Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Busy Season

I think February for our family is crazy busier than December. From January 30th to February 25th we celebrate a Forever Family Day, 3 birthdays, Valentines Day, our anniversary and a Chinese New Year celebration usually falls in there too. Added to our many celebrations, we have basketball season and all its' end of the season tournament play (this year we had/have 3 playing so 3 teams) and soccer kicking back up and overlapping its' practices, games and season opening tournaments. CRAZY! This past weekend was dizzying as we started off with the Augusta Prep Varsity boys playing for the Region Championship at home. It was a late game but we took everyone. The Cavaliers pulled off a HUGE win and are Region Champs! It was a great game and alot of fun to be at. Poor Lulu lost interest and the thumb went in the mouth. Pretty soon she was deep asleep amongst the yelling and cheering...thumb out, mouth wide open and eyes rolling back asleep :) It was after 11:00 pm when we got home..whew! Saturday the boys had games in two different parts of town. After that Julia, Jaida and I celebrated my birthday a few days early. We had a late lunch and did some shopping together where I got to pick out my own birthday presents!!!!! It was such a sweet time with my Biggest girl and my Middlest girl. SO thankful for daughters. After that we rushed home and Will and I went out to dinner to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. We had wonderful food, great wine, good conversation and even got to sit with the owners and listen to their amazing stories and enjoy champagne. It was a fabulous evening. Thanks babe for a great night and for 17 years of marriage to a great you!!!! I love you!!!!! I really pushed my limit Saturday with a midnight bedtime :) Ok, I am an old fogey....bedtime USUALLY comes early for me! Sunday we had an amazing worship service at a new church we have been attending. LOVE how I just feel like it is a place to meet with Jesus, not so
churchy". I was able to dash to the grocery store before WIll, Julia and I went to an end of season barb-b-que for her basketball team. It was held at an awesome house on the river with spectacular views. Again, good food, great conversation and a great group of girls. I fell into bed Sunday nite quite early and weighing quite a bit more than I did at the start of the weekend! :) Today I turned..ugh...49! My parents came and my Mom and I went out to lunch, she made dinner, the kids had cards for me and Julia had a sweet little gift. Will pulled a surprise card and sent me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. He had to be out of town. It was a great day! We will have a family dinner Friday nite, I am going to stretch this birthday thing out for a week! :) We wrap up another basketball season Saturday so 1 more to go and that ends next Saturday. Soccer in Atlanta this weekend and Julia's first school soccer game is next week at a school 3 hrs away...ugh! I am going to miss all this when they are grown and gone right?????? WOW! I am tired just typing all this mess so this old, tired 49 year old is going to hit the sack now, after all it is 9:00pm!!!!! Oh, and for the record, I took NO photos all weekend long!?!?!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An ice storm, a war zone, an earthquake and the Ingalls

For those of you that live up north please forgive my whining in this post. I was born up north but have lived in the deep south since 4th grade. This past week proved that I am more southern than I thought! It all started days before the storm hit, with winter storm warnings broadcast on every mode of media possible, tv, radio, cell phone voice messages, texts, home phone messages, emails and word of mouth. It was quite evident we were in the path of a big winter storm supposedly going to dump dangerous amounts of ice. I say supposedly because we tend to go a bit exaggeratory here in the south if an innocent snowflake is detected anywhere within hundreds of miles. Things close down...for days. Most of the time these warnings amount to nothing but a few innocent snowflakes. This time, due to the debacle in Atlanta with the previous winter storm, our city took every precaution you could think of, closing business and schools for the next 2 days! My clever northern brother-in-law sent a string of hilarious group emails to all of us family members down south. We went right along with his humor, mocking the winter storm. Mistake. Big mistake. Wednesday in the very early morning hours the sleet began followed by the freezing rain. We were all quite curious at first and enjoyed the warmth of the fire and the day off from school and work. Until it happened. The electricity began to flicker....5 or 6 times. Then around 11:00am it was lights out. 
The freezing rain continued all day as did the accumulation of ice on all things. It was quite beautiful really. We have a gas water heater and a gas stove so we could cook on the stove top and we had hot water.....yea! How bad could it be right? Everybody home, warm fire, candles everywhere, great family bonding time, board games came out, pretending ensued....5 kids, everybody home, no tv, no electronics, squabbling started, temperature in the house started dropping,it got darker, the ice continued to accumulate, the squabbling escalated, boredom set in. Ok, yes, I guess my kids and are spoiled. And if I am honest I am too. Wow, do we ever depend on electronics to direct our lives! Bedtime came early, as there was not much to do in the dark. Everyone was dressed in layers with piles of blankets. I laid in my bed just listening to the deafening silence. Then the cracking and booming began. I felt as if I was in a war zone. The cracking of tree branches sounded like machine gun fire and the booming of falling trees, poles and transformers blowing felt like bombs exploding. I just laid there waiting for our house to be hit. What a frightening night. I can't imagine living in a real war zone! Thursday morning came and I grabbed my camera to document this historical event. I was stunned at what I saw. Not only had it sounded like a war zone but it truly looked like a war zone. I could not believe the damage! We were quite fortunate to have only minor damage to some tress and bushes with downed limbs littering our yard. Thursday continued to go downhill fast with more trees and limbs falling and transformers blowing. And it got even colder inside. The candle supply was dwindling. And the kids got even crankier and more bored and this mama almost lost it! I am embarrassed to say I was NOT a trooper! I kept asking Will, "What in the world did the Ingalls do? Did they go to bed at 7:00 pm because it was too dark and cold for anything else? What did Mary, Laura and Carrie do all day and night?" ( I think there was a son or 2 in there somewhere too wasn't there?) I told Will, "Surely Carolyn had a nip or two at the moonshine or had her own private stash hidden in the barn somewhere?" I am just so glad God in His infinite wisdom had me born in the 1960's with a full supply of electricity! I just couldn't take much more. Our awesome neighbors did get a generator and ran an extension cord to our garage refrigerator and freezer so we were able to save a good bit of our food. Friday afternoon, after no hope of the electricity returning any time soon, I packed up 7 people, 2 dogs and the bunny and to my parents house we headed. Bless their hearts, they were in warm Florida and offered the use of their clean home to our circus. Will and Julia had to head to a basketball game further south so I went on ahead with everyone else. When I pulled in the driveway and unloaded the van I cranked up the heat and turned on every light in the house. I took the kids out for pizza, then back we went to get in pj's and snuggle into warm beds. After everyone was asleep, I sat in a big comfy chair with a fleece blanket on and felt my toes finally thawing out. I was enjoying the Olympics and a decorating magazine when my chair suddenly shook and the walls rumbled. I thought the dog had gotten under my chair. Nope! Then I thought maybe I had turned the water on wrong and had exploded something. I went running down to the basement. Nope. All was fine. All kids sleeping. Dogs sleeping. Bunny sleeping. No explosions. Maybe I had truly lost it over the past 60 hrs? I went back to my chair to await the arrival of Will and Julia. I got a text from my sister-in-law asking if we are ok and had felt the earthquake. EARTHQUAKE. Are you kidding me? I was just getting over the cracking and booming and now there was an earthquake? In Georgia??? My neighbor texted me too with a picture of a water tower that had busted because of it. Was that OUR water supply???? Seriously! Carolyn Ingalls must have had her own private wine cellar! 
We had a very lovely get-away at the lake with good food, shopping, the Lego movie and lights and heat!!!! It turned out to be a fabulous weekend. Power returned at almost midnight Saturday. We headed home Monday afternoon to utter destruction. Roads were closed everywhere. Trees were littering yards and roads. Houses were damaged. And some still had no power. 
Tuesday everyone went back to school...hallelujah...as much as I love them, they NEEDED to go back! I went running and could not believe the sights! Piles of debris taller than me lined the roads and subdivision streets. Chain saws are the new sound du jour along with more booming, trees being deposited into large dumpsters. This was most definitely a severe winter storm. Never again will I mock the threatening weather. As whiney and spoiled as I sound here, I am grateful all turned out well and we had no damage or injuries.We will purchase a generator. We will get our large pine trees cut down. And I will get bread and milk the next time they predict bad weather...we ran real low on that :)
So Carolyn Ingalls I am not. I am a wimp. I am spoiled by creature comforts. And I have even less patience than I thought I had...and that wasn't much! 78 degrees today and I could not be happier...although there is a whisper of another storm possibly coming through here.......seriously?????

 A little bird

 A downed wire in there

 This is a road. I drive it daily to take the kids to school. Totally impassable. Trees down along entire road.

 And the clean up begins!

These pictures don't do it justice. It really is hard to imagine!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy 12th Birthday Sam!

February 5th Sam turned 12, his last birthday before the teen years! My son came into the world LARGE, tipping the scales at not quite 10 lbs, 10 days early. It was on that day he gave me the gift of loving a little boy...well a BIG boy. He was beautiful. When his sleepy newborn eyes were open, they were a crystal blue and they searched my soul as if to say, "Will you hold my heart and love me forever." And that I have. This boy of mine....I love him so. He is a great kid! Sam is handsome, smart, oh so smart, he is funny, kind, sensitive, loving, an amazing athlete, a fantastic big brother and little brother, he is creative and quite the artist and writer, he is mature beyond his years in so many ways, he is responsible and a huge help with the Littles. I adore him. Sam, Happy 12th Birthday! Thank you for showing me what "little boy love" looks like .I look forward to watching you grow and watching to see what God has planned for you! What a blessing you are to me and to your family! I love you so very much!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Xin is 8!

Saturday February 1st Xin turned 8! We decided to combine the boys' parties this year seeing that we have very little free time on our weekends and their birthdays are 4 days apart! So Friday nite Xin invited his little buddy from school and Sam had the neighborhood crew and we went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. A great place to take 8 kids (Julia had an out of town bball game so she missed the house full of boys!) We ate 80 wings and fries and then headed back to our house for cake and ice cream. Then they were off their separate ways for gaming, movie watching and laughing late into the nite! Fun was had by all..including 2 little sisters that blended right in. Unfortunately, it was early dismissal time Saturday morning as we had a 9:00 basketball game. The boys crawled reluctantly out of bed as I had to wake them all up! (one small 3 year old kept sneaking into Xin's room until past 11:00pm I was told...hmmmm wonder who that could have been?) Saturday we continued the celebration for Xin with another basketball game, treats for the team, lunch of his choice out, and a visit from Nana and Poppy. Needless to say, there were some tired kids come Saturday evening....and a wiped out Mama! It was actually a really great party and much easier than I anticipated. Maybe I will combine all 5 kids' parties next year????

Now on to celebrate Xin.....8 years old and he still hasn't been with us as long as he lived in China! Seems impossible, but true. Xin continues to do incredibly well in school as a second grader. He is in the gifted program and got all A's on his report card! He loves video games, playing basketball, Legos, eating treats and playing with his little sisters. He has such a sweet kind heart and is very thoughtful. He loves to laugh and explore life! He is still learning how to live in a family but has come a long way! He, more than any other child of ours, keeps us on our knees and reminds us of how Jesus loves us in spite of our "baggage". Happy Birthday Xin! We know God has a special plan for you and we hope and pray we can lead and guide you to find His way. We love you little buddy! Happy 8th Birthday!

As they played the Wii, she decided to just do some puzzles!