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Live Turns Two

I told you that we were having birthdays fast and furious around here.  We had barely sung Happy Birthday to Grayson whenever it was time to sing the same song to Olivia.  You see, Olivia's birthday is really at the beginning of March (She and Aunt Sarah share the same birthday), however, since her little brother was due around the same time, her mommy thought it best to go ahead and have her party at the end of February this year.

     Olivia just loves Minnie Mouse and so this year, that was the theme of her birthday party.
The fun theme was a festive red and black that transported you to "The Happiest Place on Earth"!

Every little detail was attended to.  I'm not sure if you can tell that those rice crispy treat pops are shaped like Minnie!
                        And the polka dotted plates had napkins formed for the mouse ears.
And, of course, the cake did not disappoint.  Allison has had the same baker two years in a row make the most precious cake for Olivia.
The birthday girl was pretty excited about her party and couldn't wait to dig into all of the treats...and presents!

It was so nice outside that most of the party was held outdoors (Benefit of living in Louisiana.  Don't worry, we will be complaining soon enough that we can't stand the heat.).  Notice her cute little smocked Minnie Mouse bubble suit and BIG red bow in her hair (We southern mamas believe in big ole bows...the bigger the better!).  I think Beckett was almost excited as she was about the present opening...
                         Well, Grayson maybe not so much.  But he sure is a cutie, isn't he?
          And Poppi got the award for getting the most and best snuggles of the day!

Olivia made two just about a week before her baby brother was born.  Yep...I'll be showing some pictures of him real soon!

We love birthdays around here.  They are so special and never just a little gathering.  Allison is one of four children in her family and Ryan is one of four in ours.  Add the spouses, nieces, nephews, grandparents and great-grandparents and you've already got a whole bunch of people before you invite the first guest.  But it's fun to get together with OUR BIG FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY and I wouldn't trade this bunch for anything in the world!

                     BLUE EYED DOLL BABY!!!

Birthdays, Babies and Surgery

OK, so I know it's been a while but I have learned to expect the unexpected.  Things were really getting back on track for me here with my mom out of the hospital and back home in hospice.  My father-in-law has a little health issue and we had to take him to Houston to see about that.  And, of course, we were expecting "Grand Number 9".  I was getting all of my ducks in a row, so to speak, when I got a phone call on the return trip from Houston.  It was my gynecologist.  I had my yearly exam and mammogram so whenever the number came up on caller ID I was immediately afraid of why they were calling.  As it turned out, everything was OK except...one of my breast implants had a ruptured (ugh...).

Now, if you know me, you know that I am always searching for reasons  that things happen.  So after absorbing what the nurse had to say and giving her my surgeon's phone number in Dallas, I began wondering how in the world that thing had ruptured.  I realize that they were 10 years old and nothing is meant to last forever but still I was baffled.  And scared.  Because I knew that this meant I was going to have to undergo surgery again.

Things were clicking along pretty quickly here with me committing to keeping David's two boys while they went to Hawaii and then Jonathan was to be born right afterwards and I was supposed to keep Olivia overnight while they went to the hospital.  I needed to get this thing done fast!  And so I put the wheels in motion to have it done within two weeks.  Yep, that's me.  Let's get this ball rolling so I can move on to the next thing.  What I had forgotten was what the surgery was really like and the fact that it was actually going to slow me down.

So David and Codi brought us the boys and we kept them for 5 days, handing them off to her parents for the next five and off we went to Dallas.  However, while Hubby and I were talking about this surgery, which by the way could possibly still be in the warranty period.  Wait, what?!  You see, I was in a 10 year study with Mentor for the current implants I had placed.  If, at any time within that 10 year period, anything happened to them, they would pay for the new ones.  I knew we were close but not sure if we were within the window of the year.  Anyway, while we were talking about having the new ones put in, Hubby said, "I know how you hate being put under anesthesia.  And how you had planned to never have elective surgery done again.  BUT...I also know that you have done quiet a bit of "sport talking" about having a "little lipo" done for years.  Now would be the time to have anything else done that you may want since you have to have those old implants taken out."  Hmmm...And that, friends, put these visions of grandeur into my mind. Twenty-something looking legs and hips.  Why, four children had certainly changed the shape of my body time and time again.  Why not?

Well, why not should have been, "Because you have anxiety and will absolutely freak out the day of the surgery."  But NO...I went ahead and had my consult on a Thursday, boldly showing the doctor what I wanted to get rid of and scheduled my surgery for the very next day.  And that's the exact day that the butterflies took flight...in my stomach that is.  This was not just about to be "visions of grandeur" any more, this was about to happen!

I was the last person on the surgery schedule so we "closed the place down".  They took me back about 3 pm, brought me to recovery around 8 and I was back in my hotel room by 11.  Tussed  up from top to bottom like a pig at a cochon de lait   and armed with some pretty good meds,   I was now in the hands of my hubby, who let me say is the best darn nurse I've ever had.  And if you've never had this kind of surgery before let me explain something:  You cannot use your hands for leverage to get up or down (that includes using the potty). You better have some pretty good leg and abdominal muscles for getting up and down (Thank you very much, yoga!).  You've got bandages like ummm...everywhere.  That must be changed daily and this suit that is three sizes too small but surprisingly feels better on than off.  And then there is the shower thing.  I love my baths.  I mean soaking in the tub with a good book is like one of my favorite things to do in the evenings,  Well, you can't do that for a while.  And you can't even take a shower by yourself; you're pretty helpless to say the least.  He does all of this for you, gives you your meds on time and tucks you in bed with about a thousand pillows to make you feel more comfortable.  And while you're sleeping, he slips out and buys you a maxi dress and a pair of flats, because in your hopelessly optimistic packing, you have nothing you can wear except pajama pants.  Yep...this is what it means in those wedding vows that say, "In sickness and in health..."

So, from Wednesday to Sunday I lived in a hotel room, was totally cared for by the love of my life (who, by the way NEVER complained) and ate Cheese Nips and drank Ginger Ale.  Sunday we got on the road back to Louisiana, stopping several times along the way for me to get out and move around.  Back in my own home and chair and bed I felt better.  And then Wednesday was when "Number 9", Baby Jonathan was to be born.  I would be there.  For sure.  I had never missed the birth of one of my Grands and I wasn't about to start now...
                                         This is me waiting to be taken back for surgery.
                                         There is an after one that I took to send to the kids but it's on Hubby's
                                         phone.  It's doesn't look half bad but I didn't want to bother him at work
                                         to get a photo for my blog...

HEY!  I did say that other things have been going on, like birthdays and births and a trip to Las Vegas.  Now that I sorta have to stay put for a while, I'll share those things with you this week.

Baby Grayson Turns ONE!

I say "Baby Grayson" because I believe #8 has been the "baby" the longest since Parker Ann!  Yep, but he's about to give that spot up to little Jonathan who will arrive in March.  However, Grayson just had his 1st birthday party and I wanted to share it with you because it was just the cutest thing!

Here in Louisiana, everything after Christmas becomes Mardi Gras and last year on Fat Tuesday, his mommy went into labor with him.  While living in New Orleans thus is was only fitting that Grayson's 1st birthday party was celebrated in the Mardi Gras theme.

            Grayson's birthday invitation was framed on a table whenever you entered the foyer.
                                     Along with festive Mardi Gras masks and birthday hats.
       Don't you just love this beautifully decorated birthday cake in the Mardi Gras colors?
There were plenty of little ones in attendance to play and sing Happy Birthday to our big one-year old!
WOW...This whole cake is just for me?  And with fire on it?  Something must be wrong with the parents...

                                                  OK, so, I'll just have a little taste then.
   And this sweet boy was lucky enough to have his Aunt CaCa take his Cake Smash photos.

Happy Birthday, sweet Grayson.  You are our quiet, smiling little boy who makes the sun shine.  We love you so much and could never imagine our BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY without your smiling face.

Do These Pants Make Me Look Fat?!

Do these pants make me look fat?!  Come on now, I know that if you're a woman reading this, you have asked either a friend or your man that very question.  And most likely more than once.  I know I have.  Even the skinniest of gals have asked that question.  And today, I ponder the reason,  we as women,  are so obsessed with our physical appearance. Namely our weight.

I'm standing in the dressing room trying on clothes and those 3 mirrors are in there I think sometimes to torture me.  I put the clothes on and can get a view at every possible angle.  Just like anyone who would possibly see me in the outfit.  As if they even probably care about how I look in it.  It is my critical eye that then asks whoever happens to be in the dressing room with me:  "Do I look fat in this?!"  Well, that's a trap question just waiting to happen because if they say yes, I'm totally crushed and if they say no, I will say, yes, I do.  Let's face it, it's a lose, lose situation.
                                                   SEE WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT?!

I grew up in a decade where looks and weight in general were very important.  Everybody wanted to be Twiggy.  Don't know who Twiggy is,  you say?  Gosh, you sure must be young.  Google it, friend.  Yea, as if it were even possible to look like Twiggy.  I was born a chubby child  and was never super skinny, however, now in my fifties I've decided that I should be.  OK, stop it; I can hear you laughing out loud.  But it's true.  And why do we feel that way?  One Word:  Hollywood.  More specifically, society, in general.

I suppose this unrealistic body image phenomena began around the time I was graduating high school.  Dieting was the "thing".  Because really, could anyone be too skinny?  As I would flip through the teen magazines there were "perfect" girls with "perfect" completions and "perfect" teeth and "perfect"  bodies.  That was sending me a message that if I wanted to be liked and pretty, I needed to be a skinny, clear-faced "perfect" girl.  In the movies the actresses were not just pretty they were gorgeous.  Skinny bodies and beautiful faces.  It was etched into my (and many other young girls') minds that THIS is what I should look like.  Hmmm...what I had not taken into account, what my immature mind had not been able to understand was that we come in all sizes and shapes.  And it's OK.

How could I not understand that it is normal and OK to not have your bones protruding?  How could I not understand that it is normal for teenagers to have pimples?  How could I not understand that not everyone is going to like you whether you are physically beautiful or not?  How could I not understand that beauty is not just on the outside?  How could I not understand these things when society is influencing every single thing I think about my body image?  How could I??

It took many, many years for me to understand that I'm OK.  Am I aways satisfied with how I look?  Do I still have a critical eye whenever I look in the mirror?  Of course, I'm human.  However, as I have aged, I have looked deeper inside myself.  I turned to yoga as a form of mental and physical exercise.  (No, I'm not Buddhist; I'm Christian.)  Yoga has made me turn inside and allow me to see who I really am.  To not judge myself too harshly.  To slow down.  To love myself for who I am and not who I want to be.  It's kinda my thing.  I have chosen to focus on being "healthy" versus being "skinny".  But for me, this has been a struggle because as we all know, "Old habits die hard".  But I am a work in progress.

If you are a mama out there raising a girl I beg of you to encourage your child to embrace who they are and not who they want to be.  Praise them.  Complement them.  Let them know that being different is OK.  Show them that you adore them for who they are.  Trust me, it will make a world of difference in their lives.

                       "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are
                         wonderful, I know that full well."  Psalm 139:14  

Why I'm Breaking Up With Facebook

Yes, I am involved with social media just like millions of other individuals.  And yes, for the most part it is fun and entertaining.  However, lately, I've grown tired and a bit cynical of it; especially FaceBook.  The reason I ever entered the social media world was because whenever my daughter went off to college, she told me it would be a great way for us to keep in touch and that I might actually enjoy finding some of my long lost friends on there.  And I did.  I found family that lived afar and friends from high school and college.  She was right; it was fun.  That was in the early days of my relationship with FaceBook.

But then, FaceBook became somewhat ugly at times.  It was two-faced, with people seemingly  living  perfect lives suddenly turning up divorced by infidelity.  It was angry,  with people who shouted, "Free Speech" but only if I agreed with their opinions.  It was innocent adolescents who were tortured into suicide by their peers.  It had become a liar and hate monger with whom I had slowly become totally disenchanted.  It was time for us to break up.

To me, FaceBook was like a relationship gone bad.  It had not happened suddenly and I don't think it was one specific things that caused me to say, "Enough'!  It was the culmination of everything that began to look sad and angry and dirty.  Did I really want to bring this into my life every day?  But how to break up with something that had become such a habit?  I feared I would not stay connected with others.  How would I know what was going on in the world?!  And that's what social media does to you.  It's addictive.  You say you're going to break up but then you don't remove the app from your phone or i-pad.  It won't hurt to just peek in on things every now and then.  It's like that toxic relationship where you can't totally let go although you know it's not good for you.

And so I turned to Instagram.  On Instagram I don't find ugliness.  I don't find political crap.  I don't find hatefulness.  I do find lots of cute children and mom owned businesses and inspirational quotes.  It appears to be a more friendly environment.  And I don't feel angry or sad whenever I'm scrolling through the posts.  I'm happy with Instagram right now.  It fills my need to stay "connected".  I hope it stays that way.  Because I have found that I do not need to know what people are doing every moment of the day.  I know, I know...they put it out there.  But really, do I NEED to know it?  I've always sort of liked my privacy.  I've never been much of a gossiper and have often said, "If information has gotten around to me, that everyone else must already know it...because I'm the last one to find out everything."  FaceBook has caused me to put certain people up on a pedestal and then I am totally crushed whenever I find that they have fallen off of it.  I don't want to be like that.  I want to show love and kindness to all.  I want to realize that everyone is imperfect, however, FaceBook tends only to show the perception of perfection and that is a lie.

So, good-bye FaceBook.  You were lovely for a while but now you've got to go.  I'm sure I will miss you but I think my life will be better without you...

I Choose Joy!

With the beginning of each new year comes new goal setting for me.  Over the years, however, these goal have changed.  It seems that I have moved from the superficial goals to the more intrinsic ones.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I will most likely still want to lose "just 5 more pounds" for the rest of my life.  But this year, I really pondered what was important to me and decided to do what is now considered to be the "trendy" thing and choose one word that I wanted to be my ultimate goal this year.  And that word is JOY.

I chose JOY because it is not happiness.  Happiness comes from external situations.  Happiness can not only fluctuate from day to day but from moment to moment.  Things that happen or actions that people do or words they speak can affect one's happiness.  JOY, however, is internal.  It comes from deep within one's soul.  It is unshakable in the face of circumstances.  It is what I want this year; PURE JOY.

Depending on which version of the Bible one reads, the word JOY is mentioned 88 times in the Old Testament and 57 times in the New Testament.  That's a lot!  So, from this alone, we can see that having JOY in one's life is important to God also.  But there are JOY thieves all around us.  It seems that whenever we are attempting to be JOYFUL, they lurk just around the corner plotting their assault.  Who are some of those thieves?  Jealousy.  Pride.  Greed.  Impatience.  Anger.  Just to name a few.  But you get the picture, don't you?

How do you get rid of those JOY thieves?  Simply put, it is in where you spend your time and who you spend it with.  I find that the more time I spend with God, the less time I want to spend on things that steal my JOY.  This generation (and some of mine, as well...) spend lots of time comparing themselves and their situations to others.  It's commonly called, "Keeping up with the Joneses".  I want a big new house, new car, designer clothes and shoes because EVERYONE else has it and it is an outward sign of success and happiness.  Oops...there you go;  that word again,  "Happiness".  And what was it describing?  External "things".  And "things" can and will only make you "happy" for a while.  While true JOY comes bubbling up from inside you.

When I try to come up with a list of things that bring me JOY, here are just a few:

I am JOYFUL whenever I have my morning quiet time with God.
I am JOYFUL whenever I think of or am with my husband.
I am JOYFUL whenever I get to spend time with my children and grandchildren.
I am JOYFUL whenever I get to sit down and read a good book or start a new knitting project.
I am JOYFUL whenever I can visit with friends and laugh.
I am JOYFUL whenever I am walking outside.

Do you see where I'm going with this?  There's no time or place in my life for those JOY thieves.  Instead I concentrate on peace, love and gratitude.  Those are the things that are helping me achieve my New Year's goal of JOY.  Will there be times that I won't experience JOY?  Possibly.  Probably.  Simply because I am only human.  But I will try to remember JOY and try to find something in every situation that will bring me back to that JOY.

                                                                  I CHOOSE JOY.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.  Psalm 30:5


When You Feel Like You're Standing in Sinking Sand...

I remember when I was a young girl watching those television shows where someone would be walking along and suddenly they would fall into what they called, "quicksand".  And the person would realize that they couldn't move and were slowly sinking into the ground without hope of getting out unless someone came along to pull them out.  This both intrigued and frightened me.  What would I do if I fell into quicksand?  Would it be certain death as the earth sucked me in?  Or would someone come along to save me?  But alas, it was only a television show.  I could turn the tube off and those scary thoughts would go away.  Everything would be OK.

This past month, however, has seemed like that quicksand scenario has come to life.  Tomorrow my mother will have been in the hospital for one month.  We have gone back and forth from the regular hospital to the long care facility for a total of six times.  Just last week we were back in the emergency room and admitted for more tests.  But she is back in the long term facility now and we are hoping that she will agree to rehab and regain her strength.

In addition to my mother being sick, several of my Grands have been sick too.  Oh how I hate to see these little ones not feeling well.
Before Christmas our sweet little Pearson was admitted to the hospital for a respiratory infection.  She was put on breathing treatments but has recovered well and look how chubby she is now at almost 2 months old!
A couple of weeks ago Livie came down with strep and RSV.  She was a pretty sick little girl for a while and due to my asthma I cannot be around anyone with a respiratory infections so I missed getting to see her for about a week.  As soon as she could get around people again she was at my house!
Our precious little Grayson started feeling bad over the weekend and Monday we found out he has RSV.  Poor baby has been coughing and not sleeping well and once again I can't help out...
And way up in Ohio Andrew has been sick with a stomach virus.  Actually, Caitlin and both of the kids had it.  And here I am in Louisiana (sigh...).
Holli loved on her little buddy while he was feeling so bad.  You can tell how worried she was about him.
And then yesterday Holli got admitted to the hospital in Ohio with a kidney infection.  Yep, this is killing me because I am not there to be with her.
She is currently on IV antibiotics and pain medication.  I'm so glad to see her resting since she has been in so much pain for the last couple of days.
       I called the gift shop and sent some balloons to hopefully make her feel a little better.

So back to the the "quicksand".  I feel like I'm in it.  And it's creeping slowly up my body.  Sucking me under. I'm tired, both mentally and physically and I just long for my boring routine that I once thought was so mundane.  I want mundane again.  But I realize that it is not a season for mundane right now.  And so I have created my own routine of sorts that has helped me immensely.  I put two apps on my I-pad that I turn  to every day.  One is called Girlfriends in God.  This app has daily devotionals that are just wonderful and uplifting.  These ladies also have other resources available that you can get to help with any problems you might be facing.  The other app I installed is She Reads Truth.  This app has several different themed Bible reading programs.   I just finished reading Psalms of Gratitude and am starting Mourning and Dancing.  These two apps have given me a new and wonderful way to start my day.  In complete silence with God.  No television.  I grab my cup of coffee and sit down for my devotional time.  Priceless, precious time alone with God.  It helps me realize that I am not alone and I am not sinking in that sand.  Instead I stand on the solid rock.  Which reminds me of an old hymn:

                        "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand..."