Friday, November 23, 2012


Every year my parents ask us to bring the girls over to help decorate their trees.  They have a 3' one by the stairway and a taller one in their living room.  So I brought the girls over this morning when Jeremy was at work.  They had so much fun choosing which ornaments went where.  Julia decided where to set up the houses that glow (on magazines on the floor next to the chair).  Riley was very into the ornaments and arranging them.

Then we went upstairs to play and spent a lot of time in the play kitchen and house and little people.  Riley serenaded us with bird calls on the large wooden recorder (she blew and we tapped our hand back and forth quickly on the end of it).  She thought it was hilarious.

This afternoon was very low-key.  Jeremy came home and hung out with Riley.  I put Julia down for a nap and took one with her.  She took almost an hour to get to sleep.  Kept moving around, had to go potty, talked and talked and talked.  Finally slept for a few hours which was great.  Happy girl!!

After dinner, we all watched Curious George on the couch together.  23 minutes of precious time with them.  We snuggled under the nap blanket and Jeremy and I smiled at each other often; love these girls!!!  Then we played ball and other things upstairs in the playroom for a while.  The girls had so much fun.  Julia kept wanting to leave with her purse with me and go to the end of the hallway while calling out "Bye!  See you Later!  We go to work!"  We'd stay at 'work' for a minute or two and then return to the playroom.

I had Riley tonight while Jeremy put Julia to sleep (he must have fallen asleep with her as he hasn't come down yet).  Riley was so sweet and we did some of her homework assignments.  Every month we have a calendar of activities to choose from and we have to do three activities from each row.  Some of the ones we did tonight included:

Q:  Which famous person do you want to meet and what would you say to them?
Riley:  Grandma... (so I explained some famous people and talked about how they are often and most likely people you don't know and then she came up with the following person on her own) Oh!  Barbie.  I would say to her "Hello Barbie.  I've never met you before!"

Q: How many minutes do you think it will take you to get yourself dressed?  Then have your mom or dad time you.
Riley:  Two hours!!  I mean two minutes.

So we set the timer on my phone as soon as she had her clothes ready.  It was hilarious watching her work as fast as she could to get her clothes on.  She had trouble getting her legs into the pant legs as they were moving so fast and she was giggling so hard.  She forgot that she had taken her panties off and had to get new ones out of the drawer to put on.  Then she forgot where her shirt was and got it out of the drawer.  We were all giggling hard.  And yet she managed to get dressed in one minute and twelve seconds!

Thanksgiving 2012

So much to be thankful for: a great husband, amazing little girls, a warm home, two jobs that give us the opportunity to provide for our family, an awesome church, great friends, great family, a God who loves us more than we could ever know and so much more.  Truly so much to be thankful for.

We spent the afternoon of Thanksgiving at Kathryn and Ranny's house.  It was their first time to host Thanksgiving dinner at their new home and the food was incredible.  The girls were excited to see Tripp and play with him.  They had also missed Madi so they couldn't wait to play with her as well.  Monica and Madi left on Tuesday to go to Kathryn's to spend time with them and mostly to try to help Monica get some things done that she wasn't able to get done at our house.  Or at least that was the plan.

Ranny scared Julia by being a crying monster and she wouldn't go near him the rest of the time we were there.  She was quite clingy, but relaxed once she was able to go outside.  They have the most amazing backyard - super huge and so long.  So the kids played outside and I spent time out there with them running and playing with Julia while watching the others.  They liked to hold Tripp's play guns and shoot them and handcuff each other.  They took turns putting each other in the jail - metal fence wire that was in a circle.  The girls thought it was hilarious.

I went inside and a few minutes later, Riley came in crying and saying that her face hurt.  She had attempted to arrest Tripp and he chose to push his fake sword into her cheek.  Thank God it wasn't an inch or two higher or it would have been in her eye.  It was bleeding though not heavily.  Cut open and we got ice on it.

While she sat on the counter in the bathroom and I wet a towel to press gently on her face, Ranny brought Tripp in and gave Riley the choice of which consequence Tripp should have:
1 - stand in the corner facing the wall for 15 minutes
2 - spankings
3 - apologize

Riley asked that he apologize to her and she said that she forgave him.  Later in the car, she told us that she didn't want to choose any of the other two mean things to do to him because she didn't want to hurt him back.  Love her gracious and kind heart.  And so thankful she didn't seek revenge on him.  It was nice to see that they were able to play more and that she truly had moved on.  We put Neosporin and a bandaid on her face as well as knee where she had scraped it.  It is looking much better today though she does have some bruising under the eye and will likely have a slightly black eye for a little while.

After being at their house, we went to see Gaylan and Beverly's new place up the road.  We got to take the girls on some rides in the golf cart which they absolutely loved.  Their giggles and smiles were priceless.

Then we drove out to see Mamaw and spend some time with her.  We had been hoping to have a serious talk with Monica while we were at Gaylan's or Kathryn's, but the time never came up and we needed to make sure we talked with her before they dropped Madi off on Sunday.  Wasn't the type of conversation you want to have on a major holiday, but was much needed.  Basically, we told Monica that she needed to stay with Kathryn or her parents as she would get more accomplished out there than she would at our house due to having access to vehicles and time and more likely that she could get things moving faster so that she could get into an apartment with Madi sooner rather than later.  To keep things consistent for Madi, we'll continue to have her with us for the time being.  Not sure how long that will be.  Possibly a month or three or whatever.  So Monica will drop Madi off on Sunday and then go back to live with them until she can afford to get her own place.

She has to go to the DMV on Monday to get a new driver's license.  Her license is more than two years expired so she has to start the entire procedure all over with test(s) and sitting at the DMV.  From there, hopefully she can borrow a car and then get a part-time job before being able to get a job in a hospital as a nurse's aide or whatever other positions she qualifies for.  She also has to send away for documents from the Philippines but doesn't want to spend all the money Dr. Ted has given her as she has none coming in.  So she is waiting on that and that postpones the opportunity she has to take the NCLEX and get a job as a nurse.  It was a stressful week and I'm hoping that she is able to get done what she needs to get done so that she can move forward.  Definitely a lot to do.

We drove home and Julia fell asleep in the car.  They were both starving so we gave them some Eggos and played in the playroom a little bit last night.  Was super fun.  They were so sweet and precious.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

To Use Down the Road...

Came across this article on Pinterest tonight... and don't want to lose the information.  Such great ideas that I could even use with our kids now.  Why wait until later?!

It’s easy for us to look back on our high school and college days, and only remember the late night fun, friendships, sporting events, and parties.  Even though those things were a part of those years, there is much more that happens during that time.  The years between, say….17 and 20…are times of huge transition as  a young person adjusts to becoming an adult.  It can be a confusing and stressful time, and a time when young people are trying to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their life.  Many times relationships are hard,  and they are trying to juggle a job and school work.  Sometimes finances are tight and that can be stressful as well.  These years are not as care free as we sometimes remember them to be.
As parents of children who are in this season of life, it can be a wonderful opportunity for us to look for ways to serve and encourage our children.  Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of it being a time when there is conflict and distance that begins to form in our relationship,  we took  advantage of the time and did all we could to pursue our children and become their biggest support system and cheerleaders?
Here are some ways that I try to serve my own children, who are both college aged.
  • I  sometimes surprise them by cleaning their room during a week that is particularly busy (exam week, a big paper is due, they are working a lot of hours).
  • On a particularly busy day, I will do their chores for them.
  • I make sure that their favorite snacks are available.
  • I will buy their favorite candy bar, and leave it on their pillow.
  • Even though they both do their own laundry, sometimes I will do it for them just to bless them.
  • I love grabbing them and taking them on a spontaneous lunch date.
  • Sometimes if they are studying, I bring them a snack
  • In the morning while my daughter is getting ready for work or class, I sometimes will bring her a hot cup of coffee or tea.
  • I make sure that they know that our  home is always open for them to bring their friends over.
  • I allow them to have “study parties” in our living room, and I serve their friends.
  • On Saturday mornings, I make sure the house is quiet so they can sleep in a little.
  • As they run in out of the house, in between work and classes, I make sure I tell them I love them, that they are precious, and ask how they are doing.
  • I ask how I can pray for them.
  • If they didn’t do well on a paper or test, sometimes I will take them out for coffee or ice cream just to encourage them.
  • I ask them how I can serve them to make a busy day more bearable.
  • I work hard to get to know their friends.
  • If they are hanging out in our home with a friend, sometimes I will suggest that we jump in the van,  I will treat them both to Starbucks!
  • I text them and tell them I miss them, love them, or am praying for them.
  • I try to treat them with respect. They are young adults.
  • I am working hard to learn how to relate to them in a new way, since they are getting older. I make sure I am reading good books for tips, or talking to women who have gone through this season already.
  • I try to arrange a weekly family time to make sure we are connecting as a family and keeping caught up with each other.
  • Sometimes on Saturday morning,  I make their favorite breakfast, since most mornings during the week they are grabbing breakfast on the run.
  • I Keep my eyes open for good devotional books or Bible studies that I can buy for them, to help encourage them to be in the Word.
  • If they are struggling in a particular area, I work hard at responding with grace and calmly taking the time to discuss how we can work together to grow in that area. I try to let them know I am on their side and want to help them. I try not to lecture or “punish”, but  to work together at coming up with a plan (and consequences).
  • I look for opportunities to talk with them and find out what is going on in their minds,  help them sort through their thoughts, and just generally be available.
If your child is in college, and doesn’t live at home:
  • Send a care package, or letter stuffed with a gift card, on a monthly basis.
  • When they come home for a break, clean their room and have a small gift waiting on their pillow. Make their favorite meal.  Have a “welcome home” sign hanging on the front door.
  • While they are home for a break, make sure you are as available as possible to them. This is precious time.  Make them WANT to come home again.
  • If it is their birthday, and they live too far for you to go visit, send them a “birthday party in a box” care package!
  • If they are close enough for a day trip or weekend trip, make the effort to go visit them monthly. Take them out for dinner.  Get to know their friends.
We have an amazing calling as parents.  It doesn’t end just because they become young adults!  There are so many fun ways we can bless our children and bond with them as they are growing up.  They are unique people who need us to encourage them and support them as they transition into the next season of life.  They are individuals.  They are not us!  We need to remember that and find ways to help them succeed in becoming the people they are meant to be!  It will make such a difference!

Three minus One equals Two

For the last year and a half, we've had the pleasure and joy of having a third child in our home.  Madison, our 11 year old niece, has lived with us since May of 2011.  Last night her mom, Monica, came into town from the Philippines to move back to America.  She finished her coursework to be a nurse and is now planning to pursue her goal of becoming a nurse here in the States.  It has been a very bittersweet time for all of us.  It means more change, flexibility and a new beginning for all of us in different ways.

Madi has taught us many things about being parents.  We haven't gotten everything right, but boy, have we worked our tails off.  More than most ever would or would even consider doing.  It hasn't been easy.  In fact, dealing with a tween when they are not your own child is not easy in anything except maybe when it comes to when they have computer or ipod time.  But even that has had its challenges.

Our time as 'foster parents' or 'surrogate parents' or whatever many others have called us, has now come to an end.  We can resume our roles as Aunt and Uncle and hand the reins back over to Monica.  This is a very good thing I think.  She needs her mom and they need to rebuild the relationship that has been growing distantly and can now grow in person.

Monica and Madi are staying in our house the next two weeks.  We sought a counselor and prayed and decided for ourselves what we were capable of doing and what is best for all.  It is very apparent - even after just one solid day here - that the counselor was correct in all she has said and that they must find a place of their own where their roles as Mom and Daughter can be reunited correctly.  And it's important that it happen as soon as possible rather than drawing it out.

We saw that today in many things.  Madi has been testing the boundaries of what she can get away with.  She has tried to undo many things that we had set up for boundaries for her and is seeing if her mom will change them while they are here.  She has begged to play WOW again (which was taken away months ago due to her obsession with it and her tendency to play the evil characters as well as wanting to name them demon names) and told her mom that she didn't know why she had it taken away.  Total nonsense as she knows exactly why.  She has asked her mom for many things at the store including slushies, coffee and drinks even though she knows they can't afford it right now.  She has given us multiple evil looks as well as evil looks at Riley as she is frustrated that we are informing Monica how she tends to behave when she is wanting something or how she is working her over.  She is frustrated that her tactics aren't working.

Monica had told her that they will have rules when they are in their own place.  Madi asked if they can start their rules now and was told they will happen when they move out.  Madi's not happy with this.

Of course she's ready to be in a home with her.  Of course she is ready to be the kid with her mom being the only adult she has to listen to.  It is not easy having the transition in our home and having her trying to get things her way.  I'm sure she was hoping that as soon as Monica came, things would be much easier on her and she could do whatever she wanted to do again.  And it's not what she expected.

It is a challenge to step back and not tell Monica how to handle things.  After all, she is an adult and can figure it out.  But we've been the ones raising Madi for the last year and a half and she's pushing and pushing and pushing her already.  To be expected, but was not anticipating her trying as much as she has been already.  Our goal is to step out of the picture and let them figure it out on their own.  To allow them to make their relationship what it should be and to allow our family to become what it should be.  So far I'm not stressed out and just keep telling myself to persevere and make the right choices until things are settled.

Praying that the two weeks they have here are sufficient and that they will be able to forge their own way together - just the two of them - soon. We're thankful to be able to help short term, but it will be so very important for our families to go back to normalcy.

It has been very strange only having to keep track of two kids instead of three.  It's so quiet.  It's really quite crazy.  And Riley and Julia are definitely excited to be able to have me home with them this week to enjoy our time together.  Such a blessing!!!

I'm hoping to make some Christmas ornaments with the girls in the morning.  And get the tree up this weekend.  We'll see Santa on Tuesday or Wednesday.  My mom is taking me out for a late birthday dinner with shopping tomorrow night.  And we'll spend time with Jeremy's family at Kathryn's on Thursday.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dark and Sunny

Some of Julia's sayings that I find completely adorable:

When the lights are off or she is about to turn them off, she says "Oooohh, it be berry dark in here!"

When the lights first turn on in the morning and it is bright, she says "It too sunny!  It very sunny! Turn it off pease"

Love that she thinks of the bright light as sun.

Toothless Wonder

My nickname in high school: toothless wonder.  I loved wonder bread and made bread balls from them (rip off the crust, roll into a ball and eat).  Yum...  And I am missing two of my top teeth.  So on the left side of my mouth, the teeth were all pushed forward and on the right side, there is a wide gap where a false tooth was placed.  Before the tooth was semi-permanent, the tooth was contained inside my retainer.  Every time I ate, the tooth would come out with the retained and therefore I was toothless.

That nickname is now current once again.  At least, in my mind.  Thankfully no one has called me that yet; though Riley did say "Goodnight Toothy!" and giggled.

My false tooth has been glued to the sides of the two teeth on either side of it for 17 years.  The dentist said that it would last up to five years so it has definitely done its job.  During lunch today, I bit into my apple and felt the whole false tooth crunched up and moved.  I put my fingers on it and just took it right off.  No need to wiggle or pull hard.  It literally just decided to fall off.

Not great timing.  Though it could be worse.

I'm preparing all the grade levels to perform for the "Thankful Eagle Lunch" the next two days. Grades K,2,4 are performing tomorrow and 1,3,5 are performing on Wednesday.  We always have an amazing turnout of parents/relatives/friends for the students.

There were still four classes I needed to have a final rehearsal with today and there was no way on earth I was going to miss it.  Not to mention having over 40 choir students after school today to rehearse.  So I taught - toothless.  As much as I tried to not worry about it, it has been all I could think about as it feels like a giant hole in the front of my mouth and I keep trying to feel for something there.

I explained to the kindergartners that I lost my tooth in my apple at lunch today.  They were very excited that we could relate to one another.  I heard things like "Wow!  I didn't know adults lose teeth too!" and "I lost my first tooth yesterday too" (didn't tell them this isn't my first tooth to lose) and "We both have missing teeth, Mrs. Grant!  See mine!"  The kids were really great about it.  Though some of my choir students had a hard time not staring at it.  Don't blame them!  It's quite easy to see that it's missing.

I sent a text to Jeremy with two pics of myself smiling with a caption that read "Love ya Baby!"  He felt bad for me, but was so loving about it and said I still look beautiful.  He knew exactly the right thing to say!!

The dentist was out today at a funeral and so he is jam packed tomorrow.  The earliest they can see me is on Wednesday.  She said it will take at least an hour to either put it back or figure out another alternative.

Until then, I remain toothless.  I'll direct toothless.  Teach toothless.  Speak to the parents toothless.  Sing toothless.

I figure it's better that I be honest and real about it and continue on than to hide out at home until another tooth can be put in.  Though honestly, I really can't wait until Wednesday to get it back in.

Riley is super excited to perform tomorrow.  She has her dress picked out and since Grandpa is coming to hear her sing, she specifically chose his favorite dress (a navy blue sailor dress with white buttons).  She's going to be so happy to see him there to hear her sing.  My mom is out of town so she can't come.   Madi has her performances on Wednesday.  I totally forgot to call Poppi and Grammy to ask them if either of them could come as my dad will be at work and my mom is on a business trip in MI.  I really dropped the ball on that one.  At least I will be able to eat with Madi and that's something we never get to do together at school.  Looking forward to that!

Singing at Funerals

The funeral for Michael was lovely.  There were very funny and memorable stories about him shared.  There was some laughter and tons of tears.  Valerie and I were asked to sing our song after Lisa sang her song, the minister spoke and three of Michael's closest friends spoke.  It was a challenge to really focus on the song and not think about what we were hearing or seeing.  Was very thankful to be able to make it through the song without crying and to give Edwina such a special memory.  My heart truly breaks for her.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Pastor just began a new series last week about "Death and it's Friends."  Honestly, I wasn't too excited about going as it sounded purely sad and depressing and wasn't something I felt like I really wanted to sit and hear.  I realize death is a part of life, but it's not always something you want to hear even if it's good for you. So glad I went anyway as it was much needed information for this week.

One of my closest friends at work got a message while we were at a staff meeting about her fiance (they've been engaged seven years and were practically married in every way except by license).  She was quite worried as the police were coming to meet with her and would be there soon.  I sat with her and two other friends as they were on their way.  And prayed for her.  She went in her office with one of the friends and then I stayed outside to watch for the police.  I opened the doors for them to come in and led them to her room.  She was then given the news that he had died and was found this morning.  It was truly an indescribable experience and so incredibly sad.  Thankful to have been there for her, but so sad.

The funeral is tomorrow and I'll be singing "Fields of Gold" as sung by Eva Cassidy.  Beautiful song.  Praying I can do it justice and that I can keep my composure through it so it can be a beautiful moment for the family and my dear friend.  I'm sure it will be a moving and difficult service as it was so unexpected.  He was in his early 40s.

My former student's mom also passed away the same morning from breast cancer.  I taught her daughter Madison for six years in elementary school and she is now in sixth grade.  It was heartbreaking to get the news about her the same morning.  Such a dear lady as well.

Then on Thursday, another coworker had a death in her family and another coworker's cat died.  It was a tragic and difficult week for so many friends and my heart is so sad for all of them.

I definitely hugged and kissed and praised the girls and Jeremy more than I have.  And loved on them even more.  Found I was often in a thinking daze and having very serious faces.  Madi kept saying "are you ok Aunt Jess?"  and I hadn't even realized that I had been staring into space and thinking about my dear friends.

This week is Grandparent's Day with lots of performances as well as planning for the choir concert and preparing for Monica to come next Saturday.  So hard to believe we've had Madi for a year and a half and that now her mom is coming back.  We're happy for them, but it sure is bittersweet.  Will miss her terribly!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I went to Walmart this morning to grocery shop and get some filters for the house.  We're close to needing some so I went ahead and got them.  It was easy to find the first two sizes but couldn't find the third one.  Went to the back wall and found it.  On the very top shelf - was a little bit of a reach for me. They were all stacked up.  Not laying flat, but leaning back against the wall.  At least they were when I got there.

I took one from the middle pile and had to lean on one on the pile to the left of it.  All while still chatting with my mom on the phone.  As I took it down and put it in the cart, I watched as tons of them just starting falling forward all over the place - into the cart, on my head, on the ground, in the aisle.  It was hilarious.  Just kept making "fpp, fpppp, fpppp, fffff" sounds as more and more fell.  I just started laughing and told my mom I just made a huge mess.

It was impossible to get them all back up and there were still so many leaning forward.  So I stacked them up and leaned them against the others on the floor into two separate piles.  Wasn't really sure what else to do, but at least this way they weren't mixed in with other sizes and carts could get through the aisle.

As Riley told Mrs. E, "My mom drops everything.  She drops this!  She drops that!"  This will give her just one more story to tell her teacher :)


Tomorrow I turn 35.  Halfway finished with my 30's and it's been the best decade I've lived so far!!  I became a new mom at 29 and then again at 32.  Was a fantastic start to the last few years.  Can't wait to see what the next five hold until I turn 40 and start what is hopefully another great decade.

Tonight we celebrated at my parents' house with Rob and Mel.  Rob had his birthday on Halloween so they sang to both of us and we each blew out a candle on their centerpiece - awesome!  They made an amazing chicken/sausage/veggie pasta dish with bread and salad.  We had bundt cakes for dessert.  Extremely special!!!

I was given two cards to open.  One was from my parents and had a little card inside the card giving me my own "gramma day" with shopping, eating out and time with them.  Totally looking forward to that!!  The girls each get their own Grandma and Grandpa day where they get to spend time with them by themselves.  Always very special.  Perfect gift for this mom!

Riley made me a card as well that said "Tow Mom."  She wrote it all herself and drew pictures.  One was of me blowing out candles on the cake and her standing to the side.  Inside it says:

Happy birthday Mom!  I love you. You are special to me.  Riley

Totally melts my heart.  She is such a special girl.  Best birthday gift ever!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Back Rubs

Jeremy was quite cranky tonight.  Frustrated that the girls didn't eat much dinner because of eating candy after school.  (and only three small/medium ones at that)  He was just ready to chill and relax and that wasn't going to happen anytime soon tonight with all the bedtime stuff to do.

He walked out to the garage for a few minutes to do something.  I told the girls that he was cranky and just needed to be left alone to relax for a little while.

Riley:  I know something that would not be bad for him.  A back rub would not be bad!

I agreed but didn't think too much about it.  He came back in and went to the stove to cook a breakfast casserole for dinner.  Riley asked him to bend down.  He told her he would do that in a minute.

He squatted down and she began to massage his shoulders.  It was the sweetest thing!

Jeremy thought I put her up to it, but I told him that I had nothing to do with it.  It was all Riley's idea.  She has such a high emotional IQ.  Very aware of how others are feeling and wants to make sure everyone is taken care of and happy.  Sweet girl.


Riley:  Glowy Girl
Julia: Ladybug
Madi: Artemis, Warrior Princess/Girl

Riley's costume consisted of a glow in the dark skeleton pj set, a glow in the dark wig, glow in the dark glasses and anything else she could find that would glow.  As she went trick or treating, she would comment on anyone else wearing something that glowed and say "I love your glowy thing."

Julia had the most adorable ladybug dress.

Madi used her Cleopatra costume from last year.  Grammy hemmed it and made a thick belt and the softest cloak ever made.  It was amazing looking.  Madi created a bow and arrows out of sticks at my parents house and feathers and duct tape.  Looked awesome.  She also made a quiver to hold them out of fabric and staples.  She had many compliments on her outfit.

The girls had a great Halloween.  Madi and Riley had a parade of costumes first thing in the morning to start their day.  All the kids walked the halls of school to show off their costumes.  Was quite chaotic, but neat just the same!

We went out trick or treating around our neighborhood.  If you asked Julia what she was going to do when she went out, she'd say "Get candy!"

The weather was warm and the girls had tons of candy even though many of the homes were not passing it out.  A lot of people went to Hawaiian Falls to do trunk or treating.  But it was still a great night!

The girls each had one piece of candy.  I totally forgot to pack any in their lunches, but they did have some after school on Thursday and today.