Saturday, July 30, 2011


I feel so very behind on my blog posts. There is so much I want to share, especially from our trip to Georgia. However, based on the week I have just had and what's coming up in the next few weeks, I am not going to have a lot of time to write, so I thought I would at least give you the abbreviated, picture-book version of our trip to Georgia.

4th of July

We actually partied twice with Jeff's Grandparents, once for fireworks the week before the 4th, and once on the 4th. We had a great time! For the first gathering, Jeff's Grandmother, Mama Bea, had a birthday cake and gifts for the girls. So very sweet. I wish I had taken a picture at the fireworks. All of the cousin's children were laying all over a blanket on the ground together. It was adorable!

 Jeff and Pop

 Jeff and Mama Bea

 Every year, as a tradition, Pop makes Brunswick Stew, better known as "Pop's Stew". Mama Bea told us to take a picture because this would be the last year Pop made it. So I did. This is it. :-) Yum!

 Meggie was very tired at this point in the trip. My little sunshine...not so sun-shiney.

 Some snuggle time with Mama Bea definitely helped!

 Here is Jeff, all stressed out....NOT!

 And my very tired little sunshine barely made it out of the driveway before she crashed. Poor Baby. This was towards the end of the trip, so she was worn out!

 4th of July picnic with lots of our church friends.

 My God Bless America toes. Bev and I had fun getting a pedicure!

 Pleeeease Alyssa. Just one more picture....

A Change of Plans

There was one day in particular when the girls had something really big planned. However, as things go in life, sometimes those plans change at the last minute. So....we went bowling as a distraction from what they weren't getting to do that day. It wasn't as fun as what they had planned, but I think they still had a good time. This was a first for the two little girls.

My girls!! Check out the pink cowgirl boots...cracks me up!

 Uncle Thomas and Noah
(Oh, how I miss that baby boy!)

 Uncle Drew

 Emilie looking cute as ever.

 Megan holding a ball bigger than her head.

 Noah wanted to bowl, too!

 Sassafrass enjoyed it for about two frames. Then she just wanted to look cute, which she does with very little effort. :-) She managed to get a few strikes in spite of her lack of interest, though. That orange ball is the one she just sent down the lane. Does that give you any indication of how long it actually took it to get to the end? We could have gone out to lunch, almost, and been back in time to see it hit the pins. :-)

 The final score. Pathetic. Yes, I was beat by my 5 year-old AND my 10 year-old. (I am the 'J' at the bottom.)

 Thomas actually broke the record TWICE on the punching bag game.

 The photo booth was broken, so we took our own picture. :-)

The whole gang (Except for me and Alyssa. Someone has to take the pictures! I don't know where Alyssa was. Hmm...weird.).


 Grandma Jackie with the girls at Funopolis. That was Grandma's way of celebrating some birthdays! We followed that up with dinner and gifts at Ryan's. The miniature golf that I posted the story about took place on this day.

 Why, yes I was raised in a barn, thank you very much. :-)

 More cute American Girl stuff. As you cans see....THRILLED!

 I thought this was so cute.

 Clara's friend Nay-Nay (Rene...who is our friend, also) was not able to celebrate Clara's actual birthday because she was out of town. The night before we left for Georgia, she came and picked Clara up and took her to "any restaurant she wanted". Guess what that little rascal picked? You guessed it....McDonald's. What is it with kids and that place? Anyway, she snapped this shot of Clara eating the biggest ice cream ever, and I thought it was adorable!! Those two (Clara and Nay-Nay, not the ice cream...although she likes the ice cream a lot)  hit it off the minute they met, and Clara adores her!! What a fun memory!

 My parents also had gifts waiting for the girls at their house, but like a dork, I forgot my camera when we went there. That means there are no pictures of the cute American Girl doll outfits they received as gifts, my Dad smokin' some BBQ ribs, hours and hours in the pool, or my sweet sister and her kids that I only got to see for one brief afternoon the whole trip. :-( We had a ton of fun, though! My Mom has promised to give me a disc of her pictures, so as soon as she does, I'll share!

The very last day we were in Georgia, Jeff's Aunt Peggy had a huge gathering at her house. It was a great time together celebrating Jeff's cousin's birthday and getting a chance to see our family one last time. My parents, Drew, Thomas, Diana, Noah, Peggy and her kids and granddaughters, Jeff's sister-in-law, his niece and nephew, and Jackie and her husband were all there. It was a bittersweet time together, as we had SO MUCH FUN, but we knew that at the end of that time would be "good-bye", tears, and snot.

Since I did not have my camera, I am so thankful Jeff's cousin took some pictures. There was a Slip-n-Slide set up for the kids in the yard. Ashley told the girls to "strike a pose" and this is what she got. I think we should be scared!

There are also no pictures of the afternoon we spent at my Nanny's house. It was so great to see my Nanny, aunts, uncles, cousins, and their children. (My 2nd cousins??) There was a humongous spread, as always, and lots of laughing.

We also enjoyed an afternoon on the river (my friend, Jennifer's property) with our homeschool co-op friends. We have missed them terribly and it was great to see them. Unfortunately, due to a little snafu at the Kroger pharmacy, we were significantly late, but thankful for the little bit of time we had. Again, no pictures.

There is nothing in the world like being with family and friends you love. There were so many that we still did not get to see, but it was not for lack of trying. Every single day we were there, we went at least one, if not two or three places to visit family and friends. Next time...

I hope you enjoy this sneak-peek into our trip. It was a great trip. We came home exhausted and it was worth it!!

Many Blessings!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Some Medical Updates

While we were in Georgia, there were a number of people asking for medical updates on our family. Most of Clara's stuff is here already in previous posts, but I can tell you that she is doing well, considering it is such a hot summer. In August, we will celebrate one year without going to the hospital! Woo-hoo!! We have had some days lately when I was a little concerned that we may be heading that way, but with lots of rest and Gatorade (I'm telling you, I should have bought stock in the stuff), she has bounced back fairly well. Not 100%, but not bad. We are thankful for that!

Jeff is doing well, also. He went to his regular doctor last week and will be going to a GI specialist soon. There are some tests being run, but overall, they don't think that he is dealing with anything serious. We are hoping the GI specialist will give us more information about how to prevent another attack like the one he had on the way to Georgia.

As always, Emilie is the hardest to talk about, but here goes. We had our first visit with her new psychiatrist today in St. Joseph. Since we have moved, she has had some really rough days. In the last three months, there have been days where we wondered if she even took her medicine, but we knew she did, because we watched her. It had been a while since she saw her doctor at home, she has been through the stress of a move, and we wondered if hormones were playing part in all of this that may not have been present a year ago.

We were very, very impressed with this new doctor. He was very business-like and to the point, but he was very thorough and very good with Emilie. (And he looks like Michael Douglas.) :-) He explained to us that there is a part of your brain called the amygdala, latin for 'almond', that is shaped like an almond and controls all of your moods and emotions. Basically, if the amygdala is healthy, then your moods and emotions are healthy. However, if your amygdala is unhealthy, than your perception of the world is not that of a 'normal' person, which would cause overreactions, seeing and hearing things or people that are not there, feeling like you are always being picked on, etc. Right now, Emilie is on two different meds, one for ADHD and one for her mood disorder. Basically, the one for the ADHD makes your amygdala unhealthy. He said a lot, but the bottom like is this: Her mood disorder has to be priority #1, before her ADHD because a mood disorder can be fatal, but bad grades (caused from schoolwork being done poorly as a result of ADHD) cannot. Furthermore, if we can get her amygdala healthy now, it could prevent her from being bipolar when she is an adult. That is our greatest concern, especially with our family history. We drastically reduced the ADHD medication and greatly increased the mood disorder one. This is a good time to do that, since it is summer, and in 6 weeks we will see how she's doing. In addition to that, he recommended Omega-3 (which we are already doing) and a consistent schedule (always working on that), so with the combination of all of these things, hopefully we will see some improvement. He said that ADHD is the most complicated combination to treat, but one he sees frequently.

It is always interesting to me how many people have such great advice for you when you are not around. If the last four years, dealing with Clara's medical issues and Emilie's mental issues, has taught me anything, it is that being talked about behind your back hurts, especially when it is being done by "friends". It has made me so much more aware of the things I say to others, and has made me very aware of being careful not to talk about other people, or the way they are handling their children, when they are not around. People can be so judgmental, but that fact it, we are all doing the best we can. The world would be a better place if we all realized that.

In the coming weeks, we would really appreciate your prayers as we get all of this regulated. I have no idea (well, I have some idea) of what it will be like with less ADHD medication, but I am praying that, since it is summer and I am not requiring much of her right now, that it will not be a problem, and that our home will be more peaceful with the mood disorder under control. I would appreciate your prayers, as well.

Otherwise, we are all healthy! We are trying our very best to enjoy the summer, knowing that the 's' word (You know, starts with 's', ends with 'w', and rhymes with 'blow') will be here before we know it.

I pray your day is GREAT!

Much Love,

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Family Photos

It has been WAY too long since our family has had pictures made. Our sweet friend, Alicia Sauers, recently met with us on a sweltering hot afternoon to take some! She really did a great job, and while I really don't like the way I look (sometimes it takes a shocking reality check to realize how bad things have gotten), the rest of my family looks so good I had to share!

Which ones do you like the best?





Have a blessed day!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hillbilly Garden

If you know me, you know that I do not have a green thumb. What little bit I do know about plants and gardening, I have learned over the last ten years, or so, from friends, neighbors, and family who have given me tidbits along the way. I continue my quest to learn, hoping to learn to love gardening (the way I am trying to love broccoli), but the truth is, I just don't. I love the final product, I love picking the vegetables and fruits off the plant, I love the beauty of the flowers, but I just don't love the process. I often wish I were one of those people who "just loves to be outside in the garden". However, I do want my kids to know how to work with plants, and there is something so womanly to me about putting up vegetables and knowing that I did that work to take care of my family...maybe a little glimpse of that elusive Proverbs 31 woman?

Well, since we have returned from Georgia, we have had a gardening experience that I am still laughing hysterically about! In our front yard at the end of the driveway, is the cutest flowerbed in the corner facing the house. When we moved here it was full of mums and some brown sticking-straight-up-stuff that was so autumn-like and beautiful. This spring, we have enjoyed seeing what would sprout up out of the ground. (During your first year in a house, it is always a surprise!) We kept watching that little area and some pretty flowers have been coming up....yellow ones that I don't know the name of, and some other ones that are going to be pretty, they just haven't bloomed.

Right before we left for Georgia, we were doing a once-over in the yard and noticed, as we were pulling some weeds, an interesting plant growing right in the middle of the bed. It didn't look like a weed, but it didn't look like it was going to be one of the other beautiful we left it.

(I am already laughing as I write this.)

When we returned home, that plant right in the middle had gotten really, really big. Jeff commented that it kind of looked like squash, but I laughed and said, "That can't be squash. Why in the world would Carrie (the owner of this house) plant a squash right in the middle of this pretty flower bed?" I guess, at this point, it should have occurred to me that squash is not perennial, and that if it were squash, we would have been the ones to plant it. In that case, it couldn't be squash, because we sure hadn't planted any.

Or had we?

About thirty minutes after we arrived home from Georgia, two of our Life Action friends stopped by the house. As we stood in the driveway talking, Beth, one of my sweet southern friends form Mississippi, pointed to our mystery plant and said, "Oh, look. You're growing yourself a pumpkin."

Say what?

"Actually," she continued, "It looks ike you are growing some squash, or something, too. The leaves are two different sizes."

All of a sudden, it hit me. Do you remember this picture I took this past Fall, right after we moved into this house?

We had just been to the pumpkin patch that day to buy a pretty assortment of pumpkins, squash, and gourds to make our front yard festive.

Well, in this climate, that assortment stayed pretty a really long time. So I left it. I left it so long, in fact, that I forgot about it. The snow came and went, and once it melted, there was no sign of any of it, and I never gave it another thought.

It did not forget about us.

You guessed seems we are growing pumpkins and gourds right in our front yard, final proof that the southern hillbillies have moved to town! Of course, our nature-loving, tree-hugging, wallerin'-in-the-dirt girls can't wait, and would not hear of us pulling it up! They are SO EXCITED about growing their own pumpkins! (Carrie, I am really sorry. I promise we will clean it all out when it's done.)

Here is the "mystery plant" the day we returned from Georgia.

 Here it is this morning....nearly twice the size.

Check out the size of those leaves! If the size of a leaf determines the size of a plant, the way a puppy's feet determines the size of the dog, we are in trouble. I don't know if we have enough yard for this!

We already have the beginnings of a plant....gourd? pumpkin? squash?

It looks like it is getting ready to stretch out a little more. I am a little scared.

I guess I am just thankful I didn't leave the Indian corn outside.

We will keep you updated on the progress of the Bryant Hillbilly Garden.

In the meantime, here is the garden we planted on purpose.

Nice, don't you think?

Have a blessed day!