe he didn't get out of first gear. Either way, it was fast enough to get a smile out of Quinn.

Then Buddy and I got to take a turn. We went faster, and it was so much fun. Ed and Kristel's yard is plenty big enough to go for a ride. If only it wasn't soybean season and we could have ridden in the field as well. Maybe next time.

Then Buddy took Quinn around a few times. Doesn't it look like my boys had fun?!?! And check out the sunset in the background. It was such a beautiful evening.

Here's Kristel and Trey. Trey's a big middle-schooler this year.....6th grade! Kristel is a nurse. Besides David and Trey, they also have a daughter named Rebecca. (Doesn't it look like Kristel's shirt coordinates with the sunset??)

After having lots of fun outside, we all went back inside. The little boys and Rebecca went on to bed and the rest of us tried to watch a football game on TV, but one by one we all crashed! Playing with toddlers is tiring!! We had hoped to watch our CLEMSON TIGERS play, but the game this week wasn't televised. We still got the win though! I've mentioned before that Buddy and I are both Clemson Grads, but so is Ed....he got his Masters at Clemson.
Kristel, Ed, and family...thanks again for a wonderful weekend. You all are welcome at our house any time! Love you!!