Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer is Swimming Away!

I made the mistake of looking at a calendar the other day. That's when I realized that I have only 2 and a half weeks of summer vacation before I return to work on August 16th! Where has the summer gone? And it's not like we've really done anything this summer. We didn't take a big trip, but we did have a weekend with each set of grandparents.

Today was a fun day. My friend Kim from church (who is also our pastor's wife) and her daughter Claire invited us to their pool. From what I've read on Kim's blog and saw today, Claire is a little fish! She can swim a short distance, isn't afraid to put her face in the water, and even jumped off the diving board. So I was a little concerned on how Quinn would act in the pool, considering he won't even sit down in the bathtub anymore!

Here he is...first time in a pool!

I left his swim vest from last year's beach trip at home, but Kim let me use Claire's "puddle jumper" floaty swim thing. Swimmies sure have improved since I was a kid. He put his arms in the "swimmies" and then the flat part fastened around his tummy and back. He was a little apprehensive at first but by the end of the day, he was enjoying the water. I only wish I had gotten pictures of us in the big pool, but all the adults were in the water too.

Quinn proves he is man enough to play ball with a pink Disney Princess ball!

My little guppy.....he's not quite a fish yet, but if we could get him in the water more, he probably would be!

We took a picnic break for lunch. I heard Claire say "I will sit by Quinn." She wanted Quinn's bread, and he wanted a "Dorie" plate. (He calls Dora the Explorer, Dorie).

Momma and Quinn having fun at the pool.

I'm quite proud to say that at 2 and 1/2, Quinn already knows all his letters, numbers, shapes, and colors! So he had to take a swim break to tell me all the letters on the No Diving sign.

Then he got right back in for more splashing fun!

This was such a fun outing! Thanks so much to Kim and Claire for inviting us to join them. I truly think if I could get Quinn in the water more often, he would become a little fish too! And it works wonders for getting him to sleep early. He didn't get a nap today, and it took 10 minutes for him to fall asleep tonight! I think that's a record!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Family Pictures

In my last post, I told you about my Grandmother's 90th birthday and I mentioned we had pictures made. When my parents brought Quinn home from their house (more on that later), they brought me a CD with all the pictures on it. My only regret from this day is that we didn't have more made of just my little group of the family (me, Buddy, Quinn, my parents). Quinn was in a "two-year-old-mood" and would NOT cooperate at all for the pictures.

And before anyone asks, let me just say that all us ladies are wearing purple, and all the guys are wearing orange. We truly are a Clemson Family!

Here I am with my Grandmother. I absolutely love this picture!

Here is the only shot we got with Quinn being somewhat happy.
Here are the four grandchildren....all girls! I'm the oldest, then Ellen (with curls). Ten years after I was born, we added Rebecca (on the right) and then Hannah (the youngest, and tallest!)
I guess you could say these ladies are the closest thing I ever had to having sisters!

The last time we had pictures made together like this was at my wedding....and the girls were wearing purple that day too!

Here's Grandmother and her girls! We are recreating the first picture we ever had made with all of us. Hannah was only a few months old and Grandma held her. Being the oldest, I got to hold Rebecca (who was about 18 months) and Ellen sat beside me. (Yes, Hannah is sitting on Grandma's lap, but she is doing it gently!)

This is of Grandmother and her three children. My mom is on the left. Her sister, my Aunt Linda (Ellen's mother) is on the right. My Uncle Jim (Rebecca and Hannah's dad) is beside Grandmother. And if you know me in real life, this is the Uncle Jim we've been praying for!

And here's the whole group.....Lucky 13! Let me introduce you to everyone else. My Dad is sitting on Grandma's left. Uncle Roy (Aunt Linda's Hubby and another Clemson Grad!) is behind Grandma. Uncle Jim's wife, my Aunt Louanne is behind him. And if you notice, Quinn is pitching a fit! I told you he wouldn't cooperate!

It was so fun to get together with the whole group! This usually only happens for sure at Christmas. Every so often it happens in the summer, but typically someone isn't able to be there. With Aunt Linda and family in Ohio, us in NC, and Rebecca and Hannah still in college, it is hard to get together during the year.
I love my family!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

90 years is a milestone!!

This past Saturday, we celebrated the birthday of a wonderful lady. My Grandmother, my last living grandparent, turned 90!! Back when she turned 85, we threw her a big party and invited all the relatives and friends and had a big time. This year, she only wanted the immediate family with her...something that typically only happens at Christmas (and sometimes in the summer). Back at Christmas we discussed the plans and knew that we should all show up in SC for that special weekend.

We had dinner at a nice restaurant, one we would probably not go to on a usual day. My aunt's friend came to the restaurant and took pictures of all of us out in the garden. We took pictures of each family, some of just us granddaughters, and some of the whole group. Of course, Quinn in his 2-year-old fashion, would not cooperate for pictures. We did get a couple of him running through the shots. As soon as I get these pictures, I'll do a post on that.

I decided that for Grandmother's 90th birthday, I would find out her secret to life. 90 years is a long time to be alive. She's had really good health up until the last few months where she has had a few complications. She has now lived longer than her parents did, and is currently the oldest member of our family....on both her mother's side and her father's side.

Here are Grandmother's 9 tips for living a long, happy, successful tip for each decade of life!

1. Walk with the Lord. Grandmother reads her Bible and prays everyday.

2. Go to church. Grandmother was a member of the same church for 88 years. It was a small mill-village church that closed 2 years ago. It was a Methodist church not far from where she lives and her parents brought her there as soon as she was born.

3. Find true love and keep it forever! Grandmother married her high-school sweetheart and she was married to him for 42 years. She stood by him as he served our country in WWII and was gone to the Pacific. She stood by him as he was sick and was there with him when he passed away in 1982. She never loved another man. (Click here to see old pictures of them.)

4. Be loving, Godly parents. Grandmother was raised by Godly parents and she brought what she learned from watching her own parents into her marriage. She and my grandfather were also loving and Godly!

5. Work hard everyday. Grandmother worked hard around the home, raising her three children and keeping a lovely home. Later on she worked hard to keep her home a place her granddaughters would love to come to. I can remember seeing Grandmother working in the yard, in the garden, and around the house. She was always busy!

6. Exercise and be active. Grandmother was always doing something. One thing I will always remember is her and her sisters driving to the Y several times a week to do water aerobics. They only stopped going a few years ago, after her sisters' health prevented them from driving as much. (Grandma never learned to drive!)

7. Have good nutrition. Grandmother made many meals from scratch and grew fresh vegetables in her garden. Sure, she enjoys a bit of chocolate or something sweet every now and then...who doesn't? And we tease her about putting butter on her biscuits! But she typically is a healthy eater!

8. Never smoke or drink alcohol. This one needs no explanation.

9. Be surrounded by loving family and friends. Grandmother has always loved being with her family. She and her sisters were very close that all four of them lived next door to each other their entire lives! Our extended family (the kids and grand kids of her brothers and sisters) is as close as most people are with just their siblings.

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful example to live up to. I am so glad I was able to be there for her big, special day! Grandma, thank you for everything you've done for me over the years. You will never know how much you mean to me!

(one of my favorite pictures of Grandma...holding her great-grandson for the first time!)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kid's Clothes for $0.38

When I told my Momma about my latest "deal", she called me "The last of the big spenders". I just call myself smart!

I got Quinn 4 shirts and 2 pairs of shorts for only 38 cents today! Yes, that's right....38 cents!

There is a thrift store not far from my house that I've gotten bargains from before. They are always running incredible deals, especially around holidays. Back in January, for MLK Day, everything was 50% off, so I got Quinn 8 pairs of jeans for $7.50. On some other holiday (maybe St. Patrick's Day), they had all kids' clothes for $0.99 each. I got him a bunch of summer stuff then.

I've recently found out that this store has a "recycling program". Basically you bring in a bag of clothes, books, knick-knacks, etc, and they look over everything. Then for whatever they keep, they give you up to a $5 coupon. Today I took some things of Quinn's that I didn't want to keep (and that haven't sold in the past few consignment sales), some maternity clothes I found in the back of my closet and a few other things to this store. They gave me the $5 coupon. The "sale" of the day was anything on a blue tag was 50% off. Everything in that picture was on a blue tag except the green shirt. A couple of things were regularly priced at 99 cents and those came up half off too! With tax, my total was $5.38. I used the $5 I earned, and paid them a whopping 38 cents to bring these clothes home!

I only wish they had places like this when I was younger. Momma says maybe there were and she just didn't know about them. I have her to thank for my love of finding bargains. She used to let me clip all the coupons on Sunday. I can remember doing this as far back as I can remember! I did it for my grandma too.

Anyways, I just had to share this bargain!

Update on the Hodge Family

It has been a really long time since I updated on my friends, The Hodge Family. Since December of 2009, their family has really been through a lot. When I last wrote, they were finishing up their second trimester of language school in Costa Rica and celebrating their first Christmas away from family (and in a foreign country).

Their Spanish speaking abilities have much improved, to the point where they were both leading Bible Studies in Spanish. The kids were doing well in their schools too. Amanda has been dealing with medical issues with her pancreas and had three surgeries while they were in Costa Rica. Back in March, her medical needs became so advanced that the International Mission Board, and the family, decided her best course of action was to come back to the USA to get medical treatment here. Their missionary journey was put on a type of "medical leave". She had another surgery at MUSC (in Charleston, SC) and has since been home in Greenville, SC recuperating. She still is not having the recovery they have been been praying for.

This week was the last week of their medical leave and they had to decide if they were going to ask for another medical extension from the IMB. At this point, they should have already been serving in Argentina!

Michael wrote a post on their blog this week, and I think his own words say it better than I ever could.

In 2007 we set out to be obedient to His call on our lives. In July 2010, we sit here in the marvelous mystery of His plan for our lives, to share the news that we will not be seeking medical clearance in order to return to the field. We will not be filling the position reserved for us in Cordoba, Argentina. Rather we will remain close to this area in South Carolina where her doctors are located, and we will continue to seek out answers to her ongoing pain. After many tear-filled nights and much prayer we now see this chapter in our ministry closing. It is a difficult place to be in many ways.

To read Michael's full article, click here.

I know the Hodges would appreciate your prayers for them, as I'm sure this has been a very difficult time for them. I can't imagine what it must feel like, to have sold their cars, their home, and packed everything else up, to move to another country to learn a language so they can go reach people for Christ. But, God has a plan in all of this. All that they have dealt with regarding Amanda's health, has been part of God's plan. They were obedient to the Lord, and when He said "Go!", they went.

They will now be serving with a church in Greenville. Buddy's parents used to live near this part of town, and there is a HIGH Hispanic population in that area. Their Spanish skills that they have learned will definitely be put to good use. Please pray for the Hodges as they once again transition into this new chapter of their lives. Pray that God will continue to use them, and that they will continue to be obedient to them. Most importantly, pray for Amanda's healing and recovery in regard to her health.

As always, you can continue to follow their story by reading their blog, here or you can click it on my sidebar.