Friday, April 29, 2011

{Go, Landon!}

Landon is one happy guy today.

He's been busy learning everything he needs to know to get his driver's permit.  He obviously has big plans for his 16th birthday and getting a driver's license is part of  the plan.

Yesterday he went to the DVM to take THE test.

Sir Thomas took him {so nice} and then Landon called and announced . . . "I'm getting a bike."
My reply: "Great!  What color?"
After 15 years, I know Landon.
He settled on "red."

A bit later I received a text from Sir Thomas: "Get the camera" - he knows me so well!

I raced outside to see the "red bike moment."

I know who's in the driver's seat!

Of course he passed!

Such a proud moment!  They both survived.
Sir Thomas is so brave.

I really don't want him to "turn" 16 in November.  It's coming nevertheless and so I celebrate this happy milestone for him.  Congratulations my beautiful boy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

{welcome to my front door}

Spring has definitely arrived and I'm ready!

My front door has looked sad and lonely for far too many years but I could never find the PERFECT idea to make it look as inviting as I want people to feel . . . until I "met" the Girls with Good Taste - Mia & Jilly.

I secretly want to hate them.  That's terrible!  I know!  It's tempting but they're crazily talented and it's almost too much for me.  I also secretly wish they were my neighbors.  It would be SO cool to spy on them . . . not that I could actually steal their ideas but just because they appear to be that much fun!
They actually share their fabulous DIY ideas, introduce their equally talented fabulous friends, and the food . . . yep, I'm hungry!  Please treat yourself to their archives.  You're worth it!

If you think you can control yourself and not give in to a jealous hatred for my new friends, I'll share their blog site with you.  (Prepare to drool over their creations.)

This is not the type of item that is to be ordered casually and certainly not everyday but it was a special treat for Sir Thomas and he's worth it!  I promise it is his gift and he loves it.  No wonder I love him.

The arrival!  It was exciting . . .

Isn't it beautiful?  (You don't even have to think about it to say, "YES!")

I looked long and hard for the perfect quote and those girls have excellent taste when they select fonts. 
It's perfect.

It will soon be hanging outside; looking lovely by our front door.  I think our guests will be smiling when we open it!

They also made this beautiful card and it says exactly what I'm thinking . . .

I love those girls AND their good taste!

Monday, April 25, 2011

{Good Friday}

Good Friday was VERY good.

Breakfast was good in the end and then we made a wonderful trip to Houston.  It's hard to believe that my three youngest children are now 12, 15, and 17.

The Houston Texas Temple is beautiful and having my children there made it perfect!

{Happy Birthday Elder Reed!}

The birthday tradition hit a snag last week.
It started as such a GREAT idea and then it slightly went bad somewhere.  I don't think I can handle a repeat . . . I'm going back to my original tradition.  
It was more fun.

Of course . . . 
We always have the missionaries over for a birthday breakfast - I always make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes - We always have fun - Take the same silly pictures - Make great memories -
This time . . . what was I thinking??

Elder Reed is too nice of a guy for me to have tried a "surprise" party.  He knows we have this birthday tradition but somehow we thought it would be fun to not tell him and make it a "surprise" breakfast on Friday . . . the day after his birthday!

We had some really great reasons:
1.  Sir Thomas would be home that morning.
2.  The AP's would be in Vidor that day.
3.  Good Friday = no seminary = less stress for me :)
4.  Elders from Orange could come too since they had a district meeting
5. Surprises are always fun! Right??

Sadly, it was a bad idea.
Poor Elder Reed.

He must have been wondering why we never mentioned a breakfast or made a big deal on Thursday.  It got worse when some members asked about his birthday breakfast and he had to tell them we didn't do it.  They were very disappointed in me and I know it must have made him feel worse. :(  I hope he wasn't thinking that we didn't like him! 
By Thursday evening I was in tears but it was too late to back out and ruin "the surprise."  
I knew I wouldn't sleep much Thursday night because I went to bed with Taylor Swift's song "Mean" running through my head and it was directed at ME!
I don't know all the words but the chorus was enough 
. . .
"Why'd ya have to be so mean?"

The AP's stayed in the apartment on Thursday night with our Elder's (the missionaries have dubbed it "THE Taj Mahal" - proof that they're all really young and easy to please) but somehow everyone forgot to inform the missionaries in Orange, which means they didn't get to come. :(  I've made a vow to get their phone number for next time.  I was too busy cooking to take any pictures but happily we still managed to get a few.

Naturally, he's too nice to say anything, act like it bothered him, stone me, or spray all of my Knockout Roses with weed killer.  A few more reasons we're happy he's serving here! 

The Birthday Boy with the GREAT attitude:

Ready for the surprise:

Entertaining Rambo / Elder Reed - they're great friends:

Autographing the Texas Flag!
(We still need to teach him the State Pledge of Allegiance.)

The breakfast bunch!

 Happy Birthday Elder Reed!  
Sorry for the lousy surprise.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

{sad days, bright future}

Isn't it interesting that the Lord always knows what we need?

The past week hasn't been what I planned for myself but I've learned and grown so much.  That's actually better than anything I could have done on my own.

I really thought I had THE perfect day planned last Tuesday.  Nothing followed the schedule!  I had literally prayed that I would use my time wisely and the Lord answered my prayers . . . in a very different way.

A friend stopped by and she was having one of THOSE days.  It was the kind of day that surpassed a bad day.  It was a personal nightmare she was dealing with.  She said she had prayed for help and felt that coming here was her answer.  I'm so thankful to know the Lord knows me AND my sweet friend.  So, as would be expected, the next few days followed suit and my ideas faded.  Once again, I'm so thankful I was so blessed.

Still, the saddest part of my week hadn't arrived.

Our nephew, Chad, has been fighting a battle with bi-polar disorder for several years.
On Saturday, April 16, he lost that battle.
My heart is still breaking and I'm still so sad.

Chad had a huge heart!  He also provided lots of laughs throughout his ups and downs.  He worked for the Tyler County Sheriff's Department and had so many friends.  

Not long before Nolan left on his mission, we were visiting in Fred.  Chad was attending the police academy at the time and had some handcuffs.  What could be cooler than that??  Nolan has some crazy ability to move his shoulders in directions that, quite honestly, make some people feel ill.  He let Chad handcuff his hands behind his back and then Nolan rotated his shoulders and got his hands over his head with his arms ending in front of his body.  This action only took a few seconds and everyone was amazed.  Nolan then mentioned his ability to pick the lock on the handcuffs.  Chad let us know that picking the lock was "impossible" - they told him so at the police academy.  Nolan, still handcuffed, reached for his wallet in his back pocket, pulled out a hairpin and quickly picked the lock.  Chad loved it!  He then learned how to pick the lock himself and began counting down the hours until he would be back at the academy and could show everyone his new skills!  It was fun to watch them together that night.  

Chad was lots of fun for his nephews and nieces.  He was also always good for a few good pranks.  I know Sweet Laura received more than her fair share of them.

The past few days have been full of tears but also full of wonderful moments with the family.  My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have been incredible throughout this tragic experience.  I'm so thankful for their examples.  I feel so much closer to them and appreciate their strength as they comforted others.  I also want to express my gratitude to everyone who has offered comfort, prayers, help with the funeral, and so many other thoughtful things.

This isn't the end.  I'm even more thankful this Easter for my Savior, Jesus Christ.  He lives and because He lives we will all live again.  I will see Chad again.  I'm glad his suffering in this life has ended.  I'm thankful for peace.  I'm thankful that our loving Father in Heaven has a plan.  His judgements and His love are perfect!  My heart aches for the suffering Chad endured and if someone as imperfect as myself feels compassion for such a wonderful nephew then I know how much more the Savior feels for him.  It is impossible for me to care more about Chad than He does.  He loves each of us perfectly.  This Easter, I feel even more gratitude for the Resurrection and the perfect plan of happiness.  I love Chad.  I love my family.  And, I especially love my Savior for blessing me with everything.

Not all is sad though.  There is still a bright future!
(In fact, it will begin again tomorrow with a special breakfast for one of our favorite missionaries.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

{April 8th}

The Birthday Ball was wonderful . . . but I'm saving that blog.  I'm waiting for the pictures.
However, there are still wonderful things to remember from other wonderful days!

April 8th is a rather marvelous day. 
It's my mother's birthday.

A few years ago, when my mother was celebrating a "40-Something" birthday, we called to sing and wish her a Very, Happy Birthday.

Nolan was 3 years, 6 months, and 43 days old.  
His younger brother was born when he was 3 1/2 years old . . . during the following 43 days Nolan heard us mention Keaton's age in "months."  

As most fun 3 1/2-year olds, Nolan was excited to talk to his grandmother on the phone.  After wishing her a Happy Birthday, he asked her the infamous . . . 
"How old are you?"

Being a young grandmother, she enthusiastically replied, "I'm ONLY 40?-years old!"
Nolan replied, "Whew!  That's a lot of months!"

I heard . . . "Give the phone back to your mother."
She laughed then and she's still laughing now!

He was still a happy 3 1/2-year old wanting to make her a birthday cake.

He had lots of ideas!  He decorated it with EVERYTHING he could find.  He especially thought adding a lovely stick from outside would be the perfect addition.  I persuaded him to settle for a nice clean wooden dow . . . Boring! No leaves! So, he added a bow.

The cake made the hours-long journey to Grandma & Grandpa's house.
 I love these memories!

When April 8th came this year, my DARLING sister,
Rachel, made the most delicious cake!

This birthday also brought another little boy with an idea of his own . . .

No decent birthday cake can be served without a dinosaur decoration!

The cake was delicious!

Her gifts were also fabulous!  For Christmas, my mom got just about the best gift ever . . . a Kindle!  She really needed some chocolates and a Kindle cover to really enjoy her special day.

 Not only does Rachel have mad cake decorating skills, she is really strong.  We probably won't even need to hang this fabulous chair from the Jarrell's!  Mom could have some serious relaxing time with her chocolates while reading her Kindle in this . . .

I really hope she enjoyed her special day.  She has been creating special days for her 11 children for many, many years.  No wonder I love her so much!  
She's still so beautiful and young!
I think all children are especially happy when their parents stay in love.

 (P.S. If you are ever looking for cake decorating tips, my precious nephew can help!)

Friday, April 8, 2011

{Flashback Friday}

I adore my children.  They make everyday worth waking up. 
(Being married to Sir Thomas is actually reason enough.) 
The part where my kids grow up so fast is not such a favorite.
My sweet cousin, Caroline, just welcomed baby Solomon to her precious family!  I'm so happy for them!!  He's #4 and I happen to think having 4 children is wonderful!

I'm so grateful for modern technology.  Having precious pictures of my children is priceless.  These pictures make me so happy.  I just wanted to look at them again - so here they are.
I have so many favorite pictures, someday I'll post more.  Looking at them makes me realize this is REAL!  It is a blessing to be a mother.  So many want the privilege and I don't want to take this journey for granted.

"A picture is worth a thousand words". . . I think it's because it would take at least that many words to describe the moment captured in the picture.

Now, they're BIG! And still oh, so handsome & beautiful.

When my crazy kids were WILD little kids . . . "knowing" adults would look at me with a bit of a scowl and warn (complete with wagging finger), 
"Just wait until their teenagers."

For the record . . . anyone with little ones, 
"Just wait until their teenagers!  It's SO much fun!"
Teenagers, at least mine, are wonderful to be around.

I love these happy memories!  We're going to make more tomorrow!

The preparations for the Birthday Ball are exciting.
I can't believe it's already here! 
I hope it's lots of fun and everyone enjoys it - that's the whole reason for hosting it.