Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's Fall, Ya'll!

Mmmmmm. I love this time of year. The weather is soooo amazingly wonderful. The air smells sweet and fresh. The festivals come to town with all their stuff that I really need. OK, well, not need, but want. The pumpkins come out in great force and the hayrides begin! At our house, this time of year brings MULTIPLE birthday's and parties, MULTIPLE children's clothing sales, and a really, really tight pocketbook. That's OK, though. Somehow, every year our Provider makes ends meet.

I have great memories of fall: tons of bonfires and marshmallow roasts, youth retreats in the middle of nowhere, going camping with my grandparents and my bestest friend and cousin, Hope, homecoming dances. It was a blast! Right now, I am looking forward to watching the trees start to change their wardrobes. It won't be long and the streets and yard will be blanketed with crimson and ocre (I love that word, ocre!) leaves. So much change, and yet, so much beauty.

I hope you all enjoy this autumn season and remember that there will be many seasons of change in our lives. However, God always remains who HE was, who HE is, and who He forever will be.

Happy Fall, ya'll!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Little Braveheart

In honor of Daylor's (my oldest son) ninth birthday, I wanted to share a story that happen a few years back. It had been a beautiful and bright day in May and I decided to let my dogs stay outside in the backyard while I took the very coveted and needed shower during my kids nap. (You can tell this was many years ago, because all were taking a nap at this point. Wow, I miss those days!)

I began my “normal” shower routine, wash hair and leave conditioner in while while I shaved and bathed. I was all relaxed and comfortable. The steam was arising and so was my opera voice that I only get to use in the shower. "SUMMMMMERRRRTIIIIIIIMMMMMEE, and the livin' is easy!!!!" I had lathered, rinsed, and repeated ("as needed" - I loved Friends! I miss that show!) and was beginning to let the peppermint conditioner do it's thing to my hair. I smeared on the shaving cream getting ready to tackle the legs and 'pits when I felt the house shudder.

My first mental picture was of the kids out of bed, in the den, having a big ole pillow fight party while mommy was in the shower. I paused a minute to listen for anymore sounds of rowdiness
and disobedience only to be met with the sounds of the water falling in the shower. Satisfied I was a good mommy and that my kids would NEVER sneak out of bed, I continued my mini-spa treatment. "Fish are jumppppppiiiiiiin' and my kids are just FIIIIIIIIIIIIINE. OOOOH, my Daddy ain't rich, but cha' know I'mm good-looooooookin', so...." CRASH!!!!! There is was again!!! BOOOM!! Oh, no they didn't!!!!!! NOBODY slams a door in this house and gets away with it! OOOHHH, I'm getting angry!! They won't like me when I get ANGRY!!!!! (This was, of course, before I read the book "Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours".) Yet again, the house shook for the second time. BOOOOOOOMMMM!

I tried to continue to shave but,again , I felt the house rumble. I felt my blood pressure rising and began to to plan my coarse of action. WHO was up and just WHAT do they think they are doing???? Who would receive the first one-handed applause session??? Again, the house trembled. By this point, my shower “experience” was ruined and I turned off the water not realizing that I would not turn it back on for the next two hours.

I was going to catch those little boogers out of bed and then in all my “Mommy” insight and wisdom enforce a lecture that would impress even Dr. Dobson. We would discuss the finer points of obedience and how when Mommy puts us to bed we STAY in bed!!!! Then we would have a thorough lesson on how to properly shut a door without causing a shift in the New Madrid Fault. (Mommy suggestion of the day - If our kids ever slam a door, we make them open and close the door properly 200 times to re-enforce the appropriate way to use doors. It must latch completely and it must not be slammed or they have to start all over again. Works like a charm! We don't have that problem anymore.)

It was as I stepped out of the shower and into my towel, shaving cream and conditioner still applied, that I realized my children that I thought were having a hoedown in the den, were still in bed. The quaking of the house was actually from the thunder of a greenish-black, ginormous (my son’s word) storm that had overtaken the beautiful, blue sky that was there before I escaped to my shower oasis. I immediately panicked remembering my poor doggies were outside getting ready to be blown away by the storm that made 3:30 in the afternoon look like midnight.

I quickly raced to the back door in my towel, shaving cream and conditioner leaving a trail behind me, to rescue my puppies from the brewing storm. I breathed a sigh of relief and offered a quick thank you to God for holding back the rain as they ran inside to safety. In almost the same second, the torrential pour down began. After settling my nervous little pooches down, I looked outside again and noticed the weather was worsening, and the thunder and lighting had decided to take up residency in my backyard.

Daylor, 6 at the time and Duglin, 4 , were, and still to this day, are absolutely terrified of any kind of weather that is, could become, or sorta, might be a kinda possibility of severe weather. I began counting the seconds from when the lightning struck, not to determine when the thunder would roll, but to figure out how long it would take before my sweet boys would appear from their room, wide-eyed and looking for comfort from their mommy.

I switched on the TV when the hail began to fall thinking there would be break-ins from the local news. I don’t know about where you live but, if there is any kind of "abnormal" weather patterns, such as say rain or breeze or sunshine we have a “breaking news weather report." And they always break in a the most crucial moments of a show like right when the Bachelor is about to pick his new fiancee'. GRRRRR!

Anyway, back to my point, there was no newsflash about any storm so apparently ours was the only house in Tennessee that was about to be blown away. Despite the fact that the 4 year old oak tree in my front yard quite literally was playing "limbo" and was bending parallel to the ground, there were no major warnings other than this one. And I quote, “By the way, we have reports of rain in Bartlett.” So, I guess my point is, it was raining and lightening and thundering. There was hail and gusty winds. It was a strong storm.

I typically don’t freak out at storms. I find them fascinating. (I'll have to share my tornado story with you sometime. Another blog and other day...) It’s one of those traits I inherited up from my mom. She would always say casually go about her business cooking or reading as my dad would run through the house to bathtub (with a mattress in tow) yelling at my brother and I to, "GET DOWN!!!!" She'd say, “There is no reason to panic. It is a waste of good energy." In the meantime, the roof would be coming off piece by piece and despite the fact that the neighbor's cat just flew by the window. Ahhh, good times...

On this day however, the storm was different and made me a teensy bit edgy considering I could not see my neighbors across the street because it was pouring so hard. I just knew my kids were going to come screaming out of their rooms, especially when the hail got to be about quarter size and sounded like elephants doing the quick step across my roof. I waited and I waited, but there was not one peep from their room, despite the close proximity of the lightening and the ground shaking thunder afterwards. I peeked in on my 2 year old daughter who has no fear of storms at the time and she was fast asleep. I decided after the lights started flickering to look in on my boys. I cracked open the door and my oldest sat up. It was then I saw his tear-stained cheeks.

I quietly tiptoed across the room to the boy’s bunk bed and saw Duglin fast asleep next to his brother on the top bunk, his little hand wrapped around his guardian brother’s. I felt such compassion for my eldest and asked him why he hadn't gotten up to come get me. His response broke my heart. “Mommy, I'm scared, but I knew Dugin would be even more scared than me if he woke up and hearwd the funderstorm. If I tried to come get you he might wake up and cry, but if he stays asweep he won’t be afwaid.” (OK, just rip the heart out of my chest and stomp on it, won't ya?)

A precious boy at the age of six, humbled and convicted my heart. He didn't know anything about what sacrifice meant or probably how to say it , yet it was one of the greatest examples of self-sacrifice I'd seen, especially from a a child. I knew my son and knew the extreme fear he had to overcome for him to withstand the lightening, hail and thunder. But he did it. He lay there completely still for almost an hour and endured a ferocious storm that terrified him, in order to allow his little brother to sleep blissfully unaware of what was going on.

He could no longer hold his sobs back and broke down in relief that I was there with him. I gathered him up in my arms and silently asked a special blessing for my little one whose heart had matured far beyond his years. I picked up Duglin who had awoken at that point and carried them into the den. We sat by our den window and watched the remainder of the storm and marveled at the power of God’s nature and the awesomeness of His world.

After about 30 minutes, the sky began to clear and I tucked the kids back in bed for a few more minutes, needing the time to ponder the whole experience and also to rinse the conditioner that had now dried and left a gooey mess in my hair (not mention shave my other leg.). I was amazed how God used Daylor to show me an example of selflessness and giggled at the timing at which He chose to do it. More than that though, I got a glimpse of Jesus in my child today.

Even though the shaving cream that I left trailing behind me stained the carpet, I didn’t make it to a 4:30 appointment I had that day, and my hair, well , was now very, very, very conditioned (Did I mention I smelled like a candy cane for almost two weeks? Mmm, peppermint!), I would not have traded those two hours of “storm watching” for anything. Those sweet, unsuspecting times that the Father chooses to reveal Himself to me; it is for those moments I live.

Happy birthday, Daylor! You are a blessing!

Monday, September 22, 2008


Heroes. What does that word mean exactly? Webster defines the word "hero" as "a man who is noted for his special achievements." Is that really true, though? Do we really celebrate the bravery and integrity of our Heroes of today? Are they really "noted" and recognized for their valor and self-denial? Or, do we choose to conveniently forget the sacrifices they make and carelessly live in a world in which they have helped make possible for us?

We all have Heroes in our lives. Some come in the shape of a friend who is there right when we need them. Some are complete strangers, but one act of kindness on their part totally changes the course of our lives forever. Some vocationally have chosen to live the life of a Hero and willfully run into burning buildings or face uncertain dangers on the raw streets of America. Some go on to tell their grandchildren and great-grandchildren their amazing stories and some, more than some, lose their lives protecting their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Our dear friend pictured above has been overseas for the past several months risking his life to help preserve our way of life here. He would never say he is a Hero. My kids would beg to differ. He sent some amazing pictures home of a recent event that took place where he is stationed. I wanted to share them with you, not to glorify war or death, but to ask you to remember. They need to know we haven't forgotten. They are all heroes. They are OUR Heroes.

"They died together trying to save the other one from overwhelming odds and effective rpg and machine gun fire. Of the nine that died 8 died at the observation post. There were three guys there when the attack started. They died trying to reinforce and rescue their brothers. They knew that their brothers were getting killed and wounded and they still ran into the gunfire. All these guys believed that they were here doing the right thing. Doing a job that their country asked them to do. I don't believe that given the choice that any of them would have been anywhere else that day. When it gets right down to it, they don't fight for America (although they love their country). They fought for each other. Ultimately, they won and the attack was repelled. These are amazing men. So young but at the same time there is age and hardness that their peers at home don't have. They had the memorial service on Sunday. It was humbling to be there. It is humbling to be here with them." - Written by my friend above, another Hero.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Confessions of a Photographer That Has No Clue

My obsession began September 29th, 1999 at 3:26 a.m. when my first little man entered into the world. The camera came out and the madness ensued. I've always enjoyed taking pictures, but until my first itsy-bitsy was born, I would not say it was a hobby. Now 9 years and nearly (and, I'm not kidding) 75,000 photographs later I can't seem to put the camera down. I know!! I can't help it!

Someone once told me I would take hundred of shots of my first child and then the second child I would take only shots of the important "milestones" followed by having a completely empty photo album of all children there after. HA!! WRONG! One thing I am really glad I did and am doing is photo documenting all of my children's lives. I LOVE to take their pictures.

I have graduated some in the world of photography. I started out with a basic 35mm camera with 400 speed film and most of my pictures were fine. I actually took some great black and whites back in the baby years of Daylor. My sweetie-pie hubby urged me to start using a digital point and shoot when that became the thing. (I can't tell you how much we saved in film and developing when we did that.) I liked my little SONY Cyber-Shot. I had a few good shots, but I began to become a little unsettled with my pictures and just wasn't getting what I really wanted. Most of my pictures were just average. A lot turned out like this...
Yikes! Not pretty.

Here we had a little family picture time with all the kids, but it definitely lacked again - I know they were so cute (still are)!!

About that time, I had a tragic mishap with my little memory capturer and my Cyber-Shot had to be shot. I seriously went through photographers withdraw!!!! Once again, Dewayne (da hubby) cam to my rescue! He surprised me one day with a digital SLR camera WAAAAAYY beyond what I had ever used. Not to say it is one of those multi-thousand dollar cameras, but it was way more than I had ever experienced before. I realized that day I really knew NOTHING about photography. There were big, scary words like white balance, ISO, aperture, & bokeh that I had never even heard of much less used. (I still am, to this day, trying to figure out what some of those terms mean!) So I just took what I did know like that I preferred photos that were from different angles and perspectives and candid "in the moment shots" and began snapping a way.
I proceeded to embark on my first "photo shoot" with the kids a week after I got my new camera named (yes, she has a name), "Pictoria." Oh, that's something I could have added to my list a few posts back that I name everything. All my cars, my camera, my Vaseline - even my kids I really never call by their birth names, but that's another post for another day. I know - it's bizarre. I have never claimed to be normal though! ANYWAY, here are a few of the resulting shots:

Now, I am sharing these with you not to beg for compliments, but to say I have absolutely no idea how they turned out this way! I laughed because I really had no clue as to how I did them.
Fast forward 2 years later, to today and I can still say I am winging it most of the time. In fact, here's one I just recently took that shows I still have a loooooooooong way to go.

I figured out what I did wrong, but like usual, it's always after the moment is over. (Probably, one of my biggest frustrations about photography.)

A few minutes later, I captured this moment with Perri. So, how can one image turn out so bad and then 5 minutes later the other turn out so good? Something about aperture settings and lighting? What specifically? WHO KNOWS! Well, probably lots-o-people, just not me!

My kids have gotten so used to me toting around the camera and saying, "Just one more guys," that they hardly complain anymore! (I said hardly, not never.) (Note to someone who is interested in documenting their kids lives in photos - Your kids may grow up to hate you. At least you will have pictures of the times that they didn't! :)
I have also discovered that beach pictures are fun, too! Your best shots are either in the morning or at dusk. I chose dusk because I love the golden tone everything takes on when the sun starts to disappear into the gulf. Here are a few of my fav.'s from Destin last year.

Much to my delight, I also discovered Photoshop where you can do cool stuff like this:

And this:

So, on I will continue my little photo journey. Truly though, it's not really about the pictures, the quality of light, or if the depth of field in "just right." It's my beautiful and sweet subjects I adore. I am grateful that the memories of their precious childhood's will always be in encaptured (is that a word?) in photographs of yester-years. It's those fleeting and quick moments that I long to keep tucked away in my heart (and my hard drive :).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Praying for a Hole to Open Up....

As a rule of thumb, parents are supposed to embarrass their children. Right? I mean every kid at one point has looked upon their parental unit/units with mortification and dread, haven't they? Well, I say it serves them right! After all the embarrassing things that they say and do, it's a good thing for them to get a little taste of the "what-goes-around-comes-around" medicine! Now, before my email box is flooded with comments on how mean that statement is, I think you should hear some of the comments I have had to endure.

For example, a few years ago I had taken my sweet little munchkin, Duglin to go get his pictures taken. While we were waiting in the studio reception area, a nice lady and her newborn were coming to pick up their pictures. Now, let me stop here and say for those of you who do not know my Duglin, that he is the friendliest, most loving child you will ever meet. Oh, did I also mention he is brutally honest.

OK, where were we? Ahh, yes, so Boo-Man (also known as Dugley) proceeded over to the nice lady to go make friends. He asks her about her new baby and says he has a baby sister, too. (Oh, isn't that cute!!!! Talking like a little man and so politely, too!) My heart was filled with pride as my cutie-pie continued his sweet conversation.

The lady was very kind and returned his 4 year old banter with compliments on his blue eyes and big boy exchange. Just as I was about to explode with joy at my punkin's adorableness, it happened. That moment when you wished a hole would magically appear in the middle of the floor and you could blissfully fall in and never be seen again.

What happened you might ask? Well, let me back up, again, and explain that Duglin is a very physical kid. He wants to be hugged and kissed all the time. He is either in some one's lap or begging to be swung around, and he frequently asks these things of perfect strangers. (We are working on that.) Anyway, he derives a sense of security from being touched, so it is not unusual for him to try to grab on to some one's hand or touch someone he doesn't know.

Soooooo, as I said, as I was dripping in adoration over my sweet, friendly, and beautiful little boy, I watched as he lifted his itty-bitty, little hand and start rubbing the woman's belly. OH, SWEET CARTON OF MILK!!!!!! I knew what was coming next! From that moment on everything began to move in slow motion. I began running toward my offspring, not sure exactly how the next words would come out, but knowing it was going to be really ugly. I pushed innocent children and people out of my way as I raced toward him calling DUUUUGLINNNNN!!!

I was too late.

In the loudest voice imaginable, I heard my angel say as his hands gave Mrs. Nice's belly (still swollen from recently having a baby) a really good jiggle, "WOW, LADY!! YOU ARE REEEEEEEAAAALLLLYYY BIG!!!!!!!!!" (Hole?!?! Where is it?!?! I can't find it!!!!) I don't even remember what happened next. I have suppressed that memory and am just waiting for the day I can repay the him the favor. (Quick note -Duglin is anything but vicious, he was simply making a statement he found to be true. We are also working on tact, now.) At least the pictures turned out good.

And then there was Perri just this week. Ahhh, my sweet and feminine, little, frilly princess. But don't let the innocent blink,blink of her long eyelashes fool you. Sometimes she gets us, too. We took the kids to Steak and Shake as a reward for great test grades earlier this week. Now, Perri has the bladder about the size of a proton so we visit every bathroom in every store, every park, every restaurant, every mall, every church, every grocery, every gas station, every home, every bank, and every wood-sie location. We are experts at locating potties! This day was no different, so we headed to the facilities to let her take care of business.

She has started this thing now where she won't let me in the stall with her anymore because she, as she puts it, "Needs her privacy." (She's 4, for goodness-sake!!!!) So I, being the good mommy that I am, waited for her patiently outside the door. A couple of minutes later the women's bathroom door creaked open loudly and in walked an employee. Perri proceeds to ask me in her little, LOUD, elfin-wonder voice, "HEY, MOMMY? DID YA HEAR THAT LADY FART?" (Hole!!!? Hole!?!?!?! I know it's GOT to be here somewhere!!!!!!!) (Yet another quick note - we do not condone the use of that word in our family, nor do we ever use it. I find it quite crude and yucky! I will be interviewing all our friends soon as to find out who taught it to her. You're in BIG TROUBLE whoever you are!!!)

Yes, I LOVE my children. They are precious gifts for which I prayed. But sometimes, they do and say things that make a deep, black hole seem like the sweetest place on earth!

Monday, September 8, 2008


I have come to a conclusion. My life is boring. But not in a bad way. In a happy, relaxed, and peaceful kind of way, ya know? I hear so many people with family members and kids who are so sick and hurting and my heart totally breaks for their stress and uncertainty. So many homes in disarray because of divorce or separation. I'm so, so grateful for where I am in my life today. That's certainly not to say it could all disappear in a moments notice, but this very second, at this very moment, in my quiet and sleepy home, where my precious little ones are tucked in their beds and my amazing husband is upstairs working, I can say all is right.

It's not always this way. In fact, probably more times than not I can feel my world spinning out of control and I'm grasping for my Father's hand to pull me out of whatever I chose to put myself in that day. I think that's why moments like this really stand out for me. It's when I hear that ever gentle voice softly whispering a reminder, "I am always here, now and when the world is falling in around you. If you choose to quiet yourself in those moments you will hear me then, too." I love Him so. He way more patient with me than He should be.

I forget. I forget that the God who gives these tranquil moments is also the God whom calms the storms of chaos and gentles the waves of fear that grasp me sometimes. His voice is always perfectly loving and inviting. I just have to quiet down for a moment and listen........yes, there it is, singing gently in my ear.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hair-dee, Hair, Hair, Hair!!!

Have you ever stared at the word "hair" for a long time? It's actually really goofy looking. On that hand, any word you focus on for a period of time starts to look bizarre. Bizarre, that's a really....bizarre looking word. ANYWAY, I'm back now!

When we parted yesterday, I was explaining my "situation" with Duglin's new mullet. I mean, don't get me wrong, the mullet had it's time and place. Granted that time and place was over a decade ago, but it did have it's moment in the spotlight. Let's take a walk down Memory Lane, shall we? I mean, lots of famous and influential people have at one point in their lives had a mullet. Of course, probably the most famous mullet in the world has to be Billy Ray Cyrus. He was alright, but lets think about some folks that really made a difference. People who changed the course of history and forever imprinted their blatant mulletness into the very core of beings. People like this. Yes, welcome to his world!

Lots of musically talented people had mullets. Among others, there was Jon Bon Jovi , Steve Perry of Journey (my fav!), Richard Marx, and Rush's Getty Lee . BUT, did you know this guy had one? In fact, I'd say he wins the prize for the most renditions of the mullet.

Then we could talk about these memorable and ground-breaking do's (and don't's) from 80's television. Remember this guy? And even chick's got in on the trend. Wow, I feel so old now! I hope you enjoyed our little time machine back. Just a minute while I take my Geritol now.

Honestly, the list could go on and on, but I say all this make the point that the mullet is over and done. OK, well, almost done. I have to show you one more picture. I just can't help not to. I want to protect and inform you as to what can happen to families if and when infected by the dangerous and nasty illness that is "Mullet." Prepare yourselves....

You don't know how much it pains me to put this atrocious picture on my pretty little blog, but I will sacrifice it's cuteness just to make sure you understand and protect yourself and family from this tragedy.

Now, as we had learned earlier, Duglin had contracted a "Mullet-Bug" day before yesterday when a haircut went terribly wrong. I immediately called my good friend and miracle worker, Jana at Studio Larue. Bless her heart, she's amazing. I pretty much get a new hairstyle every year. Guys, haircuts for me are MAJOR occasions for her because they require usually 4-6 hours of work on her part. I have GREAT BIG hair, but she always does an amazing job and I knew she could heal my baby boy.

Praise God (seriously), we are completely mullet-free again in our house and here is Jana's handiwork.

I just wanted to thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers during this time. BTW, did I mention Dewayne had a mullet when we got married?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I wish that I had Jesse's hair...Where can I find a mullet like that?

My poor Boo-man! We finally took Duglin and Daylor to go their hair cut yesterday. If you have seen Duglin lately he looked something like this:
He's just one of those kids that needs long and wild hair. I know!!! He's adorable, ain't? Welp, I explained to the nice lady who was cutting his hair I wanted to keep it long, just trimmed up a bit and still kind of shaggy. (sigh......) This is her version of that description...

Sadly, the 1980's Rick Springfield mullet was not what I was trying to convey. Word of advice, take a picture next time.

There is hope on the horizon, however. Hope, by the name of Jana. My FABULOUS hairstylist who has been doing my hair since I was 16. Unfortunately, I'm afraid we are going to have to cut his hair all off to undo the damage.

Will Dugley be saved from the evil world of mullets?

Will Jana use her super powers to regenerate a beautiful head of blonde hair?

Or, will Duglin be forced to walk around looking like his buddy, Mr. David ?

Stay tuned to find out!