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100 Things November 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 4:14 pm

I was inspired by a friend’s recent post on her blog listing 100 facts about her.  Now, you may not be interested in this list whatsoever, but I liked reading hers and thought it would be fun to do the same.  Here goes…

  1. I am a middle child.
  2. I adore my brother and sister, and have so much in the past that it bordered on unhealthy.  For real.
  3. I married my high school sweetie when I was 19 and have no regrets about that.
  4. I feel most beautiful when I am pregnant.  I also take better care of myself, which I can’t seem to make myself do any other time in my life.
  5. 2010 has been the first year I haven’t birthed a baby since 2005.
  6. I am pregnant for the ninth time.  I miscarried at 7 weeks between my girls and my boys, and I was devastated.
  7. I played the flute and loved it, but I always wished I had played the french horn.  I got to senior year and fell in love.  If I ever have money to waste, I will buy one of my own.
  8. I am a changed woman because of Jesus Christ.  I’ve always loved Him, but my life is different because of Him and what He has revealed to me through an unexpected pregnancy and autism.
  9. I always wanted to be a teacher growing up.
  10. I was in the public ed classroom until I had babies, and now I teach them.
  11. I always admired my dad for being a truck driver.  Still do.
  12. I think that I was blessed with a mom who loves being our mom more than just about anything on earth, except my dad.
  13. I miss my childhood friends, and I often wonder if they know just how special they were to me.
  14. My three best friends now are not necessarily the picture of best friends you see in the movies, but I prefer what I’ve gained from them to anything I’ve ever seen onscreen.
  15. I look at my kids in amazement daily that I can love so many little people so very much.  My mom has never understood how parents can favor one kid over another, and I so agree with her.
  16. I graduated from Georgia Southern University.
  17. I will never tell my kids that there is a good reason for owning and using a credit card.  NEVER.
  18. I live in my grandmother’s house, the one where my mother spent the latter half of her childhood.  I love it.
  19. I wish our yard were big enough for a swimming pool, though.
  20. I love to read.
  21. I love to sew, but have no time for it.
  22. Family is oh so very important to me.  Mine, my husband’s, and ours together.
  23. My siblings and I haven’t always been good to one another.  I want different for my kids.
  24. I adore my nephews and niece more than I adore my siblings!
  25. My parents and in-laws will both celebrate 40 years of marriage in the next couple of years.  I’m thankful for their example.
  26. I love Beth Moore Bible studies, especially when done with precious friends in a beautiful prayer garden.
  27. I wish I had been closer to my grandparents.
  28. I am thankful that my kids are with theirs and my husband’s grandparents.  What a blessing!
  29. I dream of a romantic second honeymoon with my sweetie one day.
  30. My dream car is a 15-passenger van with heating and air, working windows, and a decent radio/CD player.
  31. I have never understood some women’s fear of owning a mini-van.  I was so excited the day I got mine!
  32. In high school, we planned on having four kids, three years apart.  God had a different plan.
  33. Autism has terrified me and grown me in more ways than you can imagine.
  34. I get annoyed by people who care enough about what people wear to post about it on Facebook.  So what if I go to Lowe’s in my pj pants!
  35. I was sexually molested as a kid, but I am not a victim.
  36. My childhood heroes were my parents, my brother, and my teachers, especially Ms. Griggs and Mr. Ellis.
  37. I am a band nerd.  Loved every minute of it.
  38. I used to wish I could go by my middle name, but now I love my first name.
  39. I didn’t want to give up my surname, so I dropped my middle name when I got married.
  40. I feel very much like my autistic daughter sometimes, and I understand my childhood better because of her.
  41. I bought a brand new pick up truck before I even graduated college.  I always wanted to drive a truck, but I could have figured out a cheaper way to do it!
  42. I am lazy, so it’s a good thing my life forces me to live otherwise!
  43. I don’t want to clean my kids’ childhood away, but I need to be a better housecleaner.
  44. I wish I could afford to have someone do that for me, though.
  45. I love a good pair of shoes.  My favorites are Clarks.
  46. I could not have imagined this life if I tried.  I love it!
  47. This is harder than I thought it would be (the list, not my life).
  48. I don’t remember ever not loving Jesus.
  49. I loved my dogs and am very sad that my son’s allergies will prevent them from knowing the same kind of love.
  50. I have been told that I have the gift of faith.  I don’t know how I could live without it.
  51. I love fall.  It’s my favorite time of year.
  52. I’m trying not to make these about my kids too much, but what can I say.  They are so much of who I am.
  53. The scariest thing I have EVER experienced in my life is the fear of losing my oldest son.  He contracted viral meningitis at 8 days old and came very close to dying.
  54. I love Facebook.  It allows me to “talk” to adults (which I don’t currently do that much during this season in my life), reconnect with old friends, and pray for people at a moment’s notice.
  55. I love my brother-in-law as if he were my own brother.  We have a different kind of relationship, where I don’t feel comfortable saying things like that to him, but I hope he knows it anyway.
  56. I like to build things.
  57. I love home decor and organizing magazines, but they are so unrealistic!
  58. My favorite foods are anything my mom makes (pretty much), and my Nannie’s and uncle Charley’s homemade chicken and dumplings.
  59. My wedding was perfect.
  60. My marriage has been even better, yet not always perfect.
  61. My mom, my dad, and me all picked out my wedding dress independently of each other and picked the same one!
  62. They bought it for me on my 18th birthday, while I was in my senior year and not even engaged yet!
  63. I love that my brother told my mom early in my relationship with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, that he was the one.
  64. One of my most treasured gifts from my husband is a musical figurine of the Genie from Aladdin that used to play “You ain’t never had a friend like me”.  He gave it to me our first Christmas as a couple.
  65. My hair is finally long enough for a ponytail for only the second time in my life.  It was always short as a kid, and I hate having it on my neck.
  66. I love music.  Torture to me would be life without music.
  67. I have so many moral issues with the new show Glee, but I love watching it simply for the music.
  68. I get choked up in movies at moments that I know my brother would get choked up.  As different as we are, it is eerie how alike we can be, too.
  69. I value modesty.
  70. I used to think Disneyworld obsessions in grown ups were ridiculous.  Then I went and had a moment there with our autistic daughter that showed me just how magical that place really is.  I’ll have to post about that one some time.
  71. I had an emergency c-section with my last baby, who flipped between my appointment that morning and labor and delivery that night.  It is common for women like me to have a breech baby.
  72. I’m not going for a certain number of kids, but I feel tremendously blessed by every child He adds to our family.
  73. I am too hard on myself sometimes.
  74. In my first year of marriage, I wanted us to come up with our own name instead of me taking his.  I was fiercely loyal to my family and my identity in them.
  75. It is so freeing to now know that my identity is found in Christ alone.
  76. I love to homeschool my kids.  I wish more parents realized how wonderful it can be and just how capable they are of doing it.
  77. I count down until my husband gets home.  I miss him when he is gone.
  78. I feel so blessed to be loved by such a wonderful man.  I know he is a gift.
  79. I wish I were more fluent in scripture.  I know a lot of what the Bible says, but I’m not good at quoting chapter/book/verse.
  80. I love to learn but did not love going to school.  I have ZERO desire to go back and acquire another degree, but I’ll read a number of books and do research on any topic that interests me.
  81. I realized at my 10 year reunion that I grew up on what some people would call “the wrong side of the tracks”.  I didn’t care.
  82. I love living where I currently live, even though I am a racial minority.  I don’t ever get weird looks or get ignored in my community.
  83. I like camping, but doing it with many little people kind of intimidates me.
  84. I love the beach, and I crave a trip during every pregnancy!
  85. One of the most freeing lessons I ever learned was that God doesn’t need my help judging others, but He does demand my help loving others.
  86. Looking at your baby for the first time never gets old, no matter how many times you do it.
  87. I love to host my family for holidays and special events.  I just wish they enjoyed it as much as I did!
  88. I was on the swim team in high school, but I wasn’t very good.
  89. I love to sing.
  90. I’ve always wanted to move away, but I don’t think I could bear being so far away from family.
  91. There are days I wish for a few hours at home without the kids here, just so I can get some things done uninterrupted.
  92. I believe in the power of prayer.
  93. I still get butterflies when my husband leans over to kiss me in a movie theater.
  94. I remember the band competition where he first held my hand as if it were yesterday.
  95. I also remember the first time I got to see him after he left for college (I wasn’t allowed to go with his family to drop him off) like it was yesterday.  He was in his marching uniform for an exhibition at a band competition.
  96. I don’t remember all of my children’s birth weights, lengths, or times, even.  I do remember their birthday, though!
  97. I was surprised this Mother’s Day with an iPod.  I love it.
  98. I can barely stand still when I attend our worship service and hear our praise band play.
  99. I miss my college buddies.  I didn’t love school, but going through it with them made it better.
  100. I found this list really hard to do!

Forgot a pic November 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 7:32 pm

…in our October Happenings post.

Yep, that's two lines

Turns out we’ll have to get an extra pumpkin for painting next Halloween!


October Happenings November 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 8:56 pm

I love the fall.  It is my favorite time of year.  While we aren’t football junkies, we love to watch a game here and there.  When we attended Georgia Southern University, we rarely missed a game.  We even traveled to the away games (using credit cards, which was STOOPID)!  We met in marching band in high school, so even though we don’t attend many games any more, just the smells and the crisp feeling in the air warm my soul.  This is the time of year that began life with my one true love, so of course it is my favorite.  Oddly enough, it is the only season I haven’t birthed a child in yet.

We have lots of fun in October.  Here are some pics of some of our favorite happenings this year…

got a new room

a bonfire with old neighbors

playing at Grandma's house

The Blue Angels


The Rock Ranch


It was the Day of the Cowboy, which had this Cowgirl in heaven!


our friend Amanda, who lived with us for the weekend for her cross-cultural experience

Fall Festival

She was a veterinarian. Suprised?

the other two girls were fairies, along with their best friends

Andrew Peterson held a concert at our church. Awesome.

Family Sunday

We shared Communion as a family for the first time since the girls' baptisms.

Halloween with the grandparents

painting pumpkins

with the great-grandparents

Happy October!




No longer “Hot as Hell!” November 1, 2010

Filed under: Our home — jps23 @ 7:51 pm

In my last post, I shared how God placed us in this house we now live in, my grandmother’s house.  If you didn’t read it yet, you should.  It explains the title of the post.

So God had given us this wonderfully large home, but it had no central A/C.  Now, we have a shady yard, but when they call our city Hotlanta, they ain’t kidding!  And this past summer seemed to be unseasonably hot.  We had a window unit that was already installed in the wall in one of the rooms of the house.  We also found two portable units, but the trick with those was finding a way to vent them.  You see, they have little kits for venting them out of sash-style windows, but we have the old crank-style windows, so we had to get creative.  Superman’s dad came up with a solution for the first one, which was taking out the glass from one of our front door windows and putting in a piece of laminate flooring with a hole cut into it.  We didn’t use the front door anyway.  The second solution was for the unit we put downstairs in the girls’ room, and that involved cutting a hole in their wall and extending the exhaust tube to the basement door, which has the 70’s style glass slats in it, so we removed one and replaced it with the kit from the first unit.  The next a/c unit we got was a window unit for the boys’ room, which we resorted to busting the glass out of the bottom pane of their window to put in!  When we found out Earnhart had allergies this year, the doc said we needed to run the a/c all the time to minimize dust mite growth.  Oops!

and then this happened

that's a window unit in the wall

…and that window unit was leaking condensation in between the panel and the outside brick, which ran under the laminate flooring we put in when we moved in.  When the insurance adjuster came to assess the claim, he also theorized that rain water was getting in around the opening in the brick for the unit, since we had some pretty rough rains in our area this year, also.  We noticed water seeping up when we stepped on the floor in a few places, but we thought the kids had spilled a drink or two or three…  Turns out, it was all the way to the middle of the 26 ft long room.  Dang.

The kicker in all this, but also the reason we got such a generous check, is that the tile under the laminate contained asbestos, and when the water dried up, the tile began cracking and breaking.  So, the insurance gave us a generous check because abatement tends to cost a pretty penny.  The grand total of our insurance check was around $6500!  Wow.  But I’m not done yet.  The blessings kept coming.  My brother’s brother-in-law (did you get that) works for a carpet and flooring care company that handles jobs like this, and he has a boss that lets him pick up side jobs using the company’s equipment.  So he did our abatement for a greatly reduced price.  Then, my cousin was able to lay the new flooring, which was ceramic tile that we bought at a discount flooring store.  My cousin loves doing tile, and he did a beautiful job!

...and this room isn't square OR level, we learned...

My boys on the new tile

In this process, my cousin brought a friend to help him with the work.  He’s worked on this house before, and his grandfather goes to our church.  He also works in heating and air, so when we realized our furnace wouldn’t cut on with our first cold spell, he was able to check it out.  It turns out the the element that burnt out on the furnace controls the carbon monoxide emission.  He and his grandfather both commented that they were surprised no one was dead from it.  He also was able to find a replacement furnace for a reasonable price.  Now, my mom being the sweet, let-me-fix-everything kind of momma, started asking him to look into the cost of adding an a/c unit.  We got quotes when we first moved in, which were $8,000 and $10,000 to have the a/c done and have the furnace replaced.  I looked at Superman one day and said, “Where are we ever going to come up with that kind of money?”  (We no longer rely on credit for anything.)  His reply was simply, “That’s going to have to be a God thing.”  It turned out that this guy’s dad was upgrading his unit, so he sold us his two-year old unit.  And sweet Momma fixed everything for a mere $3000, which we had, thanks to the insurance check.  Did you get all that?  Call it coincidence if you like, but I have a friend who likes to call those “God-incedences”.  What started as a “problem” turned into a tremendous blessing, in more ways than one!  Our God is so good!  He was good when it was hot as hell in this house, and He is good as I sit here warmed by the furnace, and He is good come spring when we run that a/c for the very first time.  It will no longer be “hot as hell,” Grandma.  God took care of that for us.


God’s Provision

Filed under: Our home — jps23 @ 7:08 pm

It is my mission to make a photo book about this house in which we live, my grandmother’s house.  There is a beautiful story behind being here, and God keeps adding chapters to a home already rich with stories.  My grandfather was an Army Colonel, who was actually stationed in Japan when my mother was born.  Shortly after moving in here, my mom discovered the journal writings from my grandmother when they moved to Japan to be with him, meeting my his new baby girl for the first time.  Around the time my mom was in fourth grade, they moved into this house, a ranch-style with a full basement, partially finished.  It had five bedrooms and three bathrooms, which was perfect for their family of seven.  It was also close to the military base where my grandfather was stationed until his retirement.  He was actually 13 years older than my grandmother, so he had given many years to the army before he met her.

I’ve heard stories about meals squeezed around the dinner table.  Some good, some not so good.  In fact, one ended with my mom hitting one of her younger brothers in the eye and cutting it open on the brow.  If you know my mom’s feisty side, then that doesn’t surprise you.  My mom lived here when she met my dad.  He was a lifeguard at the pool on base, stationed there after his return from Vietnam.  She was what you would call an “Army brat”, and she liked to hang out at the pool.  She was also a smoker.  The only thing good that came from her smoking was my dad asking her for a light one day out by the pool.  Six months later, they were married.  And no, they weren’t pregnant, just in love.  She was nineteen and he was twenty-three.  They celebrate 39 years of marriage this December (and my older brother is only 36)!

After my mom, my grandmother had two more to move out of the house.  The last one came and went a bit over the years, but once he was out for good, she lived here alone, in 2,200 sq feet.  We encouraged her to fix up the downstairs and allow college students to live here.  No thanks.  She liked living alone, doing as she pleased.  She was a precious woman, but a stubborn one.  Time went by and she got older.  We had holiday gatherings over here in my elementary years.  We hunted eggs in the front yard.  As she got older and less able to cook and feed us all, we moved festivities to my aunt’s house, a born entertainer.  So, aside from a visit by one of her kids, she rarely had guests.  She lived in this big house and all this room alone, just the way she liked it.

I grew up and got married, and once our family started outgrowing our home of 1,100 sq feet, I came up with a brilliant idea.  Why don’t we fix up the basement and live down there, while she allows us to earn our stay by fixing up other parts of the house?  Yes, it sounds crazy now, but to me, it was a wonderful idea.  She didn’t have to be alone and have my mom and her siblings worry about her falling or opening the door to a stranger (she never met one), and we could be on our way to living in a home big enough to accommodate our growing family!  I wrote her a letter because I wasn’t brave enough to ask her face to face, and I also knew how stubborn she could be.  But I just knew she’d see the logic in my large family with the small house living with her in her big house!  How can you not???

Well, she didn’t see my logic, and she called me one day and said, “I got your sweet letter, but I just like being alone.  I plan on dying in this house.  But that sure was such a sweet letter.”  I was crushed.  Every day in my little house with all of its stuff, I’d say to myself, “If we just lived in a bigger house…” or “Once we get into a bigger house…” and I was miserable.  I couldn’t find much to be happy about.  I’d just look at all the stuff in the tiny space we called home (five kids with one on the way in 1,100 sq feet) and feel so sad, so hopeless, so buried by my big family and their stuff.  I had held onto the little sketchings I had made of Grandma’s house, praying she’d change her mind.  We tried moving to my parents’ lake house, which was really a double wide trailer (nice, but still small), in order to get out from under the chaos and get things in shape.  But who was I kidding?  We had little kids, I was working at our church’s preschool, and Superman had a bank job, with bank hours.  It was just a temporary break from the sanity that we soon moved back into in order to prepare for Dozer’s birth.  It was awful.  I look at pictures of the place we had gotten to and just can’t believe we lived that way.  How did we do it?  I felt like I numbed myself just so I could get through.  Then one day, as I was trying to work on establishing some order in one of the rooms, I came across that sketch, the one of Grandma’s house and all the great ideas I had.  I said to myself, “This ends now.  I have to learn to be content with where God has us now.  I have to trust that He has a plan.”  And I threw the paper away.  In just a matter of months, His plan started to be revealed.

Dozer was born in April.  Grandma still lived here, but she was becoming frail and weak.  She could only move with a walker, and it became more and more difficult for her to get around the house.  She struggled just to get in and out of her chair.  Her kids were worried for her, but she wouldn’t hear anything about moving out of this house and into assisted living.  We actually have a great place in our area that has an entire campus devoted to elderly living.  They are also a campus for a children’s home.  Our church, which was also my Grandma’s church, is very closely affiliated with the facility.  Superman’s grandparents have a home there.  They have houses, apartment units (which are kind of like duplexes, only there are four units per building), apartment buildings, and assisted living.  His grandparents moved into one of the apartment units (a quadplex?) a while back, and they are far from dying!  It’s a wonderful place to live.  But Grandma wasn’t interested in the least.  They tried, she fought.  Until she had a fall that concerned my mom and her siblings enough to convince her that she had to move.

She moved into the assisted living facility shortly after that, at which time she said she didn’t want to talk about the house for six months.  I had completely let go of the idea long ago and pretty much decided that wasn’t what God wanted anyway.  Then one day, while chatting with my mom, it struck me to see if our renting the house might be a possibility.  I didn’t bank on it, and I didn’t make any sketches or floor plans.  I just wanted her to ask.  So, she gently brought it up about two months after Grandma moved.  Turns out, she loved her new place, feeling like God placed her there to love on those that took care of her, who felt ignored and over worked.  She made some friends, and my grandparents-in-law would check in with her from time to time.  She just loved her new home.  Which was probably the reason she allowed my mom to bring up the idea.

visiting Nana in her new apartment

We never talked about it.  I left that up to Mom.  Once she worked through her issues with it (the biggest one being that she knew all the work it needed, and she worried about us having to deal with all of it), she said yes.  It was only then that we talked about it, and it was only to let her know how grateful I was that she had agreed to letting us live there.  I think it was hard for her to think of someone else living here, even if it was her granddaughter, which is why I don’t think she really wanted to talk about it all that much.  However, I found out how happy she was just three weeks after we moved in, when I visited her in the hospital.

It was Father’s Day, and I heard through the grapevine at church that my grandmother was in the hospital that morning.  I was nervous, and I tried to get in touch with my mom.  I couldn’t get a hold of her, so based on the information I got at church, I headed over to the hospital to find out what was going on.  Superman didn’t mind dropping me by there, even though it was Father’s Day.  I went in and found out that she had some bleeding ulcers.  She was doing better, and they were about to move her to a room.  Now, my grandmother was the queen of proper, and she fussed that we were seeing her “that way”.  I told her not to worry, that I just wanted to make sure she was okay.  Even with the assurance she offered, and what was being said around me, I felt like something was just not right.  I tried really hard not to cry, but I just had this feeling.  We chatted for a bit, with her asking me how things were going at the house.  She told me how happy she was that we were there, and she apologized for the heat (no central a/c).  And for the first time ever, I heard my grandmother say a cuss word.  “I just know it’s hot as HELL over there!”  She continued to fuss at Mom and my oldest uncle, making sure they took care of the bug service and anything else they needed to in order to get us settled.  I told her we were just grateful to be there, and she didn’t need to worry about a thing.

We all went home, her kids included, and my family and I went over to Mom and Dad’s to grill steaks.  We were sitting down to eat, my Mom lying in the bed to rest, and we got the phone call that Grandma had had a heart attack.  Mom and Dad rushed off to the hospital, me right behind them, leaving Superman and the kids at their house.  When my parents arrived, she was already gone.  She had died, not in her house, but alone, which I think is the way she would have chosen.  She had seen all of her kids that day, and she sent them home, telling them what to do one last time.

I had the privilege of coming home that night alone, my parents letting Superman and the kids stay there, since they were already asleep.  It was going to be so different walking into this house knowing she was gone.  It was good for me to get to do that, and I was grateful to my mom for allowing me that, knowing that just losing her mother probably left her feeling the need to be alone.  However, she let my kids and Superman sleep and allowed me to come home alone.  Mommas just love that way.

So here we were, in a house big enough for us (and our stuff).  Yes, there was work to do, lots of it.  But it was worth it to be somewhere with room to move.  Especially since we were sweatin’ our way through one of the hottest summers in Atlanta on record!  You don’t want to be sitting to close on days where you sweat through your clothes in five minutes or less.  Which leads to my next story, in my next post