Friday, December 11, 2009

Flashback Friday

YEAH! It's Flashback Friday! This is the first day of school this year, Third grade! I know I promised pictures way back when, and then totally let you down, so here you go! Isn't she adorable? I know, I am biased, but COME ON--she is CUTE! She was so excited to wear a tie to school. It ended up getting on her nerves and she took it off by the end of the day. Third grade has been awesome so far, although there is a lot more drama this year. Girls are just drama-filled beings by nature, I guess, and it is amazing the change that occurred over the summer. Billie doesn't really instigate any of it, and it usually doesn't even involve her, she just gets caught up trying to make everyone happy and get along--smoothing things over between everyone. And a lot of the kids are "dating", as they call it. When we were kids it was "We are going together." I remember my mom asking me "Really? Where are you going?" I would get so mad! We don't allow Billie to have boyfriends or "date." And she says she doesn't want to. There is a boy she has a crush on, though. I don't think there is any way to stop that, or I would try! HEHE! It is so scary to be a parent of a girl, but she is such a good girl so that makes it easier. I just pray for her daily, and I pray for her future husband, too. I want the moon for her. The most important thing to me is her salvation, and I always ask God to help me lead her to Him. I want to teach her to lean on the Lord for everything. Unfortunately I have passed on to her my worrying nature. I hate that I have done that, it is one of my worst habits and I hate to plague her with that. But she is so sweet and loving, and she does love the Lord. She says the sweetest most heart felt prayers. It really touches my heart. She thinks of things so uniquely, so different than I do. She is so amazing, God is so good and has blessed me with a wonderful daughter. Have a great weekend all!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow Day!

We got a snow day Saturday, it was so much fun! The snow was gone by 3 in the afternoon, except for our snowman, which is actually still on the front lawn, but only the very bottom section. He actually toppled over as soon as we came in to the house to get dried off and have some hot cocoa. Billie woke up at 6 AM to tell us it had snowed! We got up and started stringing popcorn and making Christmas ornaments for our tree. It snowed all morning long, and we finally went out to play at about 9 AM. We were out for about an hour, until we were sufficiently soaked and cold to the bone! It was a wonderful way to spend my birthday, though. That is the first time since I was a kid in Michigan that I have had snow for my birthday! You know you are in East Tennessee when building a snowman uses up all of your snow in your yard! I can't wait for more snow, they are teasing us with a small threat of snow this Saturday, so we will keep our fingers crossed! I have a final exam today, two tomorrow and one on Thursday. But on Friday I will post some pictures of our home-made tree decorations. We have had so much fun doing this tree this year, Billie keeps saying it is her best Christmas ever! We were forced to make decorations since ours are loaded up in the attic behind mounds of stuff and we can not get to them at all. I guess if we wanted to unload the attic, get the Christmas stuff out, then load the attic back we could, but that would take one whole day to do and I have no desire to spend a day doing that. We are still trying to sell the condo, so we are trying to keep it minimally decorated and make it look more spacious, thus all the stuff up in our attic. More later in the week!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Count Down to Disney

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We sure did. It was a wonderful 4 days off from work and school and we spent it with wonderful family and GREAT food! SO fun. Now Billie and I are counting down to DISNEY! We are so excited. We go in 15 DAYS! Whoohoo! Which also means I have to get ready for Christmas before then. Scary! But we are well on our way. Since we are doing Disney, we are cutting back on gifts so that helps. Billie is very specific in what she wants for Christmas, which also helps. She wants a frog, a real live, pet frog. She is all frogs all the time these days. We even got her a frog ornament for the tree for her ornament this year. I need to somehow put the year on it, so we will always remember the year she was obsessed with frogs. We still have our house on the market, but no luck selling yet. Since we were trying to make it look less like we were busting out at the seams and more roomy, we packed a lot of stuff up and put it in the attic, in front of all our Christmas decorations. I guess we were hopeful we would sell before Christmas. So we got a real tree, borrowed lights from Wanda and Billie and I are making handmade decorations for it. Any ideas you have for easy and fun ornaments will be greatly appreciated! I miss my ornaments and other pretty decorations, but I am OK with it. It will just make it more special next year when we finally get to use them again. I love decorating for Christmas, it is my favorite part about Christmas, and it is fun to try something new and do something different.

Billie is very busy with singing performances both with the school chorus and with church choir. She sang Sunday night for "Hanging of the Green." We are so blessed to have Bob Robinson at Central, the music is always outstanding and he lived up to his reputation Sunday night. I was so filled with the awe of what God did for us through the music and voices that Bob directed that night. It is always amazing to see the church lit up in candles and twinkling Christmas lights, poinsettias, greenery, ribbons and bows, but the real enjoyment is from the music. The hand bells were fantastic, the orchestra and the voices, too. Of course, Billie did a wonderful job. She always sings out and knows every word. She is blessed with a beautiful voice and a has a true gift. She loves to shine on stage, too! I am always so proud of her. She has a Christmas program at church next week, 3 different performances for the school chorus, and a piano recital all coming up! It will a busy two weeks, but fun for us all.

I have been filled with thoughts of what Mary must have felt like, so pregnant with her first child. Probably nervous of the impending birth, and then travelling so far and away from her mother who would have naturally helped her with the birth of her first child. I can't help but think of how terrifying that must have been. And how uncomfortable! Can you imagine being so close to your due date and having to walk and ride on a donkey for many miles, only to find yourself giving birth in a dark stable among the animals? Of course she didn't know at the time the pain and suffering her baby boy would endure to save our souls. I also think of what Jesus would have been like as a baby. It is so hard to imagine! I think of him as so perfect, but as a baby the only way he could communicate would have been to cry, so he had to cry sometimes. He had needs that had to be met, and Mary couldn't have read his mind. But I bet it was a sweet cry! You know, that quiet little precious sound babies make before they get really upset and really mad and really scream? I love to think about Jesus as a baby. I love what he did for me, but it makes me sad at the same time that he had to suffer at my expense, so I love to think of him as a baby - happy and perfect. Years away from the amazing sacrifice. I love to think of Mary then, too, before she knew what would happen to her precious first born. When she thought he would be a king and save her people, which is what he was and what he did, but in such a different way than she must have expected. I also wonder if she was shocked after having such a perfect baby by her other children's behavior and temperaments! I bet they seemed like a real challenge in comparison.

OK, that is my long winded rant for the day! It is fun to get those random thoughts out of my mind. Happy Wednesday to you all!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Michigan Update

So this is Matt and Brian this morning in Ann Arbor at 9 a.m. Matt said they stopped about 30minutes outside of Ann Arbor last night and got a hotel, barely because most were all filled up with Ohio State fans, and they got to the exit at 6.30 this morning and waited in traffic, yes traffic, to get into the parking area. They pulled in their spot at 8 o'clock this morning to set up for tailgating. They are cooking a fine breakfast of coffee, steak and eggs. I haven't heard back from them since this picture was made because they were busy trying to get their breakfast in before they headed to the stadium. The game starts at noon on ABC, Billie and I will be watching for the men in bowl hats! Everyone have a great Saturday. GO BLUE!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flashback Friday

The BIGHOUSE 2007, Michigan against Ohio State. Matt, for those of you who do not know, is a HUGE Michigan fan. I got him tickets for that game for Christmas the year before, and we went together. He had never been to the Bighouse before, and it was a fantastic time. Ohio State won that game, and it was cold and rainy, but we still had a blast. Flashforward to today--Matt and his dad leave today at 4pm to drive up to Michigan to see the Michigan-Ohio State game tomorrow at noon at THE BIGHOUSE! He is so excited! He has been packing since Monday--no joke. He also made bowl-bound hats for them to wear, I will post a pic later, sorry I forgot to take one. He took big bowls, painted them yellow, put a big "M" on them and we velcro'd them to his hat! If Michigan wins the game tomorrow they will be eligible to play in a bowl, so that is the reason for the bowls. Funny, huh? It is fun to see him so excited about the game, and I am so glad that he gets to go with his dad. They are going to have a blast. He even is planning to tailgate, at 7 am! He is making steak and eggs for them for breakfast. I know for sure they will be exhausted when they finally arrive home Sunday night. Pray for good weather and safe travels! I will update tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Buddy's Race 2009

My first 5K

Sunday was the Buddy's Race against Cancer and we have a team every year in memory of Michael, we call it the Bassmaster's. This year I trained for it and ran it with Matt. How amazing that was! I ran with my wonderful husband for my first race ever, in memory of my other wonderful husband. God is good. He has blessed me with two amazing men to love. Matt probably could have won the race, he is very fast. But he stayed back with me at my snail's pace and we finished in 32 minutes. It was a hard race, I thought, with lots of steep, long hills! But I never stopped, I kept going to the finish. (I could be quoted as saying "Crap! Another Hill." as I was coming down one and heading up the last hill of the race, though.) I was so surprised when I got to the end and Angelique, Riley, Jennifer, Billie, and the rest of the bunch were all there cheering for us! It absolutely made me feel like the most special person at the race! I just assumed everyone would be out walking, but there they were as we came around the last corner. I was so surprised. Second time that day I cried. The first was at the very start of the race, when we had a moment of silence before we began to honor those with cancer and remember those lost to cancer. Matt held my hand and we bowed our heads and I said a prayer to God and also asked Michael to be with me and help me to finish. So I had both of them there with me at the same second, it felt like. And almost like he could read my thoughts, Matt squeezed my hand right as I was telling Michael thank you. I started the day out so nervous! Once we got started, I calmed down. I am fighting a chest cold/ sore throat illness, but I didn't let that stop me! I did take yesterday off, however. I plan to go for a run today, though. I think Matt and I might run another race in December. It's the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis. We get to wear jingle bells! Not sure how that won't annoy me, but we will see! This race is in the morning, and I do so much better in the morning. The Buddy's race was at 3pm, the worst time of the day for me. Isn't that nap time? If only I had time to nap every day, that would be a perfect world! So, it was a wonderful day. I finished my first race. I ran with my loving husband for my other loving husband. Doesn't get much better than that. I still get down sometimes, but God is ever faithful to give me days like that as reminders that He is still with me, He has not forgotten me.

One side note for prayers: Billie has a staph infection in her throat. She is really feeling terrible and is not showing any signs of recovering yet. Please pray the antibiotics will kick in and stop this nasty infection, soon!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Flashback Friday

Billie and Courtney and the famous "Hollywood Face"

How cute is this?! Billie was almost 5 here. She had decided that people in Hollywood, when they posed for pictures, used this expression and we all started calling it the "Hollywood Face." She went through a period of time that she would pose like this constantly. We all just thought it was the funniest thing. That year for New Year's, we all went to Disney, and outside of MGM Studios, we all stood there with our Hollywood faces on. It was dark, and there were like 13+ of us, so you really can't tell we were all doing it. But this one was perfect, so I am sharing it for "Flashback Friday!" How fun, I love this idea! Thanks again, Vanessa. Now, let's see what I can come up with for next week...

Monday, November 9, 2009

So Proud of Billie

Billie played her heart out this weekend in Morristown. She just shined out on the field. She played full back and really stopped the other team. She was so aggressive and you could see with every play she made, her confidence just grew. By the third game, she was on fire. She did exactly what she was supposed to do, and she stopped them every time. They only won their last game, and placed 7th overall. I have no idea how many places there were, but she was just tickled that they won a game! They haven't had the best season, I think I mentioned it before. But she has learned so much this season. This was her first season as a U10 player, and she had to go up to a bigger field as well as learn off-sides and play with a goal-keeper. Her skills really have improved this season along with her confidence and level of aggressive playing. She may not be the quickest, but she has figured out how to wait for the other team to get to her, and then cut them off and apply pressure so she can get the ball. It is so wonderful to see, and so fun to watch her energy and enthusiasm. I am so proud of her. It was a very fun weekend, and i am sad it is over and we have to attack the week once again. I have a little case of the Monday blues, but I will work through it this morning and turn it into a wonderful week. Hope you all have a great week, too!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Flashback Friday

Two blogs in one day--now that is a record for me! So these pictures are from the Buddy's Race Against Cancer last year. I know I have shared this with everyone, but for those who don't know I will explain. We always have a team in memory of Michael called the Bassmasters. We go and spend the day at the World's Fair Park and walk and eat Buddy's BBQ and the kids get to play in the pump it up moonwalk things and get their faces painted. It is always such a really good time, and we get to remember Michael and honor his memory, too. I always end up getting a migraine by the end of the day, only because I put too much pressure on myself. It is to me the day where my two worlds collide, if that makes any sense at all. While I love it, it is a reminder to me of being left behind when Michael passed away, and it brings up the guilt that I have lingering somewhere deep inside me that I have moved on with my life without him. I had no intentions of ever getting married again. God had a much different plan for my life than I did. I am so glad he did, because I am so happy now and Billie and I have such a wonderful life with Matt, not to mention I wouldn't have my beautiful Joshua and Caleb! God is so good. Michael made it a point of telling me he wanted me to marry again; that it was OK with him if I married while Billie was still little. (He said "as long as it isn't like 6 months later. You have to miss me and be miserable without me for at least a year!" He was very funny, and he meant it to be funny not knowing that I would really be in a deep state of mourning for a year solid.) So I know it was OK, and God has blessed me with two wonderful husbands, but you never stop loving and when I feel that loss it always is with a twinge of guilt. I know Michael would not want me to feel that, and I don't usually feel that, but never the less it is there on occasion. So at the Buddy's Race it is always in the back of my mind, and it causes my head to hurt! This year will be a little different because Matt and I are RUNNING the race! I am so excited, and scared. It is my first race. I do not plan on winning, only finishing. I am still very slow, so there is no chance of me winning. But I have been running regularly 4 miles a day 5 days a week, on average, and I am ready for the race. I did slip on a leaf during my run yesterday and I pulled a muscle in my leg--but I know it will be OK by next Sunday for the race, it has to be. That would just be a cruel joke to get this close and a leaf be the end of it! I am going to baby it for the next couple days and pray for quick healing. Back to my explanation of the Buddy's Race Against Cancer; it is a local race and all the money goes locally to fight all kinds of cancer. They even have a special fund in Michael's name that they use to educate the rural areas on colon cancer prevention. All of my close friends and family come together, both sides of my family (Williams and Rosecrance) so it is truly very special, and I know Billie will one day look back and see how wonderfully awesome her family is and how totally supportive they all are to honoring the memory of her daddy. So the race is Sunday, November 15 and I have been thinking a lot about it so I thought my first "Flash Back" should be a few pics from past races and what it is to our family. Have a great weekend all!

The Rain Forest

Billie had another project for school. The assignment was for a diorama of an ecosystem. She chose a rain forest because she loves frogs and she knew she would be able to include frogs in it. She had to make all of the animals, and she chose to use pipe cleaners to make a Macaw, frog, lots of snakes, a monkey and a sloth. She used felt to cover the top like a night sky, and to make mountains in the back ground. She had the brilliant idea (I know, my kid so I am biased) of putting the river coming down from the mountains and making it smaller at the top and larger at the bottom so it would look like it was flowing. It turned out great, and I hope she gets a good grade. I think she will. She really enjoyed the whole process, too.

She has started taking her multiplication tests, too. So far she has passed them all, through 2. It will get hard now, so cross your fingers for us. She is so smart, though, I know she will fly through them! It is a lot of work every night, though. She has spelling words to learn; she takes a test every Friday on 20 words. She has multiplication tests every Monday and Thursday, and she has to read for a minimum of 15 minutes every night. Luckily, soccer is almost over so we will start having more time in the evenings. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa who really help her study every Tuesday and Thursday!

Billie has a soccer tournament this weekend in Morristown. Last year didn't go too good, so I hope they are more successful this year. No matter, we have fun going and it is a nice end to the soccer season, regardless. I love the families of our soccer team, and it is so nice to spend time with them. Who knows where we will be next season, if our house sells we will be on the other side of town so this might be her last season with this team. That makes us all a little sad, of course, but I also know where one door closes, another one opens. It will be an exciting adventure to meet new friends!

I have a BIG exam today in biochemistry. It is on metabolism, and it is all so detailed and easy for me to confuse. I will let you know how it goes. I am very scared for this one. I am doing very well in the class so far, so I really don't want to let my grade drop. I have studied so hard, though, so I should do fine. It always scares me to go into an exam without the confidence to back me up. I will take your prayers at 1:20 today that I don't have anxiety and I do my best!

Have a great Friday and a great weekend!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Conjoined Pumpkins

Can you believe these adorable pumpkins? I didn't find them, Chandler's mom, Kathleen, found them and gave them to us. I just love them. I wish there was some way I could save them forever. It is amazing. I am not sure if you can tell from the picture or not, but it really is two pumpkins, conjoined in the middle, and they share one stem. It makes me think of the boys, how they were conjoined in the middle and shared one umbilical cord. I used to ask all the time, "I know I have heard of two headed turtles, but do you think other animals and plants are conjoined, too?" And now I know they are! It was just a sweet thing that made me feel close to my boys. Maybe they don't call them conjoined, they probably call them "mutated" or something equally awful. I don't care what they call them. To me they are conjoined pumpkins and they made me remember my beautiful twins, that's all that matters to me. I decided if they were dressing up in heaven, which I know is a long shot, that they are probably the biblical Joshua and Caleb. Can you just see them, sweet little 1 year old toddlers in "Jesus Sandals" and toga-like clothes? Too cute, I thought. I realize I sound crazy, heaven is full of people worshipping Jesus and they do not have thoughts of earthly celebrations, especially a pagan holiday like Halloween, but it was fun to imagine.

We had a great Halloween, and I will post pictures and blog about it later when I have more time. I have tons of school stuff over the next two weeks, but I will try to do short blogs like this one as I go so that I at least get something here. I am also planning on stealing my friend Vanessa's idea of "Flash back Fridays" and I just haven't gotten it together to start it. I thought by posting shorter blogs I maybe can get them on here more regularly. SO ...this was my random blog for today--conjoined pumpkins. Are you glad you checked it out?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Happy Fall!

Hello my friends! I can not believe it has been over a month since I blogged! I am so sorry. Let me tell you what I have been up to--school. I have a very hard class load this semester. It threatened to kick my butt--no way I could let that happen, so I just dug in and worked hard and I think I have it just about conquered! Of course it is only mid-term, so it isn't over yet. But I have figured out how to study for Microbiology. I did pretty bad on the first exam so I really had to change my approach. Pretty much, I had to pound it into my brain, but it worked. I just had to spend time on it every day, and I had to read the material before the lecture, so by the lecture it was the second time I was hearing it and it sunk in better. I improved my score by 20 points! I was thrilled. Now that I figured out how to prepare, I know I can do even better on the next two exams. The next exam is in three weeks; I started studying for it today, lol!

Of course I have other classes too, and they all require work, but luckily not as much as micro. I am doing really good in everything, but it just takes all of my time in order to do it. I guess you could say it doesn't come easy to me, or maybe I am just not the sharpest tool in the shed! At least I am not afraid of hard work, and I am willing to put it in to do good. I only have three semesters left, so I see light at the end of the tunnel and I am so excited about it.

Billie is busy with school and soccer and piano. She is working so hard this year on improving her spelling, and she is doing a fantastic job! I am so proud of her. She just finished a big project for science; creating a plant. Hers was beautiful and she worked so hard on it. I will post a picture of it. She took it to school this morning. Her class will be going on a field trip soon to the AMSE in Oak Ridge. I know she will have a blast, who doesn't enjoy a field trip-no matter where it's to? She began riding the school bus in the mornings, after begging me since she started school! She loves it. I have to admit, it is helpful with our mornings. It saves me at least 30 minutes just not having to drive to and from school and wait in the long line to get her there. Matt and I both walk her to the bus stop and wait with her. It is fun now, we will see how fun it is when it gets cold outside! I am not letting her ride it in the afternoons because her schedule is different each day and I am afraid she might get confused and either get on the bus when she isn't supposed to, or forget and not get on the bus at all. Maybe next year, we will see. We did have to walk past a poor little bunny that must have bravely fought a car but lost one morning on the way to the bus stop. I saw it before she did and I covered her eyes. I was afraid it would either break her heart, she loves all animals so much, or maybe give her nightmares-it was not a site for children to see, at all. I have no idea what happened to the remains, but luckily it was gone later in the morning.

We have our condo on the market for sale. It is a terrible time to be selling a home, so wish us luck! We found a house we both really love and we really want to be in a house, not a condo. We just have to be patient and put it in God's hands. If he wants us to move, it will happen. If it isn't meant to be, we will stay here and just be thankful we have a home. There is nothing wrong with our condo, and it is nice and spacious and we really have all we need for now. If we ever get to expand our family, we will need more room eventually. But for now, we do have enough room, and we like our condo. We are just ready for a house and for a home that we pick out together and make a home for our family. I bought this condo before I ever met Matt, thinking it would be just Billie and I forever and it would be perfect for just the two of us. It will still be hard to leave Joshua and Caleb's nursery. Even though we never got to bring them home to it, it was put together for them with such love and high hopes. It is comforting to go in there and remember, and we all three do that a lot. But life goes on, and we have to live our lives, right? When it is time to build a new nursery we will use the same theme and do it as close to the same as we can. I can't help to wish the time for that will be soon, but I know better than anyone that God is totally in control of that and I have to wait for His timing, not my own. Doesn't stop me from praying about it and telling God the desires of my heart, though. I know he already knows that with out me saying a word, but it helps to get it off my chest.

Matt is still loving his job. Some days are very busy and hectic, and he is still learning some of it, but he enjoys it there and he says it is a wonderful company to work for.

So that is what we are up to. I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful fall weather the way we are! I hope you all have a wonderful day, and a wonderful weekend, too. I am so glad it is almost Friday. We are going to celebrate my great job on my micro exam and Billie's great job on her spelling test (she got 100%!) by going to the movies to see "Where the Wild Things Are." We all three love to read that book, and have been so looking forward to the movie version. I will let you know how great it is. Love to you all and God bless.

Billiemax Floramos

This is the adorable plant Billie had to create for a school project. Her instructions said she had to creat a plant out of household items and it had to have a flower, leaf, stem and roots and all had to be visible, plus in a container. She decided to use papermache to create her flowers. She used popsticle sticks for the stem, pipe cleaners for the leaf and roots, a cut-off pop bottle for the container, pasta for the "dirt" and painted the flowers with "happy faces." It was a challenging project for her, but she worked so hard and did such a great job! She wanted a real long name, so we cameup with "Billiemax Floramos." I figured everyone would enjoy seeing it. I am so proud of how hard she has been working this school year.

She is also enjoying soccer this season. She moved up to U10 and is playing great. She tries so hard and her skills have improved so good, unfortunately her team hasn't won a game yet this year, but she doesn't let that get her down. Maybe next Saturday will be her first win!

Hope you enjoy the pics! Have a great day!

Friday, August 28, 2009

New School Year

Hello! I am so sorry I have let the whole month of August get by me without a single blog entry! We have been very busy, as everyone has been with school starting back up and all the other things that start up in August like soccer and piano and church activities. So, let me just start with the beginning of August and go on from there.

Matt and I celebrated our second anniversary at "The Swag" in Waynesville, NC. We had received a gift certificate from several families from the church Matt grew up at in Johnson City, TN a few months after the boys were born. We saved it for a later time when our grief wasn't so close and we could more enjoy ourselves. Let me just say, it would not have been possible for us to go there with out the gift certificate, and it was an amazing weekend. If you ever have the chance to go, you really should. It is an Inn on top of a mountain. They have amazing food---and I mean amazing. The best and most nutritious food I have ever been offered anywhere. They even have their own vegetable garden. Everything was so fresh and delicious and eloquently prepared and served. All of the guests, about 26 in total, are served together in the main building. They had an amazing Sunday Brunch, I really can not even describe it. It was beyond anything I have ever had before. The chef described everything in full before we ate, and the hosts (The Matthews, who own it) told us a brief story about where we were and then blessed the food (Dan is an Episcopal Bishop or Reverend, I am not sure what his title is). There were I think 10 desserts for Sunday Brunch. They have miles and miles of hiking trails and the property is adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Saturday we got up and had a relaxing morning in our cabin, then went to breakfast and enjoyed it out on the porch of the main building. We then went on a 6 mile hike and saw a beautiful water fall and had a wonderful time. We got back to find our lunch ready in a backpack for us and we took it to Gooseberry to eat it while enjoying the beautiful view. We relaxed there in a hammock for a while before heading back to our cabin. We soaked on the back porch in the soaking tub and then we each had a massage right there in the cabin. We relaxed some more and then got cleaned up for dinner. We had a wonderful time at dinner and a wonderful meal. We went back to our cabin and relaxed there before turning in for the night. Did I mention we relaxed? It was so relaxing. Unbelievably relaxing. We were almost in a vegetative state by the time we left. It was better than a week vacation at the beach, really! It was a wonderful end to what has been a busy summer.

When we got back, both Billie and I started back to school. Billie is a big 3rd grader now! She loves her new teacher and her best friend is in her class again this year, so she was very happy. I did take pictures of the first day of school, and I will get them up for you. I must admit I haven't loaded them on my computer yet.

I am back in school, too, and feeling a little overwhelmed, as I always do at the beginning of the semester. I have a hard schedule with both Microbiology and Biochemistry, but I know I can get through it.

Billie's activities have started back up, so we are ever busy with piano lessons, soccer practice and homework. It is always a little overwhelming at first, but after a few weeks we get into a groove and it is much easier than it appeared it would be in the beginning. I like being busy and having things to do, but I do look forward to the weekends!

This weekend we are doing something very special and we are all three excited about it. We are going to Matt's home church in Johnson City, TN to help paint the children's area. There is an interesting story behind how all of this began, and it involves Joshua and Caleb so I am going to share it with you. Matt did some design work for the church, and in lieu of payment he asked that they put any of the money they would normally have spent for the work into a fund, in memory of Joshua and Caleb but no one else had to know that except us, to benefit the youth/children of the church. To help the ministry of the youth/children, whether it be the building, bibles, Sunday school lessons, activities, etc., just as long as it went to the children's ministry. So they set up a fund and named it "The Promised Land Fund" and this weekend they are having their first project from those funds, which is painting the area that is used for the children for Sunday School and other activities. We are so excited to be a part of this project. The fund will be ongoing, with church members able to designate that money be put into it from their tithes and offering. I am so proud of Matt for this idea, and for wanting to do something to give back. He could have easily said he wanted to get paid for his hard work, or could have just said "I did the work to help the church and I don't want the money," but he went beyond that and actually helped the church to build their Children's Ministry. Children are the churches future, and this will fund will give back to the church through the children they minister for many years. I could not be more proud of him. The logo he did turned out really nice, too! So once again, Joshua and Caleb are serving the Lord, or inspiring their Daddy to give back with his talents and gifts. They really have changed us and how we think, and I am constantly thanking God for the gift of them and what they have brought to our lives and our family.

Also this weekend Evan is meeting us in Johnson City to visit, so we are all very excited about seeing him. He has agreed to help us paint, too! We will get some playing on the lake in, too, though. We haven't seen him since Easter and we are all anxious for a reunion.

I need to get back to homework so that is all I can write for now. Will try to update again about how the painting project goes this weekend, and post some pictures from The Swag and the first day of school!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 15, 2008

I can not believe it has been a year. A whole year since I kissed my babies heads; a whole year since I held them in my arms. A year is a long time. A very long time to miss your babies and long to hold them. Those feelings have not weakened, but my hope and peace have strengthened leaving me in a much better place emotionally than I was a year ago, physically, too! I was looking at their picture yesterday and I had one of those moments where you go too deep in thought and you confuse and amaze yourself. Do you know what I mean? I had these random thoughts going through my mind, "Those are your babies." "You had identical twins!" "You had conjoined twins!" "Your babies died a year ago." OK, so that was what I like to call "wallowing," so I stopped and busied myself with a project. But through out the day when I would look at the clock I would think, "Oh at this time a year ago, I was finding out they would be born that day," or "by now I was holding them." Which was just something I had to do. We took birthday balloons to the cemetery yesterday and went out to eat with Matt's family. Over all, we had a good day. I am still thankful to be a part of God's plan, and I know he has a great plan for me, my life, and my family. I really hope it involves more children, but I am open to God's will, no matter what it is. Thank you for your love and support, with out you all we would have a hard time finding the strength some days. God is GOOD--that hasn't changed over the last year, and it never will. I will thank God everyday for my many blessings, and try to wait patiently for the longings of my heart that God knows without me ever uttering a prayer. I uploaded some sweet pictures of our time with Joshua and Caleb to share with you. I think most of these you might not have seen on the blog before. Have a good day!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Boys!

Good morning! Can you believe it has been a year? Our beautiful boys would be one year old today! I wonder if they will be having a celebration in heaven. We had a birthday "party" this weekend for them. We went to Jonson City and Amy bought balloons and we wrote notes on the balloons to the boys and then set them loose. It was very special. I made a cake and we sang "Happy Birthday," too. We are sad this morning, but I wouldn't change the way it happened, even today as much as I miss them. They blessed our life so much and we were a part of a wonderful miracle of God's Will. I can't change it, and I wouldn't if I could. More later....

Sunday, July 5, 2009


This is July 4th, 2008. Billie always makes the best out of a situation. I was on bed rest and couldn't really do much, and she never complained. Not even for a minute. She really enjoyed the sparklers. The picture of me is at the end of June when we were in D.C. for a second opinion for the boys and their chances of survival or separation. I just thought you might want to see a picture of the boys at this time last year right before they were born!

We have decided we hate July. I know that is terrible, and part of me actually loves it, too. It is the month my beautiful boys were born. But it is also the month that I lost Michael, Joshua and Caleb, and even my beloved Grandma. All in different years, of course. It is just a very hard month, and I know once we get through this our "first" and Joshua and Caleb's first birthday, the next year will be easier and each following year will get easier. I find myself every day drifting off in deep thoughts about what I was doing this day a year ago. My babies were kicking and squirming in my belly, so strong and full of life. I just wanted to keep them there, safe and healthy. I would have gladly just stayed pregnant forever to keep them with me. I am sure that would have eventually gotten old, but at that time I was so scared for their birth. I didn't know I could survive what I have. I was so scared just to have the surgery. The doctors had warned us of all the things that could go wrong. I was so scared that I wouldn't survive, and if I did, that my uterus would not. I was terrified that my babies would be stillborn. I was terrified that they would not live through their first day. I was terrified that they would live and be in pain or have to undergo painful operations and medical testing. I trusted God to the best of my ability, but I am a worrier by nature and I was plagued with so many fears. I remember July 4Th last year, we took Billie outside and did a few fireworks and sparklers. We actually have a couple pictures of that night. We didn't know in just 11 days our boys would be born. We were really hoping to stay pregnant longer, to help their lungs develop. God knew that would never happen, and he took control and had them come on the 15Th. God is so good, I could not have planned it out better. They were born alive, and we got to spend time with them alive. It was too short, but it was God's will and we were able to accept that. If they had lived a few days they would have needed surgery to correct their Gastroschisis. That would have been a difficult decision to make, and excruciating to go through a surgery with their heart being so fragile. God is so good, he took that decision away from us. Looking back, I still long to have them in my arms and to see them sleep and hear them cry; to watch them wiggle and stretch and yawn, and to see their faces light up when Billie is around. But I also know that we were a part of a miracle of God's. Our boys were God's miracle twin boys. I wouldn't take that experience back for anything. I love our babies and I miss them every second, but I know their short life was a part of God's plan and I am glad I was able to be a part of that plan. I am so thankful to God for giving us the strength and peace we needed to get through this past year. Without God, we would not have made it. We still have hard days, and we always will, but we are living our lives and I didn't know if that would be possible as I felt them move in my belly and I thought about life without them. As this month goes on I will try to share more of my thoughts and memories with you. For now, I need to move on.
July will be a busy month for us! Matt is working, Praise the Lord! Billie has three different day camps to go to this month. Ijams Nature Camp, British Soccer Camp, and Horse Camp! She is very excited for all three. I can't wait to see her learn to ride and care for a horse. She loves horses, as most little girls do, so I am excited for her to get to spend a week learning all about them. I must mention that without her grandparents, Brian & Cathie and Bill & Wanda, these camps would not be possible for her this summer. As you know, Matt was out of work from January to just a few weeks ago and we would not have been able to afford any camps this year, let alone three! We are very lucky to have such wonderful and supportive parents. Thanks to all of you--I love you so very much!
I am looking forward to next semester at UT. I am excited for most of my classes. All of them are either Nutrition courses or Food Science courses. It should prove very interesting. I am glad I have all of my chemistry, physiology and pre-rec courses behind me now. I see light at the end of the tunnel! I should be able to finish in just 4 more semesters! Which is actually 2 years, but saying 4 semesters seems so much shorter somehow. I know, I am silly. Whatever works, I say.
I guess that is a good update for now. More over then next week + as we get closer to Joshua and Caleb's first birthday!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Goodbye Nalla

What a hard weekend we have had. Let's see, I will start at the beginning. I truly believe that God puts me where I need to be, and all things happen for a reason. We were supposed to be going to Atlanta Friday after I got off from work, but when I got home our A/C was out, so since Matt and Billie were still at Dolly Wood, I told him to just stay and have fun and I would get the A/C fixed (by calling a repair man! Not fixing it myself! HEHE) The repair man got there very late, but it didn't matter since we had already decided to leave early the next morning to go to Atlanta. Matt and Billie had a wonderful time; enjoyed his last day off since he started work today! They got in very late and we all went straight to bed. I had dropped Nalla off at Bill and Wanda's to stay for the weekend since we would be gone. I really feel like Nalla went there so everyone there would have one last visit with her, and our A/C broke so I could still be in Knoxville that night. Wanda called me about 1:30 in the morning to tell me Nalla was sick and they were taking her to the Pet ER. She had to call three times and text me because I was in such a deep sleep! I am sure she wondered if I would ever wake up! I rushed down there and the Vet said Nalla's stomach had turned over, which basically cut off oxygen to the rest of her intestines and those parts were dying. She was in a lot of pain but by the time I got there they had already given her a lot of meds to get her comfortable. The doctor did offer surgery, but her survival rate was 25% or less. She was almost 12 years old, so we made the painful decision to put her to sleep. My biggest concern was for Billie, bless her heart. She has had so much loss and it just keeps going. Of course, we knew it was coming eventually. Nalla's vet thought she probably had colon cancer two years ago, and she has done very well considering. Needless to say, we are all heart broken. I know in my heart I will never love another dog the way I loved her. She really was special, and not just because she was mine. She was just so sweet. Everyone that spent time with her fell in love with her. You couldn't help it. She only cared if we were happy; she had no concern for her own happiness at all. She complained of nothing, and required nothing. She loved Billie and I so much. She loved a lot of people, but we were definitely very special to her. There are no words to help you understand how great she was, you will just have to trust me that the world has lost a precious dog. Bill, Wanda and I stayed with her to the end. We were able to tell her how much we loved her and hold her paw and kiss her goodbye. I told her to give her Daddy and big kiss on the face and to let Joshua and Caleb ride on her back. I am sure she did just that. Nalla was never quite the same after Michael died. She had really been his dog. You know how dogs usually pick a person? Well, Michael was her person. Billie and I took his place mostly, but she always looked for him. Danny, my step-dad, used to come by every few weeks and drive Michael's truck and wash it for me. Every time he pulled back in the drive way, Nalla would get so excited! And when Danny would come in, she would be happy to see him but then she would sit in front of the window the rest of the night. I always felt she was waiting for her Daddy to come home. I finally told Danny to take the truck and keep it at their house because I couldn't stand putting Nalla through that any more. It broke my heart. She was so special. I know she was so happy to be with her Daddy again. Billie thinks they are fishing together, and they probably are.

We buried her Sunday at Bill and Wanda's house, right next to Suzie. (Suzie the dog, as Billie has always called her.) I am so thankful that they loved Nalla as much as I did. And so thankful to have a place to put her. I can't believe she is gone, and I know it will take me a while to get over this loss. It feels like she is just spending the night with her grandparents and she will be back tomorrow. Billie took the news very good, of course. I was so worried about her, but even though she was upset, she was able to calm down and move on. She is very strong and amazing. She cried last night and asked God in her prayer to please give Nalla a kiss for her. I know some people do not believe that dogs go to heaven, but heaven with out dogs would not be heaven to me so they must be there!

P.S. Please pray for the Delgado's- Jason has the Swine Flu and Vanessa is pregnant and we do not want her or Kenya to get it. And we want Jason to get way better real fast, too!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Synchronous Fireflies!

We had the most wonderful weekend camping with family at Elkmont. If you haven't heard of the synchronous fireflies, they are amazing and wonderful and a wonderful spectacle of God's miracles. The way the park ranger told the story, the fireflies live under ground and they have a life span of two years. They come out to mate for three weeks every June and then they die. The females light up on the ground and the males light up in the air. Somewhere in the middle, they meet. The thing about these fireflies at Elkmont that make them so special is that they light up together. A synchronous song that is absolutely beautiful and amazing. They blink, we counted 7 times but the park ranger said 6 times, and then they are "silent." It feels like they are making music, and then they stop and everything is dark, almost pitch black. A few seconds later, and they blink again 7 times. It reminded me of a concert. Darkness as the band leaves the stage, and the crowd anticipates an encore. The flashes of thousands of cameras then light up and sparkle everywhere you look. All over the ground, in the air, in the trees, to your left, to your right and above you. You are basically surrounded by twinkling lights. And then it is dark; silent again. It just shows you how intricate God's creations are. The park ranger told us if you take the fireflies down from Elkmont, they will not be synchronous anymore. There is only one other place in the world where they are synchronous; somewhere in Asia, although I admit I am not sure where at. Matt and I went on our second date to see the fireflies. They were spectacular then, too. We went back there one year later and Matt proposed that night. We had our wedding ceremony there, too. And this year we took Billie and showed her how amazing Elkmont and the synchronous fireflies are! She loved them. She loves Elkmont, we have taken here there several times. She loves "our Rock"; the rock we sat on while on our second date; the same rock Matt proposed to me on. We also took Brian and Cathie, Matt's parents, David and Janet, Matt's brother and his girlfriend, Kevin, Amy and Susan, Matt's cousins, with us this year. They all teased us about "our rock" but we decided they were just jealous! Elkmont is very special to us and we always find something new there that makes us love it more. The fireflies seemed to be even more spectacular this year than they have been in the past. They were last night, anyway. We found a little dark road that no one was on and we were over a gully and able to just sit down and wait patiently. They were all over the ground, just a sea of fireflies twinkling. They were in the air all around us, too. It truly is spectacular. I wonder why God created those fireflies. To make them so special and so unique, different than any other fireflies in the world. They have a purpose, just like we all do. We just have to be open to God's will and let him be in control of our lives and lead us to the great things he has in store for us.

We also found an old cemetery up there. Billie and I had a wonderful time reading the tombstones. You could almost tell the entire history of the people buried there by reading the tombstones. One couple had lost several infant children, and the wife was very young when she passed as well; 28 years old. She passed away just a few years after two of her infant children. Her babies only lived a few days, one of them passed the same day she was born. What we found so interesting is that the husband passed away 62 years after the wife did. They were buried there right next to each other, after all those years. And there were fresh flowers placed on the grave. I wonder if they didn't have one or more children that did survive that kept flowers there for them. There is no point to all this rambling other than just to share with you how interesting we found the story, and how our minds ran wild with it and tried to fill in the gaps. While my heart broke for them, I felt a sort of bond with them, too. The loss of a spouse way before their time. Their precious babies ripped from their arms. I know too well the heartache that leaves. I thought to myself that losing two babies is enough to kill you. We couldn't help but want to hear the whole story. I will think of them for a long time.

So on to the latest with us, I know I promised to fill you in on the iPhone. No real luck there, after a week in the rice it still wouldn't power on. We took it to Apple to see what they suggested, and they told us to sell it on EBay. We were very honest about it-big bold letters saying "WATER DAMAGED iPhone" and it sold! Unbelievable! We were so lucky, and so happy! Matt was able to replace it with the money he got from the sale of the river sunk phone!

As far as the theft of all the camping equipment, our insurance company covered it all, minus our deductible. We were very fortunate, and thank goodness for insurance! You think when you are having to pay for it, what is the point? But they were wonderful and quick and very fair. We were able to replace most of what was stolen, and will eventually replace the rest as we need it, if we need it.

Matt did get a job! He will start on June 15. We are so thankful and happy. This will be very different for him, going out to a job every day instead of working from the house. We are so excited about it though. It will be a big change for him, so I am prayerful that he will love it and adjust well. We will miss him around the house, though. Billie especially, because they have been able to spend so much time together. We will just have to be like most families and be thankful for the time we have when we are not at work and school.

We do have some sad news to share with you. I thought about not sharing this, but you have been so faithful and prayerful for us, I decided you deserved to know. We were expecting another baby, but I lost it to miscarriage at 5 1/2 weeks. It would have been due January 28, 2010. Just a few days after I was due with Billie! I feel like it was a girl, just a gut feeling, of course. I am doing OK now, but I had a hard week. I know God has wonderful plans for us and I just have to be patient and know that it is His will and His timing that is good and right, and not my own. I loved that baby, and we were so excited. I mourned that baby and continue to do so, but I know that God has a plan for me and my family. The doctors are not sure what happened. They did do some testing and I may get some more information next week, and they may not get any more information that will help us. 1 in 4 babies are miscarried, it is just very common and most of the time the reason is not known. Brian told Matt a beautiful truth that really helped me. He was his mother's fourth child. She had lost two between his sister and him, and if she had not lost them, he would not have been born. They would have stopped at two. How beautiful is that? Not only would we not have had Brian, but we would not have had Matt and David, Chandler, Joshua and Caleb, either. That gave me the hope I needed to get through those first few days, when the darkness was almost more than I could stand and I didn't want to live. I am ashamed to admit how low I let it get me, how sad and distraught I was. But I am better today, and seeing God in Elkmont, in His fireflies. that helped me get to this point. I am blessed by a wonderful husband, a super fantastic daughter, and an amazingly awesome support group in my family and friends. I have to keep my chin up and keep going for all of them. I am excited to see what God has in store for me in the next year. Joshua and Caleb's birthday is right around the corner and we plan on celebrating it and celebrating what they did for us and what they did for so many others. God blessed us with beautiful miracle twin boys, and I am going to be thankful for that no matter what curves are thrown at me. God loves me and God is good.

Thank you so much for your support and faithful prayers. I know I always tell you I will write again soon, and I guess I will just tell you I mean well. I promise I will always eventually update you and share with you. And I will try to do better about getting updates to you! Love to you all!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stupid Mistakes

Hello, all. I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. We had a wonderful time visiting with Evan in North Carolina. We were supposed to go visit him in Atlanta, but his leave was cut short and he could not go further than 250 miles from base. So, we packed up all our camping gear and headed to him. We had a wonderful two days with him. We got to play at the beach one day, and we got to see his room on base, plus he went camping with us so we had his undivided attention! Billie especially enjoyed his company. I would post pictures of the trip, but Matt used his phone to take all of the pictures and I accidentally dropped his phone in the river. Imagine how stupid and horrible I still feel! He was so sweet to me, though. He got mad for maybe a second, and immediately proceeded to making me feel better about it. He really is wonderful. We have the phone now "soaking" in rice. We "googled" what to do, and that seemed like the least invasive way. Some posts actually suggested baking the phone in the oven! It may never work again, but we had to try. I will let you know once we try to turn it on again. To top all of that off, we were very tired getting in Sunday after a 9 hour drive, and it was about 12:30 in the morning, so we made the mistake of leaving the car full until the next morning. We were robbed during the night and most everything was stolen right out of our driveway! We felt so stupid and so violated. Billie talked about it at school and come to find out her best friend's car was also robbed one day last week and the police had arrested the people. When her parents went to the police department, they noticed some camping gear and called me to let me know. Turned out it was the same people and Matt went down to the police department and got some of our stuff back! Of course they had already sold a lot of the stuff, or just trashed it because they couldn't use it or sell it. Moral of the story, don't leave anything in your car, especially over night. And don't take cell phones to the river, or lake or any body of water! You would think you are safe in your own drive way, but it just isn't the case. Billie thought maybe they would listen to one of her "Jesus Cd's" (as she calls her gospel music) and they would learn about Jesus. She was so sweet about the whole thing, even though all of her movies and music Cd's were stolen. She really is an amazing girl.

Billie got a part in the musical at church, and we have been working at learning her lines. She is so excited about it! She is learning the part really good, and it suits her beautifully. She loves to sing and perform. She just shines when she is on stage, and I love to watch her. I will be sure to post pictures, it isn't until May 3rd.

I have to confess I have been struggling with worrying. I am just naturally a worry-wart. I hate it, and I fight it, but it is a constant struggle for me. My prayer is that I am able to submit myself, everything including my worries, over to the Lord and stop trying to control the things that are not in my control. Even when I think I have submitted my worries, I have this terrible habit of picking it back up. So it is this constant tug-of-war with myself. It is pretty exhausting, too! I of all people know that God is in control and that he will take care of our needs, but try convincing that to my very strong inner worrier. I am working on it!

I am gearing up for finals, they start April 28Th. I am scared but excited to have this semester behind me. I am going to school this summer, but I will get a couple weeks off from school in between. Billie is looking forward to the summer, I know. I am little sad that we will have to say goodbye to Mrs. Merryman, we just love her so much. I know she will go down as one of Billie's favorite teachers of all time! It is hard to believe this school year is fixing to wrap up! It has just flown by, as it always does. I think this catches you up for now, I will let you know how my finals go and what happens with the phone as soon as I know! Have a wonderful day, we love you all!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy Easter

We are getting ready to spend Easter with Evan. We are so excited to get to see him. Cathie made the girls beautiful Easter Dresses. I will be sure and post a picture of her in it after Easter.

We have been busy with school/work and just daily stuff. Seems like there are not enough hours in the days to get everything done. I have been working on a big project for one of my classes. It is a personal ecological analysis and has been very interesting. I am discovering exactly why I am who I am--kind of scary. I have learned so much in this class, Human Development, and I wish everyone that plans to have children could take it. I hope I use what I have learned to be a better mom and a better person overall. Do you think my professor will find my life story interesting? I can't wait for the feedback. It has been an emotional project for me, but fun, too.

I went back and read some of my earlier blogs, I can't believe how many typos and misspelled words I had! Sorry, hope none of my English teachers have read them. I am bad about not finding my own mistakes.

We have been busy making summer plans for Billie. She is going to attend a camp at school called Camp Invention, go to bible school and take swimming lessons. She will be a pretty busy girl! She might do some kind of day camp that offers horseback riding, too.

Billie and I are both ready for this semester to be over! We are looking forward to warm weather and sunshine. The weather is nice again today, but we had snow yesterday! Nothing that stuck to the roads, just the roof tops; but it was 80 on Sunday and snow on Tuesday! Go figure, it makes no sense. It is supposed to be really warm the rest of this week, though. I am ready for sunshine and warm temps to get here and stay here. I know I will complain in the end of July when it is scorching hot, but right now I just want it to be warm.

I must get back to my project, but I wanted to say hello and let you know if you have been having trouble seeing the website, we are working on fixing it now. Something got messed up at the server, but hopefully it will be fixed for good soon.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy Spring

We have been so busy! So, just quick blog to try to catch everyone up. I am back at work at the Credit Union, and it feels so good to be back. But it is hard to find time for all of my responsibilities, so some things have had to take a back seat (like blogging). I am busy studying for an accounting exam this weekend. I am finding it hard to concentrate, though. Billie went this weekend with her Grandparents and had a wonderful time. It is good to have her back at home. We missed her, and I think by the way she is acting she must have missed us a little, too.

It has been so nice this weekend outside. I am enjoying the warm weather. I have been uplifted and blessed just by the warm sunshine, it has really changed my mood and overall outlook. I am so ready for spring! We all are. We have tons of bulbs beginning to peak through the ground. It is very exciting for Billie. This fall we spent one whole day outside on the beds getting them shaped up and then planting tulips, hyacinths and daffodils. She is so excited to see them bloom this spring. I'm just happy that they all appear to have been planted the right way and are going to come up! She was such a big help that day and so joyful about it.

We got to talk to Evan today. We were surprised to hear he will be deployed to Afghanistan in May. Shocked, actually. It is still settling in. But we knew that was a big possibility, and we know God is an AWESOME God and will be going with him. We will just pray for his safe return and rest in the assurance of God's ability to protect him. Billie was so worried the day he joined the Marines that he was going to war. She prays for him all of the time. She handled the news good, really. She was surprised and is worried. But I thought she would just really be devastated, because she has been twice when she mistakenly thought he was going to war by something we had said. She is so brave and so strong. She makes me so proud every single day.

So besides being very busy and ready for spring break, we are good and just taking it day by day. I haven't really blogged about it, because I am not sure that Matt will really want me to, but so everyone knows what we are up to I think it is OK to say that Matt was laid off in December and is searching for a job now. As you all know, now is not the best time to be looking for a job, and in the advertising field is probably one of the worst. But we are searching for that and also for more freelance jobs that he can do to keep himself busy with. It is just a terrible time to be searching, and he really had let all of his freelance stuff go since he was so busy with his full time job. We are hoping something will happen soon, either in freelance or a full time position. But God is good and we have everything we need.

I will try to not let as much time go by before my next blog, I promise! Love to you all, and Happy Spring!! Enjoy the blessing of this wonderful warm weather, I know we are!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, late! We had a very exciting weekend. We went to Johnson City to spend it with Cathie and Brian. Saturday we went to the Fossil Site in Gray, TN. It is so neat! We all really enjoyed it, if you get a chance to go, it is worth it. The museum was much better than I thought it would be. It had some good hands-on stuff that Billie especially enjoyed. In the summer they actually "dig" so it might be a little more fun to go then when you might see them in action. Although it seems to be a very pain-staking slow process, so I don't know how much action you can see while observing paleontologists digging. But, nonetheless, it was great and worthwhile.
Saturday night we went to what Billie called "The Valentine's Ball." It was a wonderful dinner at Cathie and Brian's church. We had a wonderful meal and got to visit with church members that Matt has known since he was little. We all got dressed up and it felt special. Billie did have a "ball" and she said it was the best night of her life when we were leaving. We were worried she might have found it not as "ball-like" as she thought it was going to be, but evidently it was close to what she had anticipated.
On Sunday we went to church and shared pictures of the boys with their Sunday School class, which is always so fun for us. We got a nice message both in church and in Sunday School, too, so we got a lot out of the morning! We went to Abingdon, VA in the afternoon and got to walk through the Martha Washington Inn, which is an old mansion/hotel that Martha Washington actually stayed at. It was used as a Womens College at one time, too. After that we went to The Barter Theatre and we saw the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." It was so good! We all absolutely loved it, especially Billie. I can't even tell you how well done the entire thing was. Billie had a lot of fun with some of the actors, one in particular, that were mingling in the audience before the performance started. They were mimes, really, and very good entertainers. Before the second Act began, they came out with Egyptian-like costumes and Billie and one of the actors did and Egyptian dance together. Billie just thought that was wonderful and when the curtain call came, she waved specifically to the young woman that she had danced with and was tickled pink when she waved back to her. Afterwards, we went down to the stage to say hello, but her "girl in pink" had already left the stage. She got big tears in her eyes and almost lost it, she was very tired, but managed to keep in control of herself. She was very disappointed she didn't get to talk to her favorite actor, and did not have any interest at all in the two stars of the show that were directly in front of her and more than willing to talk to her. I hope she didn't hurt their feelings! She was pitiful. The drive back to Johnson City she was so tired and fighting sleep so hard she about drove all of us grown-ups crazy! She was just jabbering and making noise only to keep herself from falling asleep. We all expected her to drop at any second, but she didn't. We had a wonderful dinner that Cathie made for us of lasagna and salad and fresh homemade bread and after dinner we headed back home to Knoxville. We had such a good weekend, but we were pretty tired once we got home. Billie was out of school today for Presidents day and managed to sleep in until 9 this morning, which is very unusual for her. She was exhausted, obviously.
Matt treated us to a night of Fondue to celebrate Valentine's Day on Thursday. We celebrated early since we had weekend plans. He got fresh strawberries, pineapple, pears, oranges and bananas and made a creamy dark chocolate for dipping. It was so good and fun! Billie had fun telling her friends at school about it the next day.
Friday we had a special treat, our friend (and Billie's soccer coach), Laura, took us to a movie. We let Billie go to my moms house for the evening and we saw "Taken." It was so good. I guess it scared Matt, though, because before bed that night he double checked the locks on all the doors! He never does that! HEHE It was sweet, he didn't want any one coming in and getting his two girls. Too cute. The movie was scary, but it had a good ending. Any teenage girl or young woman needs to see it.
So today I have been putting the finishing touches on my paper for Life Span Nutrition that is due tomorrow and Matt has been learning a new update to a program that he uses for work. Billie cleaned her room and now is watching "Little Women." We are making today productive since we played all weekend long! I think that catches you up, since it has been two weeks since my last blog! I am sorry for that, but with school it is hard to find the time to blog. Hope you all had a good Valentine's Day and have a wonderful week!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy 39th Nikki

It is my sister, Nikki's, 39Th birthday, and I could not let the day go by with out making enough people aware of that fact! HEHE I am pretty sure it is the law for a younger sister to abuse her older sister on her 39Th birthday, and since I am always a rule follower, I felt compelled to include a blog about it. Don't worry, I won't embarrass her or myself any further, although a naked baby picture posted here would be adorable. (I looked for one, but I don't have any. SNAP!) I do not know how she is planning to celebrate this MOMENTOUS day, probably a quiet evening with her family. Although, with 4 kids I doubt it is ever very quiet around there except when they are eating! It is amazing to me that we are all getting close to 40, meaning my generation is 40-ish. I remember when my parents turned 30. I remember thinking that was so old. I remember my mom giving my dad a surprise 30th birthday party. My parents never had birthday parties, so I am sure that is why I can remember it, it had a huge impact on my life at the time. It was a fun day, although I was very little and do not remember much at all. We lived in the "little green house" ( we have silly names for all of the old houses we lived in, usually they go with the street name, but that one we stuck with the size and color. Everyone in my extended family will picture that house if you say the name of it, though!) We had amazing neighbors at that house, and our families all stayed friends for years and years. Anyway, none of this is very interesting and I am not even sure where I was going with it, other than to say that I can remember my parents in their 30's and thinking how old they were, and here I am in my mid-thirties. It doesn't seem possible. It doesn't bother me, don't get me wrong. It is just something strange to try to wrap your mind around. You know those kind of things, if you kind of take a step back and let your mind run off with the "notion". The kind of things that if you spend too long thinking about it your head might hurt, or you might start crying or laughing hysterically. It is just one of those things.

I had that experience yesterday. I was sitting in my Nutrition class and we are learning about Nutrition in Pregnancy and the lecture was about things that go wrong and all of the risks and stuff. Very depressing, even the professor mentioned that fact and said he hates that lecture, too. Of course, my mind was fighting my listening skills and it eventually won. I went back to that first ultra sound. The tech turned the monitor on and put the "wand" on my belly and I saw two heads, and then she reached up and pressed a button and the monitor went off, and I thought it must have been the last person that was there before me that had twins. Matt walked in just then and gave me a look like "You started with out me?" and I said we had just started, hadn't seen anything yet. We were joking around because I wanted to know the sex of the baby, but he didn't. And the tech finally interrupted us and said "There is something wrong and I have to tell you now." We said OK. I totally thought she was going to say "I see spina bifida" or maybe downs syndrome, which we would have been fine with. But when she said "It's twins and they are conjoined. I am so sorry." I just lost it. Matt didn't hear the "conjoined" part he just heard twins, and he got so excited. I was screaming, "What? What do you mean?" and he kissed me and said "Twins!" and told me to calm down we don't know anything yet. I said "Did you hear her, they are conjoined?" Then he too started crying. She said she was going to get a doctor and left the room. She came back in about 3 minutes and said "OK. The doctor is not coming in here. He told me to take some measurements and put you in a room. So we are not going to be recording this or taking any pictures. We are just going to get some measurements." She was clearly upset, and thinking back, I realize she had been put in a horrible position. It wasn't her job to explain all of this to us. I finally asked her where they were conjoined and she said at the torso and she gave us a little information, but she had never seen conjoined twins before so she just couldn't be sure about anything. The rest of the day was crazy, we waited for a few hours in a waiting room until they finally put us in a room. My doctor was not there that day, and the doctor we had an appointment with never did come in. My doctors' nurse did come in just to hug me, I had gone there for 10 +years. Finally another doctor came in and told us he could get us in to see the high risk doctor down stairs and did we want him to go down there and get an appointment for us, as they were not answering the phone since it was lunch time. Of course we said yes, and in his surgery scrubs, he went down there and then came back up and escorted us down there. That is where I made my mind go back to the lecture and stopped the trip down memory lane. I had a sob gripping my throat, but I swallowed hard and it passed. As I walked out of the building, I ran into a Chemistry T.A. I had for Gen Chem, Onamae. I loved her! She hugged me and asked how I was, and she said the most remarkable thing before I could even tell her how I was she said "You look really happy!" I told her I was and we caught up for a few minutes and then I headed home. The whole way home I reflected about what she must have saw in me. I am happy. God has given me the peace and strength AND the happiness I wanted and prayed for. I don't even know when it happened, it must have been gradual, not like I just woke up one day and there it was. I hadn't even realized until Onamae mentioned it though, but the dark cloud is lifted. I don't feel that tightening in my chest as often. Even though I miss the boys, my arms don't ache constantly to hold them. Not that I don't still have my moments, I do, but they are even fewer apart than the last time I figured out that I was better! I guess "being better" is something that is so gradual that I take it for granted until it is thrown in my face and I have to remember to thank God for it. God is good! I am just terrible at remembering to thank him for everything, not just the obvious things, but for especially the tiny things that mean the most and are actually the biggest and most important. Thank God he knows my heart and doesn't hold my mistakes against me. God is so very good.

Monday, January 26, 2009

O'Charley's, OFFENSIVE

I hate to have to even post this, but I am so angry right now I know it will actually make me feel better to get it off my chest. I don't know if any of you have seen the O'Charley's commercial, I just saw it today. It is what is supposed to be conjoined twin men working at a computer, although they are not identical so clearly they are not conjoined twins, but sit side by side and appear to have one shirt with two neck's, etc. One of the men gets fired, and they say something about the chicken being twice dipped or battered or something and one of the men says "that's good for us." and then later, they are shown at the same computer station and the one that was fired has a stupid disguise, a huge mustache, and a coworker asks "whose the new guy?" They are obviously teasing about the fact that they can not be separated and how only one of them was fired. It makes me so mad, but it also breaks my heart. It is a form of discrimination and it can not be tolerated. I see lots of "conjoined twin" jokes all around us and I do not understand why we let it go on. I will be the first to admit, before Joshua and Caleb I would not have known to do anything about it. I simply did not realize that conjoined twins actually happen, certainly not to me. But I would not have found it the least bit humorous, of this I am certain. It is not funny. No more funny than it would be if they made fun of anyone with a birth defect, a disability or some other "thing" that is completely out of the persons control and is so hurtful. You would think as a country we have come so very far. Why is it that we can still be so ignorant? I understand it is something that is very different, but that doesn't give anyone the right to tease. They have souls and feelings and wonderful spirits and talents to contribute to our society. And I am certain that God loves them every bit as much as he loves any one else. (Although sometimes I wonder if he didn't love them even more and that is why he took them so soon! Only the good die young, right?) I know beautiful girls that are still conjoined and they are so wonderful and so special and they have good lives with dreams and goals. I also know beautiful boys and girls that were once conjoined and are now separated, and they too are so wonderful and special and their family's would be forever devastated with out them. I know this is close to my heart, which is still so raw from the loss of Joshua and Caleb, but I think we all had so much to learn from the boys and from Melanie and Madison, too. This has to be one of the lessons: "Do not judge a book by it's cover!" ( I am sorry not to cite a source, but I have no idea where it began, but I do know my parents taught it to me and I always remembered it and tried to live by it.)
Jesus accepts everyone for who we are: "An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL THE PEOPLE." Jesus died for all of us, not just the people that fit nicely into the mold society has decided is correct.
I also know I can not hold on to bitterness, and that I must forgive all the people that hurt me and my children. You can read Genesis 33:1-11 and see how Jacob must have been surprised by Esau's attitude when he came back home. We actually considered Jacob and Esau as names for the boys because we did like the story, but once we read Joshua and Caleb's story, there was no contest! I learned from Jacob and Esau (I am sure because God knew I would have bitterness that he didn't want me to hold on to) that life can be so hard and hand you the short end of the stick. We can feel like life just isn't fair, as I know Esau did, but we can not hold onto bitterness. We can go to God and tell him how we feel and then ask him to forgive us and then we must forgive those that have hurt us. I have also had bitterness about the boys' death, because I am so human! But I ask God to forgive me, and then I am thankful for what I had with them and that they are in heaven and not in pain. I fight bitterness, not daily as I did early on, but a lot. I have to remind myself to count my blessings, which are so plentiful! So even as I write this entry in my blog, I am struggling with forgiving who ever had a part in the ad campaign, but I will get there. And I will be much happier and better off because of it. See... I knew this would help me! I feel so much better already. Thank you for putting up with my ranting an raving until I calmed down. Now, if any of you want to voice your own complain to O'Charley's, I happen to have the link so that you can go straight there quickly and easily! (Not to be mean to them, but just to educate them that conjoined twins are not to be made fun of! I feel strongly we have a responsibility to educate everyone)

I love you all, and I really appreciate your love and support and especially your prayers! XOXO

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr Day

Good morning! As promised, here are pics of Billie's Birthday party with her two very best friends, Brittany and Bailey. She had a wonderful time with them at McDonald's and then at the movies, too.

We are enjoying watching snow showers this morning. It is beautiful! Right now it is just beautiful in the air as it falls, but is starting to stick so if we end up with any amount I can photograph, I will share it with you guys. Billie has already asked if it keeps snowing can we go outside and play in it? So we have our fingers crossed around here!

Billie told us all about Martin Luther King, Jr last night. She learned about it and school and got to watch a really cool movie about it, too. We had the news on this morning and she asked me if I knew that he gave a speech in Washington D.C. She said was at the Lincoln Memorial. She wants to visit D.C. very bad, so we are going to have to work that into a family vacation before long. I loved D.C. when we were there for the boys. She was hoping we would decide to deliver there so she could live there for a couple weeks/months. Of course we were always a little worried about our decision to stay here and deliver, but now we know it was the right decision. The wonderful people in D.C. still call and check on us from time to time. We will always think so fondly of them. They gave us the information we needed and were so thoughtful and kind and knowledgeable. They treated us like we were royalty, too! We did get to tour a little bit one day, but I know there is a lot more that we want to see, too.

The boys would be six months old now, had they lived. I was thinking about that last night. Sometimes it seems like it should be longer than that because I can hardly remember what it felt like to hold them in my arms. Other times, it seems like it could not have been that long ago. It is so weird how your mind plays tricks on you like that. I still miss them so very much. We all do. Billie had a picture of them in the back seat of the car and showed them to her friends on our way to the movie. I heard her say "This one is Joshua and this one is Caleb." She is very proud of her little brothers and it made my heart just melt. I don't even know where she got that picture from, but it was one of the thank you cards that we sent out. She probably asked us if she could have it way back then, but I was so empty and hollow I just answered and do not even remember it at all. I know I would have thought that was so sweet and something to remember, but some days right after they died it was like I wasn't even in my body. I am so thankful to God that he brought me out of that trance -like state. I would not have wanted to live the rest of my life like that. God is so good, though, and he took care of us and Billie and helped us get stronger and whole again. Like I said before, I still miss them so much and I still wish I could hold them and kiss them again. But I know enough to realize just one kiss would never be enough, I would want more. I admit sometimes I try to put myself back to that day when they were born just so I can remember what it felt like to hold them. I have to eventually make myself stop because it hurts too bad. I hope one day I can look back and remember with out all the pain and just feel happy and thankful that God blessed us with our Miracle Twin Boys. Maybe one day.

Enjoy the pictures of Billie and her friends and have a wonderful Martin Luther King, Jr Day!!