Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. We have been swimming and swimming and swimming this weekend. I will lose count of the number of times I say that word over the summer.

2. On Saturday at lunch, Bella very matter of factly asked me if I would take her to the p-o-o-l during naptime.

3. "Someday you're going to be some girl's prince charming. No I'm not, I'm just going to be Will R."

4. We went to see Will's Miss Robin at school her school for a few minutes today. Miss Robin teaches PE and gets to wear a whistle that Will was pretty impressed with. On the way home, he asked Miss Robin gets to blow the whistle at the kids? Yes. Loud? Yes. She dosn't get in trouble for blowing the whistle inside? No, that's part of her job. Wow..

5. I now officially have a first grader. I am so proud and a little bit sad about this.

6. Jason and I enjoyed a lovely evening to ourselves celebrating the marriage of sweet Miss Casey on Saturday night.

7. I hope that everyone had a Happy Memorial Day and took a minute to realize and honor the true meaning of the day.

8. To my very own veteran, thank you, for 15 years of service.. We love you.

9. For the bargain price of $2 we have our new VBS cd in the gray bus and ready to go for next week. I know you are all jealous and ready to come cruising with us.

10. Still no news on Jason's next job..

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Somedays I pick up my phone to text a picture of the kids and still add your name to the recipient list without even giving it a second thought. A few times I've forgotten and hit send. It feels like a little stab in the heart when that message comes back "undeliverable". I know that on the Verizon commercials when that annoying man says can you hear me now, that applies to heaven too.

I just can't bring myself to remove your name from my contacts list because to me you're still here, you'll always be here.

When Drew locked us out of the house a few weeks ago, I knew that no one else would think it was as funny as you would. Each time one of them does something really ornery, I can hear you say "Give 'em hell boys". They are and I know you would be laughing louder than anyone else.

Will keeps a picture book of you in his room and looks at it before bed a lot of nights. When he says your name, he says it like he just saw you that afternoon.

I wish you could see the almost two year old with the curly hair just like yours. I wish he had the same memories of you that the other three have.

I know that the boys favorite cars are the ones with the chipped paint that look like they came from the matchbox junk yard. I know that when I turn them over, it is your handwriting I will see engraved in the bottom of those cars forever.

I know that when Bella stands with her hands on her hips and that stubborn look on her face when I ask her to take her picture, you would see the same little girl that used to tell you she was "too busy". And that would make you tease her more.

And Amelia. She and Granny are joined at the hip when they are together. Amelia sobs extra loud when her granny leaves. I know that you would love that, too.

I miss you. Every. single. day. I miss you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. Granny, Grami, Nene and Poppy have come and gone. So have the smiles and now the tears.. Grandparents are much more fun than Mama and Daddy.

2. School is out and the youngest three chilren have started summer vacation. Bella begins hers next week.

3. Someone asked me yesterday if I was excited about summer vacation.. I'm excited to sleep in. I am serious when I say that I would sell an internal organ for a nanny and a cleaning lady to help out with the creatures that overtake my house during this lovely so-called vacation.

4. On the first day of vacation Drew locked himself in the upstairs bedrooms six times before 10AM and then screamed until I came and let him out. Each time I left him in there a little longer to get my point across. Mean, maybe but I knew where he was and that boy has got to learn.

5. Amelia has a horrible habit of getting out of her bed every night and at rest time during the day. I am tired of dealing with it and the new solution is, no pool time for her the next day if she doesn't stay in bed.

6. Dance recital was Saturday. THe girls did such a great job and I am so proud of them!

7. We find out this week where Jason's next job assignment will be.
Maybe. This is the Army we're talking about after all.

8. Bella's end of the year program was on Friday. She was so cute singing with her class and so happy to have all her grandparents there to watch her perform.

9. Tornado sirens went off here again on Sunday. I thought my heart was literally going to beat right out of my chest when I heard them. Three of the kids were with my parents and I was terrified. Thankfully nothing came of it but if I never hear another siren again it will be too soon.

10. We had AWANA awards on Sunday. Bella completed her entire book and the review! Amelia completed her first year for Cubbies. Both of the girls love AWANA and are sad to be finished until fall.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. It has been twelve days since the tornados hit..the little kids everywhere to include my own are used to hearing talk about it now. When they are playing you can hear, "take shelter the tornado is coming" "you'll have to go to your own shelter, this shelter is full" "look at all the damage the tornado left"

2. After several rides with the Red Cross I never, thought I would ever look at a house with tarps nailed to were the roof used to be and think..well this damage isn't so bad..

3. After every ride I took with the Red Cross Bella would ask me when I returned, "Did you help Mrs. H tonight? Did you make it to her house?" Every night I would answer, "not tonight baby." and she would say, "well there's always tomorrow night."

4. On my last and final ride, on the very last street we turned onto the very first house was Mrs. H's..and I couldn't stop the tears. After we finished the route, I got out of the truck and stood in that front yard and just cried..for Mrs H and for all the people of Alabama.

5. My children have seen enough pictures of the devastation that they want to give away their own belongings to help some of the other children. Bella would single handedly sponsor little Luke. And I would second the nomination..

6. The past fourteen days has given me a new perspective on things and what is important. Family, friendships, material things, and people in general. People always say if you lost everything what would you try and save. If you were faced with disaster what would you do?

7. Bella had field day today in the toasty 90 degree heat. She has enjoyed every second of kindergarten and hasn't realized that she will be leaving soon.

8. I have 7 days of school left. I love it but yes, I'm counting. The pool is calling my name and Amelia's and Will's. We are ready.

9. Two days until Nashville. I'm looking forward to a weekend away with some of my favorite girls.

10. Jason is really looking forward to being home alone with four kids this weekend. To top it off - 8AM soccer game. Fantastic. He's super dad..he's totally got this.

Friday, May 6, 2011

the week after

- 5000 people came together at a little community center to help the people. This community center was a central point for the entire community and operated completely by a generator. A generator, I was told, that was funded and installed just four days before disaster struck.. That's how amazing God is.

- We were without power for 5 days but not for lack of trying from the TVA and the line operators. I talked to a few of the men and they said their shifts start at 6AM and go until 3AM. They are then back working at 6AM. They've been working these hours since the 28th..

- I worked the community center and helped to sort through and entire gymnasium full of clothing donations. It warmed my heart to see the generosity in those gymansiums.

- Helping people "shop" through these items to find themselves some new clothes to take home, when they have lost everything is the hardest shopping I have ever done.

- I have always had the utmost respect and admiration for the Red Cross and was thrilled and humbled to work with them this week. I will never forget my trips with Bill and Greg from Fort Collins and Tom and Phill from Pittsburg.

- Hearing a woman tell me that her brother was in that house and then pointing to nothing but a slab of concrete.

- Seeing another woman walk for 20 minutes amongst the disaster pile that was left of her belongings still looking for anything she could take with her.

- The young man that said he heard God through this tornado tell him to be still and appreciate life and what he has a little bit more. And he's going to listen.

- The tents pitched on slabs of concrete because the families have no where left to actually live.

- The family living in a house with no roof because that is all that they have and they can't even afford to tarp it.

- The family that lost every single thing they own. And the mother walked up to our truck from a dirt driveway and still said, "God has truely blessed me and we have everything we need" If she can say that some of us really need to evaluate what we choose to complain about in life.

- The compassion, selflessness and generosity of the Red Cross members. They treat these people like they are their best friends and have known them their entire life.

- The Yellow Hats as Amelia calls them who have been at our church for over a week now. Preparing food and organizing the disaster relief.

- The tireless effort of our ministers and my church family. I've seen them out in the rain, some of them shaking from the cold. Sawing and chopping and picking things up.

I hope that if disaster ever strikes your community you are lucky enough to live in a community like mine. In the beginning I couldn't forget the horrible sound of the sirens and the images of the storm. Now I'll never forget the blessings and the people helping each other. I'll never forget the faith and strength of the people affected the most..

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. My bathroom conversation with Amelia.."When I get bigger I'm only going to have one baby. I don't want my belly to look like yours." Lucky for you sister #2, I was willing to sacrifice my six pack.

2. I think the only person more excited in our house for me to get my hair done is Amelia. She knows that when I see Miss Kris I will return to the house with straight hair and for a little while she and I will have the same hair.

3. When we arrived in Ohio, from our tornado damaged state we didn't know how long we would be here. My mom gave Will a huge hug and said "I am so glad to see you and I am so happy you are here. What happened?" and this is what he said, "Alabama is broken."

4. I have to admit that my brother's "siren" ring on his cellphone wasn't the least bit funny last Thursday night. The first three times I heard it I literally scanned the area for my children and looked for an escape route to the pantry. And I'm not kidding.

5. The boys are no longer afraid of the 5 pound attack dog Tinkerbelle that terrified them when we arrived at Nene's. Will walks her around on a leash now and Drew says "NO". Amelia bosses her around like she is the queen of England.

6. My niece is an only child. Obviously my children are not. Parker was greatly offended when Will told her she was "stinky Parker". In true Will fashion, once he found out it bothered her, he told her again.

7. School begins on Wednesday. Please keep these children and the teachers in your prayers..especially Bella's teacher.

8. I am amazed by this little community that I now call home. You haven't read about or heard much about us on the news but BIG things are happening here. The people take care of one another and it is a-ma-zing.

9. The death of the most wanted terrorist is a victory for our MILITARY.
It is a win for the men and women who have fought this war, with their hands and with their blood.
It is not a victory for a politician, who voted against this war and just three weeks ago thought it was okay, under the stress of the budget for the same Navy Seal team 6 and their family to go without pay.

10. If #9 becomes the saving grace for said politicians relection campaign I'm going to have a heart attack.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

waking up with sirens

When you live in Alabama, tornado sirens are a normal thing. We hear them frequently throughout the spring and fall. We found out Tuesday that Wednesday's weather wasn't expected to be fantastic and we were under a severe weather alert and we were under a tornado watch. It rained hard all night and we woke early Wednesday morning to the sound of the tornado sirens. Jason grew up in Oklahoma and is pretty good at reading the weather radar. He said, that we were not in the path of the storm and we were fine for the moment. School was put on two hour delay and we prepared to start our days behind.

I left for work with the three youngest kids at 8:45. I didn't want to send Bella to kindergarten Wednesday. I knew she would be safe at school but I really wanted her with me. I just knew the weather was going to get worse and I had a feeling we would be releasing early. I would be in the county responsible for the kids I am teaching and my child would be in the city, waiting for me to pick her up off the bus. Probably with sirens blaring. What I imagined in my mind was so much better than what actually happened.

At around 11AM, we were told that the county schools would be releasing early which meant we would be closing at 12:15. My friend, lives 20 minutes away from our school and had to leave immediately to pick up her children and get home. Our kids were watching a movie and I had a list of two classes..Then the sirens started going off. We took the kids into the designated emergency rooms and waited out the storm. And we waited. I was able to text Jason but no phone calls were going out. He told me the tornado was headed right for us and wanted to know where the kids were. I had Amelia with me. Will and Drew were with their teachers in different rooms. I prayed. They were safe and happy and no idea what was going on. The power went out and the kids did great. They sang songs and told stories by flashlight. When it was over, I still don't think they really knew what happened and what had occurred. We had only a little while to decide what we wanted to do. Stay at the church or go home. I waited until some of the people cleared out and then we left for home. Still they saw our broken building and the trees. The drive home was horrible. Trees in the middle of the road, power lines down all over the place. It was horrible. We arrived home at 1:45 just in time to see Bella's bus come down the street three minutes later. I will say huge things for our school system and the teachers.they kept our children safe. And calm, when I talked to Bella she said they just had to sit in the hall quietly in the "tornado position" and she demonstrated. The school system did their best to release them early and shut buses down immediately during the warning. They made the most out of a desperate situation and I am thankful.

At around 4PM we were put under another warning. I was only able to text message two of my good friends to find out were they were and if they were safe. One of my friends had been in a closet with her two kids since 11AM without power and was asking for updates. We still had power and she wanted to know when the next one was coming. My other friend, I wanted to make sure she and the kids had made it home and were safe. Our sirens started going off again and we went back into the pantry. We had already put blankets and pillows and flashlights in there. Our power went out. Jason went out on the deck to look and I went out to get him. We saw the tornado go over our neighbors house and I literally was screaming at him and to come back inside. It touched down not far from us and the loss is devastating.

We were able to get in touch with most of our friends throughout the night thankfully and most of them are okay. Some have a little damage but they are safe. We are without power for 5-6 days at least, maybe longer because the storm hit the power plant here. They said to leave town if you needed to, to help conserve water. We came to my parents. The destruction in Alabama is unimaginable. I felt guilty leaving because I know that there are so many people that need help and I feel like we could have done something. Driving out of town, brought tears to my eyes and left my mouth hanging open. There are foundations where there used to be houses..

The only person that I hadn't heard from and had no idea how to reach because the power was out was Bella's kindergarten teacher. I am sure that it may even seem strange to some to inquire about the where abouts of every single person you know, but this was mass destruction and my children needed to know that every single person they knew and loved was okay. I checked on all of our friends by text since that was our only form of communication. Bella continuously asked if I had heard from Mrs. H or about her. I had not and even went as far as trying to look her up on facebook.. I assured Bella that she was probably safe with her family and we would keep praying hope for good news soon. And then the call came. And that's the first time in this entire ordeal that I fighting back tears. This isn't just someone on the news. This is someone that my child loves. Having to break the news to your six year old that her teacher's house has to be rebuilt but she is safe is an almost impossible task as a parent.

This is not my picture. I assure I wouldn't be brave enough or maybe even crazy enough to be the one to take it. This picture was taken maybe 10 miles from our house. I'm not sure if it was taken during the first or second tornado to hit that area. So many people I've talked to over the last few days have asked me if the tornados "in real life" are like you see in the movies. I can tell you I don't ever want to see another one. Two in one day is more than enough for me. I promise you the damage left behind from this storm is massive.

Thank you to the people have called, emailed and texted. We are fine. Our hearts are broken for our friends and our state. We are praying for all who have lost so much..
especially Mrs. H..