Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The swimming poster child

 Above is the video of Daniel's swim coach, Ed Lower, presenting the prestigious Rives Mann award to Daniel. It is billed as going to the swimmer that is the poster child of swimming. (scroll down to playlist and stop it so you can hear the video)

He also won the Most Valuable Swimmer award for his age group.

And was acknowledged as having set a team record in 50 meter breast at 30.77.

As a senior, he got to give a little speech. He started out by publicly thanking me and John for all we had done for him!

The Seniors
Then later that week, Daniel got another honor,

He was selected to the All America Academic team. To be selected, he had to have above a 4.0 average and swim in higher level meets.

Again, we're very proud of that boy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Beth!

My big girl, baby had a birthday yesterday. She is now 27 years old, a fact that flabbergasts me!

I vividly remember the day she made her appearance into the world. All 5 lbs, 3 oz of her!

  I couldn't believe that at long last my second dream had come true, (being married was my first dream, I was, after all a very traditional girl). She wouldn't open her eyes to look at me, except momentarily, but I knew she just had to be the most beautiful baby in the world. My whole body was shaking violently,( something it did after each baby was born), and I was afraid I was going to drop her. I was kind of relieved when a  nurse took her from me with a worried look and put her in front of some oxygen.

Many times in the following days, I had wished that I hadn't been so eager to put her down. There were times when we didn't know if we'd ever get to hold her again.

It went downhill from then on. She ended up in neonatal ICU, which would be her home for the next month. It was touch and go for several days. When John gave his life to Christ, Beth started improving and only had one setback. She came home weighing in at a whopping 4 lbs. She was so tiny that she could wear Cabbage Patch doll clothes.

With a strict regimen of eating every 3 hours, even if we had to wake her and thump her foot to keep her awake and eating, she grew and developed. As she grew, so did our love for our first little girl.

The first time she smiled at me, I shouted and scared her so much that that first smile quickly turned into a scream.

Always been happy at the beach

I kept a close watch on all the development milestones. Being 2 months premature, she could have had many different types of delays. Beth never displayed any problems from her traumatic start. She did take her own sweet time walking, though. But now I recognize it was her perfectionist tendency.

She wasn't about to walk until she knew she could do it and do it well. We've seen that trait played out throughout her life.

One thing she learned to do early and very well was speaking. She said her first word at 9 months. We were coming home from the beach, having visited John's parents. Beth was an absolute terror on car rides. She would literally scream for hours in a car seat. I discovered that I could appease her for a short time with tiny pieces of Nilla Wafers. She said, "ca-ca" out of the blue.,  her word for cookie. She's always been a talker, people would be amazed at the vocabulary this little sprite had. Goes to show that some things never change!

She became the ultimate prissy little girl. She loved to dress up.

When prompted to "model", she'd prop her hands on her hips, get this serious look on her face and sashay from side to side.

She loved being a ballerina.

Ahhh, my prissy, prissy first born. She wouldn't fingerpaint, but had to use the stick, lest she dirty her hands.

Touch a fish?? Of course not! (Even after she had caught it).

I can't believe how the years fly by... the fun elementary years where Mom and Dad are wonderful, the scary teen years where Mom and Dad aren't so wonderful, the maturing college years where Mom and Dad gain a little of the wonderfulness back and now the married years where she's on her own and Mom and Dad think she's pretty wonderful and are so proud of what she's become!!

We love you more than you'll ever know, Bethy! God blessed us so richly that afternoon 27 years ago!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Carolina on our minds

"In my mind I'm gone to Carolina. Can't you see the sunshine? Can't you just feel the moonshine? Ain't it just like a friend of mine, it hit me from behind. Yes, I'm gone to Carolina in my mind."~ James Taylor

 To say we bleed "Carolina Blue" is an understatement. A few days before Beth flew home, she posted this link on Facebook ~Nothing Could Be Finer This started us all longing for another visit to that great University. John and I met and graduated from there, as did Beth. There is just something about that place that stays with you long after you leave it. Since our new church is very close, we decided to spend Sunday afternoon in "Blue Heaven".

Ahh, the memories! As I walked the brick lined walkways, I remembered how John and I used to dream of the day when we would bring our kids back here.

 Abbey and Elijah thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They got to

frolic with sculptures

 climb statues

and just be goofy!

Some serious poses:

Beth treated us to her favorite old stomping ground~ The Yogurt Pump. We all enjoyed that! But only a couple of us chose to wear their yogurt.

A walk through the arboretum ended our walk down memory lane. Abbey, Elijah and Beth decided to rest a little bit and take in the beauty.

 "But sometime when the springtime comes and the sifting moonlight falls, they'll think again of this night here and of these old brown walls, of white Old Well and of Old South. With Bell's deep booming tone, they'll think again of Chapel Hill, and -- thinking -- come back home."-Thomas Wolfe, UNC c/o '20

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Tomorrow we will celebrate another Mother's Day. I'm not really sure what my clan has planned. As I reflect on the upcoming day, I think about what it means to be a Mom. As I've said before, I adore being a Mama. When I was little and was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said I wanted to be a Mom. I'm one of the few people I know that are blessed enough to do exactly what they dreamed of doing.

I adore the feeling of that little hand's fingers entwined in mine. I love to go and kiss the smooth cheek and smell the sweet breath of sleep. There isn't much a better feeling in the world than to have little ones rush into my arms when I've return, or look in the window and see them flashing "I love you" in sign language, as I drive away. I burst with pride when they reach new goals: riding with two wheels, writing their name,  reading a sentence or tying their shoes.

I rejoice and overflow with joy when they triumph, and scream on the inside (and sometimes on the outside) when they fail. I feel their pain when they hurt and their sorrow as if it were mine.(I'd much rather it be mine). They are usually some of the first things I pray for in the morning and before I close my eyes at night, I ask the Lord to hold them.

As they have grown I've discovered new joys. Reminiscing about the past and the things we've done and seen together gives me insights on experiences they had that I didn't even know were happening at the time. I see how God is shaping each of them, sometimes as a result of an answer to my prayer. I see bits of me and John in each of them, sometimes good, and sometimes, well, not so good. We get to discuss things, such as how we feel about various topics and their future hopes and dreams.  I discover they have some really neat thoughts. I love that they desire to still return home. I so look forward to seeing them come home, and I try to hide my tears when they leave again.

This special gift of motherhood has given me joy beyond all joy. On this Mother's Day Eve, I can't help but think that, in the case of two of my kids, my joy comes at the expense of another's. They are blessings entrusted to me as a result of someone else's loss. I genuinely feel sorrow for those moms. I don't know all the circumstances surrounding their abandonment, but I pray these women can somehow have peace and know that their children are being loved with all our being,  prayed for and are the light of mine and John's eyes.

I can't thank the Lord enough for giving me a dream and allowing me to live it! I pray that all Moms will realize the precious gift of being able to nurture and shape another life. There's not a better job in the whole wide world!!

Who wants to be typical?

In our atypical family, it's fun to see them interact with each other

 People tend to think that because there is such a wide age range, they aren't close, but that really isn't the case. Just the other day, Elijah stated, "Mommy, I don't want Daniel to leave." 

Me neither, Elijah, me neither! It's more than a little sad that we then will look like a "typical" family.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Daniel's Sr. Prom

It's that time of the year again. The time when high school seniors and juniors spend extraordinary amounts of money for one night. One night that now requires all the primping and special treatments that were once reserved for weddings.  Can you tell I'm not a fan? We're talking high school prom, over hyped, over priced school dance. Ok, end of rant.

Daniel at first said he wasn't going to his prom this year. For some reason, peer pressure I think, he decided that he was going. He asked a good friend from swimming and began his indebtedness to me and John.

He really did look spiffy.

handsome young fella

John likes to pretend he's taller than his boy.

His group of friends met at a golf course to take pictures before.

Caleb has been Daniel's best friend since birth.
The whole group
They really did all look very pretty and handsome. Daniel said he had a good time. I just hope those memories are worth all the hours he has to work to earn the money that he needs to cancel his debt to his parents!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

John's big day part 2

The second part of John's birthday celebration took place the weekend following. I planned a surprise party for his/our friends. Our big kids all made arrangements to be there. That in itself was a huge birthday present and he would have been happy with that!

John brought his girlfriend, Sharon, to meet everybody. 

Abbey and Elijah were particularly glad to see her again.

I had asked everyone to bring an ice cream topping that they could somehow relate to John, and we would have ice cream sundaes and cake. Everyone came to our friends' Kristi and Ian's house. When all were there, Kristi would text me and they would walk over, ring the doorbell, John would open the door and ...surprise!

It worked like a charm. He was totally caught unaware.
He actually was on his way upstairs to put up his shoes when the doorbell rang.

Everyone waiting outside

I made the cake, no it's not a fish!

They fun part was the "roasting" topping stories. Lots of pokes and jabs, all in fun. John told me that he felt very special. That was my greatest desire. He is special. He's my buddy, best friend, adviser, personal comedian, the one that makes my heart skip a beat and next to the Lord, he is my everything! I'm so incredibly blessed to have him as my partner in life. I wanted his 50th birthday to be one where he felt loved. We have some great friends who were ready and willing to join me in making sure John's 50th birthday was special! We both are so thankful for our friends and family!