Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Break and Easter

We just finished up a fun but abnormal Spring Break.  Our family of 3 went to Gulf Shores with my dad for a few days.  We left on Saturday and traffic was terrible, and it was raining.  After a LONG day in the car, we arrived in Gulf Shores, got a few groceries, and settled into our condo.

Sunday was a beautiful day!  The high was around 70.  The water was cold, but the sun was shining.  A few crazy kids got in the pool, but I promise that water was like 50 degrees.

The ocean wasn't much warmer, but we got in for just a few minutes.

Luke likes to spend his beach time in the water jumping waves.  And of course he doesn't want to do that alone.  And the adults were freezing in the water.  Fortunately there were some other kids in the pool he played with for a little while.  He was pretty proud of himself for making some new friends.

Sunset was beautiful!  We enjoyed a yummy lunch at the Shrimp Basket (my favorite) and a beautiful afternoon and evening outdoors. 

Monday and Tuesday things were quite different.  The mornings were COLD.  We bundled up and walked on the beach each day, but temps in the 30s and a windy beach, brrrrr!

But we found lots of cool shells.  This is just a few of our finds!  Much easier to find shells when the beach is pretty much empty!

But cool temps didn't stop the fun.  We had more great meals at The Original Oyster House, DeSoto's and Mikee's.  Yum, yum yum.

The Oyster House has lots of fun things to do while you wait (and we went at 4 p.m., so we didn't wait long).

We played 4 different mini golf courses.  We cashed in the free game Luke one last summer at Pirate Mini Golf.  We had much discussion over which course was the best.  We really liked this one at Waterville (and it's $3 to play one round, $5 for two.  Best deal in town!)  We also really like Adventure Island in Orange Beach.

Wednesday was a little bit warmer, so after mini golf round 4, we headed out to squeeze in a few minutes of beach time.

It was 57 degrees and we had our toes in the ocean.  Brrrrrrrr!

We're huddling together to stay warm.  It was a gorgeous day and we had fun, even if we didn't last that long.

Luke only posed in 1 photo booth this trip.  He's cutting back I guess.  Lamar was kind of sick the entire time we were at the beach.  While Luke was posing in this photo booth, Lamar and I were standing outside talking about the trip home the next day and if he would feel like driving.  When Luke emerged from the photo booth, he was crying because it was the last day of vacation.  He cried all the way back to the condo.  He LOVES vacation.

He was able to dry his tears when I reminded him we had to get home for our glow in the dark Easter egg hunt.

Once again this year I stuffed glow sticks into plastic eggs and taped them shut.  Of course I have to wait until right before the egg hunt to fill the eggs, so the they'll still be glowing when it's time to hunt.  Thankfully Lamar was home to help me this year.

Here are the happy hunters.  It was raining and muddy, so the egg hunt was in our upstairs, with all the lights out.  The kids enjoyed finding the eggs.  Each child had a designated color.  They hid the eggs a couple times for the adults to find.  Then they moved onto Kinect and funny youtube videos.  Guess they might be growing up a little.  I think this is our 6th or 7th egg hunt.  A fun tradition.  Maybe next year we need a scavenger hunt.  :)

The bunny found us and brought us some loot. 

Luke's early morning scan of the basket's contents.

Easter was a good day.  We went out to eat with my dad.  Being our first holiday without my mom, we thought we'd change things up and go out for lunch.  The restaurant crowds were pretty low on Easter, at least at Chili's.  Chili's is not Easter tradition for too many families I'm guessing.

The weather if finally warming up a little here in TN and Luke's got some allergy eyes going on.  I guess spring is finally here!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Back to Blogging with a Birthday Recap

After the past few months, I really considered not blogging any more.  The last few months of my life are chronicled on mom's caringbridge website.  After her death in January, I just haven't gotten around to blogging again.  But I love this little chronicle of our lives, just for my own memories.

Luke turned 8 years old in January.  The week before his birthday, Mom was unresponsive.  After days of reading Bible verses, singing hymns, and saying our good-byes, she still was hanging on.  On the 17th, I was alone with her and I told her that Maggie's birthday had just past and Luke's was still 3 days away.  I promised her I would have his party no matter what and it was okay to go.  She died a few hours later.  I don't know if she even knew what I was saying at that point, but it's true to her nature that his happiness and well-being would be her priority.

The party was a couple of days later.  Our theme was Batman, so we got to recycle some parts of our Halloween costumes.

Grandma made that awesome Batman cake and she and Grandpa came to help with the party.  We had 16 kids at our house!  It was over a long weekend so I was sure some of them would be out of town.  But 16 were here!!!!  Wow. 

We decorated Batman masks I made from craft foam (pattern from Pinterest).  Lamar drew the Batgirl and Batman posters for the kids to pose behind.  I printed each child's photo and Luke wrote his thank you notes on the back of the pictures and we mailed them like postcards.

I divided the kids into 3 groups and we play 4 games.  I printed pictures of Batman villains and good guys and taped them to some of Lamar's big heavy Bible commentary books.  I stood the books up on the bed and the kids stood at the other end of the room and tried to shoot the bad guys with a Nerf gun.

In our bonus room and spare bedroom, we did a "Riddler Scavenger Hunt."  I made up some simple clues like "I'm no Mr. Freeze but I'll keep you cool." (the ceiling fan)  Even though I thought it was pretty cheesy, all the kids really loved the scavenger hunt.  The final clue led them to a Batman figure in our dryer.

In the kitchen, we had some bad guy bowling.  I took 5 or 6 empty water bottles and peeled off the labels and taped a Batman symbol to each.  In each bottle was a rolled up piece of card stock with a Batman villain or good guy printed on it.  The kids rolled a bowl 2 or 3 times and knocked down bottles.  Then we opened the bottle and unrolled the paper to see who they'd knocked down.  They got a point for each bad guy.

In the living room we played bat planes into the bat cave.  Lamar made paper airplanes with the kids and they tried to fly them into the bat cave (a laundry basket).  A few kids really liked this, but several were not into the paper airplane making.

It was an unusually warm, gorgeous day in January and we went outside and played pin the Bat signal on good guys, a blindfolded, pin the tail on the donkey type game I bought at Party City.  Luke came in and blew out his candles and the kids went back outside to eat their cake and ice cream.  He opened gifts and then it was time to go.  I think the party went just great, especially considering the circumstances.  So blessed for all the sweet, gracious friends that came to help with the party.
Life has continued in the odd way it does after a huge life event.  But there is joy in every day as we find our new normal, as difficult as that can be.  Here's my favorite recent Luke story.

Last Sunday our church showed a preview for The Bible miniseries on the history channel.  Lamar and I were talking about it as we were driving home and I said, "Did that make you tear up when the wise men bowed down to Jesus?"  He said it did.  Luke immediately perked up because he's fascinated by anything that makes us cry.

"Why did you cry?" he said.

I said that it's just a really wonderful thing that Jesus came to earth.  Luke said, "I KNOW!!!!  It was SO . . . . . HELPFUL!"

We laughed and I said, "Well, yeah, it's the most helpful thing ever."

He said, "I KNOW!  He came to save the whole world.  (long pause) And murderers don't even care."

So there you have it.  God's plan for our salvation and the lost world all summed up in 3 sentences.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012

Halloween costumes are a big deal at our house.  I tell this story every year, but when Luke was 4, and just beginning to clue into the world around him, he asked me and Lamar to join him in dressing up for Halloween.  So that first year he was Mario, I was Luigi, and Lamar was Donkey Kong.  I spent about 10 minutes on our very simple costumes.  The next couple of years were more involved and we included Mimi and Papa.

But this year, with Mimi and Papa not able to join in, it was just the 3 of us once again.  And that was a little sad for all of us.  But it would have been sadder still to let the tradition die, I think.

We'd planned to go to Trunk or Treat at church, but it was scheduled for Halloween night.  And after a fun-filled Halloween day at school with friends, Luke asked to trick or treat in the neighborhood with school friends.  I thought maybe that would be the end of us all dressing up, but he said could we PLEASE all 3 wear our costumes.  So we got all decked out and stayed at home.  I used some of our trunk or treat decorations to fancy up the front yard a little.

Batman, Robin, and Catwoman, ready for a fun-filled Halloween night.

These poses were Luke's ideas:

A friend from school trick or treated our house just as we were about to head out.  Lamar stayed home and doled out the candy.  Luke and joined up with his school friend and walked the neighborhood asking candy.  I made it about half a block and my ankles were throbbing.  I am such a wimp with the heels.  I called Lamar and he brought me my Toms.  Sweet relief.

I don't think I pulled off Catwoman too well.  At pretty much every house we'd get some version of this comment:  "Oh, you're Batman.  And your Mom's a cat."  Luke would correct, "She's Catwoman."  And the response was something like, "Oh, yeah."  Definitely not sultry enough to be Catwoman.

At one house, and older gentleman was sitting on his porch handing out the candy.  He had a lot of rather spooky decorations and Luke was a little leery.  After Luke got his candy and was leaving, the man pulled a string that was attached to a ghost decoration that shook and made noise.  I thought it might scare him but Luke said, "Now THAT is a prank!"  The old man just laughed and laughed.

Halloween was fun and pretty much easy-breezy for our Luke.  It's still amazing when I think about where we started.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall Stuff

The last week of September was Spirit Week at school.  Here's a little montage of the week (sports team day, wear read and walk to school and bring change for the American Heart Association, PJ day, class color day, and school shirt day)
The week ended with our Family Fun Night.  Luke ran around with friends most of the night (literally ran.  I don't think the walked anywhere.)

At some point he got his hair sprayed these awesome stripes.  Beautiful work by one of my fellow PTO moms.  And I convinced him to pause the running for just a second so I could get a picture.

Luke paused for another minute to put together this lovely costume and pose in the photo booth.  Never met a photo booth he didn't love.

The next week was Luke's class' Butterfly Release Party.  The kids did a little program about the life cycle of the butterfly and then each one reached into the butterfly cage and "encouraged" a butterfly to hop on an orange wedge and make their way into the big wide world.  Luke who usually freaks out at close contact with most any living creature, bravely stuck his hand in retrieved a butterfly.  The butterfly stayed on his orange for a good 10 minutes before flying away.  It was a cute day.

At Family Fun Night, our school has Teachers For Sale.  Luke just adores his teacher and begged me to bid on a trip to Sweet CeCe's with Mrs. G.  Well we got in a small bidding war a friend of Luke's.  Luke was so funny, encouraging me to PLEASE bid just one dollar more.  We ultimately won and Luke's friend, N, was so sad he had not won.  Luke felt terrible and was sobbing because he'd hurt N's feelings.  I noticed that Luke got to bring a friend with him to Sweet CeCe's.  So Luke invited N and all was right with the world.  They went a couple of weeks ago and had a great time.

Last week, Luke had a two day fall break.  One Monday, Lamar was with Mimi and Papa while Mimi had a procedure.  I got an email from Taylor Nation (that's right.  We're in the fan club.) that her new record was available that day.  So we headed to Target for RED.  Luke loves it.  And I may have listened to it a few times too.  I let Luke chose a restaurant for lunch.  He chose to eat at Target.  We had hot dogs and fries.  I don't exactly recommend it, but Luke was a big fan.

On Tuesday of Fall Break, we went bowling.  We had the kid bowling room all to ourselves.  Luke got a strike on his first frame.

After bowling we stopped by the arcade at the bowling alley.  Luke got 200 tickets on his first try at Deal or No Deal.  Lucky day for him.

Here's his arcade loot.  One of the foam arrows has already broken.

After bowling we saw Hotel Transylvania.  Pretty cute.  Luke gave it two thumbs up.  Great family times.

Cousin Visit

With all that's going on lately, blogging has sadly fallen to the bottom of the list.  But I figure I'll regret having blogged nothing about this time in our lives, so I'm going to give it a shot.

Back in September, seems like it was around the end of September, Maggie and family came to visit.  Her parents spent a lot of time with Mimi and Papa, and Maggie spent a lot of time at our house.  We had so much fun, despite the circumstances of their visit.

We enjoyed the mustache app.

We had a great time at the zoo.  We took our stroller that Luke used to ride in, thinking Maggie could use that and we could rent a big stroller for Luke (because we know from experience that these two and one stroller is a bad scene).  Well, they had this hand dandy double stroller that both kiddos could ride together in.  So Lamar pushed these two around, and I pushed around our stroller, carrying our backpack, drinks, and occasionally a Sleeping Beauty doll.

Maggie was a little scared to try the carousel.  But Luke convinced her it was awesome and I promised her I'd never let go of her.  I thought she might change her mind before it started when a toddler on the animal next to her started having a fit.  But we weathered the storm and as soon as the music started and we began to spin, she LOVED it.  As we came around our first turn and she could see the view from where the carousel sits on top a hill, she said, "Wow, I can see everything here!  I can see heaven!" 

I remember a few years ago, when Luke was 4 and his 8 year old cousin Maddie was visiting.  Maddie convinced Luke to try this very same carousel for the first time.  And now look who's the big, brave cousin. 

We took turns viewing the elephants up close through the whatever-you-call-this-thing-you-have-to-put-quarters-in-to-look-thru.

They were SO tired at this point.  It was really warm and this was our last stop.  But I did convince them to pose for a photo.

After the zoo we went back to Mimi and Papa's house for a little while.  Maggie fixed my hair and we took some photos.  And we played with my old Strawberry Shortcake dolls.  I had to google descriptions of the dolls to find their names.  My memory is so bad.  Our favorite was Strawberry Shortcake wearing a sombrero.  Her name is Rosita Fresita.

We went to church together on Sunday and the cousins enjoyed lots of quality time.  Erik, Jeanie and Maggie headed home on Monday.  Good family time in the midst of a trial.  Blessings.

Monday, September 10, 2012

2nd Grade

Wow.  So very much has happened since I last blogged.  It's a little bit hard to remember life before the past 2 weeks.  But I think I will want a record of Luke's first days of second grade so here we go.

The day before school started we went to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Two thumbs up from Luke. In case you haven't noticed, he pretty much gives every single movie we see a two thumbs up, except the 3D documentary on the school of sardines we saw at the aquarium.

So, August 10 was the first day of school.  He was nervous but ready.

2nd grade, here he comes.  We walked to school, I think.  I should have blogged sooner about the first day. 

Luke was happy to see his new teacher, Mrs. G.  He met here a couple of days earlier when we went to school for his reading assessment.  She's a favorite teacher at school who just moved to 2nd grade after teaching 5th for many years.  They seem to be getting along just great.

Luke got right to work.  Look at that helper hand holding his paper still.  Putting all that OT to good use.  Luke was feeling hesitant when we left.  But he was all smiles after the first half day.

On a scale of 1-10, he gave the first day a 25.

That weekend we celebrated the beginning of a great new year by going to the county fair.

We rode the ferris wheel twice.  A big hit with the whole family.

Lamar and Luke rode the teacups.  I don't do spinning rides.

And after one week of school, Luke was at the doctor's office with strep.  He missed two days, then his teacher was out due to a loss in her family.  And with my mom's illness, things have been more chaotic than normal.  But Luke has really rolled with the punches and I'm so proud of him.

Since school's started, Luke's also graduated from private OT.  We really miss our OT of 4 years, Danielle, but we're so proud of Luke for being ready to "graduate."

My thoughts are jumbled but Luke is doing great.  The past few weeks as we dealt with the loss of our dear friend Sara and learned of my mom's illness, Luke and I had this conversation:
Luke:  I hope Mimi doesn't have what Mrs. Sara had.
Me:  I thinks she might.
L:  I know what that means.
M:  You do?
L:  Yes, she might die.
M:  Yes, that could happen.
L:  That is two of my favorite people, Mrs. Sara and Mimi.
M:  I know.  I'm sorry.
L:  But Mom, you know dying is a good thing.  You know, God, Jesus, heaven!

Love that boy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Wrap Up

School starts in two days and I haven't finished blogging about our summer!  Always behind.

We went to Lynchburg to visit grandparents met up with some cousins and an aunt and an uncle there.  A house FULL of fun!  We arrived LATE on a Wednesday night.  On Thursday we made a family trip to a fun place.  It was at least 100 degrees, but we . . . 

played mini golf of course!  I had to quit mid game, not that it mattered to Luke.  He was playing with his cousins and I was with the adults.  After I cooled off inside and I went back out to see what was going on.

The cousins and dads were driving go karts.  Luke thinks go karts are too loud but he loved cheering on his cousins from the sidelines.
Next we tried out the bumper boats.  Those were super fun on a hot day, but that's pretty obvious from Lamar's incredibly jovial expression.  We loved squirting each other . . .

But that's pretty obvious too . . . 

Next Luke decided to face a fear and try out the bumper cars.  With each car driven by someone he knows and trusts, I think he felt safe to give it a go.  I wish I'd been able to capture a picture of his face the first time he took a bump and his car spun out.  It was an expression of shear exhilaration or terror.  But then he grinned really big, and I knew the joy won out over the fear.  Yeah Luke!  He rode two or three times.

When we got back home, Haley gave him a mohawk.  Teenage cousins are so fun.

On Friday we went to Amazement Square, kind of a kids' museum/play place.  We went a couple of years ago, and the cousins had much fun.  Luke was especially excited to find the "Text to Speech" display that featured a keyboard for typing a message and a computerized voice that spoke your message.  Our last visit, the cousins had a great time typing silly insults about each other.  Unfortunately text to speech had been removed.  I wonder if our kids weren't the only ones typing insults.

But we still had a great time.  Luke tried the zip line.

Yeah Luke!

Cousin photo outside Amazement Square.

On Friday night we went to one of our all time favorite mini golf places, the first place Luke ever played, Tiny Town.  Only on Friday night it was glow-in-the-dark mini golf.  This mostly consisted of glow sticks in the balls and placed around the course.  And some disco lights spinning wildly, of course.  Disco lights and mini golf is a funny combination.  But it was tons of fun and Lamar got like 3 hole in ones.  He apparently should always play mini golf in the dark.

Saturday and Sunday were fun family times doing a little shopping and hanging out.  I got to see an longtime friend who know lives in Lynchburg.  Always a treat.

Yeah for cousins!

Sweet cousin Maddie rode from Virginia to our house with us, where her family spent the night before heading home.  She even influenced Luke to do a little reading in the car.

So that caps off our summer.  A few days after we got home Luke said, "I had a great summer, Mom.  I'm going to miss you when school starts."  And that makes it ALL worth it.  Totally worth it.

School starts on Friday.  The first few days of school are so nerve wracking.  Luke told me he is feeling a little shy and a little nervous but a lot excited.  We went and met his teacher today and he did a reading assessment.  I'm hopeful it will be great year.  But the change is hard.  He and I both get so attached to his teacher each year and transitioning to someone new makes us both nervous.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed.

Tonight Luke was telling me that his 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. G, had a sign in her room that said, "Sorry, Pluto!  :(  "  He thought that was funny.  I asked him if he knew why that was funny and he said because Pluto isn't a planet anymore.  Then he said, "I'm glad Earth's still a planet."  I laughed.  Then he had lots of questions about if an asteroid could crash into earth.  (I totally remember worrying about that as a kid.)  I told him I thought it would burn up in the atmosphere, or just land in the ocean.  He said we better not got to the beach.  I told him it would be WAY out in the ocean and we wouldn't even know it (totally making this up.  I know nothing about asteroids).  But I told him I was sure God would protect us.  Then he asked me what planet heaven is on.  So I attempted to answer that and he said, "Was that a good question?"  Then he asked me where God was and I tried to explain that with my feeble human mind.  He said, "How is God everywhere and how does he see everything?"  So I told him God has power over the whole universe, all the planets and everything.  He said, "Wow.  That is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G."  I told him it sure is.  I told him I guess he and I didn't need to worry about anything because we're never alone and God has so much power.  He said, "Yeah, amazing power."

So, I am not going to fret about the beginning of a new year with new challenges.  Because a very wise person clued me in that God is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.